Today, I was Celebrant & Preacher at St. Barnabas, Snakes Lane, Woodford Green which is still in an interregnum after nearly two years. During the sermon I preached on the words from today’s Gospel “But I say to you” retold a story I read whilst trawling the internet some time ago about a professor's chauffeur. He had driven a professor around the country and each evening he had sat in the audience. One day the chauffeur said, "Professor, I have listened to your lecture dozens of times. I could give it by heart." So that night the professor donned the chauffeur's uniform and sat up front in the auditorium. The chauffeur gave the lecture perfectly, word for word. When he finished, a man asked, "Professor, you said that H2O2 plus Na4K3 equals E over MC squared. How is that possible?" The chauffeur thought for a second, then replied, "That is a stupid question. In fact, it is the stupidest question I have ever heard. And just to show how stupid it is, I am going to have the chauffeur come up here answer it!" I explained that I knew very little Greek and felt like the chauffeur but wanted to talk about a Greek word “exousia”. It is a word which can be translated as "authority," "power," "dominion," and "capacity." William Barclay, the Bible commentator defines exousia as "the power to add and the power to take away at will." After quoting from the Old Testament Jesus says “exousia” but I say to you. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, St. Matthew tells us that Jesus taught with authority not like the Scribes and Pharisees.
In Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth, he comments on the phrase, "But I say to you..." the Pope quotes a Jewish Scripture scholar, Rabbi Jacob Neusner. Regarding Jesus' approach to the Law, Rabbi Neusner asks, "What did Jesus leave out?" He answers, "Nothing." Then he asks, "What did Jesus add?" To that the Rabbi answers, "Himself." Jesus did not come to give us a new law but rather He came to give us Himself which He does this every time we come to church for Mass when he gives us Himself in the Blessed Sacrament.
Today’s Mass Setting was Wills in D (Missa Eliensis) and the Choir sang the Anthem “If ye love me” by Thomas Tallis.
This year S. Barnabas celebrates its Centenary. On Feast of S. Barnabas Saturday 11th June there will be a Procession and Solemn Concelebrated Mass at 12 noon followed by lunch. On Saturday 8th October at 7.30 p.m. there will be an Organ recital by Dr. Alan Thurlow, Organist Emeritus of Chichester Cathedral and sometime Organist of S. Barnabas.