Sunday 30 July, 2023
Sunday 30 July, 2023, 8.00 am
I wonder what springs up in your imagination when you hear talk of ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’? A marvellous feast or lavish state banquet? A beautiful, peaceful garden? A reunion with family members and close friends, who have been parted from us by death? A place of tranquillity, where a state of euphoria is maintained? I am sure if I were to give you more time to reflect upon the subject more pictures of The Kingdom would emerge. The Kingdom of Heaven can be understood in many different ways, as the parables Jesus told in our Gospel Reading this morning illustrate. Let’s look at each one and see what we can glean from these different depictions.
The description of the great next gathering fish of all kinds is reminiscent of the parable of the sheep and the goats. Both parables involve separating out the good from the bad and result in those who are deemed ‘unrighteous’ being sent off to eternal punishment. This vision of the kingdom may not be something with which we are comfortable. On the one hand it may appeal to our sense of ‘fair play’ that those who have done wrong are punish – natural justice. Yet I think the notion of there being only one name through which salvation comes, is something with which we are not entirely comfortable.
We probably find the notion of the mustard seed more to our liking. It may not be like any plant that we have seen grown from a mustard seed, but the fact that it is a place of safety, a welcoming home to the ‘birds of the air’ a place of inclusion, is a more attractive prospect.
The Kingdom being compared to hidden treasure, or to a pearl of immense value, needs a little more of our attention. In this parable Jesus poses us the difficult question – “What are we prepared to give, or to do, in order to possess the kingdom?” Whilst the Kingdom remains something in the future, something far off it becomes a thing to long for or look forward to, but it is not something for the here and now. Jesus challenges this for the person who stumbles upon the hidden treasure and the merchant are very much in the present. They are prepared to
do whatever it takes to acquire the treasure, the pearl. What are we prepared to do to make the Kingdom a reality in our time? How committed are we as disciples of Jesus? This question is as challenging now as it was then – each of us must give our own answer, which will reveal our priorities in life.
Jesus’ analogy of yeast mixed with flour the affect it has on that with which it is mixed. If you are a bread maker, you will know that in proportion to the ingredients, it is a small amount of yeast that will leaven the whole batch. We can take encouragement
from this fact. What Jesus is saying is that it takes only a few Committed Christinas to make a difference in the world. In the face of the problems which afflict the world and beset our society, it is easy to become disillusioned and despondent. We can lose hope, but in this parable, we see that, as with yeast in flour, so with Christians in society, a small number makes a difference.
Its seems as individuals and as a church, we have lost sight of this reality and our confidence in presenting the message has gone – even knowing what message to present!
Our new diocesan slogan is ‘Making Jesus Known’ – the intention is that as we reflect on this individually and together, hope will be renewed, confidence regained, we will become scribes ‘trained for the kingdom of heaven’ drawing from the old and from the new a message which will be transformative through our words and our deeds.