Sunday, March 20, 2016

"WHY THIS WASTE?"


Homily for March 21st, 2016: John 12:1-11.

          “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” Judas asks. Three hundred days’ wages represents the annual income of an ordinary working man in Jesus’ day, in today’s terms perhaps thirty-thousand dollars – valuable perfumed oil indeed!
          The complaint of Judas continues to be made today. It takes genuine faith to appreciate the expenditure of money for things that cannot be justified in utilitarian, worldly terms: the building of a beautiful church, for instance, the beautification of an existing church, the purchase or upgrading of a pipe organ, rather than settling for a cheaper electronic instrument. There are always people who will ask, when such things are proposed or undertaken: “Why this waste?” The answer to that question is simply: “God deserves the best.”   

          People complain about waste when a young person decides to forego marriage and parenthood in order to be a priest or a religious sister. The media reported recently about a highly accomplished young woman in Washington DC in her late 20s who has decided to abandon a successful career to enter a rapidly growing congregation of Dominican Sisters. There are people who’ll tell you that she’s throwing her life away. They ask, with Judas: why this waste? Without faith that question cannot be answered. With faith no answer is necessary.

          We have several communities of so-called contemplative Sisters in our diocese, women who stay always in the convent and have no work outside: Carmelites, Passionists, Poor Clares, the so-called Pink Sisters, and others as well. They have given their lives to the Lord God. They pray for us. Without them the Church would be poorer.

          Nothing we do for the Lord God is wasted. And nothing we do for the Lord is sufficient to express our gratitude for the blessings he showers upon us, always more than we deserve, on any strict accounting. Do you sometimes have doubts about whether the sacrifices you make for God and for others are worth making? Then pray the closing verse of today’s Responsorial Psalm: “I believe I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.”