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Graced moments...

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Happy Father’s Day! I am grateful for the example of my dad, as he taught through his actions the importance of being involved in the life of the community. In prayer, let us express our gratitude for fathers, and that by their work, example, and prayer, they may lead loved ones and others to follow Jesus Christ. Let us also hold in prayer those who struggle with Father’s Day because of an uncaring or absent father, or those who desire to be fathers but circumstances keep them from fatherhood.

There is a story about a man who visited an apple orchard in Maine. There he saw apple trees so laden with fruit that their branches had to be propped up to keep them off the ground. When asked about it, the orchard owner told his visitor to go and look at the trunks of the trees near the bottom. When he did, he saw that the trees had been badly wounded with a deep gash. “That is something we have learned about apple trees,” said the owner. “When the tree tends to run to wood and leaves and not to fruit, we wound it, gash it, and, almost always, no one knows why, this is the result: It turns its energies to fruit.” This can also be said of every individual. While I believe that God does not intentionally wound us or cause us to suffer, these moments of suffering in our lives can be opportunities for growth and development.

These are graced moments that draw us closer to one another. In our unity, we become strong and able to bear the good fruits of justice and peace, harmony and truth. In one of his many eloquent speeches, Martin Luther King said, “No man has learned to live until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Length without breadth is like a self-contained tributary having no outward flow to the ocean. Stagnant, still and stale, it lacks both life and freshness. In order to live creatively and meaningfully, our self-concern must be wedded to others’ concerns.”

The scriptures this week call us to grow, both individually and together. Like the mustard seed in today’s Gospel, we may start small. Wee baby steps, day after day, in communion with the Lord and one another, we become a force to be reckoned with — a community of hope whose witness draws others to God. However, as Paul has pointed out in today’s second reading, all of our growth will depend upon our firm faith in God, who gives us the courage we need in every circumstance.

Have a blessed week!

Fr. Ron

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