Weekly Online Sermon
In today’s passage from Matthew, also reported in Mark and Luke, Jesus is warning of the times to come, of the apocalypse that we should expect.
The fact that the apocalypse didn’t happen as they felt Jesus had foretold, should not blind us to the truth that for them, at the time, it truly felt like the end.
As parables go the story of the wedding feast is a rather odd one, and we might also question whether it can actually be attributed to Jesus, in whole or even in part, or whether we might feel the weight of Matthew’s pen pressing upon the page.
But if we consider that this may be Matthew speaking to the church of his time, a gathering of Jewish Christians but also with gentile, non-Jewish, converts, and written after the Roman sacking of Jerusalem it starts to make more sense.
The keeping of Harvest still makes sense in the countryside, but in an era when at the supermarkets we can get pretty much what we like, whenever we like, and from wherever we like, no matter how disconnected the producers may be from consumers, the links become broken, the ties severed.
In today’s Gospel we have a series of comparisons, power vs authority, faith vs deceit, words vs deeds, trust as opposed to cynicism. And there is also a warning, that actions speak far, far louder than all the words in the world.
It is all part of Matthew’s continuing theme where the first shall be last, at least those counted first by worldly standards, and the last, first.
The parable in today’s gospel is usually called ‘The Labourers in the Vineyard’. On the face of it, we are told a fairly simple but slightly odd story about an employer who seems to have some difficulty with identifying how many workers he actually needs to bring in the harvest on his land.
The poem comes from ‘the state of us’ a first collection of poetry by Larry Doherty – ISBN: 978-1-5272-7173-9. Larry Doherty’s debut collection of poetry is eclectic, nuanced and powerful. It reflects his thoughts and feelings on life in these challenging, turbulent, watershed times.
The video was recorded at Illaumanagh Cemetery, Shannon.
Anthony Gerard Richard Cronin (28 December 1923 – 27 December 2016) was an Irish poet, arts activist, biographer, commentator, critic, editor and barrister.
Cronin was known as an arts activist as well as a writer.
The concept of redemptive suffering has been an attempt to square the circle of pain and anguish in our world, but in the face of real suffering, when real life truly hits us in the face, it is revealed as a fragile illusion.
Too many people, for too long have been told to ‘offer it up’ or that they are sharing in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ, as a way of covering up – simply not knowing what otherwise to say.
So often in life, things do not turn out as we expect. Despite our fondest wishes and our greatest efforts, the reactions of others and changing circumstances mean that our plans can turn into gossamer on the wind.
In the very early days of Christianity, Christians were mostly Jews, who might worship, study and eat together in each other’s homes, but they would also worship at the Synagogue.
In his encounter with the Canaanite woman, a Gentile, and someone that a respectable Rabbi would avoid completely; Jesus is challenged with his own teaching.
Initially, Jesus seems to make his purpose clear “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
A story can grow in the telling – as it passes from one person to the next, especially over the years, new insights and meanings are discovered, embellishments are added to either emphasize the original intention, or even to change the thrust and direction of the...
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The Kingdom of God speaks of how all our lives would be if we were to build and behave according to the principles that Jesus taught us and that we profess to wish to follow. But to what extent do we actually do so? There is that famous quote from the writer G.K. Chesterton, well known as the author of the Father Brown detective novels: “The Christian ideal” he said “has not been tried and found wanting. …
It has to be about ‘call’ or we are all wasting our time.
By that I mean, that whilst I certainly do not see us as puppets or slaves of a godly figure pulling invisible strings and dictating our thoughts and movements, nevertheless I have to believe that the divine, the transcendent, is active in our lives, shaping and guiding them for the better, otherwise all this is just an illusion.
Of course, we have to be particularly careful when we use the word ‘God’ because it is all too easy to falsely assume that everyone accepts that the word has the same meaning, whether we are believers or not, but experience shows us that there are a multitude of definitions.
For me, I envisage not a person, not a superbeing, not a being at all, but being itself, absolute reality; truth, love, beauty, wisdom, mercy, justice, all expressed to the ultimate degree.
While Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day have been embraced with enthusiasm – Father’s Day as a comparative newcomer was often considered a bit of an embarrassment, frankly, in many ways it still is. But this may well be to do with dysfunctional notions of what is held to be masculine.
In many ways, the Church doesn’t help. We only have to consider what a sad diminished figure St Joseph represents; often depicted as aged and rather shambling, he disappears from the scene almost as soon as we hear of him.
But it would be a grave error indeed to forget the role of Joseph. Sadly, consigned by history to a bit part, in reality, he must have been a remarkable man, not only brave and resourceful, but in his gentleness and compassion, he taught Jesus to be a man. May we too as a society learn to nurture the gentler side of the masculine.
In Matthew’s gospel we find a warning not only to his own community but also to the churches of today. Jesus says ‘Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, not sacrifice’.
Let us not be in any doubt. The current refugee crisis is probably the greatest challenge to the principles, the humanity, the compassion of the West than at any time since the second World War. In the war in Ukraine we are living through the greatest humanitarian disaster in Europe of the last fifty years and seeing callousness and cruelty on a scale that we thought we would never experience again.
In Uganda, the Anglican Church has released a statement welcoming the passing of that country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act which includes the death penalty, although they arge that they would prefer to see life imprisonment for LGBTQ people.
We might remember the legal principle ‘qui tacet consentire videtur’ – those who are silent are deemed to consent.
We cannot consent, we cannot remain silent, we must act, for Jesus demands mercy, not claims of piety.