Sunday, October 23, 2016

And God Made a Disciple of Holy Family

The late Paul Harvey was famous for his radio commentaries and I have used his story entitled “When God Made a Farmer.” Yesterday, the people of Holy Family invited their relatives, neighbors and friends from over 20 towns for a Spaghetti Dinner and Raffle to support this faith community. A record 280 dinners were served and over 90 gift baskets were donated for the celebration. I was humbled and grateful when one of the autumn landscape photos was auctioned for $500.  I like to give you a glimpse of the spirit of this humble community with the following story that begins…

“And on the 8th day, God looked down on his farms in North Java and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a disciple of Holy Family.

God said, "I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, boil water, stir the sauce, prepare the meatballs, work all morning in the kitchen, mix the salad, display the desserts and serve the neighbors taking orders with a smile for 3 hours and then run home to get more meatballs because we ran out and listened to complements from people who shared their gratitude for a delicious meal. So God made a disciple of Holy Family.”

"I need somebody with arms strong to help a neighbor whose house had burned down that morning and yet gentle enough to hold their own grandchild. Somebody to call the winning basket numbers, tame cantankerous microphones, wait on hungry neighbors, have to wait to eat until everyone is served and tell the neighbors to be sure to come back real soon -- and mean it." So God made a disciple of Holy Family.”

God said, "I need somebody to set up tables and chairs, spread the tablecloths, decorate with pumpkins and then break them down after standing all day over hot boiling pot of pasta. I need somebody who can decorate a sanctuary like an autumn garden, design a basket with chocolates and toys, crave a wooden bowl or rolling pin from maple and ash, take photos of sunflowers and swans from a local pond, sell raffle and meal tickets and who can wash pots and pans, knives and forks, feed the kids and play cards with the ladies. And who, after harvest season that does not end till the 1st of November will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours." So God made a disciple of Holy Family.”

“God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a disciple of Holy Family.”

God said, "I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church or sometimes twenty-five drive to Holy Family to bring the kids to religion class.

"Somebody who'd invites all people, the proud and the humble, the self-righteous and imperfect, the hypocrite and the gossip, the fearful and abused to bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when you feel the spirit calling you home, the people of Holy Family will welcome your family, your children and your soul with peace and good will. So God made a disciple of Holy Family.”

Lord, I pray for all the volunteers of Holy Family exhausted from a another day spreading the seeds of God’s love. This shepherd is most grateful and know that you are in my humble, daily prayers for your family good health.

fr. matt

Monday, October 10, 2016

Gratitude, Grit or Grouch


I am grateful to the volunteers who worked last Saturday to wash the walls of the rectory to get ready for our future tenants.

Jim shouting let’s get this show on the road, Shirley wiping each venetian blind, Judy and Linda scrubbing the dining room, Steve taking out the broken furniture on the tractor to the dumpster, Roy sledge hammering the contents to fit, Ron helping me scrap off the rubber backing on the porch floor and moving furniture downstairs; Tina wiping the walls, floors and refrigerator, Karen cleaning kitchen cabinets, Sue scrubbing the laundry room, Jean working in the front pallor, Donna cleaning the sinks, Corey washing upstairs bedrooms, Tom putting up the ceiling tiles, Bob bringing in the supplies,  Mary bringing the pizza and wings and getting on her hands and knees in the kitchen.

You could tell we were good Catholics, everyone was on their knees, cleaning the grit. This shepherd was humbled and grateful for a job done with such grace and grit. The rectory now smells like pine sol. There was a moment when I spotted the guys chewing the fat by the garage door while all our ladies were inside scrubbing the walls, so I shouted out the window ”break time over guys lets get back to work.” Moments later they all scattered back to work.

Last Sunday, Jesus cured some lepers and only one came back to say thanks. The lesson teaches us to get moving in gratitude for the love God gives us daily. So cleaning a rectory, making baskets for the Spaghetti Dinner, teaching about God’s love to our kids, decorating the altar, or singing our lungs out in praise of God is our thanks. God wants a personal relationship with each of us. In return, we come each Sunday to thank God for the opportunities He has given us, our life, our families, our farms, our faith, this church.

One last note, before I left the rectory I was given a mission by the scrubbing team. Might I hussle the local furniture store down the road for some free carpeting to put on the floor and maybe even a donation to the Spaghetti Dinner. My new job description includes: "professional beggar." So on my way home, I stopped at Harding Furniture Store and talked to the owner. Without hesitation, he searched for the carpet and wrote out a voucher to be raffled at the church dinner. Then he said this, “I know who you are, and you are doing a wonderful job with that church in North Java.” So I told him: "Many thanks for his donations and most important his compliment of the people of the parish."

Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends that they take two minutes each day and think of something to be grateful to our God. Over time, this spiritual exercise will help us all to be a people of grit, grace and gratitude.