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Reflection on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on July 12, 2020, by Johanna Brian SL

As I began to prepare this homily, I thought about the fact that this is the last day of the Assembly and you’re probably mentally and emotionally worn out.  Right?  As Sister Regis Marie said to me one time when I was telling her my difficulties,“Too bad!”  This homily will probably  not be a warm fuzzy.  Sorry  I will try to keep it short.

The readings today are filled with some very beautiful and  challenging perspectives and as usual, they are right on time.  They speak of gardening, seeds, rain, planting, tilling , growing and hopeful expectations. Gardens are truly wonderful places and they require a lot of work! If you don’t believe it, just look out into the courtyard and watch Susan, Mary and Joyce.  I saw a sign one time that said that one is closer to God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else. The three of them probably know that better than most of us.

I believe it was Teilhard who pointed out that all life forms go through four stages of existence and each progresses through a series of deaths and births as they pass from one stage to another. For example, a plant exists as seed, blossom, fruit and  transformation. Mammals exist  as egg, embryo, viable being and transformation. So here we are, viable beings in the third stage of our existence living for a brief moment in this womb of matter/ /space/time called earth as we wait for our moment of transformation.

On Dec. 7, 1972, the astronauts aboard Apollo 7 took a picture of the earth from space.  We’ve all seen it and realize what a small, fragile and breathtakingly beautiful home we have. So far as we know, we are the only intelligent beings alive in this vast universe which scientists tell us continues to expand. Unfortunately, all is not going well in this little garden that we call our home and apparently, it never has. The second reading speaks of labor pains, groanings and the struggle to live in the freedom of the children of God. Our suffering is said to have been brought about by our subjection to futility by the one who subjected it. That sounds like a very unspecific diagnosis of what is wrong.  I guess it’s what we used to call original sin. We do know for sure that there are a lot of things wrong and lot of work that needs to be done to fix it.

 Perhaps we can more accurately describe our present earth garden as a jungle where the rampant growth of conglomerates and institutions which are focused on the acquisition of money, power and prestige are gobbling up all of the air, food and water and drowning out the voices the voices of  ever growing numbers of people who are struggling for the basic necessities of life — food, shelter, employment, justice and dignity.  The energy of this growing surge of power and greed defies logic, reason and basic human decency.  It’s like a spiritual coronavirus, and it is called addiction which is invisible, insidious, cunning and powerful, and it continues to grow into a critical mass which  stifles, chokes and kills whoever or whatever stands in the way of its growth. Anne Wilson Schaef in her book “When Society Becomes an Addict” gives a superb analysis of the nature, scope, and significance of this situation. Mary Pelligrino spoke of the problem in her presentation and suggested some thoughts for us to ponder as we continue to seek an understanding of where we belong in the world of today.  One thing is very clear. We will  need to  unite with spiritually awake people all over the world and throw our energy and resources into an effort to create another critical mass of  justice, peace and love to bring about the needed transformation. How? As yeast permeates dough.  As light penetrates darkness.

Finally, we have the parable of the Sower. The peak of the growing season here in Kentucky speaks eloquently about the plentiful fruitfulness of growing seeds so I hope we can all stand outside for many long moments to enjoy the magnificent smorgasbord of pulsing life all around us here at the Motherhouse. Lush green trees, grass and foliage, colorful flowers, singing birds, scampering squirrels, flying, crawling, buzzing and biting insects are all served up with the aroma of grass, soil and rain.  You can decide for yourself whether you are a path, rocky ground, good soil or perhaps all of the above depending on the issue, the day, the time, the month or the season.  What we can know for certain is that our God is generous and loving beyond measure.  There is no scarcity, and there are no restrictions and no boundaries.

As we come to the end of our Assembly, may our faith in this truth inspire and energize us to continue to work for justice and act for peace so that all of our brothers and sisters all over the world may have life and have it more abundantly.


Johanna Brian SL

Johanna came to Loretto from Colesburg, Ky., which is just over the hill from Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky. She attended Bethlehem Academy and Loretto Academy in Kansas City, Mo. She also attended Webster University and St. Louis University. Twenty-six of her 38 years of teaching were spent in El Paso, Texas, where she taught English and religion. For the past 25 years, Johanna has been on the staff at The Healing Place in Louisville, Ky., helping women to recover from alcoholism and drug addictions. Since moving to Loretto Motherhouse a few years ago, she has been having a great time participating in all that is going on there.