These are troubling times - wars, famine, persecutions, slavery, pestilence and plague, executions, assassinations, and murder, abortions, starvation, denial of basic human rights and dignity, exploitations and inequality, threats and terrorisms – unspeakable horrors in the world today. Look to the east, look to the west, to the north and to the south – within and without our own lands . . .
But then when have we not been in troubling times.
Throughout the history of mankind we have always been victims of our own greed, pride, sloth, envy, wrath, lust and gluttony. Encouraged by the evil-one, we wander away from the protection of the shepherd; exploring the far corners of the pasture – believing we are masters of our own fate. We stumble into briars and rocky places; falling into dark caves, snares and traps; carried away by lions and wolves - predators who slay and devour.
We cry out for a savior
We search the horizon for a rescuer
We beg for a deliverer to release us from the dangers that threaten our lives;
We pleading for a redeemer who will free us from the perils that besets us
In our despair our faith weakens – our hope fails – we feel abandoned and lost.
We are like lost sheep, crying out to be saved from the follies of our own design.
Like Peter, we only need to reach out to our Lord, Jesus to find our hope and courage. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, our Redeemer and Savior. Jesus is the one who stretches out his hand to bring us out of the clutches of the evil-one - away from sin and destruction: into the arms of our loving God and the peace of His heavenly kingdom and life eternal.
As was Peter when he climbed out of the boat we, in our humanness, we begin in hope and desire, excited to see our Lord, but then, in the turbulence of the stormy sea, we begin to doubt. Fear creeps into our hearts and we begin to flounder and flail; sinking into misery and despair, crying out to be saved by our Lord.
The evil-one betrays us with doubts and fears – telling us what God has promised is not possible – that we are unlovable and unworthy of God’s grace because we are irredeemable sinners. It is hopeless to try and live up to the expected perfection of Christ, so do not try, but settle for what is good in the here and now – what satisfies and delights us in this life. Evil tells us that this is the only life that matters – all we will ever know – because what God offers is an impossible dream.
The evil-one makes us doubt –
He leads us to question Truth, and plants uncertainly and fear in our hearts. These are the tools of the evil-one – used effectively to defeat hope and discourage; turning us away from the love of God.
The evil-one sows the seeds of false promises among the good seeds of faith. He promises us the rewards of this world - if only we believe in the false god’s he puts before us: – power, wealth, and command.
False gods that cannot save, gods that have no life in them, promises that lure us away from the Truth of the Almighty’s promise of life everlasting and peace.
Listen to the Good News! – Jesus, the Christ is our safety and security.
He is with us always, until the end of the age and stands by us in our time of need.
He rescues us, lifts us up and sustains us. Have faith in Him, for our salvation is in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is with Him that we are raised up to new life.
It is in Him that we receive God’s promise of Eternal Life.
It is through Him that we are welcomed in the heavenly kingdom of peace
Faith in Jesus Christ is all we need.
In Jesus’ death and resurrection we have new life. Through God’s sacrifice of His only Son we have received forgiveness of our sins – He is the holy sacrifice - once and for all time – be not afraid.
Preach the Good News! – Tell all the nations that we believe that in our baptism we too have died to sin and are raised up to new life in Christ Jesus.
Through our baptism we are made one with Him: members of the Body of Christ, His holy Church, where we are gathered; giving thanks and praise to our Creator who loves us and gives us His grace and welcomes us into His promise of peace in His heavenly kingdom – forever and ever - Amen.