Sunday 16th A
Listen and Be Transformed
The four months of the Covid-19 have slowed us down. Many are thinking more deeply about life, about death, about faith, about God. Jesus offered his followers many opportunities to figure out what he meant by the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, eternal life. Eternal life is not the icing on the cake of ordinary human life. It’s bigger than any organised religion. It’s about being fully alive – cf. John 10,10. The gospels offer images of the kingdom – metaphors and analogies of who we are and who the God of Jesus Christ is.
The first words out of Jesus’ mouth as recorded in the gospels were “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand” – Matt 4,17. To repent doesn’t mean running off and doing penance. Personal change is the first thing to happen when the ‘Good News’ enters the human heart. The heart is softened, openings occur in the mind, a dissatisfaction with one’s lifestyle is felt, people and events get our attention and open us to a better way of living. An unexpected moment comes when we look at the narrow way in which we have been living and recognise that God is our hope and our salvation.
The parables of Jesus are best understood by those who are in the process of being personally converted. “We cannot understand the scriptures if we read them like detached spectators,” said 20th century scripture scholar Karl Barth. The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed seed, it’s like a mustard seed, it’s like yeast. We need to slow down here. The kingdom is not so much a reality that’s ‘out there somewhere’; it’s part of who we are. The kingdom begins with each person who is being transformed.
The kingpin of the kingdom is Jesus Christ, the man in the parable who sows the good seed. The good seed is the word of God, the ‘good news’ of the gospel. The secretive sowing of the darnel weeds was a hit-and-run job done under cover of darkness. The darnel weed is an image of everything that can go wrong in our lives. As the good seed jostles with the darnel the Son of Man saves the good seed from being destroyed. Buried in the darkness and clay the seed unfolds in the sunshine of tomorrow, and hope and assurance are born. It’s an image of death and resurrection that points to the meaning of our lives. The parables of the gospel are like ‘fingers pointing to the moon.’ “There is no god, other than you, who cares for everything, who is merciful and mild in judgement…” – Wisdom 12,13 (First reading).
“The Bible is not just a collection of stories about God or a user’s guide to Christianity. The closer we draw to God and share his life, the more we discover the unknowability of God. We are, as St Thomas Aquinas said, joined to God as to the unknown. Acceptance of the Bible is not to assent to the literal accuracy of its contents… Rather we open ourselves to the one who is the Word of God in person and who addresses us… We let the Word shape our lives, give them direction, unfold their purpose, disclose our end.” Timothy Radcliffe, TAKE THE PLUNGE, pp.56-57.
“In the end there will be the Kingdom of God, one Christ loving himself” – St Augustine.
Fr. QQ – 7/16/2020