Before beginning, I want to apologize that yes, you are hearing from ME again. I would love to have more writers for this blog. If you are feeling called to write about spiritual thoughts that YOU have, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-370-3136 X-239. This is our parish blog, and it would be so lovely to hear lots of voices here!
Silos are tall, cylindrical structures that store goods. They are usually for a particular farm’s use only. They stand alone. They have no other use other than their own purpose. Once they have been emptied, their purpose is obsolete until they are filled again. They have no needs other than maintenance and storage. They do not live very exciting lives.
This contrasts significantly with community supported agriculture (CSA). In CSAs, people pay for a share of the farm. In a sense, the community owns the farm entity. In gratitude for their share, the farm disperses a portion of their harvest. There is equality. There is risk. The portion is a mystery, of whatever is in season. There may be an abundance of one good and a shortage of another, You get what you get and must accept that. But there is always equality and portions across. So, there is plenty and gratitude in the sharing. You have to participate in order to be a part of that plenty and gratitude. CSAs exist for the win-win. Both giver and receiver benefit.
I’d like to think this is how we can exist more peacefully in the world – as CSAs not silos. Be sharers. We cannot exist on our own. Well, we CAN but not fruitfully (intentional pun). We are meant to be in relationship with one another. As we go about our days, we aren’t supposed to just get through our own agendas…are we? Is that living a well-led life? To that end, will we be happy simply checking off our own to-do lists? Life is better when we exist together. When we share together. When we help each other. Maybe things get messy in relationships (Some of my relationships are an absolute disaster!), but better to get messy in the sharing than to be a silo. Only gratitude and plenty will result.
Think outside the silo. Let us be a CSA. Not just in our parish but in our lives. It is a win-win, and God seems to be always in the win-win. When goodness helps others, it helps ourselves. God is that goodness! Take the risk and put in your share. See what happens. It could be an unexpected life. Be a part of the abundant harvest!
I recently started working on my family tree through www.ancestry.com at the prodding of a friend, and I have been amazed at the mysteries I have uncovered so far, The most amazing discovery is that it has prompted my father to look for his birth parents after all these years. He has never wanted to know who they are, and they are most likely not on this earth anymore, but the longing to just know is there. The exploration of my family history has made me think deeply about this “cloud of witnesses” that we heard about in our readings this past Sunday.
In the letter to the Hebrews, we read, “Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith (12:1-2).” When I first started plugging names into the family tree, they were names that didn’t mean a lot to me. It’s interesting how you don’t have to go back very far before you don’t really know who your relatives are anymore (How fast will I be forgotten?). But it is the smallest of facts that start to draw you in. For example, my mother’s father, who died before I knew him, has the same birthday as my husband. My father’s mother had a sister that died when she was only 2 years old. I found a picture of my mother’s grandfather that used to hang in my grandmother’s house. I remember it because he was a small boy but wearing a turquoise dress (It would freak me out when I slept there overnight!). I found a boarding pass for a boat trip my father’s parents enjoyed. These relatives of mine aren’t just names on a tree; they were people that had struggles and joys and days filled with so many memorable moments. They are my cloud of witnesses.
Many of the censuses that come up as records of my relatives’ existence are handwritten. An official person would walk door to door, and ask about the status of these people’s lives. There would be checks next to names, updates made if someone died or was born. My father’s grandparents were asked if they owned a radio (They didn’t.). This whole process of family discovery is helping me see that I am only one link in a chain of family. Someday, someone will find a record of me in a census list, and I will be part of the cloud of witnesses too. Each link of the family chain was created because of a choice someone made. Out of a choice of love for another, a marriage blooms, babies are made and the chain continues. This family tree is a witness of the choices people have made out of love and it is a cloud of support and strength to those who were left behind.
It is comforting. As I run the race of this life…as we all do…we have this gift of our faith that tells us our families are still with us. They are here to support us, to tell us they have been there, to be fully present to us despite the physicality. We need them. And eventually, our future great, great-grandchildren/nieces/nephews/etc. will need us too. We all will get to be this cloud of witnesses, with our eyes ever fixed on the creator that makes it all possible. We have a loving God that knows our journeys can sometimes be tough, so God gives us a support team to help us out. It’s good news, and something I’m thankful for today.
Father Bob’s homily last Sunday…
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time C
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” This quote from the Letter to the Hebrews is the primary scriptural definition of faith. In this Year of Faith and in this time where faith is so greatly needed, it is wonderful to hear these words again. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen,” has been a guiding light in my life answering so many questions and taking me ever more deeply into the mystery of God. I love this definition of faith. I am only afraid that it might not work anymore.
Let me tell you a story. I was driving back from a service trip from Washington, DC and a young adult I was with said, “I don’t get this whole God thing.” I said, “What don’t…
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1st Reading – The Book of Wisdom 18: 6-9
The Book of Wisdom, written in the century before the birth of Jesus at Alexandria (one of the great centers of learning in the ancient world), aimed to strengthen the faith of the Jewish community living in the diaspora. The diaspora were communities outside of the Holy Land through Asia Minor where the Jewish people were more influenced by Hellenistic culture. They seemed to be more progressive and were very important to the early church. In this reading, the author reflects on God’s abiding presence and constant saving action among the people. There is an attitude of watchful readiness, which we will see in the Gospel reading too (Foundations in Faith, p. 176).
With faith comes courage. We have a God that will never disappoint, that will never leave us. We must rely on God like “holy children of the good”. How does that image speak to you? God summons (arouses, beckons, gathers, rallies) us…for God’s glory. How do you find this true in your life?
2nd Reading – Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-19
The 11th chapter of this letter is sometimes called ‘the roll call of the heroes of faith.’ Yet, these great figures of salvation history are brought forth, not for their heroism, but for their ‘faith’ which is here closely linked with hope. Faith is taking God at his word when he promises his love and help for the now and for the future. These Old Testament people became examples to early Christians (and to us) for the New Israel – the new wandering people of God – called into God’s kingdom – now and into the future. We are all called to imitate Abraham who “went out, not knowing where he was to go.” He lived trusting himself and his family to God’s promises and love. (Reginald Fuller, http://liturgy.slu.edu )
Faith is about working with and living toward your dreams. Faith in a God who loves us and wants and works for our good and the good of all – provides us with the hope that we need to help make ‘good dreams’ come true. It’s like buying a guitar in hopes of making music – and then using that hope to work toward this goal. The most important part of a dream is believing in it. (Exploring the Sunday Readings, August 2010)
In your life, how many dreams have become realities so far? Have you ever prayed about God’s dream for you?
The Gospel – Luke 12: 32-48
This gospel is not about an ending…but a beginning. Be prepared…for something wonderful. Be prepared…for God to come into your life. Be prepared…to open the door to Christ, let him in, and to serve him. Are we ready for whatever God wants us to do with our lives? Are we looking for Him, anticipating Him? Are we ready to give Him what He wants and needs – our time, our talent, even, perhaps, our lives? (Hungry, and You Fed Me, p. 206)
“Gird your loins.” The long flowing robes of the east were a hindrance to work; and when a man prepared to work he gathered up his robes under his girdle to leave himself free for activity. We would like God to find us with our work completed. Life for so many of us is filled with loose ends…the things put off and the things not even attempted. Keats wrote,
“When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain.”
There is nothing so fatal as to feel that we have plenty of time (Barclay’s The Gospel of Luke, p. 171-172). What will you do with your time? It matters!