Homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Two weeks ago, I attended my first priest council meeting in years… I had been elected back in the spring… we met at the Villa Madonna following all-too-familiar covid 19 guidelines. At the beginning of the meeting, we had to choose a chair, vice chair and secretary so nominations were called for. I was nominated to be chair. The bishop asked me, “Fr. David, do you accept this nomination?” Thinking about the needs and demands of our parish, I said, “With all due respect I say No. I cannot do any more than I am already doing…” I was not the only priest to refuse the nomination… priests said no (or yes) because hopefully they know themselves and what they can take on and what they can handle.
I share that experience with you because it made me think of today’s gospel. We heard that Jesus is addressing the chief priests and elders of the poeple… the educated ones, upstanding, and respectful people… many (not all) who paid lip service only to society at that time.
So Jesus uses the example of two sons and neither is perfect. One refuses his father’s request but then does it; the other accepts the request but doesn’t follow through. In the end, it seems that good actions are more important than good words. In our daily lives, people make many requests upon us. Some are important, and others we could politely refuse (nominated as chair to a committee). Parables are opened for interpretation. For today’s parable, how about this: the importance of knowing our limits and being honest of what we can and cannot do? To accept a position or a request and then getting in over our heads can cause so many problems for both ourselves and those involved. If you have ever had to work in a group or on a collective project, and someone who say’s ‘no problem… I can do that…’ but never comes to a meeting or is not aware of the groups progress and decisions can really reek havoc.
Or perhaps the parable is pointing to something else: our relationship with God and our commitment to the life of discipleship? God has asked us to work in the vineyard, caring for the poor, working for justice and bringing peace and comfort to others. One area that I asked the Revitalization Committee to take to prayer is a parish project for our environment. This is the year of Creation, the 5th Anniversary of Laudato Si, popes encyclical on our ‘Common Home… the earth…’ There could be projects for us to work on with our youth, address our pro-life stance for our world.
As Christians, we are called to love God and others, not simply through the words we say, but more important, in the ways we give of ourselves for the good of all. In the midst of this pandemic, which is very stressful and the ongoing needs of our faith community, again, I know what I can and cannot do. Even though I did not accept the nomination for chair of priests council, I am still on the committee offering input and hopefully direction. First and foremost, God has called me to be a parish priest for this faith community. This is what I said yes to… where I am called to be.
As I mature, I am more aware of myself, my abilities, my needs and what I can and cannot do. What about you? In your life, right now, where is God calling you to use our gift? What are you able to say ‘yes’ to? Could it be more prayer? Offer support to hurting relative or friend? Perhaps it is cooperation and help for a good cause or parish ministry, such as our Pandemic Committee? I invite you to ask yourself this question: “Where is God calling me to use more actions and fewer words?” I’m sure you will get an answer! Amen.