Thursday, February 23, 2017

You have been Warned

Since the earliest days of the Church, and during the Old Testament times, there have been issues with member of the Church living lives that are not worthy of being called Christians. Many have even over the centuries caused great scandals in the Church by their behavior. Christ often spoke of the people who were members in name only as hypocrites. Look around your parish this weekend and I’m sure you will find a few, maybe even in the mirror.

In preparation for the Great Fast, the Church makes ever effort to bring our attention to our own sinfulness and begs us to stop looking for the sin in others. But that does not mean we are not supposed to keep our eyes open to the warning signs that one of our brothers or sisters is walking a dangerous line. St Jude boldly warns those who live this ungodly life that the “gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever.” While there may always be faithless members of our Church, that in no way should offer us the excuse to not be counted among the faithless. Consider the Epistle Reading:
St. Jude's First Universal Letter 1:11-25 (RSV) - Beloved, woe to the ungodly, for they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error, and perish in Korah's rebellion.  These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they boldly carouse together, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, carried along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever. It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."  These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own passions, loud-mouthed boasters, flattering people to gain advantage. But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions."  It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.  But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  And convince some, who doubt; save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever.  Amen.
I invite you read this epistle reading as if to you and not to “the others”. Are you a grumbler, malcontent, follow your own passions, loud-mouth boaster? Do you flatter people to gain some advantage? Do you set up divisions among the members of the Church? I pray you are not, but chances are better than you struggle, even if you don’t fall, with the temptations that St Jude warns against. Lucky for you, the Church offers the Great Fast as an opportunity to reset your bearings and abandon the ungodly life.

The Great Fast is about repentance through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, Holy Confession, and the other Mysteries of the Church. It is about spending time IN CHURCH in the PHYSICAL PRESENCE of God. It is about restoring what was lost in our ancestors’ disobedience in the Garden. It is about living a new life in Christ. I pray you are willing. If’ve been warned by St Jude what awaits.

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