Last weeks’ reflection ended with the observation that “the unidentified rocks and thorns are the barriers of our own making.” It takes a real sense of purpose, honesty and self-evaluation to identify those areas of our discipleship which stand in need of change and upgrade. The prophet Jeremiah once said “break up your fallow ground, do not sow among thorns.” {4:3} Do I really and truly want and choose to redevelop thorny ground into arable and productive land? Jeremiah also challenges us to “stop at the crossroad; look for the ancient paths; ask ‘where is the way that leads to what is good?’ Then take that way, and you will find rest for yourselves.” {6:16} There is no real Christian rest unless there is within us a commitment to always challenge ourselves by standing at the crossroads.

This is why Saint Paul’s reminder to us in

TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [ROMANS 8: 26 – 27] is so important. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness … the Spirit himself intercedes for us.” The last words of this Reading must also teach us something which is fundamental to a real and living Christian faith – “the Spirit intercedes … according to the will of God.

The rocks and thorns present in the daily pilgrimage of each and every Christian are our basic weaknesses. These must be faced and this is precisely where the Spirit is available to us. The work and influence of God’s Spirit should not be seen primarily in the dramatic manifestations such as the gift of tongues or swooping us into spiritual ecstasies. The real work of the Spirit is to be seen and acknowledged in the daily struggle of recognising when we are at the crossroads, and where exactly in our own individual and personal journey we need to break up fallow ground, and cease to sow among thorns.

This is the will of God, and the Spirit is available to clearly indicate and direct the way we should take. The Spirit searches our hearts, knows exactly what is needed – and when it is needed. However, he never forces himself on us. We have to invite him in and make ourselves available to his influence. What is forgotten or entirely overlooked by so many Christian-Catholics is that we are living in the Age of the SpiritThe present is his time – and ours. The Age of Creation is past. We are now called to be creators and creative. The Age of Salvation has already happened – we are now called to be saviours within the world in which we live. It is only under the influence and in the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to become creators and saviours in the

PRESENT AGE.

Make room, lots of space, for the Holy Spirit in your life, living and Christian discipleship

No devotion, not matter how useful and productive it may be for you personally should ever be allowed to take precedence over time and effort given to placing ourselves willingly under the influence of the Spirit of God.

TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [WISDOM 12: 13. 16 – 19]

tells us that we must not “doubt the completeness of your power.” Like it or not, the Spirit is the completeness of God’s power. The Spirit is also, as this reading tells us, God’s “strength(and) the source of righteousness.” Why is it that we are so reluctant and hesitant to learn and accept these truths of faith? The Wisdom reading tells us that thus “you have taught your people … and filled (them) with good hope.”

TODAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 13: 24 – 33]

states the ultimate challenge – “He who has ears let him hear.” This Gospel extract also confirms parts of the paradox referred to at the start of last week’s reflection. At the same time the Gospel extract provides us with real encouragement.

There are weeds in all of us – weeds very often sown unconsciously while we are asleep. Somehow or other our contemporary society is the enemy. We are unconsciously influenced by current approaches and reactions to specific events and ongoing problems. These so often lack any sort of basic Gospel value. Weeds are taken out not by frontal attack but by our working harder for the overall harvest of the good. If this approach is adopted then slowly but surely the rocks and thorns are eradicated the weeds slowly diminish in prominence. Our focus and efforts must always remain on the harvesting of the good seed that is there within us.

In such an effort the source of strength in our

FAITH. We really are, in and with the power of the Spirit, capable of counteracting the growth of our weeds. However, from time to time, we are all, attacked by the evil of doubt – doubting God-in-Christ and doubting our own abilities. We throw the towel in far too early and settle – however uncomfortably – for mediocrity. The effort may well take time but if we exercise the patience of our Gospel farmer the good seed grows to an acceptable harvest. Faith is like the small mustard seed which grows into something bigger and more useful. Our faith must be the leaven that we WORK into a much larger measure of flour.

Stop focussing on the weeds. More is at stake. Work on the harvest.

 

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