You are fired!

      Donald Trump spoke those dreaded words — You are fired! — each week on his show, THE APPRENTICE.  Apprentice-hopefuls competed against each other to get the boss’s support and approval.  The “contestants” used their energy and talent hoping to outshine the competition to win a spot on THE BOSS’S business team.  Each week someone lost out while witnessing others continue on.

        Sports teams will at times succeed despite mistakes.  Then there are times when there are just too many mistakes to overcome and the team loses to the team that took advantage of opportunities given to them.

       I am sure that all of us squandered an opportunity, missed a chance, or failed to act — only to see what we  “could have had” if we would have just acted differently. 

       This weekend’s Gospel [Mt. 21:33-43]offers a clear challenge and a reminder to all of us, especially to those in Church-leadership — if you do not do what is expected of you/us/me— then my chance/opportunity will be given to someone else. (“The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”)

       It makes me uncomfortable to think that maybe us “mainline churches” are seeing the results of failing to tend the vineyard as the landowner has wanted us to do.  Would these “other church communities” have been established if we were on the job?   Could it be that non-denominational churches are popping up with [gasp!] un-ordained “pastors” who are preaching circles around us and “feeding the hungry” while we are trying to maintain order?  Are others allowing the Holy Spirit free rein while we fear the Spirit we cannot control?

     God is looking for a crop of grapes …. and when God find’s wild grapes, he turns the vineyard over to land for grazing. [Is. 5:1-7]

        Some current leaders are too quick to blame our secular world, to blame the leadership of the 70’s and 80’s, to blame ____________, instead of looking at what people are being offered “in the name of God” while people are smart enough to ask, “whose God” are they representing?

        A lot of time can be wasted on analyzing, blaming, studying — and then we can wake up one day and realize, “someone else” has in REALITY taken the place once assigned to me.

        The word is quite clear — if you do not do as I want you to do, then I [God]  will choose someone else to do it for me.   Because — mission is about producing “its fruit”, i.e. the fruit of the KINGDOM.  — love, joy, peace, patience, etc.

         Translating the Missal is not a bad thing for the Roman Church to do.  Assuring respectful liturgical-worship is a good thing.  But, if the word we preach is without compassion that is FELT BY THE PEOPLE, if the way we hold our hands is not matched by a warm, sincere welcome to all who come to us — have we really fulfilled the work entrusted to us?

        In the workforce today, there are too many people looking for a job.  Those who fail to perform up-to-snuff will find someone else doing the job they were comfortable in.

       An athlete can get too cocky and think no one can take his/her place only to find themselves on the bench after a few lackluster performances.

        Parents can raise their children themselves — or they can see someone else or something else actually forming their children.

        God has said it — God has done it before — and God will do it again.  Either use what you have to do my work or I will give someone else a chance to do it.

         Remember the words of last week’s Gospel: prostitutes and tax collectors are entering the kingdom before you because — they did not just say the right words — they did the right thing.

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