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Photo by Dulcey Lima, courtesy of Unsplash.

Chelsea is Mexican American on her father’s side and Native American on her mother’s. She is Catholic by upbringing and Native through a slow assimilation into the culture. There was a time when confusion surrounded her dual identity as Catholic and Native. Her constant reflection: Are the two mindsets compatible? Over the past twelve years, she learned to integrate these two worlds. While living on the Flathead Indian Reservation she worked for the church’s youth group and the tribe’s healthcare system. In listening to the cross section between the stories from Scripture and the stories from her ancestors, Chelsea is now able to experience the one Creator in two cultures. These two cultures share the same sense of resilience, the same attitude towards suffering and a similar belief that listening to wisdom can save your life. Chelsea’s present synthesis between her Catholic and Native cultures emphasizes the value of resilience, which also happens to be the key to this Sunday’s readings.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. (Rom 8:18)

 

Liturgical day
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings
Is 55:10-11, Ps 65, Rom 8:18-23, Mt 13:1-23
Prayer

What are the obstacles that prevent you from “hearing” today?

Do you allow the word of God to nurture your daily or weekly journey?

Can you identify any tribulation that “chokes” the word of God away from your community?

Resilience is that capacity to rebound from hardship, to pull through and keep moving forward regardless of the many obstacles. When the Bible evokes resilience, it is tied to the virtue of long-suffering and the ability to remain faithful to a covenant with God over a long period of time. Meaning comes from suffering when one places it into perspective. Those who understand resilience know how to place their suffering in the perspective of God's promise to complete the work of creation (see Rom 8:18).

Paul writes in today’s second reading, “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now” (Rom 8:22). Paul understands that our final resting place ends in a different reality, freed from physical limitations. In the meantime, we must wait for God to complete the work of creation, including the work going on in each person. “We also groan within ourselves,” says Paul, “as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23). 

Chelsea’s experiences of working in tribal healthcare taught her a surprising lesson: For many, it is when God seems to be absent that resilience kicks in.

This Sunday’s Gospel also speaks of resilience through the Parable of the Sower. The elements in this well known passage are clear. There is one who sows, the seed itself, the ground that receives the seed, and there are all the obstacles that prevent growth. “Some seed fell” is the refrain throughout this parable that highlights four different types of ground. In prayer, many consider the type of “ground” or the “obstacle” that best describes their present situation. 

From another viewpoint, the parable reminds one that listening for God’s word requires resilience. There is one who hears the word and receives it with joy. “But,” says Jesus, “he has no root and lasts only for a time” (Mt 13:21). Rootedness requires time and experience so that tribulation does not cause a disciple to fall away. Resilience helps one to nurture the word of God over time, and is among the only virtues that can secure the deep roots that allow for meaningful discipleship.

Chelsea’s experiences of working in tribal healthcare taught her a surprising lesson: For many, it is when God seems to be absent that resilience kicks in. “God is actually more present” she explains, “in those moments when we think the Creator isn’t there.” I consider my own difficult moments in the spiritual life. Only after many years from an initial low point could I then process the way God was present yet hidden at the same time. Those obstacles that prevented my spiritual sight in the moment gave way to clarity as a result of hindsight. Cheslea learned this wisdom through hearing stories from Scripture and from her ancestors. The Parable of the Sower challenges us to redouble our efforts to hear and receive the Word of God.

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