EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES

Wednesday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time             

            We are all adept at excuses. We all know how easily we find reasons to delay doing the things that we ought to do. When there is something we do not want to do, although it is necessary, there seems to be in our brain that rolls out justifications for delay.

            Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” While Henry Ward Beecher said, “The real man (or woman) is one who always finds excuses for others, but never excuses himself (or herself).”

            Jesus, in today’s gospel reading, is speaking about people’s finding excuses to avoid the difficult task of conversion and the hard work of discipleship. The Lord uses the image of children in a town square. When called to dance, they refused because the music was too slow. When the music was enlivened like wedding music, they refused because it was too fast.

            We can all find excuses to avoid commitment to the Lord and the Gospel. According to Joseph Krempa, there are Catholics who are ‘floaters’ – they travel from parish to parish and always finding some reason why they will not get personally involved and will not actively participate in a particular parish. The reason might be the poor homilies of the parish priest, the bad leadership of some lay ministers, the sense of entitlement of some parish leaders, the endless fundraisings, the lack of friendliness by the congregation, the style of liturgy, or the music ministry – too much music, not enough music. The excuses can be many.

            The parish in whose territory we live may not be the ideal parish of our imagination; but it is one that can enlarge us. If the parish needs to emphasize certain directions in ministry, we might be able to suggest a widening or deepening of the parish’s life.

            But the parish can also widen and deepen our Christian identity. As Krempa puts it, “We can easily fall into a rut and seek out only those parishes that reinforce the spirituality we have already.” “We should not be afraid of a challenge, however, because it can be God’s call to us to journey more deeply with him.” Every parish is a place where God’s Spirit is at work, if we have the humility, courage and faith to recognize it.

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