Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus gives us fairly straightforward criteria for discerning good and evil.  Many times, when what is evil takes the form of dogs or pigs we can recognize it a mile away.  Capital sins are supposed to be of that sort: murder, fornication, deception, etc.  Sometimes evil takes the appearance of sheep though.  They are wolves hiding in sheep’s clothing when what they say delights or entices but leads to sin.  This is the most pernicious attack of the enemy, because we are in some ways fooled and consent to evil while we were unable to grasp the necessary relationship between what seems to be good and its evil consequences.  We see this in gossip: sometimes what starts as simply giving people updates turns into complaining about others, or spreading rumors about what others have said or done.  We see it in murder: sometimes what starts as taking a stand against apparent injustice ends in the death of another.  We see it in fornication: what starts as pleasant affection ends in the act reserved for marriage.  We see it in greed: what starts as working to have enough turns into getting as much as possible by any means necessary.  The key to identifying the wolf is trying to see where what seems to be good actually leads. read more

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sketch by Brianne Schulze

The unique story Jesus tells about the seed that grows in secret is an important reminder about how growth in virtue and holiness are essentially caused by grace.  We can be under the illusion that our becoming holier or better people is somehow up to us.  Sometimes we priests even hear in confession, “I haven’t been the best version of myself.”  I would like to tell those people, for one, that it isn’t up to them how and when they become the best version of themselves.  Second, I would like them to know that only God knows what we will become – so we couldn’t possibly know what the best version of ourselves looks like.  “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall later be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  Grace is not something that we can either control or muster by our willing or trying.  Grace does its own work just like the life and growth of a plant: all is contained within the seed, we can help make sure the conditions are present for growth to happen, but that growth happens from a vital cause hidden within the seed. read more