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Pastor's Letter 20210613 - 13 June 2021 - Hope


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June 13th, 2021

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  A Message from Father †Michael

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Today’s Theme:   “Hope”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

Today’s Gospel comes from a collection of parables, most dealing with the growth of seeds (Mark 4:1-34.)  They serve as a commentary on what has been happening in Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom.

The prophet Ezekiel foretold that God would take a twig from the top of the cedar and plant it in Zion (Ezekiel 17:22-24.)  Under God’s protective power that twig would grow into a great cedar.  Thus, Ezekiel dreamed that God would transplant the exiled people of Israel back to the land of their fathers.  He glimpsed a future son of David, whose kingdom would be universal.

The promise is fulfilled in Jesus, Who users in the Kingdom of God.  The parables of the seed that grows by itself and the mustard seed were meant to encourage the early Church, which was worried about the slow growth of the Kingdom.  They were telling the disciples to be patient, to trust, and not to expect instant results.  Through the power of God, from small and insignificant beginnings the Kingdom will grow into something great.

Our Second reading highlights Paul’s priority at all times to please the Lord, thus, he has no fears of appearing before Him (2 Corinthians 5:6-10.)  We are to embrace our individual walks toward salvation, complete in the knowledge that each of us must be responsible for ourselves.

The Seed Growing of Itself

In Jesus’ parable of the seed growing of itself, what is stressed is the certainty of the harvest, once the sower has done his job.  It was meant to give hope to His early disciples, in their work to spread the Good News.  It is a very encouraging parable.

Like those early disciples, we, too, want results and we want them quickly. We live in that age of the “instant product.”  We have instant soup, instant tea and coffee, instant cellphone pictures, instant access to a world of information on the Internet…pretty much instant “anything!”  (Some of us “oldsters” remember when waiting patiently for things allowed us to savor the company of friends and family in the meantime.  But I think that “fast food” was the beginning of the end of that era.)  We know that quality can suffer “in a rush,” but we are willing to sacrifice that for quick results and time and effort saved.

We forget sometimes that certain things cannot be rushed.  To grow to maturity as a human being is the job of a lifetime.  To build a good relationship with someone takes time. To get to know and understand one’s children takes time.  To overcome one’s sins and weaknesses takes time…. Our age could also be called the “Age of the Push-Button,” which allows us almost instant access to the things we desire.

Many of today’s labor-saving devices are good, of course, by taking the monotony and drudgery out of life and work.  (Few people want to go back to the days of the wringer-washer, and hanging clothing outside to dry.)  But there is a danger living in the world of instant access.  We are encouraged to put forth minimum effort, the least cost, the shortest approach to everything.  We may be lured into always seeking the easy option—even when there is no easy option—at least, not when we want the “genuine article.”  (Why take time to visit someone, or phone, when we can “text” them?)

Besides the old problems remain in the age of the push-button.  The problems that arise when parents don’t concentrate on bringing up their children with solid moral foundations, immediately come to mind.  There is no “magic switch” for that!  Then there is the challenge of acquiring a skill.  No button can be pushed to painlessly make you a master craftsman.  For many things in life, there are no shortcuts.

In Jesus’ story, the farmer did his part—sowing the seed.  The rest was beyond his control.  His primary goal of realizing a good harvest depended on nature taking its course: germination, soil nutrients, adequate moisture, etc.  (Yes, I know some crops require continued cultivation, fertilization and irrigation.  But unless the seed “sprouts” it will not grow, regardless of care and attention.)  Mostly, it’s a matter of waiting patiently, and hoping in humility.  Both these are not easy qualities.  

Yet life calls for these virtues!  It seems that what life intends to be great it first makes small.  Perhaps that is where we go wrong, being impressed by the “large,” and despising the “small.”  We know a building begins with one brick on another; a book begins with one word on a page; a journey with a single step; a forest fire from a tiny, careless spark; a giant oak from an acorn; a huge river from a tiny rivulet; and lifelong friendships from chance encounters.

Then, too, some people believe they must always be “up, and doing” something, as if everything depended upon them.  They are unable, sometimes, to take “time out,” to let things “be,” to trust, to be patient, to be humble, and to wait.  

There is something we can do, and which God will not do for us.  But that done, we have to acknowledge that we can’t do everything.  Spiritual development, indeed, human development, is a process. It will go on provided we do not resist.  In the great processes of growth, healing, recovery and spiritual progress, we are only facilitators.  We can plant the seed…but we cannot make it grow…. Nature must take over.  It is God’s creation that provides the increase.  

We can learn patience by observing nature.  Nature doesn’t take shortcuts—things take time to grow, and ripen. All the seasons are needed…no shortcuts there….

We all need seasons, too.  Nothing is wasted.  Consider Jesus’ example—before beginning His public ministry, He spent thirty years at Nazareth.  Like seeds needing darkness, isolation and cover of the earth in order to germinate, even His life began small, hidden, anonymous. It was, in fact, an advantage. It meant He could develop quietly, away from publicity.  There were no pressures, nor burden of expectations.  He developed at His own pace, without hurry.  

We have virtually no information about His formative years.  Yet we can presume He underwent proper Jewish upbringing, with Hebrew School, learning Torah, Kaddish, and other prayers and rituals of His faith.  We imagine He was apprenticed to His father, Joseph, in carpentry, and the like, as was the case for children of that age.  To some it may seem a waste of valuable time.  Nothing could be further from the truth. In His humanity, He needed those years.  During them, He was growing quietly in the shadows.

The lovely little parable of seed growing of itself was a reply to the question, “Could the Kingdom really grow from such humble beginnings?”  Mark’s answer was that the little cell of disciples could indeed become a Kingdom.  The parable shows us that there is an almighty power working for us.  Our job is to sow the seed.  Then, God has to take over—and He does.  Any farmer will tell you that if he does the right things, at the right times, the harvest can be expected.  It is for us to be patient, and to trust….  

May God Richly Bless You!

“If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”

—St. Maximilian Kolbe   

To view a live stream of today's Holy Mass, click here:

We Are the Hands of Christ.docx

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