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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Looby

11th Sunday in Ordinary time

There was an old man who lived by a forest. As he grew older and older, he started losing his hair, until one day, on his deathbed, he was completely bald. That day, he called his children to a meeting...

He said, "Look at my hair. It used to be so magnificent, but it's completely gone now. My hair can't be saved. But look outside at the forest. It's such a lovely forest with so many trees, but sooner or later they'll all be cut down and this forest will look as bald as my hair."

"What I want you to do..." the man continued. "Is, every time a tree is cut down or dies, plant a new one in my memory. Tell your descendants to do the same. It shall be our family's duty to keep this forest strong."

So they did.

Each time the forest lost a tree, the children replanted one, and so did their children, and their children after them.

And for centuries, the forest remained as lush and pretty as it once was, all because of one man…….. and his re-seeding heirline.

“The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

Those of you are able to stay up past 11:30 at night to watch the late night talk shows may know the name Jon Batiste. He is the band leader on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is now an Academy Award winner! He won this year’s Academy Award for Original Music Score for his work on the Pixar film Soul, the animated tale of a jazz pianist who has a near-death experience and gets stuck in the afterlife, causing him to re-think the choices he made in the existence he mostly took for granted.

Batiste is only the third Black musician to win the Oscar for original score, after Prince in 1985 for Purple Rain and Herbie Hancock for Round Midnight in 1987.

In accepting the Oscar, Batiste celebrated the moment by giving thanks for the “12 notes”:

“You know what’s deep is that God gave us 12 notes. It’s the same 12 notes that Duke Ellington had, that Bach had, Nina Simone . . . Every gift is special.

Every contribution with music that comes from the divine into the instruments into the film, into the minds, hearts and souls of every person who hears it, the stories that happen when you listen to it and watch it and the stories you share, the moments you make, the memories you create — man, it’s just so incredibly special . . . I’m thankful to God for those 12 notes.”

Every song ever written and ever will be written is composed from the same 12 notes, whether it’s “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

God gives us all “12 notes” to create the soundtrack of our lives.

That “scale” includes compassion, mercy, forgiveness, justice, empathy and peace; everyone can make music with those “notes” — saint and sinner, scientist and laborer, venerable grandparent and curious child, corporate executive and forgotten homeless.

To realize the “music” of God demands the same vision to hope, the love to create for the good of others and the commitment to grow and nurture as that of the farmer planting seed in today’s Gospel.

Jesus challenges us to embrace the faith of the Gospel sower and the hope of the mustard seed: to be willing to plant seeds of kindness and joy wherever and whenever we can in the certain knowledge that it will, in some way, result in a harvest of God’s life and love; to play the notes we are able to string together that creates the music of God’s Spirit playing through our lives.

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