September 25, 2011

Sermon delivered by the Reverend Father Burnet Cherisol
at Holy Faith Episcopal Church, Port St. Lucie, on September 25, 2011


Brothers and sisters:

I am very happy to be here with you today, to pray and also to share the body of Christ; which is the source of joy and hope. I invite you to open your ears and your hearts to take advantage of this moment. May every one of you make a serious effort to be available at this moment to renew your relationship with God, to listen to him and to receive mission from him. Almighty and everlasting God fulfill us of your Holy Spirit. May every one discover that without you, nothing can exist. Fortify our faith in Jesus Christ your son. May we follow you today and forever.

In the gospel for this Sunday, we saw Jesus teaching in the temple. In his speech he gave the resume of his ministry to Jerusalem. In the temple there was a kind of trial between Jesus and the religious authority of Israel. “The chief priests and the elders of the people confronted him as he was teaching and said, by what authority are you doing these things?” (Matthew 21:22) Jesus said that the chief priests and the elders didn’t look for the truth. But they asked the question to disturb Jesus. Saint Jean Chrisostome said: “When someone asks a question to find the truth…it’s important to answer him, but if someone asks a question with a bad intention, the good answer is not mandatory.”  Jesus said that the chief priests and the elders didn’t accept John the Baptist’s message. John the Baptist and Jesus were on the same team and announced the Kingdom of God. In the culture of Israel, everyone must be mandated by God to announce the Kingdom of God. Despite all of the things realized by Jesus such as healing people, opening the eyes of the blind, feeding the crowd, and bringing the gospel to the crowd, they still didn’t believe in Jesus. The presence of Jesus and his predictions constituted big trouble for the priests and the elders. They worked together to eliminate Jesus and to consolidate their power.

In this gospel, Jesus showed them that faith in God is not just a thinking process, but an acting process. God calls every one of us to follow him and build a city of peace and joy. The authority of Jesus came from God. In this sense, his power is to serve, to help, to give life. To have access to his kingdom, we need to hear the gospel and then make a choice. In this case, Jesus calls his people as messengers. Let’s read the passage from the first reading again to better understand the power of faith and also what God asks of every one of us. We see Moses with the people of God crossing the desert to go back to the Promised Land. What happened? The people needed water to drink. The people contended with Moses to give them water to drink. Moses said: “Why do you contend with me?” Moses was very uncomfotable because it was an issue. When God calls us for a mission, he also promises us that he will always be with us.

Today, a lot of people have problems, worries, and they are discouraged during this economic crisis. Some people have lost their jobs which left them unable to care for their families. Some people feel like they cannot do it anymore. When Christians hear their cries, the question is the same, what can they do? This economic crisis engenders a lot of trouble in families which limits their communication. Sometimes they look for someone to talk to, but no one answers.

As Christians, sons and daughters of God, don’t forget that our history, our life, and our problems are in God’s hands. We are called to have an exceptional experience with God, to discover his presence day by day, with patience and prayer. In any situation, the most important thing is to believe without condition. Believe when you understand everything; believe when it is dark in your life; believe when you can pray; believe when you lose your job; believe when your expenses are more than your income; believe when you cry for help and ask for help, but nobody answers. It’s well the moment to remember the words of Jesus: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Let’s go back to the first reading. Moses was walking with the people of God, but when the people needed water to drink, Moses couldn’t do anything. At the end he tried to talk to God, his only support. Even when the people were desperate, Moses believed that his God is a God of kindness and goodness. In the difficult moment, Christians must know how to interpret the silence of God. The silence of God is and answer just like it was on the cross. “Moses go on before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hands your rod with which you struck the river and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it that the people may drink.” (Exodus 17:5-6)

This history of the people of Israel helps us to listen and also to see that God is a faithful God. When we cry, God is always available to answer, but sometimes we walk too fast, we don’t have patience to wait for God. The miracle is always possible, but we need to cultivate patience and also persevere in the faith because for whoever believes, nothing is impossible. God intervenes in our life when we can’t do it any more. He comes to help us. The trip of Moses with the people of God is there to teach us that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God was there  when his people suffered in Egypt; God was there when Jesus opened the eyes of the blind; God was there when Jesus was on the cross. God is with us, he assists us in all cases. The most important thing is to believe in him and be ready to follow him.

Today, God talks to every one of us. He asks us to retreat and repeat: ‘Do not be afraid. You are not alone.’ He is always ready to secure us. Do not hesitate to come back to him. Yes, the God that gave water to his people to drink, this God is here in this church, this God is here. Please open your ears, open your hearts to listen to him, to follow him. Today, like the people of God, we need water, peace, consolation, and hope of eternal life. We also need a community of faith to fortify, day by day, our faith, to grow up in the knowledge of God and his son, Jesus Christ, a strong community dedicated in prayer and fellowship to discover the power of that faith.

Almighty and everlasting God, may we live with our eyes turned to you. Illuminate our lives and our spirits in good and bad moments. May we believe in you when we are alone; things are dark; when our friends and family members abandon us; when we cry but nobody answers. May we believe in you when we lose our job, our house; when we are looking for help; when life doesn’t make sense to us; when we are in trouble. May we believe in you always and everywhere. At the end of the Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 28: 20, we saw Jesus talking with his disciples saying: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, and so, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Today we need to look for Jesus, our only consolation. Jesus said I am always with you in sickness, trials and when you are wrong. In this case, God said, I am a faithful God. In Jesus we understand that faith is not a thought, it is not a word, but an act.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do not be afraid if it’s dark in the world. As St. Paul in his difficult and bad moments said: “Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And the Lord said to me: My grace is sufficient for you For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8) Yes, the church needs strong people to testify that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Before closing this meditation, I invite you to recite and use Solomon’s prayer to present to God our diocese, our church, our families, our material and spiritual needs. This prayer is at the end. We are saying it in solidarity with those responsible in all countries; the president of this country; the presidents of all other countries; and in solidarity with the families of this diocese.

Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. There has not failed one word of all his good promises, which he promised through his servant, Moses. May the Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us nor forsake us. That he may incline our hearts to himself, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers. And may these words of mine with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near the Lord our God day and ight, that he may maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day may require that all the peoples of this earth may know that the Lord is God, there is no other. Let your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes and keep his commandments, as at this day. (1 Kings 8:56-61)