August 23, 2015 ~ 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are talking about how we discern what is good for us from the kind of thing we are. We initially looked at prompts from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ to establish a notion of “integral ecology”. This notion draws our attention that there are certain natural orders that follow from things which must be respected for the thing to flourish. We don’t make our own rules, but the natural order must be discerned through reflection on the kind of thing we are and God’s communication with us.

One of my summer assignments as a seminarian was to be a chaplain at a Boy Scout camp. The early weeks were always the tiger cub scouts, that is, the little kids. One of my major duties was to provide a chapel service each week for the campers. I was young and inexperienced and super-excited about the philosophy that I was studying in seminary (Not much has changed, though I guess I am a little older).

The point of one of my chapel services to the tiger cubs was to be good, obedient children.  I tried to establish this point with the following example. I asked, “How are squirrels happy?” The kids got this one well enough. Squirrels are happy by doing squirrel things – gathering nuts, climbing trees, making more squirrels. I continued, “What does a good squirrel do?” Again, the answers were the same. I brilliantly summarized, “So happy squirrels do what good squirrels do . . . So to be happy you have to be good.”

I thought that I my example was money. I asked the kids, “What will make you happy?”  A kid in the front responded, “Eat, sleep, and watch TV.” I said, “Not exactly.” I asked, “what makes you good?” “Eat, sleep, and watch TV.” “Wrong again.” I persisted, “if squirrels are happy by being good squirrels and squirrels are good by doing the things that squirrels are supposed to do, how will you be happy?” I nailed it. The kid responded, “Eat, sleep and watch TV”. Noooo!!! I drew the conclusion for them, “if squirrels are happy by being good squirrels, and squirrels are good by doing the things that squirrels are supposed to do, then you will be happy by being good and by doing the things that you are supposed to do.” Take that kid.

The kid yelled back, “But you are in college and I am only 6, I don’t understand!” Oh boy. I think he understood more than he let on. But the point of my story affords the opportunity to say the following things: 1) in our current state, we have a hard time wanting what is truly good for us, 2) to discern that good can be really difficult and confusing, and 3) we need help.

 Last week’s suggestion from the homily: I think I will try week to week in the Sunday homily to offer possible assignments for the week. Sometimes they will be faith formation oriented, sometimes they will be prayer suggestions, and sometimes they will be acts of service. I will try to recap the suggestion the following week in case you forgot or checked out from that part of the homily or I forgot to mention it at one of the Masses. (I can’t do it the same week because I often haven’t solidified the homily for the week when I am writing the bulletin column). Last week’s suggestion was to Google “Eucharistic miracles” and either read something or watch a YouTube video about them.