A Word From Rev. Msgr. Richard Hanneke

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Sunday, July 27, 2014
Dear Friends, 
 
This week, St Matthew’s Gospel, continues with more Parables of the Kingdom. The question was raised last week: “What is the Kingdom of God?” Weeds and wheat growing side by side. Good and evil intertwined in our daily life with God’s way overcoming. The tiny seed growing into a large bush that supports the creatures of the earth. Small beginnings developing strength and stamina for God’s way of doing. Yeast added to flour expanding to full potential, as God’s love and mercy expands us. 
 
Again, Jesus uses common, earthy images to teach us the Kingdom of God: Finding a buried treasure and going to great lengths to possess it. A dragnet cast into the sea hauling in a great catch of sizeable fish and other debris. These parables make me ask myself, ‘Is God’s way of doing’ the treasure I try to possess in my living? There sure are many things in our world that distract us, lead us astray from God’s way of doing. Those weeds and debris are all around us. When we intentionally choose God’s way of doing, the path becomes quite clear. The first step in ‘possessing’ the Kingdom of God, God’s way of doing, is slowing down long enough to look for it in my life. I cannot wish the Kingdom of God to happen, I have to look for it, I have to cast the net to pull it in. Again, I ask: When do you pray? How do you pray? Where do you pray? It is in prayer, sitting with Scripture, seeking spiritual guides that leads me into the treasure of God’s way of doing. 
 
Recently, I ran across a modern day parable, “The Kingdom of God is like a smartphone; it connects me to all things.” Cute but effective. I wonder what other modern day images Jesus would use in His parables? Seek the Kingdom, a hidden treasure of great price!
 
Blessings,

Msgr. REH 

 
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Dear Friends, 
 
I hope your summer is going well and it is truly a time of recreation. Our gospel today is familiar. The sower of good seed on good ground trusts all will go well, and his efforts will produce abundantly. Little does he suspect an enemy (the evil one) will sneak in under the cover of darkness and sow weeds among the wheat. You know what happens: the weeds choke out the full potential of a lush harvest. So as not to lose the whole crop, you let them grow together. Then at harvest the weeds are burned. Sounds like a simple way of getting rid of the weeds (evil). Kind of straightforward—sinners will burn in hell and the righteous (true believers) will go to heaven! We know it is not that simple. 
 
The Lord has sown his good seed (Incarnate Word) in each of us. We hope, pray and endeavor that God’s will is accomplished. We also know it is threatened by the evil in our world. The evil can choke out the good God has put in us. We can wait passively for the end to come and the weeds (evil) burned away. I believe there is another call coming to us from our just and merciful God who judges with clemency and leniency. Don’t tolerate evil. Use the good in you to overcome and reform the evil around you. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Loving the sinner can lead to a new life because goodness, mercy and love has touched you to your core. Sometimes evil in our world is overwhelming, and I just grow numb to it or throw up my hands and say, “There’s nothing I can do about it!” I believe the Lord put us here to do whatever we can to overcome evil. Our faith calls us to work for the betterment of humanity and to promote the common good. Difficult and overwhelming as it is, we cannot grow weak. As Paul writes in our second reading today, “We are not alone and the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness!” Trusting the Lord who has begun His good work in us will bring it to completion.
 
In the reading from Wisdom, we are directed to be just and kind, which can lead us to reflect on the relationships in our lives. Am I judging others harshly? Is there violence in my thoughts, words or actions? Am I clement, lenient and forgiving? It is the power of the Word (the good seed) planted in us that brings forth goodness in our lives and our world.
 
Blessings,

Msgr. REH 

 
Sunday, July 13, 2014

 Our God Speaks

At the dawn of time, Our God said, “Let it be.” That life giving, creating Word of God brought forth all life! That same life giving Word was spoken through the prophets and holy women and men of the Old Testament, always bringing life to those who received it! That same life giving, creating Word of God, Jesus Christ, was spoken into being as a child and He “dwelt among us”!

I believe the Scriptures for this 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time are asking us to LISTEN to that life giving, creating Word of God and see how it is bringing forth new life in us. As Isaiah, with beautiful imagery, tells us: “the Word of God comes down from the heavens like rains that fall to water the earth, making it fertile and fruitful.” The world, in all its wonder, is DEPENDENT on that life giving, refreshing water from above. God is the source of life itself. “Creation waits with eager EXPECTATION” for what it cannot give itself, but what it needs in order to be fulfilled, complete and happy. Is my thirst for the life giving, creating Word of God like the dry earth longing for rains from above?

Jesus, in the Gospel, through simple, powerful parables, tells us about the power of the Word and the dangers it often encounters. The seed the sower sows is the Word of God. All depends on how receptive one is to this Word. Will we receive it with a deep longing and let it create its effects before returning to God? Will we receive it in a shallow way so it really doesn’t do much? Will we let the cares, concerns and the values of the world “choke” it off? Will we simply disregard it!? I don’t think the parable is a multiple choice question. In the ideal we “groan” for the Word to take root in us, just as the earth cries out for life giving, refreshing showers from above. That “groaning” must be satisfied in our conscious efforts to sit with, be with, dream with God’s Word, i.e., to LISTEN and becoming DEPENDENT. Then the Word will produce in us a “hundredfold”!

Jesus, Incarnate Love, dwell in our minds and hearts, making us all you created us to be!

Gratefully,

Msgr. Rich Hanneke

 
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