Tag Archives: parable

12 March, Human Will VIII: An Unexpected Reward for being less than 100% committed.

snowdrop-502x640

I trust Sister Johanna will allow me to continue reflecting on human will from another angle. WT.

Litter-picking is one of those fatigues that children in school resent. It’s one thing to pick up your own litter, another when it comes to other people’s. I try not to be resentful when I do my turn around our locality – turning over scraps of paper, bottles and cardboard coffee cups, instead of stones on the beach. But that’s more difficult when it comes to cigarette ends. (GRRRR!)

I tell myself the parable about the son who didn’t want to do what his father asked, while the other just made promises. Well, the first one: ‘afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went’. (Matthew 21:29).

My repentance was less than 100%! But a little reward came my way one day just before Christmas. Shining in a ray of winter sun, a very early snowdrop.

And better, surely, to do the job with a degree of anger than not at all? I was doing what I would have done had I been 100% repentant – and the job got done.

WT.

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3 January: If I should ever grow rich.

gorse

Where the road cuts through the belt of sandy soil near Ezra’s place are clumps of gorse, filled with rabbit runs which his little terriers love to explore. The first week of the year, and the gorse is in flower. This always brings a smile to my lips, remembering Edward Thomas.

‘If  I should ever by chance grow rich’, he wrote, he would buy local beauty spots and let them all to his elder daughter for a rent of the year’s first white violets, primroses and orchids, if she should find them before he did. I don’t know what these flowers were doing a century ago, but on January 1st last year the violets by our door were blooming – look under the leaves –  primroses were out next door, and, though this is cheating, Mrs Turnstone’s Christmas orchid is flowering next to the crib.

When his poem was first published, some readers saw a touch of cruelty in Thomas’s poem, not understanding his next thought:

‘ But if she find a blossom on furze
Without rent they shall all forever be hers.’

The joke was on them, had they but realised it, for gorse, or furze, can be found in flower every day of the year. Thomas was giving his child all this beauty without condition. It is given to us too, had we but eyes to see it. Not Solomon in all his glory was clothed as one of these. (Matthew 6: 28, 29) Was Jesus perhaps cracking a joke when he preached this parable, to show us that we don’t know as much as we think we do?

If I Should Ever by Chance by Edward Thomas

If I should ever by chance grow rich
I’ll buy Codham, Cockridden, and Childerditch,
Roses, Pyrgo, and Lapwater,
And let them all to my elder daughter.
The rent I shall ask of her will be only
Each year’s first violets, white and lonely,
The first primroses and orchises–
She must find them before I do, that is.
But if she finds a blossom on furze
Without rent they shall all for ever be hers,
Codham, Cockridden, and Childerditch,
Roses, Pyrgo and Lapwater,–
I shall give them all to my elder daughter.

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30 October: ‘You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life’.

‘You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life…’

Wisdom 11:22-12:2

31st-sunday-332x640About two years ago, Sr. Helina and I were working in the kitchen at Catching Lives Community Shelter when another volunteer decided to tidy the window sill.  She picked up from it a little reddish plant which was sitting in a yoghurt pot of dirt, sporting one sorry-looking leaf.  This, she quite sensibly proposed to tidy into the dustbin.  ‘”No!”’ cried Helina and I in unison and we immediately offered to take it home and look after it.  Our rescue plant surprised us.  When it flowered, we discovered it was a begonia.  This year, it outgrew our chapel and had to be moved to a roomier spot.  Over the summer, it put out a cascade of exotic blooms and the beginnings of new leaves all along its stems.

Jesus challenges us to treat each other with mercy as we treated the plant, never giving up on anyone but allowing people the time and the conditions they need to grow and change.  That is why He told a parable about a gardener who asked the landowner to spare a fruitless tree from being cut down.  The gardener wanted it to have another year of nurturing to help it bear fruit.  He could guarantee no results for the following year …but as there are no limits on God’s mercy, I can picture him going back to the landowner every year with the same request until the fruit finally appears. (Luke 13:6-9)

‘…you are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook people’s sins so that they can repent.’

FMSL

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13 September: ‘Her Father Took Some Persuading’.

 

Mr Noah

Mr Noah

‘Her Father Took Some Persuading’ – that’s what I wrote about Saint Eanswythe yesterday. Eanswythe wanted to found a monastery for women, a place of prayer, community and scholarship.

Thank God these gifts are available freely now to women in many parts of the world. In Eanswythe’s Kent Saint Anselm’s Catholic School offers all three. My daughter is now a teacher herself, working with four- and five-year-olds.

Did I take much persuading to act as Mr Noah for one of her projects? Why hit on me for the job, anyway? Judge for yourself and then enjoy the Lord’s sense of humour.

 And he said to them: Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and shall say to him: Friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine is come off his journey to me, and I have not what to set before him. And he from within should answer, and say: Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; yet, because of his importunity, he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth.

And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. 

And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11: 5-13.

MMB.

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Interruption: Sons and Brothers

Our presider and preacher at the Franciscan International Study Centre this morning was Fr Tom Herbst, our contributor TJH. He challenged each of us to consider how far and when we might be the spendthrift son or the stolid, stay-at-home, unimaginative one.

He set me wondering: what if the prodigal had met his brother as he passed by the fields, before his father hugged him? Would he have made it as far as the farmstead?

Do we, as churches or as individuals, get in the way of those who want to turn to God? Are we more likely to offer refreshment, or to send them away, back onto the road?

MMB.

 

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March 6th The midpoint of Lent: the Incipience of the Kingdom

 

Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 33; 2Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15

Today’s Liturgy of the Word anticipates the Kingdom in the most immediate and embodied metaphor of all: that of eating. The Israelites eat their first meal of the produce of the Promised Land. And what a feast it is: unleavened bread and roasted corn; simple, flavoursome and nutritious (and as such, a rather apt metaphor for God). The psalm response calls us to Taste and see that the Lord is good! Paul speaks of our becoming the goodness of God. And Jesus responds to Pharisaic criticism of his eating with sinners by recounting the tale of the Prodigal Son, a ‘sinner’ whose conversion comes when in his hunger he envies the pigs the husks they eat, and whose homecoming is celebrated with a banquet. Just as spousal metaphors for union with God illuminate its interpersonal nature, so culinary metaphors illuminate its transfigurative dimension. We become what we eat. Sacramentally, we become the goodness of God by eating the goodness of God. But as the thirteenth century Dutch poet Hadewijch saw, where God is concerned, eating too is interpersonal: when we eat God, he eats us:

 

Each knows the other through and through

In the anguish or the repose or the madness of Love,

And eats his flesh and drinks his blood.

The heart of each devours the other’s heart,

One soul assaults the other and invades it completely,

As he who is Love itself showed us

When he gave us himself to eat,

Disconcerting all the thoughts of man.

MLT.

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Saturday 5th March: The Pharisee and the Publican

 

Picture Saturday wk 3

(Image from www.slideserve.com )

In our house, we used to have a poster of different people doing different things.  The caption read: “Thank you, Father, for making me”.  I often thank God for making me the person I am, with my gifts, my way of life, and my relationships but I also thank Him for helping me as I try to overcome my faults.  Today’s Gospel reminds me of this poster.  It is a picture of two men praying, but their attitudes are very different.  One, the Pharisee, is pleased with himself and just thanks God for making him who he is, while the other, the publican, is obviously not pleased with himself: he sees his faults and prays for mercy.

In praying, our relationship with God should be primary. We think of our relationships with people only when we intercede for them or think about how we can help them. The Pharisee – standing at the front – does not think of people in this way, but thanks God for his ability to keep the rules of the Law as to tithes and fasting, unlike others, namely, the publican.  Meanwhile, the publican, who loves God, and knows himself to be a sinner, stands at the back and humbly pleads for mercy.  This is a correct way to relate to God. The Pharisee does not seem to realise he needs mercy – he seems to think he has earned it by keeping the rules. He does not realise that the important thing is to love others, not despise them.

The Pharisee will feel nothing after praying, for he put nothing of his real self into his prayer, while the publican poured his repentance into his. This is why he goes home feeling “at rights” with God.  Note that Jesus spends time with publicans and sinners, while he accuses the Pharisees of being hypocrites.  As He says today through Hosea: “What I want is love, not sacrifice”.  It is the inner attitude that is important, not the outward ritual.

FMSL

 

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28th February: A God of Second Chances

 

Picture Sunday wk 3 (1)

(Image from noxuzeta.jimdo.com)

(Exodus 3:1-8,13-15    Psalm 102:1-4,6-8,11. Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12 Luke13:1-9)

 

As we enter the third of week of Lent, the theme of repentance comes out strongly.  In the Gospel reading, Jesus warns us that if we do not repent, we will perish.  He gives a parable about the fig tree. What does this tell us? God is not interested in punishing you and me.  The will of God is for us to be saved. We may be like that fig tree which has come to maturity without producing any fruits. The owner of the garden wants to cut it and burn it so nothing of it remains but the gardener (God) says give me one more year to dig around it, manure it, water it and just to take care of it. After that, if it does not bear fruit, you can cut it down. A God of Second Chances……..

We are celebrating the Year of Mercy.  The Lord in his goodness has opened the floodgates of his mercy. He does not care about how we have lived in the past, his desire is for us to humble ourselves and repent.

In the first reading, God sees the misery of people of Israel and chooses to free them through Moses. In the same way, God sees our wretchedness and wants to free us from our sins. He is running to meet us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

We should never despair but persevere in conversion until the end in order to be saved. Sometimes we look at our deeds and think we are irredeemable but God sees something different and wants to give us a second chance to love him.

As Pope Francis wrote in his book The Name of God is Mercy:

‘Mercy will always be greater than any sin; no one can put a limit on the love of the all-forgiving God.’

 

FMSL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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