The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Homily: Wednesday, 3rd Week of Oridnary Time

Readings: Heb 10:11-18 • Psalm 110 • Mk 4:1-20

There’s an entrance antiphon from a Sunday in ordinary time that always strikes a chord within me when I hear it. It’s taken from Psalm 18:
The Lord became my protector.  He brought me out to a place of freedom; he saved me because he delighted in me.
Sometimes we just say words like these, these official prayers of the Church, without really thinking much about what we’re saying. But here I’m going to ask you to think about them, to pray on them, especially those last few words: “…he saved me because he delighted in me.”

Do you ever think about that? Do you ever ask yourself: “Why did God save me?” Why did He give His very life for you, opening the way for you to enjoy eternal life? And not just for you, but for me and you and every single one of us.

The other day I read that anthropologists estimate that about 100 billion human beings have lived on earth and about 7 billion of them are alive today. Now that’s a lot of people; but every single one of them is loved by God. That’s right; God delights in each one of us. And because He delights in us, He wants us to share eternal life with Him.

Just think of your own life. Who in your life delights in you? Who loves you deeply? And whom do you love? In whom do you delight? Your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your closest friends? Consider how such human love manifests itself. Consider how we strive to please the other, the one who loves us, the one we love; how we want to do whatever makes the other happy. Well, multiply that by infinity and you approach God’s love for you.

Yes, He saved you because He delighted in you. And how are we to respond to this love? It’s really pretty simple: He wants us to do His will.

Just consider today’s Gospel passage. You’ve all heard it many times before. But the important point for us is that the sower plants His seed, the Word of God, everywhere. The Lord doesn’t discriminate as he sows that seed. Indeed, He’s downright extravagant, almost reckless as He tosses it about. It falls on the path; it falls on the rocks and stones; it lands amidst the thorns and brambles…but some seeds, perhaps only a few, fall on good, fertile soil and take root.

Jesus is simply asking us, “I have given you my Word. How have you received it?” What kind of soil do you offer? Jesus wants to plant that seed. He wants His Word to take root within you; He wants it to bear fruit. And He wants you to become a sower of seed too. He wants this because He delights in you, because He loves you beyond your imagining.

Again, how do we respond? What must happen in each of our individual lives to make that soil fertile? Do we need to dig up some rocks, uproot some thorns? Is addiction or resentment or hatred or lack of forgiveness polluting our soil? Have we let the world, and the prince of this world, lead us into sinfulness? Do we worry constantly about worldly things, lacking trust in God?

If these or other sins are damaging your soil, making it unreceptive to God’s Word, it’s not the end of the world…at least, net yet. Listen again to those wonderful soul-saving words we heard in our first reading from Hebrews – words taken from the prophet Jeremiah:
“Their sins and their evildoing I will remember no more” [Heb 10:17].
Because God loves us, because He delights in us, He has saved us from our own sinfulness. Just remember, it’s He that does the saving, not us. God gives us the gift of life, and lets us struggle and learn and become stronger, always forgiving us, always leading us. He leads us to Himself, guiding us along the path to perfection, but our perfection is in His hands, not ours. He does the perfecting in our lives, if only we let Him, if only we respond in love to all that God places before us in life.

Let God work within you. And let Him do the work. He wants to do it, because He delights in you.

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