‘We must not wait for the good soil’

Bishop Tells Catechists to Spread the Good News Everywhere and All the Time

On Sept. 17, Bishop Raica celebrated Mass for the annual Hispanic Catechist and Missionary Disciple Conference at St. Francis Xavier Church in Birmingham. The complete text of his homily follows herein.

My dear missionaries and catechists, welcome! Thank you, Maria Jose and Krysthell for help organizing our great team today! Today is a day of hope! Today is a day of joy! My friends and partners in ministry here in the Diocese of Birmingham, we have the best team of people because you are believers in Jesus Christ. We have the best team because, like the disciples of Jesus’ time, you want to share your faith. We have the best team because we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, always!

The challenge for us today is this: How can we be credible witnesses of Jesus Christ? Do you know Him? Do you love Him? Do you know that Jesus loves you? Do you know that Jesus knows you? Yes, before you were born, I knew you! No one in the Church today is an accident. No one in our classrooms is there by mistake. Jesus has a beautiful plan that we can know Him.

Today, I have great hope for you for the Church of Birmingham. It is a Church that is young! It is a Church that is alive! It is a Church full of hope!  

Like the Gospel today, we are like the sower who went out to sow seeds. Some fell on rocky soil.  Some fell among the thorns. Some fell on good soil. We must not wait only for the good soil.  No, we must be people who throw the Word of God everywhere. Who knows where it will grow? Who knows where the good soil is

That good soil is in the hearts of every person. It is a soil that wants to grow and become mature.  It is a soil that wants to produce fruit to reach our full potential. It is a soil that waits for the Word of God to take root and grow into a life-giving tree, bearing much fruit.

When I visited the Holy Land many years ago, I remember hearing about the olive trees. They were very old. They had been planted many years before. It takes many years for the trees to produce the olive fruit. I thought, “How beautiful is that! Our great grandparents planted trees that they would never see the fruit. They planted because they believed in the future of the tree, so we can receive its fruit today.”  

The Word of God is like that. We don’t often see the results of God’s Word. We don’t see what happens because of our efforts as missionaries and catechists, but our task is to believe what we read, share what we believe, and practice what we believe. It is our heart open to the infinite mystery of God. This is a beautiful gift that we can share with each other. Sometimes, it is not our words that matter, it is our life. How do we live our life? How does Christ fit into our lives?  How does Christ make our lives more mature, more alive, more complete, more fulfilled?  

I think we know people like this. It is not just the priests and sisters who can share in this hope.  Many of you witness to us the joy and hope you have found in Christ. In the Hispanic community, I think of St. Juan Diego, St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, Blessed Miguel Pro, and many others who have witnessed the joy and hope of belonging to Christ.

Today, also, I think of a young Italian saint – Blessed Carlo Acutis. He died in 2006 at 15 years of age of leukemia. He loved the Eucharist. His parents were not so enthusiastic, but he went to church every day. One statement he says touches me today, “All people are born originals, but many die as photocopies.” Each of us is unique in God’s presence in our work as missionaries and catechists. Each has gifts and blessings to share. We are part of a beautiful, exciting team to share the joy we have found with Christ.

Through our work, may we sow seeds of faith, seeds of hope, seeds of love, seeds of freedom, seeds of joy, seeds of justice, and seeds of life. After all, ours is a living faith with a promise that we will live forever. May God bless you all!