My week has been a challenging one on many fronts and when we entered St. Peter’s, Oakland, this morning I sighed with relief at the quiet, the silence, the jeweled light that refracted through the stained glass onto the crimson carpet. I settled into the pew and prayed the Psalms for the day, letting the sacred space enclose me, wash over me, heal me.
Father Pomroy stepped up to the pulpit and spoke quietly with great authority. He spoke of the great battles in our world, between God and Mammon, God and Satan, life and death, light and darkness. The Gospel today was Christ’s formidable warning, or perhaps command, to us: we cannot serve two masters.
How well we all know this, I thought, the great division between self and selfless, evil and good. Mammon, our good preacher said, meant money and all that currency entailed – goods, the acquisitions we long for, those coveted things that we think will make us happy. Lucifer, Satan, the old Father of Lies, the one who masquerades as light, tells us these things will indeed make us happy. But they don’t. They can’t.
But Christ doesn’t say we don’t need things: food, clothing, shelter. He doesn’t tell us to starve our children, dress them in rags, or expose them to rain and snow. Material things, he says, must simply be our second priority. Our first priority is God.
Once again the question haunts me, how do we know the will of God, in the myriad of choices we are given each day. How do we seek God first?
Father Pomroy then quoted Saint Paul: “But God forbid I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” In that great action two thousand years ago Christ overpowered the world with his crucifixion and resurrection. And he overpowers it today in us, if we let him. We too must allow Christ to crucify the world within us.
We can trust that God will bring us his Kingdom, that good will come from evil, light from darkness. We can trust that he is a God of providence, that all things will end well. But along the way there may be denials of self, small deaths of ego and pride. We live in a battle zone but God will be victorious.
And not only can we trust God that the future will be glorious, but we can be nourished and empowered with his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. He offers himself to us with each Mass, crucified, so that we may rise with him.
I left St. Peter’s thankful, having been fed in both body and soul.
Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 6013 Lawton Ave., Oakland;http://www.saintpetersoakland.com/; Sunday Mass and Church School: 10:00.