Sunday Reflection with Father Terry Tastard - 6 March 2011

There used to be an English religion called gardenolatry.  You still come across it occasionally.  You know, people who say, ‘I don’t need to go to church.  I can pray to God in my garden.’  I have my doubts as to whether people who say this actually do pray.  Perhaps they do.

But of course it misses the point.  We go to church not only to pray to God but also to receive the sacraments and to be strengthened by the presence of others.  What would you rather have, the company of a garden gnome, or a cross-section of people from every walk of life, joining with you in fellowship and prayer?  We are called to be a people – the people of God, no less.

In the reading from Deuteronomy 11 today the ancient people of God are at a crucial point in their history.  There is to be no turning back.  They hear the words spoken by Moses.  They are on the banks of the river Jordan, about to cross over into the promised land.  Moses calls on them to remember what God has done for them.  Not only that, but by keeping to the ways of God they will be a people.  They will be stronger together.  They will encourage each other.  They will have a sense of identity and purpose through their faith.  This has been the Jewish heritage throughout history, and in our second reading from Romans 3, St Paul reminds us that Christians share this history too.  But with this difference, that as Christians we are defined as a people by our faith in Jesus Christ.

In Christ we have a foundation on which we can build our lives.  In the gospel today (Matthew 7.21-27) comes at the end of a long teaching section which opens in chapter 5 with what we know as the Sermon on the Mount.  So when we hear Jesus today say that we build well when we build on his words, we are to understand the fullness of his teaching, all that has gone before, as well as the teaching that he gave us by the example of his life.  It is among other things a call to seriousness of purpose.  Put like that it sounds rather dour.

But several times recently I have read comments in the press about the adolescent nature of contemporary Western culture.  It made me think.  Adolescence is a time of exploration, of knowing that you have many options and can postpone commitment.  However, to live your whole life like that would be desperately sad.  It would be an impoverishment.  So Jesus, in commending his own teaching as a solid foundation for life, is in fact inviting us to make choices that we can build on, and to enter into commitments that will set us free.  

Life without parties would be dull.  Life that was one long party would be duller still.  Give your life solid foundations of faith and practice, says Jesus: you will not regret it.

Fr Terry is Parish Priest at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Brook Green, west London.   His latest book:  Ronald Knox and English Catholicism is published by Gracewing at £12.99 and is available on Amazon, on ICN's front page. To read Sr Gemma Simmonds' review on ICN see:

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