15th Ordinary C – July 13, 2008 – Be a SOWER Not DOWNER!
Bottom line: So, this parable of the Nazarene teaches that even if much of your labor or your money seems to go for nothing, do not allow yourself to go into a downer. The ballgame may well go into extra innings. Your honorable self may prove to be as much a winner as Christ Himself. Struggle on.
Father Martino Nguyễn Bá Thông (St. Anne Catholic Church – Columbus, GA) 15th Ordinary – Year A (2008) – [email protected]
Be a SOWER Not DOWNER!
(Only this opening paragraph is taken from last week – so READ ON! Do not stop!) It is good to be back! For those who arrived to St. Anne the past 5 years, you do not know who I am! I was here 5 years ago serving as a deacon! I was known as “Thong” – but now I am Martino – Martin with an O. Marti-NO. I thank Fr. Schreck for letting me coming back. I guess, I am not on his “black” list! I would like to open this homily by answering your question about my name change. It is not your fault. It is others parishioners’ fault. When I was first ordained a priest and assigned to St. Mary on the Hill in Augusta, I told them my name. They had a hard time pronouncing it or when they do, they laugh. I was Thong not “thonge.” So I became Martino from that time! Now let gets to the homily itself. Because I am telling you what Elizabeth Taylor told all her husband “I am not going to keep you long!” When this Gospel begins, Jesus is sitting by the Lake of Galilee. He is getting a tan and much needed relax beach time. Leisurely He is reading the sports pages of a week old copy of the Jerusalem Times and sipping a glass of good red wine. Suddenly out of that famous nowhere appears a huge crowd.
He springs to His feet lest He be trampled by these happy friendly people. They clamor for what they think will be an impromptu lecture from the great master. The favorite outdoor sport of the Jews was to search out distinguished rabbis and drain them dry. Intellectual gymnastics was the Jewish idea of a good time. Today was Jesus’ turn. /p>
Since the microphone system was poor, some of His words were being lost. Therefore, the crowd was pushing Him into the lake to better hear Him. Since He had showered that AM at the Holiday Inn, He did not need another bath. So, the Teacher nimbly lifted Himself into a large fishing boat drawn up on the sand. Seated in the bow, He continued His talk.
Incidentally, when was the last time you were sitting at the beach and a large mob surrounded you? And they shouted, “O great teacher, share your wisdom with us.” Do you see now the type of Man we are lucky enough to follow? Have you sold Him short when He has so much to teach you? If yes, reconsider.
Put this point into your mental computer. It was on Matthew’s computer. He even remembered that this was the first parable Jesus spoke. So, He must have spent hours burning the midnight oil at His Sony laptop polishing it. This was to be His debut on the lecture circuit. Jesus knew one bomb and you were road kill. This is one more reason to pay this parable super attention. There is gold out there in those parable hills. We have to dig it out with some old-fashioned sweat. Even in the spiritual life, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Many others on the lecture circuit have used the parable method, but no one has matched the Master’s skills. A literary critic wrote: “He is one of the world’s supreme masters of the short story.” How many short stories of famous writers do you remember? Yet you know all of Christ’s.
This is a parable of encouragement. It was meant for the apostles and ourselves. To the twelve, the Nazarene was numero uno. He was an original. Yet they were discouraged that so few were actually buying into Him. “Master, why so much effort and so few gold rings?” His answer was this parable. (William Barclay)
Even the dullest gardener among us does not expect every single seed he sows to come up singing roses. He knows the wind will blow some seeds away. The squirrels will grow fat on others. However, even the amateur gardener keeps on sowing. And he certainly does not give up expectations of a generous growth of flowers.
Jesus tells His own troops never to throw in the towel even when one’s efforts seem an exercise in futility. People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway. (Kent Keith)
Think of John Harvard here. In 1640, he came to the American colonies from England. He was a promising scholar. The New World appeared to be his oyster. But the poor fellow upped and died after but one year. His will gave $3500 and 200 books to a fledgling university. The school became Harvard University. Today it staffs a faculty of 1000 and has a student body of 10,000. It enjoys an international reputation. (Barclay)
John Harvard’s death appeared to his contemporaries to be an abomination, but it produced riches beyond anybody’s imaginings. We too, can produce great fruit – thought not the same result. Some of us can produce 20, for others 30 or 50, or for others 100. That means, we will be able to do what we can! I told people last week that I am here at St. Anne for one reason and one reason only that is to be FOR you and WITH you! So if you need me for any reason at anytime, you know where to find me!
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, his parable of the Nazarene teaches that even if much of our labor or our money seems to go for nothing, do not allow ourselves to go into a downer. The ballgame may well go into extra innings. Our honorable self may prove to be as much a winner as Christ Himself. Struggle on.
We mourn that the glass is half empty. With a smile, Jesus fills up the glass for you and for me!
Fr. Martino Nguyen Ba-Thong