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Roman Catholic Church

1st of March 2014

Often, John the Baptist, and the many Prophets before him, are seen as killjoys calling us to repentance. Change your thinking, put aside selfish motives and self-centred desires so that we can be what God wants us to be.

These days, with the emphasis on ‘Positive thinking’, repentance is out of favour. It can damage our ego; our self-confidence. However, “the Lord will come with His winnowing fan in His hand and He will clear out His threshing floor. He will gather His wheat into the barn but the chaff He will burn” as it says in Matthew 3.
It is worth doing a bit of winnowing ourselves before the Lord comes. Not many of us are familiar with the practice as nowadays we have combined harvesters, but in many parts of the world the harvest is still winnowed by hand.

First of all, the harvested grain is spread on a mat or clean floor and beaten with sticks. You remove the bits of stalk and then, using shallow winnowing baskets, toss it up into the air. The wind blows away the chaff and the grain falls back into the basket.

When you finish, you have discovered two things: first, that it is hard and dusty work, and second that you don’t have as much harvest as you first thought. As much as half was just chaff and rubbish, ready for the fire.

In the same way, each of us should put our own lives into the winnowing basket: our relationships, our abilities, our duties, thoughts and actions. Throw them all in and see how much of our lives really please God. How much time and thought do we put into loving God and loving our neighbour? Very likely not as much as we thought! How much time and energy is wasted on selfish pursuits and unnecessary comforts. Things of no profit – chaff and rubbish.

The outcome of this winnowing exercise will be the realization that the Prophets were right and that we do need to repent and turn to God.

 
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