From the Tee Box

A Blog by Father Trey Nelson

TEND TO YOUR OWN HOUSE...

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…” (catholicnewsagency.com, 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?

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE...

Monday of The Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

“…all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over, twelve wicker baskets full.Those who ate were about five thousand…” (From Matthew 14:13-21)

Here at Saint Jude, our school theme for this year is, “let your light shine!” Today we began the year with our annual faculty in-service Mass. It seems providential to me that the Gospel of the day is the feeding of the five thousand. In light of our theme, this passage can serve as a reminder of what we’re called to. There are different ideas about how this miracle actually happened. The literal interpretation is that Jesus actually multiplied only a few loaves of bread and fish into an amount large enough to feed everyone. Another school of thought is, that, everyone there that day shared their food with one another. Strangers sharing with strangers. Foreigners sharing with foreigners. Young with old. And so on. In order for that to have happened, walls would have needed to come down. This involved letting go. Letting go of prejudice, rumors, preconceived notions about other people, other regions, and other cultures. I am quite sure that sharing gave rise to sharing.

As we begin another year, I can’t think of a better virtue and way of life to which we can all recommit ourselves. If we want others to feel free enough to let their light shine, then we can help make that happen. By further acceptance, compassion, stretching and being willing to go places we may have never gone before, we can give others the freedom to be themselves and shine.

Regardless of how the miracle happened that day long ago on the mountain, the point is, that, it happened. It can happen for us too, if we’re willing to go one step further in letting go of what separates us.

THE FINITE AND THE INFINITE...

Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor: Tuesday of the Seventeen Week in Ordinary Time He (Jesus) said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.” (From Matthew 13:36-43) Today we have the fourth reference to “the sowing of seeds” in these past 2 weeks. We heard the complete parable, referenced above, the “parable of the weeds and the wheat” a couple of Sundays ago. The long form of the Gospel that day also included the “parable of the mustard seed.” On the Sunday before that we heard the “parable of the sower.” Seeds, sowing, and just about every type of landscape that you could imagine. Today I would simply like to step back from all of that and share with you how today’s passage strikes me. We could go down the road of a conversation about good and evil, the devil or not, human choice and free will. What I will share, however, is this. Today’s lesson is a clear reminder that our time in this world is limited. We are finite beings on a journey from and back to the only One who is finite. What we do in the meantime is crucial. The types of seed that we plant in our words, our actions, and our failure to act when called to, ideally serve as an expression of our appreciation for life and the time that we have. While it may sound like a bit of a repeat of what we’ve heard lately, it is always a worthwhile question to ask ourselves: what kind of seed will I sow today?