St. Augustine of Hippo


Episcopal Church

 


“Trust: From Our Mother To Our Pastor


May 12, 2019


The Reverend Nathanael Saint-Pierre


Today is Mother’s Day. Today is the Pastor’s Sunday. You might ask me, “Father, where are you going with your message today? What’s the connection between Mother’s Day and Pastor’s Sunday? What is the common ground between Mother and Pastor?” Some will even argue that: “This guy hasn’t changed a bit… He wants to make us feel guilty and his sermons are always a weapon used against us.”  I will tell you: “When any relationship is lacking trust, it is void, it is condemned to fail, it is uncertain.

Jesus went to the temple and the Pharisees were pushing him to be more specific about his identity. “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”, they said to him. They willingly overlooked his achievements among them. It was as if Jesus’ actions were not enough to reveal he was from God. The Pharisees wanted credentials, legitimacy, proof. Jesus’ words and ministry among them were not enough.

Have you ever tried to get people to know you and lamentably failed? Have you been in a position in which people attributed bad intentions to you even before they evaluated the result that you were aiming for? Have you been sentenced without due diligence for a crime you have not done? Have you tried to be the best mother or pastor that you can be and met with the misunderstanding of those you love and cherish? Have you tried to give your best and even your best seemed not good enough? Do you trust yourself to your pastor? 

One might try very hard to brand himself, to do all the right things, but for the mind that refuses to be convinced, for the eyes that refuse to see, for the ears that refuse to hear, there is nothing one can do to move distrust out of a heart. The Pharisees were obsessed with their knowledge of the law and the certainty they believed. They were not prepared to accept Jesus as the Messiah, the son of God. All they saw was an imposter and a fake; someone who wanted to change the status quo, a troublemaker who was disturbing their benefits.

They did not recognize God’s presence in the good Jesus was doing. They did not see the essence of God in Jesus’ message and the many miracles he had done amid them. They wanted to disqualify him. They wanted to paint a picture of him that would help them achieve their goals… and they succeeded.

The relationship between a mother and a child is, most of the time, built on trust. From the womb, it is the first voice the child learns to trust because the latter depends on the mother to survive. Life begins with a mother and if it were possible, we would have stayed in the womb of our mothers because that’s a secure and safe place. When we are in there, we feel calm, protected, loved, and cared for. We feel the concerns, the worries of the one with whom we are one until we are no more.

I am not portraying God as our mother. And I am NOT portraying your pastor as your mother. If you thought that this sermon is about the priest or the pastor that you might have betrayed or the minister you misunderstood, or the relationship you have with your leader, you’ve missed the point. Jesus is the GOOD PASTOR. He is the one who has given his life for us and whom we distrust. In many of our very rational minds, we think that Jesus is a story; we don’t need to take him seriously. We’ll have time to catch up with him later when we have less interesting things to explore. The gospel of John is letting us know that Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith. That, like our mother, we can trust Jesus because he knows our voice and we must know his. Jesus is the one who will take the lead of the flock, not for what is in it for himself, but for what is in it for the sheep.

A mother is the closest being to God I know. She is attentive, affectionate, she cares, she believes that we can make it and doesn’t turn her back when we do not. She stands by us when we are winning or losing. She is the first to cheer us, the last to boo at us. But even a mother won’t go where Jesus has gone. Sometimes, she cannot but watch powerlessly as a child is dying and be incapable of changing it. So many of you are such a mother: strong, loving, caring and supporting. We are blessed to have you as part of our DNA and part of our lives. But you and I have a pastor that we must identify and connect with. His name is Jesus. When the shadow of death appears, he is present. When going through the harshness of life, he is present. When the storm threats are resounding, Jesus is there; when we fall or triumph, he is still standing with us, ready to receive our hands if we ask him for help.

Do not hesitate to trust Jesus. Do not doubt that he is on your side. He is the redeemer, the savior, the lamb of God. He can take away our sins and makes us all whole again. If in human relationships trust is challenging, trust in Jesus is redeeming. Only when we surrender to him can we win over sin, over death and over our inner demons:

Happy Mother’s Day