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Founded:1950
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish
130 Main Street
Carver, MA 02330
Phone: (508) 866-4000 Fax: (508) 866-5588
A Parish of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston MA

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_______________________SCHEDULE______________________

Weekend: Sat. 5 pm; Sun. 9 am & 11 am
Weekday: Fri. through Wed. 9 am
Holy day: 9 am & 7 pm
Confessions: Sat. 4:15 to 4:45 pm
Eucharistic Adoration: (1st Fri.) 9 am to 12 Noon

 


Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 20, 2014

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

Psalm 86:5-6, 9-20, 15-16

Romans 8:26-27

Matthew 13:24-30

 

            Jesus proposes an interesting situation in this parable: an enemy has sabotaged his neighbor’s fields by broadcasting weeds among the farmer’s wheat.  This might be bearded darnel, a weed that winds around a crop and looks exactly like wheat until the wheat finally bears fruit.  So even if the farmer could distinguish one from the other, he would pull up the wheat along with the weed.  But an enemy’s sabotage is not really the point of the parable.  

           

            Jesus leads us to consider a farmer’s response to sabotage.  He suggests that in this story we may discover a mystery of the kingdom of heaven.  It is this: God waits to see.  God deals with the good and the bad differently, but God is patient, slow to judge and ready to forgive.  The parable is not about weeds.  The parable is about how to deal with weeds.  And since every parable is about God’s kingdom, we may discover here how patiently God deals with weeds – the evil that people choose – while God gathers in wheat that bears fruit – God’s righteous children.

 

            But why doesn’t God remove the evil from our world so that we can live in peace?  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, at his installation 9 years ago, raised the same issue.  Pope Benedict said:

 

How often we wish that God would show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and crafting a better world.  All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way: they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity.  We suffer on account of God’s patience.  And yet we need his patience.  God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him.  The world is redeemed by the patience of God.  It is destroyed by the impatience of man. [1]  [emphasis mine]

 

            Despite our human sense of “justice,” which sometimes actually means retribution or vengeance, Jesus suggests in this parable that the kingdom of God is about divine patience and God’s mercy.  One writer put it this way:  “[God] is not a God of wrath.  He is a God who is an Ocean of Mercy.  And that does not mean that on occasion God shows mercy.  Rather, Mercy is what God is.  Compassion is what God is.  When we see Mercy and Compassion, Jesus is telling us, we know that we are in the presence of God. [2]  [emphasis mine] 

 

            God’s patience and mercy toward others may seem baffling to you and me.  At the same time, though, we fully depend on God’s patience and mercy toward ourselves.  But that is because we do not think like God.  In our better moments, however, we honestly want to be like God, but our tendency is towards self-interest.  And so we become judgmental about other people.  Were we the farmer in the parable, we would, with great abandon, pull up anything we might perceive as a weed.  We judge people.  We categorize them.  We exclude the weeds; we gather to ourselves the wheat.  That is, unless they perceive us as weed!

 

            Jesus’ parable leads us back to today’s reading from the Book of Wisdom.  “And you taught your people … that those who are just must be kind….”  You see, as Wisdom teaches, even though God is all powerful, God judges with clemency, God governs us with leniency.  God’s patience and mercy toward others may seem baffling to you and me.  At the same time, though, we fully rely on God’s patience and mercy toward ourselves.  And so you and I, while we still need to be prudent and careful with whom we associate and whose examples we might emulate, we should not pretend that we are their judge.  God is their judge and our judge.  And God is a patient judge.  If by chance criticism by us seems just, we must criticize with kindness.  For that is how God deals with you and me.

 

            Another thing:  Saint Francis de Sales reminded us, “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.” [3]  So as you and I try to become less judgmental and less confrontational with others, we must be gentle especially with ourselves.  To admit one’s own faults can lead to a sense of discouragement or even self-loathing.  But we must be as patient with ourselves as God is.  Genuine conversion is a life-long mission for us.  But as Wisdom reminds, “[God] gave [God’s] children good ground for hope that [God] would permit repentance for their sins.”  God deals with the good and the bad differently, but God is patient, slow to judge and ready to forgive.  “The world is redeemed by the patience of God.  It is destroyed by the impatience of man.” [4] 



[1]  Pope Benedict XVI, sermon at the Mass of Installation (April 24, 2005), quoted by George Weigel, God’s Choice -- Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church (New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 2005), p. 191ff.

 

[2]  William H. Shannon, Seeds of Peace:  Reflections on Contemplation and Nonviolence (New York:  Crossroad, 1996), p. 130.

 

[3]  St. Francis de Sales;  The full quote is “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.  Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.” http://www.quotesdaddy.com/author/St.+Francis+de+Sales

 

[4]  Pope Benedict XVI.



Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 13, 2014

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Isaiah 55:10-11

Psalm 65:10-14

Romans 8:18-23

Matthew 13:1-23

 

            Each of Jesus’ parables was intended to heighten awareness of the kingdom of God.  But most people seem to let parables wash over us like a wave at the beach.  For a moment that wave gets one’s attention, but once it has passed, it’s quickly forgotten.  And that’s okay because we’re at the beach to relax.  But really hearing a parable requires attentiveness.  It needs focus and, frankly, it requires work to understand.  And many are not willing to do that work.

 

            But each of Jesus’ parables was meant to astound, not confound.  They were intended to prompt surprise which, hopefully, might lead the listener to deeper thought and new insight.  The parable of the sower and the seed is one so familiar that we hardly note its challenge.  It is so familiar that we may not hear its power.

 

            Now, one must remember that the gospels took written form rather late, in fact, many decades after Easter.  The community’s memory of what Jesus did and said lived on in oral form – in story telling – for at least a generation before being written into books. 

 

The parable of the sower and the seed must have been particularly memorable, as it found its way into each synoptic gospel.  Matthew (which we read today), Mark, [1] and Luke [2] include it nearly word-for-word the same.  It is even found in a Gnostic gospel reputed to be from the apostle Thomas – which is neither scriptural nor even a gospel, in that it is not a narrative (a story) but only a collection of sayings reputed to be from Jesus.  But in Thomas this parable also appears word-for-word the same. [3] 

 

            As a collection of supposed sayings from Jesus, the parable in the Gospel of Thomas stands alone, without explanation, while the synoptic evangelists say that Jesus explained the meaning of the parable.  Personally, I am not convinced that Jesus actually explained the parable to his apostles.  Rather, his “explanation” is the inference made by each Christian community that heard the parable.  The reasons I say this are three.  First, parables by definition are stand-alone stories that are intended to startle and prompt new thought.  Second, an explanation of a parable weakens its startling aspect and dampens the challenge to come up with a new insight, like a stand-up comedian trying to explain a joke.  Sometimes people “get” a joke, some people don’t.  But if a joke needs to be explained, it’s not much of a joke.  Sometimes people are spiritually provoked by a parable, some people are not.  If it needs to be explained, it’s not much of a parable.  And third, the “explanations” of this parable are different in each of the gospels.  Each evangelist inferred or “remembered” the explanation Jesus gave differently.

 

            Two gospels are similar.  Mark writes, “The sower sows the word.” [4]  Luke recalls it a little more specifically, “The seed is the word of God.” [5]  And that is an easy interpolation for each of us to make:  using the agricultural method of his day, unlike today’s professional farmers – or even amateur gardeners – who plough their ground and make neat furrows in which seeds are planted carefully at intervals, people of Jesus’ time simply “broadcast” their seed on ploughed ground, hoping that some of it would implant and grow, full knowing that some seed would be lost in the bushes and brambles and some people would walk on them.  While some seed would bear fruit, other seed would wither and die.  In Mark’s and Luke’s recollections, Jesus implied that various people would respond differently to the word sown among them, as seeds responded to the earth.

 

            But Matthew’s recollection is subtly and significantly different.  It’s the message we’re left with today.  And it requires some introspection on our part.  As Matthew relates Jesus’ explanation of the parable, the seed is not the word or the word of God.  The seed is the listener.  “The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word … without understanding it.”  “The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word … but has no root and lasts for only a time.”  “The seed … among thorns … hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word….”  “But the seed … on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it [and] bears fruit and yields a hundred- or sixty- or thirty-fold.”

 

            The seed is the listener.  The seed is you and me.  Matthew’s interpretation of the parable places responsibility for the fruitfulness of God’s gifts to us squarely on how we listen to God.  And this requires some honest introspection from each of us.  How, we must each ask of our self, do I listen to God? 

 

            This may actually make a better examination of conscience than running through the Ten Commandments before going to bed each night or before going to confession. [6] Am I someone who has heard the message but doesn’t care?  I don’t find God relevant to real living, so I pay God little heed, thus making myself easy plucking for “the evil one.” 

 

Has my initial enthusiasm for our faith failed?  When a tribulation or persecution pops up, am I rootless and so turn from faith?  Like at the recent Church sex scandals:  people who thought themselves pillars of the parish just wander away.  Tribulation, certainly; but the abandonment of sacrament and worship exposes the rocky ground, the rootlessness, that had always been there.  Persecution, yes; both from Muslims martyring Christians overseas and the ridicule of our neighbors and the resistance of government as we Christians attempt to live a moral life.  Perhaps the most disconcerting place I see this is while teaching a moral truth and our own teenagers look with utter mystification that the Church could possibly think that, for example, marriage is between a man and a woman.  (“Where do you get this stuff, father?”)  God is facing a world-wide field of rocky ground – people who are taught to hear only what they already believe because of their immersion in secular humanism rather than in the gospel.

 

Did some thorns in my life drive me away?  There are many difficult people to deal with even in this Christian community; are these the weeds choking me?  Or perhaps I am the weed, teaching my children and others in word and example that Church is not important. 

 

Or do I listen to God by preparing fertile ground through my prayer life, my study of today’s issues, my reading of scripture, my involvement with other Christians, my celebration of the sacraments, my service to neighbor?  It is in listening to God in these ways that I nourish the word and will surely bear fruit, yielding “a hundred- or sixty- or thirty-fold.”



[1]  Mark 4:3-8, 14-20.  

 

[2]  Luke 8:5-15. 

 

[3]  Marvin W. Meyer (trans.), “The Gospel of Thomas or The Secret Sayings of Jesus” from The Secret Teachings of Jesus – Four Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, 1984), Saying 9.

 

[4]  Mark 4:14.                                                                                                                                     

 

[5]  Luke 8:11.

 

[6]  Edward F. Steiner, “Homily Backgrounds,” The Priest (June 2014).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

This Roman Catholic, God-centered community of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish seeks to be compassionate and faith-filled, empowered by the Holy Spirit through the grace of the Eucharist and the sacraments to proclaim and live the gospel as believers in the risen Christ.  Therefore, we commit to share joyfully our time, talents and treasure in works of mercy and justice both within and beyond our parish. 



                                                                            

 

 
 

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