“vanity of vanities, the Preacher says, Vanity of vanities. All is vanity! ..in plain Yorkshire speak “for all the pain where is the gain? “ ..the answer perhaps is in the way we understand what we hold, be it your house, my 56th share in Ampleforth Abbey plc, or our faith.. “for it is so, that they who have laboured wisely skilfully successfully, must leave what is their own to someone else who has not toiled at all.” the poor preacher preaches ownership not stewardship..whereas gospel preaches & practices that what is mine is ours in life & in faith; it is to be handled cradled & loved carefully, & to be handed on to the next generation richer for our loan of it.. ..richer for having been, not just through my hands & my bank account, but through my heart..
“vanity & great injustice “ ..”it’s not fair” we plead & with a sulk.. ; Lord have mercy “what does he/we gain for all the toil & strain?” ..”what’s in it for me?” ; Christ have mercy “what of all his laborious days, cares of office, restless nights?” ..poor me again & again ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“..for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs” I always think of this as the Ian Mosey gospel..he is our neighbouring farmer at the Abbey & we rent out our 600acres to him for his arable farming & his sheep /cattle enterprise..on his own land in Gilling & Coulton he has demolished old stables /derelict sheds & built state of art feed mill..as I travel up to my relatives in Edinburgh I often see his feed wagons or sheep transporters in Scottish Borders & beyond..& somehow it feels like a shared enterprise..he is one of us..some would call him gentleman farmer with top of range 4x4 & his large home in Gilling..to me he is a wise steward; an advocate of the countryside stewardship scheme; he cares for wildlife & hedges as well as for crop yields & price of wheat..a lovely man to meet, always has time to pause & talk to a nobody like me..a family man who somehow makes you feel as if you are adopted included & heard..& thankfully his lifestyle takes exception to rest of gospel “come, take things easy, eat drink have a good time”..Ian works, gets his hands & his hunter wellies dirty on tractor or combine; he evidently loves it & puts his heart & soul into it & he will never ever retire.. what is it all about?..stewardship not ownership; nurturing not mentoring; discipleship not spectatorship..a Eucharistic farm & enterprise..”take bless break & give”..& his servant lifestyle in work faith & investment is ours is it not ?..adopting not neighbouring land but neighbouring people..lives in good order or fallow; weed & disease infested, overgrown obese with self indulgence & self neglect..individuals & relationships taken into our sphere of orbit, of caring interest, cleared of heavy conscience of failure mistake infidelity..ploughed fed watered loved back to life, protected beloved & wondered over, a spiritual emotional relational harvest brought back & brought in “they go out they go out full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing..they come back they come back full of song, carrying their sheaves” “they” us & them, not just us & certainly not just me..theology is stewardship not ownership..not a hoard to be owned but a harvest to be held, prayed over, blessed broken then sent out to Scottish borders & beyond..an outstanding crop to feed the 5000 & with baskets left over..seeded in St Benedict’s PS, grown in your homes & in Our Lady & St Benedict’s Parish, to feed the local as well as the distant hungry today, & to seed the fields of tomorrow..a seed to die for..a life to give away; our Catholicism renamed by divine adoption “divine stewardship” a royal warrant..“OL&SB Ampleforth, by appointment to Jesus Christ growers suppliers & purveyors of seeds”..& who from among you will throw your hat & your wellies into the ring & join me in facing our own dilapidating buildings, our thinning yields of harvest & enjoyment in parish community life here, to become an Ian Mosey/Jesus Christ joint enterprise?..to be worker shareholder disciples in our own spirituality stewardship scheme..Ian’s work very Benedictine in way he allows the margins to each field to have generous space to be different; to be seed free for time being & instead to foster natural vegetation again; grass wild flowers plants wild animals enabling nature to feed itself..our calling is never to sow our seeds, our parish life right up to the very edge, but to encourage the marginalised to return here; wildlife back from the wild to re-emerge sustainably alongside the wheat & chaff of our fieldwork here & now, with the ultimate grant awarded to us at gate of heaven”in so far as you welcome the chaff the marginalised & the wild you welcome me..enter into the joy of your master” ..some words of two gifted farmers to sow with you; Oscar Romero “you are prophets of a future not your own” & Mother St Teresa “when you die you won’t be asked by God “how many good things have you done in your life?” but “how much love did you put into [seed into] what you did?”..& because of his hope trust & dependency on you, each of you here, stewards & prophets, no longer parishioners, he entrusts to you & I a truly extraordinarily large & generous contingent of youngsters..apprentice stewards to love foster cherish & emulate..Pope Francis quotes an African proverb to them, & through them to us.. “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” our joint enterprise..wheat & chaff; fertile soil & wild margins together. [18thSunYrC; Lk12;13-21]