|by Angela (Lambert) Jendro|
October 1st, 2017 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel of Matthew 21:28-32 NAB
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
Jesus knows us so well! How often do we pay lip service to God? How many spiritual goals and good intentions fall quickly by the wayside left undone? In the morning, the first words on our mind and lips should be an expression of gratitude to the Lord, entrusting the day to His care. Instead, we hit the snooze button and possibly let less godly words be the first on our lips. As the day progresses, opportunities arise at every moment to be at the service of the Lord. Do we embrace the tasks at hand and the duties before us, or de we try to avoid work and get by on minimal effort?
At the same time, if we hear God’s call, often it may seem outrageous at first, especially His insistence on forgiving others. God challenges us to live beyond our natural limits, to participate in His divine love. Our first response may be no, but upon further reflection and with the softening effect of grace, we may rise to the challenge after all.
Inauthentic love disappoints. It makes big promises and grand plans only to fail to follow through on them. Real love acts. It proves itself by keeping promises, showing up, and responding to the needs of the beloved.
When St. Mother Teresa began her ministry to the poorest of the poor, she simply went out into the streets and showed up to comfort and aid those she met. For the children she found aimless and alone, she began to teach them by gathering them together and writing with a stick in the dirt. For the sick, she begged the pharmacist for medicine. For the dying, she offered what comforts she could along with loving companionship. God grew the ministry, Mother Teresa simply went out into the vineyard each day to work.
Practical goals and intentional habits form a framework of love that infuses our day with charity. However, when we don’t know where to begin, Jesus reminds us to start by jut showing up when asked. It’s amazing how deep of an impression it can make.
When I consider who has touched my life, it has been those who laughed with me, shouldered burdens with me, encouraged me, or reached out in ordinary ways when I needed it. I remember when my mom chose to leave a law firm she enjoyed so she could open her own and have more time available for her kids. It meant that despite the many responsibilities she had at her job every day, I could count on her to listen when I needed some advice, to cheer for me at school events, and to be there when I had a tough time. Even now as a grown adult, I can still count on my mom to show up no matter what.
Above all, the Lord shows up. He created our souls at the moment of our conception. He became man, suffered and died on the Cross, and rose again for our salvation. His angels guide and protect us. His Mother intercedes for us. His very Spirit dwells within us as His Temple (1Cor 6:19). He is united to us as a Head to a body (Col 1:18), and as a vine to its branches (Jn 15:5). God is always faithful.
|“But so great is Your faithful love, I may come into Your house, and before Your holy temple bow down in reverence of You.” (Psalm 5:7)
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1)
“I will delight and rejoice in your faithful love. Be brave, take heart, all who put your hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31: 7, 24)
“Better one day in Your courts than a thousand at my own devices.” (Psalm 84:10)
“Blessed are those who observe His instruction, who seek Him with all their hearts” (Psalm 119:2)
Love is about showing up and being there for someone. Love for Christ answers yes to His call and shows up for prayer. Love has the strength and perseverance to do the right thing even when it’s hard. It may not be glamorous, but following through on our daily duties, even if we resist at first, makes an eternal impression on God.
- How can you make yourself more available to God? How can you hear His call more acutely and act more faithfully?
- In times of prayer – when, where, and how do you pray. How much do you listen in prayer?
- In the duties of family life – what does your spouse, children, or parents need from you?
- In the duties of your work life – how might your work become more of an offering to God? Ask God what He desires from you and spend a few minutes listening to Him. Is He asking you for greater diligence, or do you need better boundaries on your work? Is He asking you to reign in some of your conversations with co-workers, or is He asking you to make a greater effort at reaching out to them?
- How do you respond to the work God asks of you each day? What often derails you from following through with your commitments? Is it distractions, sloth, fear…?
- Reflect on the times God has shown up for you. When has He proven His faithfulness in a time of need? What blessings has He showered upon you?
- Offer prayers of thanksgiving and blessing for those who have loved you over the years and those who continue to be there for you today. Consider especially the persons you may be taking for granted.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- The Psalms sing God’s praises, especially of His faithful love. Pray one Psalm in the morning, one midday at lunch, and one at night.
- Identify one thing you have said “no” to God about, and do it today.
*A great resource for learning to hear God’s voice is St. Ignatius’ Rules of Discernment. Fr. Timothy Gallagher has an excellent podcast series explaining each one and giving practical examples. You can listen to them for free online at this link: Fr. Timothy Gallagher “Discernment of Spirits”
I also recommend the spiritual classic, “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. It’s a small, thin book but a little goes a long way.
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2017
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