Our Field First

I have heard a few homilies, including my own, reflecting on the readings from today.  These homilies almost always strive to explain these parables (with their farming motif) to urge the people understand that God can do wondrous things, and does.  That He can take our small and seemingly awkward actions and allow them to grow into glorious witnesses of the Kingdom.  And this of course is very true.

But this afternoon, I was hit with another aspect of these parables.  I was reading the Holy Father’s Lectio Divina reflection on part of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans; given to Roman seminarians back in February.  During this reflection he commented on Christ speaking to us.  He said “..he does not only appeal to our morality and our will, but also to the Grace that is in us, an appeal to us to let Grace act.  It is, as it were, an action in which the Grace given to us at Baptism becomes active within us, it must be active within us; thus Grace, the gift of God, and our cooperation go hand in hand.”

This put the parable of the farmer and the parable of the mustard seed into a new light and more personal light.  The first seed, our initial cultivation, should be allowing the gift of God, Grace; that is within us, to grow and flourish – and then not only does our witness become stronger; but our growth and those around us become holier.

But the Holy Father’s words also put something Father Matt said this morning into bright and clear focus.  He was commenting on homilies; he said that we seem to have lost the Catholic vocabulary, which in turn, diminishes our ability to understand God’s message.  He pointed out, as an example, that homilists generally don’t use the word ‘Grace’ … and because of that it moves the homily’s point of view more to the imminent and reduces the transcendent.  It moves the people hearing the homily to reflect on a personal and almost psychological level instead of understanding themselves as part of the eternal and divine work of salvation.  It makes our actions more sociological and less spiritual.

For us to grow, for sake of our and everyone’s salvation, we need to cultivate the field within us and let God’s Grace animate us from within first; then our actions of love without will flow from it. And we need to recapture the ability to speak and think the language of God.

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Promise kept

Though the richness of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is as deep as God Himself (for it is God) and impossible to grasp fully; this year for me, Corpus Christi is a celebration of the joy of a promise kept. “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20).  Christ promised that He would be with us always; and  every time I participate in the Mass, or celebrate a communion service, or sit in front of the blessed sacrament I see this promised kept.

But this year I wondered: did the apostles understand what Christ meant when He told them this; could they ever know what the Lord meant by ‘I am with you always’ before Pentecost?   What was their amazement like during those first Masses when they realized the full import of Christ’s promise and how He kept it?

It is more than just being with us. – it is being in us – being us!  Jesus through his Holy Spirit dwells within each of us and helps up motivate the divine inside.  But the Most Precious Body and Blood of Lord takes this intimacy to a whole new level.   Christ Himself continually comes to us at the Mass, in the form of bread and wine; but truly in his glorified body.  He allows us to participate with Him in His sacrifice of Himself in praise to His father.  He urges us to take His glorified body and nourish our souls by consuming Him and thus allowing our bodies and souls to immerse within the Holy Trinity.  What joy they must have felt when they realized this.  What joy I feel when I meditate on this gift; a joy so uncontainable that we go out into the world to witness to it.

This afternoon, as our parish paraded through the streets of Bolingbrook, with the Blessed Sacrament being held by Bishop Alberto Rojaz (from the Archdiocese of Chicago), I witnessed the joy in the procession; I witnessed the tears of joy in the faces of those whose house we had created an altar and placed Jesus on; I witnessed residents turning their radio down as we passed by and others who stopped their activities to watch in silence and it reminded me of Psalm 42 ‘…how I would lead the rejoicing crowd into the house of God, amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving;g the throng wild with joy.’; and all the while I prayed ‘thank you Jesus for your promise kept!’