There is an old truth that we will reap what we sow. That is the metaphor in today’s Gospel. As we go through life, we all sow seeds. Do we stop and think, “What are we planting? In our children, our friends, our co-workers?”

Many years ago, Boris Yeltson was asked what gave him the courage to stand firm during the fall of communism. Interestingly, he credited Lech Walesa of Poland, who first stood up to communism.

When Walesa was interviewed and asked what inspired him, he said it was the civil rights movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dr. Martin Luther King was asked what inspired him. He said it was the courage of one woman, Rosa Parks, who refused to move her seat on the bus.

Is it too much of a stretch to say a brave young woman from the south was responsible for the fall of communism?

Seeds are like that, and that is the moral lesson for us. How valuable the little things we do influence people.

I went to school at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. When I was ordained a Deacon, I worked at a Parish in Washington. The time came for Confirmation, a once-a-year event. Offering the sacrament was Bishop Marino. I remember a long line of people getting confirmed. At the very end was a sick child in a wheelchair. 

She was terminally ill and too young to be confirmed. But her parents requested before she died that she be confirmed. After Mass, the Bishop asked, “Do you know where the child lives?” I said, “Yes, Bishop. But we have been warned not to go there after dark.”

Bishop Marino insisted. We drove to the place where the child lived, a big apartment house. The Bishop was in his cassock with his gold cross around his neck. I was wearing my Franciscan habit. There were some men at the end of the hallway doing drugs, and you could even hear gunfire from a few blocks away.

The Bishop and I went up the stairs to the apartment on the third floor. The girl’s family became overwhelmed when they saw us. The Bishop went in to see the child and put his skull cap on her head, blessed her and anointed her.

The family knelt around the bed. It was as if Jesus Himself visited that apartment. To our surprise, when we left, people lined the staircase. Everyone applauded as we descended the stairs. When we got to our car, the men who were taking drugs in the hallway opened our car door for us. It was a wonderful experience.

Can you imagine the seeds that were planted that night? People saw a compassionate and caring Church.

My friends, I ask: Who sowed the seeds of your character, that made you who you are today? Who put meaning and grace into your life? What kind of seeds are you sowing?

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