Meet you in the middle: a reflection on this weeks gospel (Matt 13:44-52)

My time of late has been consumed with the thoughts of the state of the world. I seriously believe we are on the verge of World War III. The plane down over Ukraine, a result of a Russian military exercise; the escalating war between Palestine and Israel; the persecution of Iraqi Christians by ISIS. It’s hard to get my head around it all and I have my suspicions and theories, none I will get into right now. Keep them in your prayers.

Anyhow…

Continuing somewhat from the agricultural theme of previous weeks we depart from the harvester and welcome the fishermen, the merchant and the discoverer. And each is clearly distinct yet point to a central theme.

Let’s address the first part of the gospel: the discovery of treasure in a field. Heaven is likened to the treasure, not the discoverer as some will say. The treasure lies dormant, overlooked and perhaps overgrown. Someone may stumble upon it but upon noticing it’s worth gives up all he has to attain it. Heaven is the reward for those who recognize its worth and do all they can to attain it. He who, with vigor, seeks heaven.

The second part of the gospel turns the tables around. Heaven now is like a merchant. Merchants travel widely looking for things of value. These riches are usually traded for greater riches but not all things were. Things seen too valuable were kept for themselves and not traded. However the merchant here has found something of far exceeding worth. We are the riches of heaven. Heaven seeks us.

The last part echoes the harvester in the fields of wheat but uses a new metaphor. The net is heaven dragging through the water and collecting all types of fish, perhaps even debris. Judgement is explicitly the selection of the good fish from the rest of the catch which when deemed unacceptable is thrown into a fire and the angels are the ones who do the separating.

The three parts meet in heaven. The first, heaven lies hidden; once it’s discovered is worth everything. The second, heaven is looking for us; once we’re discovered is worth everything. The third is the happy union of the two pursuits.

The pursuit of the heaven of great worth will cost everything. It’s easy to say that at home with my family around me. It costs so much more to so many. Martyrs today continue to witness silently to a deaf world. But with our pursuit of the same great treasure we can recognize both it’s value and it’s cost.

Are you willing to pay the same price that has been asked of so many? I would hope that many of us would say yes. But it is easier to die for the faith than to live it. Death thankfully where I live is not a necessary price to pay, at least not yet. I am reminded to pay in small things as well as in the big. It still takes cents to make the dollar. Or we might say, it still takes coins to make a treasure, no matter how small.

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Free falling.

A plane blown out of the sky; and the future becomes evermore unstable. Dread lies shallow in reflective hearts. Hate justifiably rises. Little things don’t seem to matter as much.

But hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that, for love enflames the ordinary, if you let it. Hope grows in open hearts and peace promises prosperity. It begins with forgiveness.

Words, however noble, remain empty if not lived. And courage is personified when the challenge is greatest.

The challenge is before us now. Will we hate and continue the free fall into despair, or will we be open to what love can do? Whatever you decide, and we all decide (indecision is a decision not to act), it starts with the seemingly little things that don’t matter that much.

Love that little bit more. Put more effort in life. Live love intentionally. Hope begins with you; forgiveness begins with you; the future is with you. Rise to the challenge – we don’t have to live in hate.

Simplicity, two ways: a reflection on this weeks gospel (Matt 11:25-30)

Fathers have many unique gifts however some are more applauded than others. There are the standard ones that fatherhood demands like providing and protecting. But teaching, witnessing and being an example of fatherhood are other lesser known demands of the father. Each father has a unique way of expressing these to the capacity he is capable.

What has all this got to do with the gospel of the week?

This weeks gospel gives us a two pronged example of simplicity. How? First, Jesus, talking to his Father in heaven, acknowledges that children can better express the life he longs us to live than the learned. (As someone with a Bachelor of Theology I need to constantly remind myself of this!) With knowledge comes not only responsibility but also risk. I can find myself “above” certain things or correcting others: “I’m better than that! You do it”, “You know, it should really be done this way” and similar comments. Thankfully I go there rarely, but I do go there. The risk of return is real.

The simple – scripture refers to them as child-like – are blessed to have little responsibility and little risk; these are with their Father. These simple ones have a natural ability to soak in the example shown to them. We have a saying here that points out this fact: “Monkey see, monkey do”.

As I become more learned (it is a life-long process not just a tick-a-box achievement) I find myself projecting my understanding on things: I tend to read things in the way that bests suits my understanding and how it fits into my paradigm. Often this is beneficial and convenient but not always right. I tend to prejudge things, people and places because of my learnedness.

This sort of learnedness is above the childlike. They thankfully do not have the innate ability to prejudge with only a few exceptions. They rely on the example of the Father whom they follow. The responsibility and risks fall directly on his shoulders, not the childlike, for they have not the knowledge and the learnedness to fully grasp the occasion but it is not required. Such innocence is a grace that is easily corrodes with knowledge: knowledge, not wisdom.

Placing trust in The Lord lifts this burden from us, the learned. We need not carry the responsibility or the risk that we place on our shoulders. Here The Lord reminds us that while we may partake in this burden we desperately seek (a yoke) we need not carry it alone.

Trust The Lord. He acknowledges simplicity of mind, the unlearned, of not understanding every detail, of not prejudging things to fit our paradigm but The Lord’s. He acknowledges the associated burden in such understanding; a burden made simple when God takes control, if allowed.

The alternative is to find information and knowledge for all things: a know-it-all. We then take the burden of weight in our own shoulders and walk the path to godlessness replacing him with knowledge, or worse still, with ourselves.

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