4th Sunday Ordinary Time
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: January 29, 2023
“So, do you want the job?”
In 1907, there was a job advertisement sent out in London, England by Ernest Shackleton looking for a crew for an expedition to Antarctica and the South Pole.
It was probably the most honest and open job posting in history and went like this:
WANTED: MEN FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY.
SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL.
HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS.
Despite this very truthful and scary posting, more than 5,000 men (and three women) found this job ad irresistible and applied.
If you are like me, most job postings that I have seen never really tell the whole truth do they?
A job that says approximately 20% travel, usually ends up over 50%.
A position that states hours are flexible, many times means that it is okay to work more than 50-60 hours per week, and be available by cell phone.
Most postings only put down the bare minimum of what is expected, and the rest will be told to you later when you have already started!
So, you may ask, Deacon Tom, what do job postings have to do with the readings today and especially the gospel?
When I was reviewing the readings for today, I was thinking about Jesus sitting on the grass for the Sermon on the Mount. He was going to teach the people about what the Christian faith and life was truly about.
He wasn’t going to “sugar coat” it with the minimum standard but instead he was going to tell them the full truth of what was expected!
Up until this point, their basic faith life was following the Ten Commandments, going to sabbath services and maybe a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The Ten commandments were all about what not to do! Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t covet, etc.
But Jesus wanted to give them instead what he wanted them to do. What were the characteristics and behaviours he expected from the children of God.
How were they going to be recognized as the salt of the earth and the light of the world?
How would people know they were Christians and what would that mean in their lives.
So as a way to illustrate this, I thought I would make up a job posting like Shackleton did for the Catholic Christian of 2023, based on the Beatitudes and today’s readings.
I would like you to put yourself in the position of someone applying for this career and listen and make up your mind.
Here we go:
Good morning and thanks for coming in.
The position of Catholic Christian has the following expectations:
- You are expected to be reliant on God instead of being able to control everything in your own life.
- You will mourn and have tough times in your life; things will not always be fair or right, and you will have challenges that you will have to go through for yourself, family and friends.
- You are expected to be humble and though you will have great gifts from God, you are not to show off, brag or expect people to tell you how great these gifts are.
- You will have to forgive many people, sometimes 70 X 7 times, even though you may not feel like it.
- You are not to talk about or gossip about others but instead find ways to support and praise them.
- You are to try and actively push for righteousness in the world and to help improve poverty, inequality, and it won’t be easy as society will always be communicating the opposite with survival of the fittest and to strive for the best cars, houses, clothes, etc.
- You will be asked to spend less time and money on your own interests, but instead to help and share with your neighbours, especially those who are widows, lonely or the poorest.
- You will need to be merciful by putting yourself in others shoes and empathising with them, supporting them and sitting with them, instead of judging how they got in their situation.
- You will be asked to be holy in the sense that you have pure motives and are selfless, with pure intentions. This will be difficult as people have been taught to “do what it takes to get ahead”.
- You need to also push for peace; entire peace in body, soul, spirit by creating peaceful relationships in all aspects of your lives; even with those who don’t like you.
- You will stick out and will be persecuted, made fun of, insulted, or ridiculed, maybe to your face, but more often behind your back as you will be different from most people in how they approach the world.
- And you will be expected to live this life in the vineyard of the Lord for 70 or more years.
Well, that is a very tough job indeed you may say. Before I decide, what is the compensation and benefits?
A great question! The benefits are many including:
- You will have the presence of God in your life that will give you the strength you need on the journey.
- You will have the knowledge that God will bring people and coincidences into your life that will show you His presence in both small and large ways.
- When you are sad, sorrowing, weak, God will bring comfort and peace in your prayers, and by bringing others into your life with the support you need.
- God will have other members of your faith community and even of other faiths, help you to work together to achieve the goals and you never have to do it alone!
- You will plant seeds to make things better, and God will have them nurtured, tilled, fertilized, and grown, though you will not know how, you will see the fruits.
- People will recognize you as salt of the earth, and lights in a dark world and seek your advice, prayers, and kindness not always, but most certainly when they are in tough times.
- You will have a Mother to pray to who will also comfort you and bring your needs even the ones you don’t know how to express, to the Father on your behalf.
- You will have saints and examples of people who have gone through this journey before as lights on the bridge as St. Catherine of Siena has told us.
- You will have the promise of eternal life as we are told “for God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, that whoever believes in him will have eternal life”; and in my house there are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.
This is the honest and complete truth for this position:
“So, do you want the job?”