BIBLE READING:   Matthew 22: 15-22

SERMON

Some wisdom from the young amongst us

It was Palm Sunday but because of a sore throat, 5-year-old Johnny stayed home from church with a sitter. When the family returned home, they were carrying several palm fronds. Johnny asked them what they were for.
"People held them over Jesus' head as he walked by," his father told him.
"Wouldn't you know it," Johnny fumed, "the one Sunday I don't go and he shows up."

A teacher was testing the children in her Sunday school class to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven.
She asked them, "If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into Heaven?"
"NO!" the children answered.
"If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?"
Again, the answer was, "NO!"
Now she was smiling. Hey, they're getting it, she thought! "Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my husband, would that get me into Heaven?" she asked.
Again, they all answered, "NO!"
She was just bursting with pride for them. "Well," she continued, "then how can I get into Heaven?"
A five-year-old boy shouted out, "YOU GOTTA BE DEAD."

The children were lined at a picnic for lunch. At the head of the table was a large tray of apples. One of the mum's had written a note and posted it on the apple tray: "Take only ONE. God is watching."
Moving along the lunch line, at the other end was a large tray of chocolate chip biscuits. A girl wrote a note, which she put next to the tray of biscuits, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples."

A mum was making pancakes for her young sons. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their Mother saw the opportunity for a lesson. If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, "Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait." The oldest boy turned to his younger brother and said, "You be Jesus."

What does God look like? It’s the question that Philip asked Jesus. The answer for us today is similar to the one Jesus gave him - To see certain things is to have seen the Father!’

To ask a question like this is tantamount to looking at the most beautiful day in October, seeing all the trees and flowers beginning to blossom and asking a friend, ‘Where is Spring?’ To see certain things is to see Spring. To see certain things is to see God.”

With those thoughts in mind, I would like here to offer a set of questions that theologian Karl Rahner used to ask people when they asked him about faith:

• Have you ever kept silent, despite the urge to defend yourself, when you were unfairly treated?

 

• Have you ever forgiven another although you gained nothing by it and your forgiveness was accepted as quite natural?

• Have you ever made a sacrifice without receiving any thanks or acknowledgement, without even feeling any inward satisfaction?

• Have you ever decided to do a thing simply for the sake of conscience, knowing that you must bear sole responsibility for your decision without being able to explain it to anyone?

• Have you ever tried to act purely for love of God when no warmth sustained you, when your act seemed a leap in the dark, simply nonsensical?

• Have you ever been good to someone without expecting a trace of gratitude and without the comfortable feeling of having been “unselfish”?

If you have had such experiences, Rahner asserts, then you have had experienced God, perhaps without realising it.

The minister was preaching one Sunday on Jesus story about a wedding banquet. He was emphasising the urgency within the story: “We must respond now!” he thundered, “tomorrow it will be too late!” A man got up and walked out of church. The minister suspected that his sermon must have upset the man in some way. However, the next day this man phoned him and explained “The reason I walked out of church yesterday was not that I didn’t like your sermon. I left because I understood exactly what you were saying. My brother and I had a fight 12 years ago and we hadn’t spoken to each other since that time. When you pointed out how Jesus warns about delaying coming to the banquet, I knew that if I didn’t act today, tomorrow I wouldn’t have the heart for it. I left church and phoned my brother. We got together last night for a talk and we forgave each other!”

What does God look like? Take the flowers blooming in the garden as your parable, when the plants flower then you know that spring has come… look at someone who has forgiven somebody they hated for 12 years and you will know what God looks like.

A little girl, drawing a picture, was asked by her mother: “What are you drawing?” She replied: “A picture of God!” “But we don’t know what God looks like,” her mother objected. “Well,” replied the child, “when I am finished with this then you will know what God looks like!” If we do the things that Rahner suggests then too will draw a picture of God.

Acknowledgement: Fr. Ron Rolheiser