The Parish Church of Sarum St. Martin, Salisbury Wiltshire

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From the Priest-In-Charge of Sarum St. Martin’s

29th in OT C 2019

There is a story told of a young man who sailed through his life completely untroubled: nothing seemed to disturb his equilibrium.  He was not particularly wealthy nor was he particularly poor, but his monetary needs were met.  There was always food and drink on his table; his rent and rates were always paid on time and he never wanted for a shilling for the gas or electricity meter!  He was safe, content and happy: a model life which was unaffected by what went on around him.  Then one day all that changed, for one day the young man was converted and became a Christian.  And now the safety, contentment, even the happiness he had known all flew out of the window.   This brief story could be told  about many of the saints, like Giovanni de Pietro di Bernardone, nicknamed the Frenchman, Francesco, by his father.  We know him better as St. Francis of Assisi.  Or Ignacio Lopez, a knight from the Basque Country of Spain who having been wounded in battle was truly converted by reading a book called ‘De Vita Christi’ ‘On the Life of Christ.’  We now know him as St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Both of these men, now honoured as saints of the Church had led untroubled lives until they responded to the call of God.  From the moment of their conversion until the day of their death life was anything but untroubled.  Yet why, we might ask, should that have been so, for surely an active Christian faith leads to a safe, content and happy life?

A few minutes ago we sang these words; “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” and the choir sang for us such phrases as “My help shall come from the Lord” & “No, he sleeps not nor slumbers, Israel’s guard” & “The Lord will guard you from evil”.  Surely, we might reasonably protest, the Psalmist says that if we trust in the Lord, the Lord will protect and keep us safe: we will be safe, content and happy?  And indeed we will, but the safety, contentment and happiness will be of a completely different kind!

Francesco di Bernardone and Ignacio Lopez were granted safety, contentment and happiness by the Lord after their conversion and went to their graves praising the Lord Jesus for these gifts that He had granted them.  But Jesus had granted them something more; Jesus had opened their eyes so that they could see with His eyes the condition of the world.  Francesco threw away his clothes and all that his previous life had been, wore rags and even stood on his head so that he could see the world for what it truly is, a place where we get most things upside down, a place depending for its existence on a hair’s thickness of twine held by the hand of God to stop it falling into chaos.  Francis saw and embraced lepers, not because he was mad but because he saw the face of Jesus in those disfigured by that terrible disease.  Ignacio hung up his military accoutrements before the image of Our Lady in the Abbey Church of Santa Maria de Monserrat and embraced a life of asceticism and prayer striving to use his gifts under God to teach whomever he could the good things about life in Christ.  Both Francis and Ignatius and indeed the countless other unknown saints of God saw the face of Jesus, the presence of Jesus, God made man, in the situations of their lives, and seeing Him in the troubled, the sad, the neglected, the disfigured, the distressed they found

Fr David Fisher

that their lives were troubled.  I sometimes wonder if at those times they did not, openly or secretly, wish that they had never heard of Jesus, let alone been converted by Him.  We might say, “Ah yes, but they persevered, they battled on”.  Yes they did, and the more they persevered, the more they battled on, the deeper they were taken into the mystery of God made Man in Jesus.  And the deeper they were taken into this supreme Mystery of our Faith, the less safe, the less content, but mysteriously the more happy they became.  Yes, the more happy they became!  Their lives had been turned upside down and inside out, yet they were more happy than they could have imagined.  Why? To answer that look at the first reading this morning from the Book of Exodus.  The meaning of this passage is that if you, we, all of us, will only trust in God then God will not only work miracles through us but will give us the victory over the problems and difficulties that we encounter in life, not by removing these troubles from our lives but by allowing us to see them as he sees them and so worship the Father by serving them.

At the end of the Gospel the Lord asks, “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?”  Well in one sense He will; people going to Church; people praying; people collecting money for Christian charities.  And He will rejoice, I have no doubt.  But in another and perhaps deeper sense will He see us and others truly seeing the world through His eyes, and so seeing acting as He would, trusting that the will of the Father is the way to true happiness?
Pray that in your life that may be so.


Almighty God, you have made us members of Christ and of his Church in this parish. May we as a congregation reach upwards to your throne in worship and adoration: inwards to one another in understanding and fellowship; and outwards to the world in evangelism and social compassion. Make us like a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden, so that men and women may find Christ as the Light of the World, and his Church as the family of the redeemed, and eternal life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

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