Thursday, March 16, 2017


March 17th, 2017: Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46.

          Opposition to Jesus has risen to a point where the religious leaders of his people are about to reject him. Jesus gives them a final, solemn warning: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit." The parable’swarning continues today: for our country, for us American Catholics, for each of us personally.

          First, the warning for our country. Few nations have been so blessed by God as ours. From small beginnings we have become the world’s only superpower. Jesus’ parable warns us that all our wealth and power will be taken from us, and given to others, if we are not willing to share with those less fortunate than ourselves the abundance God has given us. 

          The parable is also a warning to us American Catholics. The position of influence we enjoy in the Church, because of our numbers and financial resources, will be taken away from us and given to Catholics in Third World countries, if our Catholicism is complacent, conventional, and lukewarm — while theirs is dynamic, daring, enthusiastic. 

          For each of us personally Jesus’ parable is a warning that merely conventional, formal religion is not enough. And our religion is conventional if all it means, at bottom, is fulfilling a list of “minimum obligations”: dropping in at  Sunday Mass to get our card punched, avoidance of serious sin, but not much beyond that: little generosity, little love or consideration for others, because we’re too busy looking after Number One. How much would a marriage be worth in which the spouses were merely concerned to fulfill their “minimum obligations” to one another? Think about it!

          In the great family of God which we call the Catholic Church God lavishes on us treasures beyond counting: all his truth, all his goodness, power, and love (which the theologians call “grace”). He looks for our answering love in return. The treasures God bestows on us are meant to be used, not put away for safe-keeping. They are to be shared, not hoarded. If we fail to pass on to others what God so generously gives to us, we shall lose God’s gifts. We can’t keep them, unless we give them away! That is what Jesus’ warning words mean: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

          Someone has said: It doesn’t take much of a person to be a Catholic Christian. But it does take all of him — or her — that there is!