Saturday, September 27, 2014

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year - A 2014

Today’s Gospel speaks about two sons.

Both of them are far from perfect.

The first  son seems like he is a train wreck waiting to happen.
He is disrespectful to his father and at first refuses to follow his request but eventually relents and does what he is asked.

The second son responds to his father respectfully and outwardly he seems like the good son but in the end he goes back on his word and never does what his father asked of him

The Son who eventually does what he is asked is judged righteous the who doesn’t is not.

The first son represents the tax collectors and prostitutes  and sinners of Jesus’ time.

Yes, at first they seemed like train wrecks but the love and acceptance they felt from Jesus turned them around and won them over.

Everyone but thought they were lost causes but Jesus knew better and throughout the gospel he made a special effort to reach out to them…. 

When you read the gospels it becomes crystal clear that Jesus had a special place in his heart for the broken, for those who didn't fit in, or people who kept making mistakes.  Let's review

Luke 15:7

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Mark 2:17

And Jesus said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Luke 15:2

And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:3-32

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

There are so many more passages which illustrate this same point.

The second son represents the religious leaders of Jesus’ time.

They were people  who seemed to be living holy lives, but in reality are just giving God lip service.

The pharasies and scribes did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

They thought they were better than others.

They were not obedient to God’s call.

and They did not love, but they did put on a good show.

The parable teaches us three things:

The first is simply this we will not be judged by our intentions but rather by our actions.

In other words it’s not enough to simply say “yes” to God

For our yes to be real

For our yes to be salvific it must seen in the choices we make and the lives we live.

Our yes to God must permeate all that we say and all that we do.

Giving God lip service will not save us, even if our intentions are good even if we meant well.

The second lesson is simply this,

just like you can’t tell a book from it’s cover we simply cannot know the state of a person’s soul.

Only God knows the human heart.

Therefore our love must be shared equally with everyone,

Those who appear good and those who do not,

Those we are comfortable with and those we are not comfortable with,

We are called to love those who share our ideas and even those who do not.

We all know too well that sometimes people seem to live perfect lives and then we find out just how much they need our prayers and God’s mercy.

Other times we are quick to dismiss those who like the first son who don’t present themselves well, or not polished.

How many times do we look down on a person who just can’t seem to get their life together.

How many times have we refused to accept someone who made a mistake but wants to change.

The third lesson of the parable is this.

God is concerned about now, you might say he has a short memory

For God the past is the past.

If a person was a great sinner in the past but repents and turns their life around they will be welcomed home to God.

If a person was a great saint in the past but changed their ways and refused to hear God’s call they place their salvation in jeopardy.


Only our actions Count

Only God understands the human heart

God is concerned about now the past is the past.

Have a great day everyone.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A -2014

Can you imagine what it must have been like for the father of a family to get up early every morning and go to the town square in the hope that someone would hire him?

Maybe He knew that there was nothing to eat in his house.

Maybe He knew that his wife and children were hungry.

Maybe he knew that their lives depended on him and the work of his hands and the sweat of his brow.

What was it like for him to stand there as foreman after foreman came by and hired others but did not hire him.

As the day progressed and sun passed over the sky what did the man feel knowing full well that he would probably have to go home empty handed with no food for those he loved.

And just when he thought all was lost almost at the end of the day the foreman came back one more time and hired those remaining.

He must have been so relieved that at the very least he would have some small thing to put on the table for his children.

In today’s Gospel  we should be touched by the generosity of the land owner and taken aback by the reaction of the other laborers.

Instead of rejoicing at the good fortune of those hired last,

Instead of being grateful for generosity of the landowner which might benefit them some day,

the other chose to be angry and jealous and greedy.

Even though all of the day laborers were in the same desperate circumstances of those hired last,

and all of them had received a just wage for the work they had done.

They were still indignant

You  know when I lived in Washington DC it became apparent to me that the whole city depended on the immigrants from South America to function.

On the construction sites the laborers all spoke Spanish and the foremen spoke English.

The men in suits road the expensive subway the poor covered in dust or wearing maid uniforms crowed in busses because the subway did not stop in their neighborhoods.

It was the same In all the restaurants, those who washed the dishes and prepared the food spoke Spanish you could hear them when they spoke with each other.

Washington is always filled with tourists and visitors and there are an incredible number of Hotels, the beds are made and the rooms are cleaned by poor immigrants from Latin America.

All of these types of jobs are done by a vast army of people who have left everything in the hope of something better for their families.

They willingly and gratefully almost always work at the kind of jobs we would not wish for our children or grand children.

When the recession hit the wealthy and our shrinking middle class were largely spared in DC. The government never runs out of money to hire.

But construction projects slowed just a bit.

Soon outside every home Depot and Lowes there appeared groups of men waiting, hoping to be hired for any menial task.

And whenever I saw them I was reminded of the Gospel we heard today.

If a car or pick up truck slowed down when they entered the parking lot the desperate men would run up and beg for work sometimes frightening the drivers.

Some greeted them with sympathy, many greeted these poor desperate men with hostility or anger yelling out of the car windows as they passed.

It seems that Home Depot parking lots had become the new town square where desperate people look for work to feed their families.

Both of these stories force us to ask ourselves are we or our country like the generous land owner in the Gospel  or like the jealous co workers who got their first?

There is a lot of rhetoric emotion about immigration reform these days.

There are cities and towns who actively seek out unauthorized or illegal immigrants and try to send them home even though they have been here for many years have paid taxes and raised their families here.

The  children of many of illegal immigrants have never known any other place.  Even though their parents were illegal they were born here.

The issue of unauthorized or illegal immigration is complex and it is very tempting to knee jerk and just say send them back or be angry that they are here.

The fact remains that if we did so many of our crops would remain in the fields.

If we sent them all  back the cost of construction projects would rise dramatically and many of our service industries would not have the labor the needed to service our restaurants and make up our hotel rooms.

One the other hand simply throwing open our borders to the world would create chaos.

We are a nation of immigrants many of our parents and grandparents and great grandparents were so desperate that they left all that they had too a risk and came to this country.

I have put the statement of the American Catholic Bishops on Immigration reform on our website. Next week, I am going to print the same statement in our bulletin for those who don’t do computers.

Let us ponder this complex question carefully and calmly and prayerfully.

Let us ask ourselves what would Jesus do?

or better yet what would Jesus have us do?