Pastoral Sharings: "15th Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage  Homily from Father James Gilhooley
  July 13, 2014
  15 Ordinary Time
  Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A Cycle –  
  Matthew 13:1-9
   Mark Twain wrote: “Giving up cigarettes is easy. I do it 
   a”hundred times a week.” Many 
   of us, like Twain, grow easily discouraged from one broken resolution or other. If you do, today’s parable has your name on it.
When this Gospel opens, Jesus is sitting by the Lake of Galilee. He is getting a tan and much needed beach time.
Leisurely He is reading the sports pages of a week old copy of the Jerusalem Times and sipping a glass of good red wine. Suddenly out of that famous nowhere appears a huge crowd.
He springs to His feet lest He be trampled by these happy friendlies. They clamor for what they think will be an impromptu lecture. The favorite outdoor sport of the Jews was to search out distinguished rabbis and drain them dry. Intellectual gymnastics was the Jewish idea of a good time. Today was the turn of our Jesus. Good-naturedly He obliges the almost playful group.
Remember Teacher is the Gospel term used most commonly of Jesus.
Since the microphone system was poor, some of His words were being lost. The crowd was pushing Him into the lake to better hear Him. Since He had showered that AM at the Holiday Inn, He did not need another bath. So, the Teacher nimbly lifted Himself into a large fishing boat drawn up on the sand. He obviously exercised. (Do we? If not, why not?) Seated in the bow, He continued His talk.
Incidentally, when was the last time you were sitting at the beach and a large mob surrounded you? And they shouted, “O great teacher, share your wisdom with us.” Do you see now the type of Man we are lucky enough to follow? Have you sold Him short when He has so much to teach you? If yes, reconsider.
Put this point into your mental computer. Matthew says this was the first parable Jesus spoke. So, He must have spent hours burning the midnight oil at His Sony laptop polishing it. This was to be His debut on the lecture circuit. Jesus knew one bomb and you were road kill. This is one more reason to pay this parable super attention. There is gold out there in those parable hills. We have to dig it out with some old-fashioned sweat. Even in the spiritual life, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Many others on the lecture circuit have used the parable method, but no one has matched the Master’s skills. A literary critic wrote: “He is one of the world’s supreme masters of the short story.” How many short stories of de Maupassant or O Henry do you remember? Yet you know all of Christ’s.
This is a parable of encouragement. It was meant for the apostles and ourselves. To the twelve, the Nazarene was numero uno. He was an original. Yet they were discouraged that so few were actually buying into Him. “Master, why so much effort and so few gold rings?” His answer was this parable. (William Barclay)
Even the dullest gardener among us does not expect every single seed he sows to come up singing roses. He knows the wind will blow some seeds away. The squirrels will grow fat on others. However, even the amateur gardener keeps on sowing. And he certainly does not give up expectations of a generous growth of flowers.
Jesus tells His own troops never to throw in the towel even when one’s efforts seem an exercise in futility. People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway. (Kent Keith)
Think of of John Harvard here. In 1640, he came to the American colonies from England. He was a promising scholar. The New World appeared to be his oyster. But the poor fellow upped and died after but one year. His will gave $3500 and 200 books to a fledgling university. The school became Harvard University. Today it staffs a faculty of 1000 and has a student body of 10,000. It enjoys an international reputation. (Barclay)
John Harvard’s death appeared to his contemporaries to be an abomination, but it produced riches beyond anybody’s imaginings.
So, this parable of the Nazarene teaches that even if much of your labor or your money seems to go for nothing, do not allow yourself to go into a downer. The ballgame may well go into extra innings. Your honorable self may prove to be as much a winner as Christ Himself. Struggle on.
We mourn that the glass is half empty. With a smile, Jesus fills up the glass. Had Mark Twain taken this parable seriously, he would have ended his nasty cigarette habit.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July 13, 2014

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)—July 13, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 13:1-23)

Our Gospel opens with a picturesque scene of Jesus sitting “by the sea” and drawing such a large crowd that He had to get into a boat and go offshore a bit so the people could hear Him. If we were reading Matthew’s Gospel from its beginning, we would see that the reason Jesus had such a big following was that “He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. So His fame spread…” (Mt 4:23-24a). We would notice, too, that the first great teaching by Jesus recorded in this Gospel is the Sermon on the Mount. Here we find several chapters of straight talk about how men ought to live. Noticeable is the lack of any parables. After that, we get many more accounts of Jesus’ miracles.   Then, in chapter twelve, we find the beginning of strong opposition to Him. He healed a man on the Sabbath, and “the Pharisees went out and took counsel against Him, how to destroy Him” (Mt 12:14).

Fifteenth Sunday: Can We Handle the Truth?
This Sunday’s gospel can be divided into three sections.  The first is the parable of the sower.  Seed is thrown out on a footpath, where the birds eat it up, on rocky ground where it had no deep roots, among thorns where it was choked, and finally on good soil where it yielded the abundant harvest.  The  message of the parable is clear and simple: Be good soil.  The third section of the gospel is an allegorical interpretation of the parable of the soil.  Every section of the parable is seen as containing  a separate message.  The seed along the path is the man who hears God’s word but doesn’t understand it.  The birds are the evil one who devour what is scattered about in his mind.  The seed on the rocky soil is the man who does not have firm roots in his faith.  The seed among the thorns is the man who wants to have faith but is preoccupied by the things of the world.  Good soil is the man who hears the message and makes it his lifestyle.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A — Classic
Matthew 13:1-23

Gospel Summary

This parable about the sower of seeds is the first of seven parables that Matthew placed in the center of his gospel. Each of the parables adds a specific dimension to the reality that Matthew has described in the previous two chapters: although there are disciples who have begun to believe in him, Jesus is experiencing much rejection.
In the parable, the sower goes out and sows a great amount of seed. For various reasons much of the seed does not come to fruition. However, some of the seed that fell on rich soil produces an extraordinary amount of fruit.

Reflections for Sunday, July 13, 2014
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65:10-14; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23)

Allowing the Scriptures to Transform Us and Bear Fruit in Our Lives

My word … shall not return to me void. (Isaiah 55:11)

A farmer is very careful during planting season. He selects the best seeds, chooses the most fertile land, and plants each crop in just the right location. He does all of this in the expectation of a good harvest. Yet despite all his effort, he can’t make the seeds grow. It’s up to the seeds themselves. By contrast, it’s our heavenly Father who makes the seed of faith in our hearts grow and bear fruit. And he does it by pouring his word on us like a gentle rain shower.

Thinking Liturgically: Who is Our Helper?
Why do we go to Mass?  While this might seem like an easy question, try and figure out a way to describe why we go to Mass in a quick and easy fashion.  Traditionally, it is said the point of Mass is fourfold:  that of adoration, reparation, intercession and thanksgiving.  To anyone well versed in liturgical theology, they can tell you what this means.  But can the average person in the pews?  They aren’t meant to be theologians, they just want to go worship.

Experience the Life of Peace Christ Wants for You
In today’s gospel (Matthew 11:25-30), Jesus speaks of a relationship with Him to which He invites us that promises rest for the weary. In light of his other sayings, we see these words a clear implication of a peace that he offers to us.

But many followers of Christ don’t seem to be peaceful. Indeed, in my ministry, I often speak to Catholics and other Christians who admit they lack peace and aren’t sure what to do about it.

True Grit and the Sacred Heart of Jesus
As a convert to the Catholic faith it took me a while to appreciate the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion. To tell the truth, it seemed kind of sappy, sentimental and well… French. All hearts and flowers and perfume – almost like a Valentine from Jesus. Yucch.

God is the Ultimate Therapist
One of the more common statements that we hear from Protestants in regards to confessing our sins to an ordained priest is “I just confess my sins directly to God”. Of course, we should acknowledge our sins immediately when we are aware of them and ask God’s forgiveness. However, the God who created us knows what we need infinitely more than we do. This is why He instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Confession and Culture
Apart from political activism (which the Church certainly encourages her members to engage in to help establish just societies and safeguard human rights), what can we as Catholics do to turn things around in our admittedly erring country?

One of the best ways to evangelize a formerly Christian country is through the practice of frequent confession and reception of the Eucharist, both of which, in addition to being sacraments, are extremely potent forms of prayer.

No more excuses about how the flesh is weak.The spirit is eager and willing!When it comes to the demands of the moral life, one of the tendencies of our fallen human nature is to emphasize our weakness and minimize the reality of our strength. It is surely a tendency related to the cardinal sin of sloth, wherein we experience sorrow, sadness, or aversion to the good things that God is offering us.

There’s a part of us that would rather stay locked in our sins and in our weakness, either because we fear the changes that holiness would bring or, even worse, we find holiness unappealing.

12 Claims Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer
The Church has an important responsibility in protecting the integrity of our Faith. It never rejects ideas out of hand, as some dissenters would claim, but has two thousand years of prayer and study behind the beliefs it holds to be true. 

Freedom of speech is a great thing. Unfortunately, it comes at an unavoidable price: When citizens are free to say what they want, they’ll sometimes use that freedom to say some pretty silly things. And that’s the case with the 12 false claims below. Some of them are made over and over, others are rare. Either way, while the proponents of these errors are free to promote them, we as Catholics have a duty to know better and to respond in charity.

Fr Dwight Longenecker: A Hot Line to the Holy Spirit
Catholics certainly believe in the individual’s infilling with the Holy Spirit, but we hold this in balance with the equally important truth that the Church herself is inspired and filled and guided by the Holy Spirit. The Church is the Body of Christ on earth, and as such is a living, moving, breathing, Spirit filled organism-against which the gates of hell will never prevail. It is this Spirit filled Church which provides the balance and ballast for our own individual experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit-filled Church which provides the correction and qualification of our claims. It is the Spirit-filled Church which validates God’s guidance in our lives and it is the Spirit filled lives of the saints, the teaching of the Church and the liturgy of the Church which deepen, broaden, complete and sacramentally seal the personal infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Will Francis’s legacy be his constant reference to the battle between good and evil?
Deliver Us From Evil is a new film based on the experiences of New York police officer Ralph Sarchie. When the cop investigates a series of horrific crimes, he is led into the realm of the demonic and teams up with an unconventional priest to cast out the devil.

Some reviewers rate the movie as a typical exorcist horror film, scratch, and yawn then flick the channels. They shouldn’t.

God Only Helps Whom?
Have you ever heard the story of the man who prayed that God would save him in a flood? He stood on top of his roof, praying that God would save him. Three different rescue teams tried, and when each asked if he was okay and offered to bring him to safety, he turned them down, declaring that God would save him. Eventually he ended up drowning in the flood, and when he reached the other side, he approached God unhappily asking, “God, I trusted in you, why didn’t you save me?”

Get me to the Church on Time! A short meditation on Sunday morning struggles
One thing I surely have easy as a priest is getting to Church on Sunday. All I have to do is walk down the stairs, go through the dining and walk the passage through to the Church. There I am.I realize that it is not as easy for most of my parishioners and I am always grateful to see them, knowing the sacrifices many have made to get here.

The Secret to Converting Your Friends and Family
There’s someone out there you want to see safely home in the Catholic Church, right? Someone you know would be the next St. Augustine, if he found truth and decided to work for truth for the rest of his life.  You’ve been evangelizing to him by buying books and videos, posting articles on social media, even speaking directly on the stuff he’s missed. Still, he’s unmoved, probably  accused you of judging. So, you’re about ready to give up.

Please don’t!

We Are A Work in Progress
Workshops for teachers, spring training for Baseball players, ongoing courses for professionals, coaching, reviewing, updating, cutting away the dead branches and debris—life demands constant labor to improve, upgrade and perfect. Even more important must be the constant labor at ongoing formation for followers of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   All of us are a work in progress (W.O.P.) an incomplete project, a task that can always be improved.

Loving The Unlovable
On social media as in your dining room or your workplace, you are guaranteed to encounter people who test your patience. We are, as Catholics, commanded to love all people. There is no exclusion in Scripture or Tradition for jerks. There is no asterisk that features an addendum explaining that I am not required to love the person whose main goal appears to be to ruin my day, or even my life.

How do I get Rid of my “inner ugliness?”
Dear Father John, I have been struggling with some interior trials with forgiveness, resentment and jealousy. I call this “inner ugliness.” I have been praying fervently, going to confession, and receiving excellent spiritual direction. I have been willing myself to be charitable even when I am not feeling it. So here is my question. What am I missing, why do I still feel “inner ugly”? How do I let go of all of this?

Mass is Boring…
…is a complaint we too often hear.

But why is that and what’s to be done about it? Part of the problem is that we live in a high energy entertainment culture. People go and sit down together and they shift into an audience/consumer mindset. Subconsciously it’s like they have settled down to watch TV, attend a sports event or go to a movie. They want to be stimulated and entertained. Their involvement level is very low.

Worship is a different dynamic and many people don’t know what to do so they’re bored.

Karen Explains to Protestant Family Members Why She Became Catholic
Dear Family,

So that you know I have been vigilant in reading and studying about the Catholic Church.  Below are the many, many reasons why it is apparent to me that the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church that he built, and why there is no doubt in mind this is where I belong.  Sorry it’s so long, but there is so much to say and cover.  Here it goes, primarily it all starts with the Eucharist more than anything else.

How to talk to non-Catholics about the Faith
In 2013, Pope Francis had barely settled into his new Vatican living quarters when some enterprising journalist coined a phrase: “the Francis effect.”

Over the course of the past year, that phrase has repeatedly resurfaced in the likes of The Boston Globe, The New York Times and The Economist, alluding to what some see as a renewed interest in the Catholic Church sparked by Pope Francis.

The evidence, however, suggests that the more apt phrase might be “the Francis moment.”

World Youth Day 2016 logo and prayer revealed
Vatican City, 3 July 2014 (VIS) – In a press conference held this morning the metropolitan archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, presented the logo and official prayer for the 31st World Youth Day.

Three elements are combined in the symbolism of the logo: the place, the main protagonists, and the theme of the celebration. The logo of the 2016 World Youth Day, to be held in Krakow, illustrates the passage from the Gospel according to Matthew, 5.7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”, chosen as the theme of the event.

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