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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ The Reign of God Among Us

Outside the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton NB is a striking piece of art. It creates conversation and questions. For some it is controversial, for others it is striking and full of meaning. From the remnants of automobile tires, artist, Gerald Beaulieu, constructed two gigantic crows (each about 2x1 meters in length and width). At the moment, there is only one crow present, the other is in Charlottetown PEI. The piece is titled: “When the Rubber Hits the Road”. The crows died by the very cars that rode on the tires from which the pieces were constructed.

Often the crows have become objects on which small children, full of life and delight can be seen playing. What a wonderful image of the contrasts that are part of our world. The crows in a courtyard amid a beautiful park of trees and flowers with couples strolling, children playing and people relaxing in the summer sun. It is an image that helps us to look more deeply at the parables of the Reign of God presented in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt.13:1-52).

At the core of Jesus’s message lies the declaration that “the Reign of God is close at hand” (Matt.4:17; Mk.1:15). As he gathered disciples and embarked on his mission in Galilee, this was the message he taught to them and to the crowds that followed them. The parables that Jesus told were stories set in ordinary everyday life. They were intended to bring us beyond concepts and ideas, to see the many facets of what living in the Reign of God really is. The Reign is planted and grows in the midst of the world that we all share.

One of the parables in this series tells the story of a landowner who, after planting his wheat was told that weeds were growing up along with his crop. What to do? Many options were presented. In the end, the landowner decided to let the weeds stay and ultimately harvest the crop, discarding the weeds (Matt.13:24-30).

Our world is mixed soil in which to plant the Reign. The planting is at the initiative of God. In our faith tradition, we see this hand of God expressed, in the beginning of it all. God’s life-giving action planted life in all creation “and indeed, it was very good” (Gen.1:31). But God has called us as partners in this planting. Human freedom will influence how the seed that is planted will grow.

Jesus the Christ is the hand of God inviting us to take up this sowing and tending. Matthew’s telling of the parable of field containing both wheat and weed is a signal to us of the task at hand. Jesus’s proclamation that “the Reign of God is close at hand” draws us to the recognition of this Reign among us. The world is not our enemy, nor is it contrary to God’s plan or dream. It is in fact the field in which God has planted life. Jesus comes among us to announce the good news that our human freedom can work with God for the harvest.

Are we aware of what we pray for so often, rather routinely? Our Father…..thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is the work of human freedom tending the field God has given us, even with its weeds – the harvest to be a world marked by justice, love and peace – God’s work and the work of humanity.

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