My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Grace and peace to you in God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ in the Power of the Holy Spirit on this beautiful, if a little chilly, Sabbath eve/morn. I was recently visiting with a friend who, at one point in his life, worked cleaning houses. By all accounts, he was fantastic at it. He didn’t charge very much so that busy, middle-income families could afford his services. I even talked to one of his clients who told me that he worked incredibly hard and got things extremely clean. He’d vacuum, mop, and shine all the floors, dust and do even that most dreaded of all cleaning responsibilities, windows. He always told me about the little old ladies who would say to him as he left that they had never seen their houses as clean as they were when he did them. Yet, if you were to walk into his house, you’d never even think it possible that he could clean anything. There is junk of the floor everywhere, the windows are covered with dirt, and his sink is filled with dirty dishes. I always tell him that it reminds me of walking into a college dorm room. He just laughs and says that when he and his wife get home, they don’t have time or energy to do housework. They’d rather spend time with each other or with their kids. My friend realized that he could clean people’s houses and then walk away and not care what they did with them for a week. But, he couldn’t have the same attitude toward his own house. Every time he and his wife would clean the house, his three sons would have the first part dirty by the time they finished the last. So, rather than play catch-up all day long, they just gave up and let their house go to pot.
I believe it’s not long after we begin to feel constantly fatigued that we also begin to feel an overarching sense of frustration. We only have to ram our heads against a wall three or four times before we realize that it’s not helping but, when he can’t find something that does help, don’t we often look towards the wall and wonder if we just weren’t doing it right?
Last week we read the gospel of the Apostles being sent forth to do ministry for the sake of the kingdom of God. Today, as the Apostles return, we hear some of the processing that took place with them to help them make sense of what happened. It appears from what Jesus is saying, that some found the time rather trying. Some of the apostles were using the powers that Jesus gave them last week to make themselves feel important and powerful. Jesus is trying to emphasize to them that they need to have the same humility that they expect from a servant who serves his master after a long day of work. The attitude Jesus is trying to foster is one of humbly and constantly working to do God’s will while helping others to do the same.
I believe that this is a direct challenge to us as Catholics in today’s world. Even though there are still the more obvious attacks on human life, we live in a time in which there are more subtle, less direct attacks on human life than ever before. There are more abortions taking place in this country than ever before, with the most per capita in the world taking place in our own back yard, in Iowa City. Stem cell research, invitro fertilization, and other medical procedures are used by the very people that we rely on to preserve and prolong life to end it prematurely. It's possible to spend all your time just on that issue and debunking the myths and lies the pro abortion forces put out. But, if we do, we miss out on the poor and hungry. There are tens of thousands of people who die each day because of hunger. Even when we as a country promise to help those who are suffering from hunger, the way we did for the people of Haiti, all it takes is one senator to hold up the funding. There are so many issues that demand our attention. The problem is that it takes so much time and energy to combat that culture of death that it seems overwhelming. Learning the facts to counteract the lies told us by pro-abortion pundits could alone be a full time job and abortion is just one of the issues in the larger fight to protect human life. It’s much easier to hope that church leaders and other moral people will do it or, worse yet, to bury our heads in the sand in frustration and let the culture of death continue to darken our world. We can’t lose hope. We need to do whatever we can to combat the culture of death and show respect for the gospel of life in our country and in our world.
I believe it’s not long after we feel a sense of fatigue that a sense of frustration sets in. We are a people of hope, a religion of hope. We are people who gather because we believe that one who died has come back to life. We must live that hope in our lives. We must speak out for those whose voices are not heard; the unborn, the poor, and the oppressed. We must be their voices despite the fact that so often we are ignored, misunderstood, and maligned. And, when we have done all that we have been commanded, we can look in God’s loving, joyful face and say in all honesty and humility, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were supposed to do.”