Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Speak Life

There are so many times that I have been given the opportunity to be an evangelist for Christ and allowed my fallen human nature to get in the way.   I was at a Cracker Barrel with some friends.   I went up to the register to pay on the way out.   A young man behind the counter commented on my necklace.  He said he had been meaning to get something to wear.   He said he just didn't know which to get because he was, and I quote here, "A Catholic and a Christian."   It was a moment to evangelize, a moment to teach and tell him that all Catholic's are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics.   I didn't though... I just talked about the different kinds of crucifixes and crosses and encouraged him to get one.   Something inside of me kept me from going further and encountering this person on a deeper level.

Jeremiah reminds us that God encounters us on so deep a personal level that He Himself forms us in our mother's womb.   We are reminded time and again in the Sacred Scriptures that we are created in the image of God.  Like a loving artisan, God works directly and intimately with our very being.  Making us into one race, not many.   Each person created unique with a distinct personality and specific gifts.  He knows us before even our parents are aware of our existence.    How much more personal a relationship with God can we have than to be created by Him, not as some identical automaton among the many.. but as an individual, a singular diamond... a treasured possession.

We are made in the image of the God who speaks and creates.   He speaks life.   He speaks love.   He, the Father, spoke one single Word.   That Word was revealed to us in the incarnation as the "Word became flesh and dwelt among us."   Jesus is the Word of God.   In every action Jesus provides a perfect example of evangelization.     He never proselytizes, even the son of God never seeks to force conversion... He instead encounters the person.   He gets to the heart of the matter for those who are seeking to come closer, those who are trying in earnest to find God.  He never tells them to just continue sinning or misses an opportunity to reach out to a fallen child of God, but rather touches them in a way that leaves them hopeful or challenged.  That is the image of a God who never leaves a person behind unchanged.

In the Gospel parable we see the Word of God being planted like a seed.   The myriad temptations of this world seek to harden the soil of our hearts.   To create an environment internally that inhibits the growth of that seed.   The devil and evil spirits prowl about seeking to devour, to destroy any hope of that seed forming.  They want to pluck the seed out before it has a chance to change us.   Pleasure, honor, power, and wealth all seek to grow up in our hearts as false idols to choke out and destroy any image of God within us.   We must be co-workers with the Lord, laboring to prepare the soil of our hearts to not only receive the Word, but to nourish it and let it grow within us as a fertile and rich environment for Life.    That is what has been planted in us, the Word of eternal life, Life itself.

Then, we also must become planters of the Word.   Going out into the world to speak Life.   In a world hurting with racial divides, abortion on demand, rampant drug use, hatred towards the police sworn to protect us, and a million excuses that desire to create in us an environment where we justify sin... In a realm where men and women fleeing persecution by regimes of hate are turned away by 'Christian' nations.... In a society where speaking about Christ is in and of itself taboo, casual sex is on the rise, the family and marriage are being relegated to things of the past, and selfishness is even lauded in the music.... We are challenged to speak Life.. to speak Love... to speak hope.  To the poor, the broken, to the hurting... we are to be an image of the Word... one who never is complacent towards sin, but always encounters on a personal level.. and leaves every person they encounter changed in some small way.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A Reflection on the readings for Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time: July 20th, 2016.  Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10;  Psalm 71; The Holy Gospel According to Saint Matthew 13:1-9