Twenty-Ninth Sunday — Year A

Empires get a mention in today’s readings.  Jesus lived under the Roman empire.  Cyrus, whom we meet in the first reading, was the leader of the Persian Empire. Before that was Pharaoh of the Egyptian empire whom Joseph encountered when he was sold as a slave to Egypt.  Though not in today’s readings I’m mentioning Pharaoh because there is a song in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ that captures just how powerful these emperors were. Continue reading

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Twenty-Eight Sunday of the Year — A

I hope I don’t offend any ears by saying that Jesus is a bit of a party animal.  There’s a fair bit of evidence for it in the gospels.  Very often we find Jesus either going to a meal, at a meal or leaving a meal.  We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, that he uses a meal to get across something of the Kingdom of God.  But the meal he is talking about today is no ordinary meal. It is a royal wedding feast.  Meals are very symbolic of sharing and friendship but a royal wedding feast takes it to another level.  In terms of the kingdom of heaven, it symbolises God’s great yearning to be bonded with us. God is so in love with all of humanity that Jesus resorts to nuptial language to get across how passionate God is about all of us.  In effect, Jesus is saying that the wedding is between God and all of humanity.  Continue reading

Twenty-Seventh Sunday – Year A

The first reading today is a masterpiece of storytelling. The friend of Isaiah owns a fertile hillside, he spades it, he clears it of stones, plants the choicest vines, builds the traditional watchtower, installs the typical wine press and then anticipates an excellent and abundant harvest. What he gets instead are wild grapes. So, then he pops the question, “What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?”  With this question, the prophet is inviting his audience to make a judgement between his friend and his vineyard.  And they would have been fully in agreement with his response, namely, remove its hedge, break down its wall, trample on it and make it into a wasteland once more.  I imagine that they would have applauded him for every new stroke of destruction — even gloating about it.  But then, having got consensus from them he turns the tables by announcing that they are the vineyard, they are the culprits.  ‘For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed, righteousness, but heard a cry! Continue reading

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year – A

What is God like?  There is a lovely story of little Angelica who spread out all her crayons on a sheet of paper and then for a long time concentrated in quiet on the black page.  Her older brother asked what was she doing to which she replied, ‘I’m going to draw a picture of God!’  The brother smirked and said, “nobody knows what God looks like!  Angelica simply replied, “they will when I’m finished!” Continue reading

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year – A

The parables of Jesus are meant to shock us, to get us to think outside the box, to help us realise, as Isaiah says, that God’s ways are way above our ways, just as the heavens are way above the earth.  Today’s parable of the hired workers must have been a real shocker to those listening to Jesus.  For ourselves, however, this same parable probably wears thin, simply because we have heard it so often! So, let’s try and translate it into today’s world.  Continue reading

Twenty Fourth Sunday of the Year – A

A woman, pushing on in years, boasted to her pastor that she did not have an enemy in the world. He was very impressed. What a wonderful thing to be able to say after all those years! And then she added with some satisfaction ‘I suppose it’s because I have outlived them all’. If we live long enough we too may be able to make a similar claim. The real question is, has she forgiven all her enemies.  That’s what the Gospel asks of us today, that we forgive those whom we once regarded as enemies.  We have all been hurt in some way or other on life’s journey… made fun of in school by a teacher, not invited to a particular wedding, didn’t get the job we hoped to get, or even been betrayed by someone we trusted, or been physically abused … and so on. Continue reading

Twenty Third Sunday – Year A

The other day I heard a golfer’s joke about hell.  Hell is a beautiful golf course with all the amenities one could ask for but, unfortunately, no golf balls.  How frustrating is that! On a more serious note, there is a description of the difference between heaven and hell that has a real point to it. Hell is a beautiful banquet hall filled with lavish foods and the finest wines.  There is one drawback, however.  They must eat with very long spoons.  The result is total frustration as the spoons are too long to be able to put food in their mouths.  So, everyone ends up hungry, frustrated and hating each other.  Heaven is the very same scenario with all the food in the world, but everyone is happy and satisfied.  The difference is those in heaven feed each other. Continue reading