"For we are God's handiwork, His masterpiece,
His workmanship, created anew in Jesus
to do good works prepared for us in advance..."
Last year, Pope Francis said something
in one of his daily homilies that created a lot of controversy.
Pope Francis usually says mass in St. Martha's House,
where he lives, and he gives a homily like a regular priest,
without a text to read from.
From one of these homilies it was reported around the world
that he said that atheists
could get to heaven by their good works.
Reading from the transcript,
it is apparent that the Pope did not mean this.
He said that we all, even atheists, have the duty to do good.
And perhaps, because we were created by a good God
we have that inner urge, that drive, that need to do good.
He said, “The root of this possibility of doing good –
that we all have – is in creation."
And the Pope goes on to say that
even non-believers "must. Not can: must!
Because he has this commandment within him. . .
the Lord has created us in His image and likeness,
and has given us this commandment
in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”."
"And this commandment for everyone to do good,
I think, is a beautiful path towards peace.
If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others,
if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently,
little by little, we will make that culture of encounter:
we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good."
And here is the statement that caused such an outcry,
when the Pope imagines a dialogue:
"But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’
But do good: we will meet one another there.”
"There" does not mean heaven, but an agreement,
a path towards peace.
Indeed, Jesus made an example of the good samaritan
who was a neighbor to someone in need.
We all have a purpose, we all have good works to do.
We all need to make time,
to use our talents and treasure to bless others!
Jesus was asked whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar
and he asked to see the coin that pays the tax.
"Whose image is on it?" He asked, and they answered, "Caesar's."
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."
Whose image is on us?
Are we not stamped in the image and likeness of God?
If we belong to God, we should give Him what is His due-
honor, obedience, service.
Saint Thomas More was asked to sign a document
declaring that it was all right for King Henry VIII
to make himself the head of the Church of England
and to remarry even if his legal wife was still alive.
Thomas More refused and he was arrested and tried for treason.
On his way to his public execution,
his last words were "I die the King's good servant, but God's first."
Today's gospel shows that although we are citizens of this world,
we are first citizens of Heaven.
If ever there is a conflict, we must choose to do
as St. Thomas More did, and put God first!
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few..."
We used to sell a figurine in our shops with the words,
"Work for the Lord-the pay isn't much
but the retirement plan is out of this world."
A lady pointed it out to her daughter and said,
"I gave this to your dad and it changed his life."
Apparently the father had been a workaholic
and the family hardly saw him.
After he received the figurine,
he devoted more time to his family and to God.
Yes the harvest is abundant,
and many more "laborers" are needed.
We may say we don't have the gifts necessary,
but Jesus' apostles were the most unlikely bunch.
He chose them not for what they were
but for what He could make of them!
At the start, they usually
wanted to send the crowds away.
They thought children were a nuisance.
Jesus had to teach them for 3 years,
and even that was not enough.
He had to die so He could send a helper,
the Holy Spirit, so they could become brave, wise and
willing to give up their lives to be
"laborers in the vineyard", "fishers of men".
There is a book written in 1773 by a
then 22 year old Tom Boston with a funny name,
"The Art of Man Fishing".
He wrote that the net of the gospel
is woven from the PROMISES of the gospel.
I think if we want to be effective fishers of men,
we need to know the promises of the gospel,
we need to believe and claim the promises,
so that we can tell others with conviction
that all Jesus said is true!
I find a lot of inspiration
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