Sermões em Inglês, ministrados pelo rev. leontino f. santos: Veja nesta página na seguinte ordem:
1) JESUS AND THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
2) IS JESUS, THE ANSWER?
3) THE CHURCH OF GOD AND THE CHURCH OF THE DEVIL
4) VOCATION IN TIME OF CRISIS
5) THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA
6) THE CHALLENGES OF A STORM
7) WHAT KIND OF LIBERTY IS YOURS?
1) JESUS AND THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
Leitura do Antigo Testamento : Exodus 2.16 a 21
Leitura do Novo Testamento : John 4. 5 – 42; 5;26
- The encounter at the well is a recurrent theme of patriarchal literature. The wells and springs of water marked the terristrial and spiritual itinerary of the patriarchs and the people of the Exodus.
- Spring water in the Old Testament becomes the symbol of the life given by God, especially in messianic times; spring water is also the symbol of wisdom and the Law wich are life-giving. These themes are present in the Scenes in the Gospels, where the living water becomes a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
- In the text just read, Jesus and the Samaritan Woman meet at the side of a well; in biblical literature a well symbolizes spiritual and physical life. The well at which this encounter takes place is located in Sychar, ancient Shecem, the present village of Askar at the foot of Mount Ebal.
- In the dialogue narrated by John, the Samaritan Woman refers to the difficulty Jesus is having in drawing water from the well; nevertheless she is interested in the water Jesus offers to her, and speaks about worship: should it be done in Jerusalem? Or on the montain? The montain to wish she refers is Gerisim, upon which the Samaritans had built a temple, to rival to the one in Jerusalem and destroyed by John Hircanus in 129 B. C.
- What can we learn from this text? One thing for sure, it presents us with two thirsty people: Jesus, with physical thirst; and the Samaritan Woman with physical, moral and spiritual thirst. This moral and spiritual thirst can be summed up as a thirst for Attention.
I – A THIRST FOR ATTENTION
- The Samaritan Woman was three times discriminated against:
- Because she was a woman;
- Because she was a Samaritan woman;
- Because she was a person ignored, an outcast in her society.
- She had a need for attention as do all opressed and outcast people in the modern societes we know.
- We too are often faced with this problem: lack of attention:
- How often we hear a child, a wife, a husband say: nobody pays any attention to me! No one listens to me!
- As a consequence of this lack of attention there is revolt, loneliness, anguish, worry and tedium in the hearts of many, and even the desire to be dead.
- That Samaritan Woman thirsted for attention even as you may be rightnow:
- But in an unexpected manner, someone spoke to her, making a request, wanting help. This some one was Jesus.
- It is this way that Jesus treats us. He makes us feel our worth. He takes the initiative and comes to meet us, irrespective of what we are or have to offer him.
- But besides having a Thirst for Attention, the Samaritan Woman had a:
II – THIRST FOR GUIDANCE
- It is evident that a woman that already had had five husbands, and the one she was living with wasn´t hers, had need for some one to counsel her:
- What can I do with my life?
- What kind of future?
- What hope do I have, with my problems?
- They would be the kind of questions one would expect from a confused person.
- Possibly her life was one of a constant longing: for discernment, for help, for an answer to the questions posed by her confused past filled with illusions, and by the present with its limitations.
- Today there are so many confused persons in the life of the Church either because of their mixed-up past, or because of a present filled with crises and conflicts, with doubts and uncertainties!
- Many folk are confused because they neither know what they want nor how they want it:
- There are sons and daughters confused about their lives, their future, their work, their faith;
- There are couples confused about their marriage;
- There are governments, institutions and heads of businesses that are confused;
- All because they are unable to find the well and the water of life for the solution of their problems.
- The Samaritan Woman was confused, with thirst for a sure solution, for an escape from prejudice, and discrimination.
- From Jesus she sought the water that would give her life, joy self realization.
- Jesus became her Guide. He showed her a way, the true fountain and the true water that quenches all thirst.
- But the Samaritan Woman also had a thirst for God, a thirst for the supernatural
III – THIRST FOR GOD, THIRST FOR THE SUPERNATURAL
- The questions of the woman:
- Where to worship? Where to find God? In Jerusalem or on Mount Gerizim? Where is God so that I may worship him correctly?
- In her question there is an implicit preoccupation with the eternal.
- Perhaps today we too may be asking:
- Where can I better ser God? In what manner?
- A illustration: In the decade of the `60s in Brazil, it was said that God had died and that people did not need Him anymore to solve their problems. It is a recognized fact however that today the search for God has grown, since there is an increase in the number of sects and religions, of churches, doctrines and services of worship dedicated to God or to gods of all kinds.
- There is no doubt that we are experiencing today a great thirst for God, for the supernatural, in spite of the machines, science, and advanced knowledge.
- The vulgarity, the emptiness of our lives, the doubts, the lack of security can only be resolved by God!
- The Samaritan Woman wanted to drink from the spring of the water of life:
- She was thirsty for God who quenches all our thirst;
- Who resolve s our problems, who reals our pain.
- In sickness, in loneliness, in unemployement, in affliciton, when we are accused, criticizes, and threatened, we thirst for God…
IV – FINALLY, THE SAMARITAN WOMAN BECAME A EXEMPLE FOR US: SHE BECAME A MISSIONARY WITH HER TESTIMONY
- “Then the woman left her water jar, went back to the town, and said to the people there: ‘Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah? So they left the town and went to Jesus.”
- Now, the Samaritan Woman is a new woman; she is a different woman, she shares and speacks about Jesus Christ to many people;
- We can learn with the Samaritan Woman
- We must be different: with ourself in our home; with our friends, in our job; in our church; in our society.
- We must share with others people what God did in our lives. Wm can not be the same. We must be a missionary, we must go to the streets, to hospital, to society and to preach the news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- We must speack about Jesus: manytimes I want speack about me: my power, my ideas, my talents. But is about Jesus our testimony. Pratice!
2) IS JESUS, THE ANSWER?
- The text describ the situation of two blind men who were sitting by the road. Jesus was passing when the blind men said: “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”
- What kind of lesson can we take from the text?
- In the first approach…
I – JESUS STOP AND HEAR, LISTEN TO
- Nowadays, generally:
- We don’t have time to hear or to listen to the people when shout near us. We are always busy.
- To begin with we don’t have time to hear ourselves. We don’t have time to hear our wife, to hear our husband, to hear our children or to hear our friends.
- A illustration: A son in a house near my church in São Paulo, , said to his father, Sunday morning: “My father, I need to talk with you in this morning. But his father said: ‘I don’t have time now. I am busy’. And left worried. When the father came back his home, the son was dead; he suicided.
- It is very important for us to learn with Jesus what means to stop and to hear nowadays. But generally everybody want to speack, when is necessary to know to hear and understand the problem of my friend; the problem of my wife, of my son, of my daughter.
II – JESUS SEE
- Jesus saw “two blind men”.
- This is the more important quality of the Jesus ministritry: his capacity to see the human problems.
- Jesus saw women and men who were sick; Jesus saw women and men who were hangry;
- Today: Jesus could see women and men, boys, girls, children, fathers and mothers, son and daughters without conditions to walk, without conditions to love, in short, without conditions to live.
- And You? And me? What do we see nowadays? Are we learning with Jesus about that? Are we learning with Jesus the necessity to care?
- By the way, is very important to understand in this moment:
- First of all, that there are problems in myself;
- Second, there are problems on my brother, on my sister, on my friend, on my neigbohood;
- Third, there are problems on our society, on our country…
III – JESUS WAS THE SOLUTION FOR PROBLEMS IN HIS TIME
- This is the third lesson for us. That’s to say: I must be always the solution. It is necessary that you help to solve the problems around you;
- Look! in your home, in your office, in your street, where there is a problem; and try to be a answer like Jesus was in his time.
- Some times we are not the answer! But we are the problem: at home, for our family! At office, for our companions in the work! At church, for our brothers and for our sisters! And also for God!
- After all this, you can say that there is no solution and everything is a chaos!
- But from the text we learned that in this story, described in the Bible with these blind men, Jesus was the answer.
- And for us, is Jesus the answer
3) THE CHURCH OF GOD AND THE CHURCH OF THE DEVIL
Leitura do Antigo Testamento : Isaiah 5.1 - 7
Leitura do Novo Testamento : Matthew 13.24 - 30
- “The Church of the Devil” is the name of a short story by the well-known Brazilian novelist, Machado de Assis. In his story he tells us that the Devil got tired of being so disorganized, and “decided to establish a church.” After a visit to heaven, to tell God about his plan, the Devil descended to earth, chose his disciples, and began to preach. According to the Devil’s preaching, envy is the source of infinite prosperity; dishonesty is at our left hand – we should therefore try to be left-handed; to commit small sins is the exercise of a right that is above all other rights; whenever possible, we should compromise our opinions, our vote, our word, our faith, and even our conscience. We should say “no” to solidarity with others, “no” to our neighbors, and “no” to all that seems to be right and honorable.
- And so it was that the church of the Devil filled to overflowing with faithful followers. Satisfied with the results, the Devil went to see what was happening in the church of God. By this time, he thought, it would surely be empty. Much to his surprise, however, he discovered that the church of God was as full as his, and that the believerers in the Devil’s church were the same as those in the church of God.
- Greatly indignant, the Devil resolved to close his church, and from then on, to carry out his ministry from within the church of God.
- What does this short story have to do with the Parable of the tares and wheat?
I – FIRST OF ALL, THE PARABLE TEACHES US THAT THE ADVERSARY DOES NOT HAVE A FIELD OF HIS OWN
- If the Devil does not have his own field, it follows that he must always plant his seed in a field that belongs to someone else.
- It also follows that the Church of God in its various branches can also be the context within which both the mission of the Adversary and the mission of Jesus Christ are carried out.
- Your family, for example, your home, your place of mork or study, can be as much a place where God is acting, as well as the Devil.
- Since the Devil does not have his own field, it is possible that he may be using your life in this way:
- The same mouth that praises God and speaks such beautiful words, in church, may, at another moment, speak mean words that hurt and humiliate others.
- The hands that caress and communicate love may be used in the service of corrupt business or political practices, or used even to torture in the interests of national security.
- All of this can be said about the State, as well:
- The State can be a field for God’s action, for the promotion of good.
- But it can also be a field for the practice of evil.
- It is necessary to be alert, so, that the adversary does not use our talents, our possessions, our lives, our systems of government, for his evil ministry.
II – THE PARABLE OF THE WEEDS AND THE WHEAT TEACHES US THAT THE SEED SOWN BY THE DEVIL CAN BE CONFUSED WITH THE SEED THAT GOD SOWS
- The seed sown by the Adversary – the weeds – resembles the seed of Truth – the wheat. In the short story by Machado de Assis, the Devil has his own preachers and message to move the multitudes.
- Today, the Devil still has his preachers:
- They preach sermons, cite Bible verses, and perform miracles with such enthusiasm, conviction and authority, that they confuse our members, our churches and upset our work.
- In Brazil there are preachers who have maps of heaven and hell that show the destiny of those who accept or reject their message.
- Other preachers announce the exact day and hour of Christ’s return, with ill-based arguments from the Holy Bible.
- A illustration: In my own church, there was a forty-year-old woman who had never given birth to a child because she was sterile. One day, in a Pentecostal Church, someone prophesied that she would have a baby… Today she is 70 years old and the baby has not yet been born. All of this is the seed sown by the Enemy in the Church of God in order to shake the faith and destroy the hope of the faithful.
III – THE PARABLE TEACHES US THAT THE ADVERSARY Works WHILE PEOPLE ARE ASLEEP
- The Bible text says that the Enemy is an opportunist. While the workers slept, the weeds were sown secretly.
- Many times we are careless and even go to sleep in our experience of faith: we neglect practices seemingly simple but of great importance for our moral and spiritual life. Practices such as reading the Bible, praying, and even church attendance.
- While we are neglectful, the Enemy weakens the faith of our children, and our own faith as well, when we are confronted with drastic situations such as illness, unemployment, a moral problem in the family, or a marital crisis. We cannot rest upon past blessings.
- We are always running the risk of being taken by surprise by the Adversary, when he undermines our intention to live for Christ, with scandals that jeopardize the life of the Church as the people of God.
IV – THE PARABLE OF THE WEEDS AND WHEAT TEACHES US THAT THE ENEMY STRIVES TO DEMORALIZE THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
- The Adversary not only damages the harvest, but he also seeks to demoralize the head of the family in the presence of his laborers, who say:
- “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?”
- Many people outside the Church are asking: “If the Church preaches love, perfection, peace, forgiveness, why does it also have discord and moral problem?
- Questions like this are prompted by the same Enemy that sows the bad seed. It is in this way that the work God is doing through His Church in the word, becomes demoralized. Let us be alert so that this will not happen to us.
- In conclusion, let us remember:
- That according to the Parable, the Devil does not have a field of his own;
- That the church of the Devil and the Church of God are the same, since it is here that the Enemy is working;
- Let us remember that the seed sown by the Devil is often indiscernable from the seed that God sows;
- That the Adversary is na opportunist; he acts while the owner of the field is asleep;
- And finally, let us remember that the Devil’s objective is to demoralize God’s people, who are the Church.
4) VOCATION IN TIMES OF CRISIS
- Isaiah was a prophet of noble birth, of superior education, and was connected with circles of the Temple in Jerusalem. He lived in the period of the king Uzziah, who was substituted by his son Jotham. His prophecies are vehement denouncements and protests against the practice of corruption and injustice among the people.
I – THE TEXT DESCRIBES THE HOLINESS OF GOD
- We learn with Isaiah that although our God is holy and glorious, he does not consider human beings to be unimportant. Our God is not ashamed of human beings. He takes the initiative of seeking them in history for the purpose of restoring to them their dignity.
- It follows that God is not a spectator of the struggles and suffering of humankind, but one who journeys with us through the arid deserts of our existence.
II – THE TEXT DESCRIBES A SITUATION OF CRISIS
- Iniciatilly it is a situation of crisis in the life of Isaiah, when he says:
- “Woe is me! For I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips!”
- I do not know if it is very easy for a prophet, for a pastor, for a preacher, for a Elder or leader of the Church to make a confession like this.
- A illustration: When we were children, we were taught that “a man does not cry”. What a sad and erroneous lesson we learned! For at times we have the desire and the need to cry, but we are still bound by prejudices that we are not always able to overcome.
- It seems as though the same thing happens in relation to the personal crises of pastors in their ministry.
- Generally it is expected that pastors do not have personal crises, that they are supermen or superwomen without sentimental problems, without marital problems, unbothered by doubts, uncertainties, or frustrations.
- But it was not with Isaiah. He was lost, just like many pastors… And he was a man of unclean lips. It was in this way that he confessed his crisis.
- Personal crisis, when allowed to go uncontrolled, have caused many colleagues in the ministry to lose their capacity to administer the conflicts in the Church of which they are pastor.
- Many no longer have the patience to hear the problems of their congregation. They are disactivated. And their work becomes less and less fruitful.
- There is also a moral crisis in the life of the people, of the society in which Isaiah lived:
- The impure lips of society were naturally a symptom of a life that was dissolute, corrupt, morally lax, vulgar. The people were in need of a prophet.
- Like that city of the past, the cities, large and small, of our own days also have their peculiar problems, their crises, their challenges, their pain, their great dramas… And as in the past, cities today suffer from corruption and injustice on every hand.
- There is exploitation, violence, hunger, poverty, and social conflicts. Moral degradation is immense. We live “in the midst of a people of unclean lips”.
- According to the vision of God these cities need prophets.
III – THE TEXT THEN DESCRIBES GOD’S CONCERN: “WHOM SHALL I SEND?”
- I must be recognized that we live in times of a crisis in vocations:
- Why is there a crisis in vocations if many seminaries are filled to overflowing? Certainly not everyone who enrolls in a seminary, does so by vocation. Many go to seminary after they have failed in other courses; they believe this to be God’s will; others go to acquire status; and others, simply because they think it is beautiful thing to be a pastor.
- There are many pastors content with their status, although not all of them feel called; there are others who are discontent with their ministry, but do not have the courage to abandon it; others yet, are called, but they are naive, limited, and inept because they do noto like to study.
- I have met many students who feel they have a vocation for the ministry, but only in distant places like India, China, Africa; I have seen others who feel called only to churches of the middle class that are able to pay well and give them comfort and well-being.
- And where are those who have the vocation to preach in the public jails, in the hospitals, in the homes for the aged, among universitu students, laborers, among the heads of industry, the politicians, among those who govern the country? Or, to preach in their own neighborhood and city?
- Some think that the Church never is far enough advanced to merit its work, its intelligence, its talent; others think that the Church has advanced too far and that it is without the proper controls!
- And God continues to ask: “Whom shall I send?”
IV – THE TEXT DESCRIBES THE DECISION OF ISAIAH
- There is a moment in the narrative that says that one of the seraphim touched the lips of Isaiah with a burning coal, purifying them. After this, Isaiah heard the voice of God which was saying:
- “Whom shall I send?”
- In the midst of so many crises and doubts with so many questions in relation to the vocation for the ministry, to the will of God and to the will of humanity, there comes the important moment of decision: the touch of God.
- The touch of God revitalized the ministry of the prophet; it purified his lips; it made him understand the message for the people; it gave him strength to accept the challenges to be met.
- Unless God first touches our pride, our ego, our love of ourselves, we cannot make a decision.
- May God also touch our lives in a special way and renew our message, our ministry, our understanding of our neighbor, of the Church and its mission in the world.
- And may God so help us!
5) THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA
Leitura do Antigo Testamento : II Cr 6.17 a 21
Leitura do Novo Testamento : Revelation 2.8-11
- Smyrna was forty miles from Ephesus. It was the second city of Asia Minor, and known as the “Beauty of Asia” because of its location. It was rich prosperous, dissolute and famous as a center for the cult of the Emperor.
- The Church organized there suffered from two kinds of opposition: that of the Jews who were opposed to Christianity, and that of the Romans who imposed upon everyone the worship of the Emperor. It was out of this experience that the Apostle John writes. From what he was to say, it may be perceived that this is:
I – A MARTYR CHURCH
- The Emperor Domitian also known as the second Nero of human history, persecuted all of those who refused to worship him. Upon this occasion may Jews halped the Romans in the persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ.
- The experience of martyrdom and suffering was becoming little by little a comon experience among Christians. Some of them, in a volutary dedication to suffering, sought to display their faith provoking the Romans authorities by saying in public: Christ is Lord.” There were even those who wished to be sent to the arena to be sacrificed confronting gladiators and hungry beasts.
- The History of the Church tells, for exemple, of Germanico, a rich nobleman, but also a devoted Christian, who offered himself to publicly confront the wild beasts in the name of Jesus, in order to arrive in eternity more rapidly. On the other hand, History tells what happened to Quinto who led a group of people in the direction of the arena but who lost courage, denied the faith and swore loyalty to Cesar. The Church, however, never approved of any type of ostentation in the name of Jesus Christ.
- But beyond this common type of suffering, the primitive Christians aldo had their properties confiscated, were deprived of food and repressed because of their Christian fiath. But, beyond martyrdom, the Church of Smyrna was also...
II – A THREATENED CHURCH
- The text of John reveals that the Church of Smyrna was also a threatened Church. In a general way the Church of Christ always has been threatened; at that time it was threatened: by the strenght of the Roman army; by paganism; by the Greek-Roman culture; by the radicalism of the Jews and their sects; by the weakness of the disciples before they were touched by the message of the ressurrection and by the mercy of the Holy Spirit. And this same Spirit did not permitthat the “hates of hell” shoud prevail against the Church.
- In the past, the Church in our own days is also a threatened Church. Perhaps not by armies or physical violence; but it is threatened by false philosophies of life; false concepts of love such as those propagated in the television “soap operas”; the Church is threatened by false concepts of happiness, of liberty and of salvation.
- In Brazil the Church is threatened by popular superstitions, like the Afro-Brazilian cults and Spiritism that are growing in a startling way, promising peace and solutions for the problemas of the people. All of this, while the Church with folded arms insists upon preaching na the people.
- The Church is threatened by biblical and doctrinal ignorance. We are slowly losing contact with the Word of God and its study. We generally use the excuse of lack of time for reading, meditation, and for family worship. And because of this our children no longer know how to give a reason for their faith when challened by te culture of our times.
- The Church is threatened by the ideology of the consumerist society, that convinces us to buy things we do not need with the money we have not yet earned. We live in a time of anxiety because of the false needs created by the organs of publicity that induce us to have, to the detriment of being a human person. Because of all of this, the Church of today is threatened. But the Church in Smyrna also was...
III – A CHALLENGED CHURCH
- In the midst of its martyrdom and treatened existence, the Church in Smyrna was challendeg by the the Word of God: “Be faithful unto death.”
- To be faithful means to continue in the ministry of protest against the cult of the State. The message from the empty tom and from the resurrection of Christ was still alive in their minds. It meant to continue proclaiming “Christ is Lord”, Christ is the Saviour of the world”.
- What does it mean “to be faithful unto death” today? Confronted by martyrdom and threats against the Church, what dos it means to be faithful in our time?
- “Be faithful” means to admit that the faith of the Church is impoverished; there exists a great loss of our spiritual tradition; many of our services of worship are exercises in formalism; the Bible is not read with profundity, seriousness and humility.
- “Be faithful” means to recognize that we have experienced an empoverishment of the proclaimed message. We have been distant from the message of the “empty tomb” and we do not preach “what we have heard and seen” on the morning of the resurrection.
- “Be faithful” is to admit that we have lost the prophetic tradition. Our fear keeps us from denouncing evil (injustice, hunger, oppression, the hypocricy of this world, the pride of persons and of religion, and the concern for material interests and respectability of the churches); our fear bars us from conforting the people in the arid desert of human existence today, where there is pain, tears, suffering, despair and death.
- We are challenged to be faithful unto death, going as a pilgrim Church and without fear, to homes in crisis, to business offices, to the facoties, to the farms, to the barracks of the soldiers, to the hospitals, to the penitentiaries, dwelling more in tents than in churches, and to tell people where to find bread, where to find hope, peace and love, where to find redemption and liberty.
- This is our challenge: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
6) THE CHALLENGES OF A STORM
Leitura do Antigo Testamento : Exodus 14.5-13; 19 to 25
Leitura do Novo Testamento : Mark 4.35-41
- The Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long and seven and a half miles wide. It is six hundred and eighty two feet below sea level. The Jordan River enters the Sea of Galilee at one end and leaves at the other, from north to south. Because of being surrounded by hills and its position in relation to the River Jordan, it has always been subject to sudden and violent storms.
- Under what circumstances did the storm arise that we read about in our text? Mark tells us that it happened late in the afternoon. The best that carried Jesus was on the Sea and was followed by other boats. Jesus however was sleeping on a cushion. Suddenly a great storm arose and the disciples were afraid. Jesus rebuked the wind, the sea and the disciples. It was one more miracle in the ministry of Jesus.
- What lessons can we learn from this text?
I – THE STORMS OF LIFE
- It seems as though there have always been great storms on the Sea of Galilee, by reason of its geographical position. Comparing this event with various circumstances in our own lives, it is possible to note how we too are subject to storms, to moments of instability, of lack of security, of fear in the face of threatening storms. What storms have threatened our lives today?
- Generally the storms arise unexpectedly. They are destructive winds that threaten principally those who are unprotected, those who are navigating the seas of life in search of a safe port, or, those who cross desert trails in search of an oasis where they may find refuge.
- Among the various storms that can arise in the life of a person, we can mention:
- The storm caused by financial problems.
- In 1975 there was in Brazil a great freeze that killed a large part of the coffee plants in the south. Many coffee farmers were overcome by despair. Great loans from the banks had been made in the expectation that the hoped-for bumper harvest that year would more than cover the debts. Many farmers committed suicide.
- How many times have we not been overtaken by unexpected storms in our lives! Financial loss can provoke despair and lead to blasphemy and even hallucination.
- But there can also be…
- The storm caused by health problems.
- Health problems generally shake us physically. Perhaps because they directly threaten our lives. For this reason, many times they shake profoundly our faith and hope.
- I knew a lady in a Church where I served, who had a faith that was to be envied. She was a teacher and the superintendent of the Sunday School, a deaconess, and president of the Women’s Association. One day the doctors told her that she had cancer. A great storm overcame her life and her family. In despair she asked for the prayers of the Church. And since she continued to be sick, she began to seek the Pentecostal Churches hoping to find a cure. Dissatisfied, she turned to Spiritualism, attending Spiritist sessions, and finally ended up in the Afro-Brazilian cults. She died, drowned in the waves of despair and of disillusionment.
- We can also mention…
- The storm caused by moral and spiritual problems.
- At times problems invade our homes or our lives because around us there are moral and spiritual crises that degrade and diminish us as persons – the crisis of values, corruption, violence against nature and against human life, hunger and poverty in the world are some of the factors that depress us, causing tedium, nausea and anxiety.
- Terrible facts reported daily by the media generate in many of us disbelief and despair. And waves of pessimism have filled the boats of many in the midst of the storm. And many ask: where is God to do justice? Where is God to promote the truth, peace and love? Where is God?
- Before such threats…
II – HOW CAN WE OVERCOME THE STORM?
- Initially it is necessary to have the certainty that the storm is a temporary phenomenon. We should not be perturbed and lose hope in the face of the great problems in life. In the perspective of God there is always a way out, a solution.
- There is also another comforting factor. In the narrative of Mark, he notes that near the boat that carried Jesus and the disciples, there were other boats were also subject to the dangers of the great storm.
- We learn from this detail that the storm is not a phenomenon that affects only my life, my home; it means that side by side with my torment, with my agony, other lives, other vessels also are in distress, and going through storms even worse than mine. If we think that we are the only ones who have problems to solve and wish to take advantage of the situation, we are deceiving ourselves. Because many times the problem of my neighbor is larger and worse than mine.
- We are left now with a question:
III – WHOSE BOAT ARE YOU IN, AS YOU TRY TO FACE YOUR STORMS?
- In the sea of life many kinds of boats have been used by people to guarantee their peace, their happiness, stability for their families in the present and in the future:
- Some have chosen the boat of social position, of money and of political power;
- Others have chosen boat of scientific or philosophical knowledge as a means of surviving the storm;
- Others grasp into technology as a boat best able to withstand the great problems of society and the individual;
- There are yet others who enter into the boat of fantasy with the illusions of gambling, alcohol and other drugs;
- And many here are in the boat of religion, believing it to able to help overcome the tempests of life.
- However, none of thee boats, even though they may appear to be resistant, are sufficient to overcome all of the waves with all of the problems that life may bring to us.
- But there is a vessel, that may seem to be fragile and that is also subject to the storms , in which you may enter. It is not the boat of things that are concrete, but of hope. It is the boat of Jesus Christ! In this vessel, the poor in spirit are traveling: those who had the courage to abandon human vessels and all of their seeming security.
- There are moments in our lives when money, position, knowledge, and religion are to no avail in resolving our problems. But if Christ is in your boat, in your life, in your home, in your business, he is able to calm the storm, avert, the danger, and restore peace to you.
- May God thus help us all!
7) WHAT KIND OF LIBERTY IS YOURS?
Leitura do Antigo Testamento : Daniel 6.11 - 23
Leitura do Novo Testamento : Acts 16.19 -31
- Why do people lose their freedom? There are various answers to this question. Some would say that freedom is lost because of not knowing what it is. Others, would say that freedom is lost by the abuse of one’s liberty. And yet others, that liberty is lost through the practice of violence and dishonesty; and finally others, could say that freedom can be lost in the defense of political or religious principles.
- As it can be seen, the question of freedom is a difficult one and the answers tend to be subjective. However, in the light of the text of saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, read for our reflection, we are before a fact which tell us about a prison and of the liberty of prisoners that felt themselves to be imprisoned; and of prisoners who felt themselves to be free.
- First of all let us speak of the prisoners who felt themselves to be imprisoned.
I – THERE ARE PRISONERS WHO FEEL IMPRISONED
- In the description of the fact of the conversion of the jailer of Philippi, Luke refers to the existence of fellow prisoners of Paul and Silas. Hey were prisoners condemned for crimes committed. They were there because they had broken the law. They were prisoners who should feel imprisoned, punished, condemned by society. Because of this there was not much for them to do except to conform themselves with their punishment as a situation that could not be escaped from.
- Comparing the lot of the prisoners who felt themselves to be imprisoned, with people in other situations in life, we can perceive that there are many who feel this way too, living without alternatives, conformed with the way of life they lead.
- History tells us about slaves that were conscious of their slavery but did nothing to free themselves.
- Philosopher tells us about the Stoics who accommodated themselves to their particular life situation, conformed with their lot.
- In this same line of thought we can include people who are chronically sick; they know it, but do nothing to overcome their illness.
- Prisoners who feel themselves to be imprisoned can also refer to those with a dependence of drugs, who are aware of the harm it does to them, but that do nothing to overcome their habit.
- There are married couples in crisis, aware of the dangers of separation, but without the energy and initiative to solve the problem.
- There are sinners who know that they are sinning, and yet do nothing to liberate themselves.
- The “prisoners who know they are imprisoned” are in the last analysis all of those who feel themselves to be conquered and down, impeded to live in freedom and without the energies to struggle against the prison that humiliates and leaves them defeated.
- In the second place we will consider those who are free but feel imprisoned:
II – THERE ARE FREE PEOPLE WHO FEEL IMPRISONED
- In his narrative Luke speaks also of a free man who felt imprisoned, defeated, beaten – the jailer of Philippi. In the Philippian jail he was the only person that was legally free. However before the surprising fact of the earthquake that shook the structure of the prison, it is shown that his freedom was only of appearances, because it only served to bring him to his death, to the prison of death.
- Is this not the situation in which we find ourselves?
- There are many who think they are free to do what they please, but the truth of the matter is that they are imprisoned by the kind of obligations that denies their liberty. Think of how at times our social obligations take away our liberty!
- There are obligations that are responsibilities and burdens that impede our more noble and enduring initiatives.
- How many times do we not declare ourselves to be free when in reality we are slaves of the latest mode, of social events that demand of us expensive presents.
- How many times do we not devalue ourselves to be free and in reality we are slaves or prisoners of economics problems or duties or of debts we don’t know how to pay!
- Others seemingly free, like the Jailer of Philippi, are prisoners of their own feelings, of their emotions, of their loose tongue or their uncontrollable temperament.
- Others yet, are apparently free but feel bound by their consciences; their dramas of conscience, their nightmares torture and accuse them of work poorly executed, of wrong decisions taken, of thoughtless attitudes.
- Many say they are free but they feel limited by their ignorance:
- Ignorance about themselves;
- Ignorance regarding their neighbor; and
- Ignorance about God. The Jailer of Philippi was a free man, or rather, apparently free but not really; this was so because in the use of his liberty he was unable to with anything for his life other than death.
III – THERE ARE PRISONERS WHO FEEL THEMSELVES TO BE FREE
- Luke tells us that the comportment of Paul and Silas in the prison was that of free men in spite of their being imprisoned. In prison they gave voice in song to their that the other prisoners did not have. And at midnight, when they sang, there occurred the supernatural happening registered by Luke. I know that your poet Edgard Allan Poe begins his famous poem “The Raven” with “When upon a midnigth dark & dreary”.
- I am not sure what a reference to “midnight” means to you here in the United States!
- In my country, “midnight” is the hour of loneliness, of superstitions and challenges to one’s courage; the moment of fear and horror; of mystery and threats.
- Luke tells us that at midnight when Paul and Silas were singing, something extraordinary happened. The prisoners and jailer were struck by fear. It was midnight and strange things were happening…
- Symbolically, what does “midnight” mean to us, with extraordinary thing happening shaking of foundations, earthquakes happening?
- Indeed, there are moments in our own lives when as though we were alone at midnight, abandoned to our own lot, extraordinary things happen.
- And this midnight comes bringing us financial problems, health problems, family problems, problems with our jobs and other disturbing happening that can lead us despair and even to our death.
- If we think of a midnight with earthquakes in the life of a person without God, it can mean the end, despair and death. And it was this that the jailer of Philippi desired.
- But the “midnight” in the life of a person who loves God and believes in His promises, can be a moment of proving and a great faith;
- It can be a moment of decision and of a new beginning; the begginnin of a new history; it can be a moment of total liberation.
- In that “midnight” in the prison of Philippi, Paul and Silas were the only prisoners who felt themselves to be a free men, truly free to proclaim hope, to announce peace and salvation for the despairing jailer who was on the way to death with a sword in his hand.
- My sisters and my brothers: in our homes, our places of work, in the various avenues of our existence, let us continue to meditate upon the kind of liberty we have adopted for our lives.
- In the light of the text we have reflected upon, can it be that we have acted like prisoners who feel imprisoned?
- Or have we taken pride in our freedom but in practice have been enslaved by someone or some thing?
- Or have we, in spite of having seemingly limited ourselves by accepting the Christian Faith, become through Christ truly free to not wish for death in the hour of despair?
- May God help us to find the way to true freedom.