Monday, July 31, 2017

“I have a mustard seed; and I am not afraid to use it.”

Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing. - Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997: Founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India)

Gospel Text: (MT 13:31-35)
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches."

He spoke to them another parable.
"The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened."

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:

I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.

With his parable, Jesus consoles us, that the reign of God is sometimes hard to see in our lives.  It grows without our being able to see it - perhaps without our even believing it possible.  Sometimes the "smallest of seeds" produces startling results.  

The littlest openings in our hearts can change our relationship with someone else.  If we make a gesture of kindness to someone who annoys, we might find it can plant the tiniest seed of compassion within us.  If we allow ourselves to see humanity in the person who annoys or infuriates us (in our family, in the news) it can be the beginning of a new capacity for love within us.  Sometime the smallest effort to stop the flood of our instinctive negative reactions and thoughts will grow into a transformative outlook on life.

Today we can ask God to open our hearts enough to let the smallest seed of his love grow and spread in us so that we can share it with those around us.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

“The will of God is not something you add to your life. It’s a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God…or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.”

“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.” ― Ezra Taft Benson: (1899 – 1994: was an American farmer and government official who served as the 15th United States Secretary of Agriculture)

Gospel Text: (MT 13:44-52)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

"Do you understand all these things?"
They answered, "Yes."
And he replied,
"Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old."

The Gospel parables about the kingdom of God as a treasure in a field or an exceptionally valuable pearl or good fish caught in the fisherman's net stress the value of the kingdom of heaven: the finder of the treasure in the field and the finder of the exceptional pearl would sell all they have to obtain what they valued most.

So we ask ourselves: "What matters to me most?"

Friday, July 28, 2017

Do you want the Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often. Do you want Him to give you few graces? Visit Him rarely.

God gives each one of us sufficient grace ever to know His holy will, and to do it fully. - St. Ignatius of Loyola: (1491 – 1556: was a Spanish Basque priest and theologian, who founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General)

Gospel Text: (MT 13:18-23)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Hear the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom
without understanding it,
and the Evil One comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."

We usually interpret the Parable of the Seed and the Sower in terms of how different people respond to the word of God, the "seed" in the story. The different types of ground are people who receive the word.

I suggest we look at the parable in relation to how we go to Mass.

Are you like the footpath or hard ground? You go to Mass because it is an obligation of a baptized Catholic. You go to Sunday Mass but it has no effect in your life.

Are you like the rocky soil? You feel Mass recharges you and helps you when problems and challenges come. But when real serious trouble comes, you give up easily.

If you are the ground with the thistles, you are grateful for benefits received but you are overwhelmed in your practice of your Christian faith by your daily worries and problems, endless desires and monetary concerns.

If you are the good soil, your Sunday Mass is a treasured moment of your week, a blessing which animates your personal, family and professional life, a time to review and be grateful for the past week and to prepare for and be productive for the coming week. It is a blessing for you to be shared with family and friends.

What does Sunday Mass mean to me? How do I prepare for it? What do I get out of it? What does this community Sunday worship mean to me?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

“When you listen, it's amazing what you can learn. When you act on what you've learned, it's amazing what you can change.”

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”   Ernest Hemingway: (1899 – 1961: was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist.)

Gospel Text: (MT 13:10-17)
The disciples approached Jesus and said,
"Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?"
He said to them in reply,
"Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.

"But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

How ready am I to hear God's urgings in my life? What are my “mufflers and blinders” in not hearing and seeing God in my life? Are my selfishness and self-absorption blocking me in seeing my neighbor's needs? Am I too busy to have time with God?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Today, society does not talk about hell. It's as if it did not exist, but it does.

How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man. - Johnny Cash: (1932 – 2003: was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author.)

Gospel Text: (MT 13:24-43)
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?'
He answered, 'An enemy has done this.'
His slaves said to him,
'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
"First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

He proposed another parable to them.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"

He spoke to them another parable.
"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened."

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
"Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."

We might begin reflecting on this parable by asking a question. Who exactly are the weeds, and who are the wheat? At the end of the long form of today’s Gospel passage, Jesus explains the parable: “the good seed” are “the children of the kingdom”, while the “weeds are the children of the evil one”. But how are we practically to apply this explanation to our own day?

Perhaps another saying from our Lord could help us. “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” [Luke 6:42]. In other words, in seeking to apply the parable of the weeds and the wheat to the real world of today, each of us ought to begin with the real weeds in one’s own soul. From there each of us could move on to consider the weeds elsewhere in one’s family, parish, country and Church.

Short of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there is no disciple without weeds in his soul. In your case as in mine, then, the parable describes the Christian spiritual life.

Between the day of your baptism and the day of the “harvest” (that is, the day of your death), you are free to cultivate your spiritual life. You are free to break up hard soil of your soul through acts of penance and humility, so that the good seed of your life in Christ will bear abundant fruit even during your earthly days. You must also be patient, like the parable’s householder, who is God our Father. For you are free also to sin in this life: to allow weeds to proliferate in your soul.

God, in His paternal love, does not force anyone to reform his life.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The first person the Risen Christ appeared too on Easter Sunday was a repentant sinner – Mary Magdalene – NEVER FORGET THAT!

"When we are able to tell the Lord, 'Lord these are my sins, not the sins of that one or the other, these are mine. They are mine. You take them and that way I will be saved' -- when we are able to do this we will be that beautiful people…..” - Pope Francis

Gospel Text: (JN 20:1-2, 11-18)
On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
"They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don't know where they put him."

Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "They have taken my Lord,
and I don't know where they laid him."
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?"
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
"Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him."
Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to him in Hebrew,
"Rabbouni," which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her,
"Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
'I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'"
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,
"I have seen the Lord,"
and then reported what he told her.

In today’s gospel from Mass Mary Magdalene found herself lost because her Lord had been taken away. She receives reassurance from the comforting words and presence of Jesus himself.

As we journey through life, we pray to have hearts that always long for God in all things and that, when we find ourselves lost, confused and discouraged, we find his loving presence.