January 16, 2022: Homily- Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the spring of  2002, I formally joined the American society when I got admission to study at Fordham University. The Americans informal dinning habits was one of the cultural shocks I went through and later got used to and became part of it.  Especially when it comes to eating out.  A large percentage of our restaurants seem to be either fast-food or the kind in which the customer orders at a counter, gets a number, and has the meal brought to him at the table.  And these types of restaurants always have a number of trash receptacles in plain sight.  Of course, this is to signal to the customers that the restaurant is expecting them to and hoping they will toss out their garbage when they are done.At least, that’s the idea.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that quite a few of us completely disregard this expectation.  And so, some of us, when we’re finished eating, will simply stand up and walk out, regardless of the level of mess we have made.  Bags and cups and trays and spills and food under the table are all abandoned pretty easily and without much thought by some customers.  In a very real sense, it’s as if they are saying, “Someone else will do it.”

Maybe some of us have done and thought that very thing at one time or another.  I imagine that I have been guilty of it too.  Hopefully, not often!  Some of us see a garbage can rolling around in the street in our neighborhood, especially in places like the Bronx, and we drive around it.  “Someone else will pick it up.” (I gave Bronx as an example because that’s my gateway to America).

Or we hear someone make a pitch for volunteers for some event or activity and we think, “I’ll let someone else handle that.”  Or we see someone struggling to change a flat tire on a busy road and we just drive on past.  “If they REALLY needed help they would have called someone on their cell-phone.  And if they don’t have one, eventually some Good Samaritan will stop by and help.”

Or we’re in the grocery store and we see a product high on the shelf that looks like it is probably going to fall.  “Some worker will see it eventually.”  Or we walk past homeless person after homeless person, day after day, without giving a dollar.  “Let the shelters take care of them.  They have options.  I can’t be bothered.”

 Somebody else will do it . . . . . Somebody else will do it . . . . . Somebody else will do it.  Sadly, often the mantra of our lives, a kind of prayer of inconsiderateness.

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts . . . different forms of service . . . different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”

This passage from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians is very familiar to us.  We’ve heard it many, many times before.  It’s a very beautiful and uplifting reading, illustrating for us the idea that the gifts God gives us are spread over the entirety of humanity.  Everyone has something to offer, yet no one really has every gift.  Rather, collectively, God’s works are made complete and bear fruit through humanity as a whole.  God doesn’t gift a few.  He gifts us all.  And that’s a pretty comforting thought.

And yet, maybe that’s really not enough.  Maybe we need to consider God’s gifts in a very narrow way, not in the broadest sense.  You see, if we simply say that some people have patience, and some have a generous heart, and some are intellectually gifted, and some are good listeners, and so forth – that still doesn’t necessarily demand anything of us, doesn’t demand anything from me or from you as individuals, does it?  After all, I can’t be the ONLY ONE with certain gifts.

Or can I?   And if so, what does that mean?

In one sense, it seems kind of ridiculous to think that every single individual has some unique gift that no one else has.  Is that even possible?  I don’t know.  But think about it for a second.  Each human person is absolutely one-of-a-kind.  Even identical twins, who have the exact same DNA, aren’t the same in every way.  We have different personalities.  We have different life experiences.  We have different families and co-workers and friends.  We live in different places and have different interests and different jobs and different likes and dislikes.  SO MANY variables.  And then we mix-in the specific gifts God gives us and, well, it seems we can only come to one conclusion.  And it is this:

There are some things, done certain ways, in certain circumstances, that can ONLY be done by us and through us – through you and through me.

Think about how profound that is.  The implication of such a belief is that there are certain things God wants and expects and hopes for the world that might never become a reality, might never be made manifest, unless one particular individual does one particular thing in one particular circumstance.

What a gift!  What a blessing!  And what a responsibility!

Someone else will do it?   Someone else will take care of it?

Almost certainly not – at least not in the exact same way you or I can, given our God-given uniqueness, and our God-given gifts – gifts given which fit us perfectly.

My dear people of God, may we never try to pass the buck when it comes to loving.  God is waiting for us to act.  The world is waiting.  And maybe, just maybe, this is one of those times when no one else will do.  Let’s believe it, let’s embrace it, and let’s act on it.

Father Boat

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