Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Monday Reflection – Dominic Keech

This homily was given by Dominic Keech, a first year ordinand, at Evening Prayer on Monday 24th January 2011.


When God called Abram to leave Ur, he wrapped the call in a lofty promise: Abram’s line would carry the power to bless generations to come. Abram did not reply with eloquent thanks, but simplicity of obedience. He went, as the Lord had told him. When God appeared to him again, promising the land of Canaan to his descendants, he built an altar and called God by name. He then carried on toward the desert. God had given the sign, but perhaps at first it seemed of limited significance, hardly worth commenting on; best first to act and later understand.

On the other side of the desert, Mary of Magdala anointed the head of Jesus with sweet perfume: a commonplace act done out of anxious attention. But the doubtful rebuke of the disciples brought her an assurance of worth: she had embalmed for his grave the one who still sat at table. Christ drew out the purpose from her ignorance, and made her confusion into devotion. Wherever he would be remembered, she would too, something Mary could only fully understand in front of the empty tomb.

We, each one of us, have been called, and our daily work is one of attempted response. We will build our altars at the stopping-places, praise the name of the Lord, and find that we still have to journey on. The true lengths of our travelling are, however, known only to God. We will have to wait for the falling of our own grave clothes to see that we, too, poured out fine perfume on the head of Christ. That, when it comes, will surprise and delight us.

St Francis de Sales worked to bring Christians in the Chablais to a Catholic faith, by the end of the sixteenth century the stronghold of Genevan Calvinism. His work, in its time, was for the unity of the Church. When he died, Protestantism remained in eastern France, but we remember his obedience today. With catholic apologetics he combined a supreme gift of counsel. To a young woman he wrote, ‘I would have you remember that sometimes we amuse ourselves in playing at being good angels, till we forget to be good men and women. Our imperfection must cleave to us till we rest in our grave: we cannot walk without touching the ground… It will be a precious imperfection if it makes us acknowledge our weakness, strengthens our humility, self-depreciation, patience and diligence. Through it all God looks upon “the preparation of the heart”’

This is why our work and prayer for the union of all Christians must continue, no matter how small, frustrating or seemingly fruitless it is. Ours is a life of hope, trusting that we shall see our labour, and ourselves, for what they truly are, when Christ shall be all in all.

Let us pray.

O God, who hast made divers nations to be one in the confession of Thy Name: Grant us the will and power to perform thy commandments; that those who have been called to eternal life, may be one in the soundness of their faith and in the piety of their actions; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.