16 September
Lk 6:43-49

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house."

Thinking is talking to ourselves.  Thinking may seem more ‘inner’ than talking, more intimate and spiritual, but it is the same thing.  Our reality is deeper than thinking or talking.  Of course it is easier to get a handle on thinking and talking: these are like objects, productions, ‘out there’.  They are like the leaves on a tree:
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound….
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.    (Robert Frost, Tree at my Window)
What we really are is closer than thinking or talking; it is intimate, reticent.  It is like the roots of a tree: hidden, silent, unmoving.  It is out of this “abundance” that the mouth should speak; our abundance of words and thoughts should be rooted in this.    

The standard of acting on stage and screen today is astonishingly high.  Even many children are able to act with great skill and ‘naturalness’.  Recently however I saw a film in which one actor was much less skilled than the others.  It struck me: this isn’t simply bad acting, it is reality breaking through.  This individual was less skilled at creating the illusion, less skilled at bracketing out reality.  Reality is not a performance.  “Don’t work with children or with animals,” is the traditional advice actors give one another.  That's because these are more deeply immersed in reality than actors are (as actors).  Children are usually unable to bracket it out, animals totally unable.  But our world is being reinvented before our eyes by the entertainment industry.  It is becoming harder to distinguish illusion from reality.  Peter Ustinov grew a beard for the part of Nero in Quo Vadis, but the film director didn’t think it looked real, so he had him wear a false one! 

The house of our being is built on rock, not on sand.  Words and thoughts and appearances are like sand: they are countless, they don’t stay in place, they flow and slide around, they fill gaps but they don’t hold up anything…. There is nothing wrong with sand (or with words and thoughts).  Sand is a billion little rocks; what is missing is cohesion, unity.  A life built on words is really a billion lives, all of them blown around by the wind and easily washed away.

St Augustine: “Let us not be lazy or content with the surface. Let us dig more deeply until we come to rock: ‘The rock is Christ’ (1 Cor 10:4).” 

 

 
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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 

 

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