26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Ezekiel 18:25-28
Psalm: 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
Reading II: Philippians 2:1-11
Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32
I have a friend and if you were invited to his home, or a group of people were invited to his home, he would offer you something to drink. He had a neat way of doing it. He would take the glass and ask, “How may I fill this for you? Do you want a scotch, do you want a Pepsi, ice water? How may I fill this for you?”
Well, you and I are that glass and God is saying to us, “Empty yourself so the glass is empty and then tell me what would you like to receive from me?”
Just as it is with a drink, one person may say, “I like scotch.”
The other person says, “I don’t touch it.”
Someone else says, “I like Pepsi.”
The next person says, “I only drink diet Pepsi.”
And the last one says, “I don’t drink at all.”
All Jesus asks of us is, “How may I fill your glass? How my I fill the emptiness in your life? What’s going on in your life? What do you need?”
This morning someone came into church and told me that their daughter had just given birth to a stillborn baby. Well, they sure don’t want scotch. But when you are a young couple trying to have a child and you have a miscarriage and then you have a stillborn, it is simply — “I’ll fill your cup. Just let me give you an embrace.”
Someone else comes into church and has the greatest smile on his face because after three months he has finally landed the job of his life and he is so excited. You also want to give him a hug and say, “Wonderful. Congratulations.”
Our lives keep changing and Jesus says to us, “When I fill your glass, when I fill your life, I also want to ask something of you. I don’t want a mere, ‘Oh. That tasted good,’
Because that is only going to last for a short time. And I don’t want a mere, ‘Thanks a million.’
Jesus says, “In return — I want to watch you share everything that you have. I’m looking for a radical conversion. I don’t want some wimpy ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I want an enthusiastic, ‘Yes, Lord. Here I am and I am going to do it now. I am not going to tell you one thing and then not do it, as the Gospel talks about in the Scripture today.’ ”
Jesus says, “I just want to watch you live your life. I want you to grow, I want you to find happiness. But you won’t discover that growth and happiness unless you first empty yourself and let go of the things that are not necessary in your life. Then let me bring into your life everything that you need.”
The children who are going to be baptized this morning are asking God, through baptism, to give them the freshness of love. The children are asking God for parents who will always welcome them into a home of love and, that in that home, they will always know that someone loves them. That’s a radical conversion. It’s not just the parents saying the names of the children. The parents are promising the children they will be showing them love until they are up and going on their own.
When you and I receive the sacraments, it is not just something we do — it’s something that we are.
Jesus never gives up on us. Yesterday at the wedding someone was saying, “I really like your windows. You know, I haven’t been around here for a long time.” And I said, “The door is always open. Just come.”
There is emptiness in that person’s life. The wedding brought him here. He thought he was coming to a wedding, but maybe he’s having a change of heart and really does see how God truly loves him. And then he shared his memories of this church.
We just can’t blow things off in our life. God is consistent and when he says something, he means it. So when we tell God we are going to do things in our life, we should do it.
When I made a commitment to priesthood it wasn’t, “I’ll show up every Monday.” When you got married it wasn’t, “I’ll be here Monday through Friday, but don’t count on me being here on weekends.” It doesn’t work like that. You can’t have a child and say, “I don’t get up at night.” It’s like, Really! Is that the way it works?
Jesus says, “No. If you want your faith to be alive, then you have to live it.
When I come to you and ask, ‘What would you like?’ You answer, ‘God, you know what I need. Just fill that glass.’ ”
That’s the joy.
When we come up for Eucharist this morning, God is asking us, “Do you really want this? Or are you just coming up because we go row by row and everyone comes up. Or, do you really want this bread and wine? Do you really want my body and blood in your life? Because I am telling you, it’s going to change your life this week. I don’t know how, but it is going to change your life.”
So we come up as people of faith and we are saying, “OK, Lord. I think I’m getting it. I don’t know how many times I said ‘yes’ and didn’t show up. I don’t know how many times I showed up and didn’t do anything. But you keep giving me that second chance.
And you keep holding that glass out to me. And you keep asking, ‘How may I fill this for you?’ ”
So as you and I approach the banquet table, may we listen to the word of God because these three children are counting on all the rest of us to say, “Yes, Lord.”
And if we say “Yes Lord” enough they will pick up the same mantra, and they will know when their glass needs to be filled.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.