15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 12, 2020

I. What Kind of Soil Am I Cultivating? In today’s parable, Jesus gives four different scenarios for the seed scattered by the sower: some falls upon a path, some falls on rocky ground, some falls among thorns, and some lands on very rich soil. Undoubtedly, each of us has had experiences where we have heard God’s Word proclaimed, either in the Scriptures, in the preaching or testimony of another disciple, and this word has failed to flourish in our lives. Hopefully we also have had times where this Word has fallen on fertile soil, when the Gospel message has touched us deeply and caused us to grow more into the people Jesus calls us to be. In the life of discipleship, let us work to develop fertile ground for the Word to take root. 

II.  Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (Kateri is the Mohawk word for Catherine) is the first Native American to be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. Born in 1656, in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, her Algonquin mother was captured by the Mohawks and a Mohawk chief took her for his wife. As a four-year-old child, she contracted smallpox which scarred her skin, a source of humiliation in her youth. Worse still, her entire family died during the outbreak. Kateri Tekakwitha was subsequently raised by her uncle, who was the chief of a Mohawk clan. At age 19, Kateri Tekakwitha converted to Catholicism, taking a vow of chastity, pledging to marry only Jesus Christ. Her decision was very unpopular with her adoptive parents and their neighbors. To avoid persecution, she traveled to a Christian native community south of Montreal, where she was faithful to prayer, caring for children and the sick. Sadly, just five years after her conversion to Catholicism, she became ill and passed away on April 17, 1680, at age 24. St. Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 21, 2012, as the patroness of ecology and the environment, people in exile and Native Americans. You are invited to Mass at 12:05 p.m. (noon) on her feast day, Tuesday, July 14.

III. Special Thanks to Joe Conner, who has served as a member of our Saint Stephen Cathedral’s Finance Committee for the past 12+ years. On behalf of the whole parish, I am grateful to Joe for his unselfish faithful service, always wanting what was best for the entire community. 

IV.  Have you introduced anyone to Christ lately? Does someone you know have questions about a life of faith? Could God be prompting you to help him/her to explore the Catholic way of life? Opportunities to explore questions are open for you and your “someone” to have a brief, but closer look at the Catholic faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process. Contact Fr. Sinoj, Rick Rhodes (Director of Adult Ministries), or myself anytime for an appointment. 270/683-6525.

V.  Care for our Common Home: On June 18, 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical, “Care for Our Common Home” (Laudato Si’), addressing ecology and the need to safeguard the environment. Other popes, including Pope Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have spoken out on the importance of environmental stewardship, but Pope Francis broke new ground by elevating this aspect of the Church’s Social Teaching to the topic of an encyclical. Recently Pope Francis said, “The only future worth building is one that includes everyone.”  Laudato Si’ is about all people sharing a common home, not just environmental stewardship, important though that is. While there are some skeptics, 97% of the active scientists say climate change is real, and it is caused by human activity, and must be addressed. Young people, in particular, challenge that we go beyond the immediacy of what we consider to be a benefit and consider long-term benefits, for their children and grandchildren. How are we caring for our common home?