Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Graham Greene was an English Catholic novelist.  He died in 1991 and almost everything he wrote had a Catholic theme.  He once wrote a short story entitled, “A Hint of an Explanation,” which in summary goes like this.  David is a young boy growing up as a Catholic in a small village in Scotland in which nearly everyone goes to Church.  The exception is a man by the name of Blacker.  He is both the village baker and the village atheist.  He is widely known to detest Catholics and the Catholic Church. 

There’s a toy shop in the town and in the window of that toy shop there is a long and beautiful train.   David stops to look at it every day.  Blacker has seen David looking into that window and how he is obviously dying to have that set of trains.

One day Blacker meets David in the street and says that he has a deal to propose.  If David would only pretend to receive communion one Sunday and to put the host in his pocket and later deliver the host to him, he would deliver the train set to his front doorstep the next morning.  “It’s got to be consecrated!  It’s no good if it’s not consecrated,” Blacker said.  “Why do you want the Host?”  David asked.  Never you mind.  That’s my business,” said Blacker.  Blacker even threatened him with a razor, saying he had a master key to all the houses in town.  If David didn’t help him he’d make him bleed in the middle of the night.

David actually started to do the terrible thing Blacker suggested.  He took the host out of his mouth and placed it in his pocket.   He later wrapped it in a bit of newspaper.  And he spent one terrible day and one terrible sleepless night with what, he was becoming more conscious of by the hour, was the Blessed Sacrament, our Lord himself present in his divinity and present in his betrayed, sacrificed, and risen humanity. 

Morning came.  Blacker appeared beneath his bedroom window.  “Have you got it, boy?” “Give it to me” he said, “Quick!” “You shall have the train in the morning.” “You can’t have Him,” “Go away!” yelled David.  “I’ve got the razor,” threatened Blacker.  David reasoned that the only safe place for the Host was inside of him and so he consumed the host, paper and all. 

Until that moment David had been bored by Mass and he had received Communion more out of routine than anything else.  It’s just what you did.  But in that moment, with Blacker standing beneath his window, David realized what a treasure he held all wrapped in newspaper.  This was our Lord, this was Jesus.  David found his treasure, he came to his senses, and he was willing to give up something he dearly wanted.  That train set just didn’t matter anymore. 

Today’s Gospel invites us to make our Lord and His Kingdom the number one priority in our life.  One way to grow more and more in making Him and His kingdom number one is to spend more time with Him.  Spend more time with Him here in the Church.  He’s in the tabernacle just waiting for a visitor.   Come sit with Him at some point during the week.  The farmer sells all that he has in order to obtain the treasure.  The merchant does the same, selling everything to buy the pearl.  What would you be willing to give up in order to spend extra time with our Lord here present in the tabernacle, the treasure of our Church

Our Lord’s heart beats with love in the Sacrament of the Altar, and his heart is wounded, sliced open, always ready to receive us, to receive our petitions, our pleas, and our desires.  Go to His Heart wounded by love and present in the most Holy Sacrament.  Be bold and confident in what you ask.  His heart is open and ready to receive you and all your petitions. 

Pax et Bonum,

Fr. Christopher Ankley