Reflection Sunday 21 June 2020
The secret of the kingdom of heaven
(Scripture reading Matthew 10-24-39)
Matthew 10:27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
In the method of Bible study called Lectio Divina we read the bible reading a few times in silence, noting any words or phrases that catch our attention. Sometimes, I find a word or a phrase or verse that I can’t seem to get past.
I usually try to see it in the context of the rest of the passage and try to work out what it may mean from that context or from the whole context of Scripture. But sometimes I just wonder about the words themselves and if there is a deeper meaning that requires me to stop with these words and spend time
alone with them and let them speak to every part of my being. This happened this week when I read Matthew 10:27 – ‘What I say to you in the dark, tell in
the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the house tops.’
What do these words mean? What you hear in the dark, tell in the light –
What you hear whispered to you, shout it aloud to all from the house tops.
In Matthew 13:10-11 the disciples ask Jesus why he speaks to people in parables? Jesus answers, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” Sometimes I wish Jesus was a lot clearer about what he meant and I am sure that those who followed him, whether closely, as his disciples did, or the crowds of people who flocked after him, also wished that Jesus used a bit more ‘plain speaking.’
In this passage today Jesus says some things that sound outrageous: like bringing a sword to the earth not peace and about setting members of families against each other. Seemingly Jesus is using hyperbole. Jesus greatly exaggerates to make a point. He shocks our sensibilities, our common sense understandings, to make us think, to make us really think, and to contemplate what Jesus refers to as the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.
The secrets of the kingdom of heaven are things that become known to us,
not from the discourses of daily life saturated with the influences of racist
rhetoric and economically driven by the media or political power, but from the
dark places of silence and stillness, from whispers on the wind, from echoes in
our memories and from the Scriptures as they open mysteriously to us. These
deep things we learn about the kingdom of heaven (God) which can only be
earned in the dark are to be expressed to the whole world. We are to express
them through who we are and by our lives to witness to the secrets of God; to
witness to the secret of the life that is present in all of life. This place of
darkness, this place of whispers is where the kingdom of heaven breaks through
nto this our life. This place is found by those willing to lose their lives for Christ’s
sake. Those who take up their cross and follow Jesus will live because they die.
In the words of the Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi – ‘Die before you die.’
Die before you die so that you may find the life of the secret of the kingdom of heaven.
As light gives way to darkness
and the busyness of day concedes to night’s stillness.
As conscious thought surrenders to dreams
and our bodies long for rest
we pause to listen
for the beat of your Presence in all things
pulsing in the light of distant galaxies
sounding in the depths of our soul
vibrating in each vein of earth’s body.
One Sound as vast as the universe
one universe filled with Presence
one Life within every life.
In the darkness of night
in the stillness that surrounds us
in the unknown depths of our being
we pause to listen.
-from Praying with the Earth: A Prayer book for Peace by John Philip Newell
Photo: Rock Of cashel, County Tipperary, Republic of Ireland
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Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation