Making Hay

Homily for November 19, 2017
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Psalm 128:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30

The ancient Greek storyteller Aesop told this fable about a grasshopper and some ants:

One day in late autumn a family of ants were busily placing in the sunshine the grains that they had patiently gleaned and stored over the summer.  A starving grasshopper with a fiddle under his arm stopped near them and begged them for something to eat.

The ants were skeptical.  “What were you doing all summer?” they asked, while steadily keeping on task, “Didn’t you know that winter was coming?”

The grasshopper explained, “I was busy making music.  I didn’t have time to store up any food.   Before I knew it, the summer was over.”

The ants paused for just a moment.  “So, you spent the whole summer making music, did you?” they asked with a mixture of disbelief and scorn.   Then they quietly went back to work.

The moral of Aesop’s story:  There’s a time for work and a time for play.    As we rapidly approach the end of another liturgical year and draw closer to winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the Church especially asks us to focus on the quality and quantity of our work and more specifically our work as disciples of Jesus and how we’re preparing for eternity.  The biblical readings for today’s Mass present us with three lessons on that preparation:

  • Fear God.  The author our passage describes an ideal wife, or more concretely, an ideal queen:  attentive, hard-working, compassionate to the poor and needy.  But above all, she’s a “woman who fears the LORD,” that is one who has profound reverence for God and wants to honor God in how she lives.
  • Stay focused.  St. Paul urges an anxious and sometimes distracted community of believers to “stay alert and sober.”  The Day of the Lord—the time when the world as we know it will pass away and God’s power and justice will be fully revealed—may not come when we want, expect or predict it.  But it will come.  Will we be ready?
  • Be a good steward.  In Jesus’ parable, the master doesn’t expect miracles.  But he does expect us to use well what we’ve been entrusted with in this life—that’s everything from our vocations to our time to our material resources.  What will be our spiritual ROI—return on investment? 

As the old saying goes, “We have to make hay while the sun shines.”  God’s grace and mercy are that sunshine, ever bright for us because of his Son, but we still need to make the hay. +