As we approach the Ascension of the Lord, no wonder, we have the message of goodbye in the Gospel. And that’s not good news for the disciples who fear the loss of their master. Yet, looking at the fruit of such departure, combined with what happens in the first reading, the image that pops up in mind is that of a farmer or a cook. In that case, God must be a good farmer, and indeed a good cook too. Let’s see!
Bible Readings Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17 Psalm 66: 1-7, 16, and 20 1 Peter 3: 15-18 Jean 14: 15-21
What a good cook/farmer does
A good farmer is like a good cook. Both are good at transforming and putting to good use what normally would be considered as waste. You are at table enjoying the meal that you find yummy. It may come in the form of soup, pudding or something else. You enjoy it, not knowing that’s the stuff you probably didn’t like yesterday. The secret lies in the transforming art of the cook. It’s the same for the farmer.
Farmers, especially those using conservation methods, are good at recycling. Nothing goes to waste, not even the waste itself. You go to the cow kraal, you are sickened by the sight and the smell of the animal waste. I don’t talk about how nauseating the piggery can be. But take that stuff to the garden –you have green and leafy vegetables, a real pleasure to look at.
And in the garden you may have to pluck out some leaves losing the colour or pull out weeds. But you don’t throw them away. Pigs and cows will be delighted to have them. That’s not all.
Go to the poultry house. If you are not used, you are choked by ammonia that emanates from the decomposing droppings. But dry those droppings and mix them with maize bran; you won’t believe to see how pigs will jump on them like on hot cakes. And soon you will have fattened pigs –and eventually tender meat at table.
Persecution boosts announce of Good News
Then, you ask yourself: what’s waste? Is there a thing so useless that it can’t be channelled to some profit? And if God is so advanced in such farming methods; what do you think of your life, your experiences? Will he allow them go to waste without turning them to some good, for you and for others?
In the first reading we have Philip, deacon, doing a good job of announcing the Good News among Samaritans. But he doesn’t find himself there by explicit missionary journey. There have been persecutions in Jerusalem and Christians disperse themselves as they run for their lives. That’s how Philip finds himself in Samaria. Through such sad event the message of salvation is spread far and wide. Isn’t that the work of a good farmer/cook who leaves nothing to go to waste?
We have the similar situation in the gospel. The mood is still gloomy, like in last Sunday’s Gospel because of the bidding words of Jesus who’s about to depart. Actually, it’s the time leading to his passion and death. But in our liturgical set-up we are tending towards ascension. Jesus’ announced departure disheartens the disciples. In their eyes, they are losing a master –but is it really a loss?
Yet, it’s with his departure that the glorified Jesus will send a new advocate, the Holy Spirit, on his disciples. It’s by the Holy Spirit that the disciples will not only be able to understand well what Jesus did and taught but they will also receive new power to accomplish great works. By his departure he will prepare a place for them. Hence, that apparently sad departure is meant to do good to the disciples.
Ah, probably my life isn’t that trashy!
There are events in life that befall us, some hit us hard. We don’t just understand them, leave alone finding meaning out of them. What next, do we remain grounded as crushed losers?
The readings of this Sunday show how we can be vulnerable physically or emotionally –we are not armoured. Nevertheless, they demonstrate also how faith can sustain us especially in living positively even when things may not be that bright. Yes, faith is a springboard that helps us to rebound in life and get onto our feet, confident that something valuable may sprout from what appears a mere empty and rough experience –thanks to God, good farmer and good cook. That’s how today we can take pride in the cross, that instrument of shameful and violent punishment, that has now become a symbol of victory and love to the extreme.
Faith is practising conservation farming
Perhaps, faith means in living with an attitude of trust, confident in God as Paul says:
“And we know that in all things
God works for the good
of those who love him” (Romans 8:28)
Yes Lord, when I look into my life, and in that of my dear ones, I find certain experiences quite hard to take in. I don’t understand them and I wonder what meaning they carry for me. Today, in faith, I offer them all to you, good farmer and good cook; make something lovely out of them, for me and for others.
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