Archive for October 8th, 2005

Saturday Week 27 Year I

‘Put the sickle in, the harvest is ripe’, says Joel. It’s a common prophetic theme: the end-time, the restoration and reprieve of the chosen people. And all the imagery yokes harvest and judgment: the sickle, the threshing floor, the winnowing fan. It’s even there in the gospels. My New Testament teacher liked to point out that John the Baptizer comes with prophecies of end-time, of judgment, of reaping and winnowing and bonfires burning—all the sense of smoke and autumn and ending—but that Jesus speaks instead of seeds and shoots and green things growing. The good news of Jesus is a beginning and not an end, a fresh start and not a wearing out, spring not fall. I like that. I like the open possibility of … anything, of potential, of hope.

But today, with Joel, I found autumn redeeming itself for me. The winepress did it. Joel imagines the harvest of judgment, the cutting down of the wicked, the violent end of the violators. But he’s possessed of a strange glee that seems to go beyond ordinary vindictiveness, because the greater the wickedness, the mightier the harvest. The winepress is full and the vats are overflowing. This isn’t just a bonfire of stubble and weeds and waste. Joel is rejoicing that great wrong is being transformed into un-containable good. When God squeezes hard enough even the wickedness of the world runs with juice and joy and flows with wine. A wedding’s worth of wine.
This is the fulfilment of all those green promises of spring. It’s the ripening of those summer fields of wheat and weeds. It’s at last a true judgement on the world—a promise that nothing will be wasted, that even horrors we can’t encompass can and will in God’s creativity be redeemed, reworked, remade.
It’s the Eucharist in reverse: broken bodies reborn as bread and blood once spilled re-poured as wine.
We live between the times. But every Eucharist we share is a taste of that mystery, a hint of that glee, a promise of it, pledged in the body and blood of one who held back nothing and invites us to the same gift.

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