Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
Jesus has called his followers to a way of honest relationship and forgiveness: “Forgive as often as someone asks to be forgiven.” When we hear, again and again, the calls for vengeance, for pay-
The disciples ask of Jesus that he increase their faith. He tells them that if their faith were but the size of a tiny mustard seed they’d perform the most stupendous miracles. Even the deep-
How do we hear this? In the past, I think, it’s made me feel inadequate, faithless.
My first reaction today, though, is frustration. Surely, this is the very notion of faith that gets us into so much trouble – faith as a pointless display of power (Why should a tree be transplanted in the sea?), faith as terrifying power over others, faith as power over creation. Isn’t this one (or more) of the satanic temptations Jesus overcomes?
My second reaction is to smile in appreciation of Jesus as a teacher whose ways are truly cryptic, challenging disciples to greater awareness and responsibility. Jesus employs an absurdist metaphor in order to indicate just how little faith is needed so as to live another way, a way of radically open and forgiving community. As one commentator says: “Just get on with living with integrity and loving one another and stop trying to measure your performance on some sort of faith meter” (Nathan Nettleton).
My smile is also in appreciation of Jesus as a teacher whose ways are satirical. The notion of faith as something that fosters entitlement and superiority (over others and over other creatures) is, indeed, not faith in a God whose costly love creates, indwells and reconciles the world.
Satire is provocative.
When the disciples argue as to whom is the greatest Jesus places a child in their midst and teaches that the one “who is least among you is the one who is great” (Luke 9:46-
In this context, what do we make of the parable we have heard today? What is the parable meaning to illustrate? The parable warns against a book-
When we live as followers and friends of Jesus, the parable teaches, we are doing as we ought to do. We are living as we ought to live – within the reign of God, in a kindom where justice and peace are one, a kindom where love overcomes hatred, a kindom where vengeance yields to forgiveness. When we live as followers and friends of Jesus, service is a liberating service. The kindom of God, ironically (of course), undermines hierarchies, subverts all master-
Put positively, the kindom is egalitarian. The Good News of love for all fosters profound humility.
Franciscan spirituality celebrates just this quality of life. A cursory reading of the tradition turns up references to class-
Francis, known as the alter Christus, Latin for “another Christ”, whose ways were, like Jesus, often cryptic and provocative, invites us to deeper humility – to a kindom beyond our competitive, resentful, self-
If I reflect on my experiences of this – my experiences of sheer gift, my experiences of grace – my experiences of release, of enjoyment (what a wonderful word!) – very often I am led to value the presence of non-
This is one of my favourite services of the year. Our little faith makes us vulnerable. In a good way. Blessed are you, O God, in all your creatures. Amen.