Jeremiah 31:27-34 Psalm 119:97-104 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 Luke 18:1-8
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Book of Jeremiah has a whole bunch of good sayings in it. Today’s I especially like “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” how apt that is today to the threat from Climate Change for the next generations. We cause the problem and the children suffer. And St. Paul has a beauty too “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths”. ‘Itching ears’ we all know what that means and we see it manifested around us. The word s ‘fad’ and ‘fake news’ hadn’t been thought-up in Paul’s time but ‘itching ears’ says it all. Paul instead urges us to listen to sound teaching. One of the things about fads and fake news is that you have to check them out for truth, go to the source (not the opinion articles or the work of spin-doctors) and judge for ourselves. Paul says ‘All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction’ in other words, read your Bible. We can read a lot of junk on social media and at no more critical a time than now at the end of an election period. It is important to discern what’s good and what’s garbage. But throughout our life a good read of the Bible is always worthwhile. The Psalmist almost raves about the worthiness of what he has read in the Old Testament, Paul likewise to Timothy his beloved fellow missionary.
Yet when I read the Readings today they are a bit like a roller coaster. While warning about secular distractions Jeremiah reiterates God’s promise of prosperity – that’s good. The Psalm is a paean to faith in God – that’s good. The letter to Timothy gives dire warnings about deviations from the truth – that’s good. And Jesus while telling us to pray constantly ends on a very low note ‘when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on Earth ?’ It almost sounds as though Jesus is at a loss for us and His mission. But He is not, He is just recognising how fickle we are, even about important things. If we don’t follow good teaching and if we don’t pray to God then Faith may very well be hard to come by.
So how do we correct that ? The answer of course is in the readings – read and pray. We are responsible for our own salvation, we can’t rely on the prayers of others to save us from judgement we have to take responsibility for ourselves. Gone are the days when people relied upon paying for chantries to save their souls. Gone are the days when it was the grandmother’s task to go to Church to pray for her family, while the family did God knows what instead.
Reading the Bible should be an easy task but if the whole thing is too much just read the New Testament, and if that’s too much just the Gospels and Acts, they contain all you need to know until you want to know more. And of course don’t just read, understand the implications of the message being conveyed. I reread the Gospel of Mark a short while ago. It is an action packed thriller. Try it it’s a short but engaging read. And it’s so much better to read the whole book. On Sundays we read bits and pieces and lose a lot of what’s happening and the overall intent, then you need me to stand up here and try and relate it to life, you can do that yourselves but I hope that you still come to Church on Sunday, because this is more than just that.
So the other key thing we learnt about today is praying. When asked how to pray Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, but He didn’t mean we confine our prayers to it, He said pray ‘like’ this. So we don’t believe in repeating the Our Father umpteen times as a way of penance but although we are to be persistent, constant in prayer, mindless repetition bores you and God so don’t do. One of the easiest ways to pray is to be like the Psalmist he says “all the day long it is in my mind’. I know how hard it is to set aside even a few minutes regularly every day to pray, so as you go about your day have a conversation with God about whatever you want to talk about. It helps to do this away from other distractions such as music, because you will be singing the song not praying, and if your radio station has those annoying commercials you will get wrapped-up in them instead of being wrapped-up in prayer.
When praying go behind the immediate and give thanks first. So when peeling the potatoes, thank God for making those edible tubers and the variety of ways we can eat them; when digging the garden thank God for the worms you may have cut in half and the job they do; when driving thank God for the gift of sight so you don’t crash into things; when reading a book or the newspaper thank God for the trees; when playing cards give thanks for the ingenuity of game playing; and so on and so on.
Then discuss your troubles with God. Just going over things with Him will clear your mind, lead to resolution and contentment at least. Then look around and praise God for the awesomeness of what you see, the sun, the moon, the stars, this Earth, Nature your friends and relatives and you. And you know you can do that all day and go to bed feeling justified because you spent the whole day in conversation with God. Tell me what’s better than that ! Amen. g() _�f@�