The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

The world around us can be a strange place. We dislike death, that’s understandable, and yet it is inevitable. People now seem to think that in the name of compassion that we should be able to choose when and how it happens, which is highly problematic. As Christians, we believe that life is sacred from its very beginning to its end, and it is something which we must all face. And yet, in Christ we have hope, that our earthly existence is not everything, and His Death and Resurrection shows us that our destiny is to be with God, forever in heaven.
       As for the matter of judgement, we leave such things up to God, we cannot know, all we can do is to trust in His mercy, and try to live out our faith. Rather than trying to usurp the place of God, an act of pride, and judge whether we are wheat or weeds, we leave such matters up to Him. Instead we need to realise that as the Body of Christ, the Church, we are to be concerned with living the life of the Kingdom here and now. Our faith is not a private matter; it affects who we are and what we do. As people who have received the love and mercy of God, we are to live accordingly.
       It’s why we are here, it’s why Christians gather on the first day of the week, to pray together,  to listen to the Scriptures, and to be fed with the Body and Blood of Christ, so that we may have live in Him, so that we may be strengthened to live lives of faith in the world, not conformed to it, not going along with what it says or does, but living out a radical alternative, of costly love and forgiveness, looking to God to heal our wounds and restore us, and trusting in His unfailing love.
       It isn’t easy, it is difficult, and it is hard, and for two thousand years we have been trying, and getting it wrong, but we don’t simply give up – no, we keep trying, and keep trying together. Our faith matters to each and every one of us, and we’re all in it together. The work of the kingdom is communal and corporate. I’m no better than any of you, I’m weak, sinful, and foolish, I follow Christ in a particular way, that doesn’t make me special or better. You look to me to lead, to teach and to nourish, but I can only do so with your love, support, prayers and forgiveness, so that together, as the people of God in this place, we make the Kingdom of God, the kingdom of peace, joy, love and forgiveness, a reality in this place.
       In so doing, we are following Christ – this is what it means to be a Christian. We follow someone who was not content just to go along with the ways of the world, someone who enjoyed celebrations so much that he was called a drunkard, but who ignored the petty judgemental comments, who ate with tax-collectors, sinners and prostitutes, to take a stand against a society where people think that wealth or birth, or anything else make one intrinsically a better person. Only God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness can do that, which those whom society scorned both knew and recognised and responded to.

       Our calling then is a radical one, which aims at nothing less than the transformation of the whole world, starting here and now, to make the Kingdom of God a living transformative reality in this place for the glory of God. We can only succeed if we do it together, and trusting in the God who loves us, who heals and restores us, whose Kingdom it is.

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Year C – Being prophetic

Many people nowadays want God, but on their own terms, not on his. They insist that their wishes shall determine the kind of religion that is true, rather than letting God reveal his truth to them. So their dissatisfaction continues and grows. But God finds us lovable, even in our rebellion against him.
Fulton J. Sheen ­Lift up your heart
Throughout the Scriptures we see that the calling, life and witness of the prophet is a difficult and a costly one. In this morning’s first reading we see Jeremiah being called to proclaim the word of the Lord. He is set apart for this task, he is made holy, and God says ‘I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations’ – in order to do what a prophet does, he has to be what a prophet is, function follows and flows from ontology, what he is, is prior, it is done to him, so that God may work through him.
            It is a difficult and a costly task, and a prophet has to be prepared for rejection: ‘they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.’ It is far too easy especially in the current climate for the Church to be downhearted, when we are assailed by secular power, but we have to be like Jeremiah, and trust in God safe in the knowledge that that the one who called is faithful and will not disappoint us. We can trust in God, we can have faith and hope in him, so that we can speak the truth in love.
            The People of Jesus’ home town cannot see what’s going on, they simply see what they want to see, they see a mouthy jumped-up carpenter’s son who has the temerity to challenge their preconceptions and their lack of faith, who tells is like it is, the uncomfortable truth, which they do not want to hear, but which they needto hear.
            Currently we are being told that our understanding of Holy Order and Marriage need to be changed to conform to the ways of the world; it can only be a matter of time before legislation allowing assisted suicide to be made legal will be considered, so that we no longer have to value life either at its beginning, or its end, that the vulnerable and inconvenient can be disposed of by medical means, cast off, in private and away from prying eyes. Against the vision of a secular state which does not truly value life from its conception to a natural death, which does not value marriage as the lifelong and indivisible union of a man and a woman for their mutual benefit and that of society, and for the procreation and education of children, which seeks to tell the church what it should do and how and why it should do it, we have to offer an alternative.
            It may not be popular to stand up and proclaim the ultimate and absolute Truth found in Scripture and the tradition of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, but that is what the Church is called to do. It may not be easy, people are not willing to listen, but prefer to mock and to jeer, to remain safe and secure in their liberal secular prejudices, looking down their noses at poor deluded fools who stand up for a truth which they see as only one out of a myriad possible options in this post-modern world. It is easier to persecute the church under the fig leaf of upholding equality and diversity, of protecting religion while undermining it, unless it conforms to the secular viewpoint.
            We believe in saying that certain actions are right and others are wrong, they will harm your soul, and affect your relationship with God and each other, that life is precious and must be valued, and we do this because we are loved by a God who lived among us, who died for us, to heal our wounds, who rose again, to give us the hope of glory. He knew rejection, throughout his earthly life, but he was not afraid to speak the truth in love, regardless of the cost. It’s generous; it’s extravagant, in a way which people just cannot understand – entering into glory by being executed like a common criminal, for the love of us, of you and me – to give us new life in him. He is the Truth, the Way and the Life.
            He knew that in the end the power of God’s love was greater than that of the world, the flesh and the devil – all these were beaten on a hill outside Jerusalem. So confident in his victory, in his strength and his truth, let us continue to proclaim it in word and deed so that the world may believe and give glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to whom be ascribed as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory dominion and power, now and forever