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Rejecting the Caesarian Section?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sermon for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity
 
Do you believe that you are a saint?
 
Some people do struggle with this question. There are those who are so sure that they are saints that, actually, they live some very disreputable lives. You might be able to think of those dreadfully corrupt Evangelists on the telly who tell you to give, give, give and then drive away in the latest car to their luxury mansion where their latest mistress awaits them.
 
There are also those who say, “I will never be a saint, no matter how hard I try!” and live their lives despondently thinking that sainthood is always out of reach.
 
Of course, we’re saints in the making. Our destination is sainthood, we’re just not there yet and, if we’re not careful, we could get lost.
 
We seem, then, to be perpetually in some sort of half-existence, neither one thing nor another. We’re sensible to know that the opposite of saint is not sinner as there are plenty of saints whom we know to be both – St Augustine of Hippo for example. The opposite of saint is damned and that’s clearly not where we want to be.
 
We’re only saints when we’re perfected and, by-and-large, we’re not saints until we’ve passed from this life.
 
How then do we cope with this half-life? How are we supposed to live a life as not-yet-saints?
 
[PAUSE]
 
The faithful Christian seems to have one foot in the world and the other in Heaven. We find ourselves pulled about by things of the world. We are tempted by the bright neon lights of sin which draw us away from the pure light of God’s day.
We can, however, be tempted the other way. We can be tempted to try and cut ourselves off from this life completely. There is a temptation for the Christian to try and end our lives here so that we can be free from Sin.
 
Yet, we know how horrible suicide is, for any reason. Suicide hurts those left behind, leaves families devastated and trying to pick up the pieces. That’s the key to understanding why the Christian simply cannot cut himself off from this world. Our Lord bids us to love each other. We don’t just live for ourselves, we are to live for other people and their benefit. Love means that we have to play our part for others’ benefit.
 
But didn’t some of the saints withdraw completely from society? What about St Anthony and the Desert Fathers? Don’t they cut themselves off? Don’t they commit some kind of social suicide?
 
If they do, how do we know about them? Clearly, they have some interaction with the world. They do talk to people and pass on their wisdom. They tell of how they know God. What they don’t do is allow society to distract them from their search for God. They eat and they sleep, albeit grudgingly, because their bodies need that. But they don’t overeat nor do they spend a long time in bed. They do just enough to keep going for the love of God.
 
[PAUSE]
 
Likewise, we have a part to play in Society, though Society makes it hard for us to play that part. However, for the love of God we pay our taxes to our Caesar and for the love of God we seek His will in the world. It is the love of God which informs our decision-making about how we serve others in Society. Society belongs to God, and it is the duty of every Christian to live lives that consecrate this world to God: it’s how we all play a part in the Royal Priesthood. It is the Church that acts as a bridge between Society and God. It is the Church that provides a space in which we come together, bringing who we are to Christ for purification, sanctification and glorification. We can’t do that by cutting ourselves off from each other. When two or three are gathered together for the worship of God, there Christ Himself is.
 
Admittedly, living in Society is difficult. Society around us has made all forms of sin, not only normal but desirable. Society around us tries to convince us that we are all individuals with rights which we deserve. Society around us tells us to throw off all the shackles and be free from all that stops us being the people we are.
 
Yet, it doesn’t matter who we are: we are all creations of God. That means that He gets to say who we are, not us. We have no rights with Him. We can demand nothing from Him. We cannot make Him do what we want. We can’t get away from Him. To Society, that is horrible! To Society, that is tyranny. What an evil dictator God must be!
 
But God isn’t us.
 
God is better than us. He created us in the first place. He knows us more than we know ourselves. He knows what’s truly best for us. What Society doesn’t understand is that, to be who we are supposed to be, we are to give ourselves up to God. We don’t want to gain the world because we would lose our very selves. What Society doesn’t understand is that God is not Evil: He is supremely Good and has given us good thing to enjoy.
 
[PAUSE]
 
We are to serve Society for God’s sake. We follow each other and obey each other for the love of God. We come together, laying aside any thoughts about who we think we are, in order to be ourselves before God in Holy Communion.
 
Society will reject us, but we will still render to it what it is due. However, we will give our very selves back to the One who made them in the first place, for then we shall truly enjoy living as His Saints.

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