“..the woman who is wise is the one to praise” 1st rdg book of Proverbs..a wonderful appraisal of a wife & mother..womb space as she incarnates, carries, brings to birth all that is foundational/critical in family life.. ..little did they know 3000yrs ago that the wisdom of the feminine would be personified in the descent of the Holy Spirit “the breath of God” ..a daily Pentecost..in the 150 breaths, breaths of God, you would have breathed into our Church family space, among us in these first few moments, if we had been able to celebrate Mass.. ..instead breathe them in as you read these few words..
“advantage not hurt she brings all the days of her life..” ; Lord have mercy “she is always busy; does her work with eager hands..” ; Christ have mercy “the woman who is wise is the one to praise..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..parable or allegory? we asked last weekend with ten bridesmaids, when we found, we discovered ourselves, in the detail of gospel allegorically, instead of as a parable, where we would identify one main theme, the moral of story, learn from it & move on; life & monastic life isn’t like that..essence is to ponder meditate..even mediate..five wise five foolish, & which eventually proved to be the wiser but the foolish..thank goodness we gave it time..meditate on it slowly calmly, fertile ground rich soil..& allow what is in there, supposedly in fallow ground, to be ploughed & its essence fertility brought to the surface, seen & celebrated..so here Matthew identifies it, typically black & white, as a parable, & the one main theme? reward for those who invest what is loaned speculatively & with initiative, energetic risky exciting & potentially rewarding..& for the timid & anxious? a nil return, judged labelled “good-for-nothing” you can feel the traditional Christian theology, seeped in its Jewish roots, grounded on natural law; certain reliable consistent, set in stone like 10 commandments or beatitudes; do something wrong, even out of fear, a rabbit caught in headlights, & you will be punished; work hard, keep your nose clean, & goodness is rewarded..the protestant work ethic undoubtedly inherited from catholicisms similar addiction..it makes sense, common sense, but it isn’t divine sense..it isn’t the theology our saints lived & told us about in explaining God; the natural law of religion is to compel us to save ourselves, & it is this that most people believe in today.. some, perhaps most of us..that the more we give to God, the more we’ll get back from him..like Leeds Permanent Building Society Liquid Gold account my grandparents used to invest in; Sat mornings I would sometimes go with my aunt to Leeds to LPBS HQ; like a bank, mahogany counters & thick piled carpets, & Church-like, where you whispered confidentially & smiled politely at cashier..my aunt would draw out some of savings for my grandparents; money hard earned in a frugality of life, money carefully squirrelled away, that which they could just about afford to put on one side, so that, in old age & with a tidy rate of return, they could afford to live comfortably, enjoyably because they had earned it & deserved it; a banking theory & sadly a religious theory which makes retirement & salvation depend on us, our astuteness & goodness, performance-related; “good & faithful servants” 5 talents 2 talents “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” commandments beatitudes penny catechism, rules regulations, rate of investment, terms & conditions & with-profits rewards when you present yourself & your passbook of credits at the gate of Heaven, for the divine gatekeeper to read & give a directive, a judgement in your favour; it all sounds too familiar to too many of us tragically..& few hundred yards from LPBS in Leeds is St George’s Church famous for its crypt, its below-stairs apostolate; a day centre for dregs of society..homeless addict migrant, labelled by the non-discerning as “good-for-nothings”..those like Matthew, who see & who are shocked by them, & next time they go to the General Infirmary it’s by another route..& where is Matthew’s Jesus in all of this?..a parable or an allegory?..is he in those of us who stepped up to the plate at end of lockdown in July & came back, albeit at risk & cost, to weekend Mass again?..the 5 talented..16wks & now offering divine tax collector an impressive passbook of performance & achievement..”well done good & faithful servant” or the 2 talented who slowly came back gaining in confidence, good grace & faith in our procedures..10wks & still a tidy return..”well done, good & faithful servant”..it’s all well & good for the dutiful compliant grafters & risk takers, but what of those of us who have yet to emerge from a first lockdown, entrusted with 1 talent & kept safe for 32wks, & as time went on after ending of first lockdown on 11 July, remembered Catholicism of their younger days & a demandingly strict Jesus Christ “I heard you were a hard man, so I was afraid” [ & hid my passbook in lockdown & beyond ] “& here it is..it’s yours, you have it back” a sense of failure regret self-disappointment, a let-down to Christ, who punishes lack of productivity, & preaches self-serving redemption, crime & punishment..& hence expectedly, & tragically they feel deservedly, they face rejection “throw them out into the dark..to weeping & grinding of teeth” can you now sense feel tragedy of this professed theology of redemption, when the real sense, rather than the non-sense, is quite the opposite..we are brought to God in hallowed halls of LPBS, in this simple profound sacred space of our Village Church, in the sacredness of your home, in your favourite chair & with your lived streamed Mass & your rosary beads, worn down by your prayers of love & concern for those our Church seems to label “good-for-nothing, & in the warmth of space & person in the crypt of St George’s..each & every one of us brought to God by our own weakness & brokenness..it takes a lifetime & the gradual unearned income of grace, pure divine gift, to accept such a paradox..of the divine track & trace which always has, & always will have, each of us in sight in love & care..”grace seems to create the very emptiness that grace alone can fill” “my power is at its best in weakness” remember St Paul? my power is at its best in the one hidden talent that you return to me, safe intact polished purified by the heat of anxiety fear & unworthiness you have been led to believe in, mistakenly led to believe in, for all these years..finish with words of Richard Rohr.. “I’m struck repeatedly by how different the Gospel comes across when you preach it to someone with a full stomach & when you preach it to someone with an empty stomach. [ LPBS compared to St George’s crypt ]..that is why Jesus said the Gospel has to be preached first to the poor [ says Luke’s Jesus not Matthew’s Jesus ] they are the one’s who hear it; then they have to hand it on to us who don’t know we are poor.” Thanks be to God for the 5 talented the 2 talented, & especially for the 1 talented who hands on the secret to the rest of us.. ..& pray what is the secret ?..it is when the 1 talented, in the person of Christ, takes the risk..“looks steadily at us & loves us” the look the smile & the love that welcomes us home.. [33rdSunYrA Mt 25;14-30]