We Are Not the Reapers

I heard a great introduction to last Sunday's Gospel on the weekend (at the beginning of Mass). For those of you who didn't find your Sunday preaching so memorable here's the Gospel to spark your memory…

Matt. 13: 24-30. Short Form. Jesus put before the crowds a parable, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers. Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

 The usual take I hear on this Gospel is that we need to be careful that we are not the weeds that are taken off to be burnt. But this week the sentence that was the focus was "'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.'" The small introduction that was read at the beginning of Mass reminded us that it is not our job to judge. It is not our job to say who will be condemned and who will be saved. We are NOT the reapers. God and his angels will do this job. It is our job to live good lives. To be the wheat amongst the weeds.

The Gospel also indicates that the reason this job has not been given to us is because we might very well mistake wheat for weeds (or good for evil). This really hit a chord with me. As much as we can disapprove of people's actions, we never really know what is in that person's heart. Only God is able to really know a person.

This also led to me thinking that it is also only God who is capable of loving us so completely as to look past our many faults and see the goodness in us. We ALL have the potential to be weeds. But God sees us as his sons and daughters and loves us regardless of our failings. As humans we could never love like that, which is why we could never be fair judges when it came down to it.

This also brought to mind the novel The Shack. Anyone else read it? There is a remarkable scene in The Shack where the main character confronts God about how He could possibly love the man who attacked and murdered this man's little daughter. God turns the tables on this man who has two remaining daughters and asks him to choose which one can go to heaven. It seems, on the surface, an obvious choice. One of his daughters is living a good and holy life, the other one is into drugs and is non-communicative with the family. However, as a father, this man cannot condemn either of his children to hell, his love for them is so great. God uses this to show the man that this is how it is for Him also. Even though the murderer has done horrific things, he is still God's child, and God still loves him like a father and hopes for his repentance. Very powerful stuff.

Pulling Up Stumps (Kind of)

Well this post probably won't come as a suprise to regular readers over the last few weeks, but I am withdrawing from regular weekly postings here at Being Frank.

I've enjoyed it – even when I've had posts that people disagree strongly with, or are apathetic to, and most especially when I've gained encouragement from people's kind comments.

I'd planned to post here for a year, and I've come close to fulfilling that, but things have changed for me since I first took on the role. Family life is busier, and my work demands and pressures have grown enormously. It has come to a point for me where I have to prioritise where I can offer my time and energy.

I plan to leave the door ajar slightly by posting less regularly, so you might find the odd post here on a Thursday, but it's unlikely to be every week anymore. I also want to be in a position to post when I am inspired by something, or have something to genuinely offer for debate or reflection, rather than feeling like, "it's Thursday, what I am I going to post about this week?". And if I'm honest, that's how I have felt sometimes. As Lucia Maria commented last week, you have to be passionate about blogging or else don't bother. And that comment of hers really made me think deeply about my involvement here. I want to contribute because I genuinely have something to offer, not out of a sense of obligation, or because it's "my day to post".

So it's not really a goodbye, but rather than being the familiar neighbour who pops in here for a chat every week, I might be more like the long-lost relative who turns up unexpectedly from time to time. I hope to also get involved more in the other side of the fence through commenting etc.

Thanks one and all, Boan.

Relics AGAIN

This week I, along with some very generous volunteers, have been putting in a few hours of manual labour, to create a chapel at our school. Our school's parish church is about  5km away and it has always been a dream of mine to have a little chapel on site. A place where our community can reflect and pray and a space for us to gather as a staff each week for prayer and for classes to use for prayer. 

We have been incredibly lucky to have had some very special taonga gifted to us over the past year as word got around that I was determined to create our own sacred space. We have an altar (complete with consecrated altar stone), a hand-carved tabernacle and a beautiful statue of Mary all given to us by the Mercy Sisters. We have a child sized lecturn and a presider's chair which have both come from our parish priest. We also have a stunning portrait of Catherine McAuley given to us by the local Catholic High School and a crucifix which came from a small local church that has since been sold. I've also been given a full set of Stations of the Cross. After humbly accepting all of these beautiful gifts it is exciting to finally have a special space to place them.

Today I've been googling some of the "rules" associated with chapels – things like what exactly can be called a chapel, whether it has to be blessed by the Bishop, where the blessed sacrament can be kept, why a wooden altar needs an altar stone. It's all very interesting stuff. 

One interesting thing I discovered is that all permanent altars need to have a stone (preferably marble) top and need to hold within that stone the relic of a saint, preferably a martyr, and the relic has to be recognisable as being part of a human body. There must be a lot of altars in NZ that have relics inside them and yet I don't know of any. My dad says he thinks he remembers when the altar of our childhood church was smashed up (yes terrible I know, but it was the height of the liberal 80s) that there was some soil from the catechums inside it. He doesn't know what happened to it. Doesn't bear thinking about now.

Do any of you know who's relics are inside your church's altars?

All by myself

So, it seems I am now the lone regular poster for Being Frank.

One by one our posters have dropped by the wayside and left me, all alone, on a Wednesday, blogging along about random things that come to mind.

So I guess it's time to ask the question: Is Being Frank a worthwhile blog? Is it making a difference to people living out their faith? Is it worth fighting for or is it time to call it quits?

‘…the most devoted child of the See of Peter…’

Marty has recently been reading Waugh; his excellent work on St Edmund Campion. Things were tough in the days when Campion and others tried to fight against the Great Apostacy of 16th century England.

Things are now, of course, very different. We are, especially in Lent and Easter, good friend with the Anglicans.

I suppose it is important to bear in mind a couple of things:

1. Heresy is a sin because of its nature it is destructive of the virtue of faith.

2. Privation of (the) faith is therefore a great evil.

Not that ecumenical moves are in themselves an evil – indeed – they are an important part of life in these post-conciliar times. But we must also acknowledge that the nominated christian faith, Catholicism, necessarily has pre-eminence and cannot be compromised, nor should Catholics be encouraged to do so.

The following quote of Edmund Campion gave me much pause for thought:

It was not our death that ever we feared. But we knew that we were not lords of our own lives, and therefore for want of answer would not be guilty of our deaths.

In condemning us you condemn all your own ancestors – all the ancient priests, bishops and kings – all that was once the glory of England, the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter.

To be condemned with these lights – not of England only, but of the whole world – by their degenerate descendants, is both gladness and glory to us.

Everyday I’m Shuffling

We're about to undergo a shuffle here in the Hamilton Diocese. Not the "everyday I'm shuffling" kind of shuffle – a priest shuffle. Father Yvan, who is over in Gisborne, has been called to minister to the people of the Marquesas Islands so that has necessitated a kind of shuffle around to fill his spot, and then to fill the spot of the priest going to Gisborne, then a priest to fill that spot… you get the picture.

We will be losing our Parish Priest in this neck of the woods. As our Assistant Priest put it last week, when the Bishop calls, you have to go, but the priest always has the last word… as long as that word is "Sir, yes sir". I think he was joking.

I understand that all Diocesan priests take a vow of obediance to the Bishop and it is just part of the job that they will be shifted around from parish to parish. It's good for the parishes and it's good for the priests. But, gosh, it's hard. We are very lucky here to have a Parish Priest that is popular and very well-loved. When things are working well, our priests are the people we come to rely on for guidance, counselling, prayer, confession, support and sometimes even friendship. It's hard when they move on.

I've been through this once before when I lived in Auckland. We had an AMAZING Priest at my parish – dynamic, interesting, intelligent, compassionate and I was gutted when he was moved across town. I even thought about following him to his new parish (easy enough to do when you live in Auckland). But it was actually a wake-up call to think about why I go to Mass. Do I go to listen to the priest's awesome sermon, or do I go to celebrate the Mass and to encounter Jesus? I guess that's the same thing I will need to think about now.

This kind of situation must be hard for our priests too. They get somewhat settled in an area, they become part of people's families and certainly part of the community, but they can be asked to move at any time. If I was living priestly life I think I would be too scared to get too involved in a community and in people's lives, in case I was asked to move and it was too hard. I wonder how our priests feel about moving. Is it just part of the job or is it a hardship for them too?



The Sunday Scrum

Today is the feast day of St Peter.


Simon Peter or Cephas, the first pope, Prince of the Apostles, and founder, with St. Paul, of the see of Rome.