Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
24th Sunday after Pentecost (Sixth Epiphany)—15 November AD 2009

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English


“For from you was spread abroad the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia, 
and in Achaia, but also in every place....”[1]

    The Thessalonians lived in what today would be called “northern Greece.”  Macedonia was to the north, the country of Alexander the Great, and known up until a few years ago as “Yugoslavia.”  Achaia was to their south, almost to the lovely Greek Islands that float in the waters where the Adriatic, the Mediterranean, and the Aegean come together.  It is said to be a region of great natural beauty, comfortable most of the year, and as we see today, one of the early churches praised by their founder, the Apostle Paul.

    Paul praised the Thessalonians for “the work of [their] faith, and labor, and charity, and of the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father.”  No doubt, they had received the same Gospel message as the other local churches established by Saint Paul during his missionary journeys—but they were so receptive of the Gospel that Saint Paul could write that they had received the Gospel not “in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fullness.”  What Paul was saying, was that the Thessalonians had not just heard the Gospel, but were actually living the Gospel.  They “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”  Most significant of all was that the Thessalonians had a profound impact on their neighbors to the north and to the south, the peoples of Macedonia and Achaia—and apparently in other places as well.  We know the Christianizing influence of the Thessalonians was great because Paul heard of it himself from these neighboring peoples.

    One of the most powerful missionary tools for the spread of the Gospel is good example.  Non-Christians are far more likely to be drawn to the Faith by seeing it in action, than they are by reading or hearing a set of theological principles and moral commandments.  The Faith in action is a living Faith, while principles and commandments are nothing more than an abstraction if they are not lived.

    One of my favorite sayings about this living Faith, is from the last century, and the pen  of the French Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard.  It is very brief.  He wrote that “to be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery.  It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist.”[3]  That doesn’t necessarily mean “wearing one’s religion on one’s sleeve”—on the contrary it means practicing the Catholic Faith without any regard to who might be looking, other than God Himself.  It means practicing the Catholic Faith, equally when it will bring reward, as when it will bring penalty or even punishment, with regard to the outcome of ones actions only as they are judged by God.

    Indeed, such selfless good example may be the only way in which we can convince others that life with God is not only theoretically possible and desirable—but that someone is actually doing it—us!

    The Gospel today is paired with Saint Paul’s writing to the Thessalonians, to remind us that to giver effective good example, it is not necessary to be rich or powerful.[4]  The mustard seed is quite possibly the smallest seed of all.  It looks like those little black seeds that you see on Kaiser rolls, but much smaller, and more easily spread in the wind.  This tiny thing draws nourishment and energy from the earth, the water, the air, and the sun, and grows up to be fully the size of a tree.  A formidable plant grows from the least of all seeds.

    The leaven to which our Lord referred, we would know of as yeast.  And as bakers have done for many centuries, the woman in the parable took a quantity of plain flour, mixed it with a small amount of an older dough that contained yeast, and left it for a while in a warm, dark, and moist place.  The yeast of the older dough literally grew throughout the newer dough, so that eventually the whole mass of dough became leavened, and raised up full of those little bubbles which make bread so much easier and more pleasant to eat.

    But not only does a little bit of yeast-bearing dough leaven a much larger amount—for all of the newly leavened dough is now fully capable of providing leaven for the next batch of dough, on and on, batch after batch, generation of yeast after generation.

    This ability of the seemingly insignificant to cause great effects in its surroundings is the message of providing good example to the people around us.  It is, conversely, a warning against the devastating effect that bad example can have in a similar proportion.

    Think of the terrible effect that a Catholic can have on the world around him by publicly using the name of God in vain.  That may sound like a small thing, but perhaps the most graphic example of living one’s life as though God did not exist!  Add to that the influence of a Catholic who lies, or cheats, or steals;  who lives in a string of bad marriages;  who goes about carousing in the evening, so that he attends Sunday morning Mass in a painful fog, if at all!  Think of the scandal given by Catholics—especially those in high places in the Church—who demonstrate their loss of Faith, and utter disregard for morals.  Such behavior also works like the mustard seed, but in reverse, not a pattern of good behavior like the Thessalonians, but a pattern of evil that is very likely to be imitated by the pagans in our society.

    But the good mustard seed, and the good measure of leaven, can be very powerful to correct and to make good the damage done by scandals.  We are in a position to be like the Thessalonians, a pattern to all those around us, witnesses in living a life that would make no sense if God did not exist.

    If living such a life seems like too much to ask of anyone, we might reflect that it may indeed be necessary for our very salvation.  Oh, it might be possible to hold a lesser standard, but what might that standard be?  How much can one afford to relax without relaxing too much?  If we lose sight of the higher standard, don’t we come in danger of having no standard at all?  If we adopt a more worldly standard, are we not in danger of choosing something else over God, and losing eternity?

    There is another danger in following a lesser standard in the time in which we live.  Ideologically, the specter of Marxism is raising its head once again in the sphere of the state, matched in its rise by Modernism in the sphere of religion.  Abominations like abortion, fetal experimentation, and euthanasia go unopposed by “Christians” eager to plunder and loot society in order to redistribute its wealth according to their mistaken notion of the “common good.”  “Christians eager to spread the misery around, rather than to improve the human condition. “Christians” who ought to be exceedingly concerned with their freedom to speak the truth against moral and doctrinal error, are willing to have the forces of “political correctness” silence the opposition of their conservative opponents, and the opposition to their so-called “progressive” allies.  “Christians, who like Capitalists, seem “willing to sell the rope with which they will be hanged.”

    If Christian men and women fail to start living a life that makes no sense without God, we may well usher in the darkest age our poor planet has ever known.

    But the “power of the mustard seed” is strong.  If we become a “pattern” to those around us. If we live in such a way that makes no sense without God, we can return that kingdom of the mustard seed and the leaven—we can return the kingdom of heaven to earth.


[1]   Epistle: 1 Thessalonians i: 2-10.


[3]   Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard, “Priests Among Men,” Integrity reprint, undated.

[4]   Gospel: Matthew xiii: 31-35.


Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!