It’s so good to see so many of our parishioners returning to church these past few weekends despite the dangers brought on by the corona virus. Even though we are still dispensed by our bishop from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass each week, some of our most familiar faces can be seen making their way to the specially designated seats that are assigned by our ushers. God bless these ushers! They have a double dedication of service to God and his people. I also thank the members of our maintenance crew who come after each Mass has ended to sanitize our church furnishings, making it safer for all to attend.
Above all, we thank Almighty God for protecting our members from this illness that has made life more difficult and has taken us from the comfort of our “usual routines.”
All of us know some people who are very devout Catholics, practice their faith fervently, and go to Mass weekly or even daily, even despite the covid-19 pandemic. We also know some people who were raised Catholic but now no longer practice the Faith. Since the Word of God is the same as preached to everyone, we might wonder why it takes root in some but not in others. In this Sunday’s Gospel by Saint Matthew, Jesus addresses this seemingly insoluble problem of how and why the Word of God might be accepted by some and rejected by others.
The message seems to have perplexed those who had gathered to hear Jesus preach. Even the disciples of our Lord seem to have been left wondering at the meaning of what He had said. However, if we look at these words through the lens of Our Lord speaking about the various groups of people whom He encountered in His ministry, then, perhaps, we can more easily connect it to our lives today. In fact, toward the end of the Gospel, Our Lord expounds upon what he meant in the parable in this very context. It’s one of the few parables that Jesus actually explains in detail.
Considering how this applies to our lives, the question that each one of us should ask is: “Into which group do I fall?” Am I in the group of people who hear Our Lord’s call to discipleship and I don’t understand it, so I ignore it? Am I in the group of those who hear his call to discipleship and get excited at first, but then, as the excitement fades, go back to my old ways? Am I in the group that hears Our Lord’s call to discipleship, but prefers the material goods and personal gratifications that the world has to offer us rather than the spiritual goods that come from a life of discipleship? Or, am I in the group that hears Our Lord’s call to discipleship and responds with a heart that is open to receive the grace necessary to follow Him as a true disciple?
I would hope that we can all answer that we fall into the last group: those whose hearts are open to receive the grace to live authentically as disciples of Our Lord in the midst of the world. If, however, we cannot all answer these questions that way, then maybe we should dig ever deeper in prayer and discernment of just how Our Lord is calling us to live as His disciples. Remember the words Our Lord speaks when asked about who will enter into eternal life: “Not everyone will enter into the kingdom of God, but only the ones who do the Will of my Father.”