“you show your strength when your sovereign power is questioned..” ..”if there is a God, why does he allow the coronavirus to form, & the pandemic to strengthen?.” “is it a sign of divine retribution from a God who is losing patience with us, & our misuse of his planet & his super-nature?” ..wouldn’t you like to question him? & instead, like rich young man in his questionings, he looks steadily at you & loves you, because you are his answer..
“..you are mild in judgement..” ; Lord have mercy “..you govern us with great lenience..” ; Christ have mercy “..you have only to will, & your power is there..” in us through us.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..as we gradually re-immerse into Mass in the Parish, & I said last weekend at our three Masses, for all the joy & anticipation of starting again..or is it the first time for some of us who’ve come here for some years with a “virtual” relationship with Our Lord, & with this our precious limb of the Body of Christ personified?..it is unfortunate it is Matthew’s gospel which welcomes us back; last weekend with the yield from harvest recessionally; 100 then 60 then 30 fold; ever the pessimist, & this weekend his gospel is full of obstacles & hazards. He’d write a fierce risk assessment document for us as we emerge from lockdown & wonder timidly “should I venture back this soon?” & by time you had read his guidelines you’d be forgiven for staying with your virtual Mass & livestreaming. Matthew’s Jesus rejoices in the wheat & rubbishes the darnel; traditional pre Vat 2 theology of dualism; us & them; saints & sinners; wheat & dross; heaven & hell..life here at its best is “a vale of tears”..rather like students who ask me a leading question which comes straight from their world & their heart; nothing virtual in this..”Fr Bede is there an unforgivable sin?” & no easy answer from back of exercise book or Catechism; so we set out to explore heaven hell & purgatory, we go off at tangents & back again, & eventually usually in an hour, I put their question back to them..& they give me the answer; brilliant! a grain of yeast seasoned into their minds hearts & faith , & they bake the most delicious loaf you have ever smelled & then tasted; “food to go” as Thomas the baker calls it..our youngsters, precious seeds to be sown in our field, this rich valley of fertile soil, & they grow into the extraordinary; like our eight Year 6 boys in St Benedict’s PS who fly our nest this weekend, to yeast & to be seeded into Ryedale School. Extraordinary student disciples believe me; they don’t come to here to our Parish Mass but by gum are they practising Catholics, grown organically by some committed parents..some..& by a family of extraordinary teachers, totally opposite to the teacher/evangelist Matthew who gets the title evangelist “the teller of good news”; yet it is our teachers who deserve merit & earn the award..Mrs Coe is one example, living working a monastic timetable; 6am at work at home preparing a days work for home-learners, into School by 8am & class by 845am, home by 6pm to face reading marking affirming work of home-learners to 9pm or 10pm? no wonder our students growth & achievements over lockdown are acknowledged to be some of finest in Diocese..& why haven’t you heard this? why haven’t your neighbours told you with pride & thanksgiving of how well Catherine Henrietta & John are doing?.. not yielding 100; 60; 30 but 30; 60; 100 & 120 fold...& here is the surprise from St Benedict’s which we need to hear, for some of us for first time in a lifetime; loud clear, to be remembered & told; there is no such thing in Benedictine school family parish or monastic community life as darnel; either in a wheat field, a classroom, in your homes & my cloister nor in this parish. This gospel always reminds me of a monastic Procurator some years before me who I saw on a warm summers July afternoon, in a beautiful field of standing wheat opposite Abbey View where Joan Mulcahy lived; & there he was, waist high in wheat in his habit, weeding out the darnel, poor man..a Matthew; what he didn’t seem to realise was, & in those days I was too junior in Community to tell him, was that for every stalk of darnel he weeded out, he’d trample on ten stalks of wheat! So yes “let them both grow until harvest” & then, yes to “collect the darnel”; however, this is where we have a parting of the waves..Matthew bundles & burns them. We carefully twixt thumb & finger we split kernel of husk & inside a seed as good as, if not better than, the accredited graded grains of the so called finest of wheat.. “..& what about Judas?!” Our youngsters ask..taught for so long by teachers who themselves had been taught for so long, a theology of dualism, that Judas was prime darnel, bundled burned in hell..& having talked with them..a conversation of equity, parity of esteem, & they telling me..a real not a virtual answer to go with “is there an unforgivable sin?” then the location of Judas is simple, straightforward & affirming of darnel..harvested loved, & dare I say it, a little grain, deeper loved than the virtuous..ask any good teacher which children give them the most satisfaction, & who they have a soft spot for, & invariably it is the darnel, the villain.. thanks be to God for our darnel, the making & the saving of us, in the way we yeast them into our life & faith; to make/bake bread for a family meal of a lifetime, our Mass.. ..now tell the tale with a beamer of a smile of conviction & invitation to your Matthew.. [16thSun Yr A Mt13;24-43]