Sunday reflection

 Reflection for the sixth Sunday after Trinity

“If you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time.” – Jesus, in today’s Gospel, Matthew 13: 24-30,36-43, The Message.

“The number of people with Coronavirus across the world rose by 260,000 yesterday. That’s the largest increase since the pandemic began.” – newsreader, quoting the World Health Organisation. 
“Johnson: We will not need another national lockdown.” Headline, Sunday Telegraph.
The Prime Minister sounds very confident in this headline, though no-one can be sure what the future will hold as Covid-19 continues to sweep across the world. As the statistics increase, the way of recording deaths is known to greatly vary and, with winter drawing nearer, it’s hard to know how great the risk still is or how careful people still need to be as they consider whether to mingle more or remain isolated. Much will depend on keeping a safe distance when together, careful hand washing and personal responsibility towards others as well as ourselves. Those decisions are complex – care, discernment and patience will be needed as restrictions lessen but risk still remains.
Jesus speaks of patience in the Gospel today. He likens God’s kingdom to a farmer‘s field where good seed has been spoiled by an enemy sowing weeds which the hired hands want to remove. Rather than perhaps pull up the wheat too, the farmer leaves both to grow until the crop is ready to be harvested and the weeds can then be separated and destroyed. Meanwhile, there is much else to do: checking that the crop has enough water, has no pests, doesn’t develop blight……. For this to happen, both the owner and the workers have to be patient until the time is right – and that’s what’s been happening during the pandemic too. 
Whilst many were prepared and able to wait until safer procedures could be introduced, some could not and many died whilst others grew impatient with the challenges of battling a new virus and the delays in getting PPE, testing, a vaccine, family visits, a hair cut….. As the summer wears on and the virus is thought to weaken in sunlight, the UK Governments are handling the situation differently and some confusion is now resulting about whether to remain apart or gather together. When the time is right, there will be an enquiry into what has happened and why, but until then choices have to be made about the common good of all as well as individual hopes during the outbreak. Other important matters such as education, unemployment, the 5G controversy, Brexit or the national debt are also beginning to resurface now and sill need work and patience as the pandemic eases. What should we do or say, whether together or apart, as we continue to prepare for the future harvest of hope and purpose despite what may seem to be choking the seeds of new life and growth now?
Perhaps the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel from The Message bible will enable us to put all this into perspective as we consider the yield of our life’s crop of love and hear the ongoing national debates as well as local issues:
“The field is the world….and the harvest is….the curtain of history…. They are going to complain to high heaven….. At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature….. Are you listening to this? Really listening?”
With my prayers,
Shrine Guardian
Diocesan prayer for the week

Transforming God, although we pray for the renewal of our lives and of our world, the changes we face are unsettling. Grant us such faith and trust in your steadfast love that we try not to conform your purposes to ours, but commit ourselves wholeheartedly to you; for you hold the future in your hands, and will never let us go. In Jesus’ name, who promised us his presence to the end. Amen.   Canon Carol Wardman