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COVID-19 Updates

from fathers desk

My Parish Family,

Last week we began a Message Series focused on Discipleship and the Kingdom. And although we pray “Thy Kingdom Come!” it seems we do not often think about our Christian reality as the advancing of a kingdom. Likewise, we are less likely to think of ourselves as disciples. Sure, we are Christians; we are Catholics...but disciples? It sounds so intense.

A new era unfolds in our parish life together, characterized by the question of discipleship. Our central question over the course of the next few years will be: how are we growing as disciples? Our whole community will be encouraged to answer that question. The follow up question is: how can I help others to grow as disciples?

A disciple is one who follows. The pharisees, John the Baptist and Jesus all had disciples - those who strove to follow their teachings and to imitate their way of life. Paul challenges boldly, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ!” (1 Cor 11:1). Discipleship is a whole way of life rather than a casual thing. During the COVID19 pandemic we may be able to “see” this more lucidly.

Everything in our lives is more challenging during the time of pandemic, and therefore the things that are most important to us are even more evident. We are prioritizing between what is essential (to us) and nonessential, what is worth the risk and what is not. For me, I am probably never going to the movies again, or a theme park, but church is part of the daily fabric of my existence, a non-negotiable. What about our life right now reveals our priorities with new clarity?

Jesus lays out three parables of the Kingdom in the Gospel for today. The Kingdom of Heaven is like: a mustard seed, yeast in the dough, and good seed with weeds sowed by the enemy. These three parables share one word: GROWTH. The Kingdom unfolds in our world, grows, matures, develops. Each parable has an organic aspect; something alive matures. Despite the smallest beginnings, the kingdom will mature into a full grown bush and refuge for the birds, like a mustard seed. The kingdom is a shelter. Growth in the kingdom can appear hidden like the yeast that “magically” causes the dough to rise; still it permeates the whole batch. The most developed of the parables, however, is the wheat and the tares.

Much like last week, an adversary is present. Not all is well. Obstacles prevent the smooth advance of the kingdom. Yet the master is patient. He does not want the good seeds to be pulled up with the weeds, as happens with the noxious darnel plant. Poisonous to those who eat its seeds, the plant also encircles the roots of neighboring plants. It is a formidable adversary sowed by the enemy. And while we might prefer to uproot and remove the poisonous plant, the kingdom is an imperfect place, in which the wheat and weeds grow together until harvest. The master is patient - although eventually the weeds are burned while the wheat is gathered. Growth is messy - well before the days of Round-Up Ready Corn! And the harvest will be mixed.

Attend more closely to the first words of the parable “The Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field,” (Mt 13:24). Pope Benedict XVI pointed out astutely that the kingdom of heaven is a man. Jesus is the kingdom, and so “Jesus himself is what we call ‘heaven’; heaven is not a place but a person, the person of him in whom God and man are forever and inseparably one.” Christ is at the center of the kingdom.

Here we see that the kingdom is not our own project, something we do or make as the Church. Rather, Jesus initiates the kingdom. We participate. Our question this week: how is God inviting me to grow in order to advance the kingdom?

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Wilson