Dear sisters and brothers,
We are in the middle of the footy season, and it is much safer to talk about league than union. Wayne Bennett is a much better football coach than he is an author, but some years ago now, the Brisbane Broncos coach released a book called “Don’t Die with the Music in You”. I remember that there was one small section of the book which asked the question: “Are you a hen or a pig?” Wayne wrote about the difference between simply being involved in something and truly being committed to something. He told the story of a player who said to him once, “I just hate the feeling that goes with not giving your best.” Wayne went on to say, “There is no better way to approach your sport than the attitude of giving your best, regardless of the scoreboard and circumstances, the cheers and jeers. Sometimes I think this type of player is in the minority, most players being happy to sit back and wait for someone else to make it happen. Always doing enough to keep their position but never enough to be the difference. I suppose the difference is that one is committed and the other is only involved. It reminds me of the ham and the egg story: the hen is involved, but the pig is committed”. It is an interesting metaphor, particularly when it comes to faith.
Are you and I the hen or the pig when it comes to life and God? I think that is exactly the same question that Jesus is asking in this Sunday’s gospel. Jesus was committed to the values of the Kingdom – even at the cost of his own life. The beginning of this weekend’s gospel tells us that Jesus set his face like flint towards Jerusalem. For Jesus, there were no distractions by this stage in his mission; he was committed to the proclamation of the kingdom whatever the consequences might be.
On this march towards Jerusalem, Luke, the writer of the gospel, describes a series of brief conversations about the nature of discipleship:
– Firstly, James and John ask, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and burn these Samaritans?” Jesus says, “No, don’t even think of it, just keep going.”
– Someone else says bravely, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus points out that there will be no security for anyone who follows him.
– Another follower says, “Let me go and bury my father.” Jesus doesn’t give the obvious answer – there is no compassionate leave here. Instead Jesus tells this person to keep going and spread the good news.
– And finally, another says, “Let me first say farewell to those at home.” Jesus responds, “Too late. There is no turning back now.”
Jesus’ basic response in all these conversations is simply to ask the question, “Are you a hen or a pig – are you merely involved in life, in community, in faith, in the church, in the kingdom or are truly committed to all of these things?” And like a coach speaking to the team before the main game, Jesus adds: “No one who puts their hand on the plough and turns back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” These are profoundly challenging words.
Jesus may seem harsh, but like any good coach or teacher, he is simply attempting to draw out the best in us. Despite the moments of our half-hearted efforts, our own lack of commitment, Jesus invites to live for the Kingdom – to give more of ourselves. Jesus put the challenge squarely in front of us this weekend. We are asked to continually make a choice and to be committed to the values of God’s kingdom, every moment, every day. When we do give of our best, when we hand over our energies, ambitions and our heart to the ways of God, there awaits us the deepest joy and fulfilment of knowing we have given our all and played our part in the coming of God’s Reign.
After giving your all this term, I hope that our school community has a safe and restful break and returns ready to give more of ourselves for the sake of one another.
|Jun 27, 2016
|13th Sunday in Ordinary Time 26.06.2016