Friday, August 10, 2018

Unless A Grain of Wheat Falls to The Ground and Dies

Unless A Grain of Wheat Falls to The Ground and Dies

Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:8-10

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. John 12:24-25

Benediction by Nicholas Samaras (1954 – )

For what we are given.
For being mindful of what we are given.
For those who grieve and those who celebrate.
For those who remain grateful in the face of everything.
For the assembly of words that links us together.
For individual speech that becomes speech shared.
For the transformations a written page may effect in us.
For those who pay attention.
For the teachers who gave us the chrysalis of language.
For the comrades of the heart who left us signposts.
For the parent who gave us the one ethic of discipline.
For ourselves who may take discipline to heart, and not resent it.
For the second chance that is the writing down.
For those who know that half of poetry is silence.
For the language of breath, and the breath that is prayer.
For those who wake to light, and know the depths of sacrament.
For this common meal, and us who bow our heads and partake.
For those who remember that "so be it" is also written. Amen.

Taken from Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson, editors, Before the Door of God; An Anthology of Devotional Poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 425pp.

This is a busy week for Feast Days.  Although we are in the slow, vacationing days of summer, this ordinary week hop-scotches over green, white and red vestments to celebrate the Transfiguration (Monday); St. Dominic (Wednesday), St. Lawrence (today); and St. Clare of Assisi (tomorrow). The liturgical calendar gets no vacation.  Even if the parish priest takes some vacation time off, he has to find a worthy vocational substitute to cover for his absence as time marches on to fullness.

Deacon Lawrence is celebrated today.  There is a famous legend about his martyrdom.

As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows, and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels of the altar to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures—the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him—only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.”
Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned, and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasure of the Church.”
The prefect was so angry he told Lawrence that he would indeed have his wish to die—but it would be by inches. He had a great gridiron prepared with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, “It is well done. Turn me over!”[1]
Lawrence was a grain of wheat who died so that the church could grow. He did it with some humor.  That is the origin of why priests and deacons try to tell jokes in their homily.

"Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor."  
Pope Francis
Address to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Earlier this week, the USCCB Justice for Immigrants program held a webinar on For-profit detention centers and alternatives to detention for immigrants who are trying to legally enter the country and apply for asylum as our laws allow.  Here are the slides and the recording from the webinar.

Immigration and detention are long-standing concerns of the Catholic Church which recognizes that we are all one family under God. Alternatives advocated by the bishops cost less, cause less trauma and promote greater fairness in the process.  Take the time to check out the Justice for Immigration website and sign up for action alerts here.

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