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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

15th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A) July 12, 2020

Isaiah 55: 10-11 Psalm 65 Romans 8: 18-23 Matthew 13:1-23

By: Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Friends:

Here I come again, hat in hand. These days have been difficult for so many. I know many of you are under severe financial stress. We here at the priory are doing what most of you are doing – staying in place. And like you, our resources have suffered.

We are expecting five novices to join us in August to begin their Dominican studies and preparation for the priesthood. Would you like to support them and help us prepare for their arrival?

If so, send tax deductible checks to:

Dominican Friars of Irving

3150 Vince Hagan Dr.

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Or: For an online donation go to: https://www.preacherexchange.com/donations.htm

We pray for our benefactors daily and will do that for you.

Thank you.

Fr Jude



When I was young, if you asked someone if they did windows, people didn’t automatically think of the Microsoft kind. They knew you meant glass windows. A while back, when we had friends volunteer to help us straighten up the house they jokingly said, "But we don’t do windows!" And I responded, "But I do." I like doing windows. You apply a good window spray to the surface, crumble a few pages from an old newspaper and wipe it clean. (I learned the newspaper method a long time ago from my mother, who said it gave a nice shine, and saved on paper towels.)

I like doing windows because you get good, immediate and tangible results – you have the dirt and soot of "the before" and, in a brief time, you have the neat, squeaky clean of "the after." Windows, mirrors, windshields, hand them over, I’ll get to work on them and, after I am finished, I will step back and admire my work. I see the results before me....NOW!

After all, how many areas of our lives can we say we have such predictability, control and clear positive results? Are you like me and like at least some things in your life to be predictable...within your grasp...under your control...providing you with a sense of order, accomplishment and being in charge? Hasn’t the pandemic and its threat to our lives shown us how fragile we are? When you come right down to it, we are not in control. We are reminded that any control we exert over our existence is illusionary, or minimal indeed. It is, at best temporary, for eventually something happens to remind us we are not in charge. We are reminded of this during these pandemic days. All of a sudden we, or someone we know, begin to ache all over, develop a fever and have trouble breathing. How uncertain and out of control our lives can be. The ground we stand on is not as secure as it may seem

The sower in today’s parable lives in a world of chance; one would even say, chaos. At first glance his future doesn’t look encouraging. The work that occupies his day is not a hobby. He is not spending leisure time planting a backyard herb garden. This is vital business he is about. He will have to feed his wife, children and maybe, his extended family, from the fruit of this sowing. The crowd that gathers to hear this parable could well identify with the daily struggle to survive.

Yet, he seems to be careless, even wasteful, in his sowing. Plus, outside forces are lined up against him. The parable spells it out in vivid detail: some seed fell on the path and was gobbled up by hungry birds; some seed fell on rocky ground that had no depth and soon perished under the punishing sun; other see fell among thorns and had the life choked out of them. In this sowing, 3 out of 4 castings were wasted; only a part of the seed landed on good soil. This farmer doesn’t appear to be having a very good day.

We do not know when this pandemic will end; when and if we will return to our accustomed lives. We can identify with the farmer’s life struggle: the waste of good effort; the loss of what we can’t afford to lose; the unpredictable nature of life; the turn of events that might spell the difference between having enough to eat and going without...for some, maybe even starving. The dice are tossed and we just might come up losing.

But the last part of the sowing turns the story on its head. When ordinary farmers of the day would have expected 8, 10 or 15 fold from a planting, Jesus says the last part of the sowing yields a 100, 60 or 30 fold! "Impossible!" would have been the response of any experienced farmer. The yield would have been beyond the wildest dreams of any farmer hearing this parable. At first glance, what looks like a disaster can, nevertheless, yield a surprise. It is obvious Jesus sees another factor at work in our lives. He addresses the crowds around him and us too, "Let everyone heed what he or she hears."

It is as if he is saying. "Pay close attention, you may think you have evidence for your negative expectations, but look more closely at your lives and see a possibility for hope." We can put confidence in God, despite signs to the contrary. The Word that is planted in our spirits can bear enormous and surprising results during these pandemic days of testing. The odds seemed against the sower, but there was a surprise element in the story and the result was a harvest beyond human expectation.

There’s a second message for us who have "ears to hear" this parable. Jesus is speaking to crowds. He is the sower casting his words to anyone who would hear him. He is sowing his word recklessly, so it seems, to many who will not accept it. But some few will, a seeming insignificant group – at first. Those who accept his words can’t be measured by the world’s standard of success; they don’t have power, or the influence in the towns and cities where they live; they aren’t the wheeler dealers, the movers and shakers. They may even hear people say to them, "Well, a lot of good your faith does you...you lost your job, you got sick, your son or daughter is a failure."

But what seems like a small, fragile seed of faith in our lives, will yield a rich and a surprising harvest of: strength, when we normally would have been weak; hope, despite painful events that would have caused discouragement; faith, in the face of powerful forces lined up against us that make us feel small and fragile. We are the disciples who heed Jesus’ word – and we trust. Despite appearances, we continue to work on Jesus’ dream for the world; we continue to look for the surprises that show us that someone else’s hand is in ours, working to bring to harvest what has been planted.

As I said, I like to do windows. It is a neat, orderly and predictable labor. As for the rest of life: so far from predictable; so less orderly; so less efficient. I will trust that, despite appearances, some things are going to work out – some day. Some good seed sown will sprout and harvest beyond expectation, beyond our wildest dreams. It won’t be measurable in dollars and cents, but rather, in the deep parts of our lives where real life is. After all, the One who tells us this parable today, knows our God will see to a harvest.

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071220.cfm

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

. . .in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Romans 8:21

Biblical texts often link the fate and well-being of humanity with the created world. We see this in the passage from Paul’s Letter to the Romans that he considers the destiny of the created world to be linked with the future. As creation shares in the penalty of corruption brought about by sin, so also will creation share in the benefits of redemption. I have a simple question. Who brings about the sin that corrupts creation?

There is only one answer--we humans corrupt creation. Somehow, we have come to think that we are more important than the rest of creation. We have taken a teaching on dominion with its concurrent caring and turned it into domination. We treat earth as disposable along with all the plastic we toss with abandon. We look the other way as companies pollute earth’s air and waterways, not to mention our various modes of transportation that also pollute. We wipe out species by our use of insecticides and fertilizers and some of us kill endangered species for sport. In "Laudato Si," Pope Francis shows us the fork in the road we face, "When nature is viewed solely as a source of profit and gain, this has serious consequences for society. . .immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence. . .Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace as proposed by Jesus" (82). Our coral reefs are dying as the waters warm; clear cutting of forests continue to de-nude the land; floods and fires occur in greater frequency. The earth is truly groaning. What is your attitude--one of alarm or one of business-as-usual?

If the subjugation and the redemption of humanity and the created world are not only shared but also related, humanity and the created order should be in solidarity instead of indifferent. As we take our place within creation, we need to sharpen a sense of awe and wonder at the natural gifts of the world that God has given to us for our care. We need to speak and act on behalf of the earth. Pope Francis writes in "Laudato Si," "What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?" (160)

Please join Cathedral’s Creation Care Network at socialconcern@hnojnc.org

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

"A sower went out to sow....some seed fell on rich soil

and produced fruit,

a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."

Reflection:

We might imitate the parable and try a little sowing. We will keep eyes and ears open for a chance, in some overt or subtle way, to speak a word of faith to the curious, weary, despairing, doubting and searching. Who knows what the results of such seed-sowing might be? But the results are not under our control, are they? We are those who sow, wait and look for surprising results.

So, we ask ourselves:

  • How am I now the seed that God is planting in the world?

  • Where and when am I called to speak the Word of God in my daily life?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

This is a particularly vulnerable time for state and federal prisoners. Conditions, even without the pandemic, are awful in our prisons. Imagine what it is like now with the virus spreading through the close and unhealthy prison settings. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of the inmates listed below to let them know we have not forgotten them. If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Shan E. Carter #0486636 (On death row since 3/18/01)
  • Fernando L. Garcia #0702066 (4/19/01)
  • Jim E. Haselden #0561943 (6/6/01)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P. - St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: https://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C

  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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