Summary: The Christian heart needs frequent airing out and turning, even after conversion and sacramental grace.

Monday of 17th Week in Course

Ss Anne and Joachim

When someone says the word “parable” to most Christians, I think they immediately recall the parables of Jesus, like the one we heard today: the tiny mustard seed grows into a huge bush, the yeast mixed up with wheat, if properly mixed, causes the whole loaf to rise. So we are encouraged to understand that the little efforts we make to spread the good news of Jesus and His Church, His Bride, may not bear immediate results, but will, along with those of millions of His disciples around the world, grow into a mighty force for good, looking forward by His grace to the kingdom of heaven.

End of homily–not so fast. There are a huge number of parables–stories with a moral point–all over the OT. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is really a parable that, among other things, teaches that sexual license can bring down a whole city, an entire civilization. I must add, just as pornography, widespread acceptance of sexual abuse and marital infidelity are bringing down ours.

Jeremiah’s story today, of the good loincloth that, buried and forgotten, turns rotten, is such a parable. I remember one of the great A&M agricultural reps telling us that compost piles are good, but if they aren’t turned from time to time, they turn into “rot piles” with all kinds of nasty things in them that aren’t good for either humans or plants. It reminds me of the old businessman sitting at the back of a Pentecostal church. He was invited to tell his story one Sunday and he said, “I’m just enjoying it.”

The Christian heart needs airing out and turning, even after conversion and sacramental grace. We don’t do well in prosperity, because when we are fat and happy, we get lazy and start imagining that everything is wonderful because of how great we are. Sorry, folks, the hymn is “How Great Thou Art” and it’s not singing about you and me. The Great One is God, one in nature and three in persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. When the final hymn has been sung, and we shake the pastor’s hand (or bump it if we ever have to wear masks again), that’s when the Christian’s challenge begins. That’s when the kingdom of God gets going and growing. When we get home, we’d better be acting with our family to continue praying, repenting, and studying the Word of God. That’s when the mulching fork gets busy and the compost heap gets mature, not just old and rotten. That’s when God’s grace can daily make us productive, helping to spread the good news and save souls for and with Christ.

On this feast, which celebrates the parents of the virgin Mary, whose names are known in tradition as Anne and Joachim, we have to realize that after they came back from synagogue, the family of Anne and Joachim did not sit back and enjoy life. No, indeed, they lived to do the will of God, by prayer and humble submission and encouragement of others. That’s where Mary learned how to be a mother, and that’s where the seeds were sown in her heart that led to her wondrous prayer we recite daily, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior. He has done mighty things for me, and holy is His Name.”

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