Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!


Don’t Worry
February 23, 2014, 6:30 pm
Filed under: Sermons

A sermon given at All Hallows, Easton, 23rd February 2014

Don’t worry! How easy it is to say that to other people, how hard to practise it ourselves! As usual, we have heard the shorter of the two readings set for this Sunday, but I would like us briefly to cast our eyes over the longer one, the very beginning of the Bible, the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. The first thing to say about it, of course, is that this is a poetic representation of creation, not a scientific one. The sacred writer looks around at the world as he knows it- the sky like a great dome, the waters that fall from above or bubble up from below, and so on- and he wants to say, “God made all this, and it is all good and beautiful.”

He imagines God building a house, or perhaps rather a Temple, roofed over by the sky, with sun and moon as its lamps, with plants and animals, but most importantly with human beings charged to look after the house, to be priests of the Temple. And when, at the end, the writer says, “God rested on the seventh day,” he doesn’t just mean that God stopped working, but rather that God “rested”, took up residence, in the house, just as in after years he was thought of as dwelling in the Temple at Jerusalem.

In the Gospel, our Lord reminds us of all this when he speaks of God clothing the lilies of the field and caring for the birds of the air. God has made the world, he loves it, he cares about it. And he made, loves and cares about us in particular. We are his children, made in his image and likeness. The problem is, we human beings do not love God as he loves us, we do not love one another as we should, and we do not care enough for the world God has put us in charge of.

That is why, in today’s Epistle, St Paul speaks of creation “groaning in travail until now”. It is “subject to bondage and decay”. God can only put this right when he has put human beings right, and human beings will only be put right when they learn to love and trust God. This is what the Christian religion is all about, God reconciling the world to himself, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Jesus our Lord, God himself came among us as a teacher and healer; and he suffered rejection and refusal, and ultimately a shameful death as a criminal. In the simplest terms, he drew into himself all the hatred and hostility that the world could throw at him, without a murmur of complaint, and then by rising from death he showed that his love is stronger than human hatred.

As followers of Jesus, we are also often the target of the world’s hostility and mockery. And we have many worries, as we try to survive and to do our best. Jesus tells us not to worry! If we “seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness”, he will take care of us.

Christ is King. “Seeking the kingdom” doesn’t mean looking for something or somewhere that doesn’t yet exist. It means making Christ’s rightful rule effective in the world, acting as his agents and ambassadors. “Seeking his righteousness” means letting his rule be effective in our own hearts, being Christ-like ourselves, before we try to tell others what to do.

Being a Christian means having a clear idea who Jesus Christ is (namely, God-with-us), and being firmly committed to following him, come what may. We live in a good and beautiful world; but it will only be a proper dwelling-place for God if we allow him to live first in us. At Mass, Jesus comes to us in the Blessed Sacrament. Make sure he doesn’t just come into you outwardly, but into your hearts as well.

 

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