Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

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The first reading of today gives that awesome account of creation. Awesome is the order the writer uses to describe creation Gn 1:1-19 , with each part of creation beginning with Gods command; “Then God said.” From the very beginning creation is obedient to the creator. It is all designed according to Gods plan. I have never felt the urge to take the fundamentalist view of creation, I appreciate the way the writer describes our world as simply Gods creation. I also get the understanding the difference between Gods creation, and mans ability to assemble things, but that is not what interests me today. Today, it is the beauty of Gods creation along with an image of the garden of paradise where man enters. The reason is that focus on the Garden of Paradise has to so with the Gospel reading where Jesus travels across the sea of Galilee to the town of  Gennesaret. When Jesus’s boat arrives in that town, people flock to him, and he heals many.

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over the waters.
Then God said,

So many times when I read of places where Jesus heals , I try to learn about what the area was like at that time to get a feel for its history and significance. Gennesaret was allotted to the tribe of Naphtali, and the name of that tribe means “my struggle” or “my wrestling.” The region that they inhabited was never fully overtaken by the Hebrews, and was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles.” I find it  Interesting that Jesus went to this region and healed many simply because it was a region that was conflicted, neither fully Jewish or fully Gentile.

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea,
Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret

There is another reason I find this region interesting though, and that has nothing to do with the people that inhabited it. The region was known to be some of the most fertile land in the area, and it also was known for its sheer beauty. For its natural beauty it gained the name “the Paradise of Galilee”. As God created it, Gennesaret was paradise. As man ruled it, Gennesaret became known as “Galilee of the Gentiles.” As Jesus goes about this region, he heals the people that struggled in Paradise. To heal people in Paradise is of course to lead people back that Paradise where mankind first fell.That name Gennesaret, and a little history gives a little insight into why Jesus crossed that lake………

Wheat and Weeds, 16 Sunday OT

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Jesus spent a lot of time with farmers! Today He tells the parable of the farmer who plants good seed while his enemy sabotages his efforts with weeds. The story goes that the wheat and the weeds should grow together and then be separated at harvest. The point is that both good and evil do coexist in this world, but will eventually be separated. To anybody that has ever seen a wheat field infested with weeds, it is easy to understand the difficulty of trying to de-weed a field. The grain farmer also is aware that the part of the wheat that is retained during the harvest is the seed grains. In ancient times trying to gather grain from a weed infested field might actually be a reasonable occurrence. The point being that Jesus parable is closely related to actual scenario’s His audience might have dealt with. As a side note could I draw attention to the gospel passage where Jesus is reprimanded for gleaning some wheat from a field in the Sabbath? It would not have mattered to him if that particular field was overgrown with weeds, in gleaning that grain he did indeed separate the wheat from the weed. As Jesus gleaned that wheat, he also gleaned his followers from a symbolically weed infested area. I mention these points only because Jesus did indeed separate wheat from weed, he separated good from evil. His gospel, good news, draws a fruitful harvest.

His parable draws attention to that very fact that good and evil are allowed to exist together according to Gods plan. We are given that choice through free will. The parable is also a reminder that evils fate does have its consequences. Though that parable describes evils destruction at the harvest, it might be wise to note that we do not know when that harvest will be. Is it wise or useful to think of the harvest only at the end of our lifetime or some time in an infinitely distant future? Personally I don’t think so! I would rather like to think of that field harvested perpetually throughout the season. Though good and evil do coexist free will does allow us to strive for good. We too can glean even a few wheat grains from a field of weeds. Interpreting this parable it also helps to think like Jesus audience, especially those farmers within that audience. Those farmers did know that while much of the weeds invasion was beyond their control, they could at least predict to a small extent if a field would be overgrown with weeds. Much of the success depended on the amount of rainfall. Too much in one direction produced weeds and in the other wheat. It required diligence. In a spiritual life that diligence is prayer. It is the Son of Mans Angels that destroy the weeds at the harvest, what better way is there to attract an Angel other than prayer? While weeds exist in that field, one cannot lose sight that the Wheat also exists, though evil exists in this world one cannot overlook the good. If weeds can overtake a wheat field, can’t wheat also transform a field of weeds? All that it takes is effort and prayer to reap a successful harvest.

gardening and farming@ the kingdom of God

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The Gospels this week have all revolved around gardening and farming, with the sowing of seeds and the harvesting of grain. In all of them the kingdom of God is likened to one of these planted and harvested acres.In each reading the reader is given a glimpse, or idea, or suggestion of what the kingdom of God is like. The Kingdom of God is likened to a planted field. The question becomes though, what does this kingdom of God resemble, if it indeed is like a garden or field of plants? Does it resemble the structured formal; gardens of Europe, carefully manicured and structured where every plant has its place and those that don’t are removed? Where shrubs are trimmed at angles,

and labyrinths amuse the guests? Does it resemble a vegetable garden where those invited to the kingdom must pass the requirements of foodstuff? Where crop and weed are clearly defined? Does it contain the logic of a Japanese Garden, manicured ever so slightly? Does it resemble the monotony of a grain field, or an industrial farm with one purpose and one purpose only? Is it the abandoned field, where what ever can grow does?Is it the struggles of a secondary forest, or the ,maturity of old growth? Alpine meadow, wetland, or desert oasis?Forest or Field? In cultivated fields, much effort is taken to reap a reward. In nature everything has its place, and even places nothing grows serve a purpose.When the kingdom of God resembles a plot of land, most folks have an idea what that plot looks like. The trick is though,might be to consider the others.

When Jesus gave the parable of the sower, casting seeds was one of the ways crops were indeed planted. The farmer was content to let the seeds fall on rocks, on the pathway, in thickets, on soil, in poor or rich soil. The seeds landed where they might and the varied garden was precisely what was expected. The farmer simply cast the seeds and accepted whatever the bounty might be.



Like architecture, farming made advances.The other type of farming was the large scale type which involved not just a farmer and their bag o’seeds. The agriculturist who owned the land had laborers to cultivate the field, others to plant the seeds, and yet others to harvest. Theirs was the big operation designed for maximize the yield. Of course the landowner reaped the bounty, while those who prepared the field,and cast the seeds and harvested the crop received little reward.When Jesus describes the sower of seeds, his audience was very familiar with the type of gardens.

In Jesus parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus does not simply talk of an abstract concept.A common problem for many of the large agricultural farms was weed control, and that control was simply out of their hands. For a crop to be either a useful grain or useless mixture of grain and weed was dependent on weather. Temperature and rainfall could either favor a field of wheat, or it could favor wheat mixed with weeds. For all the advancements in cultivation, man is still dependent on God for a bountiful harvest.

The question still remains though, if the Kingdom of God is likened to a garden, what would that garden look like? 



Note:

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. In more casual speech, by extension, “philosophy” can refer to “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group”.

The word “philosophy” comes from the Ancient Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means “love of wisdom”.The introduction of the terms “philosopher” and “philosophy” has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras. (Wikipedia)


The parable of the sower

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Gospel MK 4:1-20

“A very large crowd gathered around him 
so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.
And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.
And he taught them at length in parables, “


The parable of the sower is a familiar parable. It also is interesting that for this particular parable Jesus explains what it means as he defines who the sower is, what the seed is and the meaning of where the seed falls.While there are many various ways of looking at the parable, it frequently is only given a casual thought. The meaning of the parable that is given at the end is simply accepted as the solution. The above quote is from the beginning of the parable story and it describes the setting that Jesus gave the parable. He is telling the story, or put in the context of the parable, he is “sowing the word.” Where are the people listening to this word? Are they on the rocky ground, in the thorns, or on the fertile soil? The narrative says they are beside the sea on land. Here is a  couple of quotes from the bible that describes where they stood when receiving this word:

“And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit, in due season. And his leaf shall not fall off: and all whosoever he shall do shall prosper.”- Psalm 1:3

“For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

Perhaps it is just coincidence that Jesus tells this parable by the water, but the description of a tree planted by water is the Old Testament description of prosperity for the people. In those Old Testament stories, the water is Gods grace and the tree represents the peoples. These peoples are firmly planted by the waters edge receiving that graceful word.

Cultivating a Fig tree

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Saturday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 478

‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.'”

There are several different aspects involved in the relationship between God and man. One is worship, another obedience, and the third to bear fruit; a successful relationship is a fruitful one. While parables contain many different points, and one can reach as many conclusions as their are days, perhaps one point brought to light in this parable of the fig tree is patience. At first the owner is frustrated by the fig tree that bears no fruit and wishes it cut down. The owner is justified, his reason for possessing the tree is fruit.The owner though knows little about trees, he does not know at which season a fig tree becomes fruitful.The tree does not become fruitful for three to five years, and produces two harvests per year.Harvesting the fruit requires patience and God is patient with us.The second point is that sometimes it is not what is done to the tree that matters, but instead what is done to its surroundings; to produce fruit the fig tree like us requires proper cultivation. For the tree this is tilling the soil, fertilizing, and watering.For us to produce fruit we too need the proper surroundings, the proper guidance, a culture that is supportive of bearing fruit. To often in society these two things are ignored, patience and cultivation, or nurturing, or simply culture.How quick are some to cut someone down because they are no longer productive simply because they do not know what they might produce? How many people are cut down because they are from an environment that stunts their productivity? Ignorance and impatience can affect fruitful rewards as much as a tree or a person. Bad soil an hinder the production of good fruit in a tree just as poverty and crime and a detrimental society can obliterate a fruitful person.