Archive for the ‘11th Sunday’ Category

Mustard Seed Faith 6-17-2018

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Ben Durskin is nine years old. For almost four years, he has been treated for acute lympho | blastic leukemia. During a punishing protocol of chemotherapy, he passed the time with his Game Boy and Play Station. Last summer, Ben came up with his own videogame, designed especially for kids with cancer. In Ben’s Game, a boy (modeled after Ben) zooms around a screen on a skateboard, blasting cancer cells in order to collect “shields” that protect against the usual side effect of chemo: fever, chicken pox, colds, vomiting, hair loss. A player can’t lose – “you just keep fighting,” explains Ben.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation and software engineer Eric Johnston of LucasFilms worked with Ben to create the game. Ben’s Game has won raves from the 200,000 children who have found the game, available free on line. Not only is the game fun but children learn about the “monsters” attacking their bodies and how they can best beat them.
For eight years, 15-year-old Sasha Bowers and her family were homeless. Sasha, her little sister and her mother spent most nights in Columbus, Ohio, shelter, fighting hunger and bugs and kept awake by snores and screaming. Two years ago, Sasha’s mom landed a job with a cleaning company and the family was able to move into an apartment.
But Sasha hasn’t forgotten where she came from. She’s been the driving force behind a summer day-camp program for 175 homeless kids in Columbus. “When I was in shelters, there were no safe places to play,” Sasha explains. “I wanted to create a place that was fun, where kids could stay out of trouble while parents find jobs and housing.”
When Ryan Hreljac was in the first grade, he was shocked to learn about African children having to walk five miles to get a bucket of clean water. Ryan did odd jobs around the house and for neighbors for four months to raise $70, the cost of digging a well.
That was six years ago. Since then the Canadian teen’s foundation, Ryan’s Well, has raised $750,000 to build wells in seven African nations. Relief and development agencies in Canada say of Ryan: “He’s such a regular kid – that’s what makes him so powerful… He believes everyone should have water, and he’s not going to stop until they do.”
These remarkable young people, Ben, Sasha, and Ryan possess the faith of the mustard seed: they have taken their own “Mustard seeds” – seeds of creativity, empathy and dedication – and have done the hard work of planting and nurturing those seeds until each one has realized an enduring and rooted harvest of hope, of compassion, of life itself. Christ calls us to embrace “mustard seed” faith – to believe that even the slightest act of goodness, done in faith and trust in God’s presence, has meaning in the reign of God. The mustard seed challenges us to grab hold of the opportunities we have for planting and reaping a harvest of justice, compassion and reconciliation in our own piece of the earth.
Ben, Sasha and Ryan – remarkable young people – they planted their tiny mustard seed, worked hard, and God did the rest.
You, you, you, all of you, remarkable people. Plant your tiny mustard seeds wherever you find yourself in life, work hard and let God do the rest. Mustard seed faith – to believe that even the smallest act of goodness, kindness, done in faith and trust in God’s power, can have an unbelievable effect on many, many people. Please, don’t sell yourself short – don’t sell the power of God short!

Prayer Stop 6-12-2016

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

George and Lois Woods live on a hill situated above a highway just outside Palmer, Texas. Next to their home they built a “Prayer Stop” for travelers. It’s simply a small A-frame chapel. A walk curves up to it from the highway.
In the chapel is a log book. As you page through it, you see the names and comments of visitors from as far away as Africa.
One visitor wrote in the log book: “I came to the Prayer Stop a year ago with no car and no job. Now things are much better. I am leaving you some money.”
Another visitor wrote that he had been drinking and was on his way to kill someone with whom he had gotten into an argument. He saw the chapel on the hill, stopped, spent time sitting in it, abandoned his plan, and returned home.
The most frequent visitors to the Prayer Stop, says Lois Woods, are wives and mothers of convicts on their way to the state prison not far away.
But of all the people who have visited the chapel, George and Lois Woods will never forget one group in particular.
One evening they heard a deafening roar of engines. Lois went to the window to see what was happening. She was shocked at what she saw. A gang of motorcyclists was driving single file up the walk that led from the highway to the chapel. It was a frightening sight.
Some were wearing leather jackets and chains. Most had scraggly beards and long hair. Some had their hair knotted into ponytails with rubber bands.
George joined Lois at the window and said, “I’m not going out there. It’s in God’s hands”.
As the couple looked on in fear, the gang got off their cycles. Several of them disappeared into the chapel; others just milled around outside, as though standing guard.
After about ten minutes, those who had gone inside came out again. Then the cyclists did something totally unexpected.
They gathered around the cross in front of the chapel, joined hands together, bowed their heads, and remained in silence for a long time. Finally, the cyclists set out again, down the walk, in single file, to the highway.
George and Lois looked on in amazement. They also looked on somewhat repentant. They had found themselves jumping to conclusions about the motorcyclists, judging them by their outward appearance.
That episode taught George and Lois what they already knew but needed to be reminded of again: You can’t jump to conclusions about people.
It reminded them of God’s words in the First Book of Samuel:
“Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart”. (1 Samuel 16:7)
The story of Lois and George and the motorcycle gang fits in beautifully with the story of Simon and the woman in today’s gospel.
Just as George and Lois jumped to conclusions about the motorcycle gang, so Simon jumped to conclusions about the woman.
George and Lois prejudged the cyclists and labeled them evil people. Simon prejudged the woman and labeled her an evil person.
Worse yet, Simon even prejudged Jesus himself and labeled him a fraud for treating the woman so kindly, saying: “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is…that she is a sinner”.
The story of George and Lois and the story of Simon invite us to look into our own hearts and to ask ourselves to what extent we tend to prejudge people.
All of us—fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, yes, even grandfathers and grandmothers—tend to do what Lois and George did.
We tend to do what Simon did. We tend to jump to conclusions. We tend to prejudge others—even our own family members.
And so today’s gospel is an invitation to imitate Jesus. It’s an invitation to follow the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, when he said: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged”. (Matthew 7:1-2)
Let’s close with a poem. It talks about how wrongly we can judge others.
“I dreamed death came the other night, and Heaven’s gate swung wide. With kindly grace an angel ushered me inside; and there to my astonishment stood folks I’d known on earth; and some I’d judged and labeled unfit of little worth. Indignant words rose to my lips, but never were set free; for every face showed stunned surprise. Not one expected me”.