Thought for Sunday
The Laois People is delighted to start ‘Thought for Sunday’ with a sermon from the Reverend Stanley Monkhouse of Portlaoise and Ballyfin Parishes. Reproduced here with the kind permission of Stanley. People of other faiths and no faith are welcome to send in their ‘Thought for Sunday’.
Easter Sermon 2014
Picture the last supper. You are Jesus. Around the table are the motley crew of people who have attached themselves to you. Maybe you don’t like some of them. Maybe they’re not all that keen on you, but something makes them stick. You know that some of them plot behind your back. You know that some of them jostle for the place of deputy. Some of them have mammies and possibly daddies who are not above trying to get favours for their little darlings. They say one thing to your face, and something else behind your back. Some of them do the dirty on you. And all of them dissolve into thin air when the going gets tough. There is something of Satan in them all.
This, girls and boys, is us. In a few minutes time we will kneel at the altar and share in the holy mysteries. Next to you will be someone in one or more of those categories—and so are you.
Get over it. Getting over it is resurrection.
Forgiveness is resurrection. Put the past behind you. Don’t forget, but rather learn from whatever happened. If we do not forgive, we hurt ourselves more than we hurt the person we think has offended us.
Imagination is resurrection. Think how things could be better. Think what might increase the amount of delight in the world and work for it. Work, that is, from where we are, not from where we would like to be, or where we used to be. This means beginning by taking stock of reality.
Breaking down barriers is resurrection. We spend our lives building our own tombs, constructing them from the inside.
◦ We’re careful about how we seem to our friends – Facebook is designed for life in the tombs.
◦ We’re careful not to think too much or too deeply about anything, especially about ourselves and who we are.
◦ We’re careful not to say too much or to show our thoughts.
◦ We kid ourselves that we’re making ourselves safe as we build our tomb stone by stone. Stones of possessions, attitudes, notions, postures, bank balances, club memberships, prejudices. Then when we put the last stone in place, we reach that moment when we feel completely safe. Smug. We cut out the last ray of light from the outside, and we sit in the artificial light of the windowless room. There we stay, physically alive and spiritually dead.
◦ We shut ourselves off from life and from the Divine. We enclose ourselves in our own fat. We are so careful about controlling our lives that we exclude everything and everybody.
Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Two different sorts of life: one risk free but spiritually dead, the other vulnerable and risky but alive. Like standing on the top of Everest and shouting ‘I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive!’ This is the real me living life to the full.
Resurrection is about breaking down barriers. The chick smashes its way through the shell. Nobody can see the light if you hide it. Nobody can see it unless you smash the pot it’s in. As we demolish barriers, we will feel vulnerable. When we are most vulnerable we are most in touch with, and completely safe in, the Divine. Some of you think I talk too much about death. That pleases me, for the main job of the priest is to prepare people for death. It’s good to get to the end of life feeling that it’s been one hell of a ride.
And that’s perhaps the best way of looking at resurrection: making life one hell of a ride. A very happy Easter to you all.