From the Tee Box

A Blog by Father Trey Nelson


Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

At that time Jesus exclaimed: "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” (From Mathew 11:25-27)

One of the statements that I have heard from mentors, coaches, and teachers as far back as I can remember is, “you never cease being a student, you never stop learning.” I’m sure this comes as no surprise to any of you. In my 8 years here at Saint Jude I have learned more about myself than I could ever expected. I have learned more about my strengths, and I have learned about weaknesses of which I was not aware, my personal “blind spots” if you will. This part has not always been easy, being honest with myself about where and how I need to grow. Still, I try to accept this awareness as a gift.

The words of Jesus today are an urging for us to remain “childlike” in the sense that we remain open to continually learning and growing. While we may get to the point of having learned a lot: about ourselves, about the world, and about life, we never get to the point of having learned it all.

Help us to see our blind-spots, O Lord, and allow You to shed light upon them. Amen.


Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For, if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” (From Mathew 11:20-24)

First, it would be worthwhile to read the full text of today’s Gospel along with this reflection. I am including the link to the USCCB website and the readings for the day. You should be able to either click on it or copy and paste it into your browser. I recommend that you read the text first:

I am reminded of an adage, first shared with me many years ago by my late friend and colleague, Judy Stewart, “…Jesus wants followers, not just admirers.” Which of the 2 are we? I think of this, because in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus chastises 3 communities: Chorazin, Bethsaida and especially Capernaum. They were not as receptive to him as he had hoped. He plainly tells them that there were other towns, pagan towns, to be specific, who would have eagerly accepted him, had he spent time with them.

Jesus confronts us today through this passage. Unfortunately, many of us who have heard of and known of him since childhood, at times take his Word and our faith for granted. Whereas, more than likely, there are those who, never having had Christ preached to them, would openly and eagerly welcome his message. The challenge for us, perhaps, and the very pointed question that we might want to consider is simply this: do I still desire to hear God’s Word in a new way and to be continually transformed by it, or has the newness worn off?

Are we followers of Christ or simply admirers only?


Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus said to his apostles, "whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (From Mathew 10:34-11:1)

It’s a special relationship when people make it a habit of saying, “I love you” to each other upon greeting or saying goodbye. As I meet different families, I have found that this is often a regular practice. Parents say it to their children. Their children reply with the same. They do it in person. They do it when they’re about to hang up the phone. In my family, too, this is always an inspiration to me. It’s not only a sign of love, but it’s also a sign of respect and shows that we remember “the blessing of” the other person. Throughout my life there have also been certain people, every now and then, who will reply, “love you more.” One of my nephews, for example, routinely says this. In all, for most of us, this is our attempt to describe in words a gift that comes from above.

I recall this dynamic in light of the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel passage. For most of us, if not all of us, it is impossible to find the words to describe the love for our children. Still, Jesus says what he says. The most direct interpretation of his statement is, that, no one thing and no one person should come before God in our lives. In all things, it is our vocation to “be transparent” to the love and presence of God within us. Let’s put it another way. A few years ago, I celebrated the funeral of a delightful Baptist lady. She was the mother of my cousin’s wife, and we were all very close. At the end of the service, she and her 2 brothers stood up to speak about their mother. The brothers went first and both said, more than once, “Mom always made you feel like she loved you more.” But then my cousin’s wife, the one daughter, stood and jokingly said, “well, I’m going to disagree with my brothers.” Then she said what I’ve never forgotten, “I won’t say that our Mom loved each of us the most. I will say this. Mama loved each of us as we needed to be loved.” Wow. “…as we needed to be loved.” I think this is what Jesus is getting at today, at least, in part. Every relationship is unique. Sometimes loving is easy, and sometimes it can be difficult. We are indeed called to love each person in our life as God calls us to, and we are called to give God the highest place and utmost priority in our lives.