Proper 11a – Sunday 17th July 2011
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Who do you blame? The News of the World? Or yourself? Well, after all, if we didn’t have such a voracious appetite for gossip, tittle-tattle and cocking a snook at the misfortune of others then papers like the News of the World would have gone out of business many years ago.
But, I can stand here with hand on my heart and say, I’ve never ever bought a copy of the News of the World. That makes me feel good for all of 5 seconds. What makes me so sad is that I’ve never done anything about it when in the past they’ve abused their position of responsibility and duty of care. I recently watched a BBC programme about people who’ve tried to sue newspapers for slander or libel, and the fact that costs for lawyers and the courts are so expensive that only a few people can rise up against the might of the media empire. And so in the past, newspapers have got away with printing whatever they liked.
The only exception to this followed the Hillsborough tragedy and the front page coverage by The Sun newspaper that led to virtually the whole of the City of Liverpool boycotting The Sun and its affiliates. And that embargo lasted for a long time – indeed for many it still exists. Very rarely has people power risen up against the media moguls of our age.
I think phone hacking may have changed all that. People weren’t too bothered when it was just about the Royal Family. Weren’t they a legitimate target? And politicians? John Prescott, didn’t we deserve to know what he was getting up to. But Sienna Miller the actress, Gordon Taylor the PFA chief executive, Chris Tarrant off the TV. Where’s this all going?
Then the list of people grew longer, and now the celebrities and politicians have turned into Milly Dowler, the families of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, and now the families of 7/7 victims.
Wow. And do you really think that this is just a problem at the News of the World?
How do we live in such a terrible world? Jesus observed in one of his parable that the wheat and the weeds grow side by side. They are sown together (though separately), grow together, mature together and are harvested together (though separately).
What strikes me about this parable is that wheat is wheat, and weeds are weeds. They don’t change mid-season. They can’t defy the laws of nature. They start off as wheat and finish as wheat. They are sown as weeds and are gathered as weeds.
The great hope that exists in the gospel account is that we are not bound by a similar law of nature – there is the possibility that we can change. And hopefully from a sinful state into a Christ-like appearance. We have this hope because the Lord of the Harvest is such a gracious and compassionate God, who cares so much for us that he is willing to do anything to rescue and save his precious children. He reaches out to us in our pain and sorrow. He touches us in the midst of our depression and desperation. He dances alongside us in our joy and happiness. He goes the full distance and the extra mile.
There is a lot of evil and wickedness in this world, but in the darkness there shines a light. We need to take the light of the world into all the dark places that exist in this world, to bring hope, healing, forgiveness, wholeness, life and love.
It might not be possible to change a weed into wheat. But it is possible to change the hearts and habits of men and women, to bring salvation and deliverance.