Month: July 2017

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Treasure in The Field!

Once again in the Gospel reading for this week, Jesus speaks in parables.  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  This parable would speak to the listeners of his time, as it was a common practice in biblical times to guard your valuables by burying them in the ground.  Jesus is making the point that someone would buy the priceless items, and give up everything to obtain it.  Jesus is speaking of the supreme value of the Kingdom of God, and our desire to give up everything to obtain it.

Biblical scholars have said that the meaning of this parable is that the field is the world, and the man who gave all to buy it is Jesus.  I believe a reflection on stewardship summarizes this very well when it says.  ”And it is with joy that He gives all to buy the field, to save the world and each of us. What makes the treasure so wonderful that the Lord would give all, His very life? Each of us. In other words, each of you! Jesus gave everything to redeem the whole world to preserve a treasure it contains. He gave all because we, His people, are the treasure.”

So what are we called to do in this age today?  I believe it is simply as we spoke of before, to give back the gifts he has given to us.  Also, we are to share the gift of Jesus and the Gospel to those around us.  The sharing of the Gospel reminds me of a story I heard once about a violin.  A musician once heard a violin played at a concert, and he was so amazed by the sound of the violin, that he made contact with the owner and asked to buy the violin.  Unfortunately the violin was bought by a collector and was now in another city.  Eventually the musician tracked down the collector, but the collector refused to sell it to the musician.  Dejected, the musician asked if he could play just one time.  The collector agreed and the musician played the violin.  When the collector heard the musician play so well, and he heard how beautiful the violin sounded, he said to the musician “something so beautiful must be shared” and he gave the violin to the musician permanently.  It is so with the Gospel, it is so beautiful it must be shared.

 God bless you all
Deacon Dan MacDonald

 

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

The Final Judge!

 This week’s reading reminds us that it is the Lord who guides us throughout our lives.  He guides us through our decisions, our problems, and is with us in our joys as well. It is quite a journey of faith that we walk, as we try to live God’s will and try to guide our families and journey with our friends in their journey. In the parable of the weeds, it is made pretty clear that at a later time the weeds will be separated from the wheat.  It is also clear that God is the one who will do the separating, not us.

I see this as an invitation to define people as children of God, not as sinners, not claiming ourselves as judge and jury over someone else.  The best thing we can do is to live along side each other, supporting and loving along the way. We must take care not to be judgmental and self righteous but to make sure we have a solid relationship with God ourselves, and to make sure we are not weeds in our community.

Later Jesus speaks of the mustard seed once again, the smallest seed you can find.  Jesus is speaking to the early church who more than likely was discouraged with the slow growth of the church that they so hoped would grow.  However, He is also speaking to us who may be scared or discouraged by the slow progress of a growing faith in our family members.  He is saying that God’s work may seem slow, but be assured that God is working in all our lives.  Pope Francis was right when he said recently that we must be creative when we evangelize.  I recently had an experience where I found that much of today’s music has it’s lyrics come from scripture.  Everyone from Lady Gaga, to One Direction, to Mumford and Sons have lyrics based on scripture.  Discovering this made it possible to open dialogue with some teens who didn’t see the connection before.

Jesus is saying to us that even the faith as small as a mustard seed can grow into something beautiful, and like
Christianity can reach to all ends of the earth.

 God bless you all
Deacon Dan MacDonald

 

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Sowing In Good Soil!

This past weekend I was travelling through PEI, and I couldn’t help but be struck by the many farms that I passed by growing everything from grain, to corn, to of course…..potatoes.  I wondered what it must be like to rely on the right mix of sun and rain in order to have a healthy crop for the year.  It felt to me that it was truly an act of faith to farm the land year after year and rely on the grace of good weather.

As I drove by I noticed there were some fields that had no crops on them, then I remembered way back in high school when they would talk about leaving some fields bare for a year, so that the soil could be better prepared for another year.  This reminds me of the Gospel reading for this week when Jesus speaks of good soil and the journey that many will have to go on before they come to know Jesus in a more intimate way.  The best way I can explain this is through a friend of mine and his journey to Christ.

Ten years or so ago, I worked with someone who, despite the efforts of his wife and others, just did not embrace a life of faith.  He was pretty respectful of people’s beliefs, but it just didn’t sink into his heart.  He would go to church for a while, but then he would stop again.  However, if you fast forward about ten years to a few weeks ago, I finally reconnected with him.  The transformation in him now is incredible, he is on fire for the Lord, and when I was speaking with him, his relationship with Jesus is now seeping through his pores.  I had no idea this had happened in his life, and I found myself thinking “who is this guy”? that I was talking to!

It so reminds of this week’s reading because when I knew him before, I could see the sowing that was happening by his wife and her faith community, and I always hoped it would lead to a conversion….and boy did it ever!   Somewhere in the past ten years, the power of the Holy Spirit worked a miracle in his life, and at some point he must have been open to or invited Jesus into his heart because now Christ is there.  It was a real encouragement to me because we all want our friends and family to find Jesus, and sometimes it feels like they never will. However, Jesus is here to tell us that even when it seems bleak, He is there preparing the good soil in order for the seeds we sow to bear fruit in our loved ones. Even some of our greatest saints in the church have taken years to come to Jesus in their lives.

God bless you all
Deacon Dan MacDonald

 

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Full Of Thankfulness!

Over the long weekend, we travelled up to Ardness Nova Scotia, about a half hour from Antigonish.  My family has a property there; it is actually where my father grew up.  On the property there is a 100 year old house high up on a hill, the deck on the back of the house looks over the Northumberland Straight all the way over to PEI in the distance.

When I was standing on the  deck this past weekend, even though there was a lot of work to do, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of calm, peacefulness, and an overwhelming sense of thankfulness.  Just by the nature of God’s wonder before me, I couldn’t help but take a moment to be thankful and to give Jesus thanks for all the wonderful aspects of my life.

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus bares his soul to the fFather, and gives thanks for the unique relationship that exists between the Father and the Son. In the next section of the Gospel, Jesus invites us to a place of retreat and safety; He wants us to go to him when we are weary and in need of peace and comfort. So many of us long for relief from
sadness and pain, and hope to be consoled and be refreshed.  We also see that Jesus’ mission is to reveal the Father to us so we understand God as a loving Father.

 Our mission in turn can be to reveal Jesus to others through community.  I recently read a wonderful quote by Jean Vanier which illustrates this point. “One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.”

 When we unite our mission to Jesus and to his mission, we can truly transform the world one person at a time, and Christ’s love can be felt in all aspects of our lives and through society.

As Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

God bless you all
Deacon Dan MacDonald