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Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 18, 2018, by Fr. Kevin Anderson

In the gospel Jesus talks about wheat. Now this might seem obvious, but wheat can’t grow one stalk alone. Rather it needs a field to stay strong. Let me show you. I want all of you to raise up both hands as high as you can. Imagine that each arm/hand represent a stalk of wheat and together you are a field of wheat. Now if a storm comes, or a big wind, each stalk of wheat simply sways and returns upright because it is supported by the other wheat stalks. As I pass my hand over you, have your arms sway in that direction. You may have seen this in a field. OK, put your arms down.


But if one wheat stalk would grow all by itself, well with a storm or mighty wind, the one lone stalk of wheat would probably breakoff or fall apart. So it is with each of us. We each need a community of support, especially to support us through any bad times.


So I have been thinking lately of the priest abuse scandal and the terrible things that were done. Each of us priests take a vow of celibacy, but celibacy is more than an individual endeavor. Here’s my insight . . . celibacy needs a community of support. That is, a group of people to be honest with, to share struggles and joys with. AND I would say the same thing about marriage . . . and about the single lifestyle (including divorce and widowed people). That is, marriage needs a community of support . . . to hold you up in stormy times. It can’t simply be the spouse who is doing all the supporting (sort of like two stalks of wheat growing next to each other) it still needs more support. And same thing with the single state, it is hard (and maybe impossible) to do it alone, or with just one trusted friend. We all are like a wheat field . . . needing others to stand with us, to be able to lean on them in stormy times and to help bring us back to a good position.


Hear this . . . “Everyone deserves others who knows you completely.” It starts with a spouse or family member, but grows from there. Each of you deserves, not to go through storms alone. So let yourself “open up” more. You will receive the support as you share. Become more honest. Don’t’ “hold it all in” like a single stalk of wheat. No, you share and let others share, then good things can start to happen.


Still, in the gospel, Jesus talks about the grain of wheat (not the stalk of wheat) falling to the earth and dying. Perhaps that dying actually means “letting go.” And letting go is linked to all sorts of things. .. . for example, letting go of ego, or needing to be right, always in the control. Maybe letting go of this habit or that grumpiness. But here’s an idea, which goes back to the relationship aspect of live. We are each called to accept a boundary in our lifestyles (whether that be as a married person, a single person or a vowed celibate) and with each boundary, it means letting go of NOT doing something else.


For example, let’s say you are a married person. Well, with that vow it means that there will now be some things that are unhealthy for you. I mean, like staying up out, going to the bars, or being really being a flirt. Maybe that can still be part of your boundary. Maybe it can’t. You need to figure it out. There are some things that will always be crossing a boundary. But for all of us, we need to establish our boundaries of what is appropriate and what is not.

That’s where a community comes in, to help us figure out those boundaries. That’s where the church is helpful, for we have 2,000 years of experience that we’ve learned from. That’s where your family comes in. For example, you kids and teenagers . . . when your parent gives you a boundary of what is acceptable, they are not trying to be mean. They don’t wake up each day and say, “OK, how can I ruin my daughter’s life today?”   No, they are creating boundaries for you, so that you can learn how to create a boundaries.


And boundaries are great. For when you realize what you cannot do (or what is unhealthy) it opens up a whole arena for enjoying what is healthy. Knowing a limit, knowing a boundary and sticking it to . . . will open up life for you.


This applies to anything. For example, if you accept a boundary of not swearing . . . well, it opens up an avenue of much more creative ways to express yourself. Try it. It will work in all aspects of life. But here, again, is the secret . . . you cannot do it alone. Let a community support you, guide you, lift you up. Let a group, a tribe, a community . . . tell you when you acting “screwy” and let them support you . . . and offer forgiveness to get you right again.


Let go of what you thought would bring you happiness. Bump into your boundary . . . and find happiness right in front of you.  The difference between happy people and really happy people is that really happy people know when to say “no”, or “enough.”


Author Brene Brown writes, “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.




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