Peace and grace to you!
The readings this weekend lead us to reflect on our life of prayer with the Lord. In the first reading we get an insider’s view of Solomon’s heart and deepest desires as he prays to God. Solomon was praised for his wisdom during his lifetime and through the centuries, so we know that God granted his desire. When we read his prayer, we understand why—he isn’t asking for something selfish. Solomon understands that he needs God’s help more than anything else to serve as a leader and so he asks for wisdom to serve God in his office as leader. St. Paul’s wisdom is shown through his spiritual insight “that all things work for the good of those who love God.” No matter what it is: trial or ease, hunger or feast, persecution or peace, sickness or health, wealth or poverty, in all these things the one who loves God grows closer to him. In the Gospel, Jesus explains that the kingdom of heaven is the greatest wealth and treasure that anyone could ever have. Jesus is telling us that there are a lot of things in the world that demand our attention and capture our interest but the most important and lasting thing of all consists in our lively, personal relationship with God.
One of the principal ways that we experience God’s abiding presence within us is through prayer. Like you, I have had to work very hard to develop a discipline and routine of prayer. Prayer is easy when there is the sweetness of spiritual consolation. But prayer is much more difficult during the arid periods and when we are too busy or when we don’t feel like it or when we don’t think that God cares or hears us, or we’re too tired, or whatever. Through all these changing emotional climates, thoughts and conditions, prayer must continue even if it seems of no use or accomplishment. Our faithful practice of prayer leads us into remembering that God is always present and actively assisting us! There are many types of prayers and devotions that people feel drawn to. The Rosary, The Liturgy of the Hours, periodicals like the Magnificat or Give us this Day. Lectio Divina is spending quality time in God’s Word each day and the weekday Mass readings are always a rich source of spiritual nourishment. Choose what works for you. God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter
May the peace and grace of Christ be with you!
Last weekend we heard the Parable of the Sower. This weekend we get a set of three parables: the Weeds and the Wheat, the Mustard Seed and the Yeast for Leaven. As you know, these are popular titles used for the purpose of easy reference but the stories themselves are multifaceted.
Of the three parables we have had, the one that strikes me most is the story of the Wheat and the Weeds. I guess it’s because when I visualize it, I see the wheatfields of Western Kansas and my friend Melvin’s farm along Prairie Dog Creek with the terraced hills covered with wheat. I walked those fields with Melvin and my dog, Dirty Girty, hunting pheasants. Pheasants like to live in the weeds but their lives depend on the wheat as their food.
Part of the reason I am struck by the Weeds and the Wheat is because we often think of good and bad as polar opposites that are mutually exclusive—and that’s reasonably true. After all, even the workers in the story want to go out and remove the weeds from the wheat but Jesus stops them. Why? Take a closer look at our surroundings like the world we live in, our country, our state, the political parties, our town, our own family, and finally ourselves, if we are intellectually honest, we must admit that almost everything has a mix of some good and bad to varying degrees and we have to learn to do our best in the midst of it all. Building God’s kingdom requires time and patience. Change takes time. It has a rhythm all its own and God is at work with each and every human heart coaxing a secret transformation, like the yeast in the flour or the growth of the tiny mustard seed. God is patient and lenient with all of us. God doesn’t impose with force or use violence. St. Peter aptly reminds us that God’s patience is directed toward the salvation of each soul. Some of us struggle with more weeds in our lives than others but we all want to bear good fruit. We need to give and receive forgiveness; we need mercy to experience God’s saving love. It is here in the Church and the sacraments that God’s word, God’s holy seed, can grow, ripen, blossom and change us for the better. It happens a little at a time. Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is patiently helping us grow each day?
God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter
Peace and grace to all!
This weekend we have what is popularly referred to as the Parable of the Sower. When we hear Jesus’ parables, he gives us opportunities to view things from different perspectives. If we were to focus only on the Sower, we would overlook some of the other important components included in the story like the seed itself or the soil and its different qualities as well as the thorns and the birds. We know that the seed is representative of the Word of God because that’s how Jesus describes it. The Parable of the Seed might be a better title for the story than Parable of the Sower. Each time I hear the first reading and the declaration that God’s Word shall accomplish what it was intended for, I remember what Mother Cabrini once said to her Sisters: “you too are the Word of God, spoken only once, strive to accomplish what God wills in your life and you will not return to the Father empty.” I shouldn’t put quotations around that phrase because I know it isn’t verbatim but I think it fairly represents Mother Cabrini’s mind on the matter.
I recognize her statement as a great assertion of faith. One dimension that Mother Cabrini’s statement adds to the parable is the fact that each one of us comes forth from God as a type of seed. And as a seed, each one of us needs certain conditions from the environment to nurture us and help us become what God desires for us. Not everyone has the same chances in life. Some of us have rough and rocky family conditions while some of us have smooth and balanced situations. Some of us have uphill challenges arising from physical or medical conditions due to genetics or by accident. Whether we live on the slope or on the plain, in the gravel or the rich bottom land, one thing is certain: we all need help from each other and from God. That’s why Jesus came!
This summer we will have Vacation Bible School! I love having our children here. Kids are fun to watch and interact with! But VBS is even more special because they learn about God and the teachers and helpers sow the seeds of faith and nourish it by being together while doing songs and activities. It’s times like this when I think about the incomparable value of faith and grace from God in the lives of our young people. They are going out into the world as seeds sown by the community of St. Edward. They will encounter all types of soil conditions and experience times of hardship and failure as well as peace and success. Through it all, the ONE thing that they have that will never die and will always bear fruit, if they use it, is the faith they’ve been nurtured with here among us.
God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter
Peace and grace to you!
I think the readings this weekend direct us to clearly identify the inner tension that all of us experience between our desire for spiritual fulfillment and the things of earth that are necessary for the body and the things of earth in general like the house or place where we live etc. Although we must make use of things of earth, our hope and primary focus is not on them. St. Paul makes the distinction between people of the Spirit and people of the flesh. St. Francis of Assissi is a great teacher when it comes to the body and the spirit. He says the body is like a mule that is constantly on the move to satisfy its appetites—it is never satisfied. It monotonously moves from one thing to another! Obviously it is necessary for us to put a bridle and bit on the mule to control it, lest it lead a person into sin and spiritual destruction. Great imagery here—we all have the same animal appetites to deal with and we all know they need to be properly directed. They can weigh us down! But a greater burden comes when we forget to focus on God and the personal help that we have in Jesus.
This weekend Jesus invites us once again to come to him and ask for help—with whatever it is we are concerned about. Pray Psalm 91. Nothing is too great or too small. Jesus loves! Jesus is the one who gives rest to the weary and revives the drooping in spirit. Come and rest in the open arms of the Lord’s providence and mercy. It truly is easy and light! May God continue to bless you! +++ Fr. Peter
Peace and grace to you!
The Prophet Elisha wants to return-gift the couple that have been generous and kind to him. The gift that he gives is his intercessory prayer on their behalf for the blessing of a baby boy. Because Elisha is a prophet completely devoted to God, his prayer for them will be granted! Jesus speaks to his apostles (those who are sent) about setting within themselves the priority of loving and serving God above all. Because God is generous and kind, even small acts of charity done to others out of reverence for God will be rewarded with a blessing.
We live with an inner tension in heart and mind between things of heaven and things of earth. It is important to remember that these are not mutually exclusive. St. Paul said that we must make use of the things of this world yet not let ourselves be so engrossed in them that we become solely focused on them. Juxtaposed to that understanding we hear St. Teresa of Avila’s comment “don’t be so heavenly that you’re no earthly good.”
Jesus reminds us to maintain our balance between heaven and earth and make God our top priority. As we can see with Elisha, God provides for those who devote themselves to serving him completely in surprising ways. Those who are generous toward God’s servants with their earthly wealth will receive surprising blessings too!
One thing stands out: God cannot be outdone in generosity or in surprises! Is there a way that you can use something of what you have to return-gift God? Blessings be yours always! +++ Fr. Peter