Monthly Archives: July 2014

The weeds within (20 July 2014, Year A)

Reading
Matthew 13.24–30, 36–43

 

Last week we heard a parable about seed, the Parable of the Sower. The sower throws seed all over the place, like it’s going out of fashion. Some of it — only some, mind — lands on good soil, where it takes root and grows fruit.

Today, we’ve heard another parable about seed, the Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat. The “weeds” are most likely darnel. Darnel is a poisonous weed that looks just the same as wheat in the early stages of growth; it’s only when harvest comes that you see the difference. The head of grain of the wheat plant is quite different to that of darnel.

As I did last week, I’d like to tell another story as well as the parable. This one comes from the early centuries of the church, when men and women ran away from the cities to the bush to form monastic communities and live in prayer.

They did that because they thought the church had become too lax. Its standards had dropped too far. The church was letting anyone in! As you can imagine, some of them were pretty judgemental. Here’s the story:

A member of a monastic order once committed a fault. A council was called to determine the punishment, but when the monks assembled it was noticed that Father Joseph was not among them. The superior sent someone to say to him, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you.”

So Father Joseph got up and went. He took a leaking jug, filled it with water, and carried it with him. When the others saw this they asked, “What is this, father?”

The old man said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the error of another?”

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Sowing no condemnation (13 July 2014, Year A)

Readings
Romans 8.1–11
Matthew 13.1–9, 18–23

 

Jesus was a storyteller.

A great storyteller.

His stories are called “parables”; among the best-known are the parables of the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan.

One of the things about Jesus’ parables is that we need to respond to them. Think of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan was a member of a hated group of people. Today, Jesus might tell the story of the Good Moslem or — in some places — the Good Gay Man.

The Samaritan helps the man who was beaten up and robbed, while respectable people like a priest just pass by on the other side.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan leaves us with questions: do I pass by people in need? Do I stop to help? Which side am I on, am I part of the problem or part of the solution?

In an age of people seeking asylum and finding no welcome — is there “no room at the inn”? — these become very real questions.

In the same way, the Parable of the Sower brings a question to us: what kind of “soil” am I? The sower scatters the seed, but will the seed grow? Will the seeds of God’s Good News take root in my life?

Let me tell you another story. It’s the story of a woman who had the strangest dream.

In her dream, she is wandering around in a large shopping centre. Suddenly, she notices a shop which takes her fancy. She wanders in — and of all people, she finds Jesus behind the counter. Jesus says the most wonderful thing to her: “You can have anything your heart desires.”

Astounded, amazed, but excited, she asks for “Peace, joy, happiness, wisdom, and freedom from fear.” Then she adds, “and not just for me, but for the whole earth.” Jesus smiles and says, “I think you misunderstand me. We don’t sell the finished product, we only sell seeds.

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My name is Paul, and I’m a sinner (6 July 2014, Year A)

Readings
Romans 7.15–25a
Matthew 11.16–19, 25–30

 

My name is Paul, and I’m a sinner.

Have you ever been to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous? I have. I went to an AA meeting many years ago—just as part of my medical studies, let me quickly add. In AA, when someone starts to speak, they introduce themselves by name and then say “I’m an alcoholic.” You know, “My name is Cyril, and I’m an alcoholic.”

My name is Paul, and I’m a sinner.

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