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St Matthews Church Oxhey Hertfordshire

Fr David's Sermon

9th February 2003

Fr David Shepherd

Fourth Sunday before Lent

In the winter months I often find myself drawn by the bare form of trees and by the interplay of light on them. If I were an artist no doubt I would attempt to paint them. It is easy to forget that underground the root system is equally impressive but of course it can never be seen in the same way. Trees need roots to hold them in the ground in a storm and to draw up the moisture that sustains their life.

As Christians it is good to remind ourselves that we need to be rooted in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the source of our strength and life. Today's Gospel gives us valuable insights as to how we can be rooted in him.

  1. The story opens with Jesus and the disciples leaving the synagogue. We might say that it begins with worship. The worship of God is at the root of everything we do. It should be our first call, our priority. To neglect it is to break the commandments. It is not always easy, there is an element of sacrifice involved, but it is life giving.
  2. Caring and loving has a personal and particular focus. Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John and healed Simon's mother in law. Our Christian ministry will have a focus beginning with those we know.
  3. The disciples told Jesus at once. We can tell God at once in our prayers of specific needs. When those needs are met we can respond in thankful service, just as Simon's mother in law did.
  4. Sometimes ministry can be general, impersonal even, and over whelming. The whole city came to Jesus, a big crowd, and he healed many, but not all. There are limits to what we can do too.
  5. The demons recognised Jesus. When we are close to God the forces of evil will recognize this and oppose Christ at work in us. Thus there is a need for prayerful discernment.
  6. 'Early in the morning, while it was yet dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there prayed.' Jesus needed to spend time alone with his father to enable him to meet the particular and general needs of others. Here we are given a glimpse of Jesus rooted in sustaining and strengthening prayer.
    All of us need to follow his example, to find the space in our lives to be with God.
  7. Sometimes the demands become too much and it is time to move on. The disciples came hunting for Jesus with the news that everyone was looking for him. His response was to say that they must go to the neighbouring towns to proclaim the message there also. There is a time to say no and to move on somewhere else. Jesus doesn't allow the excessive demands of some to stand in the way of his mission. Again prayerful discernment is called for; something that only comes if we are rooted in Christ.
  8. If we wish to take our Christian discipleship and pastoral ministry seriously then to today's Gospel has much to teach us. As we come forward to receive the sacrament of anointing we can pray for grace to learn its lesson and apply them in our lives.

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Last updated 9/2/2003 14:00:00 Author: Fr David Shepherd