St Hilda's Anglican Catholic Church Service Times

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Every Sunday 2017. Maitland NSW Australia. Venue: St Marys School Chapel in Victoria St. Mass at 11am.
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Fr Matthew Kirby for further details.
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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Palm Sunday 2016

  * The Following is a transcript of an oral sermon
presented by Fr Matthew to his Parish
during Mass on Palm Sunday 2016
 
 
On the original Palm Sunday Jesus has only recently raised Lazarus and His fame and favour with many of the people is great. Their expectations including those of the disciples are high. Jesus refuses to rebuke this well meant praise despite the demands of the Pharisee on that original Palm Sunday. Despite the imperfect motives, the imperfect understanding laying behind all the shouting and the singing because there is truth in their words and there is love in their hearts for He is the king, son of David. "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord", For blessed indeed is the one who bares the name of God, the very son of the almighty father. The one who carries his authority and power and yet there is the donkey. A mere donkey.
 
Jesus will not give himself over to the people and their nationalistic and political desires because as St John tells us "He knew what was in a man". So even here in the midst of that original Palm Sunday procession we see the humility and gentleness of the man Jesus. Not a false modesty that would deny his kingship, for He is a king. But a gentle witness of the true nature of His mission. He comes to serve, even to the point of sacrificing himself. The aim of Jesus is to please and obey the Father, He does not thirst for the praise of men. His deepest desire is to fulfil the will of the one who sent him. As the epistle for today tells us "Christ although God by nature emptied himself and took upon the form of a servant. Being found and fashioned as a man he humbled himself and became obedient unto death. Even the death of the cross". So, we heard today from Philippians.
 
Our prayer book and the King James version of the bible also says "He counted not a prize to be equal with God" but a better translation of the Greek is "He did not see the equality with God something to be grasped or to be desperately held onto" in other words He did not cling to power or the divine prerogative of visible majesty. There is no sense of insecurity or vulnerable pride about the Son Of God for knowing who He is and what he is about to do he has emptied himself in the sight of men and has focused on doing the will of The Father from a pure heart motivated only by love. 

This is the man we meet in the Gospels. This is the Lord we need to get to know better and better. He is the triumphant king but he is also the humble one who rides on a donkey.
 
Todays epistle begins with the words "Let this mind be in you which was also in the mind Jesus". It can be so easy for us to, unlike Jesus, seek the approval and praise of people above all things. Sometimes we might want to be seen as nice or clever or kind or talented or morally upright or some combination of these things. We are not be too concerned if they would think these things of us if they could see into our hearts like God can, better they think well of us then truly.
 
There is a litany that is called the Southwell Litany that says " praise the Lord and deliver us from the comfort of self deception in persuading ourselves that others think better than the truth of us". One is reminded of the title of a popular English comedy "Keeping up appearances". It is easy for us to spend our time thinking about what others think of us. There is a Christian psychologist that said "we'd spend less time worrying about what others think about us if we realised how little they do".

Another temptation for us is to rest in an appraisal of ourselves based on a tallying up of our good works without reflecting on the imperfect motives that may underlay the works or the many failings that may out way them (in other words, selective memory. Remembering the good and not the bad). In other words there is the temptation in seeing ourselves just as superficially as we would like our friends to. Or we might be tempted to worry unduly about our comfort, our security, our safety, anxious about unknown future and the calamities or crisis it could bring. But if we are to retrain our minds to have the mind of Christ we must empty ourselves as He did, of these trivialities, deceptions, detours.

Let us be like Jesus focusing on The Father.
Focusing on pleasing The Father and giving Him glory.

Pleasing man and glorifying ourselves is of cause such an ultimately self defeating and obviously foolish exercise that one might wonder how we are taken in to begin with. The solution lies not in despair at our spiritual stupidity but in forgetting ourselves all together, as it were. Let us have the mind of Christ, the mind which is emptied of all self obsession whether it be in the form of self congratulations , self preservation, or concern for the esteem of others. Instead we must fill our minds with love for God and a desire to please Him trusting in his plan for us and resting in the fact that his gracious acceptance of us is not based on anything we can do for ourselves, not based on anything we think of ourselves and much less is it based on the appraisal of others. He just loves us. Our security, in fact and in feeling and therefore our deliverance from the fears and temptations of pride is found in the cross.
When our thoughts wander into the desert of self, may God help us to return our minds to that oasis where at the tree of Calvary those lovely palm branches will shade us from shame and fear and Christ will give us to drink of himself of the water of life.
 

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