Celebrate Sunday Mass With Bishop Strickland - 7.12.20
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I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO SUNDAY MASS WITH BISHOP JOSEPH STRICKLAND ON THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.
I will be assisting elsewhere this Sunday, but one of my brother Deacons from the Diocese of Tyler will assist the Bishop at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, Texas. I know you look forward to hearing Bishop Strickland preach. The response to offering these beautiful liturgies has been overwhelming.
I also know that, like me, you are drawn closer to the Lord when he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The readings, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them and reflect upon them.
The beautiful words of the Lord, spoken through His Prophet Isaiah, are our first reading. They remind us of the power of the Word of God. "...and so it is with the word that goes from my mouth: it will not return to me unfulfilled or before having carried out my good pleasure and having achieved what it was sent to do."
Every time we read or hear the written Word of God, the Bible, the Sacred Scripture, the Lord is speaking to us. Do we believe that? It is true. As St Paul told Timothy, "all scripture is inspired by God" (2 Tim. 3:16). The word in Greek rendered inspired literally means "breathed out". The Word of God contains the very breath of God.
How do we receive it? We are to be the fertile ground upon which it falls. And, as our Psalm for today's Holy Mass explains, the Lord Himself will, "water its furrows abundantly, level its ridges, soften it with showers and bless its shoots."
In our second reading, the Apostle Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome, and to each one of us. He gives then - and us - the eternal perspective. He explains what is happening in every believer as we allow the Word to inform our lives, to renew our minds, to convert and transform us.
And, He tells them and us what is the long term goal of Gods action in our lives, by reminding us "all that we suffer in the present time is nothing in comparison with the glory which is destined to be disclosed for us, for the whole creation is waiting with eagerness for the children of God to be revealed."
This is another invitation to all of us, to say YES to Gods Will in our lives and choose to follow Jesus Christ, the Living Word, with all our heart, mind, and strength. Have we made that choice?
The beautiful teaching of Jesus which we will hear in the Gospel, on the sower and the seed, is taken from Matthews account. I love the parables of Jesus. He drew his examples from the lived experience of those who followed him during his public ministry. Those early disciples were used to the pattern of preparing the soil in the fields, planting the seed, and reaping the crops.
It has taken me many years to even begin to grasp the meaning. That is partly because I grew up in the inner City of Boston. However, I also called beautiful Southeastern Virginia home for much of my life. There were a lot of beautiful fields around the parish I last served before moving to Texas. Farming is still an integral part of the pattern of life for many and our local economies benefit greatly from their work. The meaning of the agrarian parables that Jesus used became increasingly clear as I watched those fields become green every Spring.
Of course, preceding this sprouting of the plants, there were those barren looking fields, seemingly lifeless before the seed is even sown. Preparing the ground for the seed involves hard work, cooperative weather and the goodness of the God who created this beautiful and fruitful world.
I have come to understand the work that is involved in cultivating the soil, selecting, and sowing the seed - and then praying for cooperative weather while caring for the nascent crops. This understanding has come to me vicariously; through the farmers I have come to serve and know in my years of ministry. My admiration for their work has grown immensely.
So too has my gratitude for the goodness and grace of the God the Creator and Father who loves us all so much that He sent His Son to save us and make us new. He has sown the seed of His Word and His Kingdom within each one of us. The results also invite our response, our free choice. Whether that seed will find ripe soil is certainly affected by our willing cooperation with His grace.
As we choose to respond to that grace, and surrender ourselves to his care, formation, and assignment in the fields of the world, our life changes, and so do we.
May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church, and the Nations of the world on this Lord's Day.
Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation
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