In the early years, the Marx Brothers travelled a lot. Groucho recalled, “Since we were a kid act, we traveled at half-fare, despite the fact that we were all around twenty. But our mother, Minnie, insisted to everyone that we were thirteen.” One day the train conductor came up to Minnie, looking somber. “Ma’am, that kid of yours is in the dining car smoking a cigar. The other is in the washroom shaving.” Minnie tried to look sad as she sighed, “They grow up so fast!”
We all get a kick out of a simple deception like that, don’t we? But in today’s gospel Jesus is troubled by a deeper deception he finds in the Pharisees—they were in self-deception, which is a real game-ender in the spiritual life. Today, children are taught to say, “I have a right to my opinion.” And people think their opinions are right. Talk shows glorify the opinions of people who may have no knowledge of a subject—just loud opinions. The problem is that, in a culture where opinion is baptized as truth, it is very easy to deceive ourselves simply by believing our opinions. One man convinced himself he was worshipping God properly by going diving every Sunday. He pulled away from his church community, and was receiving no nourishment to feed his soul—but he would stubbornly fight anyone who suggested to come back to church.
We can spiral into unhealthy or sinful ways when we think we can commune with God all on our own terms. Notice how people avoid talking to someone they think might try to correct them…even if that is exactly what they really need. Keep connected to your roots: your church tradition is a lifeline of faith and spiritual food!
As we celebrate Labor Day and give thanks for the work we do—whatever it is—let us remember in our prayer all those who are unemployed and searching for work. We pray “Lord, give success to the work of our hands.” I encourage you to attend either the 6:45 or 9:00 Mass on Labor Day….Enjoy this last weekend of what was a good (but quick) summer…and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!
Listen to my homily today:
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish