The Daily Offices

The Daily Offices from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, (Canada 1962), including daily Bible readings and occasional sermons from the Cathedral of the Annunication of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Trinity IX

The Epistle

1 Corinthians 10: 1-17

The Gospel

Luke 16: 1-10

Saturday, August 07, 2004

The Name of Jesus

Today we celebrate the Name of Jesus

The Lesson
Isaiah 9 :2-7

The Gospel
Luke 2 :15-21

Friday, August 06, 2004


Today in the Church Calendar, we celebrate the Transfiguration of our Lord

These were the readings for today's Eucharist

The Epistle 2 Peter 1 :16-end

The Gospel Matthew 17 : 1-9

I didn't attend Mass today. Instead, I spent the day at the spa. For more, see A Christian Writer.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Father Peter's Trinity VIII sermon

False Prophets
Father Peter Jardine's sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity at the Cathedral of the Annunication in Ottawa

Matthew 7.15-21 is one of those great passages which cause many a preacher to drool at the mouth. The first sentence, in which Jesus talks about false prophets, describing them as ravening wolves in sheeps clothing, is so evocative. It gives us exceptional opportunities to thunder on about churches in apostasy and similarly meaty subjects.

But I did that the last time I preached on this gospel and we are now in the height of summer, it is very hot and so I thought I would seek a gentler, cooler approach this time.

The passage comes towards the end of Matthew,s long exposition of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has laid out for all time the truth about his Kingdom. He has described and expounded upon the character of those who will gain that Kingdom. He has stated the blessedness of those who live according to the requirements. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled, states just one of the Beatitudes.

Jesus has also listed our obligations if we would be true followers. For example, in 6.34 he says……love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. Such are the comprehensive demands of righteousness for those seeking to emulate as closely as possible the perfection of our Lord, Master and Saviour.

And Jesus tells us what an effect lives lived this way will have on those around them. Ye are the light of the world. A city which is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Having gone through all this, making it abundantly clear that attaining the Kingdom is no easy thing, Jesus issues a wonderful invitation. In 7.13 he says, Enter ye in…, then he immediately reinforces everything he has previously taught with the words, at the strait gate. Which means, of course, the narrow gate. And he continues, For wide is the gate and broad is the way which leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth to life, and few there be that find it. Not a lot of comfort there for those who like their religion heavily dosed with saccharine.

And so to verse 15 and today’s gospel. Our Lord knew that after his death there would be many who would distort his teachings, diluting them, changing the meaning of them, picking and choosing from them, or flat out refuting them. Some would do so in misguided sincerity, like those who genuinely believe that Christianity requires us to be liberal in all things, accepting anything and everything because that is what Christian love requires of us. But that perverts the meaning of Christian love. The Cross tells us that this is a tough love and that it does not give in to every whim and fad with which it is confronted.

So our Lord warns us to beware of false prophets, for such, he knew, would be major sources of distraction from the narrow way and gate of life.

Yesterday, someone mentioned to me in this context, the name of Mohammed, who lived some 500 years after Our Lord. Mohammed quite possibly knew all there was for a man to know about Jesus, but he rejected him as little more than one more prophet. He then created a false religion, which continues to make converts, often by force or pressure of some sort.

It is not for me to know or speculate upon how God will judge the followers of Mohammed, but having been close to the acts of unspeakable evil which are carried out in the name of Mohammedanism, I cannot imagine that when they meet their maker, they will find Him offering much in the way of approval.

In reality, such visibly false prophets are the easiest to deal with. Much more difficult are those who are subtle, presenting their case in tones of reason and with appealingly persuasive arguments. Many Christian heretics throughout the ages fall into this category. They use the words and concepts of Christianity to steer people off the narrow way. They claim to speak in the name of God, and may God have mercy on their souls for that. They are truly wolves in sheep’s clothing.

But Jesus knew the false prophets were coming and he told us how to recognise them. By their fruits, he said, ye shall know them. The corrupt tree cannot produce good fruit and such people will produce corruption.

How else can we describe what happened to Fr. Roland Palmer, for example, whose picture hangs on the wall in the basement. Fr. Palmer was treated disgracefully simply because he refused to deny the truth of what the Church had believed and practised for 20 centuries. For his righteousness and faith, Fr. Palmer was excommunicated by the Anglican Church of Canada, but it was not he who was corrupted, for he did not compromise his beliefs one tiny bit.

The men who committed that outrage should have paid attention to Matthew 7.15-21. In v21, they would have found the warning in Our Lord’s promise for those who become like the sheep in wolves clothing, Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

People forget so easily that standing up and proclaiming that you are a Christian does not mean that it is so, especially with God. For God, as we know, sees into our hearts and He knows what is going on there. At times, the claims of such people reaches the realm of the ridiculous and as far as I am concerned, they move into the category of the overt and clearly identifiable false prophet. I find it utterly incredible that men can deny the divinity of Jesus, for example, and still expect to be called Christian. Can they imagine for one second that God, who sent His beloved son to redeem us, will accept any argument which tries to prove Jesus was not the divine Son of God

And yet, so many will follow these and other false prophets, taking the broad and easy path. Many, on that broad path, will miss the strait gate. Others will arrive at the strait gate so bloated by the corruption of his world that they will find they cannot fit through.

Some, too late, may remember the whole of v21. Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven.

The important word there is the word doeth. It is good, but not enough simply to hear or to read the word of God; it is never right to presume to change it, or to distort it, or to discard any part of it; it is always essential to live it, to do it, with diligence and love and faith, in obedience to Jesus Christ.

The Anglican Tradition has taught us that we avoid the snares of the false prophets and stay on the narrow way to the strait gate, by reference to scripture, to the Church Fathers and to reason. That is how we strengthen our faith and remain sure of what we believe in. We adhere, as the Vincentian canon puts it, to “that which has been believed always, everywhere and by all.” We must treat everything else with great suspicion.

Then we can maintain a life as true, catholic, Christians and be constant doers of the word, secure in the hope of the words of Jesus, that a good tree bringeth forth good fruit.

Peter Jardine
Trinity VIII, 2004