Seeking and Sharing the Fullness of Life

On Not Being Distracted

A sermon on Matthew 16:1-12 & Numbers 22:5-6,21-35 by Pádraig Ó Tuama
(Our church is departing from the Revised Common Lectionary for one year to hear mostly readings that are not included in it)
A video recording of the whole service, including this sermon, is available here.

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and theologian from Ireland. He presents Poetry Unbound with On Being,
and writes about conflict, theology and language. You can follow him on instagram or twitter, or on his website.



  1. Thank you Pádraig. You made this Gospel passage very relatable for me. The points you drew from it about when to and when not to engage in drama and conflict were timely and profound. Given the role conflict plays in the world, I think it’s a great idea to notice how Jesus responds to conflict situations.

  2. If I had had to preach on these two passages, I have no idea where I would have gone or what I might have been able to make of them, but I am quite sure I wouldn’t have managed anything as insightful, creative, and faithful to Jesus as what Pádraig achieved with this sermon. So impressed, and so grateful.

  3. Thanks Pádraig, so glad to have your gentle and insightful explorations of two quite strange passages! I find it helpful to think that Jesus was happy to pick which conflicts were worth engaging in, and which could just be skipped over because they were minor issues, and more pressing matters needed his attention. Also, in a time when we are being urgently asked to listen more carefully to creation, the story of Balaam’s donkey making Balaam aware of the violence of his words towards a faithful creature is worth paying attention to. Blessings to you in all your work.

  4. I have listened again to you sermon but just before that I had discovered that my neighbour had again done something to my fence without my permission – i was not happy – then i heard you word gently proclaimed – which I summed up in the phase sometimes used in Australia – “don’t sweat the small stuff” – there are bigger issues that need your attention. I trust I will always hear your gentle voice when ever I find myself sweating “small stuff” and may I have the wisdom to know the difference. Thank you.

  5. Pádraig Ó Tuama

    Thank you for your sermon of a few weeks ago. I was spellbound by it’s “matter of fact good sense”.
    I am consequently now working through your book “In the Shelter” and was blown away again by reading your quoted poem on page 127 (written by Stewart Henderson). Now doubt a “fellow traveller to yourself”.
    For others reading this site, here is the poem. No Title but “brilliant” never the less.

    I believe propaganda is ideological Valium.
    Propagandists are mynah birds
    excellent mimics
    But don’t expect them to say anything original.
    I believe in doubt
    I believe doubt is a process of saying
    ‘Excuse me, I have a question.’
    Propagandists hate questions
    and in so doing
    detest art
    I believe in art

  6. Thank you, Padraig,

    Your deep knowledge and love of the scriptures shines through. I also appreciated your gentle delivery.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.