Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Follow Me

God accomplishes His good through our varied talents

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

October 17, 2018

The following is Bishop Terry R. LaValley’s homily for the Blue Mass, held Sept. 30 in Plattsburgh to honor law enforcement and corrections personnel.

One fall, when the earth was very young, a group of trees in the forest had a quarrel about which of them wasBlue Mass LaValley the most beautiful tree that God had made and which of them gave God the most glory. A proud oak with orange leaves spoke up and said, “You should be orange like me! Orange is the color of so many delicious fruits and vegetables: carrots, squash, pumpkins. God has done the best work in me!”

A beautiful red maple then spoke up and said, “Oh no, you trees should be red like me! I’m the color of juicy red apples, strawberries and cherry Kool-Aid and oh…that sap for maple syrup! That’s why I give God the most glory.”

Then a golden elm said, “Uh uh! You should give glory to God by being like me. I’m a bright yellow. When people see me, they think of the sun, full of light and warmth. What could be better than that? Besides, I’m the color of scrambled eggs. God has done the best work in me.”

Finally, God, who had made all three trees, spoke up, “Can’t I work my wonders through all of you trees as I choose? If I had worked the same way in all of you, none of you would be as beautiful as you are. Your real beauty lies in being different from each other. Who are you, Mr. Oak, to tell Mr. Maple that he can’t give glory to me as a maple? And who are you, Mr. Maple to tell Mr. Elm that he can’t give glory to me as an elm? The cold north winds here in the North Country will soon be here to teach you all a lesson. They will teach you to be humble by snatching away your brightly colored leaves.”

Sometimes we think and act like those imaginary trees in the early days of creation. Sometimes we are quite unafraid to declare that our neighbors and fellow-parishioners are not really giving glory to God because they are not acting as WE think they should.

Joshua thought like that in the first reading. He didn’t want to believe that God could work through Eldad and Medad, those two Israelites who were left behind in the camp, but not left out when it came to glorifying God.

The disciples of Jesus thought like that. They didn’t want to believe that God could work through someone who hadn’t received their own seal of approval, and so they made quite a fuss about that stranger who was casting out spirits in the powerful name of Jesus.

Blue Mass LaValleyBoth Joshua and the disciples of Jesus were guilty of throwing roadblocks in the path of God as God made the divine glory known among His people. We are guilty of doing the same when we insist that God can act only in ways that we think God should, when we think that we have an exclusive recipe for how people should be. Certainly, neither Joshua nor Jesus’ disciples received praise for such a mindset.

You see, the way that God chooses to work in me may be very different from the way that God works in you, and that’s ok, because we think, speak, act and pray differently. God made us to be different, but still accomplishing His good purposes in all of us. And that means that each of us gives glory to God as God works in us. The beautifully colored oak, maple and elm trees are all part of God’s wonderful, masterful plan for creation.

We must help one another be tolerant and accepting of each other. That doesn’t mean that we compromise our values or the truth of our faith. But, we are each vitally important and beautifully different threads in the tapestry of life. After all, each of us is built in the image and likeness of our God. We shouldn’t try building others into our image.

We honor today you, women and men whose vocation in life is to help ensure that the common good is served in the midst of the world of differences in which we live. Trouble always, always surfaces when we trumpet our differences and demand that others march to our tune and see things our way, all the while jeopardizing the common good.

This Blue Mass offers us the opportunity to thank you, who with your family sacrifice much for the safety and well being of us all. May we never take you for granted. Every day you place yourself in harm’s way so that ours might truly be the land of the free. But, because the world we live in finds evil lurking in too many places; because sometimes we find it easier to demand things be my way, no matter the fallout; because, too often, we just plain can’t seem to get along, we place you, the women and men in blue, in stress-filled, often dangerous situations. In our fractured society, in many ways, we expect you to keep us from falling apart. Too many times, we need you to protect us from ourselves.

We need you because too many people are overtaken by evil and we are scared and fearful for ourselves and for our loved ones. We need you, too, because things happen: hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires and we are not self-sufficient.

As you place yourself, time and again, in harm’s way, you place the interests of others over your own. Unless Blue Mass LaValleyone were to walk in your shoes, we can’t pretend to know the great stress you must endure. On behalf of the Church of Ogdensburg, extending from Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Jefferson to here in Clinton County, I want to thank you for accepting the awesome responsibility of providing protection and safety for all who call our North Country, ‘home.’ It is with much personal sacrifice, as well as that of your loved ones, that you accept this charge. Please know of our ongoing strong support for you as we implore God to keep you safe from harm as you enforce laws that keep us all safe. You have our trust and respect.

I also want to ask a special blessing upon your families today, because it’s your spouses, children, and parents who daily pray for your safety while you are at work, and who love and support you at the end of the day when your duty is done.

Finally let us remember all those who have fallen in the line of duty, who never failed in their generous service, even when it meant the giving of their very lives. Let us give thanks to God for the witness they left us, a witness of sacrifice, and a witness to the dignity and honor of their vocation of service. God bless you and your families for your selfless service. God’s creation of the human person is a many-splendored gift.

May each of us learn not just to tolerate but to cherish the divine gift of every human life, particularly those who are different from us. Through it all, may God be praised…forever may God be praised.

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.