In today’s gospel, Christ uses a parable of a sower and seeds landing on all different types of ground. By using these images, the Lord is establishing the necessary conditions in order for His Word to grow. And clearly His Word is meant to grow: Isaiah said in our first reading that God provides rain and snow in order to water the earth, thus making it fertile and fruitful…all things achieving the purpose for which He sent it. In the same way, Christ’s Word is shared so that it can multiply in us.
In Hebrew, the word dabar is translated as “word”, but it’s also translated as “deed” or “action” or “work”. And so, as Christ looks for His Word to be planted, sown, cultivated and fruitful, He also intends this Word to become living deeds in our lives. For what reason? …to spread the kingdom of God in our midst…to be evangelizers for ourselves and others; to proclaim that faith is an important value in good person’s lives.
In the last few months, several parishioners have been meeting with me and with Maureen to plan some extensive evangelization events. Some aren’t so new: our Golf Classic and our Vacation Bible Camp have been opportunities for us to gather with others as we express the fruits of our faith. Yes, even a golf outing can be a chance for someone to see us and hear us and experience us as Catholics who live by a certain code: the code of our faith. I assure you, every Wednesday that I’m on the golf course, I regularly have other golfers asking me one thing or another about faith and God…so that even when my game isn’t so fruitful, my happy exchanges with them just might be! And no matter what our deeds are, no matter what our actions are, they witness and give evidence to the Word that is alive within us: Jesus Christ.
St. Paul tells us in our second reading that we possess the firstfruits of the Spirit: the breath of God which speaks words of peace and love within and around us. This fruitful breath of God that fills our lungs is given to us so that we might be fertile and fruitful; that we might let this dabar—this word and deed—express itself in our own daily lives. If we can let that happen, we will become the evangelizers that we have been called to become.
Returning to the events that are coming up:
- this Thursday, parishioners are invited to take 5 minutes in the morning and in the afternoon to re-connect with God in the context of their busy lives. Yes our Busy-Persons’ Retreat plants God’s Word in their minds so that they might see actions flowing from that Word in their work…in their busyness.
- Next weekend, for example, going to the Adirondacks for 3 days with folks from our area towns and villages, is a chance for the people of our community to express—by their presence, words and deeds—that they, and we, are people of faith in Jesus.
- In mid-August, we’ll all have a chance to go to a baseball game at Bruno Stadium: there, we will express—by our mere presence—that people of faith also desire to enjoy days of restful fun and sportsmanship.
- On September 11th, we’re hosting a county-wide memorial of the fateful attack of September 11th ten years ago. Our memorial is an offering to all people of goodwill to come and use our place of prayer as their place, too, of prayer and of remembrance. This demonstrates that we are people who are not merely tolerant of others, but we welcome them to join with us.
- In November, we are planning our first annual Gala & Auction to allow others to experience the fruitfulness of our stewardship. Yes, we’ll have a grand party together with families and friends of our folks, but in doing so, we’ll also be emboldening our identity as Catholic parishioners from a parish that is so lively, so creative & talented, and so generous.
All of these examples, and many more, must be intended first and foremost by us, as opportunities to hear and remember the Word that is spoken to us—that Word of faith—and to then put it into fruitful action within and around us. If we do so, then we set a solid foundation for our necessary ministry as evangelizers; we give clear evidence that we can be effective ‘witnesses to faith’ in our communities of work, school and around town. And in so doing, we hear Christ’s dabar and place it into our deeds, thus making the world a fruitful place for ‘faith’.
As you ‘give witness to faith’, as you evangelize this week, may God bless you…Fr. David