The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

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

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Sun, 10/01/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

I was going to tell a story about my cat, Miss Whiskers
….but then I changed my mind.
The story was cute…but it just didn’t fit with today’s gospel.
 
I was going to tell a story about funerals…
but then I changed my mind.
Funerals tend to be sad affairs
….and there is enough sadness in the world.
 
I was going to give you a break….
not say anything this afternoon/morning
but then I changed my mind.
God is not silent….so why should I be.
Besides, when left to our own thoughts,
we tend to drift aimlessly about
or become fixated on some issue….
mentally chew on something we should have spit out a long time ago.
 
I was going to play hooky, head for the lake, go fishing,
let you all fend for yourselves
but then I changed my mind.
 
I was going to randomly select someone from the congregation,
have that person come to the pulpit, say a few words
maybe answer the question:
“How is God active in your life?” or
“What did you think of today’s /this morning’s Gospel?”
But then I changed my mind.
….thank God.
 
I changed my mind today/this morning.
It seems I’ve changed it a lot.
Isn’t it wonderful!  Changing my mind I mean.
Isn’t it wonderful that I can change my mind.
Have you ever changed your mind?
 
Jesus asks the Pharisees and Scribes:
how come you didn’t change your minds?
You saw tax collectors and prostitutes fall to their knees,
hardened sinners reduced to contrition and repentance,
turn their lives around.
They changed…..and you didn’t.  Why?
 
 
 
Why is it….that the presence of God
changes some people….but it doesn’t change others?
How can the words of Jesus
stir one person’s heart to conversion
and another person’s heart to hatred?
 
One of the great mysteries of life.
It can’t and won’t be resolved in the next few minutes
but I have a hunch:
it has something to do with the person.
Different people, different responses to the same words.
 
The same words from the father in this morning’s parable.
The first son responds one way….the second son another.
 
One important factor in the equation, I believe, is reflection.
The one son engages in reflection.
Thinks about what is most important…what the father wants…
realizes his initial response is inadequate
and changes his response…changes his mind.
This son has a conscience.
And he exercises his free will in response to his conscience.
He changes his mind, which in turn changes his behavior.
 
You and I, we have a conscience, we have free will,
and we can change our mind:  it’s part of being human.
We can change what we want, what we desire, what we pursue.
We can’t change our needs:  we need oxygen to breath….this will never change.
We need food to survive:  this will never change.
We want a meaningful life:  this can change by our choice.
We want loving relationships:  this can change by our choice.
We want God to be fair: this can’t change.
God can’t be fair….at least not according to human standards.
God’s life is not centered in fairness:  God’s life is centered in love.
And love isn’t fair….at least God’s love isn’t fair.
 
As human beings we think in terms of volume and duration:
more time adds up to more love.
As human beings we believe time adds value to love.
We expect God to operate in the same way.
We think God should operate the same way.
But Jesus reveals to us that God’s doesn’t.
For God, love isn’t bounded by time, isn’t limited by time.
and hence the value of love is not affected by time.
 
As such, someone who chooses to love God for a human lifetime,  say the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and someone who chooses to love God for a second, say the thief on the cross,
all wind up in the same place:  God’s eternal presence.
 
As an aside, this is God’s will… to be loved by us, by his creatures.
What does God want me to do?  What does God want you to do?  God wants us to love him.
Everything else is secondary.
 
We need to change our minds….and more often….
not about what clothes we wear, or where we eat for dinner.
We need to change our minds about love.
It isn’t what we think it is.
We make many choices, and will do so in the future,
based on how we understand love.
But our understanding needs to change:
our understanding is imperfect, it’s incomplete, it’s distorted by the reality of sin.
 
Life is not so much “what we do” as it is “what we choose to do”.
Life is not so much “who I am” as it is “who I choose to be”.
 
Our choices are always preceded by our thoughts.
Good choices come out of a good conscience.
Bad choices out of a bad conscience.
If I want to change “what I do” and “who I am”
I need to change my mind.  I need to change how I think.
I’m not stuck with the conscience I currently have.
Here’s the truth of the matter:
if my thinking doesn’t change, if my conscience doesn’t change
it’s because I don’t want it to
and for no other reason.
 
I would not be insulted if you came up to me and said…
“Monsignor.  You keep changing your mind.”
I would say:  “thank you for noticing.  It’s a habit I try to cultivate.”
I wouldn’t be insulted if you came up to me and said…
“Monsignor.  I think you need to change your mind.”
Now, if you can convince me that the change is for the better….
I will change my mind.
 
It is my hope, it is my prayer
that our participation in this Eucharist…
our reflection on the Incarnation:  the coming of Jesus Christ into the world…
will change our thinking.
 
It is my hope that every person present in this church will say at least one time in the coming week: 
 
“I was going to live as the world lives….but now I’ve changed my mind.”
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, You know the human heart and You know the fickleness of the human mind.  Bless us, Your people, with a steadfast desire to love You above all things.  Through Your Son Jesus Christ direct our minds and deepen our conscience that we may choose what is eternal over and above what will pass away.  Amen!”