Showing posts from July, 2013

Stop the white bits from burning

What is Hell, what are the fires of which Jesus speaks? The Church teaches that it is a created place. But even if so, creation is underpinned by its Creator and expresses, no matter how diffusely, something of His nature. So what of Him, we might ask, does Hell express?

Well: fire and searing light. But this is surely rather ambiguous. We associate just these qualities with God the Holy Spirit, and tend to see them as positive things.

Maybe Hell is a matter of perspective. We have the chance now, in the this world, to look upon the light of God shining in Christ, albeit through a glass darkly, as though we are wearing sunglasses to shield us from the full, searing light of the sun. We have the chance to enjoy His heat, so that it becomes something that warms us and kindles our spiritual energy.

But, there are parts of ourselves that we try to hide from its glare. Shrivelled, white, grub-like parts which we fondly imagine we can keep secret from God. Shameful bits of ourselves which …

How the Devil wants us to pray (Trinity 9)

As with the parable of the Good Samaritan we heard in last week's Gospel, it is all too easy to think that we know this week's passage so well that we don't need to bother with it. The Lord's Prayer, after all, is something most of us have had drilled into us since our earliest years. But we must beware allowing familiarity to lead to contempt.
When I was training for the priesthood, I fondly imagined that parishioners would often come to me asking me how to pray, perhaps because it's not something that just came very naturally to me. In fact, I don't think anyone has asked me even once, which presumably means that everyone is already a master of the art, so I've got nothing to worry about. Hurrah. Anwyay, during these fantasies, I sometimes wondered what book I might recommend to the earnest seeker of ways of prayer. The Spirit of St Francis de Sales, perhaps, with its wonderful discourse on praying even in times of spiritual dryness? Or maybe the Imitation…

You're not the Samaritan, you're the dying man

The good Samaritan: a story drummed into our heads from primary school days, perhaps familiar even to the primary school children of this secular age. So maybe you've heard it all before. And with good reason: there's quite a lot you can do with it.

At its most basic, it makes a good moral tale. If you're around my age, maybe you remember at school singing the song "would you walk by on the other side?" The idea being, of course, if you see someone in need over the road, as it were, maybe someone upset in the playground, or whatever, you shouldn't just walk by, you should cross over that road, you should do the right thing and go to help them. So, at this basic moral level, we all know that story and we all know that we're supposed to identify with the Samaritan, as a guide for how we should behave as good Christians.

And then If you go into it a little bit deeper, you can get a delightfully right-on message out of it about how nice foreigners are, a sor…

6 after Trinity: Lambs among Wolves

"I am sending you out like lambs among wolves," said the Lord to the seventy-two; and we know that the wolves are still prowling all around us, even now. Yet we are called to believe that, through the Cross, Christ's victory over evil has already been won. C.S. Lewis explains this paradox by saying that we Christians are like soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. Even though the war is over, we are still in occupied territory. 
One man who was in such occupied territory not just spiritually, but literally too, is remembered by the Church this week. Born in 1912 in Melanesia, Peter To Rot was part of the second generation of Christian converts in the area. A man of great faith, he became a catechist. During the war, the Japanese occupied his island and enclosed all missionaries in camps, Peter among them. There, he organised services, baptised children, and tended the sick and dying. All this he did in a church he made himself out of branches, since the occupiers had destro…