Have you ever noticed freshly mowed medians along the streets of San Antonio? At a glance, they look like green and luxurious grass-laden islands, even in the scorching summer months. If you take a closer look, though, you’ll see the patches of tan and brown. If you’re stopped at a stoplight, or walk by one, you’ll instantly be able to understand that it is simply mowed weeds.
This week’s Gospel calls us to take note of what’s killing off the seeds of good fruit. Like the rampant weeds in our city make no room for grass, our sins choke out the multiplication of goodness. Distinguishing what immediately appears good and what actually is good takes time. It also helps to have immediate temptations removed so that emotions don’t get in the way of recognizing where we need to change. Hmm. Seems like plenty of us have plenty of both of those things right now. If we’ve been given the graces of time and perspective, there’s a really good chance we need to follow the Holy Spirit in correcting our lives. It’s going to be on us to bear good fruit for the rest of the world who doesn’t have it so easy. It’s going to be on us to explain what the good fruit looks like.
Toward the end of his comments on this particular Gospel reading from Matthew at a Mass held during World Youth Day in Paris in 1997, Pope St. John Paul II said, “This morning, the Holy Spirit sends you like “a letter from Christ”, to proclaim in each of your countries the works God has done, and to be ardent witnesses of the Gospel of Christ among people of good will to the ends of the earth. The mission which has been entrusted to you requires that, throughout the whole of your lives, you take the time needed for your spiritual and doctrinal formation, in order that you may deepen your own faith and, in turn, deepen the faith of others. Thus you will answer the call “to growth and to a continual process of maturation, of always bearing much fruit” (Christifideles Laici, 57).”
Let’s get started, shall we?
SOWER SPINNER: Use this fantastic spinner craft I found on Pinterest from an Etsy shop. I’m sure there are freebies out there, but it seems like a really charitable thing right now to give a little money for the work people have offered for the good of the world.
BOX LID SOIL SORTER: If your kids prefer something more tactile that won’t so quickly end up in The Pile (that spot you stick papers your kids hand you that you don’t know what to do with), try a nature scavenger hunt to amass supplies. If that predicted 106 this week has you sticking to air conditioning, plenty of indoor materials work, too. As you might guess, what you’re looking for is sand, rocks, thorns, and good soil. If you’re sifting through office and craft supplies, pull out sand paper or craft sand, foil for making into rocks, golf tees or brown pipe cleaners for bending into thorns, and torn pieces of dark brown paper (or of that paper in your last Amazon box). Quick tip – foil can be painted with acrylic paint as long as you let it dry thoroughly.
Back in the days of our CALM moms Bible Story Time, we made a little book, with each page containing a different soil. Since you’re at home, you can get messier. Pull out a shoe box lid. Cut tongue depressors or extra cardboard into dividers. You’ll need 3. Glue or tape them in, separating the box lid into 4 equal-ish parts. Read the story to your kids with all of the supplies laid out in front of them. At the description of each soil, pause and help them glue in that soil type. Don’t forget an image of a bird and one of the sun. Place these flat on the first two sections.
Since the older ones need more challenges, let them take charge of the next part. Have them draw each of the types of people described by Jesus. Let the littler ones color them in. These are going to be glued onto strips of paper that cover each section. Tape the strips of paper along one edge of the box lid to cover the soil type they represent. This gives kids a movable part that encourages them to play with it more and think about the parable.
Family Resources and Activities for 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
SACRAMENT STUDY: Holy Orders
WORK OF MERCY: Feed the Hungry
SAINT: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
PRAYER: Preparation of the Gifts
EXTENSIONS: planting seeds, soil types, multiplication, fruit, fruits of the spirit, proper nutrition, poverty in your city, world hunger
PLANT SOMETHING that starts from a seed. You can use seeds from the fruit you eat, or from seed packets. You can even find seeds on any plant you already have that’s gone to seed. Our YouTube playlist for this week has some gardening for kids instructions. Don’t worry if what you plant doesn’t grow. It’s about the experience and the time for contemplating, not the outcome.
VISIT a garden or farm. You can do this virtually or in-person as long as you’re not in close contact with others or animals.
PULL WEEDS and explain that weeds are like the thorns. They choke the good plants and steal their nutrients. Just like frequently taking care of our sins, we have to constantly keep weeds in check so our plants can grow to their fullest.
COMMIT TO EATING EVERYTHING that’s put on your plate as a family. Don’t let anything in the fridge or pantry go bad just because it’s “icky” either. Lift it all up as a prayer for those who have no food, especially the stuff that makes you gag.
This week, our YouTube playlist has Gospel videos and gardening videos, as well as Preparation of the Gifts explanations. Depending on the age of your kids, you can also find some videos on the San Antonio Food Bank. And, of course, watch Godspell! Also, if you’re trying to find a good movie worthy of your time, Pauline Media is offering movie reviews from a Catholic perspective, and something they’ve dubbed Cinema Divina.