Life on the Chrism Trail

Homily for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 13, 2021
St. Patrick Cathedral
Fort Worth, Texas

Ezekiel 17:22-24
Psalm 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16
2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Mark 4:26-34

Saint Paul tells us that while on this earth, we walk by faith and not by sight.  The gift of the theological virtue of faith enables us to see the things of this world as gifts of a loving God and not just human productions.  If we just look at the events of our lives with human eyes we see isolated situations, accidental encounters, and things happening without a reason.  But when we look at the events of our lives with the eyes of faith, the things that happen to us and the people we encounter are not just by accident but are the designs of a wise God. 

Faith is the basis of the Catholic life of a disciple. It is a virtue by which our intellect is so transformed that we can recognize the voice of God as speaking through the prophets and the Old Testament, the Epistles of the New Testament, the lives of the saints, especially the martyrs and confessors, the Councils and teachings of the magisterium of the Church, and ultimately through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Faith believes God’s word and rests on the authority of God alone. Faith is given to the child in Baptism and to the adult in conversion that Baptism completes. Even though faith transcends reason, it is reasonable. Its formal motive is the Word of God but is supported by signs that make it humanly credible and understandable.

Faith, because it is given through Baptism and has God as its object as revealed fully by Jesus and understood in the Holy Spirit, is much more than subjective religious experience. Faith presents objective content that is convincing in part through the witness of the blood of the martyrs. A faith that is exclusively private religious experience and that is not conformed to the authentic Doctrine of the Church is not a trustworthy guide to God because the Church is animated by the Holy Spirit to speak in God’s name with authority. It is our personal responsibility to clarify our own personal opinions, political and otherwise, from the authentic teaching of the Church known by faith and not simply through a private spiritual experience. We should examine our consciences including our own private political opinions against the measurement of the authentic teaching of the Church, not the other way around. To do otherwise creates scandal, which really means “confusion” as a sin against faith.

The parables of the Gospel today can be understood as a call to look at what God wants of us. Like the seed scattered by the Sower, God plants us in a certain place and time. There are reasons for what He does, and our work is to cultivate and bring to fruition what He has begun. How do we act and interact with one another … with husbands and wives, families, friends, co-workers, and those who are unpleasant to us? How do we understand the events of our lives? Do I consider myself a victim controlled by the situations of my life? Do I use situations, exploiting and manipulating them for my benefit, getting something for myself? Or do I see situations as opportunities for me to bring understanding, kindness, and goodness to the world?  While faith assures us that God desires and wills the salvation of all persons, faith does not reveal to us who in fact will be saved except in the case of saints canonized by the Church. The assurance of our personal salvation is given to us through the theological virtue of hope which constantly encourages us to strive to be obedient to His will with confidence that God will ultimately make our efforts at living a morally good and Christian life fruitful.

As people of faith, we should know that things happen to us for a purpose in the order of Providence. God has a task for each of us and has formed us through the events of our lives and the people He sends us – family, friends, and even our opponents and adversaries. Little by little we begin to understand and discern where God wants to lead us, sometimes vaguely and sometimes clearly. But we walk always as people of faith, as Saint Paul reminds us, seeing the people and events of our lives as ways that God reaches out to touch and call us.

Hope is born of faith that God will bring forth fruit from the seed He scatters with or without us, but He very much desires our cooperation. He wants our hands and our hearts as the parable of the mustard seed recounts. The Kingdom of God, like a mustard plant, is small and gets little attention but grows big enough that birds come to nest in it. It grows beyond our expectations when we open ourselves to the gift of the Holy Spirit, and consciously and seriously live the Gospel with love.

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