September 17, 2016
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University Retired Faculty
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 448

1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49
Psalm 56:10c-12, 13-14
Luke 8:4-15

Praying Ordinary Time

“But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.” Luke 7

One holy day I went to Mass with a co-worker and casually started to take a seat on the left side of the church. My friend told me that we had to move to the right with the sheep. Huh?  It seems that when she was a child a priest who was preaching about the parable of the sheep and the goats had gestured dramatically to the right where the sheep, that would be saved, were sitting. The goats were on the left. Ever since, Mary had sat with the sheep.

I thought about this incident as I wondered which of the three groups in today’s parable I might fall into. Unfortunately living this parable isn’t as simple as sorting oneself as a sheep or a goat.

On our hikes through life, we  encounter all three types of terrain that Jesus talks about.  We trip on the rocks of temptation and get choked in the thorns of anxieties and desires for riches or pleasures while we plod towards the rich soil of generosity and good hearts.  We stumble and get up because Jesus tells us that God’s word will take root in us if we persevere.

Jesus understands that this is a process. Even the greatest saints hated to give up their favorite sins.  Remember St. Augustine asking God to grant him chastity and continence but not yet? The same goes for the anxieties, pleasures and riches that choke us in the thorns. They attract us even as they hurt us.

However since neither rocks nor thorns are great places to live, we seek something better– something like the guidance that Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the great medical missionary, offered when he said that the “only ones who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

Today Jesus is calling us to seek such lives of generosity and happiness. We’ll stumble on the rocks and get caught in the thorns en route but if we persist, we’ll make it. Blessings on your journeys!

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