Now we reach the part of the Mass where the Priest delivers his sermon. And the role of the Sermon is to interpret the teachings of Christ and the stories of the Bible for modern congregations so that can continue to act in a Christian way.
Every night I deliver a different sermon based on what is in the news that day – anything to do with Catholicism in Scotland, or religion and politics. Other topics have included what would Catholics vote in the Independence Referendum, and David Cameron’s recent speech where he compared himself to Jesus, claiming he is following Jesus’ moral code.
I want to continue on that theme for, as it’s been in the news again today. And one thing I mentioned in the last sermon was Cameron’s celebration of Christians, of Christianity and Christian charity. He singled out Christian run food banks, and thanked them for their hard work. So tonight I’d like to talk about Foodbanks and the nature of Christian charity.
I asked what are we really to make of that? Rather than celebrating shouldn’t we arguing against the rise of food banks on this country which has plenty to go around and in Scotland where we have untapped resources and the potential to do so much more than we are doing at the moment in a downward spiral of rising energy costs, property costs, speculation in banking and blaming immigrants and the poor for all the trouble they have wreaked on us.
And as it turns out, David’s celebration of Christian foodbanks did not impress the Christians who are running them. Yesterday, an open letter was published from 45 Church of England representatives and over 600 Catholic organisations that slammed his comments. And lets not forget the many Muslim–run foodbanks like the Sufra Foodbank in London that are keeping people in food, rather than the BNP foodbank that is feeding white’s only. If he really wanted to talk about foodbanks, then maybe he should have addresses the complex nature of what they are and why they exist in a developed, western country that is supposedly one of the greatest of nations.
Charity is a common theme in religion. In Islam it is one of the central forces that reminds Muslims they are humble before Allah, and in Christian thought, charity is highest form of love, signifying the reciprocal love between God and man that is made manifest in unselfish love of one’s fellow men. Before Cameron argues about how great a Christian he is, he might want to remember St. Paul’s classical description of charity in the New Testament
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
And because he’s such a great Christian he probably knows what Matthew has to say about charity too.
"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Jesus looked after the poor and helped them. He put them first. Cameron’s welfare reforms aren’t really in the Christian spirit that he promotes. Ian Duncan Smith claimed that we are winning the war on welfare. I don’t remember Jesus saying that, but if anyone knows where I can find that quote I’d be happy to see it.
Charity is found in all religions and it’s one thing that proves that all paths lead to God. Jewish people are required to give one-tenth of their income to charity, and with that in mind I’d like to quote another deity of mine, Woody Allen, who said in Hannah and Her Sisters:
"If Jesus came back and saw what was going on his name, he'd never stop throwing up"