Sunday, February 27, 2022

Between Review & Recipe

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Readings: Ecclesiasticus 27:5-8; Psalm 91(92):2-3,13-16; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58; Luke 6:39-45

Picture: cc insatiablemunch

My dear friends, do you know the difference between a review and a recipe? It’s simple, right? A review gives us a way to judge the quality of a dish of food, and a recipe tells us how to prepare it. A review focuses on the final product – the food – while a recipe describes the process of production.

In our scriptures today, we obviously find something like a review. Both the first reading and the gospel teach us how to judge something. Not a dish of food, but the hidden contents of the human heart. Just as every tree can be told by its own fruit, so can one’s heart be judged by one’s words. It’s possible, of course, to speak hypocritically. To feel one thing, and say the opposite. But we cannot hide forever. Over time, whatever is in the heart eventually finds a way to slip out…

Words tend to reveal the heart. And not just another person’s heart, but also my own. By paying attention to what may often escape from my own mouth, I can gain access to the things in my heart that may otherwise remain hidden, even from me. Darker things perhaps, like frustration and anger, resentment and envy. But also brighter things, like gratitude and wonder, mercy and compassion… And what is true of individuals is true of ministries and organisations too. The quality of their external words and actions often gives a good indication of their true inner character. Just as a terrorist organisation terrorises, a charitable one cares.

But what happens after we’ve judged a tree by its fruit, or a heart by the words that flow from it? How can a good tree maintain its goodness? Or a bad tree be converted from its badness? To answer these questions, we need something like a recipe. Which is also what our readings provide.

As you may have noticed, in the first reading, it’s not really the tree that is judged, but its location. The orchard where a tree grows is judged on the quality of its fruit. Similarly, the psalm praises the just who, by keeping God’s ways, remain planted in the house of the Lord, and flourish in the courts of our God. The second reading then reminds us that we Christians are called to cling to the incredible hope that God has already given us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord. We remain planted in God’s house by never admitting defeat, but by persevering at the Lord’s work always, knowing that, in the Lord, we do not labour in vain.

A concrete example of all this is found in Pope Francis’ recent responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. By calling for a continued search for diplomatic solutions… by devoting Ash Wednesday to prayer and fasting for peace… by making an unprecedented personal visit to the Russian embassy… not only does the Pope reveal the contents of his own heart, he also shows us, and in the darkest of times, how to keep abiding in the one true Vine, who is Christ the Lord.

Sisters and brothers, if we were to review our lives, what will we find? What recipe are we cooking up for our world today?

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