26th Sunday in Ordinary Time A
Doesn’t this Gospel sound a lot like home? Will you take the garbage out? Sure Mom. Have you finished your homework? Yes. Have you finished your chores? Of course I have. We don’t need a great deal of evidence to convince us that when someone says they will do something it is not necessarily done as in the case of the second son who said they would go out in the vineyard to work but does not. By the way, there is a very important historical event in this Gospel. When the first son refuses to work but later goes into the field, it is first time recorded moment of Catholic guilt; something we first born hold dear to our hearts.
There are two components to living out the Christian message. One is orthodoxy – right teaching. We must always know what our faith calls us to. The other is orthopraxis – right practice. We must put those teachings and beliefs into action. It would be chaos to act without knowing what to do, especially without knowing what Christ wants us to do. But it would be meaningless to know the right thing without doing the right thing. We are clueless without knowing the teaching. But what would all that knowledge amount to, how could it transform a world if it is not a living reality in our lives. Christ’s love, mercy and blessing would lie dormant if Christians did not share it.
That is what I love about this parable. It is such a mundane, every day situation – go out and work today. Sometimes the Word of God absolutely confronts us. When someone we love gets sick, when we have an important decision to make or when we are in a crisis, we cannot help but turn to God. The weight of the situation drives us to our knees until we find God’s will. Then there are other times when, well I don’t want to say the word of God is just laying around, but the word of God is just laying around.
Let me give you an example – a middle school cafeteria. It is a place no one would confuse with a Cathedral. The word of God is not going to confront you there, but because Christ is everywhere it is present, just laying around. But you can pick it up and bring Christ to that place. Once you pick up the Word, you may be attentive to the new kid with no one to sit with and invite them over, or you may notice the kid being bullied and stand up for him. If you pick up the word of God laying around your office, when you go to work and ask how was your weekend went and you only get a weak “Ok” said with downcast eyes, you will make a point of asking if everything is all right.
That is the beauty of wrestling with the Word, of being committed to doing it. Even when it is not in your face, it is there to be used. It is malleable, courageous and ultimately effective whenever we act on it. I do not know anyone, anywhere and at any time who does not need the loving consolation of Jesus Christ. It works every time, everywhere and for everyone.
Last week was a difficult one for our parish family. We had five deaths that touched us. Every time the phone rang it seemed to be more bad news. I spent the week at wake services, presiding and attending funerals, I went to two of the homes immediately after the person had passed away. I was needed at a lot of places. But I knew they didn’t want BOB. They wanted me to bring something else. They wanted me to bring the presence and the prayers of this community. And they wanted to me to bring Christ. For it is Christ who consoles; it is Christ who heals; it is Christ who comes to the brokenhearted. And that is not my job because I am a priest. That became my job the day I was baptized. We are called to be Christ bringers to all whom we encounter.
So Christ is present everywhere and his word of love is waiting to be put into action. Every face could be the face of Christ and every moment may be filled with Christ. Every question is a Christ question. So let me challenge all of you as I have challenged others. I dare you to ask me a non-Jesus question. Here is a sampling I received at mass.
What was the Met score on Friday night? My friend Fred let me know of the score and mentioned that we only had a couple of more days of suffering ahead. It is part of the bond that we have in being ridiculously interested in a team that far out of contention. But is not the Mets that brings the bond of friendship, is part of how we express the gift of being friends brought forth to us by Christ. Boom.
How many three cent stamps are there in a dozen? The answer is 12 which makes it a riddle, which requires understanding, which I believe is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Why did the Yankees not make the playoffs? God’s justice.
Will the Jets win today? Any time you root for the Jets it must be a matter of faith.
What color should I paint my porch? Well do you love your porch? Why? (Because it is breezy and welcoming and peaceful). I think we are always attracted to peace. It is God’s great desire for us and all peace comes from the Prince of Peace so I would paint it the most peaceful color to you and you will be reminded of Jesus.
[Third grader] Do I have to go to the bathroom? If you do, you can go to the one right around the corner to a beautiful bathroom that is made for anyone to be able to use. It is spacious. You can change a diaper. If you are in a wheelchair you can use it. We wanted it to work for everyone. And the money to pay for it came from the people of Jesus Christ who wanted a place where all are welcomed. Hey, that was the opening song! I don’t think it referred to the bathroom.
What is your favorite color? My favorite color is blue because that is the color of my eyes and my dad would refer to me as his blue eyed Italian because most Italians had darker eyes. After checking to see if this meant I was adopted, it always made me feel a special creation of God.

Now there were some hemming and hawing before I was able to come up with these. And you might call some of them a stretch. But if we are going to stretch for anything, shouldn’t it be to bring Christ’s Word? His word always brings light. It always brings consolation. It always brings peace. But it will only transform the world if those who know that word do it. If those who have Christ, bring him. Let the peace of God begin. Let us be doers of the Word

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