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From the Tee Box

A Blog by Father Trey Nelson


Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr: Thursday of The Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus said to his disciples, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (From John 12:24-26)

When I was living down in Napoleonville and serving at St. Anne, Assumption, and St. Philomena Parishes, I would, from time to time, visit some friends of mine. They are sugar cane farmers and delightful people. Often in the course of our conversation, if I had shared with them some difficulty that I was experiencing, the husband wouldn’t say anything at first. He would simply place the palm of his hand on the dining room table and slide it off the edge. And he did it with a grin, because we both knew what he was thinking. This little gesture was his way of saying, “you’ve got to let it go.” He did it with a grin, because he knew that I, more than likely, did not want to hear it. He was right. But, still, I didn’t want to hear it.

So much of life is about letting go. Some things are easier to let go of than others, while some take a while for us to move through. There are the minor irritations, such as people’s personalities or their innocent mistakes. And then there are the major, life changing losses in life that really put every fiber of our being to the test. When we can move through the experience, however, and get to the point of being able to let go, to let it “fall to the ground,” as Jesus says today, then we can achieve peace. This is the case for the pains, losses, and hurts that we experience along the way, and it is also true when it comes to the question of “how much of my life is given over to Jesus Christ in discipleship?”

Is there something that you need to let go of in order to have peace? Anger. Hurt. Resentment. Sin. The loss of someone you love. Better yet, where might I be holding back in my day to day living of the Gospel and my faith?


Wednesday of The Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed from that hour. (From Matthew 15:21-28)

If you read the entire Gospel selection for today’s Mass, you will, no doubt, find this exchange between Jesus and the woman to seem a little odd. "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs," he says to her. (Mt. 15:26) It sounds as if he is actually insulting her. This, however, was no insult. This is all about persistence. Jesus playfully acknowledges in this woman, whose daughter was ill, her blind trust in his ability to help her. She was also someone frowned upon by others, even the disciples, because she was not of their faith or culture. By acknowledging her genuineness, Jesus shows them that sincerity of heart is all that is asked of us. Regardless of one’s background or personal history, Jesus welcomes and will change the hearts of anyone who sincerely desires such a change.

Personally, I am challenged by this dialogue in 2 ways. The first is a reminder to be honest with myself whenever I am tempted to judge someone else, especially by their outward appearance or background. The second is the necessity to retain the blind innocence that is required, the vulnerability that is necessary to allow Christ to genuinely and continually transform my life. If I lose this, if we lose this, then we’ve lost so much.


Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest: Tuesday of The Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal." (From Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14)

One thing I’ve learned throughout life is, the happier I am with myself, the happier and more patient I will be with others. Whenever I catch myself in a moment of frustration or irritation with other people, or when I feel myself moving in that direction, it’s often because I’m frustrated with something about me. The older I’ve become, the more I’ve found myself letting go of the mounds of conversational garbage and the kinds of talk and conversation that serve no purpose. It never ceases to amaze me, for example, how much energy and time some people seem to place (and waste) on “other people’s business.” I see it on social media, I hear it in conversation, and I even see people making decisions based on “what they have heard” or how they perceive someone to be. This seems to me to be a waste of time and energy, and it’s destructive. It is counter-productive and counter-Gospel. In November of 2016, our Holy Father Pope Francis said in a radio address, that, “we must not be indifferent to others, but rather meet people where they are and show mercy to those in need…” (, Nov. 2016) I have found these words to be very helpful in evaluating my life and ministry.

In praying with today’s Gospel passage, I was immediately led to the thought, “take care of your own house, and everything else will work itself out.” This was in response to the Pharisees and scribes passing judgment on Jesus’ disciples. What part of “our house” needs tending to, so that we can not only be more compassionate toward others but be happier ourselves?