SUNDAY 1st October 2017, 26th Sunday Ordinary Time
• Ezekiel 18:25-28 • Psalm 25 • Philippians 2:1-11 • + Matthew 21:28-32 •
Title: “New Message: Save?”
[__01__] In the parable of this Sunday, two different numbers – and two different individuals – are with the same To-Do List. The owner of the vineyard – and the father of the 2 sons – enters 2 new new numbers, sent a message to the 2 sons.
Each responds, picks up differently.
[__02.01__] The first [RESPONDS], engages his father and says YES, “No Problem” [N.P.] and c-u-@-vineyard. It’s on his to-do list. However, he is a no-show.
Jesus cautions us about such an attitude. For example, I say [YES] to some future task or project. It seems so easy. But, I can think of instances when this “easy” task was completely forgotten. I forgot to show up.
(Years ago, I recall that I had a commitment to visit some friends at a reunion on a particular Saturday-Sunday, a weekend, in Michigan. On Friday evening, I was noticing that I had no plane reservations. So, I had failed to follow through. While I made it there, finally, this was due to some extra effort and use of frequent-flyer miles to make a last-minute reservation.)
Or, there are instances when something appears easy or convenient but then has some difficult aspect. I don’t want to persevere or appear unpopular.
This is also the attitude of the Pharisees and others.
[__02.02__] Then there is the second son. When the call comes to his phone, he refuses the invitation, drops the call. He will not add this vineyard work to his to-do list. We might imagine the call is dropped or lost. And, he does not call back.
Nevertheless, he re-thinks (repents) of his decision and shows up at the vineyard.
Something happens – spiritually – and in the silence – between the dropped call and his appearance at the vineyard.
There is no 2nd call, there is just silence.
You and I benefit from time, prayer, in order to DISCERN and know what is the right thing to do.
Just as our human relationships are strengthened by not only by one I-Do or or one To-Do but by a series of sacrifices, even by doing what we thought was distasteful, difficult, demanding, so also our communion and conversation with God.
[__02__] Every day, you and I are challenged to consider what messages we will keep and what we may avoid and what may have to go to voice mail.
That is, we are called to discern, to decided because we could – if we wanted to – hold on to absolutely every message we receive, get.
It is a mystery why the first son says YES but then does not go. Apparently, he received the message. He has the message saved. Maybe he did not write it down?
However, having the message and hearing the message are not the same.
Acknowledging the message and acting on the message are not the same.
Now, electronically, we have the luxury of holding on to nearly every message we have every received. We have lots of archive space, disk storage, and cloud storage. It seems, then, that we can keep everything as a [SAVED] message as an item to be done.
This allows us to keep an archive, a life story consisting of every text, email we have ever received.
Who needs a diary or paper journal or an attic full of letters when you have all of this on your phone or PC?
And, is not beautiful – at times – to re-read and reconsider messages of the past, receive the word, the message of affection or something significant of the past.
It’s part of our the Good News of the Gospel, our spiritual journey as well. The Blessed Mother gives us an example as one who retains, receives the infinite value of God’s word in Jesus Christ and shares this with us. Jesus, however, reminds that discernment means saying both YES and NO, as he says, “let your Yes mean Yes and your No mean No.“ (Matthew 5:37)
When we receive Holy Communion, we also receive the infinite value of God’s word in Christ’s body and blood.
We give thanks today for the women of our Rosary Altar Society for their devotion to the Blessed Mother, their meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary to know and receive God’s word each day.
[__03__] All of this storage space – in the cloud or in our closets – enables us to hang on to many messages and things.
However, do we really need to hang on to everything? Or, do we need DISTANCE and, occasionally, DELETION ?
I’d like to make an analogy – just a little comparison – between this and our spiritual lives and how we can be troubled by the past or by old messages or by sinfulness, by our own sinfulness and that of others.
Do we seek forgiveness?
Because forgiveness means God takes our sins away from us as far as the east is from the west.
However, this happens with our free and willing cooperation.
No one forces us to confess our sins. No one can force us to forgive another person.
But, these days, neither does anyone force us to delete old texts.
(By the way, I can recall a time when we were routinely forced to delete old e-mails. Now, it seems that we can store an unlimited number for an unlimited duration / time. )
[__04__] Repentance. Confession. Also a free choice, so that you and I can have more space, more silence with God, more room for his message, his mercy. And, we can trust that he always has something planned for us, something for us to do.