“oak trees from acorns” it is hard to believe our lectern here..its beauty & splendour of workmanship, fit to hold our sacred book of the gospels & the weave of our own stories, should have grown from an acorn..seed size of your little finger nail.. in 1st rdg, to be read from our lectern in a moment, the prophet Ezekiel tells of our eternal forester, God taking cuttings from noblest tree in Holy Land, the cedar, & gently planting nurturing the next generation of trees in his forest.. ..as he imagines you & loving shapes you into becoming a spiritual lectern, holding his stories & your stories no longer in a book but in your heart..then telling & retelling those stories lovingly & convincingly..
for times we fearfully hide our acorn in our pocket..or hold it lifelessly possessively in a spiritual potting shed, let us ask for our foresters forgiveness..
“ from the highest branches I will take a shoot & plant it myself..” ; Lord have mercy “it will sprout branches, bear fruit & become a noble cedar..” ; Christ have mercy “I the Lord have spoken & I will do it..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“what will heaven be like?” a frequently asked question by youngsters on retreat in ARH I invite them to look out of window at our beautiful valley, & suggest to them that the real heaven will have some motoring to do to beat that..here & now paradise; we live in paradise in this valley, & even Jesus hasn’t got such magnificence & splendour as us in the parched barren Holy Land, among a people of simplicity & poverty, many of them mendicants gypsies & asylum seekers..he goes back to basics, to nature, seed growing secretly; notice man “throws” seed on land, no careful discriminate planting or sowing; 3kg/acre of economic measured allocation..no public enquiry into “how & why?” of its sprouting & growing, no fretting over underfeeding or overwatering, he leaves it to it..to commune with nature & to grow on ”of its own accord”; gift of free will/ choice..to be left, having been chosen spread thrown, to its own devices..”& the land produces first the shoot then ear then full grain in ear” a land tended weeded fed watered protected watched & loved by sower & landowner..& gradually “how he does not know” how he can’t explain, even put into words, like you can’t put into words your love for your husband or wife..“how he does not know” the crop emerges..grain/shoot/ear/full grain in ear..& where pray are you in that journey towards harvest?..if you think we have been talking so far about ordinary farming & acorns, think again..go deeper..it is a gospel story, your gospel story, of Jesus sowing you, the seed of great price, into this fertile soil of our parish..land tended & well prepared by past & older generations.. I have had blessing this week of hearing Confessions in St Benedict’s Primary School.. sharing precious sacred moments with some of our youngest seeds..it is deeply moving to taste & see their growth in knowledge & in confidence in their faith in recent times..share with them a leaflet I compile for us to use together for our chat & the Sacrament..2yrs ago it had to be akin to a two times table, pictures & some soundbites..young seeds very young seeds..& now? the “full grain in the ear”..remarkable what emerges when they are now offered the challenge to think..their little minds engaging with questions “why did Jesus have a special place in his life for those who got it badly wrong?”..you can sense feel their struggle, the mental energy, heart & brain in overdrive, the excitement & then harvest..their eyes light up like diamonds as their answer [not the answer] emerges..a real answer..fascinating that three disciples they notice among the twelve, in a picture of Jesus the prisoner, washing feet of his twelve fellow inmates in prison, are Peter, the rock & the jelly; Judas, betrayer & the redeemed; & Thomas, the doubter & the only one who got to touch..a harvest & Sacrament achieved in 15mins?..or taking a lifetime, 8/9yrs of a lifetime so far, to emerge?..it is both..I suggest they & we need a balance, a combination of both, in a growing economy we call this Parish..for some of us to take the long view, careful sowers steady harvesters, whilst others of us to grow seed on in Primary School timings, with eagerness excitement & risk..throwing seeds & some convention to the wind..both are vital ingredients if we are to live out our catholicity..universal inclusive.. born & bred & incomer..tyke & migrant..a motley crew of steady sleepers & bright eyed bushy tailed wide-awakers..but please please no passengers..crew only..no whingers, no sideliners who gripe at rapidity or longevity of progress, the cost of seed or quality of harvest..who never get their polished walking boots muddied..their seed kept safely contained in seed packet on a shelf or in a pew, remaining naturally infertile..a frame of mind frustratingly disappointing to a fellow seed, an eager sower & a landowner well pleased with this acre of his paradise, & sad if the grumpy seed won’t come out to play.. Pope Francis “theJoy of Love” refers to the mustard seed gospel: “a mustard seed, small as it is, becomes a great tree, teaching us the disproportion between our actions & their effects. We know that we do not own the gift, but that it’s care is entrusted to us. Yet our creative commitment is itself an offering which enables us to co-operate with Gods plan” acorns into oak trees..strategy & vision into mission..playtime.. [11thSunYrB;Mk4;26-34]