Here is my homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 5, 2008 – http://www.usccb.org/nab/100508.shtml . Thanks for reading and your comments!
God Bless, Fr Jim


You ever have one of those moments where you see something – but you can’t believe you saw what you just saw and you do a double/triple take???

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the City [for those of you reading this outside of the NY Metro area reading it, that would be New York City] I was sitting in a lobby and saw a newspaper on the table. It looked like any of the other newspapers that were on the table – there were pictures of John McCain, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi on it. And what made me do my triple take was I caught part of a headline. All I saw was “CONGRESS LOWERS DRINKING AGE”.

OK – so considering where I work, whom I work with – in that moment I thought “have I completely been out of the loop???” Did I miss something? I know that there’s recently been in the news the idea of TALKING about the drinking age, but they lowered it already? Something tells me that at least one or two Montclair State students would have talked about it/told me about this.

So as I did my triple take, I looked again and now I saw the masthead – the newspaper is “THE ONION” – which is a spoof/satire of the news. And the full headline reads “Congress lowers drinking age to 17 Just for Jenny’s Party” – the second headline says “‘Okay, just this once’ says Congress.” Here’s the article:

Overturning a law that has been in place for 24 years, Congress approved a temporary repeal of the Minimum Drinking Age Act Wednesday upon learning that Benjamin Harrison High School student Jenny Larsen is celebrating her 17th birthday with an unsupervised party at which attendees are expecting to consume alcohol.

H.R. 874, more commonly known as the Jenny’s Turning 17!!! Bill, will go into effect Friday, as soon as Jenny’s parents leave for their weekend trip to Vermont. “Our system of laws is not inflexible, and at times it is necessary to make adjustments to our federal statutes to more adequately serve the interests of the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said. “It is therefore the Senate’s opinion that Jenny only turns 17 once, and that she deserves to have a party that is both totally awesome and permitted under United States statutory law.”

“Furthermore, Brad is going to be there, and it is our understanding that Jenny really, really likes Brad,” Sen. Reid added.

Reid went on to defend a number of the bill’s addenda, including a provision authorizing Paul Woodard, 17, to pick up the keg, and $25.74 in federal funding to purchase a bottle of Jenny’s favorite alcoholic beverage, vanilla Absolut.

Although the bill was passed by a wide margin in both the House and Senate, it has received criticism from some members of Congress, who call the law “favoritist” and “totally unfair.”

Most legislators, however, voiced their full support of the bill. “These children are quite popular, and they should be treated as such in the eyes of the law,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said. “Plus, they’re going to drink anyway, so we might as well make it legal.”
“Come on!” Boxer added. “It’s Jenny’s B-day!”
[Full article can be found at http://www.theonion.com/content/news/congress_lowers_drinking_age_to_17 ]

One of the things I laughed the most at was they had those photo captions on the side and one of them had a picture of a young girl with the quote “THIS LAW S*(#& [stinks] – WHY DIDNT THEY PASS A LAW FOR MY 17th BIRTHDAY” – with the person identified as Alexis Larsen, Jenny’s Older Sister.

A funny spoof. Just comedy? Well, as all good humor stories do – there’s an element of truth to them.

Tonight’s Gospel parable is a difficult one. When we listen to it, it’s easy to disconnect from it. Oh yeah, we think – this parable is Jesus talking about what the Chief Priests, the Jewish leaders were going to do to him – he’s the son in the parable and Jesus is saying that they are going to reject him and kill him. And that’s true. But the Gospel isn’t meant to be a history book. These readings aren’t intended for us to sit back and think about them as recollections of what happened 2000 years ago.

Jesus parables are meant to challenge us – make us uncomfortable, just as he made his initial listeners a bit uncomfortable (so much so, they would follow through on the parable and kill him)
And what he’s trying to make us see in tonight’s parable is that sometimes we can take all that we’ve been given – for granted. We kind of think we should be treated like Jenny – that the world should revolve around us – change for us. We have so many blessings and can still feel something’s owed to us.

Just walk around campus and you will hear people say (or maybe you say things yourself) like “I hate this place” “This place stinks” “Why do I have to do this” “My parents are so demanding” “I don’t care” “I’m skipping class” “I’m going to get wasted” “Just blow that off”

Maybe it’s not as comical as Congress lowering the drinking age for my birthday – but it’s the same principle – Whenever we do or say those things -we’ve in a sense become the tenants in the vineyard. We’ve squandered the blessings, the gifts that God has showered down on us and said “it’s mine – and I can do with it as I please”. The world revolves around me and what I want.

The question that started Jesus telling this parable (and the one we heard in last sunday’s Gospel) was when the chief priests basically said to him – What gives you the right to teach like you do? Who do you think you are?

In a sense it’s the same question we’re faced with. We’ve made Jesus a type of RA who has the unfortunate task of keeping us in line – a type of enforcer, where we view him as the cop taking us in for stepping out of line.

That’s what we’ve made him. Jesus isn’t trying to make you and I feel bad. He’s not trying to makes us get down on ourselves and think we’re just ungrateful people. But he’s not going to just rewrite laws just this once for our benefit. God’s commandments that we will love Him with all our hearts, souls and strength and each other as ourselves is the heart of the Gospel.

Each of us has been given the gift of life –

Each of us have been given a piece of the vineyard to live that commandment – whether it be in our classrooms, our dorm rooms, our homes, our families. We have to appreciate the vineyard we’ve been given – nurture it, see that it brings forth good fruit.

And we do that by taking all that is within us – all the great things around us – all that is good and to see that the Father HAS blessed us – the Lord DOES love us and he has given us all of these gifts with the hope that we will use them for His glory.

When the Son comes, will we welcome him or be threatened by him?