The Kingdom of God is not about numbers.
But every Pastor should know all about the numbers of his parish.
He should know how many families and how many children and how many senior citizens he has in his parish
He should know how much money the parish has in the bank.
He should know the budget and the profit and loss statement like the back of his hand.
He should know how many Catholic families regularly attend Mass.
This week you’ll see the ushers counting because we are starting our yearly October count and it will tell us and the Archbishops’ office a lot about our parish.
When I was at Catholic U we had a November count just like we have an October count here. You would be surprised at how many young people go to Mass in College.
In fact at Catholic U 49% of the Catholic Students went to Mass each Sunday.
Here at St. Paul’s only 22% of the 11000 registered go to Mass each Sunday which is the average for this part of the country… We’ve got work to do.
One time at 9:00 PM Mass the biggest Mass on most college campuses I saw a group of four young men who I hadn’t seen before.
They were there sitting in a row and after they came for a couple of weeks I approached them and asked how they started coming back to Mass and they told me their story
One long weekend they decided to take a road trip to Ocean City Maryland and go [artying… They said they had a great time and when they got back to their motel in the wee hours of the morning they quickly fell asleep.
When they finally opened their eyes Sunday Afternoon one of them was gone.
His stuff was there but he wasn’t.
They went to the beach looked all around and couldn’t find him.
They tried his cell but when they called it started ringing on the table. Wherever he was he didn’t take it with him.
Finally in desperation they spread out and started walking all over town. Two of them got in the car and started driving up and down the Coastal Hwy looking for him.
Finally they spotted him walking about 5 miles from their motel they pulled over and confronted him.
“Dude where have you been ?“ They asked him.
He responded, I went to Mass, I always go to Mass.
Every time my Grandfather sees me, whenever he came to my games, he always said “if you are there for God God be there for you.”
They continued their celebrating and that phrase “If you are there for God God will be there for you” stuck in their heads and there were several conversations about faith.
They resolved to go to Mass together on Sundays.
Eventually 1 of the four dropped out of the “Mass Club” as they called themselves but the following year the remaining three joined a bible study in their dorm and in their Junior year all three of them went on mission trips to serve the poor in Latin America.
All that good came from that one little experience.
You know most seeds are tiny, some of them are hard to find and hard to pick up. Look at the seeds for a maple tree. They are really small but they grow into big trees which can pull up your sidewalk and wreck you pipes.
Nature reminds us that there is so much power and potential in the tiniest of seeds.
That simple phrase “ If you are there for God God will be there for you” and the witness of that kid who got up even after a night of partying to go to Mass was like a seed.
It was a tiny seed which bore great fruit.
Every day we plant seeds
Most of them are tiny….
We plant them with little acts of kindness
and tiny acts of faith.
Quite frequently we never know if they even germinate or bear fruit.
Who knew that those simple words of a loving grandfather would bring three boys to faith and maybe even their future families to faith?
Let us live generous lives
Let us sow good seeds of faith,
We don’t have to make big grand gestures,
simple acts of faith
unexpected acts of kindness,
all of these thing can bear tremendous fruit.
Even though he made fun of my beard when I met him in the seminary. I loved Pope John Paul I cried like a baby when he died.
Pope Benedict was a quiet introverted man who did the best he could to shepherd the Church.
When he was elected many people thought he was going to be some kind of enforcer but instead he turned out to be a gentle loving pastor.
And when he just couldn’t handle it anymore he put the interests of the Church above his own interests and resigned.
Now Pope Francis is calling all of us to live more simple authentic lives of faith.
He’s trying to help us get rid of all of the unnecessary extras which the our Church and it’s leadership has accumulated over the years.
He is calling us back to sow simple small seeds of compassion and kindness.
While he not changing our teaching he is challenging us to change the way we share it.
then teach and inspire
His beautiful simple example is taking the world by storm and even the most skeptical are impressed with his humble example.
Let us all follow in his example and sow the seed of faith, with gentle acts of love and compassion
For remember as Jesus said
"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you could say to this mulberry tree,
'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Tiny acts of love, compassion and kindness are powerful indeed.