Twenty-Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time
October 5-6, 2019
When I was young, my mother would buy groceries from ACME Supermarket. With each purchase she would receive S & K Green Stamps. Upon arriving home, she would attach the stamps to her Green Stamp Booklet. After collecting what seemed like 100 booklets, my parents would travel to the S & K Green Stamp Store and trade in her booklets for a desired household item, such as a toaster, blender or even a portable radio. I would later have the same experience with an arcade, skee ball, tickets and cheap prizes.
Sometimes we view our salvation like someone collecting green stamps or arcade tickets. We go to mass, say our prayers, donate to the needy and perform good deeds. With each action we gain points, until we accumulate enough to earn heaven. The only problem or flaw with that theory is that salvation is not earned, but it is given.
The apostles in today’s Gospel may have had the same faulty thinking shared by many of us. Jesus makes it clear to them and us that all the good we do earns us nothing. Rather, it is merely following what God has commanded of us. When we have done so, we shall say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” So why do it?
It is only by the unconditional love and ultimate sacrifice through our Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved. Our ‘free will’ still leaves us the option of accepting or rejecting salvation.
If we accept salvation, then our life is spent giving thanks. It is our gratitude that brings us to church, that leads us to prayer, and causes us to live a good life. When our life is over and we are before the Lord, we will not need ‘green stamps’ or ‘skee ball’ tickets, but only the grateful heart of a good and faithful servant.
Patrick J. Perkins