The Good Word for March 22nd

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

avocadoWhen I was in elementary school and we were studying earth science, I was given the “Avocado Pit” experiment. The experiment was simple. Basically it involved putting an avocado pit in water and letting it sprout. Eventually the pit would break open, a small shoot would come out and begin to grow. The next step was to plant it and start an avocado farm, but I never really got that far.

The key to that experiment is also present in our gospel today. Jesus says, “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.” For the avocado pit to make an avocado tree, the pit must break open and die. It is only by being broken open is it able to grow.

Each Sunday when we attend Mass we hear four pieces of scripture. The 1st reading is from the Old Testament. The psalm, which is usually sung, is one of the 150 Psalms. The 2nd reading is from a letter or Acts. The Gospel is from one of the four gospels in the New Testament.

I don’t know about you, but far too often I just sit there while this abundance of scripture is read. Then I wait for the homily to wow me. I put the responsibility for this part of the Mass to be fruitful, all into the priest’s hands. I make it his job to make scripture come alive for me.

See, all this scripture is like the grain of wheat or the avocado pit. Like the seed, the Sunday scriptures must be broken open. If we really believe that scripture is the living word of God, then it truly is a seed ready to be broken open. When we take the time to really break open the Sunday scriptures, then the word of God can grow and give us life.

Great metaphor, but what does it mean? For me it means two things – Reading and Silence. For me to break open the Word, I need to read it before I get to Mass and I need to sit in silence while the scripture is fresh in my mind. One way to do this is an ancient prayer form called Lectio Divina. Pope Benedict said that if the Church (you and me) practiced Lectio Divina we would set the world on fire with our faith.

What if every reading at Mass moved you and grew your faith? They can, just break scripture open a little ahead of time – you won’t regret it.

Live It:
Read the Sunday readings before you get to Mass this weekend, by clicking here. Want to try Lectio Divina? Try out HNOJ’s Lenten Prayer Guide. It contains instructions on Lectio and has a short version of the Gospel for each Sunday to use in Lecto Divina.

The Good Word for Nov 2nd

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

BlueVotivesHNOJWide

One time flying back from a Mexico mission trip, we were an hour late getting into Atlanta, and our connecting flight to Minneapolis was supposed to take off before we actually landed. We ran from gate to immigration to baggage claim to customs to the gate. It was foolish to hope we could possibly make our flight. Somehow we did.

It is easy to be cynical. It’s also easy to believe that the more sophisticated, grown up view of the world is one without much hope. It is easy to believe that when we die that is the end. It’s so easy to believe in death as the end that it seems foolish, silly, or childish to hold out hope for life after death.

The readings today take what many believe is reality and flips it upside down to show what is true. While it appears crazy to believe in life after death, it is actually foolish not to believe in eternal life because the souls of the just are in the hands of God. While it will appear that Jesus looses everything on the cross, it is actually by dying on that cross that Jesus saves the whole world. And while it makes sense to die for a good man, Jesus dies for us while we are still sinners, still a mess. The readings today affirm our belief that death is the not the end and that Jesus wholeheartedly desires to save us and welcome us into eternal life with him.

This time of year we as Catholics remember our loved ones who have died. We honor them and reaffirm our hope in life after death. On All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2) take time to reaffirm your hope in life after death and pray for those who have passed before us.

Live It:
Make a list of all the people you know who have died since Nov 1 last year. Bring that list to Mass this weekend and pray for them silently. If you have children give them each a name of a person to pray for during Mass.