Tag Archives: Kingdom of God

Holy Week Message Series “Dress Rehearsal” – Holy Thursday

Putting It Together: Know Your Role

Homily for Holy Thursday 2017

Readings for Holy Thursday

Last Sunday I began a message series called “Dress Rehearsal” that will continue through our Triduum liturgies. I’m calling the theme of the message series “Dress Rehearsal” to help us explore how the liturgies are a kind of symbolic “rehearsal” of the Christian’s life of Discipleship. What we do in this room is learn, through ritual, what the death of Jesus means for us and how we bring this truth onto the stage of the world.

Palm Sunday’s liturgy was a kind of initial “table reading” where those who gather for the Dress Rehearsal get familiar with the who, what and meaning of the drama that will unfold during the rest of Holy Week. We learned the drama we enact these days is  a rehearsal of the journey we disciples make following the crucified Jesus through our everyday life sacrifices eventually reaching the banquet of eternal life foreshadowed by the Eucharist. The overall story line played out in each of the liturgies of Holy Week we learned on Palm Sunday was “Paschal Mystery.” That short two word phrase contains the whole meaning of the drama we rehearse these days. The Pascal Mystery is what Jesus was all about, revealing by his life, death and resurrection that those who sacrifice themselves for the sake of others, those who die will discover a richer, fuller life. That life even has the potential of being unending because of the Paschal Mystery for those who give themselves over to Jesus. Death leads to life. Any death.

Tonight is the part of rehearsals when we learn what our roles are in the drama of discipleship that brings our life meaning. Who gets to be the lead? Who is a supporting actor? The liturgy of Holy Thursday is about what role the disciples of Jesus to play in the drama of everyday living of the Paschal Mystery.

You would think the Jesus get’s to the be lead actor, his name on the marque. In a way, Jesus is the star of the drama. But, he is a very different kind of star. He shuns the spotlight. Jesus doesn’t expect privilege. This lead actor in the drama of Pascal Mystery says all the characters in the drama will be servants. That’s the role of the disciple enacting the pascal mystery on the stage of everyday life. Disciples are servants. Disciples of Jesus die with the Lord in every act of self-sacrifice to make another person’s life better, more comfortable, more alive. Servant is the role assigned by the director Christ to everyone. No stars, no lead actors. Just a servant’s role for every person baptized into Christ.

To be sure, there are different kinds of servant roles. The Church points out that this is the day Christ gave us the role of priest as a way to manifest the servant Christ. Men are chosen to offer their life as priests, without the companionship of a spouse in imitation of Christ to serve their Christian family in daily offering themselves as a companion on the road to the new day of eternity.

There are other servant roles, too. Deacons to image the Christ who tends to the physical needs of those who need comfort. Bishops to lead like shepherds. There are Moms and Dads who sacrifice their own desires to ensure that their spouse and children have what they need to live life. Changing diapers, cooking, going to work are living the mystery death of self leads to life. There are the young Christians who help out at home cleaning their room or taking care of siblings, then who show compassion to friends. Servant roles come in all sorts of vocations! The oils that we received from the Bishop remind us that we are anointed to share in the mystery of Christ through servant who rejects the evil one’s siren call to think of self first. The Chrism oil made us servants who proclaim Christ, leading other to him. And when the servant suffers illness, Christ strengthens him or her to continue playing the role in union with His cross that served the world redemption.

Bishop Braxton announced this past Tuesday at a Mass in the Cathedral when the holy oils were blessed an opportunity for members of the laity to respond to the call to be servant to their parishes. Beginning this year there will be a training program for some of you to become a lay minister assisting your parish live out it’s mission to be a community that proclaims Christ. Called Into My Vineyard: Formation for Lay Ecclesial Ministry in our Parishes, this training of people from the parishes throughout the Diocese is meant to equip select parishioners to help keep our parishes vital and growing. Perhaps, tonight you might begin to hear Christ the director of our rehearsal saying to you, “You, my friend, would be good for the role of Lay Parish Minister servant.” If you hear that call and want more information ASAP, I’ve got a pamphlet for you with your name on it.

In a few moments I, the representative in your midst of Christ the servant priest will symbolically wash the feet of some of you.  Washing feet may seem very archaic, maybe even strange or too personal in our culture. We do it because Jesus said do this in my memory, like breaking bread and sharing wine. Washing feet is meant to be a rehearsal of my role as your servant caring for your spiritual (and sometimes emotional and physical needs). But the washing of feet for those who come to the sanctuary and those who observe the rite is a reminded  that every one of us has a servant role to play. Everyone of us has to let our pride die. All of us must stop thinking of ourselves as someone who deserves something and figuratively kill off our ego, letting the identity of Jesus take over. Only when we spend a life time rehearsing, practicing our role of servant will we be confidently unafraid to let go of life at our physical death and discover the fullness of life as we are invited to dine at the banquet of eternal life served us by Jesus Christ.

Let us continue our “Dress Rehearsal” in humble gratitude for being called a member of the cast of disciples. We’re putting it all together, glad to have the role of servant sharing in making the Paschal Mystery a reality in this world following the lead of Jesus on the way to the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

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Future of Fear or Hope

Sometimes, after the Sunday Eucharist, greeting members of the assembly as they leave the church building, one or two will complement me on the homily. Even more rare is a request for a copy of the homily. It’s flattering when that happens, but it can also make me wonder if my other homilies on other weeks didn’t touch the heart or stir the thoughts of those who listened and I failed to proclaim the Word of God in a way that can be heard by the contemporary parishioner so that they will go out into the world experiencing a conversion of heart, the goal of all preaching. This weekend was one of those where there were comments and a request. For some reason the following stored the hearts of a few folks. Thanks be to God for letting me be the messenger who spoke his word that changes hearts and proclaims Good News!

"Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.

“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates.

Homily for the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Readings for the Thirty-third Sunday of the Year, Cycle B
Daniel 12:1-3
 and Mark 13:24-32

People have a conflicted relationship with the future. Some people say they don’t want to know what’s going to happen in the future because such knowledge might immobilize them in the present. If they knew when, where and how they were going to die, they might shut down and never leave the house. Such folks relationship with the future are based on fear. Other people are almost fascinated with the future and say they want to know what’s going to happen so some sort of prophetic prediction will enable them to be prepared. But usually such predictions are full of fear or produce anxiety. Think of people who try to interpret the “symbolic” language of a 16th century writer named Nostradamus. His writings are often read for clues to foretell the future, a future that is full of tribulation. T.V. preachers tell of a terrible time to come as they claim to be able to see the future foretold in book of Revelation. Such supposedly enlightened so-called religious characters usually predict a future to full of fear. Pay them no attention! They’re totally misusing the Word of God! Their method is a total mis-reading of the last book of the bible – it tells of current events at the time it was written in such a way as to strengthen Christians under persecution. Revelation is like a pep-talk to Christians fearful of current events to stay strong during persecution. Jesus wins! Romans, those who claim earthly power lose! That’s how it should be read today, not as a fortune teller’s script.

Even the Gospel and first reading of this Sunday’s liturgy seem to talk about fear and anxiety as hallmarks of what’s to come. Wars, natural catastrophes will occur. A time of tribulation will be the sign of Jesus’ future return.

So, is this the time of tribulation? Terrorists blow up and shot innocent people out for a night of fun in Parish restaurants, theaters and outside a soccer stadium. The message seems to be fear for your future for you have offended us! Violence, fear become the method of choice to send a message about the future.

The Gospel is not meant to scare us, but to be Good News! That’s what “Gospel” means in Greek, “Good News!” Remember, every age has had its doomsayers predicting terrible times. Every era of human history has seen wars, has experienced natural disasters that cause human misery. The Good News is evil doesn’t win in the end. Jesus triumphs with love. The cross and resurrection are the sign of love’s victory destroying hatred and death. Good News! Sacrificing yourself like Jesus, in union with Jesus who are members of by our baptism, brings peace.

The evil things that happen to innocent people out for a carefree Friday night killed by terrorists are a sign…A sign that humanity needs the love of Jesus to come and bring his kingdom of harmony, NOW. The bad stuff that happens in any age is a sign that Jesus is the one we await and need to set right the mess we humans have made of our human family. Sin, human hubris, the expression of hate that happens in every age is a message to be taken to heart…Jesus can not doesn’t want this to continue. He is coming, be ready. He is already here, standing on the threshold of a new order of humanity already entering human history through his body the church. Change, or be ready to experienced the consequences.

How do we get ready for the appearance of Jesus, to meet him both not and in the future judgement? Make a choice…

either give into hate rooted in selfish pride, continue to increase the division of humanity into it’s tribes that try to conquer one another and suffer the consequences; be separated from God forever in unimaginable misery (Tradition calls such existence Hell)…

or…live life as Jesus revealed as the way to the fullness of living where dying to self for the sake of others well-being is the opening up of a life that cannot be defeated by death.

Those who follow Jesus have a Future full of HOPE, therefore they are not afraid even of the present troubling events.

If we live in the present seeking to reconcile people who are estranged, if we strive to bring justice (right-ordering of human relationships where no one is stronger or has power over another, or abuses the human dignity of others), living lives of compassion and service to the poor our joyful future with Jesus is pretty much assured. Because Jesus Christ is just. He will know you served Him in the poor, you didn’t deliberately try to destroy life that was no threat to your personhood respecting the human dignity of all, Christ will give the fullness of life. Jesus is merciful, overlooking our selfish poor choices and wiping them out of existence so they do not hinder our ability to pass through the threshold of eternity.

Those who are in Christ fulfilling the mission of the Church the best they can, forgiven of sin don’t worry about the future. God is there already and has prepared a new life for us. In the Creed we say at Mass we profess, “I ‘look forward’ to the resurrection of the dead.” “Look forward” has the connotation of excited expectation in this context, a “I can’t wait, it’ll be wonderful” sense. Concentrate on living in the present as a person who shows compassion and mercy. Then the future won’t be something to fear.

 


All Saints and The Beatitudes

All-Saints

A couple of weeks ago I was able to go on my annual retreat (that all priests are required to do) at St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana.  The retreat preacher, Fr. Eugene Hensell, O.S.B. , a monk of the Archabbey and faculty member of the St. Meinrad School of Theology, there, spoke over the course of 9 conferences about the “Sermon on the Mount” by Jesus (Matthew Chapter 5, 6, 7). This exploration of the Sermon on the Mount inspired my homily for this year’s Solemnity of All Saints. What follows is my attempt to preach the feast. The congregation was lucky I didn’t try to explain to them all the notes I took during the retreat! That would have been a much longer homily. 😉

Homily for the Solemnity of All Saints 2o15

Readings for the feast

Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12A

We all probably dream of our door bells ringing and there is some guy from Publisher’s Clearing House standing on the other side of the door with a big check for $10,000 dollars per week for life. “Congratulations!” the prize patrol guy says. “You’ve won the sweepstakes!” So there we are, the contest winner whose thinking our struggles in life are over. Thank God I signed up on the web-site for the contest! There will be no more financial worries for my family!

In the Gospel of the “beatitudes” Jesus is doing something similar. Jesus, in the beatitudes is announcing that his disciples have won the big prize. The Greek word used in this version of the Gospel written by Matthew is translated “Blessed” but it could be just as accurately translated “Congratulations!”

Congratulations, you’re poor!
Congratulations, you’re grieving and mourning!
You’re being persecuted for your beliefs. Hey, it’s your lucky day!

Using the word “Congratulations” sure makes the message Jesus is preaching to the disciples seem rather odd. What? Be excited because my life is in the pits? That’s not good news. How about you fix things so I don’t suffer so much?”

It is important to remember Matthew writes about Jesus teaching the “Beatitudes” to a community that’s discouraged. Things were not going as well as they thought they would or should be after proclaiming Jesus as the Savior to the people in their day. Shouldn’t things be different because of Jesus. By now he should have come back and kicked beat up on the Romans and established his kingdom in power. And this is the good news, Matthew, Mr. Gospel writer? Congratulations! You say we win the prize but like the state of Illinois lottery now a days, payment will come sometime down the road! They needed a reminder that they were on the right track.

The Beatitudes are meant to be a reminder that God’s reign, God’s control isn’t just something that arrives at an undetermined future date. The Kingdom of Heaven is already present in the lives of the followers of Jesus. Because the disciples of Jesus believe Jesus rose from the dead, God is already in charge of death. God is in control of people’s lives even in the present. The way the beatitudes are written suggests that disciples are fortunate to know that God is ultimately in charge, not just in the future, but here and now.

Congratulations to those who live in the house built by Jesus’ death and resurrection because you know that deprivation is not permanent. You know that suffering does not last forever. You know that the forces of evil do not win, God does! When people know what the outcome of the battle is going to be, then the present suffering or pain or deprivation is a little more easy to go through. In fact, the suffering, if done with the conviction that God is already in charge will lead a disciple to see life differently. I’m not in charge of my fate, but the one who loves me enough to die for me is in charge. I’m his child, NOW (I John 3:2). By God, I need someone more powerful than myself to bring justice, to set my life right when it goes wrong.

Matthew is instructing us disciples of Jesus that since the Kingdom of God is already here, here’s how you live in it. These are not impossible life guiding principles. See in these laws of the Kingdom the way for everyone to experience a richer, fuller life. The rules are different from the way things are in the Kingdom of “Caesar” (this present era’s world of governments, radical religious fundamentalists and man-made economies) but you’ll be happier, more fulfilled if you follow these not so impossible rules.

Realize you can not secure your own life, but are dependent on the generous spirit of others to share your joys and supply what you need. (Matthew 5:3)

Work to forgive. Work at reconciling with those who have hurt you because resentment can strangle the joy out of life. (Matthew 5:7,9)

Realize you can not change the past. Let the past go! Live in the moment gratefully enjoying each day of life and the love you’ve been given. (Matthew 5:4)

The rule of God is already in the world. Follow the law of the beatitude and you don’t have to wait till you die to experience some of the fullness, the richness of life. The beatitudes are an achievable way of life, because we know that Jesus is in charge, not the powers that be of this world.

All the Saints were sinners like us, trying to live the way of the Beatitudes. Sometimes they didn’t live according to the law of peacemaker, or always in purity of heart, But, because they recognized their need to live differently than the “norms of this world” they began to experience the life of heaven in this world. Therefore, they have become inspirations to us that we celebrate on this feast of All Saints. Living life like Jesus lays out in his teaching is possible for sinners that are citizens of heaven in training. May the witness of the saints inspire us to understand we are fortunate. We’ve won the prize of living unafraid of whatever happens for we know Jesus is in charge and will share with us the prize of the fullness of life, now and forever!

 


Reflections on the Gospel of John Chapter 6: part 5

St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (Covington, Kentucky), interior, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Frank Duveneck mural, 'Eucharist, the Bread of Life' via https://commons.wikimedia.org

St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (Covington, Kentucky), interior, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Frank Duveneck mural, ‘Eucharist, the Bread of Life’ via https://commons.wikimedia.org

“What’s Really Going On, here!”

Readings for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
JOS 24:1-2A, 15-17, 18B
JN 6:60-69

People often leave a club they belong to because the direction the organization is taking just doesn’t appeal to them anymore. Or, the leader of the organization will say something that rubs a member the wrong way and the member says, “I’m out of here, I don’t have to put up with this nonsense!” People pull their children out of sports teams because the coach isn’t seeing things my way, that my child is talented and should have more time on the field! People make choices all the time about how committed they are to an organization, a team or even a church. Often, if something challenges the thinking of an individual, he or she says “Forget it! I just can’t accept that way of thinking. I’m out of here!”

That kind of rejection of a leader’s direction for the group is what is going on in the Gospel, today. Some of Jesus’ disciples think he’s gone too far. Did he just say we’ve got to eat his flesh and drink his blood to live in the presence of God? That’s crazy talk! It’s repulsive, even. Who does this Jesus think he is? God?

Some people just couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that they were in the presence of God in the flesh and that Jesus could make bread his body and wine his blood. They chose to leave his company.

Some people today, still can’t accept what we believe as Catholics. We believe that when we eat communion, the bread is not just a symbol of his body, it IS His body. The wine, some will argue is just wine that “represents” his blood, but isn’t really blood. Yet, we Catholics believe the bread stops being bread, the wine stops being wine and they are the real, true and substantial presence of Jesus in our hands, mouth and assembly. Many have left the church over the years unable to accept this truth.

Continuing for this last Sunday my “sermon series” on the teaching of the sixth chapter of John’s gospel about the Eucharist, let’s look at how, as one of those  people who did send in questions I asked for about what members of the congregation would like to learn about the Eucharist, how does the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. (I need to acknowledge where I’m getting most of my material for this teaching, by the way. There’s an excellent video on the internet by Bishop-elect Robert Barron on the real presence. (Click this link to be taken to the video and see if I represent his teaching accurately THE SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST AS REAL PRESENCE at the web site Word on Fire.)

Spoken words have tremendous power. When you, I or anyone says something the words we use can change reality. Words have tremendous power to affect reality. A lot of times we use words to describe something. I am wearing a green chasuble, today. The weather is rainy. These are descriptive words. But words can also change reality. An umpire has the authority to say to a player who breaks the rules, “You’re out of here!” and the ball player cannot continue to play the game. He ceases, for a day, to be a ballplayer.  A policeman says “Your under arrest,” and a person’s life is changed, sometimes forever carrying the identity of criminal where that wasn’t reality before. You and I can hurt the feelings of a spouse with harsh verbal criticism or make someone our spouse by saying “I take you to be my wife, to have and hold, forever.” Words have power to change reality. Saying something out loud can make reality change.

In the scriptures we proclaim every Mass, the word of God we claim guides our lives and tells the truth about what’s real, God is the ultimate changer of reality by the words he speaks. “And God said, let their be creation” and everything came into being. Not only did God change or describe reality by speaking a word. He made reality as we know it! That’s power.

We also say that Jesus is God’s Word in the flesh. The beginning of the Gospel of John that we’ve been reading for several weeks states in the first chapter “And the Word of God became flesh, one of us!” (John 1:1-5, 14)Therefore we can believe that when Jesus, THE WORD, says something His words are God speaking. God who made and can change what is real. Think about what words Jesus would say in the Gospels. “Be healed” he’d say to lepers, the blind, the lame and the sick and they would be restored to health. Jesus’ words affect reality, sometimes at the very core of a person’s existence. Things change because Jesus speaks.

At the Last Supper, Jesus said of the bread and wine he and his friends were sharing, “This IS my body. This IS my blood.” He didn’t say “this is a symbol to stand in for my body and blood.” Jesus’ word meant what he said. By his power as the divine in human flesh he could use words to change bread and wine into something else, at the deepest level of their existence.

At Mass, I as the priest, have been given authority by you, the church, the Body of Christ still in our world, to speak His words. I do not speak my own words. I say the words of Jesus Christ. I make audible what Jesus continues to say, as he did at the last supper, his words echoing down through the centuries. “This is my body and blood.” You “order” me, in Holy Orders, so to speak, to speak “in the person of Christ.” And so when I say His words, His words change reality of bread and wine at their deepest existence. Christ effects a change in reality. Bread and wine change at the level of substance.

There is a difference between appearances and what is real often in our lives. Usually, how something appears is what is reality. I appear to be a man. I am a man. But sometimes what something seems isn’t what’s really going on. Someone seems like a jerk, but when you get to know the guy, he’s really a stand up person who has a bad habit or two. You look at stars and it seems like you’re seeing them as they are now, this night, but what you’re really seeing is light that was generated maybe millions of years ago, as the star appeared a long time ago, not as it is now, which may be a dead black hole. The appearance remains, but at another deeper level, the reality has changed.

This is a way that St. Thomas Aquinas taught we can understand the Eucharist. Accidents (a word for appearances) and substance (a word for reality) is still how the church teaches about the real presence of Jesus in our gathering for Mass. The accident of bread-ness remains but the substance of Jesus is really there, his body, his love, his eternal God nature really, truly and substantially. Through the power of the Word of God the deepest reality of bread and wine change. We call this transubstantiation, a word if you break it down that means “trans” (to go from one thing to another, to cross over, to change) in substance, it’s realness.

One more thing, someone once said that you are what you eat. It’s true. The hamburgers and vegetables and fruits we put in our stomachs are changed into the muscle fiber and cells of our body. Because we eat of the real body and blood of Christ, we become what we eat. We become the real presence of Christ in the world, here and now. We are drawn into his person, our words as a church and individual members of the church able to change reality. We can speak words of mercy and love, reconciliation and peace. We have to make a choice. Do we reject the truth Jesus speaks and leave the church where we are assured of His truth? Or do we stay. If we stay we know his body speaking through us can speak a word that will change the world to be closer to the reality of the Kingdom of God that Christ came to bring.

Sometimes I complain to friends about one thing or another the church wants us to teach or believe. Friends will say, “Why don’t you just leave and go become a minister in another church, then?” But all I can say in response is that I choose the Catholic Church, where else can I go? I need the Eucharist, the real presence of Christ. I have come to believe I need Christ’s real presence. I may not be worthy to have Jesus come under my roof (to become part of my being) but I choose to believe! AMEN!

 


We Are Sowers, and So Is the Lord

A reflection based on the Readings for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C, according to the Roman Rite
Isaiah 55:10-11
Romans 8:18-23
Matthew 13:1-23

God produces the yield from our random efforts to proclaim Good News,
beyond our expectations. 

Driving on the highway passing fields of corn in my corner of the Midwestern U. S. it looks like it could be a good year for the crop. I’m not a farmer, but I have been around enough farmers and corn fields as a child and in 33 years of priesthood and to me it looks like it could be a year for a high yielding corn crop. Saturday morning, in the paper I saw that there is some concern that the corn crop, if things continue as they are right now, may be too good and prices will drop triggering government subsidies to keep prices from being too low. Some would say it’s luck farmers have had the right weather so far. Other people might say the abundance is a gift of God.

Now having said I’m not a farming expert but have been around farmers since childhood, I also know enough that it would sound silly or crazy if I said to one of my parishioners who’s growing corn “Bet you’re going to get fifteen hundred buss els of corn per acre this year! And your neighbor, it’s looking like he’ll get at least a thousand bushels of beans per acre! I did hear a few farmers are only going to get 800 bushels of corn per acre, though.” The farmers in the parish would think this priest was at best joking with them and at worst he had gone delusional!

But that’s the kind of thing Jesus was saying in the gospel we proclaimed at Mass this weekend. The wild amounts of harvested crop that could be expected by the farmer in the Gospel who just throws seed around here and there is outlandish. Jesus was predicting unreal amounts of grain would be harvested. Unless we understand a little about farming in the first century in what we call the middle east we’ll miss the point of the Gospel of the sower and the seed.

The Sower (Le semeur) - James Tissot  between 1886 and 1894 on display at the Brooklyn Museum - image in common domain  (from http://commons.wikimedia.org)

The Sower (Le semeur)
James Tissot
between 1886 and 1894
on display at the Brooklyn Museum – image in common domain
(from http://commons.wikimedia.org)

People who grew wheat or barley in the time of Jesus did not have the knowledge of seeds germinating and growing roots that took up nourishment from the soil like the modern farmers among us. The farmer in the time of Jesus didn’t even plow nice neat rows into the soil so the seed could be covered by dirt. Farming was a random act that depended on the generous mercy of God. Throw the seed out, expecting some to miss the targeted softer ground and land where people walked a path because it was short cut to where they wanted to get to or in the hedge row that kept out animals. Then hope God blessed you with enough to feed your family and sell a little to the townspeople. In a sense, to them it was a miracle that stalks of grain appeared. First century farmers didn’t know how it happened but God must be involved because, amazingly, grain appeared on stalks where the farmer threw seed a few months earlier. Today’s general knowledge of agronomy shields us from hearing the parable. By God’s willing it, a miracle of abundance happened. Everybody knew that, then. But, Jesus takes things a step further and says that the Kingdom of God is like an outlandish yield of crops.

It’s a metaphor. God’s kingdom isn’t really a field of unexpected high yielding grain. But it’s like that. Jesus uses one image to get those who listen to him to have an experience, an insight into what it’s like when God is in control of life.

Whenever you and I have an experience of an outcome to something that we’ve done that far exceeds our expectations, or surprises us that anything even happened, that’s experiencing the Kingdom of God in our midst. What’s it like to experience life in the Kingdom of God? When ever a seemingly random selfless action has results far beyond expectation. When we let God do his thing instead of trying to control the outcome of everything we do.

Think of it like this. Once there was a young girl who had trouble paying attention in school. Her parents told her they believed in her, to make sure she took the opportunity to help others like they were helping her and then spent a little more time with her doing homework. That’s just normal parent behavior. The mom and dad did nothing grand or planned out for results. Then, many years later on the day the girl retires from a long career of teaching in a school in a poor area, having inspired many other students to be the best they can be she says “I owe it all to my mom and dad who did something so simple as to believe in me and help me study that I was able to help so many children be more than they thought they could be!” That’s experiencing the kingdom of God in this world. God took the small random act of selflessness and produced an abundance of life for many people.

Or, maybe one of us has said a kind word of support to a grieving widow at the funeral home visitation after her husband’s death. Some time later the widow says “You know, something you said at my husband’s funeral made it o.k. for me to go on enjoying life instead of dying in grief. Thank you!”

Or, a family brings some cans of food to Mass and places them in the food pantry barrel in the vestibule. Because of that act, some unknown recipients in another part of town won’t have children that go to bed hungry but who can grow and get through a rough financial patch. Who knows how much someone will be helped by a selfless act of a disciple of Jesus. But, to live in the Kingdom of God, even here and now, is to trust that a random act will produce more benefit, or even make a better life possible, than can be “rationally” expected is to experience the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Whenever you and I have an experience of an outcome to some act that we’ve done or word that we said that far exceeds our expectations, or surprises us that anything even happened, that’s experiencing the Kingdom of God in our midst. Disciples trust that God will make a harvest of good, an abundance of life, come out of our feeble efforts to proclaim the mercy of God revealed in Jesus.

Let God do great things through you. Don’t let your heart be choked off by the thorns of other people’s cynicism that something can’t be done for the poor. Don’t let your own self-doubt that you can’t do anything about the state of society or other people’s difficult situation become a hardened path to a place of inaction. We do what we can, throwing the seeds of seemingly random small acts of selflessness into the world and let God grow the harvest of His kingdom.

 


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