Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Over the weekend we celebrated harvest. It gave us an opportunity to reflect on our stewardship of creation. The readings chosen for the Sunday enabled us to reflect about creation and how it finds its fulfilment in the face of Jesus Christ. Falling on the feast of St Francis of Assisi was an added bonus.
Sunday night ended with Rosary and Benediction. This enabled me to focus on Mary who through her obedience brought forth Christ the joy of all creation and its purpose. Thinking on this singular and privileged person helped me greatly as I went to the General Council of the Society of Mary yesterday. The council ably led by Fr Rowlands and under the governance of Bishop Ladds encouraged me no end as with a great group of people we prayed and thought about ways in which to promote devotion to Mary. I was struck by a comment which a priest shared with me as we left St Silas. For him Mary is the star of the dawn that will herald Church Unity, without her it will not happen, just like the Incarnation. I am keeping the shrine at Walsingham in my prayers today as it prepares to receive the relics of the Little Flower. What a wonderful occasion indeed, I am sure that she will let a great deal of her roses to shower both shrines especially for the unity that Jesus demands.
Here below is last Sunday’s homily:
God spoke and it was made. The story of creation in the bible is not meant to be a scientific account of creation. It is a borrowed story, put together from different sources that present to us God as the loving creator. Creation comes about through his word, he spoke and it was made. Creation is the symphony of the word of God; the word becomes music. Music is the ordering of different notes. Creation is the ordering of chaos. God created all that is, seen and unseen, and he created it as the setting for the masterpiece of his creation, a masterpiece created in his own image – you and me.
The beautiful account of creation in our first reading shows this wonderful order that God has created. However, because of our selfishness and sin we change God’s order into disorder. We prefer chaos rather than grace. We tend to choose cacophony rather then symphony.
Harvest festival is a celebration of the beauty of creation. It is meant to instil in us a yearning to bring back order over chaos. To celebrate Harvest is to join our forces with God to restore order, to heal broken humanity.
When God saw us destroying the fruit of His love he did not give up on us, he promised to send us his son in order to listen to his creative word more clearly and so appreciate fully his work.
In our second reading, we are told exactly how God’s creative love speaks to us. He speaks to us through his Son Jesus, through whom all creation comes into being. Jesus is the face of God, he is the word that spoke and created. Jesus shows us how to restore fallen creation, how to bring order over chaos. Being one with Jesus is the only way we can continue the creative and loving work of God, the only way of holiness. The reason for creation is holiness, being one with God: “our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you”. Harvest Festival calls us to see in creation the love of God, to be drawn to this love which finds its fulfilment only in Christ.
When the 4th October does not fall on a Sunday, it is the feast day of St Francis of Assisi. There is no better saint to speak to us on Harvest Festival than St Francis of Assisi, he shows us the way how we can unite with Christ and restore creation.
Broken creation can only be made whole through a fresh vision of Christ, St Francis offers this fresh vision.
Francis lived in the 13th century. He was born in Assisi to rich parents, his father Pietro, owned a successful business. Francis was privileged; he had all he wished for and more. As a young man he had many friends, he was handsome and rich, he was the life and soul of every party and his company was sought after. He became more popular when he joined the army to fight for Assisi, and even a year as a prisoner of war did not dampen his popularity. However, Francis speaks about his internal experience at this time. Though he had all the things he could wish for he felt empty, he was never happy. He used to take his horse and drive in the countryside, nature helped him to pray and to ask God why he felt so unhappy. His answer came in two separate events. The first was the poor man dressed in rags who met Francis in a country lane and asked him for some money. Francis climbed down the horse and not only handed his money but also exchanged his clothes. He admits that he did not know what possessed him to do this, what he remembers is that when he left the poor man he felt happy and at peace. A few days later, he met a sick man with the plague. Rather then keeping his distance as was required he went and kissed this man, he wanted to love him as Jesus does. Once more, he was at peace and his heart full of joy.
Francis left behind all the worldly possessions and followed Christ in poverty, loving Jesus in those around him until he became one with Christ. Francis led people to respect each other and respect God’s creation and to bring back order over the chaos of sin.
Francis did this as he followed what Jesus says to us in today’s Gospel: “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Being a child means trusting God like a child trusts his mother and father, it means loving God as a child loves his father and mother. Harvest Festival reminds us of creation which is the sign of God’s love to us, the love that we are called to accept and share with those around us in childlike simplicity. The last word goes to Francis, he said: “To die for love is a great adventure, but to live for love is a greater adventure still. Living for love means bringing love to meet love every day in the common things of life.” There you have it in child like simplicity; only love can bring healing to a damaged world and restore the excellent creation that springs forth from God’s love, of which our Harvest Festival is a gentle reminder.

1 comment:

Kentish Man said...

I had the privilege to hear a slightly abridged version of this homily at the 8:00am mass. I should have thanked you at the time because I thought it was extremely insightful.
So - belated thanks.