Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.


Sunday 25th June 2017
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Jeremiah 20: 10-13     Romans 5: 12-15     Matthew 10: 26-33


Just For The Birds...?

God’s providence is a difficult thing to grasp. “There is no need to be afraid,” says Jesus, “you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.” But we do become afraid, because we know that bad things can happen to people. And they do. So is this providential care of God just some pie in the sky, something just for the birds?

Providence brings out the extremes in people. Some see life as acting out a play written by God. So whatever happens to us, however badly we mess up our lines, doesn’t really matter because the ending is already written and the final curtain call is either heaven or hell. We needn’t trouble ourselves too much with this world’s injustices because God, the scriptwriter, will take care of everything in the end.

At the other end of the scale are those who believe that God is the executive producer of the play. He backs it with his money but leaves us to get on with the script and the acting. So if we do not do something about the problems of the world then no-one else will, and everything will come crashing down in disaster. The play will flop.

The balance is between an active God and human freedom. If we pretended we could adequately answer this question then we would be fooling ourselves. It lies at the heart of our understanding of God. In the deepest sense it is a Christian mystery.

Of course, one thing is certain: God is present in our world. “I will be with you always,” said Jesus. And yet God doesn’t seem to want to intervene directly. Not even in favour of refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing or innocent people dying of starvation. God appears to work through secondary causes, through other agents, through you and me.

If God chooses to use other people in order to bring his presence to bear in the world, then it must be through people who are imbued with his values and teachings. Somehow it is a joint effort. We raise the sails but God provides the wind.

A survivor of the holocaust was asked how she could keep believing in God’s providence after all that had happened to her. “Where was God?” she was asked. “He was there every day saying ‘Thou shalt not murder’.” Maybe God’s the prompter.




Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2017