The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

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21st Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Thu, 08/31/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

I believe it is a misinterpretation of today’s gospel passage
to conclude that to work hard is equal to being faithful to the will of God.
I’m speaking here about the work of discipleship, the work of serving God,
the work that contributes to the building up His Kingdom,
When it comes to working hard, volume seems to be the measure most people use.
They say “the more I get done the more faithful to God’s plan I am being.”
 
This thinking in turn is the source for many people of determining their self-worth.
“I am valuable because of what I do.”
According to proper Christian thought we are valuable because of who we are in God’s eyes.
Even so, some people seek self-worth through work because they are repulsed by who they are;
they can’t accept their own sinfulness, imperfections, weakness, flaws, their own wicked desires.
Work distracts them from the ugliness that exists inside of them.
 
This thinking that hard work equals faithfulness becomes a source of boasting and pride: 
“look at all the work I’ve done.  Look at what I’ve accomplished.”
It becomes a source of condemnation and contempt for others:
“you don’t work as hard as I do.  You haven’t accomplished as much as I have.
What’s wrong with you.  You’re not as faithful to God as I am.”
It becomes heresy when we become motivated by the belief
that “my” productivity is the basis upon which I will be judged by God.
It falls within the category of Pelagianism,
a belief that we can earn salvation by our own efforts.
 
When we get to the pearly gates God is not going to ask us “how much work did you get done for me?”
God’s going to ask us “show me the love in your heart.
Show me the humility in which you lived. 
Show me the communion you fostered among my people.
Show me the tolerance, the compassion, the acceptance you showed
to those who were different than you, those who disagreed with you, those who criticized you.
Show me your awareness of and sympathy towards those around you who suffered.
Show me how you responded with mercy toward those who weren’t as dedicated as you,
weren’t as skillful, weren’t as educated, weren’t as conscientious, weren’t as healthy,
weren’t as efficient or disciplined or driven or motivated or charitable.
Then he will say to us:  “let me show you how many people you dehumanized along the way.
Let me show you those you left wounded and bleeding in your wake.
Let me show you how all that work did little to glorify me but did much to glorify yourself.
Let me show you how many times I came to you through others
and you didn’t recognize me, you rejected me, you went out of your way to make my life difficult.”
Let me show you how hard-hearted and hypocritical you really were,
how careless, how mean, how selfish, how insensitive, how full of pride you actually were.
 
To be ready when the Lord comes isn’t about being at our post, hard at work.
It’s about disposition, attitude, character, love, virtue, self-sacrifice, integrity.
It’s about spiritual maturity, wholeness, self-awareness, self-care and self-responsibility.
It’s about knowing what makes for peace, what contributes to the salvation of others,
what promotes justice, what brings God’s love to those who have yet to experience it.
God didn’t create us to work.  God created us to live.  God created us to love.
Work is a part of life but it isn’t the fullness of life.
To do the work of discipleship without love is the saddest and the most tragic of self-deceptions.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, we are wonderfully made.  The mere fact that we are alive glorifies Your name.   Our work, however, doesn’t always reflect Your will, nor does it always promote Your love and Your truth.  Redirect the work of our hands that it may always be done in the Spirit of Jesus Your Son.  Amen!”