St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Trinity XXV : Fr Tony Hogg

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 The Gospel today warns us against deceivers who try to sell us Christianity which is not the
 genuine article. So we are urged to be on our guard.
Of course there are gifts of healing in the Church, but if some new organization clamours for 
allegiance, and to substantiate its claims relies heavily on accounts of bodily healings, trance, 
second sight and psychological power, distrust it. It is a deceiver. The signs of the presence of 
Christ are not signs and wonders, but Christian character. That is why in the Gospel today 
Jesus has not given some sort of puzzle or riddle. Many people approach scripture as if it 
were some sort of brainteaser that they must crack and so learn its secrets. That’s why fiction 
like “The Divinci Code” is so popular. People are trying to use scripture for something other 
than that for which it is intended. Jesus does not give this text or any other for that matter, to 
enable us to pinpoint the specific date of His return, but rather to tell us how things will be 
before He returns and how we should live until He does return. He tells us that judgment is 
coming and that we should be good stewards of what He has given us, that we had better be 
expecting His return because it will come when the world least expects it. So instead of 
wasting our time trying to figure out WHEN He will return, this passage tells us what we 
should be doing until He returns. 
Remember one thing: we are given God’s word not merely 
to inform us but rather to transform us. Truth can transform, but only truth that is placed into 
application. Our Lord’s message is meant to change our lives, not merely fill our heads.
When Christ is present in a life, no movement or an organization, no complicated explanation 
will be required. When the lightning shines, there is no need for careful reasoning to show 
that it is lighting. Everybody sees it. Everybody recognizes it. So is the presence of Christ. We 
must not be deceived therefore by rationalization, which can only lead to us being deceived.
If we are fully Christian, if the Church is true to the Lord, then whom we serve shall be 
obvious. If not, it could be that we are even deceiving ourselves. But always as we were 
reminded in today’s Collect ‘we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious 
kingdom” and we can be sure of that because we can look forward with great joy to the 
return of our Lord and Saviour, but all in God’s good time and not ours.
So it is with biblical authority that we can profess “Things will get worse before they get 
better.” Jesus tells us what the culture will look like before He returns. There will be wars, 
famines, earthquakes, pestilence and persecution of His people. He tells us there will be 
many false prophets, lawlessness and the love of many will grow cold. BUT he also tells us 
that the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world, to all nations.
For Christians, as we proclaim in our creed that “he shall come again with glory to judge both 
the quick and the dead.” As I said earlier we should not join those who are preoccupied by 
looking for the date of such, but just keep the faith. And we do that by our private prayer, our 
being at Mass and our reading of scripture so that we ‘read, mark,learn, and inwardly digest them.’ 
When we read the words of Jesus trustingly, they speak to our hearts and lives; we want to 
pray; we feel we are called by these words. And we find that as we pray, the one we are 
meeting in prayer is the same person we encounter in the Bible’s written page. The Holy 
Spirit has brought Jesus to us by inspiring the original writers and brought us to Jesus as we 
seek His prayerful guidance. 
Reading the Bible trustingly, with Jesus at the centre, praying from it and applying it, is really 
essential to Christian living .It is how we come to understand all that Jesus says and tells us 
even better, and how we allow Jesus’ words to permeate our very beings. Remember what 
Paul tells us: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” If we do just that we will not be 
worried nor dwell on trying to fathom dates and times for something which is out of human 
control. No rather we will be always struck by the truth that we can trust the words of Jesus, 
just as those first writers who wrote down the words of today’s Gospel reading because they 
saw Jerusalem destroyed and realized that this was the beginning of the passing of heaven 
and earth, just as Jesus said. This process will take longer than any of us think, but Jesus’ 
words stand in the middle of the Bible and in the midst of a constantly changing, crumbling 
cosmos.
At the end of World War 11 downtown Warsaw was almost totally levelled. Only one skeletal 
structure remained on the main street, and many devout Poles regarded it like a shrine. It 
was the Bible Society HQ and the words carved on its only remaining wall were clearly legible 
from the street: “ Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
So let us remember this week the majesty and grace of scripture on the world, let us read 
them! Pay attention to them! All this with great joy too! Let them comfort us when we are 
disturbed and disturb us when we are comfortable.
Amen
 
 
 

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