About Harvester's Wanted:

A Catholic priest's reflections along the path of Faith.

When this life is complete, I pray they say I lived for the Greater Glory of God +AMDG+

PRAYER REQUESTS through link on right side-bar.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

la Frontera:


In the Spanish language the word for a political border is la frontera, the frontier. During our recent trip to the Mexico – U.S. border with my class that we took during our time at the Mexican American Catholic College this difference in phrasing was on my mind. For the Spanish speaking mind a boundary is not something meant to be final and definite, but something much more abstract and yet equally foreign. A frontier demonstrates that growth is possible and perhaps even called for. This is not to say that a Spanish speaker necessarily thinks that their political boundaries are meant to ever expand, but that they instead have a different way of looking at where one thing ends and another begins. Instead of a definite boundary there is a region of liminality where both interact in an exchange.


If one looks at faith as a journey, an image that has held a strong place in my life for many years, then the frontier is a place where one may be called to travel. The new evangelization, and one’s acceptance of continual conversion, seems to require that we enter into these areas of exchange between what we are comfortable with and what we may be less comfortable with. The immigrant gives us an example of this willingness to cross the frontier. These individuals are lacking crucial aspects of their lives, such as safety and economic stability, and are primarily in search of those things. Those of us who routinely experience our basic human needs being met have the opportunity to cross a different, but similar, kind of frontier to find greater communion with God in the sacraments and in the Church. One never really experiences fulfillment in this life, that kind a beauty and happiness is reserved for the beatific vision in the life to come, and so we always have the opportunity to grow by entering the frontier as our own kind of immigrant; an immigrant on the way to the Kingdom of God. 

    
  1. First Photo: http://www.longislandwins.com/images/editorial/20110710-feature.JPG

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lining up… for Shoes?


A few days before Christmas an interesting thing took place that I have been reflecting on since. The 2011 Air Jordan’s were released; a little more than a week before it closed… the 2011’s were released. Clearly this was a savvy business move, but what were the moral implications?  


People were already out in droves, finishing up their Christmas shopping, and looking for that perfect gift. They were in the mood to buy, and then these shoes were released. Fights broke out in several locations because of the intense desire for the limited number of this exceedingly expensive footwear. Now I believe that these shoes, designed for athletic activity, should be considered expensive for the majority of people; but when these shoes are arguably marketed to those who are already at an economic disadvantage, the moral question becomes ever more focused. People were physically injured with the release of these shoes, and it could have been worse. It is not hard to imagine what emotionally aroused people are capable of when confronted with obstacles to their desire. A good business move but was it worth the risk? I think not, but I’m no shoe executive.    

This example of the consumerist focus of the Christmas season is just one of many that could be used to point out that many of us are not standing in line, waiting for the coming of Christ; instead we often find ourselves waiting for the release of shoes. Humanity is fallen, and so it is easy to become distracted, but we are consistently called to something ever greater.


How many lined up for the release, the birth, of Jesus on that first Christmas?  Very few, in actually, there were just a group of disadvantaged migrant workers looking for the promise of something better. That made little difference, however, because Jesus was not born only for those that initially lined up for him, but for all.


The shoes will be worn out and forgotten, those that were turned away disappointed will get over it, and the call to salvation will still be there. Will we go from one line to the next, and to the next, and to the next? Or will you and I join together for something greater? The call is always there; unfortunately the distractions will be there as well, but the whisper of Jesus can always be sought out and responded to.
          


  1. First Photo: http://www.flyerjordan.com/images/Air-Jordan-2011/Air-Jordan-2011-Black-White-Blue_1.jpg
  2. Second Photo: http://www.longislandwins.com/images/editorial/20110710-shoes.JPG 
  3. Third Photo: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Philmont_Scout_Ranch_boots_around_sign.jp    g
  4. Fourth Photo: http://leineriza.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/Communion.png

Sunday, May 6, 2012

He Never Said This Wouldn't Hurt

Reflection for Sunday of the Fifth week of Easter, Year B

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, 
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. ~ John 15:2

Pruning can be painful. 

I once visited a local winery with a group of friends, and one of the owners was out there in the fields, showing us around. With pruning shear holstered on his belt he walked along the rows of vines explaining to us the different kinds of vines they grew there, how they get them to grow, as well as the pruning process itself. It was second nature to him. He would not leave the vines alone, he was constantly pruning them! In some ways it was force of habit; but his love for the vines, the fruit they would eventually produce, and the wine that would be made from those fruits was evident in his near obsession with pruning. In his zeal I imagine he routinely returns to the same branch pruning a little more until something inside him feels at ease that this branch will bear good fruit. 


Oh how we have been honored with the presence of the divine vine dresser who, having taken on mortal flesh, is ever more adept at knowing just how much to prune away. I don't imagine that the vines much like being pruned. If they could talk would they not say "I spent a lot of time growing those branches, and you just cut them off!" Pruning, even the pruning of Christ, is painful.We too may say "I've spent a lot of time on those bad habits, and now you want to take them away?" 

As I wrap up the semester, trying to find the time and the energy to work on the paper that need finishing, and pack up the room that continues to descend into chaos, I am pulled between the overly productive person that I want to be and the lazy person I fear I am. Neither of these is exactly what God is calling me to be. Both of these visions of myself need pruning in their own way. Instead of lifting the fruits up to God, how often do I try and hold then back, fearful of them being pruned away and taken as the fruit for the kingdom? 


The harvest is plentiful, as the saying from Matthew goes, but the laborers are few. When I look around I do not see signs of God abandoning us, the people of God. Even when times are hard Christ is there helping the fruit to grow, by pruning where needed, and constantly fertilizing with his grace. Christ is the true vine and therefore the harvest will be plentiful. Will you join me by going out into the vineyard and helping Christ bring in the harvest? Do you want to show God, in deed and truth, that you believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and that you love one another as he commanded us? Then do not hid from the short lived sting of pruning. Rather open yourselves to Christ's tender care, recall the lessons of Lent just recently past, the lessons from that season of pruning, and from those lessons grow fruit in this Easter season.     


  1. First Photo: Wikimedia Commons, By Tjeerd Wiersma from Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Groot Constantia 2) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Second Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Christ the True Vine By Anonymous. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Lion, Prowling in the Darkness:


This past summer at Philmont Scout Ranch, during the Saint George Trek, my crew and I had an encounter with a mountain lion. The crew debriefed the next day, and I was concerned that part of the discussion included a realization that while we were in danger, we had little other choice but to hike late in the day and into the dark. It was during this discussion that I began to wonder about how people would respond to my telling of the story.

If you haven’t heard me tell the story, basically: we were stalked for two hours (four miles), mostly in the dark, and it has been the scariest experience in my life thus far. I knew that many would be skeptical because I personally did not actually see the mountain lion, I only heard rustling of leaves around us, and I was relying on the my teenage companions for their accounts of actually having seen the lion. It was this realization, that some may not believe me, that made me wonder about skepticism when it comes to a lion of a different sort.


It has often been said that the devil prefers that we not believe in him; that it is in our unbelief that he is most effective. Just like the lion that I encountered, this lion prefers to prowl around in the darkness, not letting his presence known until it is too late. Saint Ignatius describes the devil, the fallen state of the world, and the power of original sin (along with its remnants) as the enemy. It is often helpful to think of the three along the same lines; as that which strives to attract us to sin and away from God.


Of course it is possible to mistakenly see a lion in the darkness that is not really there; nevertheless it is the lack of light that makes it possible for doubt to exist. In my experience it was the lack of light in the darkness that made it all the more terrifying, and my weak flashlight was not enough to reassure me. What provided the reassurance I needed were those who were with me… the twelve of us made our way through the darkness together, scared but safe.

Perhaps it is best to rely on the light of Christ, found in and of itself, and in each other, to show us what is really out there; instead of relying on our own skepticism and judgment we could rely on God to reveal the way.


  1. First Photo: Philmont Scout Ranch, setting sun near Hunting Lodge
  2. Second Photo: Philmont Scout Ranch, Rising sun over Cimarroncito Reservoir before our morning Mass, Saint George Trek 2011