Ramblings from us as we strive to live a holy life in the world, not of the world.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Deacon Joe's homily for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time. You are the seed...so what is your mission?

(Note: by request from parishioners, I post my husband's homilies to my blog so that they can find them easily if they want to read them. This is his homily for today)

Jesus gives us little kernels, or seeds of his teaching today.  The teaching may be small in words like seeds but has great impact like a seed that grows to fruition.  In the first part of our Gospel reading, St. Mark shows Jesus telling us how a man scatters seed and the seed grows but he knows not how.  Then we see in the second part of the Gospel Jesus telling us how the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, very small, yet when it grows it becomes the largest of plants.  In these parables we can learn about both ourselves and also about our mission.  What does a seed have to do with us in our personal journey with Our Lord?  We are seeds (I mean that in a good way).  We can only grow to fullness with God’s help.  We need to fully trust in God in order for us to reach our true potential, become the “largest of plants.”  It is He who guides us, and believe me brothers and sisters, if you put your trust completely in Him, God will guide you to things you never dreamed of.  What does a seed mean to our mission?  Let’s review for just a second about our mission.  Our lives are wrapped in vocation and mission.  Who we are: mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, priests, deacons, etc...WHO God wants us to be is our vocation.  Our mission is what God wants us to do: teach, preach, parent, visit, do liturgical duties, etc…  In our mission, whatever it may be, we scatter seeds.  Again, it is God who makes them grow.  Very often we don’t see the results of the seeds we scatter in our mission.  We don’t have the ability to see what’s going on inside of other people, and we don’t have the ability to see into the future either, to tell whether the fruits of our labors have been worthwhile.  This is also where we need to trust in God.  We also need to persevere.  Our spiritual journey is, unfortunately, not like a football game, where we can cross a goal line, spike the ball, and for some of us so inclined, do a little touchdown dance.  It’s just not like that.  God has the plan, all we can do is stay with Him and trust in Him, give ourselves to Him.  That is what he asks of us, and He will take care of the rest.
It is trust and faith that we also need to be able to deal with our world, our current culture.
There’s a story of man whose dog just passed, and he was looking for another canine companion:
This man visits a local pet shop. The owner tells him that he has a special dog that he might be interested in. “It's a talking dog,” says the owner. "No Way!" says the customer. "This I have to see" So, the owner escorts him to the rear room of the shop and points out the dog. "There he is. Go ahead and talk to him" and then leaves the customer and the dog alone.  "So you're a talking dog huh?"  "Why yes sir, I sure am."  Shocked, the man now hangs on every word.  "Yeah, when I was a little pup I lived in a fire station and rode to all the fires with the firemen. One day I rescued a little girl and the city called me a hero and gave me a medal.  Later on, I even got to go to the White House and met the President! After I rescued a whole family in another fire, I was sent to meet the Pope in Rome! Yes sir, I've sure had an interesting and exciting life!"

The man was dumbstruck and rushed back to the front of the pet shop.
"Well, did you talk to the dog?" asked the owner.  "Yes I did! It's simply amazing; why on Earth would you want to sell such a talented dog?"

The owner replied, "Well, he is a great talker, but he's a horrible liar!"

We can’t allow ourselves to be mesmerized by the messages our world sends.  Like the talking dog, the world can be very impressive, very entertaining in its message, but there’s a good chance the world is lying to us about who we are and what we want.  Through the seeds of our faith and growth from God, we need to be sure in faith and trust, that we’re evaluating the world’s messages by GOD’S STANDARDS.  We may see things on TV or hear things on the radio, or be talking with friends and/or colleagues, and how they speak or how they present themselves may be very impressive, they may be very convincing.  But are we listening to WHAT they say?  Our duty as followers of Jesus Christ, our duty as Catholics, is to evaluate WHAT is being said as compared to the truth of God regardless of how convincing or impressive that delivery may be.  To have complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and God, we need to look beyond our political parties, our favorite news program, our favorite talk show host and get to the heart of the matter and test everything against the light of God.  As Jesus gave himself for us on the cross, we are called to give of ourselves and that include putting aside our personal preferences to achieve the good of all. 
Speaking of giving of self and achieving the good of all, it is Father’s Day (weekend).  (Blessing?)  No doubt fatherhood requires much sacrifice, but that sacrifice does not go in vain, as their children benefit greatly from their presence and love.  Fathers sow the seeds of faith in the children.  Being a father myself I can tell you that we don’t necessarily see the results of our efforts, at least not in the here and now.  Our impact might never be truly known, but we can look to our children as they reach adulthood and hopefully be proud of them as they try to find their vocation and carry out their mission.
I’d like to take a minute and thank the Parish for seeing me through my first year as a deacon.  My ordination, if you’ll recall, was June 11th last year, and I can’t tell you how blessed my vocation and mission have been, so again thank you for all your prayers and support, you’ve all been so very wonderful.  A special thanks to my wife Joanne, the real brains and beauty of our whole operation.  Thanks to my children for being patient while their father is so busy sometimes, and to Fr. Kleppner, Fr. Mariusz, and Fr. Sam Esposito for all their help and support.  The diaconate is very much seed scattering also.  I don’t really ever get to find out what happens to the inmates once they leave, so all I can do is hope and pray that God has been able to reach them through me, and that their lives have turned to him.  Taking from today’s gospel, I don’t need to know, I just need to trust in God and dutifully carry out my mission, He will make good things happen.
In all of this, Jesus is pointing us to the best of all seeds, that being the Eucharist.  The Eucharist, what appears to be just a small wafer, is the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ that we take in and allow God to implant in us.  And if we allow God to do His work, He will make that seed grow to the fullness of life.  I can stand here and personally tell you that the vocations of father and deacon sometimes are not so easy, but I’ve never felt more of a sense of belonging and doing what God has truly meant me to do with this life.  It’s a beautiful thing.  So as we come to the table of the Eucharist today, I ask you to contemplate the seed, contemplate the growth that only God can make happen, and contemplate the beautiful life He has in store for you.

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