Tag Archives: Growth

2nd Sunday of Easter: Transformed by the resurrection. Catholic Inspiration

Mass Readings – 2nd Sunday of Easter

The power of the resurrection transformed the early Church, showing us today that the Risen Lord continues to change our hearts and lives with the grace of His love.  May we respond with an eager and lively faith!

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts

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Photo: this little guy was kind enough to provide the special effects for the homily!


11th Sunday of the Year – Growth & Change – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Nature teaches us that little seeds lead to big things.  Life is a process of growth and change, and from the Gospel reading we can consider two points:

  • Do we choose to grow every day?
  • Do we face challenges with God’s help?

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a seed – it starts small but keeps growing!  May we do the same, as individuals and united together, to grow in faith, hope, and love.


11th Sunday of the Year – Little Seeds Become Big Trees

tree

Study:  Recall a time of profound change and growth in your life.  What helped you become better?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the grace to face difficult challenges and embrace them.

Serve:  Who in your life is confronting change right now?  How can you help them?

11th Sunday of the Year Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Now that June is in full swing the color green is flourishing across the upper Midwest.  Summer delights the eye with growth and life, and from my view along the shore of Lake Superior this is most evident in the beauty of trees.

I have walked Wisconsin forests my entire life, and I find a peace and serenity among the grandeur and power of trees.  They anchor the soil, provide habitat for wildlife, shade for the weary, and a renewable resource for humanity’s handiwork.

Yet for the majesty of trees, they all start small – from a pine cone or an acorn, a “helicopter” seed or a shoot – massive trees have humble, tender beginnings.

Just like our faith.

We know from our own experience that all good things take time and effort to develop; growth and change occur through new encounters.  The process reminds us of two key points:

  • We have daily opportunities to grow.  Every day provides new ways for us to develop the gifts and talents God has given.
  • We are works in progress.  While we might lament that we are not where we want to be, we can face the challenges before us with the grace of Christ

In the first point we recognize opportunity and growth; in the second point we face obstacles with hope that these challenges will teach us new insights.  Growth and change are part of life.  What’s more, this change almost always begins from a small and humble beginning.

Where in your life do you have opportunities to grow?  Where do you see challenges that will require new ways of thought and action?  Take time to seek the Lord – to start small like a little seed – and grow in these moments into a new creation, guided and empowered to become more fully alive.

Now matter where we are in the journey of faith, may we open our hearts to God’s grace as we grow in faith, hope, and love as disciples of Jesus Christ!


15th Sunday of the Year – Weeds, Seeds, and Growing Things

Garden 1

Study:  What are some virtues that you would like to cultivate in your life?  What are some vices that need to be weeded out?

Pray:  Everyday provides a new opportunity for personal growth.  Ask the Lord for the strength and wisdom to grow in holiness.

Serve:  Name one little thing you can do for another; now make it happen.

15th Sunday Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily

Since returning to the Cathedral as rector five years ago, one thing I miss is gardening.  Time is precious, and my current work does not readily lend itself to the effort it takes to keep a garden.  Yet all things being equal, there is no place I would rather be than rooting around in the dirt – picking weeds, pruning, staking, watering, hoeing, and “looking at” the plants.

Gardening is a metaphor that teaches us about ministry and life.  Spending time in the garden forces us to slow down and attend to a cycle that is not our own.  We pay closer attention to the wonder and beauty of nature, and we can be surprised and  amazed by what we see.

Plants truly are hopeful optimists in a world of pessimism.  Every year my flowers and vegetables produce thousands of seeds, each seed capable of new and beautiful life.  Yet for all these seeds only a few survive.  Some are taken as produce, some by the weather, and some by the rabbits!

Nature knows that life is difficult.  There are so many obstacles and challenges in the world that it is essential to cast hundreds and thousands of seeds, just so that a few might be able to continue the cycle of life.  The power of nature is that even a few seeds can change the landscape, bringing nourishment and beauty to the earth.

Jesus knew this.  He spoke to hundreds and thousands of the hope and life that are possible in His Father’s Kingdom.  He cured countless people and preached tirelessly to any who would hear.  Like the garden plants, he cast LOTS of seed.

Yet many people did not act on his message.  Many mocked him, plotted against him, or simply walked away.  Some got excited for a time, but then they got bored, discouraged, or caught up in other interests.  Simply put, much of the seed cast by Jesus was lost or destroyed.

Yet in his parable to the crowds Jesus shows his tremendous hope.  It only takes a few seeds for an incredible harvest!  A 30x, 60x, or 100x harvest was amazing in the ancient world (and it is not too shabby today!).  For those who heed the word of God, they, too, will yield a crop that will defy worldly doubt.

I’m willing to bet that all of us continue to carry the Lord’s seed in our lives.  The invitation today is that it will take root and flourish in our hearts.  We are given the chance to garden our souls, fostering a faith that is worthy of the Lord’s harvest.


6th Sunday of the Year – Surpassing Righteousness

Inspiration-Recognition

Study:  When have I embraced a project or task and truly made it my own?  When have I poured my heart into something?

Pray:  Ask the Lord a simple question: where am I invited to grow and change?

Serve:  Is there a situation or opportunity in my life right now that will help me grow in new ways?  Is there some way I can share my life?

6th Sunday Readings

Two students walked in to a class on the first day of the semester.  The room was filled but they found a couple of chairs up front and sat through the opening remarks of the professor.  As the class progressed both took copious notes and carefully followed the lecture.  When the class was done, both waited to speak with the teacher.

The first said, “I need this class to graduate.  Can you recommend what I need to focus on to get a good grade?”  The professor nodded and wrote down a list of extra resources to study.

The second said, “I love this topic!  Can you recommend anything I can read to learn more?”  The professor smiled, pointed to the first student, and said, “Copy that list – and enjoy it!”

Point: have you ever noticed the difference between something you felt you had to do and something that you wanted to do?  The first is an obligation; the second is a conviction.

So…how would you describe your faith?

Jesus speaks to a number of points in the Gospel of Matthew today, and in every case the Lord invites us to move from the obligation of the law to a new level of intensity – to embrace His words as a fundamental conviction that inspires us toward God and one another.

Do we consider our discipleship as something we have to carry out?  Do we need a “good grade” to tow the line and get to heaven?  Do we see our lives as completing a list of tasks?

Or are we disciples who look for new ways we grow?  Do we seek to be transformed – to become something more – to open our hearts to the journey that happens when we let God completely into our lives?

It is this radical growth that can challenge us.  Following Christ requires us to set aside our prejudices and presuppositions and be guided by the desire to be like Jesus.  We will be asked to change, transform, grow, and allow our lives to be directed by the Lord.

Back to those students…both got good grades.  But the first promptly forgot the class and never used it again.  The second found the course interesting, moving, and planned a career and life decisions around the material.

How about us?  Will our faith be something that is just a small part of our life, or will it be something that inspires and illuminates it?  The first is an obligation we fulfill; the second is a way of life that brings God’s life to ourselves and those around us.


Baptism of the Lord

Baptismal Font

Study:  When have I experienced a life-changing moment?  How has this helped me to become a better person?

Pray:  Ask God for guidance to face new challenges with courage and strength.

Serve:  How can I help someone in the midst of great change?  How can I support them?

Baptism of the Lord Readings

There are moments in life which transform us forever.  During these times we experience profound and lasting change, and from these moments we find that we are a different person with new insights and awareness.

Sometimes this process of change can take a protracted period of time – weeks or even months may pass while we are in a period of transition and renewal.  Sometimes, however, the transformation takes a single moment; an event or encounter can completely alter the course of our lives.

The baptism of Jesus was just such a life changing experience.  This event is the first step in the adult life of Christ.  Here is a simplified review:

* Jesus (as an adult) is baptized by John
– the Father and Holy Spirit are present!
* Jesus goes immediately to the desert
– he spends 40 days in solitude
* Jesus is tempted by Satan
– he confronts 3 tests of faith
* Jesus begins his ministry
– he preaches, heals, and picks disciples

John’s baptism initiates a series of events that lead to the transformation of the adult Jesus.  Outside of the birth narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, nothing is really known about the Lord until this moment.  Indeed, it is from this point on that Jesus must confront the revelation of his mission on earth.

Some scholars argue that after his baptism Jesus became fully aware of his ministry and ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.  It was at this point that he began to understand the fullness of his Father’s plan.  This is why he went to the wilderness immediately after his baptism – he needed to think things out!  This is why the devil came to him there – in hope that Jesus could be tempted NOT to fulfill his mission.

It was his baptism – a public event – that allowed the Lord (and other people as well) to see the plan of salvation.  In a single moment history changed as Jesus begins his earthly ministry.

Our own transformations can be equally vivid.  May we see in the Lord’s baptism a sign that we too can change, growing closer to God, aware of how our lives can bring life and hope to others.


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