Sunday, September 28, 2014


   Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time   A  

It’s been kind of fun to be with Fr. Justin
as he experiences a North Country autumn for the first time.
From the way he describes it,
his part of India doesn’t really have the four seasons:
they have almost nonstop monsoon rains in June, July, and August,
but then during the rest of the year
the weather remains pretty much the same.

Needless to say, Fr. Justin has noticed
how much changes here in the fall.
He’s noticed the temperature changing.
(No one is more grateful for these warm and sunny days!)
He’s noticed the changing flavors;
it seems that apples are rare and expensive in India,
and pumpkin is a brand new taste to him.
And then there have been the changing leaves.
Fr. Howard Venette took him
on a hike up St. Regis Mountain Friday afternoon,
and he couldn’t stop talking about the view from the top:
the surrounding Adirondack peaks, the many lakes,
and—of course—the bright, colorful leaves.

Driving around a few days ago,
Fr. Justin asked me a very logical question:
“Why do the leaves change color?”
While it’s something we locals just take for granted,
it wasn’t all that obvious to him.
So I told him, “Actually, it’s because they’re dying.”
I had to clarify:
it’s not the whole tree that’s dying, but just the leaves.
The leaves must change and fall each year
so the tree can survive through the cold and dark of winter.


Jesus challenges us with the story of two sons,
both of whom changed their minds:
one of them really needed to,
while the other ought not have.

It’s been said that the only person in the entire world
who actually welcomes change…is a wet baby.
Nonetheless, change comes.
It’s an unavoidable part of life.
We experience change in our personal lives,
in our families, in our work,
in our country and community, in our culture and society,
even in our Church.
In general, we don’t take change very well,
nor make some changes very easily.

Certainly, and with good reason,
there are many things upon which we depend
to be steady and stable.
But it’s a rather dangerous illusion to think
that everything can and should stay just the same.
How often we get things backwards—
desperately trying to hang on to the wrong things,
but all-too-willing to let the right ones go!
We’re like a tree prepared to lose its trunk and limbs
because it hates to shed its green leaves
as winter approaches.
No question about it:
the dying part of change is always hard.
But changing, letting go—yes, even dying—
opens the way to something beautiful and glorious
which we’d otherwise completely miss.

God, who is unchanging and unchangeable,
freely chose to humble himself,
taking on our human nature and dying on a cross.
We are to make this attitude of Christ our own.

What needs changing in my life?
Are there sins from which I need to turn?
Do I hang on to old ways simply because they’re comfortable,
not because they’ve fruitful or virtuous?
Have I been looking out only for my own interests?
And what ought I not to have changed in my life?
Are there people whom I’ve failed?
Are there principles I’ve compromised or abandoned?
Do my words say one thing but my deeds another?

Take a lesson from the autumn leaves.
Be unafraid to change whatever needs changing.
Instead of fighting change, embrace it—
and your life just might take on a new and more brilliant color.

No comments: