- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 27, 2016

Fr. Stephen Muller, OCSO [1]
3rd Wednesday of Ordinary Time
2Sam 7:4-17; Mk 4:1-20

Human nature is a mix of bad tendencies and good tendencies. Which is predominant? Are we inherently evil, or inherently upright? Through the ages, men have posited various opinions and theories on both sides. As Catholics, we believe that man was created good. Our nature was weakened by original sin, but the attraction for good still has the upper hand.

In our first reading we heard God speaking with affection to King David through his prophet Nathan: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.” This is the same David who committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed. He had done some evil things in his life, but God saw the bigger picture. He knew that he was not defined by his faults. His mistakes were anomalies in an otherwise good heart.

In our gospel reading we heard the parable of the sower. God sows the seed of his word in the hearts of people of all different kinds of environments. He gives everyone a chance in their own way. He believes in the innate goodness of human nature; otherwise, he wouldn’t waste his seed.

In the news we often hear of many atrocities and crimes. There seems to be more bad news than good news. How can the men in ISIS, for example, do such horrible things? We may be tempted to doubt our intrinsic goodness. But maybe there really is more good news happening out there than bad news — it’s just not making the headlines.

Last winter I made a couple of big blunders when I was working in the woods. The first was when I was logging the woods in our southeast corner. Our neighbor to the south is the Arkema chemical plant. They have a chain-link fence all around their property. I miscalculated just how tall the tree I was felling was; the fence seemed so far away. But you can imagine the awful feeling in my gut when the top of it smashed a portion of their fence. I knew we would have to pay for the repair, and I imagined a fencing company eating up a lot of the profit we were making from the logs I was cutting. The next morning I called Arkema and they eventually connected me with their manager, Annis Banks. I told her what I had done and said we would pay for everything. She said she would have her maintenance guys look at it and then call me back. When she did call back, she was very gracious and said they would fix it all themselves, without any expense to us. God bless her! To me, that was the goodness of human nature shining through loud and clear.

The second incident happened a little bit north of there, kind of near the landslide. I usually carry my chainsaws in the bucket of the loader, but sometimes I leave them in the woods when I come in for dinner, or even overnight. We had more snow last winter and the road to where I was working would get drifted in. I would drop the bucket and plow snow on my way down – an added incentive to not have it filled with chainsaws. Well, this particular morning I got to my work site about 8:30, and started getting a bad feeling in my gut. There were snow mobile tracks and foreign footprints to where I had hid my largest saw. When I looked behind the log, sure enough: an empty space. Evidently, the guy had seen the two orange, plastic wedges I had left on the last stump. When he walked over to steal those, along with my homemade sledge hammer, he then discovered the jackpot of my saw, and made a quick getaway on his snowmobile.

I called the sheriff and they sent out a lady deputy. She wrote up a report and took pictures of the footprints in the snow. But she said the likelihood of ever finding my saw was pretty small. The saw was worth 700 or 800 bucks. It was the main one I used. I next called Doug Hill, the president of the Trailblazers Snow Mobile Club. He said he would keep his ear to the ground in case anyone heard someone bragging about finding a chainsaw. He said they would be having a meeting that night and he would spread the word. As it happened, the board members felt so bad about my saw that they voted unanimously to replace it with a new one! A few days later I picked it up over at Leake’s. It cost them $1,200. Isn’t that something?! They took it out of their club funds. There’s way more good in people’s hearts than bad.

And so, like the rich soil in today’s parable, let us do all we can to cultivate the good in our own souls and the souls of others.