My grandfather was a plumber.
There were 11 mouths to feed in the house:
6 children, two parents, two grandparents, and a maiden aunt.
In the midst of the Depression
he tried to make ends meet through self-employment.
There was plenty of work
and he was happy to have the work.
But no one could pay him
and to my grandmother’s bewilderment
he didn’t press the issue.
He was just too kind and gentle.
Circumstances required my grandfather to work for someone else.
And as many of you know,
when you work for someone else
you have to live by their rules, even when you don’t like it.
If you want to be paid, support your family,
put food on the table and shoes on your children’s feet,
you swallow your pride, surrender control,
and hope that your employer looks out for your best interest
and pray you can endure when this is not the case.
Are there any plumbers among us this morning?
Thank God for plumbers.
The issue of employment is at the forefront of today’s gospel….
who works for whom?
It is Jesus who brings up the issue….tells this somewhat strange parable.
And we know Jesus doesn’t tell stories for entertainment.
There’s a lesson….more than a lesson…
there’s a revelation. Something is made known to us about this God we cannot see.
Something is made known to us about ourselves in relation to this God.
God is the employer; we are the employees.
There’s no room for questions or rebuttals or opinions on the matter:
As Catholics, as followers of Jesus, we work for God.
And for the sake of our salvation, we need to adjust our attitudes accordingly.
There is often confusion in the hearts of God’s people.
Floating around out there is a false notion, a misguided idea.
It has to do with self-employment….in a spiritual sense anyway.
It entails not just the opinion but the sometimes compassionate conviction
that the highest human achievement is to work for ourselves.
We make the rules. We determine our work schedule.
We determine who our customers are going to be.
We determine what jobs to take.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
This confusion, this inaccurate conclusion gets stretched even farther:
some followers of Christ
actually believe God works for them….
that they are the employer and God is the employee.
….that somehow God is at their “beck and call”.
“God, I need you to take care of this.
God, I want you to do that.
I’ll fire you if you don’t comply.”
There is no such thing as a spiritually self-employed Christian.
If you are spiritually self-employed….you’re not Christian.
And there is no way God is in your employment.
With some force, Jesus grabs us by the shoulders and shakes us,
If you continue to sleep walk through life
darkness will be your eternal companion.
God is the master. You are the servant.
God is the employer. You are the employee.
Those who follow me are employees of God.
God makes the rules.
God determines the work schedule.
God assigns the work. God determines the job.
God provides the income.
The highest human achievement is to work for God.
If you are faithful in doing your work as you work for God
you will be paid well.”
Some might protest: “what about mercy?”
“Well, mercy is shown to those who try and fail,
those who at least struggle with the work…..
not to those who never try….who never work.
God is generous….but God isn’t foolish.”
So what is the work of God?
God is for life.
God provides life, nurtures life, promotes life, sustains life.
As a side note, I think there is a misunderstanding about God and life.
I don’t believe God takes our life out of this world.
Death takes our life out of this world
and God takes our life away from death….and claims it as his own.
The work of God is life.
The work of God is also the eradication of evil.
This entails more than just avoiding what is bad or wrong or destructive.
The work of God isn’t to “avoid” evil….to avoid darkness.
It is to do away with evil. To do away with darkness altogether.
To work for God, to be employed by God,
is to do God’s work…
is to continue the work of Jesus Christ…..
to be for life….nurture life, promote life, sustain life, affirm life….
and to eradicate evil, to exorcise it from our being, our souls….
and ultimately from our world.
Today’s parable also gives insight as to the when and where….
when am I to do God’s work? ….where am I to do God’s work?
Right here….right now.
The two faithful servants invested their talents immediately….
right then, right there.
Be for life, right here, right now.
Eradicate evil right here, right now.
Don’t bury the moment.
The moment cannot be preserved.
It is either invested or lost…..it cannot be saved.
And the reality is…..the moment is always changing…
this moment becomes that moment.
We are prisoners of time.
We can’t escape. Life forces us into the next moment.
What are we to do? How are we to work for God?
Be for life….in this moment.
Eradicate evil….in this moment.
If anything, Jesus makes it clear:
there’s plenty of work to do…..for everyone.
As hard as it is at times, we are employees.
We live by God’s rules….even when we don’t like it.
We swallow our pride. Surrender control….
believing our employer, God,
looks out for our best interest.
But we have to do the work.
We have to invest what God has given us back into life
back into the battle against evil.
Sometimes when we get up in the morning we say
“what am I going to do today?”
A question more in line with our Christian life would be
“O Lord, what do you want me to do today?”
Jesus was not self-employed.
He did the work of his Father in heaven.
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit
let us do the same.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
My grandfather was a plumber.