21st Sun [C] 2007

Fr. Charles Irvin


Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30

In my journey through life I’ve had more trouble with myself than with any other person I’ve ever met. My biggest problem is with my missed opportunities, my lost chances. When I look back over the landscape of where I’ve been and what I’ve done I see it littered with lost opportunities. So many times I’ve been “a day late and a dollar short.” And in all of the years I’ve spent in school studying, the most difficult subject to study and master has been my self.

Today’s gospel reading contains one of the least remembered of the parables of Jesus. And those that do remember it are likely not sure of what it means.

Is it a lesson in good manners, telling us to be on time? That would be a good thing for many folks to take to heart. Habitual tardiness is very inconsiderate, even arrogant. It is a means of control. I can control you by making you wait for me. Moreover, failure to show up on time sends a message saying, “My time is more important than your time.” What I have to do is more important that what you are doing.”

But Jesus’ parable isn’t about good manners. It’s about the world we live in, a world of closing doors. Where is yesterday and what did you not do in it? The door is closed forever. It’s gone. If you ignored your spouse or neglected to hug you children you’ll never, ever, be able to go back and do what you failed to do. The time God gave you slipped away and will never return.

With each click on the clock measuring the passing of time there is also the click of the lock on the door that’s forever closed. Whenever you watch the sun set, a moment comes when there is a silent “click” and that day’s door now closed to you forever. The sun will never rise again on the day that has passed.

God litters the landscape of our lives with opportunities to love Him We need to remember to love Him as we find Him in the hearts and souls of others He sends into our days. He pours out opportunities to join with Him in making our world a better place, to bring His redeeming love to the world around us. Sympathy, compassion, forgiveness, caring, quality time, and attention for others… God gives them all to us in an inexhaustible supply. We can never give away too much of them. And, thankfully, God is forever replenishing them in the wells of our souls.

We have opportunities to read, to study, and to develop our minds. We have opportunities to invest not only in the stock market but to make lasting investments in the hearts and souls of others. We have opportunities to speak to others about our faith, about God, and about how important it is for us to pay attention to God.

And then there’s prayer. We are all called to it, but few of us make the cut.

God’s will is that we all be saved. He wants each one of us to spend eternity with Him. But how can we spend eternity with Him in heaven if we never spent any time with Him here on earth? The threshold of Heaven, after all, is entered into here on earth, not in some sort of dream world we shall find when we’re no longer capable of finding anything at all.

God has showered you and me with limitless gifts. The outcomes of our lives are not His responsibility, they are ours. Everyone is called to be the best at knowing and loving; only a few actually reach that goal. Everyone is called to share life with God; few make the choice. And we must remember that the choice IS ours! God offers – we respond, and nothing happens unless and until we respond.

All around us doors are slamming shut… and we hardly notice; our eyes and our hearts being so filled as they are with the glitter and clutter of this world. But we also live in a world of open doors. Every sunset is followed by a sunrise. The sun will rise tomorrow morning and God will gift you with another day of opportunities. But while we are hopeful for tomorrow we must remember that one day the sun will rise on our last day here on earth. When that day arrives we will never have another day of opportunities to love and learn in our lives. A final day is coming to you and to me just as sure as I’m standing here in front of you. The people on that collapsed bridge in Minneapolis learned that lesson.

Jesus’ teaching that many are called but few are chosen sounds harsh. After all, wasn’t Jesus always optimistic, kind and forgiving? Well… yes He was. But He was also a realist. And it’s reality we need to see, not just wishful thinking about all of the things we’re going to do but never seem to get around to doing.

The road to hell is truly paved with good intentions. The door to heaven is wide but the path to it is narrow. Many are called, but few make the necessary choices.

And it remains true even now when I’m conscious of the fact that I’ve had the most trouble in life with myself… far more trouble than I’ve ever had with anyone else.

God offers… we respond. We have the ability to respond. The responsibility is ours, not God’s.

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”