From Leonard Piasta our Faith Formation Chairperson

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 12

Sower of seed

 

Jesus tells a parable of a sower of seed (Mt13:1-23) to a gathered crowd at the shore. The farmer sows the seed for a crop in his field and where the seed lands determines the seed's fate. After he tells the parable to the gathered people, his disciples ask him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" Jesus answer  likely surprised his disciples. Jesus answered them with, "to you has been given a knowledge of the mysteries of the reign of God, but it has not been given to the others." Jesus let his disciples know the reality of his message that some people will hear and acknowledge the reign of God and some people let his words pass them by. 

 

Jesus goes on with, "I use parables when I speak to them because they look and do not see. They listen but do not hear or understand." Jesus even quotes the prophet Isaiah (Is6:9-10) because this prophet had the same dilemma in his prophecies to the people of Israel in his time. 

 

The disciples are told by Jesus that they are blest because they see and hear the message of God's reign and understand it. Jesus goes on to explain the parable. The seed is the message of God's reign. Some who hear are like the seeds that are lost or never mature and die.  Others who hear the message and understand it will be bountifully blest. This sowing of seed only happens once in planting season. There are no second chances.

 

We have a plaque at home that reads of a gardener's recipe:

One part soil

Two parts water

Three parts wishful thinking

 

So true for any sower of seeds.

 

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

July 14

July 14 is the memorial celebration of St. Kateri Tekakwitha who is also known as the "Lily of the Mohawks."

From the Collect of the Mass in honor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, "Lord God, You called the virgin Saint Kateri Tekakwitha to shine among the American Indian people as an example of innocene of life. Through her intercessions, may all peoples of every tribe, tongue and nation, having been gathered into your Church, proclaim your greatness in one song of praise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." (from the Roman Missal)

St. Kateri's mother was a Christian Algonquin who was married to the chief of the Mohawk clan. This chief and his wife's baby girl was born in 1656 in the village of Ossernenon in upstate New York. At four years old Kateri lost her parents and a brother to small pox. The small pox left Kateri with impaired eyesight and facial scares. She was taken in by an uncle who suceeded her father as chief of the clan. Kateri was now known by her people as "Tekakwitha" which translate, "she who bumps into things" because of her poor eyesight. She was poorly treated by her adoptive relatives and fellow tribal people. Kateri to the best of her ability learned the ways of her Mohawk people. It was custom that a girl in her early teens was to marry.  She was presented to a young Mohawk brave and refused to marry. Because of her decision not to marry, she was further harshly treated by her family and her people.

Throughout her young life Kateri had contact with the Jesuit missionary priests. Many of her tribal leaders had a dislike, mistrust and hatred for these missionaries. Kateri was warned not to become involved or listen to these men.  In 1676 Kateri took instructions from Fr. Jacques de Lamberville and was baptized Catholic on Easter Sunday and Tekakwitha took the Christian name Catherine (Kateri in her native tongue). Her baptism caused her family and tribal people to inflict greater abuse as well as ostracized among the her people. Out of fear for her life she took a 200 mile walking trek to a Christian Indian village near Montreal, Quebec.

At the age of 23. Kateri took a vow of virginity. This was a foreign state of life for a native women since she was to marry and be under the household and care of by her husband. She continued her many hours of prayer, performed harsh penances and did severe fasting for the conversion of her nation. Her life practices left her in very poor health. In 1680 Kateri died the Wednesday of Holy Week . Witnesses who were with her at her death stated her small pox scares disappeared and she looked like a healthy young beautiful Mohawk woman.

Kateri Tekakwitha was given the title of "Lily of the Mowhawks" and declared Venerable by Pope Pius Xll in 1943. St. John Paul ll declared her Beatified in 1980. Pope Benedict XVl canonized her in 2012. Kateri Tekakwitha became the first native American saint. She is buried in Kahnawake, Quebec. St. Kateri is honored with a shrine at the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods in Indian River, Michigan.

 

Three Parables of the Kingdom - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 19

 

Jesus proposes three parables about the reign of God (Mt13:24-43) to the crowd. He uses the images of good seed and weed seed, the smallest seed that grows into a large shrub and what a little yeast does to flour. These simple examples from everyday life Jesus used so the people would come to understand the reign of God. 

 

Each of these three parables also gives us today an insight into the Jesus' message of the Reign of God. This Reign of God is often refered to as the Kingdom of God. This kingdom is not of an earthly or political nature. It is not physical territory such as the understanding of realm or domain over territory or people.

 

The Adult Catholic Catechism defines the Kingdom of God as, "The actualization of God's will for human beings proclaimed by Jesus as a community of justice, peace, mercy and love, the seed which is the Church on earth, and fulfillment of which is in eternity."(p.517) "This is a kingdom of salvation from sin and a sharing in divine life. It is Good News that results in love, justice and mercy for the whole world, the kingdom is realized partially on earth and permanently in heaven." (pp.79-80) From the Vatican ll document, The Church in the Modern World, the Council Fathers state, "... when Christ presents to his Father an eternal and universal kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace. Here on earth the kingdom is mysteriously present, when the Lord comes it will enter into its perfection." (39)

 

Jesus tells why he speaks in parables it is to fulfill the prophet. The reference to the prophet is to David who was seen as both a king as well as a prophet of Israel,  Psalm 78:2, says, "I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter mysteries of old." Parables are a form of revelation and not concealment. Jesus dismissed the crowd and explains to the disciples the parable of weeds. Jesus does not explain the other two parables.

 

During this week ponder on these parables. Ponder about what this Reign or Kingdom of God presents, justice, peace, mercy, love, truth, life, holiness and grace, salvation and divine life. Lots to ponder from three parables from everyday life.

 

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene - July 22

All four Gospels have passages about Mary Magdalene. There are four events in which Mary Magdalene are sited. Magdalene refers to the town Mary is from, Magdala, which is located on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee and four miles north of the city of Tiberius.

 

The first event is the curing of Mary.

-Mk 16:9; Jesus casts out seven demons from Mary.

-Lk 8:12; Jesus casts out seven devils from Mary.

 

The second event is at the crucifixion of Jesus.

-Mt 27:56; Mary Magdalene is with Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of Zebedee's sons.

-Mk 15:40; Mary Magdalene is with Mary the mother of James the younger, Joses and Salome.

-Jn 19:25; Mary Magdalene is with Mary the mother of Jesus, Jesus' mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas.

 

The third event is at the burial of Jesus.

-Mt 27:61; The huge stone is rolled across the entrance of the tomb and Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat facing the tomb.

-Mk15:47; Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joses observed where they laid Jesus in the tomb.

 

The fourth event is at the empty tomb.

-Mt 28:1-10; At the first day of the week Mary Magdalene and the other Mary come to inspect the tomb.

-Lk 24:1-10; On their return from the tomb, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James  with other women tell of the empty tomb to the Eleven and others.

-Mk16:1-8; When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and the mother of James and Salome go to the tomb with perfumed oils.

 

The Gospel of John presents two stories of Mary and the empty tomb.

-Jn 20:1-10; Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb and the stone was moved away and she runs to Simon Peter and tells him what she saw.

-Jn 20:11-18; Mary Magdalene is weeping at the tomb and she sees two angels and then she does not recognize Jesus and mistakes him for a gardener.

 

St. Mary Magdalene was cured by Jesus. She listened to the words of Jesus and witnessed the events of his life. Mary Magdalene truly became a disciple of Jesus. Jesus touched her very being and she believed. This woman has the honor to first proclaim the Risen Jesus and the gospel message goes forth.

 

The Domestic Church

In Unleash the Gospel, the pastoral letter from Archbishop Vigneron presents, "The family is the "domestic church" - the primary social unit which life in Christ, the life of the church, is experienced and lived." (Guide Post 7 - Families) "The family lives it's spirituality precisely by being at one and the same time a domestic church and a vital cell for the transforming the world." (Amoris Laetitia - Pope Francis) " Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst." (Mt18: 20)

During this "stay-at home" order, we can still be very active in practicing our faith in our domestic church. Though the parish web site, the Archdiocesean web site, other religious web sites of prayer and reflection, Mass for the shut-ins, private and family prayer (saying grace together at meals, pray the rosary, pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be or some other prayers that touch you) call or email someone and take time for silence in your life. We can use what is available to us and enjoy the presence of Jesus in our homes and families. We await the day when we will be able again to celebrate as a gathered community in Jesus Christ. Peace be with you.