“Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?”
19 July 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings. At various times in our lives, we confront the question of evil. Why does evil exist? Why does God permit suffering?
Jesus addresses these challenging questions, even if he does not provide the answer in the clarity we desire. He continues his teaching through these parables, to explain the kingdom of God. The weeds have been maliciously spread among the wheat. At the time of Jesus, this was a real problem, as Roman Law explicitly forbade the sabotage of crops, particularly with the weed darnel. Darnel is a particularly troublesome weed, as it has some resemblance to wheat and is poisonous to humans.
In our current challenges, we may be honestly offering prayers of frustration and desperation. We may be struggling, as we question God and how God’s plan is victorious. We ought to encourage one another, in this honest prayer but also point towards our reasons for our hope. Why are we disciples? What gives us confidence, that despite the weeds rapidly spreading in our lives, God’s kingdom is coming to fruition?
In commenting on our current culture, Pope Benedict XVI taught us to resist “the temptation of impatience.” Our deep questions will not be easily answered. Just as the weeds persist, evil will remain among us. And we know that this evil is not just a generic “other” but is present and evident in our persistence in sin. But how often has the sinner through the grace of God become a great saint? Let us pray for that conversion of ourselves, our families, our parish community, and our world.
While we should discourage a blurring of the distinction between good and evil, we are challenged to see the amazing reality of who God has created us to be. The sinner may become a saint. That sinner can be us! We cannot allow our sinfulness to define our identity but strive to live the reality as God’s daughters and sons. In our discipleship pathway, four challenges each of us to a deeper growth and intimacy. The miraculous transformation of weed into wheat is possible by the grace of God who is patiently calling us to holiness. As we reflect on become, (a call to BECOME like Jesus in our thoughts, words and deeds, so that the world can see Him through you) may we hold onto the desire to fulfill God’s vision for us.
Our parish continues to invite parishioners into spiritual friendships at all ages, recognizing that we ought to rely upon one another to assist and encourage us. Our small-group faith communities embrace the model of Jesus shaping and forming disciples. While he taught and preached to all who would listen and performed miracles in the wider community, he had a core set of disciples that he lived with and challenged to grow. When others disappeared at difficult teachings or as the suffering of the cross became apparent, he guided those closest to him, often explaining in greater depth his teachings. Our small groups encourage each person to grow in their relationship with Christ. In the context of an intimate community, we are able to study our faith, ask important questions, and develop as disciples.
Our other aspects of formation seek to emulate the value and strengths of small groups. For our preschoolers, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd offers the chance to dive into our faith and explore the stories that Jesus taught as well as the basic rhythm of our lives of prayer and worship. In a very tangible way, they are invited to rely upon our loving God just as they trust their parents, family, and friends.
Our religious education in elementary school emphasizes the importance of the family as the place we are formed and come to understand God’s teachings. We encourage and support parents as the first teachers of the faith. Our children recognize the importance of the faith and Jesus’ teachings when they come from the most important teachers in their lives.
As our children grow, they are formed as disciples of Christ in Impact in Middle School and Encounter in High School, along with our Confirmation formation. In these settings, learning in community is emphasized. Focus is given on forming spiritual friendships. We have the need to surround ourselves with those we can ask the important faith questions and those who both accept us and challenge us to growth.
Our parish is blessed to have many opportunities to connect and grow, recognizing that in spiritual friendship we learn much more than a study or program can offer on its own. Our parish is also blessed by so many resources among the parishioners, those who have entered formation as spiritual directors, as third-order religious, as professional lay ministers, as those committed to growth.
Our challenge in the realm of become is to not become complacent with great opportunities. We must both continue to invite parishioners into a deeper relationship and raise up leaders. The blessing of small groups can also develop into a crutch. The comfort level can cause us to hesitate when hearing God’s call to take on new opportunities for service. As a parish, we have to remain attuned to God’s voice and be courageous in inviting others to set out of the comfort zone and take on greater responsibility. To be able to offer the same experience for others, we need those in small groups to help start and host new faith communities. We need parishioners who have a deep prayer life, strong intellectual knowledge, and great talent in communicating the faith to continue new and creative offerings.
How is God calling you to live holiness? In what ways is God calling you to serve at this particular moment in your life? Serving at the level of our families, our neighborhood, our parish, and our wider world is critical and will take on new forms in different phases of our lives. I encourage you to remain open, through discernment, to the Lord’s guidance in how He is calling you to minister to others.
SPECIAL NOTES FOR THIS WEEK…
▪ Take note of the Sunday Mass schedule that we implemented this week to better meet your needs. Please feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts.
Saturday, 4:30 pm Mass in the Church
7:30 am Mass outdoors
9 am Mass outdoors and live stream
11 am Mass in the Church
▪ Please pray for our seminarian John-Paul who concludes his time with us this weekend. While this summer has been unique, I know he has tried to make as many connections with our parishioners as possible. We are grateful he took a large part in executing our digital Vacation Bible School. Be sure to check out the Week 3 materials including the Bible Story and Game that feature John-Paul. For content, go to www.olphparish.org/vbs, which also includes all the songs and content from Weeks 1 and 2.
▪ Governor Hogan this past week continued to encourage, Safer at Home measures: outdoor over indoor activity, connecting through digital means where possible, practice physical distancing, continue to wear facial coverings and avoid large gatherings. OLPH is committed to making our campus as safe as possible as we place emphasis on the Mass and Sacraments to feed our people. Let us embrace these measures for the sake of each other and for the safety and health of our wider community.
▪ Sadly, the attempts to take advantage of one another through a scam are finding new and more creative methods. This week you reached out to let me know of a suspicious text received from me asking for help. In the past, these inquiries have come via email and upon further look, we can see that the email address does not belong to me. Yet, when a text is received, the opportunity to verify it is not me is more challenging. Therefore, please know that the Parish and I will only ever appeal for financial assistance through standard parish communications or by personal phone call. And any invitation to support OLPH will be directed to one of our parish’s secure giving solutions like Faith Direct. Lastly, we will never request gift cards nor a check to be made out to me personally or any staff member. If you are ever suspicious, please feel free to reach out to the office (410-747-4334 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lastly, as a reminder, please do sign up for July 25/26 weekend Mass here.
May the Lord continue to strengthen you as good and holy disciples and in a special way pour forth his graces upon those confirmed this weekend, and those to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett