A special thank you this week to our friends at St. Lambert, Skokie, in the congregation.
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
On August 24th, 2016 there was a devastating earthquake in Italy about 105 miles north of the city of Rome. They could feel the shaking of the buildings in the city of Rome as this earthquake devastated a beautiful mountainous town called Amatrice. Over 240 people were killed and this beautiful, old, mountain city was nearly destroyed, turned into rubble.
Six weeks later on October 4th, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, St., our Pope Francis went to visit the devastation. The first thing he said to the people when he went to visit and he saw the ruin and the rubble was, “I didn’t want to come any sooner. I prayed for you, but I didn’t want to be a detraction, that the attention would be on me, rather on the important work of rebuilding and caring for the sick and for those who were terribly injured.”
That had to be done first. Pope Francis, a man of great humility, of great wisdom, of great holiness I would say, and a man of great integrity. Integrity is one of the most important virtues that any of us have. To have integrity means everything lines up in our person. What we say and what we do all line up.
In the gospel today, Jesus tells a story about a lack of integrity on both sides. He goes to one son, he says, “Go to the vineyard.” The son is honest. He said, “I’m not going to go,” but then he goes. The second son says, “I will go,” but doesn’t go. Interesting. Lack of integrity in both. What we say and what we do have to line up together, but the first son did the right thing. He went anyways and he did the will of his father.
Integrity is terribly important. St. Francis of Assisi would often say, “Preach the gospel. Use words if you must.” Preach the gospel. Preach the gospel by what you say and by what you do, more importantly by what you do. Which of the sons did the will of the father? The first son. Initially he said no, but he went off and he worked in the vineyard. All of us as faithful followers of the Lord Jesus are to be people of integrity. That lines up in all of us. What we say and what we do is about the gospel of Jesus Christ.