Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daily Mass Homily to High School Students: The Mustard Seed and Courtesy

There is an old English Catholic writer who lived in the early 1900’s that you guys should definitely look up in your English lit classes. This guy walked extensively all over Britain and Europe. He even went so far as to walk from central France, across the Alps, and all the way down to Rome and as he walked, he wrote descriptions about the people and places he met along the way, along with drawings of the route, and some humor, poetry, and other reflections here and there. These make up his book titled, The Path to Rome, and the writer I’m talking about is Hilaire Belloc. One of the things he discovered along his walks was the importance of simple good deeds, like having Courtesy. As simple as it may seem, it can have a great affect, even a divine affect. He wrote a poem about Courtesy that I think relates to your lives and to our Gospel today:

Of Courtesy, it is much less
Than Courage of Heart or Holiness,
Yet in my Walks it seems to me
That the Grace of God is in Courtesy.

On Monks I did in Sorrington fall,
They took me straight into their Hall;
I saw Three Pictures on a wall,
And Courtesy was in them all.

The first the Annunciation;
The second the Visitation;
The third the Consolation,
Of God that was Our Lady’s Son.

The first was of Saint Gabriel;
On Wings a-flame from Heaven he fell;
And as he went upon one knee
He shone with Heavenly Courtesy.

Our Lady out of Nazareth rode –
It was Her month of heavy load;
Yet was Her face both great and kind,
For Courtesy was in Her Mind.

The third it was our Little Lord,
Whom all the Kings in arms adored;
He was so small you could not see
His large intent of Courtesy.

Courtesy is small and simple, like the mustard seed in our Gospel today. The typical mustard seed is about a quarter of an inch round, but it can grow to become a huge tree, about 15 feet tall in a matter of weeks! Jesus uses this image to describe what the kingdom of God is like. The kingdom of God is where people experience something heavenly, something divine. All it takes are simple good deeds like courtesy to help someone around us begin to experience the kingdom of God in all its breadth.

What you must ask yourself is this: Will I be an obstacle to the kingdom of God or Will I let God bring it about in me. Which one will it be? You can bring joy to your friends or sadness. You can bring light to your family or darkness. You can help someone come closer to God or to the Church or help him move away from God or the Church. Which will it be? You don’t have to be a Bible-thumper, running around, being obnoxious about your faith. Just start with being courteous, good-mannered, respectful, polite. All the angel Gabriel did when he arrived to Mary to tell her she was to be the Mother of God was bend on one knee to tell her. But this small act of courtesy helps us understand the power and meaning of His message. All Mary did when she visited Elizabeth was enter her house and greet her. But this small act of courtesy caused Elizabeth’s baby, St. John the Baptist, to leap with joy in her womb. And all that Baby Jesus did was lay there in a manger, moving the hearts of the magi to honor the Holy Family with three gifts. But this small act of courtesy continued to his greatest act of all, dying on the Cross for our salvation and offering us his real Body and Blood in Holy Communion. And what a true courtesy that is: A small, round, white host… a chalice of simple wine… that for all their simplicity become none other than Jesus Christ Himself, our Lord, and God.

Not that you all aren’t courteous already, but think about the greatness that a simple act can give. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what year you’re in, or what family you’re from, or what clique you run with, or what AP class you take – all of you can achieve great holiness. Just start small with acts of courtesy whenever you can make them. Courtesy is small, but like the mustard seed, it can grow and blossom to unimaginable greatness. Just think – the door you open for a woman could be the only kindness she receives from a man that day. The politeness toward your teacher could make right years of misbehavior! One reverent genuflection before you enter your pew, one sign of the cross made slowly and intentionally out of respect for Jesus, could be the one thing that encourages your classmate not to give up his faith. Just like how the Church began with twelve poor fisherman and now spans every corner of the globe, so too can the kingdom of heaven, the experience of holiness, spread throughout your entire family, your entire school, your entire neighborhood… your entire heart… through one small act of courtesy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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check it out!