A few days ago I scribbled something about a song that kept going through my head whose first line is, “Christ has no body now but yours.”
Time now for an aside. I received one comment on that entry from a nice person who told me that St. Teresa of Avila had neither written or said those words, as I said I thought she had. I did the best I could to find out what the truth of the matter was, and the few sources I checked all mentioned that poem as part of the body of poetry that has come down to us as hers. So, I’ll continue to think she wrote the poem that begins, “Christ has no body…”
Now, back to the real reason for this bit of scribbling. When we left the Masked Man, boys and girls, he had just finished talking about the messes we’ve gotten ourselves in and what he thought might be a good way, the only way, to get out of them short of sawing off an arm and dropping to the ground from a great height. Since in his analysis we are the problem we’ve created for ourselves, we must be the solution…all of us. Now, how that is to be done is something that he believes is above his pay grade to figure about. Have no fear though, because yesterday the outline of a solution was presented to him which he would like to share with you.
It is in the form of a short homily delivered at the 8:30am Mass at a nearby church by a good priest who, as some wise person said “puts on a good Mass”. The Gospel that morning focused on the parable of the workers in the vineyard all of whom were payed the same wage regardless of how long they worked.
I will quote Father’s words at length:
“This morning’s Gospel is as jarring to our contemporary sensibilities as it was to the people of Jesus’ time… For a better appreciation of Jesus’ message, I reflected on what would happen if only one of those who worked all day truly understood why the estate owner did what he did – reward each worker with the same wage… Try to imagine one all day worker who was different from the rest. Unlike them, he would have done three things that the others did not.
First, he cared about the quality of his work..that working heard not only gave his employer the benefit of his labor, but also improved the kind of person he was.” (Father here speaks about keeping this in mind when we work for God who in no way NEEDS our labor, and points out that by doing His will and serving others we simply let grace work and prepare us for God’s Kingdom.)
“Second, when the estate owner gave him his wage this worker said, “Thank you for the opportunity to work for you today. I really appreciate it.” …realiz(ing) that the chance to earn a day’s wage was a gift from his employer.” Father goes on to say that this attitude is not typical of the attitude of workers today who often focus on what they (we) have done rather than on what they (we) have been given. He says: “It’s important that we redirect our thinking so that we nurture our gratitude for what God has given us.”
Father’s homily ended simply: ” Finally, this worker shook hands with some of the latecomers saying, It was good to work with you…” Instead of envying those who worked less for their wage, he shared in their good fortune. This is the most important lesson in Jesus’ parable. It’s not about how much is in this for me. It’s about charity, assigning priority to other people and their welfare.”
Now ruthless honesty requires me to tell you that I listened to Father’s homily with not just a grain but a whole block of salt, and especially did not like the taste of his last few words. But, as he sat down to give us time to think, I did. And my thoughts began to circle around the idea that we were all motivated by the same feelings of “assigning priority to other people and their welfare.”
Suddenly I had the outline of the solution, and thought, for perhaps the first time in my young life, how very smart Jesus was to have figured out all those years ago the answer to our particular problems today.
I just thought you’d like to know.
Don’t thank me. Thank God.