Sometimes it appears that we live in a society that wants us to fail. Rather than looking for good news, it seems that journalists, reporters and programmers for news shows cannot wait to find the story of somebody’s crime, transgression or failure. A review of TV and radio shows, newspapers, magazines and all manner of information disseminated through social media indicates that bad news and failure sells. Good news and success do not.
The Gospel provides a much needed balance when it comes to successes and failures. Jesus tells a parable about seed that falls on soil with many different growing conditions, some good, some not. The soil that is shallow, rocky and full of weeds does not produce a good crop. The soil with the right depth, consistency and composition produces good fruit (Matthew 13:1-23). The soil is not all bad or all good. It is a combination of both.
In our lives and our world, yes, there is plenty of wrongdoing and failure. Like the good soil that produces good fruit, much good is also done and there are many successes. Sometimes we focus so much on the failures that we fail to see the successes. The parable of the seed reminds us of the importance of naming things for what they are. We need to identify the sins and failures so we can do something about them. We need to acknowledge the blessings and successes so we can say thank you and stay motivated to keep trying to do good in the world.
An unbalanced perspective on the way things are is dangerous. This is especially true in the midst of the pandemic and the social challenges that we face. If all we do is look for what is not right and what went wrong, we will become cynical and even more unbalanced. If we only name what is going well and has been successful, we can become arrogant, deeming that we are so great, or complacent, thinking there is no need for improvement. In our lives and world, the depth of our concern always needs improvement. The stubborn rocks of prejudice, greed and violence need to be tossed out. The weeds of self-aggrandizement, partisanship, shame and blame need to be pulled. A world made new is all about the balance.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector