Commentary on the Gospel of

Steve Scholer-Creighton University's University Relations

I will be the first to admit it, and I dare say we have all done it. Sitting in church, collecting our thoughts while waiting for Mass to start and out of the corner of our eye we see the processional lining up. We glance up and notice that Fr. Tom and not Fr. Bob will be presider, and we breathe a sigh of relief. Fr. Bob’s homilies are too long and, well, boring; Fr. Tom’s homilies always have a few jokes, are shorter and easier to understand.

I can remember doing something similar in Los Angeles while traveling for Creighton in the 90s. I had a few hours to myself in Orange County, and I wanted to see the Crystal Cathedral where the famous Dr. Robert Schuller would preach to over 2,000 people in a single service. In the days before Google I could not find the address in the phone book, so I randomly called a church in Garden Grove and asked the pastor if he knew the address of Crystal Cathedral. To this day I remember his reply: “Have you ever been to our church? It has a wonderful congregation. Why don’t you stop by our church instead?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him no, so I said, “That sounds like a good idea, and I will try to do that the next time I am out this way.” In the end, I found the Crystal Cathedral (now the Cathedral for the Archdiocese of Orange County), spent 15 minutes there, and left underwhelmed.

How do these two stories tie into today’s readings?

In 1st Corinthians, Paul reminds us that it is not who is presiding at the service, be it Apollos or Paul, nor how brilliant the homily, nor how beautiful the church; but rather, our willingness to let God enter our hearts and minds, that is what nourishes and grows our faith.

How do we let the goodness of God grow inside us? How do we deepen our prayer so we can find God in all things?

For some, following the guideposts set by St. Ignatius might be helpful. Ignatius wanted people participating in the Spiritual Exercises to be more open to the love of God and with this greater understanding they could let God – who causes the growth – be central in their lives.

For many who participated in the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius opened the door for them to become more contemplative. He encouraged them to use all their senses to animate the readings on which they were focused, as if they were personally there with Jesus and the disciples. The long-term benefit of contemplative prayer is that the passage we focus on remains with us long after we have set aside the Daily Reflection readings.

This continued presence is not just God growing in us but more importantly, is God speaking to us throughout the day, engaging our hearts and minds to become more Christ-like in our thoughts, words and deeds.

For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

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