Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mustard Seed Homily from Last Month

In this morning’s Gospel we heard the all too familiar parable of the Mustard Seed. The beautiful story of how the smallest of seeds produces the greatest of trees. The story of the transforming power of God, whose abundant grace and love can work in our lives when the seeds of faith are sown and allowed to grow. We are told these seeds are like the Kingdom of God which if planted grows, but not by means that we understand but rather by the power and mystery of God. The seeds of faith have been planted in all of our lives by, our loving parents and relatives, by dedicated catechists and religious educators, by religious men and women. The seeds of faith are planted in our life by the very Word of God which we hear each time we gather to pray. The Kingdom of God, Jesus says, is like the smallest of seeds on earth, but when it is sown it springs up and becomes the largest of trees. Jesus reminds us that we are not the sowers of the kingdom, but rather God is. And that his work, begun in us, with the help of others, does not suddenly appear in all its glory, but rather slowly transforms before our very eyes, like the plant that grows each day. We are the seeds, small and lowly, present in all of our weakness and humbled by the greatness of God’s magnificent creation which surrounds us. However, with his love and presence we too can become transformed, I reminded of a story about this Church, and the people of the parish. As I look around this evening I cannot help but to be overwhelmed by the magnificance of this great building dedicated to almighty God. I look up to the thousands of angels which adorn the ceiling, the beautiful carvings of the Gospel writers, and the incredible detail given to the sanctuary. All of this built as an offering to God and a living testament to his power and glory, all of this built by men and women of this community and proudly serving as a beacon of hope. But there is another beautiful offering in this Church, quietly hidden away, and unobserved by most. It is buried two layers beneath the floor of the tabernacle, which holds the most precious gift of all, the body and blood of Christ,hidden below this, below the ciborum holding the Eucharist, below the satin covered floor, one finds a simple envelope, an envelope which has been in this very Church for over one hundred years, and an evelope which is to remain here perpetually. The envelope contains hundreds of names, names you will recognize like Poulin, Larochelle, Lepage, Rheume, Doyon, Roy, Lambert, Bilodeau, Anctil and Arsenault. They are not the names of business leaders or wealthy donors, they are the names of hundreds of school children who once lived on these streets, and in these hills. They are the names of young men and women whose faith steadfastly guided their lives. For some, they are names of your parents, for most your grandparents and great grandparents. They are the names of the children from this city and from the surrounding towns, who with the help and inspiration of the sisters that served this parish, saved their pennies and nickels faithfully. Not to build this magnificant Church, but rather, to build that beautiful tabernacle which holds Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The children of this community, in faith, pooled all they had in order to collect the $1,000 necessary to purchase the tabernacle which we see each time we are in this place. They had little, yet they gave all they had. Today we look to the beauty of that tabernacle and this letter with its eight hundred names and remember what they did. However, the remarkable and transformative nature of the gift of the young people over one hundred years ago, is not found in the beauty of that tabernacle and its beautiful door, rather it is found all around us in the faces of their children and their children’s children who have filled the Churches of this community and fill this Holy place today, the beauty of their gift of faith is found in all of you, their descendaents, who come each day and week to this place, and enliven this parish and community with the very love of God. During the sumer one Hundred and three years ago the children of this community reached their goal, they collected all the pennies and nickels they needed, and they gave something beautiful to God to this place. One Hundred and Three Years later, here we gather on this night in prayer. One hundred and three years later we too have been asked to give something beautiful to God, and to this place. This time that invitation is from our Bishop and he has asked us to be children again, to give of ourselves and return to a moment of faith filled wonder, he has not asked us to give our money, but rather the pennies and nickels of faith which take the form of our prayers, our hospitality and our gifts of time, in order to unite as one people of faith, and to prepare to welcome the pilgrims who will come from across the state on the great Feast of St. Anne, memre of Jesus. The Bishop has chosen to make this holy place, a place of pilgrimage on July 26th, because the Tabernacle of Faith which is this community, has given so much to the Church over the years in her sons and daughters who have come from St. Anne, St. Keirans, Guardian Angel, St. Joseph, St. Benedict, and Holy Family and today from the parishes that form Good Shepherd and Holy Family. Here deep in the heart of mountains, in this city, in Gorham and the surrounding towns, in a part of the state often forgotten by others because of our small size, the seeds of faith have been planted and continue to grow into the largest of trees. Pray for this endeavor, that as people of faith we may be as united and resolved as the young men and women who filled these pews one hundred years ago, and that our gifts of time, of hospitality, and of presence on the Feast of St. Anne may be as beautiful as that gift (point). My friends, Bishop Libasci has made this community a priority, he has recognized the beauty of what you have given and shared with the Church, as well the hardships that have been endured. He has asked us, and the people of this diocese to gather and to pray together next month, to pray for our Church and for all those who are being called to serve it and to offer prayers of thanksgiving for this community. The boys and girls whose names appear on this list , are forever remembered for their generosity in the tabernacle of this Church. In the days and weeks ahead I will ask that you to consider adding your names to a new list, a list of men and women, young and old alike, who joined together in order to unite a community, and a Church, on the great feast of St. Anne. A list of men and women who gave from their hearts, offering prayers, hospitality and presence. becoming like children again and allowing God to transform the smallest of seeds into the greatest of trees. In the meantime your prayers for this undertaking are asked, for they are the greatest of offerings we can give to God, they are our pennies and nickels of faith. Like the mustard, no matter how small and humble, may we allow ourselves to be transformed by the power and grace of God into something wonderful for God and for His Kingdom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Deacon Andrew:

I am in awe. This is beautiful and I am certain that God is working right now to nourish the seeds that you have planted with this homily.

May God Bless this endeavor and may this pilgrimage harvest many young men and women for the church's calling in the Diocese of Manchester.

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