15th Sunday in Ordinary Time | July 12, 2020
See today’s readings here. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons
So one of my favorite things to do in the summer is catch up with graduates from Nativity and Sallies.
Now, normally, I would do this over a meal. But with Covid, I am reluctant to spend a ton of time indoors in places when I don’t need to be.
So I have been doing a ton of walking. Starting around 7 PM, you will see me and a grad walking through Brandywine park or sauntering down Delaware avenue. I know. I know. It would take a pandemic to get me to exercise on a regular basis.
But there we are, dutifully masked, sharing the stories of our lives. The accomplishments. The failures. The stress and fears. The hopes and dreams. The losses and scars and the long road to recovery.
Now years ago, when I first started meeting up with graduates, I was always so clinical. After a conversation, I would begin analyzing them.
This one is doing well. He’s good. No worries here.
This one is struggling. I’m gonna need to check back in on him.
This one keeps dodging my calls. Something is up. I’ll figure it out.
Like our Gospel, each student was firmly planted on a particular type of ground in my mind. And I was going to try and transplant them as needed. So we could get to those harvests of 30 or 60 or 100 fold.
But in these conversations over the last few weeks, I realize that I may have been oversimplifying matters.
For none of these students were easily defined by one patch of ground.
A student was excited about the birth of his first child as he prepared for a bar exam and continued the process of grieving the death of his mother.
A student struggled with the adjustment to online learning and yet felt like the time at home was really good for healing some tensions within his family.
A student was excited about his internship but unsure about his return to college in the fall and overwhelmed by the state of our nation at the moment.
A student was still grieving a loss, while balancing a course load and work without dropping either.
In each of their lives, they had barren ground and rocky ground, they were dealing with thorns and birds and blistering sun. And yet, each of them was bearing fruit. In their own time. In their own way.
A harvest was being reaped if I simply knew where to look for it.
And in their stories, I have been reminded of the truth of this Gospel that can be often overshadowed by the little summary at the end.
For when we hear what each of the seeds represent, so often we immediately begin sorting ourselves and other people into the respective categories.
Our family members. Our friends. Our colleagues and neighbors. Our acquaintances on social media. Politicians. Celebrities. We’ve got them all slotted in our minds.
But the truth is, each of our lives is an ever-changing array of soils and weather conditions.
And if we are to bear a harvest, we must be willing to see our world as it truly is in this moment, not as we may wish it to be.
We must be honest with our anxiety and fear, in this moment
We must be attentive to the distractions and temptations, in this moment.
We must be patient with our broken heart and our insecurities, in this moment
We must be confident in our gifts and talents that we are using in this moment.
We must be open to the God who is constantly at work in our lives, in our soil.
And at the same time, we must see the other as they are, not as we may imagine them to be.
Avoiding the temptation to assign them to different grounds so that we can write off the lost causes.
Publicly declaring that they will never change.
And instead, rolling up our sleeves and digging our hands into the soil of their lives.
Pulling out the tangled thorns of prejudice and bigotry rooted in ignorance and fear. Plucking out the rocks of selfishness, arrogance, and apathy.
Shielding them from the blistering sun that highlights their inadequacies and insecurities.
Gently watering them with the truth of who they are and who they are called to be. Fertilizing them with compassion, justice, kindness, and unconditional love.
And before you know it, each of us will be bearing an abundant harvest beyond our wildest imaginations.
May God be Praised.