Monday, May 16, 2016

A seed planted

Yesterday evening I had the immense pleasure to attend the graduation ceremony where our oldest received her high school diploma.  While there they had several speakers from the class.  I was very impressed to see one of the kids from our own church get up and give one of those talks.  This young man is one of the smartest, most gifted men of their generation and I was very impressed with what he had to say.  While all of them had wonderful speeches, his showed a deep understanding of the human condition and the ills of the world.  He didn't throw out warm anecdotes and funny stories but rather challenged his fellow class mates to go against the mainstream currents of the world.  He challenged them to kindness.  A simple message, but one spoken from the heart of a man who had experienced it's life changing effects for himself and hoped to spread that same change into a world much in need of it.

In this mornings first reading we see St. James reminding us of the very same message!  He tells us that jealousy and selfish ambition are of the demonic and earthly realm, not of the heavenly one.  If you just take a look around at the world today you find those two qualities in almost all of our entertainment, politics, and even what seems to be the social norm.  I don't think every person out there is possessed by demons, though I do think demons are real.   What I do think is that we lack the other, the key, the answer to those problems.. kindness.   St. James goes on to say "the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace."  Kindness.  Charity.  Love.   That is truly the answer.     Those are the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday we celebrated that great feast where the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, Mary and around a hundred other disciples in the upper room.   That spirit came to bear fruit in their lives and they marched out into the world to deliver both a message and a fruit.  They marched out to spread kindness, love.  In the Gospel today, as we return to ordinary time, we see Jesus casting out a demon from a young boy that his own disciples could not cast out.   Notice the demon did the things to the young boy that James described: For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.  When the demon was active the boy lost control, he threw himself into the fire, foamed at the mouth and could not function.   It paralyzed him.   Just as those sorts of things paralyze our society.  It's only when both sides are loving, kind.. that anything happens.

You see we as Catholics are good about prayer, and that's a good thing.  Jesus even reminds us that only through prayer and fasting can this sort of possession be cast out.  So keep praying, keep fasting.   Some will tell you that it is through faith alone that things happen with God.   Others will tell you only works, keep doing good stuff.   We are Catholic.  It isn't either or.  It's both and.  Keep spreading love through acts of kindness, and keep spreading faith through your prayers, fasting, and a Sacramental life.  Our society is in need of kindness is a way that it has never been before.  Yesterday as this young man gave his speech I expected a standing ovation.  His message was a poignant one and one long over due.   After his speech I stood up and began clapping and watched as some others did the same.  He didn't get the ovation he deserved and I began to realize, that just as his speech began with a statement that many would ignore it or roll their eyes.. so it ended as well.   This young man is going to go on to great things, I just hope his classmates realize what a gift he offered to them in parting.   He's planting seeds all around.   Are you, like this young man, helping to water them?

Last night I was reminded that there is still hope for our younger generation.  Too often we see people only pointing out flaws, ignoring all the good.   This young man reminds me that there is a lot of good in their hearts and that with his efforts, and hopefully those of every person listening to him as he journeys through life, our world can grow to be a better place.  

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."