Sunday, May 03, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B  2015

When I was stationed in Fort Pierce Florida teaching High School whenever I would return to the Friary at night I would pause for a moment and smell the night blooming Jasmine which grew up the wall by the front door.

Bro Valentine Jablonski lived with us in Florida.  

Even though the was retired he still wanted to help out so he gave himself the job of gardner.

The only problem was he did everything he could to make our friary in Florida look  like a house in New Jersey.

We used to call him Machete Val. He was merciless when wheeled his machete

One evening when I came home there was no scent of Jasmine by our front door the vine was still there but the flowers were not open.

In the morning I discovered that Machete Val had struck again by cutting off branches from the vine and It never grew back.

Today’s Gospel makes a point of reminding us that we need God in our lives. It makes it crystal clear that it dangerous when we or our world separate ourselves from God’s love or God’s plan.

Jesus said.
“I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither.”

You know Sometimes I watch the evening news with a tear in my eye. There is so much violence so much suffering.

In our own country there seems to be an anti religious bias.
As if what we believe and hold dear has no place in the public forum or discourse.

More and more the religious conscience exemption is being done away with.

There is violence and anger in our cities and in an almost cavalier way we seem willing to throw away traditions which have been a part of our world for thousands of years just because we want to.

It’s as if God’s plan and God’s vision don’t matter.

This process of removing ourselves and our culture from God’s vine has a name.

We call it secularization, the separating of our world from the practice of any religion and belief in God.

This process is much more advanced in Europe but we are on the same track going in the same direction.

The more our culture and our world separates itself from God’s vine the more we, me and you and the entire Church, will find ourselves on the margins.

Listen Carefully
As we become a more secularized society
First people of faith will be ignored (that’s already happening), then we will be laughed at, then we will be prosecuted or worse.

The Bishops in the United States used to call Cardinal George from Chicago the smartest man in the room.

One day a couple of years ago he was chatting with a group of his priests about the secularization of our culture from God.

He predicted.

One day I will die in my bed
My successor or his successor will die in prison.
His successor or the bishop who follows him will be executed in the public square.
Then his successor will begin to put the world back together again like the Church has done so many times in history when everything seems to collapse.

The time frame for this process is yet to be determined but that’s the road we are on if something doesn’t change.

It’s easy to blame all of these problems on someone else.

Those darn Republicans, those darn or democrats, those darn straight people, or gay people. It’s gotta the socialists or the capitalists or the blacks or the whites….whoever…..
They're the ones who are taking God out of our culture.

It serves no purpose to blame someone else as our society and culture more farther and farther away from God.

The only way we can fight the secularization of our country and the world is by giving God His rightful place in our own hearts not matter what the cost to us.

We all have to ask ourselves...
Are we willing to publically witness to our faith?
Are we willing to stand up for what we believe?
Are we willing to dedicate our time and efforts to growing in the knowledge and practice of our faith?

Are we will willing to be misunderstood or pushed aside or even laughed at because we choose to be part of the living vine of Christ which we call the Church?

Here's one small example...

You know when I go out to a restaurant I rarely if ever see anyone make the sign of the cross or say a quiet prayer before they eat their meal.

If we can’t even bring ourselves to do something simple like that we have a long way to go in bringing Christ back into a world which seems intent on pushing Him aside.

May the effort to bring fight secularization and bring God back into our culture begin with you and me.

And Jesus said.
“I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither.”