Thursday, October 09, 2008

21st Sunday after Pentecost 5.10.08 Sermon 2

21st Sunday after Pentecost 5.10.08 Battle/Abortion

The epistle tells us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. What is the nature of this warfare. It is not like other wars where we arm ourselves with weapons and go out and start shooting or bombing the other side.

The warfare of the Christian is essentially in the realm of ideas. It is a battle for truth. Seeing it, understanding it, living by it. Why should this be difficult? Because the evil forces, led by Satan, are very good at obscuring the truth and casting every kind of doubt and fear in our path; causing us to lose our certainty and grasp for false solutions.

The war is fought at the individual level as each of us tries to live by the truth at every level of our own lives, overcoming the snares and temptations of the evil one, and choosing what is right and good. It is easy enough when we are on our game, but very easy to fall if we are not vigilant.

The war is fought also at the communal level, involving our whole society and culture. The way we live, the way people think.

What a strange mixture that turns out to be. It is just like a war where you win some and lose some. People sometimes get it right – eg coming to the help of a family in need.
And sometimes get it wrong with widespread acceptance of evils such as abortion and euthanasia. So it is ok to kill a baby in the womb. But in other circumstances we go to great lengths to save the life of a child. We have to recognize these contradictions and iron out the wrong bits.

So the spiritual war means that we have to fight for own soul, and also to fight for the whole culture, to ‘redeem the age’ as we found St Paul telling us last week.

We have to change the way people think, including ourselves; it is a battle of ideas, harder to win than a sword fight.

If it were just a matter of proving a truth intellectually, but no, it is a moral battle as well as intellectual. Our fallen human nature just does not want to grasp the truth in some cases. We have become enslaved to sin and do not necessarily want to be set free from its grasp.

One particular battleground is abortion. We are asked to pray especially now for the situation in Victoria, where liberal abortions laws are being proposed.

We can fight this battle on two fronts, which might at first seem to be contradictory, but we come to see that they are complementary.

One is to assert the absolute wrongness of abortion, as a matter of principle.

At the same time and not in any way diminishing from the first point: we are worried about the wellbeing of the child, mother and all others.
We are concerned for the mother not just the child.
what we say to the mother is, Have the baby and you will be much happier, as well as other goods being achieved.
And the same to people who work there etc, You will be better off if you worked somewhere else.

The second point is mercy. We say abortion is wrong, and You can be forgiven for it.

We do not take the false step that many would recommend that we blend these two together, just fudging over the truth and letting everyone think they are doing a good job just to spare their feelings.

No, we seek God’s way and this is where the battle must be fought. We make ourselves very unpopular, but it is for the good of all eventually. We do not hate those who hate us. We extend to them the mercy of God (as in today’s Gospel, parable of unforgiving debtor).

A battle for the truth, for clarity. Clarity and Charity, we might say. Know what is right, and do it, but if you don’t do it, ask for mercy and get it right the next time.