The Sixth Sunday after Trinity
By W. J. Hankeyfrom COMMON PRAYER, Volume Six: Parochial
Homilies for the Eucharist Based on the Lectionary of the Book of Common
Prayer, 1962, Canada. (p. 109-112)
St. Peter Publications
Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada. Reprinted with permission of
God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God
in him. (1 John 4.16)
Two opposing human realities strike me more and more all the time: one,
the depth and extent of human sin, evil and misery; the other, the pervasive
and persistent desire of humans to love and to be loved. Moreover,
the terrible but hopeful fact is that these two, our sin and misery and
our need to love and beloved, are altogether wrapped up in one another.
You cannot look into any human wrong without discovering love frustrated
because it is undeveloped, untrained, unsure or weak, perverted, misapplied.
I am moved to observe this because during the past week John Hinkley Junior,
the young man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Regan, applied
for release from the psychiatric hospital to which he has been confined.
John Hinkley claims that he is cured. It happens that, in the days
just before his request was announced, I had been reading a very exten-sive
account of the psychiatric evidence given at the Hinkley trial. That
evidence makes it clear that he shot three men, including the President
of the United States, men with whom he had no quarrel at all. He
shot these men out of desire to gain the love of others and to demonstrate
his own. Such love as this is clearly confused, frustrated, and diseased.
It also seems to me that the evidence shows that John Hinkley was responsible
through self-indulgence, sloth, self-pity, pride and other sins for the
disease of his own powers of discernment and love. Worst of all,
this is true of the whole of mankind, individually and collectively.
The propers for today are all about love, about the standard and measure
of our love, about how the disease and deficiency of our love is to be
cured and amended. Jesus gives us the measure:
Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless
them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. . .
love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again;
and your reward shall be great and ye shall be the children of the Highest:
for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore
merci-ful, as your Father also is merciful.
The standard of our love is the love of God the Father, the God who creates
and preserves and redeems us out of sheer generosity and loving kindness.
He makes the sun to shine and the kind rain to fall on both the just and
the unjust, the perfect and sinners. We are to love as he does: that
is, to love our enemies, doing good to those that hate us. That is
what the good God does who gives his Son to suffer and die for sinners.
These sinners show they hate God by the cruel murder of his Son, yet in
this death God saves them. Such love as moves God our Father is not
just something nice to be wished for. Our destiny, our judgement
depends upon it. If we love as God loves, our reward shall be great
and we will be the children of the Most High. If we do not learn
such love, we will be lost. Learning to love as God loves, this is
the whole meaning and purpose of life. Unless we learn such love,
we are destruction and misery to ourselves, our brothers and sisters, and
to the world.
The Christian religion teaches us that the perfect love of God must
be what moves us if we are not to be lost eternally. It also teaches
what we experience every day: that although we long to be loved by such
a love ó and to love with such a love, longing which shows the good state
from which we have fallen ónonetheless we are no longer capable of this
love. We are responsible for our incapacity and there-fore we are
subject to judgement; but we are no longer able to regain the power and
freedom of love which we have surrendered. To love aright we must
be altogether transformed by true love. We must die and be born again.
New life and true love by entering into the death and resurrection of Jesus,
transformation by partaking of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,
this is the whole meaning and purpose of our religion.
Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus
Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him
by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
. . reckon ye. . . yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto
God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus gives us a standard of love, the love by which the Father makes,
preserves, and redeems the world. He tells us that our place at the
judgement depends upon our being in this love and loving others and ourselves
by it. Then Jesus offers himself as our means of entering and receiving
the love of God. He is the means by which we learn to love as God
loves us. That is why our whole life must be devoted to feeding upon
the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Baptism is the means of
entering the death to the old, weak, perverted, and frustrated love which
is sin, and discovering the strength of love stronger than death, the love
of God for us. Dying and rising again in that love is our purpose
for being here this morning; it is the meaning of all our religious exercises.
Before concluding with this morningís Collect which draws together our
Gospel and Epistle, let me make an appeal to you. We all need and
long for love. We want to be loved and we want power to love, the
power to love aright and to show and give that love. Our lives are
devoted to learning such love from God in Jesus Christ. By his gift
of himself we have some power to love and we are assured of Godís love
for us. Let me beg you to endeavour such love in your daily lives.
For the young this is a question of turning away from bad habits and false,
superficial, erotic, violent, exciting love which destroys the power of
the soul for true love. For the young, learning love is a matter
of discipline, discernment, obedience to good habits. To those of
us who are older, learning love is a matter primarily of faithfulness.
In Quebec province alone there are 25,000 children constantly tossed from
one foster home to another, the so-called pinball children. These
children never learn in their formative years how steady, trustworthy,
faithful love works. They never learn from those around them the
love of God the Father. This is a terrible sign of the wickedness
of our time. Let us pray for forgiveness and the power and grace
to do better.
This power and grace is given here this morning in the blessed sacrament
of the altar. Let us pray for it:
O God who hast prepared for them that love thee such good
things as pass manís understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards
thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which
exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.