JUNE 3, 2009–ST CHARLES LWANGA AND UGANDA MARTYRS: MARK 1:29-39

 

JESUS WENT INTO THEIR SYNAGOGUES PREACHING THE GOOD NEWS AND EXPELLING DEMONS. In the Creed we recite every Sunday, we express our belief in God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth and of all things, visible and invisible”. The visible things of creation are familiar to us through our senses; the invisible are known to us through faith. The worlds of angels and demons, however, though normally invisible and intangible, can and do make themselves known on occasion by experience. At certain periods of history and in some cultures, the awareness of these invisible worlds is more keen and widely experienced. At more recent times and in those cultures influenced by the so-called Enlightenment, skeptical and materialist in attitude, the existence of invisible worlds has denied. In our day, however, science itself, has found that by far the largest part of our cosmos is indeed invisible. Just last year, based on the findings of astronomy, Science News reported the astonishing conclusion that “The cosmos consists of 74% dark [not directly observable] energy, 22% dark matter, 4% atoms. This finding resulted from discovery of the surprising fact that the universe is expanding at a more rather than less rapid rate. This is due to dark energy that reverses the pull of gravity, making it repel.” (“Embracing the Dark Side”, Ron Cowen, Science News Feb 2, 2008)

 

While the invisible worlds referred to in our Creed envisages the angels and demons in the first place, yet it intends to include all that exists, including what modern physics call dark energy and dark matter. For there were any number of persons early in the history of the Church who maintained that there were two creators, one good the other evil that was responsible for matter as such. The Creed rather intends to ascribe to the one God all that is, and expresses this conviction by the phrase ‘visible and invisible’. In our time this firm belief has taken on a fresh significance and applicability, not only because of this finding, but, in addition, the widely held theory that reality consists of a parallel world, or even multiple worlds, subject to laws very different than those in our cosmos.  

 

Jesus was obviously conscious of living in close proximity to the parallel world where his Father is all in all, and has ready access to that divine world, as we might call it. He was also in close touch with the world of angels who not only announced his conception to Mary, but also consoled him in the garden of Gethsemane, and declared his resurrection at the empty tomb. In today’s text from Saint Mark’s gospel, we are told that he not only goes about preaching but also expels demons. The Uganda martyrs, whose feast we commemorate at this Eucharist, lived in the open exchange of faith with the Spirit of God and derived from it a strength stronger than death, the strength of the Spirit of love. 

 

Our fathers in the faith and in monastic life likewise taught by their words and example that the faithful follower of Christ lives at the frontier of the invisible world that is God himself, radiating his loving, life-giving presence. The law that governs that world is the law by which God himself lives -- the love who is the Holy Spirit. We are enjoined to pray always by Saint Paul. Truly to pray is to walk according to the Spirit that Jesus sends to us even now from the Father so that we already live in that other world where the goodness and love of God is the law of eternal life. It is in the fire of this same Spirit that the Eucharistic bread is prepared for us this morning. &


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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