The Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 7, 2022
Psalm 33:1, 12,18-19, 20-22
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
The Holy Gospel of Luke 12:32-48
Deacon Mike D’Addabbo
St. Louis Catholic Church
OUR PRIORITY MUST BE TO BE PREPARED
The motto of the Boy Scouts is to Be Prepared. The motto of parenting, teaching, working, driving etc. is to be prepared. All our everyday activities must have some preparation if we are going to be successful. First responders run practice drills and scenarios all the time in order to prepare for any eventuality that they may face. Coaches of sports teams do the same. We have all heard of NFL teams playbooks and we’ve all seen the whiteboards of the NBA teams with all their x’s and o’s. I’ve always been amazed at how the coaches could be drawing plays upside down so the players could see them. That must take some real concentration.
We handle our responsibilities, whatever they are, by being prepared. In everything we do, every stage of our lives, we must prepare if we are to succeed. The struggle for us is to prioritize what we must prepare for in order of its importance. Fr. Keith and Fr. Joe each talked about this last week in their homilies.
Fr. Keith told us about Malcom Forbes and a man who made it a point to collect ‘toys.’ This was the man’s obsession until one day he died. He had lots of toys that were all were left behind. They did him no good after his death. He had misplaced his priorities.
Fr. Joe also talked about priorities. Do we have them in the proper order so when the time comes the first priority in our lives will have been God? Fr. Joe talked about a man who gave some advice on this topic. The man said that every day you should list six items in their order of importance. Those are things you want to accomplish today. As an item gets done cross it off the list and move on to the next item. When the day is done any items not completed on the list are the first items listed for the next day. Add to that list new items until it has six items. I know it is called a to-do list but how many of us actually make one? It sounds like a great- and simple- way to prioritize and prepare for everyone. It would seem very helpful to keep their focus directed on the important tasks. The first thing on our list every day should be to love and give thanks to God in words and deeds. Then write down the other five things.
Schools around the country will be starting soon, if not already, as early as tomorrow and continuing right through the Labor Day weekend. Commensurate with the beginning of school is the need for school supplies. School supplies are a task that takes place every year all year long but particularly at the start of the new school year. The last few weeks we have seen hundreds of “back-to-school” ads. Parents, grandparents, guardians, aunts, uncles, teachers, and many others all review them looking for the best deals. They prepare their shopping lists and then go to the store. They do this so their children are properly prepared to learn. They do this because we want them to, and it is necessary for them, to succeed. They must be prepared.
Yesterday, Sarah, I and others had the privilege of assisting Project Outreach of Fayette County. It is an outreach program started in Memphis over 40 years ago by a Franciscan Sister, Elaine Wicks, from Rochester, MN. School supplies were provided to a large number of Fayette County students ranging from elementary to college age. These students are some of the poorest of the poor. Many are descendants of slaves and sharecroppers. They do not have the resources needed to get fully prepared for school. Yesterday some freshman high school students received their first calculator ever. Outsiders stepped in to fill that need by donating supplies or financial aid and then organizing, arranging, and distributing them to the needy. Jesus said “…as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it for me.” Yesterday the love of Christ was shown to strangers in need.
Our preparation for joining Christ in eternal life should be our priority. It needs to be more thoughtful and intense than our preparation for our material, finite life here on earth. Material things will do us no good later. Are we doing all we can to prepare ourselves, and others, for the greater heavenly reward? Do we understand that the heavenly reward is much greater than any earthly reward? That was the lesson in last week’s gospel about the farmer who hoarded his grain only to die without enjoying the rewards he thought the grain would allow him. Today’s gospel continues and expands on that message.
Today’s readings, especially Luke’s gospel, are vivid reminders to us that we need to prepare to answer the call to be with Him when that call comes. That call possibly, many times probably, will come without any warning. Christ tells us we need to be ready, but He does not say when. He means always. His goal is for us to join Him in heaven. Are we preparing for that? Is it our first priority? We have to work at that because in today’s world there are an awful lot of distractions and ‘must do’s that take our time and effort. Not to mention the devil’s temptations.
In this week’s gospel Jesus begins His teachings by telling the disciples “Do not be afraid…your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms…for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” If we go about doing our daily actions with thoughts of Jesus, then He is in our heart. Remember that popular bracelet a few years ago ‘WWJD”? What would Jesus do? I used to keep a post-it note on my computer screen at work. It is a quote from St. Luke…” What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit his soul. Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son Of man will be ashamed of when He comes in His glory…” (LK 9:25-26). It was a simple reminder to me to prioritize God. The Word Among Us daily meditation book had a comment about our priorities. It said “Jesus isn’t against wealth or possessions. He just values them less than He values our love- and ability to love one another. That is what truly matters to Him.” He does not require us to be poor. He requires us to love him and our neighbor before wealth and possessions. Do we acknowledge that our wealth and possessions are not only temporary for us, but they are the results of the talents He gave us? He gave us our talents, wealth, and possessions to help make life better for others. Years ago, a very successful friend passed away. Many years prior to his death he had written a letter to his eight children. He asked that it be read at the funeral. The letter had some of the numerous life lessons he had learned growing up as the son of Italian immigrants from Sicily. They had nothing when they came here. The first lesson was to make sure that they would always be pillars of support for their family and their big extended families and to always take care of their mother. They did that. Next, but not less important, he told them to always remember God and the Church, to always give (this is NOT a request for more money) to the Church and other worthwhile causes. He told them that he had received ten times back more than he ever gave away. He was not talking about getting back worldly things though that may have happened. He was talking about knowing that his actions had pleased God and also helped someone. That is what God wants us to do. We do not have to be old to start doing that. My friend was very generous, successful, and wealthy when he passed away. Yet, he always thought his greatest treasure was God and his family loving of him. That made him richer than any material thing ever could.
We each have our own unique graces, skills, and talents that were given to us at birth. We use those as the tools we need to do our work here on earth as we prepare for Him. Christ wants us to consider what matters to Him when we reap the harvest that we obtain from those tools. This does not mean we have to give away everything. Alms is an offering freely given to the poor or needy. We do it out of love. Christ teaches us to value charity towards others. We are asked by many to share our time, talent, and treasure. None of those is more important than the other. Each has its own place in our lives. It is a way for us to do for others as Christ did for us. In so doing we are preparing ourselves to be ready when we are called home by God.
Jesus goes on to say “Blessed are those servants who await their masters return…whom the master finds vigilant upon his arrival.” Those servants are the ones who stay awake and are ready whenever the master comes home. They will light the lamps, make sure the food is ready, and they will open the door. The master is so thrilled at their preparations, even though they did not know when he would be home, that HE waits on the servants. Christ is that master and we are His vigilant servants waiting at the door in anticipation of His return. We know He will come but we do not know when. If we are vigilant, if we are prepared, then Christ will be pleased because we will be welcomed into His kingdom.
I challenge all of you to prepare for Christ’s eventual call by remembering to love Him as He loves us. We spend a lot of energy preparing ourselves and others for our daily activities. Our priority is to prepare ourselves for the heavenly reward that awaits us. The Book of Tobit says “At all times bless the Lord God, and ask Him to make all your paths straight and to grant success to all your endeavors and plans.” Plans are preparations and a straight path to the Lord is a priority.
Two weeks ago, we heard Jesus tell us to ask and we will receive, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened. He has told us what to do. Be a pest. We can bother Him to the end of our time in order to secure being with Him in eternal life. That is really what he asks of us. Keeping Him first. What is more desirable than that?
Just as the servants were vigilant and prepared in anticipation of the master’s return, so must we also be in anticipation of Christ’s calling and coming to bring us home. Another friend of mine used to say an Act of Contrition every night before he went to sleep. This was a routine for him that began well before he was terminally ill. He approached his coming death without fear. It is another way he stayed vigilant and kept God first even as he slept. Every day at the top of our list of priorities should be to keep God first in our minds, hearts, soul and in our words and deeds.
God Bless you all