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The Sixth Sunday after Trinity
By W. J. Hankey
from 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 the publisher.
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.