HOMILY- 5th SUNDAY OF LENT MARCH 22, 2015 Fr O’GRADY You are ready to go on a trip and suitcase comes out and lay. on bed. You gather all the clothes and other things you might need. You finish and now pull suitcase of the bed and say “My Lord, I can’t believe how heavy this is”? “Will I ever need all this stuff”? And perhaps. like me, you come back with half the clothes never worn. Don’t we envy the person traveling with just a back pack who seems so free? Story told of a man who learned about Mt Bliss and that those who could reach the top would find unimaginable joy and happiness but first had to climb that mountain. So a man carrying suitcase, briefcase,, coats and food begins the climb. But the climb gets tough with all things he’s holding onto. After first half mile he drops the briefcase as too heavy. After another mile the suitcase goes.. He soon realizes that he’s never going to make the top unless he sheds more stuff. So, after another mile the food goes and after the third mile the coat but at least he made it to top of Mt Bliss carrying nothing but his own desire and willingness to be there. He got to the top and saw a view and landscape that would not have been seen had he clung to all his stuff. Life is similar as we have to let go of so much we have accumulated. We all start out as babies with nothing and then as life goes on we accumulate with kids, houses, cars and then when all grow up and leave couples downsize from 10 rooms to maybe three and come end of life we leave as we started with very little except our life and faith. During Lent which is now nearing the end, the Church asks us to also downsize but downsizing spiritually in shedding those things that get in way of our spiritual life, our relationship with God and are obstacles from living out the joy of our faith. Last week I quoted from the Prayer of St Francis and the part: ”IT IS IN DYING THAT WE ARE BORN TO ETERNAL LIFE” DID YOU EVER THINK OF WHAT THAT MEANS ? so often Jesus speaks of the dying to self in order to be reborn AND IN TODAY’S Gospel he does it again! Today’s Gospel reading gives the wonderful analogy to that when Jesus says “UNLESS THE GRAIN OF WHEAT FALLS TO EARTH AND DIEs IT REMAINS JUST A GRAIN OF WHEAT BUT IF IT DIES IT PRODUCES MUCH FRUIT”. For those of us who love the earth and planting, we know this basic fact… that the seed or the bulb must first be buried in the earth, hidden from sight to allow its shell to dissolve before something alive and new can come forth. For hidden deep with is a beautiful miracle of life. Every Easter at Children’s Mass I give each child a packet of giant Sunflower seeds. I tell them that before planting look at how small the seed is and in 2 months from one seed will come a 8 foot Sunflower. How can God pack that big sunflower into this tiny seed? And then I tell them that they are like this seed packed with huge promise and potential but we have to allow God to help us grow, get rid of the shells of sin and become a wonderful miracle of God. So too with us in a spiritual sense. For we all have those hard shells of faults, habits tendencies sins that keep God’s life from coming forth. It is Lent that encourage us to shed that shell so God can work. This Lent we pray that those shells of pride, or indifference, or envy, or laziness, or lack of generosity, bad thoughts and temptations can be buried so we can find new spiritual life. BUT THE CHOICE IS OURS! I recall a woman whose marriage had failed many years ago. For 50 years she resented her husband who had long since passed but she would not let go of it. She became very lonely because her friends did not want to hear her bitterness and resentment again and again. She was held captive to her anger and refused to let that shell die. She did die a bitter and resentful woman who fell victim to her refusal to let GO. How many people in life do the same, esp with the hard shells of anger. I think there’s a Chinese proverb that goes somewhat like this: “Anger has two victim: the one to whom the anger is directed and the person who is angry”like a cancer, it eats away at both people. As we still drive past fields and gardens still lifeless from the winter and we dream of those same fields filled with vegetables, corn and flowers in a couple of months… remember that this is only possible when those seeds are buried, the shells dissolve and a new hope and harvest come forth.’ Lent is that field waiting for you and me to bury those shells from our lives . So let’s do so especially over the next two weeks and find a new life waiting for all of us from the Hand of God himself. HAPPY PLANTING!