Saturday, July 22, 2017

Gospel text for Sunday 23 July 2017

2017 07 23 Matthew 13:24-30,36-43         Jesus put before the crowd another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” 

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Reflection      On this journey we call life there are moments when our true self emerges and we are the seeds of grace and truth in the world. In those moments, like Jesus we engage our life situation exactly as it is. We do not leap ahead into conjectures, “Oh, this does not bode well for the future. I can see the handwriting on the wall.” Nor do we revert to rehearsals of the past, “I have been down this road before, I have met people just like him, I remember the time…  and it was terrible.” Living in imitation of Jesus we are like seeds, full of grace and truth that we bring to every situation we encounter.

How do we know when we are experiencing our true self? We feel peaceful, secure or accepted. When operating out of our true self we have access to wisdom and real power, living becomes effortless, even living in the midst of weeds. By contrast, when we feel stressed, insecure or unvalued, our true self sinks into hiding behind our everyday self that executes our programs for happiness; with our inordinate desire for security, safety, esteem, power and control. The thing is, these programs are never satisfied because they cannot fulfill the deepest desire of our heart, to be our true self, seeds of grace and truth in the world.

Deepak Chopra, an alternative medicine doctor, offers what I think is an instructive list to help us discern if we are operating out of our true self or our everyday self.  “The true self is certain and clear about things. The everyday self gets influenced by countless outside influences, leading to confusion. The true self is stable. The everyday self shifts constantly.  The true self is driven by a deep sense of truth. The everyday self is driven by the ego, the unending demands of "I, me, mine." The true self is at peace. The everyday self is easily agitated and disturbed. The true self is love. The everyday self, lacking love, seeks it from outside sources.”*

Much as a farmer cannot avoid weeds infesting her wheat, we cannot escape the incursion of our conditioned emotional reactions nor the inclination of our everyday self to enforce our programs for happiness. What we can do is cultivate disciplines of stillness such as Centering Prayer or Mindfulness Meditation that help us be clear minded and consistent, recognize when weeds are infiltrating our thoughts, words and actions and enable us to choose to act with grace and truth instead.  

As people of God we are  intended to live in imitation of Jesus,  to be a seeds of grace and truth in our thoughts, words and actions. If we want to strengthen and tone our bodies we must have a discipline of physical training and practice. If we want to strengthen and tone our true self we must have a discipline of spiritual training and practice. 

August 9, 16, 23 and 30th from 2-3:15  Episcopal Church of the Apostles offers a free four week program for beginners and long time practitioners of Centering Prayer using Fr. Carl Arico’s dvd series and discussion, instruction, and a twenty minute sit. Email for more info. 

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