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There are many Saints who has incredible history and we share their stories on 

Saint Barnabas  ı  Saint Benedict of Nursia  ı  St. Thomas  ı  St. Matthew  ı  St.Margaret  ı  St. Luke de Evangelist  ı  Blessed Julian of Norwich


Saint Barnabas 

Saint Barnabas –his original name was Joseph –was an early convert to Christianity and accompanied Paul on a number of missionary journeys. His cousin was Mark the Apostle. According to Acts 4:36, he sold some land and donated the proceeds to the Apostles, at which time he received his new name meaning “one who encourages”. 

Born of Jewish parents in Cyprus, Barnabas probably settled in Jerusalem before the crucifixion. His conversion took place at Pentecost around 30 AD. He apparently gained a reputation as a preacher, and rose in the ranks of the early church. What mention there is of him in the Bible is found in the Acts of the Apostles. When Paul –who had been a persecutor of early Christians –returned, converted, to Jerusalem, it was Barnabas who vouched for him and introduced him to the sceptical disciples (Acts 9:26-27).

Barnabas believed in the power of the gospel message to change peoples' hearts. He was one of the first to understand the universal mission of the church. He challenged the view of other members of the early church that Gentile converts had to be circumcised or follow the Jewish dietary customs (Acts 15). The Apostles sent him to Antioch in Syria (now Antakya in Turkey) to spread the word of Christ. He called for Paul to join him and together they made a large number of converts. The name 'Christians' as followers of Jesus originated in Antioch at this time. Barnabas and Paul were subsequently sent as missionaries to other parts of Asia Minor. Some sources state that Barnabas spent time in Rome and Alexandria and he is depicted as preaching in Rome even during Christ's lifetime. It was his success as a preacher that led to his martyrdom. He was stoned to death, at an unknown date. St. Mark, who witnessed the stoning, took his body and buried it in a cave. A monastery was built in his name at Salamis, Cyprus, where a tomb is reputed to hold his remains. He is venerated as the Patron saint of Cyprus. His feast day is celebrated on 11 June.


Saint Benedict of Nursia

Benedict was born in Nursia, central Italy around the year 480. As a young man he was sent to study in Rome, but was soon appalled by the corruption in society and withdrew to live as a hermit at Subiaco. He quickly attracted disciples and began to establish small monasteries in the neighborhood. Around the year 525, a disaffected faction tried to poison him so Benedict moved to Monte Cassino with a band of loyal monks. Later in life Benedict wrote his Rule for Monks based on his own experience of fallible people striving to live out the gospel. He never intended to found an order but his Rule was so good that it was disseminated and widely followed, becoming the model for all western monasticism, including that practiced in the Church of England in contexts such as the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield. Benedict died at Monte Cassino in about the year 550.

St. Thomas

S. THOMAS THE APOSTLE  - by S.Margaret`s Budapest church

I am not much given to to starting a sermon with a text ? but if I was going to what better than the words which end the OT reading this morning from the prophet Habakkuk: ..but the righteous live by their faith.

But what is faith? That is a question which deserves going back to from time to time. As we see this morning from the readings, it is not about believing in doctrinal statements. It is about taking the risk of having a relationship with the living God as we know him in Jesus Christ. Abraham is often held up as a prime example of the sort of faith we are talking about. He responded to the call of God and set out, not really knowing where he was to go. In order for this great adventure to take place he had to pull up his roots and leave the safely familiar behind. It meant renunciation ? but there were also promises and assurances of blessing. In his case blessings that would be for all the families of the earth. We can always be assured when we undertake the walk of faith that God?s purposes are wholly good and that the God of the journey is both caring and faithful. Of course that faith will be severely tested at times, as was Abraham?s. And that is where endurance which S. Paul talks about so much comes in. There will be times when the going is hard, life and people are frustrating, the whole enterprise seems confused and bewildering, and God does not appear to be all that close. Faith, obedience and endurance though always will break through into God?s joy. 

S. Thomas wasn?t present when the Lord appeared to the other disciples. He was inclined to ridicule their testimony. But the next week the Lord appears again, with a special and personal message: Do not doubt, but believe. Thomas had not forgotten the exciting times he had been through with Jesus during the days of his ministry before the crucifixion. He had not forgotten the healings for instance. He had shared in these experiences; he had believed. When Jesus entered Jerusalem he had been bouyed up by the enthusiasm of the crowds of pilgrims. He had believed with many others that Jesus? time had come. And it had, even if not in the way many had expected. Thomas though was a practical man ? he had seen Jesus die on the cross. All the hope and joy could now be seen as illusion. He didn?t forgot, probably really he had never fully understood the things Jesus had said about what would happen. He hadn?t really understood the words of Jesus, He that believes on me, the works that I do, he shall do also: and greater works than these shall he do. 

He that believes on me? What is this belief? Basically it is that Jesus saves. In traditional terms Jesus saves us from personal sin and from the effects of original sin which include ignorance, weakness of will, disoriented emotions, physical illness and death. Some of this freedom will unfold only in the deeper life following our own resurrection ? but the process has begun. The kingdom of God has come near you. Jesus us freeing us from sin, from ignorance (the Spirit will lead you into all truth) , from weakness of purpose, from disoriented emotions, from physical sickness, from everything that lessens or destroys the human personality ? in order to give us new life, a new relationship of love and union with the living God. The one condition is our faith and obedience. This is how Jesus saw his mission: the time of the Messiah would be a time of healing, of liberation, of salvation. Because the Hebrews in their wisdom understood what we are finally beginning to understand, that people are not divided into body, mind and spirit; because they understood that a human being is a unity, they thought not just of saving souls, or physical healing alone, but of saving or healing persons ? the whole person including body and emotions. The healing acts of Jesus were in themselves the message that he had come to set people free. Jesus did not stress the miraculous in his healings, he simply refers to them as work. It was the normal thing for him to do. Because this healing, healing of body, spirit and emotions, is an essential part of the message of salvation, we can see why Jesus gave his disciples power to heal when he sent out first the 12, and later the 72. How-ever, the sick are still with us and people are still in need of salvation, of wholeness. Daily we see broken people in need of Jesus? salvation, Jesus? healing. Thomas was one of the Twelve, and one of the Seventytwo. In our turn we are sent out to heal and reconcile. The mission of the Lord is our real life?s work. Do not doubt, but believe. 

But what makes people into disciples of Jesus? Not the empty tomb as many think. Only John believed because of the empty tomb. For most people the empty tomb is not the point at which they become truly Christian. We mostly are Christian because at some point in our lives God became real to us in Jesus. And S. Thomas would say Amen to that. It was the real meeting with the Risen Lord that led him to that supreme confession of faith, My Lord and my God. It was that meeting with the Risen Lord that enabled the Doubter to become the Apostle to India and the East ? the founder certainly of the Mar Thoma Syrian Orthodox Church and Christianity in India. He apparently arrived in India in 52 AD and after 17 years of ministry he was martyred by a Brahmin throwing a spear at him. That is why images of S. Thomas often show him holding a spear. I have often heard people ask, What can one person do? Well, that is what S. Thomas went on to do ? a unique legacy. 


St. Matthew

S. MATTHEW, APOSTLE & EVANGELIST. - by S.Margaret`s Budapest church

Capernaum was an undistinguished fishing village in Galilee. The centre of activity was to be found at the edge of the lake. There on the beach each morning was spread out the catch of fish from the night before, all ready for sale. And the tax office was there, prominently sited so as not to miss any of the action. No haul of fish was made without the involvement of the tax officer whose authority was such that no one could question his assessment of the dues. Thus he made a lot of money for himself as well as his Roman masters. He was a Jew; he was seen as a traitor to his people and his religion; he was despised. The officer on duty was named Matthew.

We can imagine the scene ? every day was the same on the Capernaum waterfront. Every night the catch of fish. Every morning these were sold. Every day the tax-collector took his cut. But one day the familiar face was missing. Jesus had called him; Jesus had said, Come, follow me. It doesn?t take too much imagination to realize that for Matthew the call, and his response, were the result of a process. He had heard Jesus previously, he had been impressed by Jesus, he had come to see himself as a pretty cheap individual. And now the time of decision had come ? he was out of that tax office for ever, he had broken with his past. 

The given Gospel reading is quite a short passage. But widen the angle a little and we find that this reading is part of two chapters packed with healings by Jesus. A leper; the servant of the centurion; Peter?s mother-in-law; the Gadarene demoniac; the paralytic let down through the roof; Jairus?s daughter; the woman with a haemorrhage; a dumb demoniac. Finally a tour during which Jesus preaches and heals, curing every disease and every sickness. (9:35) Central to all this is Jesus? call of Matthew and his eating with tax-collectors and sinners. So, taking this literary arrangement at face value, does that mean that the call of Matthew is also a story of healing? Well, yes, certainly. Years of taking from people what they didn?t want to give; taking more than he should, and becoming prosperous on the extra; facing down taunts, sneers, anger, even threats ? it takes its toll. Matthew may have been physically healthy, after all he could afford to eat well; but socially he was a leper, probably he would have been psychologically paralytic. So, Jesus? invitation to follow him, his willingness to eat with him and the others, acted like his words to the physically sick; Be clean!; Your sins are forgiven, get up and walk. With Jesus something new has come into the world. That something is FOR-GIVENESS. Forgiveness is critical to all that Jesus did, his healing works, the bringing of reconciliation, the offer of salvation. It is critical to the work of Jesus; likewise it is critical in the ministry of his Church. 

People who are Christian come from just about every occupation there is. For most their calling is to live and work as disciples of Christ where they are. Most are not called away, but some, like Matthew, do need to leave what they are doing. But for everyone some sort of break is necessary. The break is part of the individual Christian?s experience ? it is part of the Church?s profession. The Church and the Christian must live in the world, but there has to be a break from the world and with the world. Come, follow me, said the Lord to Matthew, and he left all to follow. That is the experience baptism symbolizes, a basic experience to be lived through. So a legitimate question to ask anyone who professes the faith is, Have you experienced the break?

The break does not however issue in isolation. The Church is not the fellowship of those who have „broken away”. The Church is not a retreat from reality. That is what the Pharisees did. In the Gospel Matthew does break away at the invitation of Jesus, but very soon he is re-associated with his former companions, friends, colleagues, at the dinner he gave. Jesus was there. So Jesus called Matthew away to follow him, but both Jesus and Matthew then re-associate with the people from whom the break had been made. Clearly the Christian is not to be „of the world”, but he is very definitely to be „in the world”, with Jesus, bringing healing, the message of forgiveness, mixed up in its troubles and its joys. Such is the significance of the `great feast’ in this Gospel.

This process, Matthew’s call, his break with his old life, and then his re-association with his fellows surely provoked comment. In this was made possible the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was one who did not separate himself from sinners; he had come to, specifically, be with them, to bring forgiveness, healing and reconciliation to his Father’s world. The separation of the Church and Christians from the world, and the involvement of the Church and Christians in service to the world constitute the twin foundations of the pulpit from which the Gospel of Jesus Christ can truly be preached.

S. Matthew speaks to us chiefly because he left all to follow the Lord, but not to be separate or sectarian. There is no encouragement for any such view in any of the Gospels. Yet, for all who call themselves Christian, a break there has to be. 


Saint Andrew

St. ANDREW, Apostyle and Martyr - by S.Margaret`s Budapest church

"We conclude that faith is awakened by the message, and the message that awakens it comes through the word of Christ. (Rom.10:17)"

This is a true story of a young man named Charles. His mother and father were very worried about him. After leaving school with minimal qualifications he had tried a number of jobs, none of which he seemed to able to settle at. He either left or was fired after a short time. He wasn't lazy but he just couldn't raise any enthusiasm for the sort of work for which his limited education made him suitable. One day a friend of the family gave them some theatre tickets for a production of Hamlet. Charles went along, although everyone thought he would probably last no longer than the end of the first act. But they were wrong. Something happened that evening. Next day Charles couldn't stop talking about the performance. Soon after he managed to get a jab as a stage hand. He went on from there to become an actor. Not a great actor, but he was fulfilled and moderately successful. He had found his niche in life and found that he had a gift that was useful. He had been awakened (to- use the significant ward in our text) by the words of Shakespeare as presented by the actors and the atmosphere of the theater.

Should not the Church be an awakener in its presentation of the Word which is Christ? Can the Church not change lives as the life of Charles was transformed by his experience of the theater? As Shakespeare can still speak to the world through the words of his plays presented by actors in a theatre, so God can speak to the world through his Christ, his Word, presented to the world by his Church - of which we are the actors. We can offer the invitations (as the family friends gave the spare tickets), we can create the atmosphere of love, as actors and audience can create the magic atmosphere of the theatre.

It is a message which is presented. Quite simply the message is Christ, the word which is Christ. Christ is what God says to the world. Christ is what God is doing in the world. When Christ is made real to the world and its people, that is when he is realized, when he is made to live again, resurrected, faith is sparked. Christ is the message and the message makes for faith. The drama the Church presents to the world then is the proclamation of Christ his life, his love, his death, his being raised, by ward and by living in Christ Then the awakener is at work in the world.

The saints of course are exemplifiers of this life as awakeners. Andrew so presented Christ to his brother Peter that faith was awakened in him - and of course for many others, named and unnamed. Tradition has him traveling on a number of missionary journeys and eventually being crucified on an X-shaped cross (hence the diagonal cross of S. Andrew's flag). As a point of interest he was made the patron saint of Scotland because of the belief that his relics were brought there in the eighth century.


Saint Margaret

S. MARGARET OF SCOTLAND.  - S. Margaret’s Budapest Church

The reading from Proverbs is an appendix really to the main book. It is an acrostic, although this does not come through in the English of course; but these acrostics were a common feature of Hebrew poetry. It describes the good wife in terms of her role as home economist. Initiative, inventive ingenuity and industry characterize her life. In this function she claims a degree of independence in line with these capabilities. This, in a society where the individual legal rights of a wife were very slight indeed, is interesting. Actually to get over this problem somewhat the author presents her as being so wonderful because she is motivated by her zeal for her husband's good name and reputation. So it is not a matter of self-realization in any sense, her glory is reflected glory, when her husband boasts about her in the city gates. However, it is not difficult to see why this passage was chosen as a reading for this day, because S. Margaret was truly a wife and mother to a large family which included not just their own eight children but also the orphans, slaves and captive children which Malcolm brought back from his raids into England. She became a mother to them all. And as a wife she was almost worshiped by Malcolm - he no doubt boasted about her `in the city gates` or wherever Scottish kings did this sort of thing. So this is a fitting introduction to a commemoration of the life of S. Margaret, showing many of the God-given gifts which she utilized to the glory of God.

S. Paul though has been writing specifically about spiritual gifts to the Corinthian Church, and now he is telling us how these spiritual gifts are to he used. They are to be used for the benefit of the Body of Christ. He explains the figure of the Church as a body. A body needs many parts, all of which have their function, working together, if the body is to be an integrated and effective unit. We are a body, as were the Corinthians, by way of our common baptism, `we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.` The important point comes at verse 25, 'its parts should have equal concern for each other.' Within the Church we should all have the same concern for one another, without discrimination. We can be reminded of S. Peter's discovery in the vision of the sheet let down, that God has no favourites (Acts 10). There must be in the Church such a unity, such a solidarity, that where one suffers, all suffer. S. Paul again lists some of the gifts, but the passage comes to the conclusion that: 'If I give all that I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing: ‘For S. Paul the Church, the Christian community, is of immense importance. We seem to hear less about this at the present time, but the NT leaves us in no doubt of the place and importance of the Church. And for him too this emphasis has ethical implications. So, while he does not deny love for all of God's creation, his emphasis is very much on the importance of loving our fellow Christians. There is a real need to build up the Church morally and spiritually into a community through which Christ can go on proclaiming and demonstrating his salvation. Such a belief was clearly important in the life of S. Margaret. As a girl in Hungary and a young woman in England she displayed a deeply spiritual nature by her constant desire to enter a convent and lead the life of a religious. However when she came to believe that she was meant to marry Malcolm of Scotland the nature of her belief changed somewhat, but certainly not the depth. Single highhandedly she led the much needed reform of the Church in Scotland, basing these reforms on the religious life she had experienced both in England and Hungary. The Benedictine Order was well known in both countries so she was able to bring Benedictine monks to guide her and the people in this reformation of the Scottish Church. And of course we are talking about reform in the area of spiritual life rather than merely a reform of administrative matters. Her personal life of prayer and study of the Scriptures was renowned. The Gospel too is relying an imagery, as do both the two other readings this morning. It is apastoral scene where the goats and the sheep normally feed and are herded together during the day. But at the end of the day they are separated, the goats seeking warmth and the sheep preferring fresh air. This scene is used as something of a vision to describe the last judgment.Judgment involves separation… And in this vision the judgment is based entirely on the help given to the needy. Both groups are surprised, neither seems to have realized that their deedswill be judged as they are in the vision. The Son of Man is identified with this third group, the deprived; help for the deprived amounts to helping the Son of Man. Jesus did consistently show a real concern for the poor and he gave a priority to the cause of the helpless and those neglected by society, perhaps especially because of the spiritual consequences of deprivation. There is a real sense in which care for the helpless is a service to Jesus himself, This vision has been an inspiration and a strength to many who have devoted their lives in service to the deprived and the helpless in our communities: and there can be little doubt that the hard-hearted and those whose concern is entirely self-oriented will incur judgment. There is a danger though of allowing a powerful vision such as this to become the driving force of the Gospel, leading to a social gospel solely - it has and does happen. That is as bad as the opposite approach, where so many show such concern for the personal salvation of the individual that the greater good is forgotten. We need balance, we need to take the whole Gospel seriously and not just the parts that appeal to us. S. John of the Cross said, "we will be judged on love. And so we must love God and mankind to the end, but never God without man, and never man without God.

Queen Margaret of course was well known for her devotion to God, and through that, to the poor. There were always a number of little orphans who she normally fed personally. Daily she and Malcolm together hosted breakfast for 300 poor people in the Great Hall. There were a further 24 destitute whom she tended personally again throughout the year. The only witnesses she allowed to these acts of charity were her husband Malcolm, some close personal attendants, and the chaplains. These acts of charity took their place in a day which was filled with prayer, study of the ward of God and fasting. This rigorous life of self-denial largely led to her early death at the age of 46 in 1093. It was on her deathbed that she received the news of the death of Malcolm and their eldest son Edward during the failed military campaign to regain their rights over Northumberland. The remains of both Margaret and Malcolm can today be found in the Church of the Escorial in Spain where they were taken far safety during the Reformation. I have found the study of the life of S. Margaret to be a moving experience. After 900 years her life and her personality move out to one and exert their power. But she believed herself that all things will in time be lost, only love lasts for ever.


Saint Luke the Evangelist  - S. Margaret's Church, Budapest

Readings: Acts 16: 6-12a; 2 Timothy 4: 5-17; Luke 10: 1 -9

On the night of 18th July AD 64 a fire broke out in the city of Rome. It was finally brought under control one week later, by which time half the city had been destroyed. The Emperor Nero was the prime suspect, although it was not wise to say so openly. He had to find a scapegoat - and his choice fell on the Christian community. Until this time Christians had been considered legally as part of Judaism, and had thus benefited from a favored status dating from the rule of Julius Ceaser. The fire of Rome though led into a period of grim persecution for the Church, along with a changed legal status.

When the initial persecution under Nero had ended, Christians found themselves in a precarious situation. Their legal security was ended and they were now seen as being followers of a new, and thus illegal, religion. It was now essential to survival to avoid the unfavorable notice of the civil authorities. This in turn depended on their being able to retain the goodwill of their neighbors. The general view of Christianity was that it was a barbarous superstition associated with various kinds of depravity including cannibalism. It was at this time, when the Church was adapting to the new situation, that the first great apologia for the faith was written. It was a two-volume work known to us as the Gospel according to S Luke and, the Acts of the Apostles. These writings were meant to explain the truth about Jesus Christ and Christianity to the Gentile world. S. Luke will correct the view of Christianity as anti-social. He will portray Jesus Christ, the author of the faith, as a figure of nobility, courage and charm, who is able to reproduce these same qualities in the lives of his followers, and to raise to decency and dignity even the outcasts of society.

A study of the writings of S. Luke enables us to describe in some detail the man who wrote. He was a second generation Christian who had associated closely with those who had first-hand knowledge of the Gospel story. He was an educated man, a Gentile, who was deeply versed in the Greek OT and in the ways of the synagogue. He was really more interested in people than in ideas, he had a deep social conscience and a great sympathy for the troubles of others.

He was a companion of S. Paul on some of his missionary journeys as we can tell from that part of the Acts of the Apostles which is taken directly from the diary he kept. The use of the word we indicates this. It is believed that S. Luke carried on missionary work long after the death of S. Paul and was eventually martyred at the age of 80, being crucified on an olive tree.

He was a physician and both his books deal extensively with the healing works of Jesus and of the disciples, both before and after Pentecost. He is thus remembered in the name of the Order of St. Luke the Physician, the international and interdenominational society which works to restore the ministry of healing to its rightful place in the Church, and he is the patron saint of a number of medical groups and associations.

In the Gospel we see the seventy two (or 70) disciples sent out by Jesus. They are bidden to fulfil their task with the utmost haste; they are to carry nothing which would be an impediment, they are to avoid the time-consuming futilities of oriental wayside etiquette, they are to waste no time on the heedless and to forget about the ritual cleanliness of food. Their mission is urgent because they are harvesters, and the harvest, which is God's people, is ripe for the sickle. Their command is to heal the sick and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. These disciples were carrying the saving power of Jesus into the world. Holy Church is the continuation of Jesus' saving power throughout history. The harvest is as ripe today as it was when Jesus first spoke those words. The command of the Lord is as urgent now as it was then.

The Church is the continuation of Jesus' saving ministry throughout history. We only need to read the Acts of the Apostles and see SS: Peter and Paul and the Church generally carrying on the preaching and healing ministry of Jesus. The Church is the Body of Christ in and to the world. We are Christ in and to the world. If we accept this there is no escaping the fact that healing, total wholeness of body, mind and spirit, God's salvation, is available in this church today for those who seek it. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever.

Blessed Julian of Norwich (cca. 1343 - 1423) 

In the land of Shakespeare and Keats, Blessed Julian of Norwich is considered the first woman of English letters. What is ironic is that we don't even know her real name. We know her only by the name of the church with which she was associated ? the Church of St. Edmund and St. Julian in Norwich. 

The little we know about this extraordinary mystic comes from her Revelations of Divine Love, reflections on her sixteen visions, which she referred to as 'showings'. Among her most revolutionary statements are her many references to Christ in maternal terms, including calling him: our mother entirely in every-thing. 

Although her writings effuse joy and an unshakeable peace, Julian was not a natural optimist. Early in her life she was so unhappy and despairing that she prayed for an early death. She also prayed for a profound understanding of Christ's passion, a severe illness, and the desire to forgo all sin, to love all people, and to long always for God. Although she wasn't granted a premature death, she was given her other requests. 

Julian's Prayer of Confidence

All shall be well 

and all shall be well  

and all manner of things shall be well. 


God Alone 

God, of your goodness, give me yourself, for you are enough for me. 

I cannot properly ask anything less, to be worthy of you. 

If I were to ask less, I should always be in want. 

In you alone do I have all. 


I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.  

I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it. 

I believe in God, even when he is silent.

(written by a Jewish prisoner on a wall in Cologne)

Copyright Rev'd Canon Denis Moss 2005     



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