Sermon: Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary

Eizabeth HungaryThe English historian Robert Blake in 1982 wrote about one of the English monarchs: he “was a tyrannical monster. His rule echoed Caligula’s and prefigured that of Hitler or Stalin. Parliament was his collective accomplice: it blotted out his debts, it carried acts of attainder which deprived his enemies or imagined enemies of land, title and life without even the form of trial, it altered the succession, it allowed the king to bequeath the Crown by will, it gave his proclamations the force of statutory law.”

This monarch’s official title was a bit on the wordy side, “By the Grace of God, King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth, under Jesus Christ, Supreme Head.” We know him as Henry VIII. I suppose it is good to be king, but when we consider the monarchs of that era, Blake’s description seems to be fitting for a majority of them. Therefore, it seems a bit odd to celebrate the life of one, but Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary, was a bit different.

Following the death of her husband, the court compelled her to leave her home and take on a life of near poverty because of her extravagances. What were those extravagances? Giving to the poor. Building hospitals. Feeding the hungry, she even opened the royal granaries during a famine in the land. She is reported to have said, “How could I bear a crown of gold when the Lord bears a crown of thorns? And bears it for me!”

She wrote, “Today, there is an inescapable duty to make ourselves the neighbor of every individual, without exception, and to take positive steps to help a neighbor whom we encounter, whether that neighbor be an elderly person, abandoned by everyone, a foreign worker who suffers the injustice of being despised, a refugee, an illegitimate child wrongly suffering for a sin of which the child is innocent, or a starving human being who awakens our conscience by calling to mind the words of Christ: ‘As long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me’”

Jesus said, “Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”

That is a verse that has inspired so many individuals to do such great things. Like Elizabeth, those “great things” did not involve building vast empires or great wealth. They had nothing to do with making a name for themselves or gaining fame. Instead, those “great things” had to do with setting themselves aside, seeing Jesus, and seeking to serve Him with their entire being. How far does that go? Elizabeth died from exhaustion in serving the sick and needy.

I’m not going to ask you to do the same, but just as we are called to tithe 10% of our income to the work of God, what do you think the world would be like if we all also tithed just 10% of our lives to work of God? What “great things” could we do as a Christian people? I can assure you, we would be a force to be reckoned with in turning back the pain and suffering of this world.

Here’s a challenge for you: an hour has 60 minutes. 10% of 60 is 6… 6 minutes. How could you change the lives of those around you if you gave 6 minutes of every hour to God? I dare you to try it.

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