Hi everyone – here’s my homily for OCTOBER 9, 2011, the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings for today can be found at https://usccb.org/bible/readings/100911.cfm. Thanks as always for reading and your feedback and comments. God Bless – Fr Jim
How many of us know who Steve Jobs is? Think about that. A former CEO of a computer company has such incredible name recognition that whether you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes, or iMac – or not, I bet a vast majority of people know he founded Apple Computers. How rare is that though. If I look at all the products that I’ve used or owned, there’s few parallels: For example, I’ve driven a Jeep for over 12 years; I’ve watched TV on a Sony brand television; I’ve drank Coca Cola; I have had and replaced and purchased new variations of the DELL laptop. Everyone of those products, those companies have CEO’s. All of them have these individuals who work to create and manufacture new and better variations of their products… but I haven’t a clue who any of them are. But I knew who Steve Jobs was.
As we all know, this past week he died. As brilliant a man as he was. As creative and innovative an individual that he was – conceiving products that even if you didn’t buy his brand, has truly changed our world in how we receive and process information and media – The fact is that even he met the ultimate fate that everyone of us will meet. He’s no longer here on this earth. He’s gone. And right now he’s in one of two places – heaven or hell. (Of course purgatory is also a possibility, but those who are in purgatory are enroute to heaven…)
We don’t like to hear that, do we? It can be scary to think about. And many will chose to blind themselves to these realities. Instead they will do something that has become common with the death of someone a public figure like Steve Jobs was. They will “celebrate his life” saying how “he will live on” in the products, the innovations he brought about. But it doesn’t change the fact that Steve Jobs has died. He is no longer creating Apple products. We won’t see him unveiling an iPhone 5. He is gone. And right now, he is either heading towards an eternity in union with God, or not.
That thought isn’t meant for us to get into a discussion or debate trying to pose theories or attempt to determine where we think he ended up. That’s not our decision to make. What is our decision to make is which of those two options we chose. Do we desire Heaven. Do we chose Heaven. Do we live as people who want to go there? Or are we on a road that leads to damnation? Do we allow sins to creep in that we aren’t even remorseful of – we have grown comfortable with and allowed them to lead us into deeper sin? Do we shut our hearts down from hearing His word calling us to love one another – ignoring the poor, the sick, the needy? Do we allow hatred to grow into a bitterness that divides us from others?
For many of us, we end up treating this decision, for heaven or not, like it’s a Facebook invitation to an event… You know what those things are? You get a computer notification that is inviting you to something and you can RSVP Yes or No or Maybe. Any of you who’ve used this thing know that most times, most events, the largest category of responses is those who make no response at all – the NOT YET REPLIED group of people. They don’t make a clear decision. But guess what. Eventually that decision not to make a decision turns into a “NO” – because if it was something we were excited to do, interested in, wanted to be at – we’d say YES. We’d jot that down in our calendars. We’d make sure that we had the time, place correct.
Because the No’s are pretty clear – they’re not interested. The Maybe’s want to see if something better comes along… the Not Yet Replied don’t seem to want to make any decision on making a decision. And so they end up “Not replying”. Which is pretty much the lazy way of saying “NO.”
So again, what is it that we desire? To have ultimate union with God for all eternity? Or not…Because as uncomfortable as this is to hear (and even to say) that is the point of today’s Gospel. Even by “parable standards” which with there metaphors and meanings can be difficult to understand without an explanation, this one’s pretty clear. The King invites people to the wedding feast of his son. Even by modern standards, we can recognize this feast was a big deal – he’s killed the calves and fattened cattle – everything is ready. All the King desired is for the invited to come, to be with him.
One thing that Jesus makes incredibly obvious in this Gospel story is what a tremendous gift each of us has. That on top of all the things that the Lord has blessed us with – the gift of life; the talents and abilities we have – He even blesses us with the most ultimate of gifts ever – the gift of Freedom. That we have the ability to make choices and decisions. It’s a spectacular and terrifying prospect – that he allows us to choose whether we want to be with Him or not.
In the parable, one of the striking things is that not everyone in the parable was downright evil. Sure there were some who killed the people extending the invitation on behalf of the king. (Seems a bit of an overreaction to a wedding invitation…. so yes, they were evil). But the others, look at it – some had other things to do – they were busy. They had other things going on. Some just ignored the invitation. It wasn’t even a second thought. And in reacting like that, all of them – the murderers and those who thought they were just too busy for this were similar in one fatal mistake. They never acknowledged that it was the King who was responsible for their peace and prosperity.
We must be clear not to simply try to be “good people.” Jesus calls us His followers to greatness. He offers us His very life – His body and blood in the Eucharist; His word in the scripture; His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; His Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation – He pours out gift upon gift onto us to help us navigate the ups and downs of life; so that we can achieve that greatness, that holiness that is the wedding garment that if we choose to accept the invitation to the feast, we’re properly prepared to be seated. But we have to decide that we want that.
As I look at my iPhone today (and try to pre-order the new one to replace it) I realize how I’ve personally been influenced and changed by the contributions of this one man. And if we can multiply that the world over, it’s amazing to think that million’s of people’s lives have been effected by Steve Jobs. It’s good to acknowledge that and honor him with the appropriate tributes that are being made. But in this world where gadgets, machines and computers break, are replaced by the next big breakthrough, the next great gadget – even all of these things that Steve Jobs created speak to the truth that everything on this earth is fleeting; nothing in this world of ours lasts forever.
Our hope though in the face of that comes from knowing that Jesus Christ has had an effect on all eternity and has extending an invitation to you and I and all humanity to be apart of that eternal feast of heaven. For those of us who have “not yet replied”, or have been stuck on a “maybe” or even in some ways kind of said “no” -we’re blessed to still have an opportunity to change that. So, how are you RSVP’ing?