‘Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.’ (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
Even during suffering and loss, we can trust God. That trust brings joy, not in circumstances, but in God himself. Prophet Habakkuk learnt to trust God despite all the moral and historical ‘chaos’ caused by the sins of his nation. Habakkuk models for us how profoundly the Eucharistic Adoration is underlain by hope. The Eucharist which we receive in the Holy Communion and contemplate in the Eucharistic Adoration is a powerful reminder of Habakkuk’s joy. Adoring the Sacred Presence is not ‘an outdated ritual’. When we see the exposed Host, we learn to penetrate into the joyful core of human history. This capacity to rejoice is the hallmark of being a Christian. ‘Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation’. The Eucharistic adoration is exactly this very same witness.
Saint Paul’s letter adds something more to this in terms of praxis. To be able to rejoice despite all the odds that our derailed history produces – we also must learn to serve, despite the odds. The vision of Christian joy is always born from serving the community. When we are able to prioritize the needs of our local Church.
‘Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God’ (Micah 3:6-7) The consequence of sin, for the community and the individual, is ‘reality distortion’. We cannot see our world as it is. Hanna Arendt warned us, after the catastrophe of World War II, that unexamined life is not worth living. We can add, life which is not examined in the light of God’s revealed Love cannot be lived. Reality, carefully observed through the Scriptures, is our way.
‘Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.’
Our passage from Matthew is about the wisdom of discernment. The Kingdom of God is about practicing this discernment: promoting goodness by working patiently for it.
The Kingdom of Heaven is examined life, discerned life. That is, reality observed through the lens of the Scriptures.
‘He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world. The son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire…Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.’
There is another important aspect of ‘discernment’ in the Kingdom of God. Namely, our good deeds are lasting. They - as an ontological reality, as a transformed part of our world - stay with us till the Messiah comes. Thus, discernment is ‘trans-generational’. It takes places through the accumulated effects of our good deeds. Discernment is a special vision through the transformed parts of our world. In this sense, discernment is deep-rooted. It is rooted in action.
A Deeply Rooted Spirituality (Matthew 13:1-23)
‘But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.’ The parable of the seeds fallen on good ground has an important message for the local parish. The community needs to develop a deeply rooted spirituality in prayer and charity.
Prophet Micha describes the desolate and destroyed land of Judah. Its inhabitants are exiled owing to ‘their sins’. It is an important connection with our recognition above. In the lack of spirituality, ‘our exile’ is taking place.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..