Everything Adds Up To Good
After over 20 years in Coast Guard aviation and a short stint at the Boeing Company in Seattle, my father became a mail man. Sometimes, especially around the holidays, his customers would leave little presents (or a bottle of booze- my father didn’t drink). When he brought them home, my mom and I would have fun opening them and seeing what he received. One time he received a really neat New Testament, “Good News for Modern Man.” It was a new translation, easy to understand, with great drawings. Now, my mom and dad went to church every Sunday, but they never read the bible as such, so to make a long story short, this gift was given to me. I was about 15 years old.
My love affair with the bible started with that New Testament. I found a high-lighter and started to mark favorite passages. Today’s passage from Romans 8 was one of my first markings:
We know that all things work together unto good for those who love God.
The key word here is unto. The passage doesn’t mean that if you have faith everything in your life will go smoothly, without experience of sadness and loss, but that with faith, everything that happens, the ups and downs of life, will add up to good. Faith in God, love of God, will work everything unto good. Faith is the only response that will conquer the evil we may face in life.
Today’s Gospel is a good illustration of this. This is the third week we encounter Jesus explaining the resistance that his Word will encounter in the world. We’ve had the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds, and today the Parable of the Mustard Seed. A quick review: the Sower broadcasts seed liberally everywhere among all sorts and conditions of people and their “soil condition.” Enemies sow a few weeds among the seeds and wheat and weeds are allowed to grow together until the harvest. In today’s reading a mustard seed is sowed as well. The mustard plant is a weed too, but it will grow into a great bush where the birds of the air can make their nests!
What’s the sense of all this? Let the wheat and weeds grow together and don’t pull out the weeds lest the good wheat be pulled out with it. On top of all this- another “weed” is planted purposefully, from a mustard seed. This “weed” is Jesus himself sowed as a “weed” in the world’s garden, with the “good and powerful” people, thinking they can rightly judge what is good and evil, wanting to root out this weed. They used the Cross.
With Jesus some convictions and understandings are turned on their head. Things thought considered weeds can serve God’s purpose. In ancient times, handicapped folks were considered, punished by God, ie., in the story of the man born blind (John 9) people asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” The handicapped were considered weeds to be pulled out of society. God was a punisher of sin, a puller of weeds. Jesus revealed the true nature of God as merciful and forgiving, patient, allowing those judged to be weeds of this world to grow. The harvest will be plentiful in the end even if we think it won’t!
With the Holy Spirit’s help we receive a different wisdom than the world around us. Like Soloman, we are given a gift of discernment so absolutely necessary for life in the world. Soloman lived under the sacrificial logic of his time (remember the story of the two women claiming a child as their own). Jesus came to reverse this sacrificial logic (people need to die in order for peace to happen). Human reason and justice demands victims to be offered to God to fulfill God’s purposes in the world, but in Jesus the sacrificial logic was turned completely around. Instead of our sacrificing to God, God sacrifices to humanity! God allowed Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity and never requires that anyone die to please him. Instead, so that we don’t persist in sacrificial logic, Jesus gave us, his disciples, the Holy Eucharist, enshrining forever God’s Sacrifice for humanity, to nourish us away from death into life! Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Everything will add up to good.
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.