Welcome to CatholicPreacher! I use this page as a type of archive of my thoughts for my Sunday homily.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God “--St. Paul
Too Small to Fail: A Purposeful Calling
One of the fundamental mistakes made in deciding upon success in the spiritual life is using the same criteria we use for any enterprise. Usually, one of the signs of success is size—the bigger, the more successful. Success, often, is envisioned by many members working in large, impressive, buildings affecting large segments. Visible signs of wealth also come into play and work well in concert with size. By joining such an enterprise, we can then associate ourselves with this type of success and, by transfer, consider ourselves successful. Unfortunately, using this criterion in the spiritual life is a mistake.
In today’s Old Testament reading, Solomon, instead of asking for riches and conspicuous signs of success, asked for “an understanding heart”. In turn, God richly rewarded him with “...a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you, there will come no one to equal you.” 
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he declares that  “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose .” Quite often this is misremembered as “All things work together for those who love the Lord”. Notice the difference. What our life of following Christ gives us is the sure faith that all our pain and suffering “work together” to fulfill God’s purpose (the good) in accordance with our calling. Everyone God has called has a role to play in God’s plan of salvation for humanity; however, not everyone heeds the call, but, everyone who heeds God’s call, through the merits of Christ, walks blamelessly before God. We are reminded by Paul to remain faithful to our calling not the pursuit of wealth and importance. Indeed the wealthy and powerful are offered salvation and are called according to their purpose, but their wealth and power, like what we have been given, is instrumental, not essential, in fulfilling God’s purpose. For us, failure in the eyes of the world is always an option. We are the people united under the cross of Christ with the motto: “Too Small to Fail”.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

The Weeds in the Wheat: Stay Out of the Garden!

This parable is part of a series of parables Jesus continues to use, which develops Matthew’s theme of fulfillment(“I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world”--Psalm 78). Indeed this parable is part of a series of parables about the acceptance and rejection of Jesus. this them of acceptance tinged with rejection is especially relevant for Matthew’s community who, at the end of the first century are experiencing rejection within the Jewish community.
 Today’s parable suggests the “weeds” appearing among the “wheat” represent those within the Christian community who are subverting Christ’s kingdom, “the field”. On another level, the field is the landscape of the human heart where the Christian must pursue the spiritual life while struggling against the evil from within.
In response to the “weeds among the wheat”, Jesus counsel’s patience and tolerance. It is the Son of Man who will oversee the final judgment and separation of the weeds from the wheat. We are asked to refrain from weeding the fields lest we destroy the good with the bad. Christians on a weeding tear have historically done a great deal of damage. Think of the Inquisition and the Crusades as a couple of notable examples. In considering the substantial damage done to the kingdom by zealous gardeners, best we leave the weeding to the pros. But what can we do with our itch to weed? 
Perhaps our zealous weeding should first be practiced within our hearts, where the Holy Spirit and mature spiritual direction can affect a greater purification. Put away your weed killers and trowels; see what the weeds look like first that lie sprouting within your heart, and by the time you have finished that job, God’s judgment will surely have been visited upon the world.
—Fr. Todd

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

A Little Seed Goes a Long Way

Today’s gospel presents us with a parable that is quite striking. For us, we are part of the “inner circle” of Jesus’ disciples who get it and wonder why Jesus wouldn’t be willing to explain it to the crowds, but rather seem to dismiss them as being blind and deaf. Why, then, speak to the crowd at all? Jesus was not trying to win over crowds, but to call individuals to follow him; Jesus wanted people to walk with him, not for him.
The crowd is the landscape, and Jesus is the farmer sowing himself, giving himself as the Word of God with the power of words to germinate in the heart of the ones who are listening and whose hearts are fallow, but not sown.
Jesus is, in Greek the logos, or word of God. In Hebrew, dabar, which suggests like the Greek, word associated with talking or writing. But both terms suggest much more. Logos suggest God’s reason, His willed purpose revealed in Jesus. Dabar is the essence of the speaker contained in the word, much as the potential of a plant contained in the seed.
Jesus’ interpretation in the longer version of today’s reading was not, however, likely part of Jesus’ original discourse; it was added to allow the reader to be part of the inner circle rather than the clueless crowd left scratching their heads. The purpose of interpreting the Gospel in this manner was to emphasize ultimate success in spite of what appears to be a complete failure. This is why Jesus suggests that the harvest of the small amount of seed that falls on fallow earth will reap a harvest of “a hundred fold”; the average good harvest is seven fold.
God’s ultimate purpose for humanity as embodied in The Kingdom---the community of believers as living word of God’s sowing---is that despite what appears to be crucifixion and death is resurrection and life. That our hearts as landscapes have captured but a little of God’s Word in the words, but this is sufficient for building the kingdom. Tend to the small patch of fertile heart, and don’t allow the vast fields of unproductive soil to dishearten you. If faith is a mustard seed, you don’t need a lot to realize a spectacular harvest.