Be Uprooted

This homily was given at Mater Dolorosa Parish, South San Francisco, CA on the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 2, 2022. The audio is available here.

At the center of every heart is a secret garden.

And in this garden, two kinds of seeds are planted.

One is the little seed of faith.

This seed of faith is sown in us by God and by his servants in the Church.

On the day of our Holy Baptism, on the day we first heard the Gospel, when our lips first pronounced the holy name of Jesus, when our parents taught us our first simple prayers, the seeds of faith were planted in the garden of our hearts.

These seeds of faith, like little mustard seeds, start out very small, and they require care and attention to grow.

As we cultivate the seeds of faith by believing in Jesus, cooperating with God’s grace, coming to Mass, studying the Scriptures, praying daily…

Then in time, the littlest seeds of faith become an enormous, sturdy tree and bear the sweetest of all fruit: eternal life in Heaven.

The other kind of seed is planted in our hearts by the Father of Lies.

The seeds he plants are lies and false judgments: about ourselves, about others, about the world, about God.

And make no mistake: our Enemy is clever.

He prowls around the edges of our hearts, always on the lookout for those places in the garden that have been ploughed up by a storm, by trauma, by loss, where the soil is exposed, turned over, and everything’s a mess.

There, he comes like a thief in the night, in the dark, silently sowing seeds of division and destruction among the Lord’s good seeds of grace.

These seeds start small, too, easy to miss … because they seem true.

The parents of a little girl divorced, leaving her in the custody of her mother.

The loss of her father left a deep wound in the soil of the young girl’s heart. 

The Devil is there at once to sow the seeds of division and destruction:

“Your dad doesn’t really care about you.”

“He left because you weren’t good enough.”

“He never loved you.”

Since these lies seem true, she believes them, and they put down deep roots in her heart and spring up quickly into a thicket of lies and false judgments:

“Men are selfish.”

“I’m no good; I’ll never be any good.”

“Nobody will ever love me.”

Before we know it, the enemy’s planting can overtake the garden, dividing us from one another in our closest relationships, destroying our happiness and peace, and choking out the little seeds of faith.

Because if nobody will ever love me … I certainly don’t believe God will.

And this is the ultimate goal of the enemy of our human nature: not just to keep us miserable and alone, but to separate us from God for all eternity.

The lies of the Devil’s planting, if left unchecked, will in time bear the bitter fruit of eternal death in Hell.

But knowing the Devil’s strategy, we can be attentive gardeners of our hearts.

Jesus says, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Every one of us here has that little seed of faith already planted in our hearts. And in the name of Jesus Christ, we have the power to renounce and uprootthe mulberry trees, the lies and false judgments planted by the Devil.

We need only choose to believe in Jesus Christ and in the truth He reveals.

Today, at this Holy Mass, as we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, say to Him in your hearts, “Jesus, I believe in you; increase my faith.”

And this week, ask Him, through the Holy Spirit, to call our attention to the lies and false judgments we have believed.

As we notice them, simply pray, “In the name of Jesus, I renounce the lie that I’m no good, that I’m not loved; I renounce the judgment that men are bad, that God is not trustworthy…”  Whatever they may be. “Jesus, cast them into the depths of the sea and let them not return here again.”

Then ask Jesus to reveal His love and truth in place of the lies.

And pray, “I believe the truth that I am good, that I am beloved…”

“Jesus, I love you; I believe in you; I trust in you.”

As we do this habitually, through the week, we not only root up the Devil’s lies, but we strengthen and cultivate the seeds of faith.

As faith increases in us, and lies and falsehoods decrease and disappear, we have more peace, more joy, deeper connections, stronger love…

We grow in humility, as we see that what was impossible for us to change by our own strength, the lies and falsehoods that tormented us, are healed by faith in Jesus…

We serve Jesus well as attentive gardeners of His precious garden of grace at the center of our hearts…

We feed Him the food He desires most, the spiritual food of trust…

And on the last day, Jesus shall feed us with the everlasting rewards of Heaven, in the Kingdom of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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