Today’s Responsorial Psalm reminds us of the need to thank God often. This is what we do at every eucharist, which means “thanksgiving.” To thank God is to acknowledge our utter dependence upon him, “in whom we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) The image in the First Reading of the tender shoot that becomes a majestic cedar is like the images in the Gospel of the seeds that produce fruit. In these images the potential fruit is not evident in the seed’s appearance, but comes about according to God’s plan and in a way that is mysterious to us. Jesus applies these images to the kingdom of God. The mysterious “growth hormone” is sanctifying grace, God’s gift to us of his divine life that comes to us through the sacraments. We cannot see it, but we feel its effects. We know it “by faith, not by sight,” as Saint Paul says in the Second Reading. Our creation, our redemption and our salvation are the gifts for which we are utterly dependent upon God and for which it is good to give thanks often.
Those of us who are or have ever been involved in farming or gardening know that planting is an act of faith. Even though today there is large planting equipment that can plant hundreds of acres in a day, one thing has not changed since Jesus’ day: “a man…would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” (Today’s Gospel) Nothing but God’s design can make the seed grow. After planting those hundreds of acres, the farmer can only wait—he cannot make the seed grow. It’s not until the rows begin to appear that he knows the promise of a crop, because nature, as designed by God, again takes its course. Even then the harvest is not guaranteed. Such is the kingdom of God. Unless we are willing to follow God’s plan, we will not flourish.
I am happy that Deacon Timothy Reither from St. Charles Parish has returned home safely and is now preparing for ordination to the priesthood on Saturday, June 26. In the meantime he is assisting as deacon at Masses, which is something for which there is limited opportunity in the seminary. While giving the homily at Mass is usually the responsibility of the priest celebrant, a deacon may occasionally be given this responsibility. I have invited Deacon Reither to preach the homily at next weekend’s Masses, the last weekend before his priestly ordination. It just happens that both Deacon Rider and Father Hokamp will be away next weekend, so Deacon Reither has agreed to assist me and to preach the homily at all five Masses! That way all of us will get to hear him before he goes off to his first priestly assignment as associate pastor at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Durand, Holy Rosary Parish in Lima, and Sacred Heart Parish in Mondovi. Please remember all three ordinandi in your prayers this month: Deacons Timothy Reither, Eric Mashak and Arturo Vigueras.
June 30 marks the end of our fiscal year. Thanks to your regular support, both parishes should end the fiscal year with all bills paid. However both parishes are still several thousand dollars short of their targets for the Diocesan Annual Appeal. Remember that this Appeal supports the education of seminarians, support personnel for parish and school administration, and replaces 14 collections for national and global ministries formerly taken up in the course of each year. While a few more donors have given since last week, two out of three households have contributed nothing to this diocesan-wide appeal. Please consider helping us meet our goal in the support of the wider church.
Pray the rosary this week for people who are seriously ill, for good weather for the growing season, for our seminarians and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.