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... Amen I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.
“Lead me; guide me, along the way…” That’s how the song goes. And every time I look out at the congregation singing it, I marvel at how easily these words flow from their lips. But the reality is quite different. Do I realize what I am saying? If I did, I might begin to pull back and complain, saying, “Wait a minute…wait a minute…Where are you taking me, Lord? I don’t want to go there!!!”
By now we should all know where the Lord would love to lead us and take us. He wants us to go with Him to Calvary! Now, are you ready to sing that song?
This week has been a very tough week for me. On Saturday morning I buried an eight year old child who lost his life to cancer. I first met him one year ago at the hospital. The doctors had decided to remove his leg. The child told me all about it, but then he asked me, “Father, how will they put it back on?” I was devastated. On Wednesday, I lost a great friend from St. Joseph. He was a husband and a father of four. I was devastated. Elementary school children are not supposed to bury their father! Parents are not supposed to bury their children!
The first reading for today shocked me. It spoke perfectly to me and to what I am currently living. Ezekiel told the Lord, “Your ways are not fair!” (Ez. 18:25) The Lord knows it. We know it too. Life is not fair. If life were fair there would be plenty of it all around us – surrounding us. All the planets in our solar system would have life. They don’t! If life were fair we would find it throughout the Universe. Guess what? It’s nowhere to be found. Life is not fair; life is a privilege! It is a tremendous outlier. It is a remarkable gift! God’s ways are fair. Life would be meaningless if death did not occur. We would never appreciate this gift, this privilege, this enormous blessing if we never had to say goodbye. We would never appreciate anyone in our life if we never feared losing them.
How long will it take us to figure this out? To come to this conclusion! Life must be lived passionately! To all the parents out there, I have only one thing to say to you: “Love your children passionately, before you have to bury them.” To all the children out there, I have something to say to you: “Love your parents passionately before you bury them!” To all those who are married, “Love you spouse passionately!”
Some time ago I celebrated a wedding and I was shocked at what I saw! At the end of the ceremony, after I had introduced the two as husband and wife, I was shocked at how the young man kissed his wife. He kissed her like I would have kissed my grandmother. He gave her a quick kiss on the lips. I couldn’t believe it! I was shocked! I accidently blurted out, “What is your problem?” He told me, “Father, what did you want me to do? Wrap my arms around her and embrace her? [Like Jackie Gleason did to Audrey Meadows on “The Honeymooners”] I looked at him and said, “YES!” It’s kind of sad when a priest has to tell a young man how to kiss his bride! Ah! This World! We have forgotten how to be romantic, passionate and loving!
Live your life! Show your love! Go over the top! Go out of your way! Allow yourself to overflow with love! Do not sin! “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.” (Phil 2:1-5)
Do not strive to be popular but rather holy. Not all people who are popular are holy. But all people who are holy are popular!
The Apostles asked many questions, but they neglected an important one. The Lord asked it for them. He also answered it for them. The night he was betrayed, he asked his apostles, “How will people know that you belong to me?” He gave his answer immediately. He said, “By the way you love!”
Life is not fair; it is remarkable! We don't graze; we love! That's what makes death so devastating! Let us not waste our life anymore. Let us live our lives passionately - in the service to God and to others. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to no longer waste our lives by saying yes and doing nothing! Let us ask the Lord to lead us, guide us, along the path that takes us to greater heights and greater love than we could ever imagine! Let us live by dying to ourselves and rising with He who stripped himself of everything (all power, all glory, and all majesty) except LOVE. This is how the world will know who we belong to.
Whatever your hang up is get rid of it! Love conquers all! The Native Americans in South America never accepted the Spanish Conquerors, but they did accept the Franciscans.