Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 12:13, 16-19
Rom 8:26-27
Mt 13:24-43

A man has his fields planted with what he is sure is good wheat. Yet as the wheat begins to grow his servants see that weeds are growing among the wheat. Rather that trying to pull the weeds out, he chooses to allow the weeds to grow with the wheat, separating them at harvest time. This is a risky choice. Yes, pulling the weeds could damage the wheat should it unintentionally be pulled up as well. Allowing the weeds to grow runs the risk of having the wheat crop overwhelmed by the weeds. The weeds could suck the nutrients out of the soil, leaving little or nothing for the wheat. The weeds could proliferate to the point that the wheat is crowded out. The weeds could win, leaving the man with nothing for the weeds have no purpose. I am not a biologist and I am not an expert on the environment. I am certain that somewhere, in some context, these weeds have a purpose, a reason for being. In this context, however, the weeds have no purpose. They serve only to destroy the crop that was intended in the planting of the wheat. The world is much like this field. We are sown, and we are meant to flourish. We are meant to grow, to learn, to reach out to God, but we find ourselves surrounded by weeds. Weeds are all around us, and they can drain our life away, distracting us from our original purpose, overwhelming us, preventing us from flourishing as we are intended. The truly sad part is that too often, we begin to side with the weeds. We begin to see as acceptable that which is unacceptable. So, I fudged a little on my taxes, everybody does it. Why get married, it’s just a societal ritual, it doesn’t prove we love one another. Why should I help them, I got mine, go get your own. We rationalize our behavior, we find ways to justify our choices, we begin to become the weeds. We let the weeds steal our nutrition, we become overwhelmed by what is around us. It does not have to be this way. The weeds can pull us away, overwhelm us, only if we fail to remember who we are and who is with us. God provides us with the sustenance we need, God makes it possible for us to avoid being overwhelmed, but only if we turn to God, depend on God, realize that we will only find life in God. The weeds do not give life, they take it. God gives us life, protecting us from the weeds. But we must choose. Will we turn to God, or be pulled in by the weeds? Will we accept the eternal life that God offers us, or go with the weeds, a way that takes our life? Will we lead others by word and example to turn to life, to turn to God, or will we lead them into the weeds? Are we wheat, or are we weed?

Deacon John
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 20, 2008

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Zec 9:9-10
Rom 8:9, 11-13
Mt 11:25-30

I believe in education. I believe that everyone should get all the education they possibly can. Education can open doors that otherwise stay shut. Certainly education can open doors to employment possibilities that otherwise would be unavailable to someone, but education is, or should be, more than that. Education should, hopefully, open doors in the mind, doors that can lead to a better understanding of the world, of the people who inhabit the world, and, most importantly, a better understanding of yourself. I believe in education. I have an advanced degree myself. I believe in education. Yet, I have to admit that education is not, in and of itself, the most important thing. Those of us with education have a tendency to make things complicated. Some things are complicated, not easily explained or understood. Some things, however, are not. We make them complicated even though they are actually quite simple. We make our faith complex, with all manner of theological ideas, explanations, theories, and rules based on them. If we stand back and look, our faith is really quite simple. The most basic statement of our faith is Jesus Christ is Lord. As Lord the Christ calls on us to do one thing, love. Love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and being, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That’s it. It really is that simple. It doesn’t require a PhD to understand these (I hesitate to use this word, but) fundamentals of our faith. I think that sometimes the education can even get in the way. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that “for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.” We are called to believe, and because of that belief, we are called to love. That is why the Christ also tells us “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Believe and love. It really is that simple.

Deacon John
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 6, 2008