From the Tee Box

A Blog by Father Trey Nelson


The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear." (From Mathew 13:1-23)

I invite us today to consider this parable from a slightly different point of view. The traditional interpretation is that God is the sower, the One who plants, the seed is His Word, and the soil is us and leads us to the question, “how receptive am I to God’s Word?” For a moment, though, consider that we are all coworkers with the Lord in the vineyard, in the field, and the question, “what kind of seed are we sowing?” Consider this question with regard to our actions and also our words, something very common place for us.

One of the people for whom I have always had the deepest respect has been my brother. As far back as I can remember, from when he started working for the first time in late high school and college, he has always been respected by those with whom he works: his coworkers, is supervisors, you name it. And I believe, I know that it is because of his style of interacting with other people, especially in difficult situations. He just has a way about him in this regard. His philosophy that guides him is simple and one with which we all agree; namely, that, “if something needs to be said, there is a way to say it. If something needs to be said, then the ‘how’ can make all the difference in the world.” Even in our family, he has often been the one to bring the peace, because of his approach to a situation. In other words, he sows good seed.

In our everyday interactions with other people we have the opportunity to sow good seed or to sow bad seed. Just in our attitude alone we can sow seed that builds up or tears others down. We can affect their feelings, their mood, and even their sense of purpose. The choice is ours. We can sow bitterness or we can sow forgiveness; prejudice or acceptance; dishonesty or the truth. This does not mean that, in saying the necessary thing in the right way will not bring with it deep emotion. It certainly at times will. But again, there is a way so say everything, and that “way” must have the blanket of compassion over it.

Mother Teresa is quoted to have said, “kind words can be spoken quickly, but their echoes endure forever.” Every one of us knows that our words can make a lasting impression on people’s hearts and leave a lasting memory on their hearts and lives. What kind of memories are we leaving?

What kind of seeds are we sowing?


Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin: Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

“Jesus said to his apostles… ‘when they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.’” (From Matthew 10:16-23)

Whenever asked to offer advice to someone who is seeking counsel, I always try to offer something that I believe in and something that works. I have always found great consolation in the belief, that, “for the person of faith, what you need to do will be revealed to you.” Whether it’s a parent trying to work through a difficult experience with their child, or a college student trying to discern their future and their purpose in life, we all need to be reminded that the ability to move forward is rooted in faith. Personally, I have found this helpful when dealing with difficult people or people who seem to be purposely standing against us.

Jesus offers a similar reminder to the apostles in today’s passage. He states for them a very harsh reality; namely, that they will encounter difficult, selfish, and hurtful people. For all of you West Wing fans out there, I am reminded of that scene in which Danny, a reporter, says to C.J. the press secretary, that she needed to be careful, because, “not everybody’s a good guy.” He was reminding her of the reality that some reporters employ good ethics but some do not. Whenever we face people who are difficult in this way, we may want to use the “grip ‘n rip” approach, but this rarely works. It usually just serves to escalate the situation. Remaining prayerfully calm, taking a deep breath, and trying to allow God to work through us is the safest, surest way through a painful encounter with difficult situations and difficult people.


Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

“Jesus said to his apostles, ‘Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.’” (From Matthew 10:7-15)

Yesterday we recalled the naming of the Apostles and Jesus instructing them to make the proclamation, “the kingdom of God is at hand!” Today’s passage picks up there and then goes on to guide them in how to do this. The key practice imparted in his words today? Detachment. Truly, less is more.

Every time that I pack for a trip, whether it be for one night or one week, I find myself not only asking, “what do I need to bring?” but also, “what can I do without?” I’m a guy who likes to travel as light as possible, but there’s always the tension of “how much stuff to bring.” We experience a similar tension in day to day living as Christians. Seeking a balance when it comes to our “things” of this world is always going to be a challenge, but this is what we, like the apostles, are instructed to do.

Consider whether or not something is weighing you down, something that keeps you from living life as you are called to live it. We are on a journey from God back to God, and the sooner we get the true meaning of “less is more” the sooner we will realize the sacredness of the journey and the time that we have to make it.