Saturday, August 6, 2016

Aug. 7, 2016: 19th Sunday Ordinary Time C

Aug. 7, 2016: 19th Sunday Ordinary Time C 

Those of you who work in hospitals know what to do when you hear, “Code Blue, Code Blue,” over the intercom. ‘Code Blue’ is an emergency situation announced in a hospital or an institution in which a patient is in cardiopulmonary arrest, requiring a team of staff to rush to the patient and begin immediate resuscitative efforts. A nurse shared a ‘Code Blue’ experience that she has never forgotten. When she arrived in the room, the 62-yr. old economic professor at a local university was unconscious as the team of medical professionals were working to revive him. The nurse consoled his wife as she looked on pensively. She told the nurse that her husband was only a short time away from retirement, and they were looking forward to planning life after his retirement.

Have you pondered about whether you are prepared for such a moment? Am I ready? How do I prepare for such a moment? Jesus addressed his disciples about this very difficult yet eventual event that will happen to all of us--death and judgment. Jesus first assures his disciples that the Heavenly Father is going to gift his Kingdom to them. To receive or to prepare to live in God’s Kingdom requires the disciples to divest of earthly riches and accumulate treasure in heaven instead. Care and concern for the poor, Jesus says, is the way to build up heavenly treasure. A faithful and wise disciple, Jesus says, is the one who expects his master to return at any hour and therefore carries out his duties as a good steward of his master’s provisions to other servants.

Jesus explains that there are negative consequences for disciples who are not faithful servants. The ones who pretend as though they are the master and misappropriate his master’s provisions for self-indulgence or mistreatment of other servants will be punished severely. The servants who knew what their master desired of them but did not carry them out will be severely punished. The servants who did not know the will of their master and acted imprudently will be beaten lightly. Jesus closes his parable with this admonition, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

We are being personally addressed by this parable of the steward who is entrusted with much. We are the servants in that parable and we have been entrusted to care for all that God created - the earth, the land the sea, the birds, the animals and all human beings.  With the many gifts we have been given come great responsibilities. As Americans we enjoy comforts, leisure, and material abundance that the vast majority in the world do not enjoy. We can never say we did not know what was expected of us.  As we see in our state and in our community economic divide, disparity between the have and have-nots, disparity in education opportunity among the children, hunger in families even in this materially rich environment, something stings us inside that this shouldn't be. We sense a yearning that we need to do something to put things in right order. Are we hearing a call from Our Lord to be the agent of change?

Back to the story of the 62 yr. old economic professor, death was not in the plans for him and his wife. Fortunately for both, he was revived and did not suffer adverse after effects from his massive heart attack. During his recovery in the hospital the professor shared with the nurse a near-death-experience that he underwent as the medical team assembled around him after ‘Code Blue’ was announced. He said he saw himself come out of his body and observed what the team was doing to his body. He saw himself next in an indescribable beauty of heaven standing before Jesus. Jesus showed him a magnificent mansion made of crystal. The professor was stunned to find out that it was his own mansion. “But as I stood in front of it and looked into this immense structure, it was revealed to me that my life was the architect and the source of its construction and design. Everything that I had done during my life that was good, kind, and directed toward the good of another human being, it was all there. Every bowl of soup, every piece of bread, every blanket or an encouraging word, every tender gesture done for the love of God built and engineered it all. He rewarded to the Nth degree every single thing I had done here on earth that pleased Him. I didn’t deserve any of it, to be brutally honest, but His generosity magnified my feeble efforts on earth to such a degree that I was awestruck standing before such incredible magnificence. Prayers of praise, thanksgiving, and petition were there, and all of them in combination formed the mortar that held it all together, adorning it with such beauty that there is no way that I could begin to describe it. Oh, if only I had the words to tell you what it all looked like.”

To prepare for our death and judgment is to be a faithful steward of God’s love by being agents of change to others, especially our families and our community. The great mystery of our faith is that Our Lord made a great act of love and sacrifice by giving his life up for us. By this self-gift, he restored us to the riches of relationship and eternal life with our Heavenly Father.  In return, Jesus calls us daily to make an act of love and sacrifice for others. What is our response? We must begin with prayer in order to know how to respond. In our prayer, let us ask Our Lord to help change our hearts, to open our eyes and ears and to show us how to respond to his great sacrifice of love. Then we must decide what is the one great act of love and sacrifice that we are going to make today?
-Fr. Paul Yi