I have information
that just may save your life.
Though many think so
what I bring to your attention this morning is not trivial.
It’s a fact of nature, of science: the nutritional value of straw is zero, nada, nothing.
It is used for the bedding of farm animals
spread over newly planted grass seed
but never added to a cake or a casserole.
As we bite into a biscuit or piece of bread….
munch on a muffin
down a donut
we need not worry about ingesting straw.
Thanks to modern machinery
the edible part of the wheat—the kernel—
is separated and easily removed from the inedible parts of stalk and chaff
Our dislike for straw probably originates in God.
In today’s gospel John the Baptist lets us know:
God doesn’t eat straw either.
After he reaps the fields He’s planted
he takes the time to separate
the fruit, the kernel of grain, from its worthless shell.
But when God processes his harvest
it’s not done by machine;
it’s done the old fashion way.
God “winnows” his harvest.
Before the industrial revolution, grain was processed by hand.
To separate the desired seed from the chaff, from the straw
harvested stalks of wheat were placed on a threshing floor
where they were beaten…sometimes walked on by oxen.
The thrashings were then winnowed
scooped up and thrown into the air….into the breeze.
The heavy kernels fall back to the earth;
they are collected and ground into flour.
The straw, the chaff, the inedible parts carried away by the wind
are swept into a pile
In light of this knowledge about how God operates,
one day, I’m going to write a book;
try my hand at being an author: Msgr. Don’s Diet Book.
Now you may say, “There are plenty of diet books on the market today.
Don’t waste your time.”
My book will be different, unique.
The diet I propose
is one for gaining weight, not loosing it.
You see, when the Lord comes to harvest the earth
he’s going to winnow the grain from the worthless straw.
When I’m scooped up in those big hands
and thrown into the air
I want to fall straight down.
I want to be heavy enough
so that the wind of judgment will not blow me away.
The only thing that will do this is weight,
not physical weight: spiritual weight.
A major goal for the Christian disciple
is to become spiritually plump.
My book will deal with “how?”
You may be interested in buying a copy;
but before you spend your hard-earned income,
I encourage you to take a personal inventory.
This may or may not be a diet you need.
Assess your current state of spiritual health.
Look for signs of being underfed, malnourished.
Count your calories;
make sure you’ve been feeding yourself enough.
Check to see if any spiritual teeth have been cut on adequate conscience formation… …not by effortlessly swallowing
the TV or tabloid mush
but by chewing on why the church would encourage its people
to minister to those who are gay or lesbian and to their families;
by chewing on why Catholic bishops are promoting welfare reform,
social justice, the end of the death penalty
and calling attention to the first world economy
and its influence on third world poverty;
by chewing on why the Catholic Church insists that life begins at conception
and that sexual morality is essential,
and that character and virtue need our ongoing attention.
Step up on the spiritual scale. Are you a spiritual featherweight?
Maybe you know someone who is.
Have you been pushing aside, walking away from the spiritual buffet of the
sacraments? Maybe you know someone who has.
My book would be an excellent stocking stuffer.
All diets, to be successful require discipline: mine is no exception.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Principle 1.) It takes time to gain weight.
It’s not something that happens overnight.
If we’ve “sinned” down…I mean “thinned” down over the years,
it will take time
to put a little meat back on our spiritual bones.
We need to be patient with God, with ourselves.
Principle 2.) Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Chose one area of your life
- an attitude of prejudice.
- a sense of superiority over others.
- a habit of putting coworkers down behind their back.
- a negative disposition.
- an area of unforgiveness.
Maybe choose an area of bitterness you’ve been carrying around.
It needs letting go.
- a relationship that needs to be healed.
a tension within the family
that sore spot festering for only God knows how long.
Choose one of these areas;
concentrate your efforts.
Focus your attention on what you want to change
at least three times a day.
Commit yourself to doing this for three weeks.
It takes that long for new habits to become rooted
in our behavior patterns.
Principle 3.) Like all good diets, this one goes hand in hand with exercise:
unselfish service will surely beef you up.
Engage in regular spiritual calisthenics:
prayer and fasting,
attendance at Mass,
reception of the Eucharist.
Principle 4.) Cut yourself some slack.
We all cheat on our diets now and then.
Sometimes our willpower is weak.
With two steps forward, one step back,
we’re still heading in the right direction.
Don’t give up the ship when setbacks occur.
if you buy my book
incorporate into your lives the method I propose
you will receive, at no extra cost,
a new wardrobe:
Family and friends will “oooh” and “aaaah”.
They’ll turn their heads and with envy say “lookin’ buff!”
They’ll be impressed with your appearance
when God clothes you with
a joyful disposition,
a peaceful heart,
a virtuous character,
a hope-filled outlook on life,
an air of humility and sincerity,
an ability to see God in the face of a stranger,
a willingness to help the needy.
You will look marvelous!
Someday I’m going to write a book.
Look for it on the bestsellers’ shelf at Joseph Beth and Barnes & Nobel.
Be sure to get a copy
while they last.
You’ll know my book by its title:
Diet for Deliverance: Weighting for Redemption
2nd Sunday of Advent
I have information