Word Magazine October 1972 Page 7/16


Sermon by Father James C. Meena

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“And in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torment and seeing Abra­ham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom, and he cried out and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” (St. Luke 16:22)

The middle section of this parable spoken by Christ to His Apostles, speaks of things which have often mystified modern man. It speaks of hell, it speaks of torments, it speaks of the ability of people in hell to see beyond into the bosom of Abraham which must be some counterpart of hell. Something opposite therefrom where there is no torment. It speaks of flame and it speaks of comfort and prior to this it speaks of angels when it says, “It came to pass that the beggar died and he was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.” (V 21)

And we in the year of our Lord, 1971, in this age of sophistication, of technology, of scientific progress that surpasses in the last 50 years all of man’s scientific knowledge in the previous 50 centuries, are called up­on to believe in the angels, and in hell, and in torment. I think about these things and I wonder how many of us have the capacity to look beyond the surface knowledge of our generation, to look beneath the so­phisticated veneer of our technolog­ical advances and to find there and in our humility our inability to grasp all of the mysteries of all the ages in one life time; that no matter how wise, how clever, how intelli­gent we are, it is not possible for us to understand all the mysteries of God as they have been unveiled to man throughout the centuries.

I remember, as a youth, expressing my amazement to my late father about the complexities of the Arabic language. He made a statement that impressed me very much then, and which has been verified by several Arabic scholars and with whom I have come into contact over the years.

He said: that if a man lived a full life, if he lived to be an hundred years old and if he studied the Ara­bic language every day and if he were graced with the greatest intel­ligence that man has, yet in one life time he could not master the Arabic language; that with all of its grammatical rules and grammatical excep­tions it would be virtually impossible for one man in one life time to em­brace all there is to know about this one language.

If this is true about a language add thereto all of the languages of the world, all the cultures of the world, all of the races of the world; throughout all of the history of the world and ask yourself if it is possible for any one person to fathom all the mysteries and truths of all of these great areas of life. I say it is not possible. Yet there are those in our society, as there have been in every society throughout all the ages

of man, who insist that there is in­vested in them all truth and all knowledge. These say to us: “There is no God.” These say to us: “There is no grace. These say to us: “There is no salvation and no redemption.” These say to us: “There is no hope.” And the tragedy is that we become as conceited as they. We begin to believe as they, and we begin to question the veracity of our own faith and the heritage of belief that has been handed down to us from father to son, not in books, but from mouth to ear and from heart to heart over one breakfast table after another, from generation to genera­tion, with love and compassion and concern.

Why did your father and mother teach you about God, about grace and about salvation? First, because they believed. Secondly, because they understood that it was essential to your well being. Could they prove it? Of course not! Can I prove that God exists? Of course not! The Church never said She could. I nev­er said I could. If it were possible for us to prove irrefutably the exis­tence of God we could eradicate from our vocabulary the word “Faith.” The word, “Belief,” would no longer have any place in our con­versation. If it were possible for us beyond a shadow of doubt, to prove to you scientifically and technologi­cally that GOD IS, then “Faith” and “Belief” would become archaic expressions without meaning.

There are those today who insist that in order for us to be saved, we must cast off the mantle of Ortho­doxy, and become members of their faith. The Pentecostal and Evange­listic movements in this country are gaining momentum again at a fast pace as they did immediately follow­ing World War II for a period of time, after which they went into a more quiet period.

When you are confronted by the challenging statements of these good neighbors, these well-intentioned people who insist that they alone and their Church only have grace, remember what St. Paul says to you today:

“God who is rich in His mercy, for His great love with which He loved us even when we were dead in sins, has given us life together with Christ, (By grace ye are saved.)” (Ephesians 2:4)

“By grace you are saved through faith,” says St. Paul, “and that, not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast, for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before or­dained that we should walk in them.” (V 9-10)

“By grace ye are saved.”

No matter what you may do in this life time, says St. Paul, no matter how great and how varied and how many are your good works, no matter how strong and all encom­passing your faith, only God can save you by His grace in Christ Jesus.

And while all these things are nec­essary, faith, works, 1ove, hope: all these things essential to our relation­ship with God, still we do not have the power to save ourselves.

No man has the right to say: “I am saved,” lest he make a contradiction of the statement of Paul, the venerable Evangelist, who said that we are saved by a gift of God. By Grace, and not by anything we do so that we can not be boastful — IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.