Sunday, June 17, 2012

Humble Beginnings - Grand Results

Homily for the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B

Who’s been to the Grand Canyon?  It’s magnificent isn’t it?  I haven’t actually been to the canyon, I’ve only flown over it a couple of times.  But even from thousands of feet up in the air, it’s a magnificent site.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and attains a depth of over 1 mile.
It goes without saying, of course, that it didn’t always look that way.  At one time, the Grand Canyon was anything but grand - it had humble beginnings.  You could say that that 277 mile long, 18 mile wide and 1 mile deep scar in the earth began with a single drop of water
when the Colorado River was first formed and began to gently flow over the Colorado Plateau.
And it also goes without saying, of course, that it didn’t get that way overnight.  The steady and constant flow of the Colorado River and the imperceptible, microscopically slow rise of the Colorado Plateau worked against each other for at least 17 million years to bring the canyon to it’s present form.
The Grand Canyon shows us that the tiniest amount of force, the slightest amount of pressure, the littlest amount of effort (if applied steadily over time) can yield amazing results.
Jesus describes the Kingdom of God as such - humble beginnings that grow into grand results: “It is like a mustard see that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds of the earth.  But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” (Mk 4:31)
Now you have to understand that when Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, he’s not just talking about Heaven for when after we die.  He’s also talking about the Kingdom of God here, now, on earth.  Jesus says all the time, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mk 1:15)
He’s talking, of course, about the Kingdom of God breaking into the world through his own presence here on earth.
Jesus is also talking about the building up of the Kingdom of God through the Church.  The Church began humbly - with Mary and the Apostles locked in an upper room and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  sAnd it has grown over the course of 2,000 years to a religion with over a billion members.

Our own parish is much the same way.  We began humbly.  Fr. Benoit came from France and met local farmers who donated the land on which was built our first church - a log cabin.
Since then, we have grown into a parish of over 10,000 the largest in the diocese.
You and I are much the same way.  We begin humbly - coming into existence through the joining together of two cells.  And we grow into the people we are today - not just bodily of course, but spiritually as well.  Coming to know our God, coming to love our God and coming into relationship and intimacy with our God.
It goes without saying, of course, that our Church, our parish and we ourselves, do not get this way overnight.  Not everyone is a St. Paul who God knocks off their horse and converts overnight.  Like the Grand Canyon, we do so with slow, steady growth.
One of my favorite singers is a Catholic named Audrey Assad.  And she’s written a song about growing in intimacy with the Lord - it’s called, appropriately so, “Slow.”  It’s a song, sung to God, in which Audrey sings:
Click here to purchase
 Audrey Assad's album "Heart"
You’ve drawn so close
That it’s hard to see you
And you speak so softly 
That its hard to hear you
Faith is not a fire
As much as it’s a glow
A quiet lovely burning
Underneath the snow
Cause love moves slow
Love moves slow

Spiritual growth is something that requires time.  This is something we lack.  We want answers to our prayers now.  But spiritual growth also requires docility - meaning a willingness to let God do the work and form us, not the other way around.
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that it’s not us, but God who does the growing.  The Kingdom of God is like a seed that is scattered on the land.  And as the farmer sleeps and rises day and night, “through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.  Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”
If a single drop of water, placed in the right place, at the right time, and given enough time to build and flow can cut a 277 mile long, 18 mile wide and 1 mile deep canyon.  What would become of us if we would allow God to form us steadily every day of our lives?
What would happen to us if we allowed God to speak to us for just a couple minutes of silent prayer everyday?  What if we consistently did that every day of our lives?

What would become of us if we made a 5 minute visit to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel once or twice a week on our way to or from work?  What if we consistently did that every week of our lives?

What grand results would God yield in us if we went to confession once a month?  What if we consistently did that every month of our lives?
What would we become?  In the hands of God... something grand indeed!

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