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16 February 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 27-02-2014

Michelangelo would have a shape in his mind. He would then go to a quarry to search for a block of marble that might contain that shape. Having found what he wanted he would set to work to produce first a rough outline. Then he would begin to refine it.  That is what Our Lord is doing in his Sermon on the Mount of which we had a section in the gospel this morning. In the Old Testament, through those He inspired, God produced a rough sketch of the relationship He planned between Him and us.  Jesus refines it. He gives ultimate expression to that relationship on the night before he dies. We are to share his own relationship to his Father. Father, Son and Spirit share the same power source.  We are plugged in to that source of power. We become simply one with God.  Which means that the first reading this morning needs refinement? The aim of Ben Syra, that is the name of the man who wrote the book we know as Ecclesiasticus, is to show that God is not the source of evil. He says: “If you wish you can keep the commandments, to behave faithfully is within your power”. A Christian today would have a problem with those words. Taken as they stand they would favour a heresy called Pelagianism. Christianity came to Britain with the Roman legions and Pelagius was the most distinguished of the ancient British Christians.  Unfortunately he was rather too enthusiastic about what he thought we could do without being directly linked to God. He is said to have taught that we could lead a good life just by putting our minds to it.  He came up against St Augustine who was already a bit of a pessimist in regard to human nature.  The Church reflected and has taught ever since that unless we are geared to God our bias towards selfishness may not be corrected.   The lesson is to realise the meaning of our Holy Communion.  We are being drawn into the most intimate union with God, our empowerment to make those choices which will lead to our doing some good in the world. 

 

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