This week, there is a particularly happy coincidence of the
readings and the collect, which is a paean of God's excesses: more
ready to hear than we to pray; giving more than we desire or
deserve, abundance of mercy, good things that we are not worthy to
In July, in the build-up to the beginning of the four-year
commemoration of the First World War, we held a study morning at
Durham Cathedral on Hensley Henson, the Dean of Durham during that
The collect, forced to be general in its description of
Bartholomew, is nevertheless penetrating, as it recalls the grace
given to him truly to believe and preach God's word. That took
courage, even for a man without deceit. He was, in Isaiah's words,
one of God's witnesses.
This is the only recorded time which someone took Jesus to task
and emerged victorious. That person was neither a disciple nor a
Jew, but a Gentile woman. In that social climate, she was a classic
example of Isaiah's outcasts. Our inclusion in the Church is a
product of this encounter.
"WHAT are you doing here, Elijah?" is one of the most profound
and penetrating questions in the Old Testament
DO WE think of Jesus having a row? He needed space to grieve
over the execution of his cousin, but the crowds would not leave
him alone, and compassion got the better of him
Continuing his line of thought from last week's reading, Paul
has entered the courtroom
Similarly, Jesus assures us that, even when we cannot see it,
God's Kingdom is steadily growing, as from a tiny mustard seed.
Christians live by faith and not by sight. Equally, yeast works
unseen to make bread happen. Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to
the yeast rather than the bread, thus making God's Kingdom the
invisible catalyst for growth rather than the finished product.
That is dynamic.
Jesus spoke, memorably, of the stones crying out (groaning in
labour pains and hope?) if people were silent when the Messiah came
bringing redemption. Can we hear the cries of the ravaged earth and
the people who suffer on it? Do we respond with action?
Rosalind Brown: If the parable of the sower is
about nothing else - and it is about other things, too, as Jesus
explained - it is about the need for disciples to probe what God is
saying in the midst of ordinariness.
Why come? So that Jesus can give rest. But Jesus says more:
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." Rest is part of what
Jesus offers people who come to him, but so, too, is the
opportunity to keep in step and learn from him.