Deacon Ken’s Homily

Deacon Ken’s Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent 

      Have you noticed it? New life is springing up all around us. What has appeared dead is now coming to life. I noticed it earlier this week when I turned the school bus into the driveway of the Mobile Home Park in New Lebanon. The tree on the right, which had been barren since the fall, had leaves beginning to sprout. The grass has gone from a dingy brown to bright green, and its growth has taken off like a jet on the end of the runway. Buttercups have broken through the ground and are blooming. Daily examples of the Paschal Mystery, the life, death, and new life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

      From the Prophet Ezekiel we hear that: “God will open your graves and have you rise from them and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD”. That’s not an empty promise! He was speaking of the Jewish people who were being prepared to be released from the Babylonian Exile. Not only were the Jewish people going to be restored, but also the Temple in Jerusalem and Jerusalem proper were going to be restored.
      Saint Paul tells us: “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you”. Saint Paul is telling us to have hope because restoration and resurrection is ours if the spirit dwells in us.

      No one cheats death. Not even Jesus’ best friend Lazarus. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha and Mary know there is only one thing to do and that is to send for Jesus and have someone bring Him back to heal Lazarus of his illness. Death is never kind to those we love. Martha and Mary knew if Jesus would return to Judea in time, He could save their brother. They’ve heard all the stories. The crippled are healed and walk normally. Ears of those who were deaf were touched and now they hear the birds singing cheerfully in the trees. A blind man from birth washed spittle and clay from his eyes in the pool of Siloam and is able to see. No one had ever made the blind to see until now! Wherever Jesus went, miracles happened but Jesus is days away from Judea, when Lazarus dies.

     When Jesus returned, Martha met him on the way into town. Martha explained to Jesus that Lazarus had been dead for four days. A first century Judean belief was that the soul hovered around the body for three days. After the three days had passed, there was no hope that the body would ever come back to life again. Martha and Mary thought Lazarus was gone forever. Jesus had other plans, plans that will glorify the Father. So, Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise. Martha has a flawed understanding of what Jesus is trying to tell her. She believes that Lazarus is going to be raised on the last day at the resurrection with all those who had gone before him. Those are not Jesus’ plans, and so He tells her “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha says she believes. Martha takes Jesus to where Lazarus is buried and Jesus tells Lazarus to come out, and he does. This Gospel shows us the power of Jesus over physical death. It allows Lazarus to come out from the tomb, and it gives us hope that we too will be raised from the dead. Lazarus’ resurrection is the precursor of the Lord’s resurrection. In His power, His love and mercy Jesus shows the Jews in His day, and us in our day that we need to believe and have faith that he will do what he says he will do. That we too will rise. 

 As the season of lent draws to a close, may our faith be strengthened, and may we come to believe that the one who raised Lazarus from the dead, and who also was resurrected, wants us to rise so that we may spend eternity with Him. That Jesus, in his humanity, at our death will weep, and then call us to Himself by saying: “My child come out!” “Come out” of darkness into light. “Come out” of sin into Grace, “Come out” past the tomb where the stone is rolled away “Come out” you are Resurrected!

Do you believe this?
Come to believe!

Deacon Ken Stewart

 

Deacon Ken’s Homily for the First Sunday of Lent

     My grandfather’s name was Alva Ray Stewart. He spent the early years of his life working in a coal mine. Later, he got a job in a factory as a “Stator winder”. If my memory serves me correctly, a Stator winder winds the coils around parts in car generators and starters that make those parts magnetically produce electricity. My Grandparents lived in Bluefield, West Virginia, and their house was on the top of a mountain. From the back porch, a person could see all of Bluefield. Grandpa Stewart was one of the funniest people I ever met. Once, while eating supper he stood up, reached to the center of the table, grabbed a slice of bread and sat down. Grandma Nora said: “Alva, don’t you have a tongue?” Grandpa replied: “Yes, but my arm is longer”. Another time my dad and Uncles Jim and Raymond had reached my Grandma’s last nerve. I never learned what infraction they committed, but when Grandpa got home from work Grandma told him: “Alva, you need to whip those boys”! She was mad! Grandpa took the three boys into his bedroom and began to tell the boys why they shouldn’t cause their mother so much grief. As he was talking to them, he slid his belt out of the loops. At the end of his lecture, he said: “Grab that pillow and bring it here to the end of the bed”. He looked at the boys and said: “When I swat this pillow, you cry out, understand”. They said they did. Grandpa swatted that pillow and all three boys cried out. Grandma thought Grandpa was being too harsh on the boys and she went to the bedroom to save them. Grandma opened the door just as Grandpa was striking the pillow. Grandma was really mad at that point. She grabbed the belt, ran Grandpa out of the room, and the boys got their whipping!

      The season of Lent, when lived as God wants us to live it, is not an easy time. It’s a time when we are called to look back on the events in our lives to see when we were walking with God or walking away from him. It is a time when we walk in the desert of our lives to see when we have gotten on God’s last nerve. It is a time to discover that when we were tempted by the evil one, did we submit to the will of God, or to the will of him who has come to kill and destroy. No, lent is not an easy time.

      I shudder to think of what the world was like that God had to destroy his creation and start anew. I wonder if it was anything like our world today. Surely, it couldn’t have been much worse, could it? I think of our world today where people have no concern for others. People rob, steal from and beat others with no thought of the consequences of their actions or the welfare of their victims. Babies are allowed to be killed in the womb up to the day of their birth. Children are being sold into slavery and prostitution. It’s seems to me to be as if we’re asking God to flood the world again. Thankfully, God made a covenant with Noah, that He would not ever flood the world again. 

      A covenant is more than just a promise or pledge. It is a sacred, binding, solemn agreement between God and human beings and it involves commitments and guarantees. Saint Peter talks about Baptism. Baptism is the first covenant we make with God. We promised to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end. Another covenant is Matrimony. The marriage covenant refers to the relationship between the husband, wife and God: a permanent union of persons capable of knowing and loving each other and God.

      Our forty days in the desert is taking us to the Paschal Mystery. The Paschal Mystery is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is the reason you and I have hope. As Saint Paul tells us, if we live with Christ, we will die with Christ. Just as Christ rose from the dead, so will we. To journey to the Paschal Mystery, God tells us to follow his Son and listen to Him. That’s easier said than done, isn’t it?

      Just as God gave Noah a rainbow as a covenant sign, He gives us signs that point to the Paschal Mystery. First and foremost, God gives us the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover from death to life. Each Sunday we are reminded in the Eucharistic Prayer and the Profession of Faith, that Jesus: suffered for our sins, was crucified, died and rose from the dead. Through the Paschal Mystery our salvation is accomplished. As we begin our Lenten journey, God asks us to focus, not on the ways of the world, but on the ways of those Christians who have gone before. God asks us to focus on how we can make a difference in the world, by sharing our love with our neighbors. We are asked to focus on what brings us closer to God. As we make our Lenten journey, may our focus be on doing God’s will, and turning away from evil. This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand, Repent, and believe in the Gospel!

 Hopefully, we don’t end up on God’s last nerve. Welcome to Lent!

 Deacon Ken Stewart

 

Deacon Ken’s Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent

     Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar tells the story of a woman who was sent to him by a friend. This woman was the epitome of the phrase “Negative Nelly”. Mr. Ziglar had about ten minutes before a speaking engagement and agreed to talk with the woman. She began to tell Mr. Ziglar how much she hated her job. Mr. Ziglar asked her what she liked about her job. She responded with: “There is nothing I like about my job. I don’t like the company, I don’t like the people who work there”. Mr. Ziglar asked: “Do they pay you”? She said: “Yes, quite well”. Zig said: “Well you like getting paid don’t you”. She replied: “Yes I do”. Zig told the woman to sit down with a pen and paper right then, and write down why she goes to work every day, and she did. Before the ten minutes was up, the woman had written down twenty-two items that compelled her to go to work every day. Here is a list of some of what she had written down:

She gets paid.

She gets paid above average.

She gets three weeks of paid vacation.

She has a retirement program.

She has profit sharing.

She has Health Insurance.

She has Life Insurance.

She has Accident Insurance.

She works less than ten minutes from home.

She has her own private office.

She has her own parking space.

And more…

     Mr. Ziglar advised the woman to go home, stand in front of a mirror every night and say to herself: “I love my job because” and then read the list, and add to it.

     Several weeks later, Mr. Ziglar saw the woman sitting on the front row of another seminar he was giving. Zig said: “She had a grin on her face from ear to ear, wide enough that she could eat a banana sideways. Zig asked: “How are you doing”? “Great” she said. You will not believe how much those people at work have changed”!

     Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudette Sunday. Gaudete, is a Latin word which means “rejoice.” This theme is echoed in today’s readings. It is a reminder that Advent is a season of joy because our salvation is at hand.

     I’m wondering. If we went around the sanctuary, do you suppose in the time we have, could we come up with reasons to rejoice? Could we get at least twenty-two? Let’s try… someone start us off…I am rejoicing today because?

    Advent is also a season of hope. The hope that the lion will lay down with the lamb. That the scorpion, the asp and the child will play together in the meadow, listening to the mountains and trees sing of the glory of God.

      In his great love, God sent a poet to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners. God also sent John, a man in a camel hair and leather belt ensemble with probably a tad bit of body odor to tell us that one is coming who is far greater than he. One who is going to make things new. How is He going to make all things new? Through Baptism. Through water and spirit.

     Through water and spirit, God makes a new Christian. Through water and spirit God made a new world after the old world was too sinful. God made a flood, Noah made an ark. When the rain subsided, a world was made new. A dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit was flying above the Ark. Water and spirit. When the Israelites left Egypt, God travelled with them as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. As the Israelites passed through the Red Sea and arrived safely on the other side with God as a cloud or pillar of fire above them, the Nation of Israel was made new. Water and spirit.

      Our baptism enjoins us into Christ’s saving mission. We begin a lifelong relationship with God and with each other. As such, it becomes our responsibility, our duty, to also share in John’s mission, to announce the coming of the Savior of the world to those who have not heard the Gospel message. Brothers and Sisters, may our list of reason to rejoice grow longer this Advent season and throughout the coming year, and by our rejoicing, may others come to know the reason for our joy.

Deacon Ken Stewart

 

Deacon Ken’s Homily for 33rd. Sunday in Ordinary Times

     In the readings today, we hear about two types of talents. The talent of the wife in the first reading speaks to her talents to care for her family and her community. Her worthiness is valued far beyond pearls. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. Let her works praise her at the city gates. She has a unique ability for good that she shares abundantly.

    In the Gospel, A man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted his possessions to them—to each according to their abilities. He trusts his talents, his roman coinage to the talents of his servants, according to their abilities, to increase his talents, the roman coinage. Two servants were very successful upon the master’s return, the third not so much.

     What can we learn from these readings?

We are called to expand our talents for the kingdom.

      What do we see when we look around the sanctuary? We see greeters, musicians, lectors, singers, Eucharistic Ministers and sacristans”. If we take a closer look we see: School Teachers, Factory workers, Nurses, Farmers, Pastors, Moms and Dad’s and a host of others using their talents to advance the kingdom. God has given us each a talent, one that suits our abilities that we are to use to bring others along the journey to the kingdom. What would our parish look like if all were singers? We could make a joyful noise but who would teach our children in their classrooms? Who would initiate the Sacraments for us? How would we hear the word of God? When we came into this world, we were not equipped with everything we need to develop our spiritual life. Therefore, we need others.

     God wills that we receive from others what we need, and that we share our talents with those that need them. By sharing our talents, we glorify God through our deeds.

Stay busy doing God’s will, because we don’t know when the Lord is coming back.

    We know that it is God’s desire to take each and every one of us with Him to heaven. Our world, racked with sin, is slowly passing away. We also know that God is preparing a very special place for us in a new world where there is no sin, and happiness and peace fill the hearts of all. The Lord is returning to get us like a thief in the night, and we know not the hour or day He is coming. When Christ returns, He will render to each person according to their works (Romans 2:6), and according to their acceptance or refusal of grace. As we heard in last week’s Gospel, when the door gets locked it will not be reopened.

Those who do God’s will are “valuable”.

      Those who do God’s will are an “unfailing” prize. They bring good and not evil. They reach out to the poor and extend their arms to the needy. Christian witness, meaning living the Gospel is authenticated by the witness of the life of the Christian. Witnessing a Christian life and good works done, have great power to draw people to faith in God. Through our faith, and through our works of charity, God judges us worthy of heaven.

     Brothers and Sisters, we are called to be fellow workers with Christ, and we can accomplish great things when we use our talents for Christ. God calls us to put our gifts into action. God gives each of us a talent to use for “His” good. We are to use that talent to bring about the kingdom of God. We bring about the kingdom of God here on earth by sharing our talents with others. In his wisdom, God gives us each a different talent to use for the benefit of others and not for ourselves. We are not to limit ourselves using our talents to benefit only our family and friends. When all share their talents, life in the community is enhanced and the kingdom comes.

Expand your talents,

Stay busy doing God’s will.

Make yourself valuable for Christ and for others.

Pretty good rules to live by.

Rules to help us hear:

“Well done my good and faithful servant,

Come share your master’s joy.

Deacon Ken Stewart

 

Deacon Ken’s Homily for 28th. Sunday in Ordinary Times

       Like myself, my friend Dave loves to trail ride horses. Seems at least every other week he sends me a text inviting me to go riding with him. Lately, I’ve had to turn him down… a lot. Three weeks ago a bus driver got sick and could not take their Saturday afternoon field trip, that field trip fell on me. Two weekends ago was the annual family reunion pig roast. Last weekend was the Deacon retreat at Maria Stein. This weekend, my preaching weekend, gets spent in polishing up and practicing my homily and preaching. Three Masses in one weekend will wear a person out! God Bless our Priests who do it constantly. I wonder if the last text I got from Dave will be the last invite I ever receive since I have turned him down so often. We’ve all declined an invitation to something, whether it be us unable, or unwilling to attend.

     Parables aren’t necessarily events that truly happened. They are simple stories to provide examples of something to learn or a teaching moment. Parables allow readers to “plug and play”. In today’s parable, the King isn’t really a King, He is God. The King’s son is Jesus. The servants God sends out are all the apostles, disciples, evangelists, missionaries and martyrs who God has sent into the world to spread the good news. I’m sure you can recall the fate that many of them suffered. Those who were invited but didn’t respond are the people to this day who turn their backs on God. The wedding feast itself is an invitation to attend the Messianic Banquet. It will be a banquet the likes that you and I will never experience in our lives. It is a banquet hosted by God in the eternal city of Zion in heaven. A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy rich food and pure choice wines. When we accept the invitation to the messianic banquet, death for us will be destroyed forever and we will live in the house of the Lord for all eternity. Why on earth would somebody refuse that invitation?

     Some say that the ending of this parable, the part of the man who was not properly dressed to enter the wedding feast was added much later. It could be that Matthew is trying to tell us that to enter the wedding feast we have to be prepared beforehand. We should be asking ourselves “what are we doing in the here and now to prepare ourselves for the coming invitation”. Father Jewell addressed this question at the Deacon retreat last weekend. He suggested that we all should do these four things:

Daily – read the bible. It takes but a few minutes to read a chapter. The best place to start is the gospels.

Weekly – spend an hour in adoration.

Monthly – go to confession. Confession prepares the soul to enter the banquet.

Yearly – attend a retreat. Recharge the spiritual batteries which help us to draw closer to God.

     God is calling all of us, sinners and saints alike, to his banquet. To enter the banquet we sinners have to submit to conversion of our hearts and minds. Today, you and I are invited to a banquet, a Eucharistic Banquet. A banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, our souls are filled with grace, and the pledge of life to come is given to us. The Eucharistic Banquet is a foretaste of the Heavenly banquet yet to come.

     Brothers and Sisters, to enter the banquet, there can be no blemish on our Souls. We have to come with a clean heart. God has provided us the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we can get ourselves prepared to enter the banquet, for nothing unclean will enter heaven. God wants all to enter, but those who are unclean will be left outside where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. God will never offer us a “last invitation”. Come prepared for the banquet, and live forever in the loving presence of God. Come to the banquet!

Deacon Ken Stewart

Deacon Ken’s Homily for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Times

      Did you ever feel like God was giving you a nudge to do something, and that something wasn’t something you wanted to do? It happened to me on Monday morning. I opened my Christian Prayer Book guide and saw the date: 11 September 2023. September 11th. I’ll never forget that date. Everybody born before 11 September 2001, can tell you where they were and what they were doing on that day. I was hauling asphalt out of Spring Valley when the plant operator called me up to the tower saying: “Ken, you’ve got to come see this! I saw a replay of the first plane fly into the tower. I’m sure you would agree when I say it was horrific!

     I think of the poor souls who were instantly vaporized by the flames. I think of others trying to escape through fire and darkness only to have the building crumble down on them. I can still see the image of a man leap from the building to escape the flames from a height no one could survive.

      As I finished my morning prayers, I felt a need to pray for all of the victims of 9/11, the ones in the towers, the planes and the Pentagon. And then I felt the nudge to pray for the terrorists who killed so many people. I didn’t want to. I thought: “why in the world should I pray for those terrorists?” My cousin’s wife Laura was one of the lucky ones to escape from the towers, but her escape was short lived. Five years later she died of a respiratory disease, like many others who had breathed in the toxic air that day.

       I had printed out the readings for today and had them folded up in my trouser pocket and the words seven times seventy Ken, seven times seventy came to mind It was then I began to pray for those horrible creatures. They were God’s creatures, and they were in need of forgiveness.

       Forgiving over and over again sounds easy in theory. However, it doesn’t seem to me to be that easy in practice. That comes from my own experience and from my own observations. Scripture makes it very plain that if we want to be forgiven of our sins, we MUST forgive those who have sinned against us. Forgive others as God has forgiven us. It doesn’t mean that we have to forget the sin committed against us, it means that to love God we have to love our neighbor, and to love our neighbor we have to forgive them. If we choose not to forgive those who have sinned against us, then we have become their judge. God tells us: “Do not judge, for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged” (Mat 7:1-2). When we begin to judge, where does it stop? Does it stop at the one who has sinned against us? Do we judge the way someone dresses? Do we judge the person with the blue colored hair? What about the individuals who stand on the entrance and exit ramps asking for money? Do we judge them? God is the only authority who can judge, not us.

       God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4), even those who commit the most despicable sins. When we choose not to forgive, we are telling God that this sinner is not worthy of HIS love and are deserving of Hell. There is no offense, however serious, that God and the Church cannot forgive, there is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided their repentance is Honest. Christ, who died for all, desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin. God will never stop pardoning our unfaithfulness and sins.

     Brothers and Sisters, be merciful, as your Father is merciful. When we choose mercy, we choose life for the other, and for us.

      Hell is relevant. It is hot, it is chaotic, and we should want no part of it. When we need to forgive someone, we only need to recall Jesus’ words from the cross when He said: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Forgive others, as your heavenly Father has forgiven you.

Deacon Ken Stewart

Deacon Ken’s Homily for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Times

     Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just. The scene is 1943, Rome, Italy. Rome has just been seized by the Germans. Colonel Herbert Kappler is selected to represent the German government. His duties are to arrest Jewish people and send them to concentration camps. Additionally, he is tasked to round up escaped Prisoners of War and, return them to the POW camps. He is also tasked to arrest revolutionaries. Colonel Kappler was a brutal man.

      Colonel Kappler’s nemesis is Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. Monsignor O’Flaherty has organized an underground network to assist Jews, escaped POWs and revolutionaries. The Monsignor hides these people in houses, farm buildings and church buildings and, supplies them with food and false documents so they can escape over the mountains into Switzerland. It is estimated that Monsignor O’Flaherty assisted over 6,500 people during the German occupation. After a subsequent length of time, Colonel Kappler realizes what Monsignor O’Flaherty is doing and orders that should Monsignor O’Flaherty ever leave the Vatican, he is to be shot and killed on sight.

     Towards the end of the war, with the Allies advancing on Rome, Colonel Kappler asks Monsignor O’Flaherty to get his (Kappler’s) wife and children safely to Switzerland, as Kappler believes that the partisans will murder them if they don’t escape. Monsignor O’Flaherty tells Colonel Kappler: “You ask me to help you after all the damage you have done here! I will see you in Hell first.” Miraculously, Colonel Kappler’s family escapes to Switzerland.

Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just.

   If you’ve never seen the movie “The Scarlet and the Black”, I highly recommend it. You can get from the local library.

      In today’s language, the Canaanite woman was being a Mama Bear. She was being obnoxious and pushy, but Jesus and the apostles weren’t even going to give her the time of day. After all, she was a Canaanite and, they were Jews. They had been bitter enemies for a number of years. It was the Israelites who marched around Jericho, a Canaanite city, and blew the trumpets on the seventh day, which caused the walls to fall. No love lost between them. Mama bear wasn’t going to go down without a fight. She hounded and pestered until Jesus was forced to a respond to her. Jesus compared her to a dog! Not to be outdone, the Canaanite woman shoots back “even dogs get scraps that fall from the master’s table”. This Mama bear wasn’t going to leave without her daughter being healed. Jesus relented and healed Mama Bear’s daughter. Jesus has a plan, a teaching moment for his apostles. A teaching moment for us! Do you suppose Jesus recalled the words of the Prophet Isaiah?

“Observe what is right, do what is just”.

     Jesus is teaching his apostles and us that when it comes to love, there should be no barriers and no prejudices between us. Not nationality, not gender, not skin color. God’s love is for everybody, even an impetuous Canaanite woman who needs God’s mercy and love and a little Canaanite girl who needs healing, and even you and me. Today, God is offering us proof of His great love. God offers us Proof of his love through the words of scripture in the story of a Canaanite woman who came to faith, and whose daughter was healed. God offers us proof of his love in the true story of a brutal German Officer who came to know God, in a military prison with the help of a kindly Monsignor who once was his nemesis. In all of this, God offers us the proof of his love, when we share his love with the “outsiders of society”. God’s love transcends all boundaries, and is given freely for those who accept it. God offers us proof of his love through His Son Jesus who died on a cross for a Canaanite woman and her sickly daughter, a brutal German Officer, and us, that our souls might be made clean.

May the word of the Prophet Isaiah,

“Observe what is right, do what is just”

Be our guide as we walk this path called life.

Deacon Ken Stewart

Deacon Ken’s Homily for Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Times

       Did you ever wake up from sleep and have an urgent thought come to mind? Friday morning when I woke up, my first thought was… I didn’t take the trash can out last night! I was a bit worried. Sometimes our garbage man comes early morning, sometimes early afternoon. I didn’t know what it was going to be that day, but I wanted to be sure our trash went out. The garbage can was pretty full and heavy. I had gathered all the trash from the little trash cans in the rooms and had emptied them into the larger trash can in the kitchen. On the kitchen counter, I saw a big brown paper sack with what I thought was dried flowers from a flower arraignment Susie had on the table on the porch. I took the garbage bag out of the kitchen trash can and replaced it with a new one, grabbed the paper sack with what I thought was dried flowers and headed to the back porch to take all the trash down to the road. I found out a short time later that brown paper sack contained stems and buds which our son Tony was drying so he could collect seeds to plant next year’s garden. Oops,

      Like all parables, the “Seeds and Sower” parable is not about seeds and sowers at all. It’s about people, hopefully disciples of Jesus and what they do with the word of God. To some, they hear the word of God and are unbelieving or are indifferent to the word of God. Some hear the word of God, but they don’t let it “sink in”, so it doesn’t stay with them long. Some hear the word of God but are much too busy for the word to bear fruit in their lives. But some, hear the word of God and act on it, and it is those disciples whose lives will bear fruit. And what is the fruit? Our Salvation!

       The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Lord plants his word in us and that His word will not return to him void, but will do his will achieving the end for which he sent it. God is doing his part, He is planting the seed. He’s planted it at just the right depth for it to do exactly as he wills for us so He can have a maximum yield. We are the soil, in which the seed is planted. What type of soil are we? I truly believe that all of us, at different times in our lives, fit the description of each soil, the path, the shallow soil, the soil among the thorns, and yes, even the rich soil. Saint Paul tells us that we have the first fruits of the Spirit planted in us and that we have to fight the way of the world. We allow the world to push us around. The world tells us that it is okay to act the way the world wants us to, and not act like Jesus wants us to. The world tells us what we should think, especially when it comes to others who are not like us. We will groan within ourselves, but we have to work through the present time to get to the glory prepared for us. How sweet it is going to be! But how do we get there?

      Prayer is the life of the new heart. Using meditative prayer we are able to discern God’s word, and it brings us into God’s light. We ask ourselves, Lord, what are you asking of me today? How can I bear fruit for you today? God’s word always calls us to action. Brothers and Sisters, we owe it to ourselves to allow God’s seed to be sown in our hearts lest we resemble the first three kinds of soil found in the parable of the Sower. May our thoughts, words, and actions aim at what is is pleasing in God’s sight that we might help harvest a bountiful fold, and obtain our salvation.

Deacon Ken Stewart