Michael M. Burke, O. P., D. Min.
Singles Mass - Cardinal Gibbons High School
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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Singles Mass, Cardinal Gibbons High School, Raleigh, NC

Welcome everyone, especially if you are here for the first time.

We are a unique community.  Most of us have lived enough life to have borne some of its burdens and challenges.

We can easily identify with the seed that was eaten by the birds, choked by the thorns and burned by the sun.  That little seed is a symbol of us when we feel eaten up by work, problems and busyness, choked by misunderstanding and burned by overexposure to the demands of people who need us.  We love to hear that in spite of all the obstacles, some of the seed bore such a wonderful outcome, way beyond what any farmer would expect.

I used to think of the story as though the farmer had four different plots of land.  In the three plots where the various threats and obstacles killed the seed, those were people who really had hard lives and they just couldn’t be success in life.  The fourth plot of soil described those people who were just plain successful and didn’t have to bear some of the problems that you and I have had.

Then, I realized that it was only one plot of land.  The farmer sowed liberally and almost carelessly all over the plot of land.  In spite of the fact that some of the seed for various reasons didn’t come to fruition, there was definitely some that bore fruit way beyond what was even realistically expected.

I think of the piece of land as your life and my life.

We know what obstacles are.  When we have been in a relationship and it didn’t mature we have had to face disappointment and frustration and perhaps admit that we were in part responsible for its demise because some of the obstacles were the weeds and parts of our lives that work against us.  We all have faults and failings and quirks developed around personal issues that go back to our youth.  We also have been in relationship with other wounded people who because of their insecurity and hang ups have sort of ‘picked away’ at us like the birds, instead of affirming us as we expected and deserved.  Then we have all experienced the normal threats to a peaceful existence, unemployment, financial pressures and family worries.  They all contribute to the obstacles that threaten relationships and families.

The Good News is that God will accomplish his purpose in our lives if we even give him the least bit of chance.  But, there is definitely a response required from us.

God gives us grace.  God sows his grace in the soil of our hearts like the farmer who sows the seed, but we must be good to the soil that receives this seed, and water it with prayer, silence, listening and sharing it with our neighbor.

Over the years I’ve seen countless people get excited about the Word. Sometimes a homily really speaks to them, or a retreat or special evening of sharing the Word in a small group stirs them and gives them hope.  Some continue to share the Word with others in small groups.  They also take time for daily personal prayer.  These are the people who really nurture the Word like a seed sewn in the soil. 

The Singles Mass is a special time for us.  We love the Mass and expect the homily to nourish us and speak to our unique lives.  We know, too, that during the week we have to continue to keep the fire going by prayer, keeping in touch with one another and relying upon God when the threats and obstacles come.

My own experience is that  spite of all the obstacles that I have faced  in my life, God continues to overcome them and helps me see that He is bringing about a great harvest.  The harvest is not apart from the obstacles.  The obstacles in a mysterious way contribute to the harvest.  If it weren’t for the obstacles the wonderful miracles God accomplishes in our lives would never happen.  All God asks of us is to trust, to hope, never to give up hope.  Then He has surprised me beyond all my expectations, as the parable says, ’30, 60, a hundredfold.’  You, too must keep hoping and never stop trusting God, because God is the most trustworthy person we will ever meet. 

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