In an email to parishioners, we announced that Fr Chad died on Monday, August 27. His funeral took place on Friday, September 1 at St Hugh’s Vence. Many parishioners and friends joined his family in a moving farewell. Our sympathy is with Jean and Michael and Claire and their spouses.
Bishop David Hamid wrote: One of the long serving priests of this diocese, the Revd Canon Chad Coussmaker, has died. Fr Chad had a distinguished ministry, serving in Istanbul, Sliema, Antwerp and Moscow (where he negotiated the reopening of St Andrew’s Church and vicarage after years of communist rule). In retirement he served as an honorary assistant priest in Nice and Vence and undertook several locum assignments. He is survived by his wife Jean.
It is with great sadness that so many across our diocese note his death. We thank God for the blessing and inspiration he has brought to so many lives. We pray that Our Lord may reward his faithfulness, and welcome him into the Holy Presence with the Saints and Angels.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
Acts and intentions
When I was teaching at Harrow School, we had to write reports at the end of each school term, but we also wrote informal reports every half term. In a way, these informal reports were more important than the end of term reports. If an end of term report were to be critical there wasn’t much that could be done until the next term. The half term reports enabled us to get boys who were underperforming to improve their attitude to their work and make a difference by the end of term.
In philosophical terms, we wanted to change their intention and bring about better acts.
The question of intention and action and the relationship between the two is vital in ethics and in law. If someone runs in front of your car without looking and they are hit, a bad action ensues but you cannot be accused of a bad intent. If on the other hand you board a train with a machine gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and open fire, there is a bad action but also a bad intention.
Jesus in his teaching always focuses on intention. If the intention is good, good action is likely to follow. He is continuing the approach of the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah who called people to repentance, preferring ‘a broken and contrite heart’ to a public show of worship and devotion.
Like them, Jesus wanted people to begin with a change of intention, a change of heart. He wasn’t impressed by outward show. He repeatedly confronts the Pharisees for being preoccupied with outward show, with strict adherence to rules, without attending to what goes on inside someone’s mind – what their will or intention is.
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus takes the example of the food (kosher) rules and tells his audience that it isn’t what goes into us – keeping the food rules – that defiles us; it’s what springs from within us that matters.
Someone may satisfy all the Pharisees’ food rules, but these may be no more than a mask concealing bad intentions. Jesus says, ‘…it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come…’
To Jesus’ audience these were challenging words, as they are also for us. How do I do the right thing? How do I relate to God? What are my motives? What drives me? Do I just go with the crowd, upholding the conventions of my group?
We have a provocative clue in Sunday’s reading from Epistle of James, which argues that all good things find their origin in God: ‘Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father.’
What the Epistle of James is stating is that if a person has faith in God and a relationship with Him, he will act well. So, we don’t do good works to make God happy: good works are the fruit of our relationship with God, not the price we pay for having the relationship.
Our actions are a response to God’s grace and an expression of it, not an attempt to win it. We are freely forgiven by God (like the father rushing out to greet the Prodigal Son). We do good and act well because of our awareness of God’s love and forgiveness. It frees us to do good.