Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.
 

Sunday 18th November 2018
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Daniel 12: 1-3     Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18     Mark 13: 24-32

The Sword of Damocles?

Damocles was a bit of a crawler. He was a ‘yes-man’ to Dionysius the Elder, the ruler of Syracuse. As a reward for his loyalty he was invited to a great banquet, where the tables were spread with sumptuous food and drink. The problem was that over his head there was a sword suspended only by a hair. Because he was afraid of causing a stir and making it fall on him, he didn’t dare to move a muscle and so the banquet remained just a tantalising torment.

Some Christians are like Damocles. They read in the scriptures about the terrible events predicted for the last day when Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. It is their fear of dire consequences which makes them behave. Not that they necessarily behave wonderfully; they just don’t behave too badly.

If a husband and wife treated each other well only because the law obliged them to, or because they were afraid of the in-laws, then they would not have much of a relationship. Similarly, fear of hell is not the best reason for living according to God’s will and it is unlikely to generate a deep personal, loving relationship with God.

What is our motive for living a Christian life? Why do we behave in ways that the rest of the world thinks foolish? Why don’t we jump on the moral, social and economic bandwagon like everyone else? The best reason for living a Christian life is believing Jesus to be the Son of God and trusting that the way he sets before us is a path that will cause us to grow, develop and promote the most satisfying and fulfilling lives. Far from a life that misses out on ‘all the fun’, Christianity is an invitation to get the most out of life.

Although we sometimes fall short of the ideal, and need the constant support of God’s grace in all we undertake, God doesn’t make unreasonable demands of us. That’s why, when our time comes to meet Jesus (whether after our death or at his second coming), we can have confidence in his promises to us. It’s not so much a sword hanging over us to spoil our enjoyment of life as an open invitation to enjoy the banquet.

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2018