It’s been a long day. She sits in her dimly lit living room. It’s after 11 p.m.; her day started before six. At the office, it was once crisis after another; then the school called: her eight-year-old she is raising alone came down with a fever, so she had go and bring him home and arrange for her mother to come over so she could get back to the office. After getting him to bed, she took on the monthly challenge of making her salary cover all the bills (managed to make it again for another month!). She’s tired but can’t sleep just yet. She needs a few minutes just to be thankful for the beautiful boy snoring up a storm in the next room who makes her life as a mom more than worth it all.
He drives a truck for DPD delivery service — and these are busy days. He takes a couple of extra shifts when he can because his family could use the money — the oldest is starting to look at colleges. But one night a week he manages to get home in time to gulp down some supper and head to the community centre where he coaches a team of nine and ten-year-olds in the city’s youth football league. He first started coaching his son’s team played — and kept at it long after his son moved on. Yeah, there are other things he could be doing that, frankly, would make life a lot easier, but he knows that for some of these kids, this team is the best thing in their lives. So one night a week he continues to run, push and coach these kids for the good of his own soul.
He helps her with her coat and makes sure she has a good, steady grip on her cane. He then puts her arm in his and they walk the same path they walk every afternoon in the park across the street from their apartment. He cheers a great goal scored by a player in an impromptu football game. He talks about last night’s call from their son and the latest doings of the grandchildren. But none of it registers with her. She is lost in a fog of dementia. All she recognizes is him, her husband of 63 years. And that’s more than enough. He’s thankful that they can walk arm-in-arm together for another day.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus upholds the sacred dignity of all men and women in the eyes of God: the struggling, the poor, the powerless, the ignored, the forgotten, the vulnerable, those pushed to the margins and peripheries of society. We are called to uphold that dignity, as well, not just in words of songs sung comfortably in a church but on the street corners of our own town and neighbourhoods. Jesus demands that we who would be his disciples give voice to our faith not just in the prayers and the rituals that we utter but in the positions and candidates we support, the deals we make and the relationships we form with one another. The challenge of our faith is to translate our many good intentions into the actual work of discipleship, to transform our emotional feeling for the unseen, distant poor and marginalized into real compassion and charity to the poor and marginalized in our midst. Every life is open to the “way of righteousness”: Christ invites us to realize the kingdom of God in our lives by our commitment to selfless generosity and faithful gratitude; God calls us to look beyond the designations and stereotypes like “tax collector” and “prostitute” and recognize, instead, the holiness that resides within the soul of every person — including ourselves. And who can bring them hope?
Pray to the Father to send labourers into the harvest. And don’t just pray that those others may be touched. Don’t be afraid to get your own hands dirty. You too are asked by God to be a living and effective witness to God’s Love. In the Gospel of today that man, that father, has some work to be done. He does not address his family, his community or a crowd. He asks his sons personally, one by one, whether they are willing to work. Aren’t you invited like that by him? What is your response?