Our new Associate Priest-designate, Fr Herbert Bennett, presents a homily for the First Sunday after Trinity from Emmanuel Church, West Hampstead where he is during lockdown.
The addressed is based on the Gospel reading of Matthew 9 vs. 35 – 10 v. 8
Good morning to you all. My name is Herbert Bennett and I am delighted to have been invited to join you for your service. I have recorded this homily from the beautiful church of Emmanuel, West Hampstead, London, where I live during the week and which has served its surrounding community since Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897.
On this first Sunday after Trinity we have before us today, in our gospel reading from Matthew, the account about the calling of the 12 disciples by Jesus.
Having just celebrated Eastertide, in which we reflected with joy on our risen Lord and His offer of salvation for all in the kingdom of heaven, we hear this morning about the great call, which Jesus made earlier to His disciples, to proclaim that good news that the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.
The appointment of the 12 disciples is very significant for it marks the beginning of Jesus’ corporate ministry involving others – the extension of His mission for the world. The number 12 is thought to represent the 12 tribes of Israel which would seem to reflect the call to go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel which Jesus says to His disciples.
The call to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom is addressed to every age and is now addressed to each of us here today. Jesus that great shepherd of the sheep calls us to be His labourers, to go and gather in the lost sheep of His people into the Kingdom of Heaven. We are told that the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few and that we are to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into the harvest.
In our reading this morning we heard how Jesus, in addressing that harvest, when He saw the crowds, had compassion for them. Compassion is such a lovely word for it conveys loving understanding and embracing warmth. May we pray and seek to be just that to others in our work as God’s labourers in taking up this great calling.
By our actions we are to work in that great mission of proclaiming the good news of Christ’s salvation and the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven to others. Even by a gentle word or a loving act to others we are each proclaiming that Kingdom of Heaven being near, as disciples of Christ we journey in faith daily in our lives to be co-labourers with Him.
As many of you will now know I am presently coming to join you in the united benefice as a self-supporting priest and to serve principally at St Thomas a Becket in Cliffe. This is indeed a great Joy for me to have the opportunity to become a partaker with you all in this great mission to proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom by all we do and say and are to others around us and I look forward to that very much and getting to know you all in due course.
During this lockdown you have no doubt heard how many people have shown a searching interest in prayer and following on-line services. The good news of God’s Kingdom and salvation in Christ has been the message for all generations and is still that for these times in which we are currently living.
We are all called to be Jesus’ labourers in sharing the good news about the Kingdom of Heaven being near in the risen and ascended Christ. So as we emerge out of lock down may we pray to God to be divinely sent to others and pray for His blessing on this work and for our journey together in the days ahead of this Trinity season to the glory of God. Amen.
(Fr) Herbert Bennett.
The BCP collect for this week is:
O GOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.