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Sunday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time ©

Scriptural Readings: Isaiah 66:10-14c; Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16+20; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 or 10:1-9

My dear encountered couples:

Jesus sent the seventy-two ahead of him to every town and place he intended to visit. Jesus, the first teacher of the new faith, sends his students on a field trip to put into practice what they had learned from him. He believed that experience was necessary to truly learn the lessons of instruction.

As Catholics we are expected to seek instruction either as young children with our parents as guides, or as adults in our reading and possibly private instructions.

Questions with memorized answers were the means of conveying the Christian faith to many of us. Understanding the answers as much as humanly possible at our age in life is the way of the wise Christian. Memorizing without seeking understanding is like buying food and leaving it in the refrigerator to rot.

However, even memorizing with understanding is not enough. As the food in the refrigerator now needs to be taken out, prepared and eaten, so too the Christian truths memorized and somewhat understood are to be put into practice.

Jesus knew this to be indispensable and therefore sent his disciples to put into practice his teachings and learn them through experience. He wishes to do the same with us.

The amount of formal schooling for each of us varies. It is often decided by the facilities available where we live, the amount of money our families can afford, the vocation we wish to pursue.

Formal religious education also varies, depending upon whether we go to a Catholic school, receive instruction once a week in parish religion classes, convert instructions, adult discussion groups, information classes, whatever. No matter how we receive our religious information and arrive at some degree of understanding, it is absolutely essential that we learn through the experience of practice. This is not only important - it is essential.

We do not have to be sent out into the neighboring towns nor off to faraway places. We are to practice and learn right where we are: in the house, in the town where we live. For you – that is the place where God has sent you to learn.

Sometimes we might think to ourselves, “Oh how I wish I were living in some other country, in another city, in a different family. Then I could really practice my faith. If circumstances were only different, then I could become what God wants of me. But stuck where I am, I’ll never get anywhere in this world.”

There is a poster I once read that stated, “Bloom Where You Are Planted.” Sometimes when I find myself dissatisfied with where I am, that poster comes back to me. “Bloom Where You Are Planted.” So, I tell myself, “Quit griping and make something of yourself in the circumstances in which you find yourself.” This is where God has allowed me to be during this time of my life and this is where he wants me to put into practice his teachings, and then, through experience let them become a part of my character.

The home you live in, wherever it is located, the people you live with, your neighbors, the school you attend, the office where you work, the job you do every day – these are the places you are to bloom and grow. The problems, the obstacles, the trying circumstances – all are your means of growth into the person God wishes you to be.

You need not run off somewhere else where you think the circumstances will be better for you. The situation in which you find yourself now, the people around you, some full of kindness and love, others impossible to live with, all these God knows you need in order to grow and mature. When anything or anyone tries your patience, tests your trust, drives you up a wall day after day, you are being given the opportunity to put into practice and learn through experience the teachings of Christ.

Sometimes you will make mistakes, sometimes you will really blow the opportunities available for virtue, sometimes you will fail; but that is all a part of the learning process. Our mistakes and failures somehow seem to be necessary means of learning. Living with and among others while trying to put into practice the teachings of Jesus Christ will make us aware of our limits. We discover we are not as loving as we felt during our prayers; we are not as patient as we thought we were the last time we felt completely relaxed; we are not as faithful as we had sincerely intended to be.

The discovery of ourselves in this way is what we need in order to realize we have a long way to go. We might know all the answers to the catechism questions, we might even understand some of them, but how much have they become a part of us?

That is what counts. If you find yourself concerned over this, and if you see yourself trying to become in the school of life what God intends you to be, then rejoice, for your name along with the disciples is inscribed in heaven.


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