“your king comes to you;…humble & riding on a donkey..” a familiar 1st reading shared on Palm Sunday..a beast of burden carrying a burdened servant king; the least carries the least in gentleness & humility.. ..a world changing moment then & potentially again now..the lockdown lifting & crowds with cries of celebration..the bow, the cross-bow of war & the crisis of Covid ward in an ICU banished, & a rainbow of calm & recovery after the pandemic ..the rainbow sign of hope in so many windows..& you still hopefully making new ones in humble thanksgiving..or is the self-sufficiency relief & independence beginning to re-emerge? ..& our R number..r for “return to normal “ increases ..
“..rejoice heart & soul..” thankful for those who still serve on the front line.. ; Lord have mercy “..shout with gladness..” as tests for a vaccine are hopeful & promising.. ; Christ have mercy “..he will proclaim peace for all nations” including Yemen & our collusion in the atrocity ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
.the soundbite out of context is always dangerous as many an editor or a tribunal will know..& our gospel appears to be safe expected & harmless..yet prelude is explosively relevant; John the Baptist is being held in prison having questioned moralilty of Herod having his brother’s wife; from prison John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask one question “are you the one who is to come, or have we to wait for someone else?” the tom-toms suggest it could be you, but are you the real deal? & Jesus as ever clear simple “go back & tell John what you hear & see” Jesus just emerging to teach & preach on familiar home ground in villages along shore of the Sea of Galilee, among loyal faithful practicing Jews, those he expected to be warm receptive, hungry for affirmation & renewal; instead they made mincemeat of him; he couldn’t do right for doing wrong. With his confidence shattered he turns to what he knows to be reliable real & foundational..prayer, reminding himself of his identity relationship & mission. Thankful to his Father “for hiding these things from the learned & the clever, & revealing them to mere children.”..to youngsters full of life energy & trust; willing to listen, to believe in what is being shared, to be inspired & to live out all they learn with passion & conviction..words of young practising girl in Ireland 20yrs ago to her PP “the Mass, the Eucharist, Jesus giving his life his body & blood for us..this is as good at it gets..but there is one thing missing” as she addresses her priest “where is your passion? where is the energy you gave your life for all those years ago?” how many young in faith, if not always young in years, have been moved by our passion & conviction to follow example of early converts?..to risk pulling you on your sleeve & saying to you “we want to come with you” we’d like ten penneth of all you clearly evidently receive from your local faith community; it seems to us to be the real deal.how many have you brought in big fish a net bursting with fresh fish, eager to be fed & to belong in our blessed shoal..how many? & Jesus said then & now “come to me all you who labour & are overburdened, & I will give you rest” “Lord where do you live? Come & see” then a terrified Peter seeing Jesus across waves in fierce storm “if it is you Lord tell me to come to you” & one word of invitation “come” he did & found himself [ found himself; found his real self ] walking on water “shoulder my yoke & learn from me” a yoke, a wooden frame, cross shaped which, if lowered to horizontal, forms a yoke placed between two oxen to pull plough together.. placed between two individuals Christ & you, for your both together to pull plough in our calling as disciples, working/praying in fertile soil, in towns/villages, faith communities, willing eager to be turned over after years of barrenness & infertility, which farmers used to get a grant for, for keeping empty, fallow; its called “set aside”. “my yoke [ with you alongside me] is easy & my burden light” & at work in ministry, thee & me together, & “you will find rest for your souls”. hard work, God’s work, but wonderfully restful with a lively healthy conscience.. ..the insiders bitterly disappointed him, efficient compliant comfortable, looking for a part time tutor to help them on last module of home-learning on gospel according to St Matthew, that will lift them from a straight B to A**, whereas Jesus was inviting them to eat humble pie, leave the set-aside, the traditional accredited course & its safe distance- learning, & “come follow me” ;share my life & my yoke..& together we will find the contentment of soul Our Father wants to see us enjoying achieving “go back & tell what you hear & see” & beware of what comes next in Matthews gospel for the self-trained devout who became the critics who emerged in cornfields, & when Jesus cured man with withered hand, the so-called fit & healthy took exception at healing & class of recipient.. when, with his grace & in yoke side by side with him, we too can achieve the seemingly impossible..to walk on water; heart centred discipleship rather than head centred religion. ..it comes down to trust..& do you trust him enough?..have you any idea how deep his trust is in you?; because he loves you full heartedly, he trusts you implicitly; nothing is conditional, especially his mercy & forgiveness, & when inevitably we get it wrong, in a relationship which doesn’t condemn us to a spiritual lockdown but restores us to that place where he knows our potential will be fully realised, side by side with him “gentle & humble in heart”..& for us, from our second most importance source document after scripture, the Rule of St Benedict & its prologue..the taster chapter..foundational for our parish, for our outstanding Primary School & for our monastic community; “with all this in mind what we mean to establish is a school for the Lord’s service; we hope to impose nothing harsh nor burdensome. If however, you find it anything which seems rather strict, but which is demanded reasonably for the correction of vice or the preservation of love, do not let that frighten you into fleeing from the way of salvation; it is a way which is bound to seem narrow to start with. But, as we progress in this monastic way of life & in faith, our hearts will warm to its vision, & with eager love & delight that defies expression, we shall go forward on the way of God’s commandments.” true obedience, deep authentic & challenging as it forms, organically, a relationship between the served & the servant so so different from the misunderstanding of obedience many of us were indoctrinated in, within faith schools bulging with numbers & religious practice, but thin on sincerity & truth..”costing us not less than everything” & it did tragically, now thankfully today understood, at great cost & sacrificially willingly.. story of young Willie & his sheepdog Shep.. “I found our dog there with the carcass of a ewe well eaten. I saw my father’s blue sign on the wool & knew the worst. For a dog that would kill a sheep would die himself. So in my innocence I went down to my father & told him & he instructed me, as was right & proper, to go back up with a rope & lead Shep down so the killing could take place. The loss of a ewe was a disaster, a disaster, there’d be pounds of money gone into her. But I loved the dog so sorely, I hesitated when I had the rope tied about him. We came down the sloping field with the neighbours calling out to the dog & me come home. We came down the sloping field with the neighbours about us, them not saying a word ; down at last into the yard we came, the dog skulking on the rope just the same as the day he had arrived to us, & my father came out from the house in his big clothes. All brown with clothes & hair. It was as if I had never seen him before, never looked at him in his entirety, from head to toe; & I knew then that the dog & me were for the slaughter. My feet carried me on to where he stood, immortal you would say in the door; & he put his right hand on the back of my head, & pulled me to him so that my cheek rested against the buckle of his belt..& he raised his own face to the brightening sky & praised someone in a crushed voice. God maybe, for my safety, & stroked my hair.;& the dog’s crime was never spoken of, but that he lived till he died. I would call that the mercy of fathers, when the love that lies in them deeply like the glittering face of a well, is betrayed by an emergency, & the child sees at last that he is loved, loved & needed, & not to be lived without, & greatly.” He came back out of obedience, compliance, fearing the worst for Shep & for himself.. ”come to me, all you who are burdened, for I am gentle & humble in heart”..& to his surprise he found the mercy of fathers, love betrayed in an emergency“for I am gentle & humble in heart & he found rest for his soul” .. now please, go out from this school of the Lord’s service, eat humble pie & do likewise..& gently.. [ 14th SunYrA; Mt 11;25-30 ]