Thursday, April 7, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 6, 2011 (Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent Mother of Perpetual Mass Homily for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, 2011)

Transcript of homily recorded on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

There's a lot of words in this evening's Gospel and a lot to contemplate, but I want to keep it simple tonight and just focus on the first thing that Jesus said. He said, "My Father is at work until now so I am at work."

Now, that first sentence that Jesus said represents a concept of God. When you think of God we come up with concepts, what God is like. How many times have you and I ever come up with God as a worker, a God who rolls up his sleeves and goes to work each day, whose hands are calloused because his work is difficult and it requires a lot from him?

We are familiar with God who loves. We are familiar with God who is father. And we're familiar with God who is faithful. And we're familiar with God who is forgiving. But how often do we think of God who's at work, at work? Yet, that's what Jesus said. His father set the example; he's a worker, and now Jesus was working right along beside him. The father is at work until now, so I am at work.

For one thing, it should remind us, if we've forgotten, that work is honorable. The work we do is honorable, it's God-like. When you and I roll up our sleeves and go to work and perform some service for others, when our hands get calloused because we're sweeping or digging or building or tearing down, that work has dignity. Sometimes, people think of work as if it were a curse, a drudgery: "Oh, I have to go work; oh, I have to do my homework; oh, I have to go to school." But that's not the case.

Work is honorable because it reflects what God does — God as a worker. Whether we think about it enough or not, think about this: what would life be like if you and I had no work to do? We think about those right now who are unemployed, who would love to go to work, but no work is offered them. Or those who, because of some physical handicap or disability, are unable to work. Or those who don't have an education, have never been offered an education or, when it was offered, refused it and now don't know how to work. Work is not a curse; work is a privilege.

[In] our Gospel today Jesus said, God is a worker. Our reading also reminds us that work is essential. We need to know that it's not enough just to put in 40 hours, it's not just enough to go to school each day, it's just not enough to pick up a paycheck. We need to know that we're doing something worthwhile.

You young ones, you're building your future right now. You're getting skills that will stay with you your whole lifetime. Use this time wisely. Recognize how essential it is the work that you're doing.

Now, that feeling of our work being worthwhile is not so much on what we do as our attitude toward doing it, how we look at it. I don't know if you've ever heard this story, but I came across it again and it speaks of that. It's an old story and it's about three men slaving away, working with a hammer and a chisel on stone, carving stone. And someone came along and asked each of the three men what they were doing. The first answered, "I'm shaping a stone." The second one said, "I'm making 10 dollars an hour." And the third one said, "I am building a cathedral." Now, they were all doing the same work, but one was building a cathedral. One was doing something that was going to give honor and glory to God.

All useful work is, in some sense, the work of God. And whether we're sweeping floors or washing dishes or picking up our toys or cleaning our room or doing our schoolwork or homework, it all depends upon our point of view. When you start out tomorrow morning, say in your hearts the same thing Jesus said in today's Gospel, let each of us start tomorrow morning with the words, "My father is at work, and I am at work as well."

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