The Parable of the Seed
It is pretty heavy stuff to be told that knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to us. As I reflect on the parable of the seed, I realize that I am often the seed that falls among the thorns. I am thankful that I haven’t been robbed of the good news by the Devil and I am not tempted to abandon my roots. I hang in there with my faith, but I don’t think I bear much mature fruit. There are times when I bear the fruit of a good and generous heart, but in so many ways, I also get choked by thorns and weeds. It is a constant struggle for me to persevere. I get consumed by the anxieties of this life or the many pleasures that distract me from my anxieties. Maybe the parable speaks loudly to me today because the constant rain here in Omaha this summer has kept me pulling, cutting, clipping, and whacking away at weeds in my yard. My battles with weeds and thorns serve as a reminder of my spiritual battles. As I persevere in the war against weeds, I ask myself the question, “what does it mean to persevere in the production of mature fruit of the spirit?” In Galatians 5:22-23 we learn that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Here is a check list I made for myself to keep me focused.
1 Timothy 6:2-12; Luke 8:1-3
Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources. Luke 8:1-3
Enthusiastic or Sober?
Contrasting with the sober reading from Timothy, is the tone of enthusiasm, hope and achievement in today’s Gospel story. While the Gospel has more appeal, the other text also have its necessary place in church life. Sometimes we need to be sobered up from intense excitement.
After some years of living experience in the communities of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters in the Queen of Peace Province, the four Sisters namely Sr. Anna John Tendwa, Sr. Edinesta Charles Kulungu, Sr. Martina Nicodemus Hilary and Sr. Paskalina Baha Ombay, made their final commitment on 8th September on the feast day of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary, in Siuyu at Christ the King Parish the Catholic Diocese of Singida.
Today’s gospel provides such a dramatic and beautiful picture of God’s love for us. There are many lessons to be found in this passage.
It is easy to imagine this woman - with hair probably to her waist or longer - weeping at Jesus’ feet in sorrow for her sins. She demonstrates such humility in her actions, to use her tears and her hair to wash the dusty, dirty feet of someone who has been walking in sandals on unpaved roads and paths, through the market places and in the fields. As a nurse I think of the contrast with how we health care providers can distance ourselves from our patients with gloves and gowns and masks. Not that I am recommending that we forego these protections for ourselves and others; it is reasonable and necessary to protect against exposure to infection. But, it might be well for us to imagine this gospel scene when ministering to a patient to remind us that God resides in that individual. Then we are humbled by His presence just as the woman in the gospel was and, despite our protective gear, there can be no distancing of our hearts and minds.
Holy Cross - San Clemente, Rome (Detail of apse mosaic, 12th century)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life. J 3:16
On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross) we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, according to early accounts. The miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is the origin of the tradition of celebrating the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on this date. Constantine later built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site of her discovery of the cross. On this same pilgrimage she ordered two other churches built: one in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of the Ascension, near Jerusalem.
Holy Mary..., the old man Simeon spoke to you of the sword which would pierce your soul (Lk 2:35), of the sign of contradiction that your Son would be in this world. Then, when Jesus began his public ministry, you had to step aside, so that a new family could grow... of those who heard his word and kept it (Lk 11:27f). Notwithstanding the great joy that marked the beginning of Jesus's ministry, in the synagogue of Nazareth you must already have experienced the truth of the saying about the “sign of contradiction” (Lk 4:28ff). In this way you saw the growing power of hostility and rejection which built up around Jesus until the hour of the Cross, when you had to look upon the Saviour of the world, the heir of David, the Son of God dying like a failure, exposed to mockery, between criminals.
What attracts me about this passage from Luke is that it refers to the other spirituality. It is not the usual scenario of Jesus calling men and women to leave home and family to follow him. In this passage we find "house" mentioned twice. According to scripture scholars, house or home is mentioned in scripture more often than either temple or church.
In this passage the Centurion is credited by Jesus for his loyalty, concern and care of his slave "who is ill and close to death." The Centurion does not leave his dying servant, not even to go to Jesus to ask healing for his servant. Jesus is amazed at the faith of the Centurion who recognizes that his calling is to family, to his extended household, to his slave. The Centurion speaks to Jesus of his understanding of loyalty and dependability. He is a man responsible for his household.
We remember and pray.
Is 50: 5-9; Jm 2: 14-18; Mk 8: 27-35
Alexander Master, Peter confessing Jesus to be the Christ_c.1430
Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, «Who do people say that I am?» They said in reply, "John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets." And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said to him in reply, "You are the Messiah." Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. Mk 8: 27-35
In the Gospel of Mark, Peter is portrayed as the one apostle that Jesus raises to leadership, but at the same time Peter screws up so often that we can really identify with him. Despite the fact that Jesus gives him the keys to the kingdom of heaven, Peter messes up when he tries to walk on water, he misunderstands the transfiguration, totally misinterpreting it, he denies Christ three times and later on is even criticized by St. Paul. Yet despite this, Jesus placed his trust in him. If Peter can mess up that badly and Jesus can still put his trust in him, there must be hope for me!
1 Timothy 1:15-17; Luke 6:43-49
“But the one who listens and does not act
is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation.
When the river burst against it,
it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”
When Hurricane Ida hit the U.S. last week, television was filled with dramatic pictures: houses battered by winds, trees uprooted, waves leaping over cars on flooded streets. After the storm had passed, vivid images of the aftermath remained. Solid buildings withstood the weather and remained intact. Other more fragile structures collapsed into heaps of wood or brick, spilling out the contents of their owner’s lives into the soggy streets.
Its not easy and often we are not rewarded. We are like Paul. Once we have heard God in our hearts, we must spread God's Good News. This is an impulse of grace. Paul's admonition not to expect anything in return is so realistic. We all need support in ministry whether its caring for our family, others in the workplace, or speaking out about issues of injustice. Instead of expecting a grand applause or a plaque, we can look for small words of thanks and encouragement.
Codex von Rossano um 600
Wow, friends. The readings today are gold, are they not? If only we could find the courage to live as they describe in every moment, we’d find the fulfillment of the Kingdom. They speak so well for themselves that I can only paraphrase here what I take from them.