15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 12th July
Over the weeks and months since we entered into the pandemic, I have a fresh appreciation of nature and creation. There has been a growing appreciation of how things grow even in the midst of terrible disasters. Going through some of the countryside ravaged by bushfires you can start to see fresh growth and green shoots emerging. Yet blackened trees still remind us of the ferocity of the fires that threatened many communities. While nature seems to recover the scars left on human hearts take longer to heal. This is not just the physical effort necessary to rebuild shattered lives but also the need to create a place from which our hearts will trust that we overcome the mental anguish we have encountered. This is not only in the lives of those directly affected but is vicariously shared by our common concern for each other. When we notice the effects of the pandemic, we can start to feel growing anxiety about what the future may hold.
Into the midst of this reality, we have the image of a God who throws out the Word with reckless abandon. God does not reserve it to the chosen few but seeks for it to be heard and seen by all people. This profound love which God bears for humanity is that all hearts should be able to truly see and hear that their lives have eternal worth. Also, it is not that this word is thrown out only once but there is a continual showering of that Word in abundance. The Word is called to be planted in human hearts and draw forth a response which is life-giving not just for the person but for the people who share that life with others.
Yet what can prevent us from seeing and hearing that Word in our own lives. We can allow it to be stolen from us by people who cause us to distrust that this is actually being spoken directly to our hearts. Then we notice a leap in the heart which catches our breath but then we do not rest with it to allow the Word to take us deeper. For many of us, the demands of daily life can cause us to seem to be on a treadmill where we seem that time is a relentless master which pushes us from one task to another. Yet in the midst of all this when we do take time to ponder scripture in prayer, we find that many of the tasks which seemed to overwhelm us can be seen in a new perspective and with fresh generosity. We can find our lives imbued with a fresh insight that brings life and hope not just to ourselves but also to others. There are signs that encourage us to take small steps which multiply the hope and love which appear miraculous. What God calls us to is reckless gardening where we throw out the seed knowing that some of it will take root and produce a good crop. The insight that our lives are lived for the good of God who is encountered in everyday life for our good and the good of the whole community.
Fr. John Armstrong