A story told by a priest at St Ig. one or two Sundays ago, as far as i can remember:
THERE WAS once a very frustrated woman. One day she walked into a store and was very surprised to find God behind the counter. She blurted out, "Excuse me, but aren't you God?" "Yes, I am," God replied. "What are you doing here?" she asked. God smiled, "Well, I own the store. You can have almost anything you want. Feel free to tell me."
The woman knew exactly what she wanted. She said, "I want Love, Joy and Peace for myself, my family and for everyone else on earth. No more tears, anger, quarrels, wars, injustice, hunger, poverty..."
God interrupted the woman gently, "Sorry, my child, you are mistaken. I sell seeds here and not fruits. Seeds such as Faith, Hope and Charity. You need to go home, plant the seeds, water them, nurture them, help them grow, and some day you and your family will able to reap the fruits that you want."
ATTENDED EVENING MASS. A most beautiful one. Full of agricultural imageries -- "rain", "watered", "earth", "sower ", "seed", "grain", "fertile", "fruitful", "harvest", "bread", "soil", "rocky ground", "thorns", "fertile ground", "a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold" - from the OT reading (Isaiah 55:10-11) and the psalm (Psalm 65:10-14) to the gospel (Matthew 13:1-23) and the epistle (Romans 8:18-23).
Fr R. gave a good sermon. Was piqued to note that he moved beyond the compulsory passage (Matthew 13:1-9, the parable of the Sower) to read a portion of the optional passage (Matthew 13:10-17, which quotes the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy) but not the remainder (Matthew 13:18-23 where Jesus explained his parable).
Reason: we had a related discussion during LRSS earlier. T., a protestant friend of a member, was telling us how important it is to read the bible over and over again, how he had done so, how he recently found an interesting passage in 2 Kings. Quoted a passage which said that only two people on earth had been taken up into heaven, namely, Enoch and Elijah. Also quoted a passage on Jesus' ascension, and re-asserted that only two people on earth had been taken up into heaven.
We were merely going through a round of self-intros before bible study and the theme was "The Way of Justice & Peace". Such detailed off-topic comments were quite suggestive of something else, e.g. that the assumption of Mary could not have happened. So, a number of us started rebutting him ever so subtly and not so subtly. When it was my turn, i explained ("boasted" is perhaps the more correct word, but my purpose was rebuttal) how i had read the bible every night for three years before my conversion and for around 13 years after that. Catholic readings are such that anyone who completes a three-year cycle would have finished reading the equivalent of the entire bible. In such a case, i must have read the entire bible at least five times. Add to this, numerous bible classes through the 14-odd years since conversion, two years of LRSS at Holy Cross and one and a half years of LRSS at St Ig.
However, i qualified my claim by saying that one could read the bible over and over again but still would not be able to understand God UNLESS He chooses to grant the reader special graces. Our first pope, St Peter, was given such graces. Jesus told him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven." (Matthew 16:13-20)
Truly, anyone can keep reading the bible over and over again, but "shall indeed hear but not understand... look but never see...". Only when that person is blessed like the apostles, only then would Jesus' words apply to them, "...blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." (today's reading, Matthew 13:10-17)
Ended mass with a beautiful song, DeBruyn's How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place (based on Psalm 84). Was reminded though of my biggest challenge (and regret), of not being able (willing?) to love the "unlovable" and therefore, my heart could not be a true highway for God's will.
Watched the later half (i think) of a Hallmark Channel movie, "When You Were Gone", last night. Interesting plot.
Was quite intrigued to hear the almost-adulterous but repentent wife ask the furious unforgiving pastor-husband (about to leave the house), "So now you know how hard it is to be a Christian?"
Indeed, it is very hard to be a Christian. God's greatest commandment is love. Not just mushy mushy love. But, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you..." Jesus had said. (Matthew 5:44)
The story ended with love and forgiveness. Will mine?
Beautiful thoughts for tomorrow and the day after from Mother Teresa's book (1986), "Jesus, The Word To Be Spoken":
"As a contemplative, your mouth must be very pure to be able to utter those words of God all the time, just as our hands in our active life must be very pure when we touch the body of Christ. This is something that must be the very life of our life. Otherwise we could rattle off many things, and learn many things by heart, and know all possible knowledge, and all of theology and all the things about God, but we would not be able to light that fire in the hearts of the people. We are just uttering words, not living those words. That is why it is necessary for us that our words be the fruit of our life, the fruit of our prayers, the fruit of our penance, and the fruit of our adoration."
"There is a very important theologian, a very holy priest, who is also one of the best in India right now. I know him very well, and I said to him, "Father, you talk all day about God. How close you must be to God! You are talking all the time about God." And you know what he said to me? He said, "I may be talking much about God, but I may be talking little to God." And then he explained, "I may be rattling so many words and maybe saying many good things, but deep down I have not got the time to listen. Because in the silence of the heart, God speaks."