Category Archives: Friar Reflections

A regular reflection from one of our Franciscan Friars on the day’s readings, the happenings around the parish, or discussing parochial outreach initiatives.

It’s Not Fair | Deacon Reflections | Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

The Gospel this week may not be one of our favorites…

“It’s not fair!”

It’s a common response from children amongst siblings, but it’s also something we adults often feel. One may think that Jesus isn’t being fair when we hear this parable. It goes against what some of us value, the value of a hard day’s work and receiving proper and just compensation for it.  To think that we worked all day while someone else worked for only one hour and we both received the same pay would drive some of us wild.

“It’s not fair! “

But what the landowner says in response to the workers is correct. “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?”  The landowner made the workers an offer when they took the job and he kept his word.  You work for me today and I’ll pay you “X” amount of money.  Paying someone else more is up to him.

Why do you think the workers got upset that the others got paid the same for less work?  It could be that they were more focused on the pay and not the sense of purpose or pleasure in doing the work. This is something we should ask ourselves.  Why do I do what I do, is it for money, recognition, praise from others or pure sense of purpose?  If you’re doing something that is not self-satisfying and self-fulfilling, you might have some resentment and anger about doing it, and when someone comes along doing the same job and gets paid more, you’re likely to feel resentful like the workers in the parable.

The story is told of Yogi Berra. The New York Yankees were at their peak and were negotiating contracts for the next year. A group of reporters interviewed players as they emerged from the owner’s office, and one of them asked Yogi Berra about the terms of his contract. In his characteristically, plain-spoken style, he said, “I’m gonna get to play baseball again next year for the Yankees, and would you believe it, they’re gonna pay me besides!”  That’s the way to think about gainful employment, doing what you do and doing it well and getting paid for it too.

A second point I’d like to make is with the disgruntled workers in the parable, I feel perhaps they lacked a sense of gratitude. Think about it.  I know, like probably many of you as well, how it feels to be out of work.  It’s not the best of times, it’s a difficult situation.  Can you remember how grateful you were when you got that call with a job offer?  It’s the best feeling! In the parable, some of the workers who showed up to find the positions filled were saddened and stayed around all day and were probably hoping for a different opportunity or vacancy of sorts, so they could work to feed their families.  Then suddenly the landowner shows up and offers them a job.  What a feeling of relief and gratitude. 

At that point the worker would accept any amount of money to help feed his family. It was more than what he had started with!  At the end of the day the landowner pays them all the same because he knows that it takes “X” amount of money to feed their families, so he is generous enough to do so.  We, too, need to consider those less fortunate in our daily lives. You probably heard this before: “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” The same holds true for every level of work. Are you able to clean your house or mow the lawn? Are you able to buy your groceries and pay your bills? There are those who are not able to do any of these things. The more we consider how blessed we are, the more we’re able to look upon those less fortunate with compassion instead of resentment. 

So let us be open to recognizing our blessings and recognizing the needs of others by reaching out to our sisters and brothers.  May we always remember that our God is never outdone in generosity. May we strive to be more like Him!

Peace of Christ,
Deacon Ray Ferreris

Forgiving Without Limit | Friar Reflections | Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a Catholic Christian is the call to be a forgiving person. This his highlighted in all the readings this weekend and even the Psalm (103) which states, “the Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in compassion.” Today’s first reading from the Book of Sirach (27:30-28:7) states, “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice, then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” This reminds me of the Lord’s prayer which states, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The phrase “as we” contains within it both a sense of time and a sense of manner.

Today’s Gospel according to Matthew (18:21-35) raises the question of how many times must we forgive. As much as seven times, Peter responds suggesting this is a generous amount by any standard. Perhaps. But Jesus answers, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times!” This is God’s standard, forgive without counting and without limit. Even the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans (14:7-9), while not mentioning forgiveness, reminds that that we are called not to live for oneself, but for the Lord. A way to show that we are living for the Lord is to be a person of forgiveness. Even as he was dying on the cross, Jesus not only forgave those who crucified him, but even more astonishing made excuses for them: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

The dilemma is that most of us think that forgiveness is a feeling. It’s not. Forgiveness is a choice we make to treat with kindness and respect the person who wronged us. Forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting how we were hurt or who has hurt us. Forgiveness is about remembering who hurt us, or how we have been hurt, but choosing to live our lives imitating our Lord who is kind, merciful, and rich in compassion. Forgiveness is choosing to live in the freedom of the present and the future Christ calls us to, and to not be shackled to past injustices done to us.

All of us have been hurt, and all of us have hurt others. We are a people, a community of disciples, both called to forgive and be forgiven. Asking for forgiveness is a hard pill for some of us to swallow, or, given the circumstances, impossible to ask from others. If this is the case, and we cannot “make amends,” then the least we can do is to ask God to bless those we have hurt. Let us remember, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has God put our transgressions from us.” Let’s put the transgressions against us as least as far.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

Reconciling with Your Brother | Friar Reflections | Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Last Sunday, we heard Jesus telling us we must take up our cross and follow him. That’s always difficult to hear. When we have the courage to do so, we are showing our willingness to follow Him. By taking up our cross, we show we are joined to Him. We show our trust in Him.

This Sunday, Jesus points towards a very common, real, and unfortunately uncomfortable experience in the task of offering forgiveness and reconciliation to an offending brother or sister. It is in this process of healing broken relationships that discipleship shows its very real and practical meaning. Life in common, even life in common among Christians, is not easy. We can rub each other the wrong way. Our speech can easily offend. Our anger can cause us to lash out. We are prone to gossip or tell stories about others that do not reflect the best in them, or ourselves.

Jesus outlines for us a three-step process for attempting to gain reconciliation in approaching a person who has offended us, but I would just like to address the what I feel is the first and most important step. While this process might not work for every case, we must engage in the process regardless.

That step we must take is to ensure the reconciliation is done face to face, one on one.

We must attempt to dialogue with one another in a deeply interpersonal manner. The process of coming together is not conducted by text message or email. The personal element preserves honor and dignity. You are carrying your cross and not forcing others to carry it for you.

Isn’t that where healing begins?

While we may not get through to the offending party, we can at least begin to come to terms with the hurt. Though Jesus says that the entire community may need to be brought in to resolve the situation, it is also true that reconciliation may happen prior to going that far.

Saint Paul sums it all up today when speaking about the Commandments that involve interpersonal behavior and responsibility. He says that, in the end, we owe no one anything except to love. For to love means that our lives are at peace with others and with the world.

Loving here is the most profound form of respect and caring. May the Lord give us that peace.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Zack

Community of Connections | From the Desk of the Pastor

Dear Parishioners,

Just over a week ago, on Thursday, August 24, we held a meeting of all parish ministries at the North Campus. Among the 50-plus in attendance were members from our parish leadership committees, staff, ministry leaders, and their members. The meeting served three purposes, with time allotted for our ministries to socialize and collaborate, an opportunity for the Parish Advisory Board to introduce newly crafted mission, vision and value statements, and for leadership to describe the role of the Outreach Committee and its policies.

The Parish Advisory Board spent quite a bit of time discerning these new statements following the completion of our recent parish survey. Their purpose is to serve as a new guiding light following the recent years of transition. I would like to thank the board, especially Lynda Marsh, for the wonderful job done in crafting and sharing these messages with the group.

Now we have the chance to share these statements with you. These statements will help us plan and determine where the parish can continue to grow from here. Our future plans will be predicated upon these statements.

Mission Statement: 

To cultivate a vibrant community of faith by creating meaningful connections with both God and each other.

Vision Statement:

To be the faith-filled heartbeat of Tampa, welcoming one another, supporting each other, and modeling Christ’s love to all those we meet.

Value Statements:

We are a joyful, loving, and vibrant Body of Christ, finding inspiration in our diversity and delight in our parish friends and family.

(Franciscan Value: appreciation for beauty, reverence for all creation)

We are welcoming, approachable, kind, and inclusive – not only to those within our walls, but also to those who live along the margins.

(Franciscan Value: affirmation of the unique worth of each person)

We are passionately compassionate and generous with our means – intentional in our service, driven in our actions, and devoted to our social responsibilities.

(Franciscan Value: service to the poor and marginalized)

We are proudly Franciscan in spirit, embracing our unique heritage and the traditions passed down through generations before us, yet always striving to change and evolve. We’re never done with our work or ready to give up.

(Franciscan Value: faith in a personal and provident God)

The Outreach Committee was created back in 2019 to be the network through which our parish’s volunteerism and philanthropy functions. The Outreach Committee’s mission is to represent all outreach ministries of Sacred Heart, to bring their individual missions, membership, and needs to the attention of each other and the parish as we seek to fulfill God’s Will in opening our hearts to the Tampa community (from the Parish Advisory Council, February 15, 2020). The goal of the committee is to aid the parish in working collectively, with ministries helping ministries so that we do not duplicate efforts nor over burden you, our parishioners, with constant asks. At this recent meeting, the Outreach Committee shared its decision and approval processes for outreach events, collections, etc. Several suggestions were given by parishioners during the meeting for future cooperative planning, and the Outreach Committee will be looking at the integration of those suggestions.

Pope Francis is quoted saying, “a prayer that does not lead you to practical action for your brother is a sterile and incomplete prayer.” Prayer leads to outreach and learning, which then leads to action. At the same time, action flows from prayer and its fruits of love, gratitude, forgiveness, compassion, hope, respect, hospitality, and humility (from USCCB’s We Are Salt and Light).

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Let Justice and Peace Flow | From the Organ Bench w/ Philip Jakob

Dear Friends,

This Friday, September 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation marks the beginning of the Season of Creation which continues through October 4 and the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology and founder of the Franciscans who bless our church of Sacred Heart with their presence.

This year we are called to ‘Let justice and peace flow.’ The prophet Amos cries out, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24), and so we are called to join the river of justice and peace, to take up climate and ecological justice, and to speak out with and for communities most impacted by climate injustice and the loss of biodiversity. So where do we little people start when it comes to such global issues? I suppose we could start on those elements we can control, over which we might exercise our care for creation. Since this year’s theme includes the word “flow,” we might start with that most valuable resource: water.

I heard recently that vast amounts of water are consumed in the cooling systems of data centers, which include cooling towers, chillers, pumps, piping, heat exchangers/condensers, and computer room air conditioner units, with only some of this water being recycled. Cloud-based servers and our social media are not as cheap as I used to think! You might want to investigate this further for yourselves, but apart from lobbying or writing letters there may not be much we little people can do.

We can make changes in our own lifestyles which do reflect our care for creation. If we regularly water our gardens or wash our cars in a season in which daily rainfall is almost guaranteed, then we are wasting water. If we run the shower for longer than we need to, or brush our teeth while running the water, then we are wasting water. And water is a God-given resource. Just “as the deer thirsts for the running streams,” (Psalm 42) so we also thirst for God in our lives and for a more just use of resources. However small our sacrifices may appear, they do serve to prevent us from taking for granted what we have by the gift of God, and they enable us to consider the plight of those for whom water ‘on tap’ cannot be a daily expectation.

In addition to considering our consumption of water, we might also have care over what we allow to enter the water system, and to concentrate on keeping the water ecosystem as clean as we can. Simple actions such as not pouring fat drippings or household chemicals down the drain, reducing use of detergent or opting for earth-friendly brand products, and minimizing the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides in the garden will all contribute to a reduction in environmental pollution.

A more contentious issue concerns our choice between tap water or bottled water. The reasoning behind using bottled water is primarily convenience but also because water quality in Florida, whilst still meeting the stringent Federal standards, is among the lowest of all the states. On the other hand, we also know the damage done to the environment and wildlife by increasing our need to dispose of plastics and we are learning that some of the plastic from the bottle can break down into the water. Not for nothing did India last year ban all single-use plastic bottles and that is a considerable risk for a country with serious tap water concerns! In so-called ‘first-world’ countries, many who have the financial wherewithal may choose to invest in a domestic filtration system or water softener which removes from our tap water some of the chemicals which still cause concern.

Mother Teresa, when asked how she had managed to change so many people’s lives, replied “one person at a time.” The assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero answered a similar question:  “We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”

I think it is the same with our lifestyles and the environment: once we have become conscious of the issue we begin to make positive changes, bit by bit, gallon by gallon, until “justice rolls like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”

Peace and All Good,
Philip Jakob
Director of Music

As Phil mentions, there are many ways we can embrace the ecumenical call of the annual Season of Creation. As a Franciscan parish, you’ll know that integrity of creation serves alongside justice and peace as key tenants of the Franciscan charism. The following are suggestions for how you can help ‘let justice and peace flow’ right here at Sacred Heart:

Laudato Si’ Ministry | Meets on the second Saturday of each month, discussing environmental topics.

Garden Ministry | Meets monthly to tend to the North Campus property and garden.

For more on the Season of Creation, view livestream prayer services, and read the 2023 guide, visit

From that Hour | Friar Reflections | Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God the Lord be with you!

Years ago, when I was starting my theological studies, one of my professors said that we can see “the other, the stranger,” as either a gift or a threat. It seems to me that the authors of all three readings this weekend are writing about the struggle in making that distinction, with them all coming to the same conclusion.

Isaiah (56:1, 6-7) writes that the Lord told him to “observe what is right, do what is just” not for his fellow Jews but to the foreigners that live within the borders of Israel. Not just the Temple building located in Jerusalem, but the Temple that all of Israel was supposed to be, “shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” What a vision God had? Too bad the people of Isaiah’s day didn’t cooperate to fulfill it.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans (11:13-15, 29-32) is writing to a church composed of Jews and Gentiles. Paul is warning the Gentiles not to be smug that God has called them, while many of the Jews have rejected the Messiahship of Jesus. He writes, “God delivered all to disobedience that he might have mercy upon all.”

Jesus to seems to struggle when confronted with a Canaanite woman with a demon-tormented daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). For a while, He seems trapped by cultural prejudices, not to mention the strict norms of gender and religion. Unfortunately, His initial reaction is supported by the disciples. However, the persistent faith, courage, and love for her daughter win Jesus over, and her daughter is healed “from that hour.” I can’t help but think that this encounter led Him to a deeper understanding of His mission.

There seems to be a lot of fear in our society and Church to people that are not like us. Whether they have a different skin color, ascribe to a different religion, are a different sexual orientation or gender identity, it seems to me that the only way, the Gospel way, to interact with them is to remember that God has mercy upon all. Pope Francis calls us to live the “sacrament of encounter” particularly with people who are different from us. Judgement and condemnation are not what Christ calls us to. We are called to respond to those who are least like us with the same compassion Christ has towards us.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

Focus on His Presence | Friar Reflections | Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

In 1964, Simon & Garfunkel released their album “Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.,” which included the song “The Sound of Silence.” According to Art Garfunkel, the song symbolizes the “inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly intentionally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.”

I think we can all find some agreement with that sentiment being valid today. We are bombarded with 24-hour news cycles and social media ad nauseum, and as such there is still a deafening silence all around us as we observe the world through constant sound bites and distortion. Everyone wants our attention to improve their own algorithms in order to validate themselves or what they have to say, and perpetrate more unsolicited ads, because more “hits” usually just means more money from advertisers. We may see each other in passing, but do we really communicate? SO MUCH NOISE!

Well, all I can say is, “thank God for the Prophet Elijah!” The first book of Kings relates the story of Elijah’s finding God in the “sounds of silence.” The Prophet Elijah discovered that God wasn’t to be found in the turbulence and destruction of strong winds, crushing rocks, earthquakes, or fire. God was found in a tiny whispering sound. The paradox of a sound in silence alludes to the transcendent, even the inexplicable presence and activity of God. It seems that Elijah’s God is not one of power and might, but one of a quiet and awesome presence. Once Elijah realizes God’s presence, like Moses before him, he covers his face.

Just being in silence is a discipline. It doesn’t come easy. While sitting in silence, our minds are constantly engaged with our many thoughts which we cannot simply turn off. They constantly distract us. Our challenge is, like Elijah, to not allow the distractions of our thoughts or surroundings to take away from our focus in searching for God. Elijah was focused on identifying the presence of God. God is always and everywhere present to us.

In our Gospel this weekend, we hear about a commotion on the sea where Jesus’ disciples are in a boat being tossed about, afraid for their lives. Peter, who was commanded by Jesus to come towards him walking on the water, quickly begins to sink after only a few steps. Peter lost his focus. He allowed the elements and sounds around him to distract his coming to Jesus, much like the distractions of social media can distract us as Catholics if we allow them to. Jesus saves Peter and calms the sea, in turn saving not only the boat carrying his disciples, but every other boat on the sea that night.

Our challenge and our prayer is to focus on the presence of God and our relationships with one another. For all of the good that social media and instant information may bring to us, there is also a liability in allowing it to consume us. Listen intently to the sound of silence in your own lives, and like Elijah, you, too, will hear the whisper and feel the presence of God and find the ability to love one another.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Zack

Finding the Treasure | Staff Reflections | Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Kingdom of Heaven is here and now and will be fulfilled when we arrive in Heaven. Jesus shares with us today the parable of a great treasure and a pearl of great price. When I reflect on these two parables, I can’t help but think about my spiritual journey.

Raised as a cradle Catholic and educated in parochial schools, it wasn’t until my late 20’s, after I became a wife and mother, that my faith came alive. This gift of faith, which was bestowed on me at Baptism, wasn’t discovered until I recognized it as a “treasure,” or “a pearl of great price.” Soon after that initial conversion, I had zealous fervor!  I had decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.

I certainly didn’t realize what that would mean for my life. It has been a wonderful, terrible, exciting, dull, event-filled, sometimes doubt-filled, story of faith. It is a very human story filled with joy, sorrow, disappointment, and success. At the beginning of this new commitment to Christ, my primary focus was making God a priority in my family’s life. It is now over 30 years later and the Gospel has not changed and I’m still in love with Jesus! 

Today’s parable still invites that same fervor and asks us to do whatever we need to do in order to live the Gospel. Perhaps there is another reason that Jesus shared this parable with us. It is a reminder, reinforcing the parables we have heard in recent readings. Think about it for a minute. Who would not be thrilled at finding a huge treasure? The early days of the find would no doubt be exciting. Yet, the newness and the excitement of the treasure naturally would wane after years of managing the investment, giving some of it to charities, and making sure it grew. There would be a constant sense of well-being if the treasure was doing well, but would there always be that early passion and fervor? It takes work and constant diligence to maintain such enthusiasm.

Poem Recommendation Regarding from Barbara Ferreris | “The Find”

Looking to delve deeper for that “buried treasure?” Barbara recommends the following poem by Catholic author and poet Anthony De Mello, entitled The Find, from his 1984 book on spiritual exercises, Wellsprings.

Jesus says, “Here is a picture of the kingdom. It is like a treasure buried in a field. The man who found it went and, through joy, sold everything he had- and bought that field.”

I have a treasure:
the thing I value most in life.
I relive the events
that led me to discover it.

I think of the history of my life
from the time I found this treasure…
what it has done for me
and meant to me.

I stand before this treasure (God or Jesus Christ
or a conviction, value, or ideal
or a person, task or mission)
and I say, “Of all the things I have
you are the dearest.”
And I see what happens to me
when I pronounce that sentence.

I think how much I would gladly do
or give (even life itself, maybe)
in order to preserve this treasure.
If it is not that important,
I acknowledge this with sadness—
and I hope for a day when I shall find a treasure
for which through sheer joy I shall be ready to give up

I am a treasure.
Someday, somewhere, someone discovered me.
I should have no awareness of my worth
if someone had not found it.
I recall and relive the details of the finding.

I am a multifaceted treasure.
There were many things concealed in me
that different people drew out
and revealed to me.
I joyfully review each one of these
and gratefully remember the persons who
uncovered them.

Finally, I stand before the Lord
and find, to my surprise,
that he considers me a treasure.
I see reflected in his eyes in the many lovely facets
that only he could have observed in me
and I rest in the love He gives me.

Today’s Gospel reminds me that I cannot become complacent with the great gift I have been given. Outward appearances may suggest that all is going well, but often it seems the ordinary concerns of life take precedence over everything else, and the reign of God is taken for granted. Jesus reminds us that we can never lapse into complacency. We do not know the hour or the day of the Lord’s return. One way I’d test my fervor in light of today’s Gospel would be to ask myself: “Do I still reach out in love to others with the same commitment as always? Is there still an urgency to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world?

After surrendering to Jesus at a retreat many years ago, He took my heart and my life and placed me in a position to share this urgency to preach and teach the gospel. I am entering into my 29th year of ministry in the realm of faith formation and it has been quite a journey. I could not have found a more perfect treasure to share than my love and passion for Christ and His church through this ministry. I am humbled that God sees fit to use me, in spite of myself, to help bring about His Kingdom here and now.

How could I not respond?

Peace of Christ,
Barbara Ferreris

Tilling The Garden | Deacon Reflections | The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

We are in the second of three weeks of readings where Jesus is using parables, or short morality stories, to teach us about the Kingdom of God. Why does Jesus use parables? By speaking in parables, Jesus grants understanding to those who are seeking after Him – revealing truth to those who are willing to listen and thoughtfully consider what He has to say. Conversely, those whose hearts are hardened against Him have the truth hidden from them.

Last week, we learned through the Parable of the Seed and the Sower what type of soil the seed fell on. We can liken this to the Word of God being planted in our hearts. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus shares with us the Parables of the Weeds among the Wheat and the Mustard Seed, both referring to some of the choices we have to make in our lives. We are all aware of our free will. Jesus never forces Himself on anyone. We always have choices to make, and whether they’re good or not so good, we still have the freedom to choose.

We have an idea about how Jesus wants us to live. He wants us to love one another and help each other build His kingdom here on earth as we wait for the day to be with Him in Heaven, even though we know that isn’t the easiest task to accomplish. God has given us the freedom to make our own choices and, unfortunately, sometimes we decide to do things our own way and not follow Jesus. These are the times when we become the weeds in the crop.

It’s like trying to keep up your lawn. You fertilize it. You water it. You try not to trample on it, if you can avoid it.  Then, out of the blue, weeds start to pop up.  We tend to just pull them as we see fit.  Many times, when we pull those weeds, we can see that we’re also uprooting the good grass. So, what do we do?  We treat it. We nurture the grass. We continue to work on eliminating the weeds over time. If we’re consistent in this, it will be difficult for that weed to return.

This is akin to our spiritual life. We need to nurture our relationship with God through prayer, scripture, the sacraments, etc. Oftentimes, weeds (sins) get in the way and try to uproot the good that we are also trying to do. That’s when we need to fertilize and use the gifts and resources God has given us. The Mass, the Rosary, and Reconciliation are just a few of the “lawn tools” to keep our field (our heart) in order.

How are you tending to the weeds in your life? How will you continue to allow the Lord to fertilize your heart? My prayer is that the Master Gardener will sift through and sort out all the weeds in our hearts so that we may produce a bountiful harvest for Him!

Peace of Christ,
Deacon Ray Ferreris

The Rocky Parts | Friar Reflections | The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

All three readings this weekend have, as a motif, creation and its penchant of bringing forth life. In the reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah (55:10-11) the Lord likens His word to a seed that “will not return (to Him) void, but shall do (His) will, achieving the end for which (God) sent it.” However, as the second reading, Romans 8:18-23, explains “creation was made subject to futility yet awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God.” Today’s Gospel from Matthew (13:1-23) is the well known, and well worn, Parable of the Sower, which I think brings to light the other two readings.

Christ sows the Good News of the Kingdom of God in the world despite the fact that much of the soil is unsuitable for it to grow. However, “some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” During the time of Jesus, a fivefold yield on a crop was considered good. How extraordinarily good is the yield of the Word sown by God!

When I reflect on these readings, I have to admit that I have rocky parts of my heart that resist the alluring Word of Christ. My mind is sometimes filled with the chatter of flying birds that distract me from hearing the Word of Christ. Despite all of this, I know that there is still a part of my heart open to receive The Good News of God’s unconditional love and have His love travel to my hands and feet to act on that Good News.

At Baptism and Confirmation, the Holy Spirit was sown in our hearts. We must make the conditions right for the presence of the Spirit to grow within us. The seed of faith and the presence of the Holy Spirit grows through prayer, participation in the sacraments, and being part of a faith community. All these things will help us bear the fruit of charity which shows us, and the world, that our faith is alive for all to see.

We don’t need to do big things for God. All we need to do is do the ordinary, everyday things out of love for God and others. I’m paraphrasing St. Mother Theresa here. We are currently in Ordinary Time during the Church’s liturgical year. It’s hot and muggy here in Tampa and all we have to look forward to even hotter and muggier weather in August. Keep doing the good you are already doing no matter how small, and don’t worry about the yield of your goodness.

Goodness is its own reward, for the good that we do has its origin in God. Through the goodness we do, we will be revealed as “the children of God.”

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve