It is a beautiful Wednesday in the St. Louis Area of the Country. I am on day #9 of my yearly “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary” novena, and am thoroughly enjoying the journey and reflections.
Today’s Gospel reading is one of my favorite in the Bible. I hope you enjoy the reflection. It is a very positive one for all Catholics. Please pass this blog on to your friends and even your ENEMIES; all are welcomed.
Today in Catholic History:
† 1515 – Birth of Philip Neri, Italian churchman (d. 1595)
† Liturgical Feasts: Saint Arbogastus, bishop of Strasburg, confessor [Basel, Constance, Strassburg]; Saint Daniel; Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, priest, Doctor of the Church; Saint Praxedes (Praxidis); Saint Victor of Marseilles, and companions, martyrs [Trier, southern France; Paris]
Quote or Joke of the Day:
WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.
Today’s reflection is about the sowing of seeds parable:
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’ (NRSV Mt 13:1-9)
In Matthew’s Gospel, this is the beginning of Jesus’ third time making a public dissertation or sermon. It seems Jesus preferred teaching outdoors, and usually by water; be it the Jordan River, or the Sea (a lake) of Galilee. The crowd present must have been massive and pressing to require Jesus to take a position in a boat in order to teach.
In Palestine, sowing often preceded plowing, with much of the seed scattered on ground being unsuitable for the conditions present. Yet while much was wasted, the seed that fell on the good ground bore grain in extraordinarily large amounts. The point of this parable is to show that in spite of failure due to opposition and/or indifference, the message of Jesus about the coming of the Kingdom of God will be enormously successful.
My wife planted a small garden this year, and she started as always by tilling the earth. Tilling this year consisted of finding the tiny two-tined tiller buried somewhere in our garden shed; trying to get it started, with lots of prayers and frustrations; and then breaking up the earth to prepare it for the seeds. She planted a variety of seeds and starter plants in this small patch of ground: three types of tomatoes; four types of “squash;” three types of melons, and even a couple of sunflowers just for fun. Weeding the garden has, at times, been a major challenge and sometimes unsuccessful for us.
The crops are surprisingly bountiful this year, compared to others. I recently made “No-noodle vegetable lasagna” wherein I substituted thinly sliced zucchini instead of the usual pasta noodles. All the veggies (except mushrooms) came from my wife’s garden. We had so much in fact, I actually made two big pans; sharing one with our neighborhood friends. With great humility, this meal was a huge success!
What does my wife’s garden have to do with finding God? This was the meaning of Jesus’ parable about throwing seeds around for me. My wife searching for the tools to do the job, represents finding the time to look for God, and to find Him in prayer, adoration, the Sacraments and sacramental’s, Reconciliation, and most importantly, in the Eucharist.
The breaking up of the ground represents our submission to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to live in us, and to work through us. Our lives (the soil) have to be prepared so that the Holy Spirit can take root in us and grow.
Most of my wife’s seeds were planted in fertile soil, but some were eaten by birds, squirrels and rabbits, and even our dogs; and some never germinated. I believe this is the same with each of us. Being sinners, and definitely imperfect, the seeds in us sometime never germinate, and some are destroyed by our vices and sins. But some germinate and take a good strong root in us. If in fertile soil, a well-prepared soul in this case, the seeds of God’s grace grow to fruition and sprout great graces (the vegetables) for the harvesting.
Some of the seeds in my wife’s garden grew surrounded by weeds. When the vegetables were ready to be picked, we had to separate them from the weeds in order to gather them. They were still perfectly good to eat, even though they were not in pristine soil and conditions. The same is true with us in God’s Kingdom. Some of us are planted in fertile soil, but due to circumstances many weeds grow around us. These weeds could be drugs, mental problems, petty crimes, bad family life, insecurity, or any other calamity that could affect someone’s spiritual life. Even though you may be in this “weedy” soil, good produce is still possible and can be harvested. With God, all things are definitely possible, even with all the baggage we sometimes carry. Please allow God to harvest you from the weeds of life. Jesus’ parable of the “sower and the seed” definitely gives hope and encouragement to all that listens to His word.
Remember, we are all unique. No one path to God’s Kingdom is identical to another’s; each is a “one-of-a-kind” experience. God had a purpose for your life being different from any others. I also believe that God gives us all the graces and talents we need to make that journey on the path we must take to Him.
The word “parable” (In Greek: “parabole”) is used to translate the Hebrew “mashal:” a word that covers a variety of oral and written literature such as maxims, axioms, proverbs, fable’s, similitude’s, and allegories. In the New Testament the same word primarily designates stories that illustrates comparisons between Christian truths, and the events of everyday life. Sometimes these events have an element that is quite different from the usual experience. An example is found in the upcoming Matthew 13:33 where the enormous amount of dough, in the “parable of the yeast,” is enough to feed one hundred people; and used to illustrate the greatness of the Kingdom of God’s effect on humanity.
Parables were meant to sharpen the curiosity of the hearer. This parable was a calculated discourse to appeal to a rural-oriented audience present for Jesus’ lesson and sermon this day. The local farmers knew the problems associated with trying to be successful in their environment. Much of Palestine is very rocky, with the top-soil often quite thin, and the Palestinian sun often scorched and burned crops, thus decreasing the usual bounty of the farmer.
St. Francis, while praying before the San Damiano Crucifix in that little town of Assisi in Italy, heard God tell him to “rebuild my house, which is falling in ruins.” Francis, being man trained in practical business matters from his father, understood what God had told him to mean that the old chapel, he was praying in, which was decrepit and literally falling apart brick by brick, and needed to be repaired.
Francis did exactly that; he rebuilt that church, and several others. In addition, he also rebuilt the entire Catholic Church by starting three separate Franciscan Orders of priests, brothers, and nuns that have spread world-wide; and even into the Anglican and Orthodox Churches. The seed was planted with Francis in very fertile soil, and grew to an immense size, bearing much great fruit. Is there are seeds waiting to sprout in you that could equal or surpass Francis’ bounty? Ask God.
“Saint Francis Prayer”
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: St. Lawrence of Brindisi 1559-1619
Lawrence was one of the greatest ornaments of the Capuchin Order, and deserved well of both Church and State at the beginning of the 17th century. He was born at Brindisi in the kingdom of Naples in 1559.
From his tenderest years he evinced rare gifts of nature and grace. In remembrance of Jesus in the Temple at 12 years of age, a custom prevails in Italy at Christmas time permitting boys to preach in public. Lawrence was only six years old when he preached in the cathedral of his native town with such force and point that his audience was deeply affected and many entered upon a more Christian life.
Lawrence entered the Capuchin friary at Verona when he was only 16 years of age. He distinguished himself from the very beginning as a model of perfection. He was punctual at all the community exercises, perfect in his submission to superiors, and full of respect and charity towards his brethren.
When his novitiate was over, he continued to pursue his studies. He was very successful in the study of philosophy and theology, and acquired so thorough a command of foreign languages that he was able to preach in French, Spanish, German, Greek, and even in Hebrew. He ascribed his success not so much to his talents as to the special help he received from Mary, the Seat of Wisdom, whom he honored with tender devotion.
With such accomplishments Father Lawrence started out on a highly fruitful missionary life. At first he visited the various cities in Italy; Venice, Pavia, Verona, Padua, Naples, where his labors were blessed with remarkable success. He was then called to Rome, where he was entrusted with the conversion of the Jews. His thorough knowledge of the Hebrew language won for him the esteem of the rabbis, and his gentle manner led many an Israelite to baptism.
In 1598 Father Lawrence was sent to Germany with eleven other friars to establish Capuchin convents there and to counteract the heresy of Luther, which was at that time gaining a foothold in Austria.
Emperor Rudolph II entrusted to our saint the task of organizing a crusade against the Turks, who were threatening to invade the whole Christian Occident. Father Lawrence, who loved seclusion, was now obliged to visit the principal cities of Germany to negotiate the cause with the princes, and preach it to the people. Due to his wisdom and holiness, which almighty God permitted him to manifest in astonishing ways, his efforts proved successful.
While he was saying holy Mass in Munich in the chapel of the duke of Bavaria, our Lord appeared after the elevation in the form of a resplendent Child, who lovingly caressed the saint. Frequently he was so affected during the celebration of holy Mass that he shed copious tears. Altar linens thus moistened with his tears were later used on the sick, and they were cured as were the faithful by the kerchiefs of St. Paul.
Father Lawrence was made the chief chaplain of the powerful army of Archduke Matthias, which went to Hungary in 1601 to war against the Turks. Although quite crippled with rheumatism, he mounted his horse and, crucifix in hand, rode at the head of the troops to the battlefield. The first sight of the enemy was most discouraging, for their position was so favorable and their number so superior that the most stout-hearted officers despaired of victory. But in the name of the God of battles Father Lawrence promised victory to the Christians and inspired them all with fiery courage. The enemy was completely routed.
Lawrence now returned to Italy where he hoped he might again serve God in his beloved solitude. But the general chapter of the order elected him vicar general. He was obliged in obedience to accept this heavy burden. In this high office he proved a charitable and vigilant pastor to his brethren. When his term expired, the pope again sent him to Germany, this time on an errand of peace, to reconcile the Archduke Matthias with his brother, the emperor. Again he was successful.
After he returned to Italy, the kingdom of Naples, his native land, was in need of his services. This kingdom which at that time belonged to Phillip III of Spain, was governed by a viceroy who cruelly oppressed the people. The only hope lay in presenting the people’s grievances to the king through Father Lawrence. The latter sympathized with the people and journeyed to Spain, only to learn that the king was then in Portugal. So on he went to Lisbon, where he pleaded the people’s cause and obtained the dismissal of the viceroy.
But this errand of charity cost Lawrence his life. He fell very ill at Lisbon. He knew that his end was drawing near and told his companions so. After devoutly receiving the last sacraments, he fell into ecstasy, during which he went to the sweet embrace of his Lord on the feast of St. Magdalen, July 22, 1619. Pope Pius VI beatified him in 1783, and on December 8, 1881, Pope Leo XIII canonized him. In December 1958 Pope John XXIII signed a decree declaring St. Lawrence to be a Doctor of the Church.
The Franciscan Book of Saints,
ed. by Marion Habig, ofm.,
© 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #21:
On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.
Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.
Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under the guidance of their respective council.