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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

Reflecting on Matthew 13: 1-23

My friend Jim Kloppenberg has written a number of books that have become classics in the field of American Thought.  But to my mind the most important thing he ever said was in a conversation with me forty years ago.

I’ve decided that hell is being strapped down and forced to watch an eternal loop of how your words, and actions, and inactions caused pain to other people.

Imagine an angel taking you on a life review, and forcing you to watch how the seeds of your thoughtlessness or selfishness or just plain meanness had endless effects on the people who knew you, and all of the people they knew, etc.  Oh, wait.  Charles Dickens did that already.

Through the awesome economy of God’s grace, though, the reverse is far more potent.  Heaven will be our eternal astonishment at the harvest of healing and strength and forgiveness and goodness that just one kind word from us set off in the universe.

Here’s an example.  I’ve had a number of orthopedic challenges in my life, but my core perception of myself is as a strong, athletic person.  Why?  Because, at age five, my dad told me I was, and that seed fell on very receptive ground.  All these years later I hear his voice as I bike and swim and stand my ground against the effects of illness. Thanks, dad.

Chaos theory posits that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas.  God, who created order out of chaos, has created a world so fecund that a single smile can usher in the reign of God.  Yes, it’s a wonderful life.  So get out there and sow some seeds.

What good things in your life are the results of a single word?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Ordinary Time - Cycle A

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