Father Mark on 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

It is written, ‘I believed therefore I have spoken’. With that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak because we know that the one who raised the lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us up with him and present us with you in his presence.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all, so we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hi, my name’s Mark, for those who don’t know me, and I’m sharing a short homily this morning on our reading from 2 Corinthians. Whilst I try to join Father Dave and all of you as often as i can I’m currently traveling around Italy for my 40th wedding anniversary and it’s actually today – the 9th of June – and she who must be obeyed has banned me from getting up overnight to join you live. So, I apologize. This is a recording.

I have many mixed feelings about St. Paul. His certainty, both in persecuting the early church and then his certainty in preaching the good news of Jesus, is sometimes hard to understand. It’s not the message, but the certainty that bothers me.

Now we live in a world that is ever more directing us to be certain about things. We’re challenged always to be on one side of an argument or another, and if we find ourselves in the middle, or if you like the gray area, our media and our society often seem to demand that we move from that middle ground into one side of an argument or the other.

Well, in this letter to the Corinthians, we find St. Paul wavering, or the Corinthians are wavering from the certainty of St. Paul’s message. They’re starting to move towards other apostles and listen to them.

Now, that may be that St. Paul has ignored them for a while or not been with them or not written to them, but the fact is that St. Paul was the person who started this community in Corinth and so he felt a particular responsibility to ensure that it continued to grow in the way that his vision, his connection with Christ made it.

Now, as we probably know, St. Paul was a very direct person from what we can read of him. He didn’t shy away from challenges or confrontation or anything else. And that was part of his strength of faith, his certainty, if you like, his ability to be on the right side as he saw it of the argument about Jesus Christ, and so when he came to look at the people of Corinth, he very much had to decide what could he say to them to bring them back to his side of the argument what could he do to make them more certain about his message so he focused on the resurrection message.

Now, for many of us today, and I see this through not just my own experience but through the church as a whole, we see the resurrection message as being a message about Easter. We think about it on the build-up to Easter. We go through this journey that Christ went through. went through this journey to the cross and then this journey back to new life. But it’s an Easter event that we don’t really think about much after Easter is over until it comes around the following year. But for St Paul, and I think certainly for me as well, this is not a story about Easter only. Resurrection is a story about our daily lives in being followers of Christ. And so, I find myself a little bit in sympathy with St. Paul, even agreeing with him in the sense of his certainty that the resurrection story is about more than just what happened at Easter.

Now, I’ve spoken to a number of I preached on this before and spoken to a number of other Christians and indeed priests who feel that talking about resurrection outside of Easter is not necessarily going to end up being a positive thing. experience for people but i i disagree because for me the resurrection story is one of hope it’s a hope that has kept human beings going for decades for centuries even for thousands of years and today, we hear people say well you know don’t worry tomorrow’s another day things will be different tomorrow things will be better tomorrow and the reason that people say that is that they’re imbued with a sense of hope that what it is our lives are today, they don’t necessarily have to be tomorrow.

In other words, we can be new people again the next day, or we can be resurrected, if you like, the next day into a new life with Christ. And hope’s a really vital part of the Christian message.

This last week, I had a Zoom call with a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a woman in her 50s, and she is a Muslim. And she was arrested a month or so ago in the middle of the night from her home because she had been preaching to her Jewish and Arabic students about what genocide means, about the effects of genocide on people from a historical and a current perspective, clearly referring to Gaza.

Now, she didn’t in any sense agree with Hamas, and she didn’t agree with the actions of Hamas, but as part of her lecturing, it is to bring all sides of an argument to a group of students and allow them to decide their own way of thinking about it. And in so doing, she came to the, first of all, the notices of the leaders of the Hebrew University, but also the government of Israel. And when she was arrested, she’s in her 50s, she’s on medication for a number of different illnesses. And they kept her in chains in a room without a bed. She was given no water. They refused her medicine. And she unfortunately had a mini stroke while in prison.

After a few days, she was released. And when I spoke to her and asked her about her experience, she said one of the key things for her was that she survived because she could hear her Jewish and Arabic students singing and protesting outside of the prison for her release. And it gave her hope. And she knew that the international community and that we’re all a part of would be up in arms about it, in particular the academic world, and indeed we were.

We wrote letters and many things happened and she was eventually released, and she is not currently in Israel but hopes to go back but is in fear of being arrested again, but it was that hope in Christ, even though she’s a Muslim, it was that hope that because, as Christians in the Holy Land, we are a small entity but we are very influential in working with both Jewish and Muslim people who are willing to work for peace. And she got a sense through her faith and her experience of working with us that Jesus Christ was a person of hope and that if her students and the world were prepared to pray for her and to demonstrate for her, then there was certainly hope. And it’s interesting that she could see that hope both in her own faith, but also in our faith in Christ.

So, hope is an interesting thing. Resurrection is an interesting thing. We know that we are going to be resurrected in this in the life that comes after this earthly one and be with Christ and be with God. It’s their promise. But resurrection is also about what happens here as part of our life on Earth.

Now, I get up every day and I, you know, for want of a better of an old joke, I check the obituaries inthe newspaper to make sure I’m not in them. And if I’m not, then it’s a good thing. But I start every day with a clean slate. No matter what happened yesterday or what I anticipate may happen tomorrow.

I know that Christ has given me an opportunity today to start again, to start my life with hope. And that’s the resurrection message. Every day I can be born again to new life, just as Christ was. and lead that life through the day as if the resurrect the resurrected Christ is a part of me which of course he is through the power of the holy spirit it means that i can face daily challenges with a certain strength it means that I can enjoy things in the day knowing that Christ is a part of that as well and I’m often described as being irritatingly optimistic by those who know me and that’s partly my natural personality but I also believe it’s partly because i believe that every day Jesus Christ through the power of his spirit is making me think about the day in a hopeful new way so as some Paul was challenging the people of Corinth to see the life in a a new way as a resurrected life every day so i believe he challenges me and you to do the same thing

So, I hope and I pray that each of you who shares these services with Dave may be encouraged to believe that whatever is happening in your lives and in the lives of those in the world who we pray for and who we think about, there is a chance that every day we can all be a resurrected life, we can have a resurrected life and be today the person that Christ taught us to be, the person that he died for us to be, and the person that he rose to new life for us to be.

God bless you all, and I hope to see you soon.

First broadcast on The Sunday Eucharist – June 9th, 2024
Father Mark is President of Friends of Sabeel, Australia – 

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