Saturday, July 26, 2014

07-27-2014 -- Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July 27, 2014 - Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

If God appeared to you in a dream, like he did to Solomon in the first reading, and said, “Ask for something. I will give it to you.” What would you ask for?

If you could have one wish, one hope, one dream fulfilled by God, what would it be?

You would have to make a choice for just one thing.

We all make choices all the time, everyday. Some are good, some not so good, and some are downright bad choices.

Sometimes we pray for things we shouldn’t be praying for. We ask for things we should not have, or for things that God will not give us.

God, would you fix this thing that I broke, or make this situation that I messed up right again?

God, can you give me better looks, make me more popular, find me a boyfriend or a girlfriend, make me not gay, help me loose weight?

God, would you help me win the lottery? I promise I’ll give some to the church.

We ask for these kinds of things rather than making a choice to be open to God.

We try to manipulate God into giving us what we want, into doing things our way. Instead, can we consciously make a choice to allow God to be in charge? Because he is, whether we recognize it or not.

When we cooperate with God, it’s like finding buried treasure or a pearl of great value.

It is difficult to make a choice to be open to God. But the reward is great. Cooperating with God brings us a treasure of grace and love. Cooperating with God brings us into God’s Kingdom.

In the parable, the merchant and the fisherman encounter the treasure they desire.

If we seek to encounter the treasure we desire, then we must allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. When we do this, we are on our way to becoming as wise as King Solomon.

We are on our way to finding a pearl of great price. We are on our way to finding buried treasure. We are on our way to having hearts attuned to the desire of God.

I know that, in my life, when I have been open to God and God’s desire for me, the Lord has given me riches beyond compare.

If we can trust that the Lord will eventually lead us to a great treasure, then following can be an adventure.

If the Lord appeared to you today and said, “Ask for something of me and I will give it to you,” what would you ask for?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

07-20-2014 -- Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July  20, 2014 - Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We live in a fallen world. There is evil, terror all around us.

Those evils that are close to home:
The hurt of racism and abuse, sickness, disease and death.

And those evils that are farther away:
War, genocide, terrorism.

Our television news programs and our print media never let us go unaware of the latest tragedy, crime, school shooting, holocaust.

With this evil all around us, we can get lost among the weeds.
It’s easy to loose our way, to lose our perspective.

Evil can be hard to resist. We prefer to give in. We enjoy violence and immorality in our movies and others forms of entertainment.

We give in. We surrender our lives to the power of evil. And then, when something bad happens, we ask, “Why?” “Why do bad things happen? Why is there evil in the world?”

If God is so good, why does he allow this? Why do people abuse children? Who do people sell drugs to teenagers?

Why do people hurt one another with gossip and insulting words? Why do young people get sick and die? Why do the good suffer with the guilty?

Why is there evil in the world?

The first parable in today’s gospel gives us an insight. Jesus explains why there are weeds growing among the wheat.

While everyone was sleeping, the enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat. That’s why there are weeds growing among the wheat.

The word Jesus uses for weeds is darnel (darn-ELL). Darnel is a poisonous weed. In its early stages it looks almost exactly like wheat.

But in the end, ripe darnel will sicken or kill you if you eat it. Wheat, on the other hand, will strengthen you.

Jesus goes on to explain that the weeds are bad people, unrepentant sinners, those who have not turned from their evil ways, people who give first priority to themselves, people who use others for their own advancement or pleasure.

The wheat are righteous people, those who resist the seductions of evil, people who repent of their sins, people who battle against selfishness and follow Jesus Christ.

Our God, in giving us free will, allows good and evil to co-exist side by side.

So can we ask a better question? Instead of asking, “Why is there evil in the world?” shouldn’t we ask, “How do I respond to evil in the world?”

If we are honest with ourselves and with our God, we find that good and evil co-exist within us.

So what do we do about those weeds? We better be careful.

If we start trying to pull up the weeds, we run the risk of pulling up the wheat as well.

Maybe we are called to make a leap of faith.

Maybe the only way to respond to incredible evil is to believe,
to really believe that our acts of kindness, our virtue, our charity, our good deeds really do make a difference.

To really believe that the goodness within us lights up the darkness and overcomes it, to really believe that good wins out over evil in the end.

We each have a responsibility to grow the wheat that is sown within us and to invite the Holy Spirit to break the power of the weeds in and among us.

The Lord allows the good and the bad to co-exist among us,
side by side, but only for now.

The weeds will end up in the fiery furnace where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

The wheat will be harvested into the joy of eternal life.

The weeds and the wheat will eventually be separated, but not by us. That’s not our responsibility.

The Lord will separate the weeds from the wheat and make all things right and just.

Yes, there is incredible evil in the world, but we shouldn’t be surprised when we see just how much bigger the stack of wheat is.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

07-13-2014 -- Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July  13, 2014 - Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

When I was little, my great grandparents still lived on a family farm. There was a barn with cows and horses. There were goats and pigs, ducks and chickens, rows and rows of vegetables, and of course, manure to help make the earth fertile.

My mother and grandmother picked potatoes and cotton. My father and grandfather were butchers. My other grandfather was a master gardener.

There are very few small farms and very few vegetable gardens left.

Some people actually think that chicken and beef and eggs come from the supermarket. They don’t even know that ham and bacon come from pigs. And that steak comes from cows.

People who have never experienced a farm don’t always know where their food comes from.

For those folk, this parable of the sower sowing seeds might be hard to understand.

Jesus uses nature all the time to teach spiritual lessons. This shows Jesus’ concern for all creation.

He wants us to have the same concern. We are called to be good stewards of God’s creation.

When he was growing up, Jesus had witnessed farmers sowing their seed by hand and reaping the harvest that had grown in the rich, fertile soil.

The Word of God that is spoken to us when we read our sacred scripture is like the seed that falls on different types of soil.

Some seed falls on the rocky ground. There is little soil, no roots, no depth, so the seed sprouts but soon withers and fades.

The Word of God sometimes falls on rocky ground. There are some who have little self-awareness but plenty of self absorption, and others who are just too hardheaded to listen.

They might have some faith, but it always seems to wither and fade.

Some seed falls among the thorns where it is choked and overtaken by the weeds.

Some people hear the Word of God but it is choked by anxiety, peer pressure, depression. The Word of God is drowned out by the noise of the world.

Some seed falls on the foot path where it is trampled and crushed.  Some people fall prey to the lure of Satan’s empty show and they are trampled and crushed by the power of evil.

The Good News is that regardless of the type of soil, the sower is still at work sowing the seeds.

And over time, the farmer is able to transform the earth, just like God is able to transform our hearts, transform our lives.

The farmer transforms the rocky ground; he weeds the thorns ploughs the foot path so that the soil becomes rich and fertile.

But God, the Divine Farmer, does not do all this work by himself. He relies on helpers out in the fields of the Kingdom.
My grandmother and mother helped pick cotton and potatoes. My grandfather and father helped butcher the animals. Their work was necessary for the family farm to thrive.

What work do we do to help God yield a harvest of plenty?

Just like my parents and grandparents each played a part on that small farm, we are all given some task by the Lord God that is specifically our own.

This task of ours helps to build up the Kingdom of God.

When we do the given to us by the Lord, we become good soil yielding an abundant harvest.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

07-06-2014 -- Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Scripture Readings

Father Rusty is on vacation so no homily will be posted this week.

Catholic Reflections from the Teche will return next weekend.