July 2017 Convocation Newsletter
The Rt. Rev. Pierre W. Whalon
One of the things that I have been involved in is the welcoming of refugees to France, principally from Iraq but now also from Syria, those refugees who are persecuted . . . threatened with death directly and personally because of their faith. Most of them are Christians, but some of them are Muslims of minority persuasion, Alawites and so forth. I want to just start today by telling you a story from one family of refugees. A couple and their children came to the Cathedral in September. They had just arrived in France, in August, from Mosul.
In today's reading from Romans, Paul raises the issue of the law versus faith. And, this of course, is a theme of the Protestant Reformation, and in particular, the thought of Martin Luther. The law seems to be in the writings of Paul, a way of death, something that condemns us, as we cannot keep it. And, on the other hand, justification by faith gives us a new way to live…a way forward that is open to us by believing and accepting that Christ died for our sins that we might be free from them, that Christ rose from the dead, that we might be free from death. All of this, I don’t want to deny, but I want to go a little further in the question of law versus faith.
La prima Domenica di Quaresima è sempre dedicata alla storia delle tentazioni di Gesù nel deserto. Dopo essere stato battezzato, Egli viene trasportato dallo Spirito nel deserto. Tutti e tre I Vangeli raccontano la storia, solo che il Vangelo di Marco è il più breve. "Subito dopo, lo Spirito lo sospinse nel deserto; e rimase nel deserto per quaranta giorni, tentato da Satana. Stava tra le bestie selvatiche e gli angeli lo servivano (Vangelo secondo Marco 1:12-13 NR06)". Matteo e Luca aggiungono le tre famose sfide del diavolo che Marco omette. Perchè? (Sermon also in English)
The first Sunday of Lent is always devoted to the story of the Temptation of Jesus in the desert. After John baptizes him, Jesus is pushed out into the desert by the Holy Spirit. All three Gospels tell the story, although Mark is the shortest. "Subito dopo, lo Spirito lo sospinse nel deserto; e rimase nel deserto per quaranta giorni, tentato da Satana. Stava tra le bestie selvatiche e gli angeli lo servivano. (Vangelo secondo Marco 1:12-13 NR06)" Matthew and Luke add the famous three challenges of the devil, which Mark omits. Why?
Today is one of the great feasts of the Church, the feast of the Transfiguration. It is such a great feast that we celebrate it twice in the church year -- a second time in August. But the last Sunday in Epiphany is always the feast of the Transfiguration. It is about this extraordinary story that we have just read in Mark’s version of the Gospel. Jesus takes the three disciples who are closest to him and takes them up on a high mountain where something happens. Jesus ‘morphs’ in front of them. Rather, we use the word ‘transfiguration’ which is the Latin translation of the Greek word which is metamorphosis. And what does Jesus become?
[Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Paris] Those of us who remember the old Latin Mass know that it always ended with the reading of the opening of John’s Gospel: In principio erat Verbum… The priest who could rattle it off the fastest and get us out was always the favorite. And yet, this text of all texts deserves to be taken slowly, like reciting a great poem by John Donne, savoring a 100-year-old cognac, gazing at a Cézanne. “In the beginning was the Word… and the Word dwelt among us…”
Christmas 2014, The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. We get “joyous” from “joyeux.” The English say “happy” Christmas, Americans have kept that lovely word “merry” alive. “Noël” is a mysterious word, not Latin or Greek or even Hebrew in origin. Originally it was a cheer when the king visited or the queen gave birth or French arms won a victory. Hooray for the newborn Prince of Peace! Joyeux Noël is also the name of a film that came out nine years ago. It depicts an event that happened exactly one hundred years ago tonight. On Christmas in 1914, French, British and German troops declared a truce in order to celebrate Christmas together...
The ministry of Bishops Against Gun Violence in The Episcopal Church is not confined to America. Firearm use in murders is widespread, and we all must respond to it. The shocking murder of the sister of the Bishop of Honduras, Natalie Lloyd, among other cases, proves this. The popular image abroad of the United States is that we are the land of the cowboy gunslinger. The high rate of homicides and suicides by gun, the increasing incidents of school shootings since Columbine, the worldwide publicity surrounding the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases, and news stories of American parents starting children as young as three with real firearms, all contribute to this unflattering stereotype.