Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday in the 16th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
Under Construction

(NB: The following reflection is based on the readings for the weekday. Today's Mass readings should, however, be taken from the memorial of St. Martha. Apologies for the oversight.)

I find myself in a city furiously preparing to host a significant international event. There’s much construction and renovation – both structural and social – with the inevitable upheaval and chaos that accompanies such efforts. Ideally, when one’s home undergoes renovation, one moves to a temporary dwelling till the work is done. But what if there is no other place to go? Then one has to stick it out in the hope that human effort will indeed bear good fruit in the near future.

Something similar is being described by Jesus when he compares the kingdom of heaven to a field sown with both wheat and darnel. This field could well be an image of our world. As even a cursory glance at the daily news will tell us, it’s not a pretty sight. At best, it’s a mixed field that’s not quite ready for harvest. Like the city, it’s a construction project that’s far from complete. There’s beauty, but also much ugliness; goodness, but also much evil. Yet, despite the chaos and upheaval, it’s the only world we have. There’s no escaping to another dwelling – temporary or otherwise. This is where we have to remain.

The consolation for us – indeed, even a cause of great rejoicing – is that God does not observe from a distance. Rather, it is God who matures the wheat and fashions the skyline. God is no spectator. God gets His hands dirty – even to the extent of having them nailed to a cross. If there was one who could move to another dwelling, it would be God. Yet God chooses to stick it out with us, here in this valley of tears.

Still, we are not to be complacent. As the prophet reminds us, we are not simply to say, “This is the sanctuary of the Lord, the sanctuary of the Lord, the sanctuary of the Lord!” Rather, we are called to turn away from those tendencies within us that would sabotage the building project, those areas within our own hearts that are conducive to the growth of darnel. We are called to cooperate in God’s project, so that God’s kingdom may indeed come to fruition in our world; so that all creation may see “how lovely is (the) dwelling place” of the God of hosts.

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