Fr. Rick’s Homily – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Fr. Rick Sherman

July 12, 2020

Is 55:10-11; Rom 18-23; MT 13:1-23

All creation is groaning, waiting to be set free from slavery to corruption…

A couple days ago I heard an extended interview with Jane Goodall, world famous primatologist, famous for her lifelong studies of especially chimpanzees.  Part of her comments focused around how the Covit-19 pandemic might ultimately affect different animals, especially those who have DNA similar to ours.  She mentioned that this pandemic was almost long overdue when considering the global community in which we live, everyone flying around and moving in each other’s space.   Animals are being more and more displaced and likely to be in contact with a wider variety of people and even other animals.  She talked about the dangers of live animal markets, wet markets and factory farms, the impacts of pollution and all other types of human impact on nature.  It was sort of grim and a bit complicated, but even a non-scientist as myself could understand the logic of the whole predicament we seem to be in.  Nature has been dying off all around us at an accelerated rate over the past few decades and a reversal of the negative human impacts seems almost impossible despite some regional improvements here and there in water and air quality.  Many of us seem to be trying to just keep up with the pace and complexity of the world WE HAVE INVENTED.

Much of our disordered activity in the natural systems is due to our own inner groanings.  We are made for Heaven or Eden, but we have been so scarred and confused by sin that we seem to be living in a near constant state of confusion.  Much of which drives our activity in relationships, economy, hobbies and recreation is due to trying to come to grips with this deep inner sense of dissonance or disunity.  Sometimes we may think we know what will finally satisfy our groaning or craving.  Often, however, we don’t even acknowledge that there is such a DEEP yearning, but rather just keep racing around doing the next 10 tasks and activities.

St. Paul is able to say after his conversion and after learning to live as a faithful disciple of Christ, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us and our ultimate destiny in the glorious freedom intended for the children of God.”  This is indeed our destiny.  All of life is ordered toward the final state of transcendent union with God.  All of our souls and bodies and all of Creation are ordered toward this oneness…. Hence, all the groaning when we get misaligned.  Jesus uses the words of the prophet Isaiah to remind us that ‘when we understand with our hearts and are converted, we will then experience His healing.’

BUT we are not supposed to just wait passively while God reveals and delivers His redemption.  Like Paul, we must prepare ourselves to hear and act on the Word of God so that the Kingdom of Heaven can actually be made manifest on earth, albeit not in the perfected state until the end time in Heaven.

The gospel today describes the sower as throwing seeds all around on all types of soil. This may seem to be a bit of a waste, but the sower is God and He is demonstrating how lavishly and generously He bestows His Word and His blessings.  He knows sometimes the Word grows in the most unlikely places and He does not want to miss anyone.  However, He realizes that there are places and people who are more prepared and predisposed to hear the Word and they need to definitively HEAR IT. 

The Lord tells us today in Isaiah that “my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”  One way or another, God’s intentions for humankind and all of Creation will not be thwarted.  He will let humans bring themselves to the brink of destruction if that’s what it takes to effect a change of heart or a time of true enlightenment. As Christians and especially as Catholics, those of us who have ears to hear and eyes to see, should see our current times as a holy moment of great opportunity.  As the elaborately designed human economic and social systems grind to a halt, those who can see and hear will likely ask, “How is God in this?”  To answer this question requires a very well-developed heart and conscience. 

Every election year, especially during a major general election, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops offers an outline and process entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.  This publication gives us many tools and pointers for evaluating the true needs of our society as well as how to evaluate our own actions and attitudes.  In my pastoral messages this week on the St. Christopher’s website I have the link for Faithful citizenship.  I hope everyone will take a look at the vast variety of tools for our use. The US Bishops have also launched a program, especially for the 2020 election year called Civilize it! This initiative will give us some very helpful direction in how to actually have a sustained dialogue, even with people with whom we disagree!  Imagine that….!

Again, we are living in a time of great opportunity as we watch our human-invented world lurch and sputter and serge and recede.  Perhaps this is God’s way of giving us the time to reorder our intentions and actions.

Right ordered living is called stewardship as we realize that everything good comes from God and actually belongs to God, including our very selves.  We are mere administrators and are directed to share in proportion to what we have receive with a special attention to the most vulnerable.  Speaking of which:  Also, in Fr. Rick’s messages on the St. Christopher’s website is a link to a short video from the Office of the Bishop and the Office of Stewardship and Development entitled, “Now More Than Ever”. The video message features members of 9 different Catholic communities in Utah and is an appeal to declare our solidarity to each other in the Diocese of Salt Lake City …… … …  AAAAND to collectively come up with $100,000 in badly needed donations.  Please watch the video and help out as you can.