Father Ignatius’ sermon started with a warning.
“You will not like my sermon today!” he declared.
“In fact I don’t like it myself and I would rather be giving you a different sermon. A gentle one which tickles your ears and makes you feel warm and comfortable.
“The reason I don’t particularly like this sermon is because perhaps it speaks to me too as well as all of you.
“When Jesus was raised to Heaven He gave His disciples and all of us a Mission. He asked us to go and preach the Good News about God and about Him.
“But are we doing as He asked? I mean each one of us in our daily lives, within our families, at work or wherever we may be? I don’t mean of course that you need to stand on a soap box in the middle of the street and shout at the top of your voice. Or knock from door to door and try to convince people on their doorsteps. Some people do just that and I admire their courage and determination.
“What I mean is” he paused for a moment to concentrate his listeners’ attention, “what I mean is, do people who know you recognize you as a disciple of Christ?
“Is there anything in your behavior or your character that is different? Something which makes people say ‘he or she is a Christian you know!’ Even in a derogative sense; at least it shows they’ve recognized something in you which is different.
“St Francis of Assisi advised his followers to preach the Gospel by the way they live.
“When people look at us do they see Christ in us?
“More important, when you look at the mirror in the morning do you see Christ there?”
He stopped again to ensure his point struck home. He then repeated slowly.
“When you look in the mirror do you see Christ?
“Our Lord said ‘Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do what my Father in Heaven wants them to do.’
“In other words we can assume that there are no parrots in Heaven!”
The congregation laughed silently. Father Ignatius went on.
“God requires from each one of us action throughout our lives. Each one of us is tasked, to the best of their abilities, to do something in their lives, just a little, day in and day out, to put Christ in someone else’s life.
“We can’t all be Mother Theresa and leave our native land and go help others elsewhere. And indeed God does not ask us so to do … not all of us anyway.
“To most people He asks that we live Christ everyday … in our families, at work, at play or wherever we go and whatever we do.
“It is not enough to go to church on Sunday, and then get on with our own lifestyles the rest of the time.
“Nor am I saying that we should spend our lives on our knees collecting scars and calluses. That is not the first thing that St Peter will check for when you get to meet him!”
They laughed quietly again.
“God does not want us to endure this life. He wants us to enjoy it. And at the same time He wants us to tell others that there’s better to come when we meet Him in Heaven.
“We can each do as God asks in our own way … and best of all by living the Gospels day after day.
“Instead … I fear; there are too many so called Christians who are sleepwalking their way into hell!”
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