What One Person Can Do

Homily for Tuesday of the 6th Week of Ordinary Time

Servant of God Dorothy Day once recounted: “Young people say, ‘What can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?’ They cannot see that we can only lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment.”

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. That means we will not hear the end of the story of Noah and the Ark that we begin to read today as we will turn to the Lenten readings in the Lectionary for Daily Mass. However, if there is one lesson that we can take away from this introduction to the story, it is the fact that Noah, one man, was the only thing that stood between God’s intention to destroy the world and the ultimate decision to start over again. There are many such stories in the Scriptures. One person can make a difference as Dorothy Day maintained.

The Gospel today finds Jesus warning the disciples to be wary of the leaven of the Pharisees. Because we don’t bake our own bread, the powers of leaven are lost on most of the population. Leaven, which causes the dough to rise, is a good metaphor for corruption. As the ingredients ferment and break down, they give off gases which make the dough to rise. So Jesus is really saying that we need to be wary of the corruption of the Pharisees. Their corruption has hardened their hearts and stopped up their ears, making it impossible for them to hear the Word of God. This is the warning that Jesus gives us. Be aware of a heart that does not allow God’s Word to penetrate it and bring it to conversion.

As we begin Lent tomorrow, these two readings are a good way for us to embrace Lent. First, don’t give in to the temptation to believe that your conversion of life will not have a positive effect on the world. One person can make a difference. Second, remember to spend time with God’s Word in the coming weeks, for it is God’s Word that will bring about our conversion of life.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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