26th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: September 27, 2020
“They really walk the talk”
Have you heard this saying lately? It is used quite a bit in companies and workplaces to identify people who not only say the right thing, but also do the right thing!
There is nothing that stops us more from following a leader, than a leader who is a hypocrite!
When the boss says “safety first!”, but then rewards the team for taking short cuts on safety in order to get the job done – the message is truly clear – safety is really 2nd or 3rd on the list.
If someone says that we really need to help the poor, but then also says “I don’t give to charities because all the money is wasted”, are they really walking the talk?
Today’s readings focus us on being Christians who walk with integrity, honesty and love so that when the world sees us, it sees Christ acting.
It is a great challenge as sometimes we don’t feel like acting that way, or we want to but we make mistakes, or it’s just not easy.
Look at the gospel today, we have two sons, neither of which is perfect.
The 2nd son says “yes Dad, I will go help out” in the vineyard and then gets distracted or lazy and doesn’t go – he talked the talk, but couldn’t walk the walk.
The 1st son says “no Dad, don’t feel like it” but then has a second thought and decides to go – his talking is not great, but the walking is pretty good.
One thing that fascinates me is that we don’t get the example of a 3rd son – the one who is perfect and says he will go, and actually goes!!! Isn’t that what the ideal is? That is the way it would be perfect, but I think Jesus knows none of us is perfect and shows us the 2 sons as real ways in which life happens.
St. Paul however, brings the bar even higher for us in the verses just before the 2nd reading today which really sets the context and it says:
“Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel.”
What a great challenge Paul has for the Philippians and for us today:
- Live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ
- Stand firm, not alone, but in the strength of the Holy Spirit
- Strive to live this life – strive is a great word meaning to do our best
- Do it not alone but side by side with your community
We then hear the pleading of Paul to them and us – such a beautifully urgency in his voice:
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete;”. Make me like a proud parent he says!
How we may ask? “be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord”
In other words – we are to walk the talk of the Christian life and to behave in a way to make Paul’s joy complete!
Christians should shine forth by being of the same mind, have similar love, as lights in the community – we shine forth by how we live our lives and treat others; we shine forth by how our marriages are strong and witnesses to love and forgiveness; We shine forth by how we help the poor in our community with our time and generosity.
Paul pleads with the people – live the life of the Gospel – be true witnesses that people see…not only as individuals, but as a community.
I remember once being on a Habitat for Humanity team with our family in Chile, South America.
We had members of the team who were Catholic, Lutheran, Church of Christ, Coptic Christian, and Baptist. The people there did not know our denomination, but instead knew that Christian love was being brought to their community to help a family in need.
The beautiful hymn says “they will know we are Christians by our love”!
St. Patrick’s church downtown is well known in the city for it’s ministry to the poor and homeless on the streets. A question we can ask ourselves as our new parish comes together is what will St. Catherine of Siena parish be known for?
Well if we are to walk this walk, how are we to do it, with what attitude?
St. Paul continues saying that we have to have no self ambition or self focus from the work we do in our world, but be humble and and look to the interest of others first and regard others as better than ourselves.
It is a real challenge, and we could not do it without the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
We are called to follow the psalm today, psalm 25 – even though King David was one of the greatest kings of Israel, he wrote this psalm knowing he needed God’s help each day.
We hear a prayer for guidance and help:
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me, Be mindful of your mercy, and of your steadfast love,
Do not remember my transgressions; Lead me for I am humble”
It is a beautiful image for us as it show a lifestyle of those who trust in God is characterized by humility – an openness to God’s teaching and reliance not on ourselves but on God.
The psalmist asks for “Gods will to be done” – do we do the same?
In the first reading from Ezekiel, we hear that we are to turn to God and do what is right, and God’s infinite love will “give us a new heart and place a new spirit within us”.
With a heart and soul filled with God’s love, His strength and His will, we can talk the right words and we can walk in His path, knowing we do not walk alone, but side by side with Him.
So this week’s homework is simple: Each morning in our prayer we are to ask God to be our voice and actions:
Heavenly Father, be with me today so that when people will look at me, they will see you and say “they really walk the talk”!