“..I dismiss you from your office ..” Shebna gets his marching orders from God ..for gross misconduct, neglect or embezzlement?..or just mediocre, wishy washy indifference? & God puts in his own man, his servant.. ..the divine expectations of his chosen servant Eliakim are those expected of you & I, in the positions of servant leadership we are entrusted with..
“I entrust him with your authority..” ..to be heard followed & respected.. ; Lord have mercy “..to be a father..” ..a good & gentle shepherd.. ; Christ have mercy “..entrusted with the keys of the House of David..” ..custodian of the spiritual crown jewels.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..as we heard last weekend, Jesus is still learning ropes, learning basics of being human.. learned lesson hard way from Canaanite woman whose faith, he eventually had to admit, was stronger than his own..”woman, you [you] have great faith” & now we meet him as a student teacher, in need of an appraisal of his work so far..so timidly & certainly humbly he asks “who do people say the Son of Man is?” what’s the word on the street about me? ..starter question for his disciples worth 3 mks..head centred answers flood in..“John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets” easy marks..then he puts to them Section B question worth 30 mks,,”but you, who do you say I am?” you who’ve lived, ate, slept beside me, seen me in good mood foul mood, “who do you say I am?” who else but Peter falls over himself to give answer “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God” no hesitation no doubts, he tells it straight from the heart..& you can see relief on Jesus’s face..the gift for any teacher, worth far more than any salary or index linked pension, is to see in eye of the slowest learner, the sparkle & diamond of finally understanding..”Simon, you are a happy man!” & I’m a happy teacher..& reward is a deeper calling & new name Peter rock..“on this rock I will build my Church”..not grand edifice of St Peters or our Abbey Church but Church personified..the 3 categories in which we belong, not for lifetime but infinity..the Church militant, Church suffering, & Church triumphant..old fashioned speak yes, yet a gem to help us appreciate our inclusion..Church militant..you & I, the body of Christ at work, militating fighting passionately to establish foster & hand on the faith, alive well & active to next generation..as they wait expectantly to be enthused inspired & encouraged by our example, our practice of the faith..fine militant priest Fr Tony Philpot East Anglia Dioc wrote 12yrs ago “setting priorities, putting Jesus Christ at the centre..being men & women of urgent & frequent prayer. Never letting the Church get in the way of the living & resurrected Lord. Daring to share the spiritual realities of our faith, rather than easier more peripheral things. Realising, proclaiming that Christ brings forgiveness & mercy where men are hard & ruthless. Being people of the heart not just head..we are living at a time of radical change..we can no longer live on the fat of the past, the cosy tribal Church with its copious personnel, ancestral customs habits, its imposing hierarchical structure.. all this, while remaining fairly shallow; the Church carried you along..well that doesn’t work anymore; “shake off all crimes you have committed & make yourselves a new heart a new spirit. Why die O House of Israel?” Ezekiel urgent preaching got mixed response. There were Jews, even after the deportation, who felt way ahead lay in observance, not in a change of heart. “it seems there was a choice to die or not to die “why die, O Catholic Church in England & Wales?”..for us too there is a choice.” Fr Tony died last year..his militant challenge still alive waiting for our choice..so what of the Church suffering?; those in purgatory awaiting entry to full presence of God, as they left this world with stain of B- on their souls & now excitedly painfully await kairos moment when their self inflicted glass screen, erected sinfully between them & love of God, will eventually shatter enabling them join Church triumphant..in God, in love with God, for all time..”I give you keys of the kingdom of heaven” ..the caretaker, steward of Catholicism; Peter & now Pope Francis..like you & I & Jesus himself, far from perfect, needing fire of Canaanite woman now & again to get us to think pray & serve off- line, to risk the adventure, & now & again, to fail..the essence of Catholicism “the Catholic Church is a Church for sinners, which is why you & I are so at home in it” no wonder you smile..a life long journey, we student disciples, ever in process of learning, not taught exclusively at home, nannied & privately tutored, but in school; St Benedicts PS, All Saints in York, Nottingham Univ, & here in this classroom, in this “School of the Lords Service”..where, in any special really special school worthy of its title, the key student is weakest link.. perhaps Shebna was removed from office for being an Anne Robinson..her stern face would kill at 40paces “you are the weakest link..goodbye!” when God needs you to be a Peter, a builder of bridges & of community..solid dependable, regularly getting it wrong, but a lovable likeable rogue, & always the teachers favourite.. [21stSunYrA Mt 16;13-20]