From the Tee Box

A Blog by Father Trey Nelson


Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest: Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

“With that, Moses' wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire and then ground it down to powder,which he scattered on the water and made the children of Israel drink.” (From Exodus 32:15-24; 30-34)

I am reminded again today of Charleton Heston and the old movie, “The Ten Commandments.” If we look at that scene from the movie and the dramatic scripture today from Exodus, we might be tempted to think that the message is about God being a vengeful God who punishes severely. It is, in fact, about remembering and trusting. The Israelites weren’t bad people. They were just feeling discouraged. In that moment of discouragement, they experienced anger and disappointment. This leads to what appears to be revelry and sin.

For me personally I take it as a reminder of the unfortunate reality that we, at times, forget. We forget the bumps, pitfalls, and difficult moments through which God has carried us. Maybe we get discouraged and, like the Israelites, grumble and complain. Given the fact that today is a Monday, perhaps this could be our goal for the week: to stop and consciously bring to mind all that the Lord in His great love and mercy has carried me through. May our words and actions show that we have not forgotten but, in fact, remember. With all of the struggles that we’ve been through, we’re still standing!



Sunday of the Sixteen Week in Ordinary Time

“ 'Do you want us to go and pull them (the weeds) up?' He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.’ “ (From Matthew 13:24-43)

If there’s one reality that comes to mind for me today, it’s, “we’re all a work in progress. God isn’t done with any of us yet!” The parable of the weeds and the wheat is symbolic of 2 aspects of life: first, there are bad people in the world. There indeed are people who are consciously selfish and consciously hurt others. Along with this, there are also “things” in the world that are bad for us: bad behaviors, things that harm our health, and so on. For today’s reflection, however, the parable is symbolic of the reality that the kingdom of God here on earth is very much a mixed bag. All of us are weak and frail in some way, at times appearing to others more like weeds than wheat. Identify for yourself one person in your life who needs more patience from you. When the owner of the field says, “no, let them grow together until harvest,” this translates for us into, “be patient with one another. Take a deep breath along the way. Give each other a chance.”

None of us would be where we are today if it were not, in large part, for those along the way who did just that for us. Parents, for example, often take a deep breath and look at their child and are reminded, “He, she is a work in progress.” How many people have done this for me throughout my life! We grow together until the great harvest, the resurrection. In the meantime, we take our time with each other. We do take a deep breath. And we allow each other to grow into what God has created us to be.


Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Moses, hearing the voice of the Lord from the burning bush, said to him, "When I go to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' if they ask me, 'What is his name?' what am I to tell them?" God replied, "I am who am." (From Exodus 3:13-20)

During Mass, these past couple of days, I have been recalling a memory from my childhood. I have been thinking about the movie, “The Ten Commandments.” As I recall, it use to air every year on Easter Sunday night. I remember the scene in which Moses, played by Charleton Heston, is standing before the burning bush in the presence of God, and the voice of the Lord says, “remove thy sandals, for you are on sacred ground.” The special effects were nowhere near what they are today, but it was still a powerful moment.

The idea of sacred ground or holy ground has always been a powerful one for me. I sometimes wonder, though, if some people have lost a sense of the sacred in their lives. I know that I sometimes have to consciously stop and remind myself of the sacred.  Areas such as church, prayer, sexuality, how we dress for certain occasions, whether we say “yes sir” or “no Mam” have always been areas of life in which we knew and acknowledged the sacred. But sometimes it seems that we run the risk of being so busy, preoccupied, and maybe even selfish, that we lose a sense of “being on sacred ground” when we are simply interacting with other people. Something as routine as saying “hello” or asking someone how their day is going serves to acknowledge that we value the other person and the moment. Whether it’s an obviously sacred moment, like, being at the family table or being in church, or a routine moment, like brightening the day of the person behind the check-out register, we are given numerous opportunities to consciously acknowledge the sacred nature of everyday life. In doing so, we help others to feel that they are more than just another person, more than just another item on our to-do list.

So, the next time we find ourselves sitting with a friend for coffee, trying to deliberate our way through a staff meeting, or dealing with a difficult person, or the next time that someone chooses to confide in us and share their pain with us, perhaps it would be good to stop and remind ourselves to reverence the moment and the people in it.