A couple of weeks I did one of the stupidest things I could have done (at least in recent memory…) I’m still embarrassed about it and thankful to God for His protection and providence. I ran out of gas in my car. It might sound like a silly example to be beating oneself up almost a month after it happened, but when I add a few details like – it was on Route 46 West in the midst of 5:00 Friday evening rush-hour traffic, you probably get why it was potential incredibly dangerous – and honestly, again, one of the stupidest things I have done (and again, at least in recent memory).
Thanks so much for stopping by to read my homily for the 19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – August 7, 2022, for sharing it on your social media posts and your feedback and comments… I’m also grateful for all those who’ve asked for the audio version and share them as well at SOUNDCLOUD click HERE or from ITUNES as a podcast HERE. May the Lord be glorified in your reading and sharing Sincerely in Christ – Father Jim
I saw the light indicator that I was “Low” in fuel – for a couple of days in fact. I had been staying pretty local, just done some running around, and knew that while all the gas stations nearby had held steady at $4.95 a gallon, there was one on Rte 23 that was 30 cents a gallon cheaper, and the Vitamin store I needed to get to was right over there as well, so I assumed I had enough to make it. So I set out that Friday to do some errands and was in fact en route to the cheap gas station, passing about 4 different ones when “all of a sudden” as I was in one of the middle lanes – all the lights on my dashboard started overreacting, I started losing speed. That I made it to the side of the road safely, that I was able to call a friend who called another mutual friend who happened to still be in the area and was able to bring a gallon or two to me on the side of the highway – was miraculous to me. I said to my friends John and Tim that I was so incredibly embarrassed – that for approximately $4.50 savings I could have caused an accident and inconvenienced so many. Mainly since I know better. Growing up it was almost a joke that when the family car’s gas indicator was on the halfway mark, my Father was insistent on stopping for gas A.S.A.P. I remember my Mother rolling her eyes a few times when we would have to “stop for gas” and the rest of us moaning for the 5 minutes added to wherever trip we were on. As I sat on the side of Route 46 waiting for my friend to arrive, I could practically hear my Father from his place in eternity saying “now do you understand what I’ve taught you?” I should – and do know better – and at 48 years of age, after driving for over 30 years, I shouldn’t need a reminder like that. Perhaps it’s human nature though – as much as those younger need to be taught and need that humility to learn from those older, as we get older, we need not let the arrogance of our life experience blind us from the humility of simple truths.
That came to mind with today’s scriptures. Because much of what is contained in today’s reading most likely doesn’t strike as some new teaching or earth-shattering revelation. In this Gospel, Jesus is in fact continuing his themes from last Sunday – on the importance of not obsessing over the things of this earth, the possessions we have, feeding the unhealthy desires to continue to pursue wealth in passing temporal things instead of focusing our energies on the things of God, pursuing our heavenly inheritance, desiring eternal riches found in Him. And Jesus adds that we don’t know the day or the hour when “the Son of Man will come.” Whether that means the end of time, or “our ends.” Again – not something new or earth-shattering for us.
Yet, how many of us can speed through life, ignoring these gentle indicator lights asking us to consider “how much gas is in the tank?” so to speak? This is why Jesus uses this parable and calls us to be“faithful and prudent” stewards – who are always vigilant, always persevering, and always ready for His return. The Christian life is meant to be one that’s lived with constancy and consistency. That’s why “prayer, fasting, and almsgiving” aren’t meant to simply be relegated to “things I need to think about during Lent.” During Lent, we put a greater focus and unite ourselves in those practices in a particular way. But they are supposed to help us evaluate how intentional we do those things in the “ordinary times” of life too. How we are vigilant in our pursuing the Lord and rejecting the things of this world. By being here for Mass, and by making regular use of the Sacraments, particularly doing an examination of conscience and getting to confession, being faithful in our commitment to prayer…. by incorporating acts of self-denial through some sort of fasting and looking for ways to give to help others, we incorporate meaningful acts that reflect that vigilance of hearts and minds that are striving to follow Jesus and live with a biblical-life view, rather than one shaped by this passing world. By doing so, we can be sure then that our tanks are never empty or rather, are servants who are always ready for the Master’s return.