Has anyone ever said to you something like this:
‘One day when the time is right we will sell up and move to …..’ or ‘I would love to give up my job and do something completely different, oh well, one day, when the time is right.’
I hear these sorts of comments frequently and particularly in relation to what we might think of us calling, or vocation. The problem is that the time is never right for our lives are messy and rarely straightforward. Of course, frequently, the phrase ‘when the time is right,’ is also code for ‘when we have enough money.’ Enough money is an elusive concept. I would like to suggest that if we wait until we have enough, we will never really be able to answer our highest calling.
The gospel stories urge us to get on with things even when we think we don’t have enough. Think of the Parable of the Talents for instance, or today’s reading. The basic message is that God is enough and that in God we find our sufficiency, and that as we step up to the plate and live out our calling we find that bizarrely we always seem to have enough. The miracle of the gospel is that we don’t have to wait for worldly goods to achieve heavenly results. God and God alone is enough and God has this amazing ability to take what we have, bless it and multiply it. God’s arithmetic is markedly better than ours.
The tragedy of the human condition is that we never seem to want to learn this story. The Rich Young Ruler wasn’t prepared to accept that the Jesus to who he had been so attracted that he ‘ran up and knelt before him,’ was enough and that Jesus, not money and status, is the most precious good.
As an aside it was the gospel story that we have heard today that propelled me towards ordination; every time I heard this story I experienced God asking ‘what’s it to be Andrew me or worldly success?’ Maybe that’s the very question God is asking some of you? If this is the case let me say just one thing; please listen to that question and understand one thing: if you wait until the time is mysteriously right you will be waiting forever. If God is calling you to do something or to enter into a new way of life please just say ‘yes.’
As a people, as well as individuals, we are called to be generous and good, we are also called on to seek justice for the poor and the marginalised. Generosity, goodness and the pursuit of justice, at least according to the prophet Amos, are the very stuff of holiness.
Amos says that we are to ‘hate evil and love good and establish justice in the gate,’ he also says that the needy are never to be marginalised or ‘pushed aside.’ The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews reminds us that ‘the word of God is alive and active.’ The prophecy of Amos and the story of the Rich Young Ruler must be for us real, living and contemporary stories; stories that invite us to reflect on the orientation of our own hearts and to follow the path of true holiness, whatever the perceived cost.
Throughout Christian history there have been many stories of men, women and communities that have stepped out in faith, throwing off all false notions of wordily security. The paradox is that these men, women and communities have been the real game changers. I am thinking of Mother Theresa, Chiara Lubich, our very own St. Laurence, and Francis of Assisi for instance. As a church, and as individuals, we need to follow their example; we need to stop worrying and understand that God will be the great provider as we seek to love good and establish justice for the poor, the marginalised and the needy.
Next Sunday, our harvest festival, provides us with a wonderful opportunity to do some real good. The collection is going to Water Aid and the produce to the Milton Keynes Foodbank. Let’s dig deep, deeper than normal, and make sure that, in the words of the Amos, we ‘seek good,’ and ‘establish justice.’ Let’s be game changers.