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COVID-19 Updates

from fathers desk

My Dear Parish Family,

“But Dad, it's not my turn!” “I don’t care whose turn it is, I am asking you to do it.” Ever have an interaction like that in your house? “Not my turn” - drove my dad up a wall, and down the other side. Definitely NOT the correct answer. What’s the correct answer, “Yes, Dad.” We all knew the correct answer, but we often did not give it.

One of the worst things my Mom ever did was begin to pay us for doing chores. Great error, this. A quarter for this, fifty cents for that, a dollar for the really hard stuff - like mowing the grass. Not large sums, but attached payment to participation in the duties of family life. When Mom failed to pay us, or failed to keep up with the whole process (the accounting was intense!) all chores grounded to a halt. We did nothing! Whereas before, we helped when asked, now if not compensated we became ingrates. This phenomenon is not reserved to our family. It is well-known in token economy research. If the reward schedule is not maintained, it falls apart. While perhaps fitting for chronic psychotic inpatients in mental hospitals, in real life too many variables exist for a token economy to be maintained long term. It would have been more prudent for Mom to have promised us $5 a month if and when we completed the list of tasks she set aside for us. Think of this as the difference between salaried employees and piece workers.

In our Gospel for this  weekend, we meet two brothers with mixed motives. When we apply the lesson to family life, a simple but important lesson surfaces. We gotta walk the walk and not just talk the talk, a modern cliche. In other words, doing the right thing is more important than saying we will. Elsewhere, Jesus admonishes against elaborate oaths. Simply “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one,” (Mt 5:37). Do what you say you are going to do. Be a person of your word. We have so many ways of depicting the same fact: at times our ideals do not match the reality of our behavior.

A simple phrase (to say) but a hard phrase (to live by) is this: do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, and how you are supposed to do it. We might call this the duty of the moment, but it begins by fixing a bed time and a rising time, by the order of routine placed into our lives. Something that may be a bit off with COVID. But timing is not everything, there is the love and humility that fills us as we accomplish the duty of the moment, that “how.” Not just the completion of tasks quickly but with the necessary attention and love, or we might say: with excellence, with virtue!

Paul really offers a neat recipe for the proper attitude: “Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves…” Ah - how refreshing, how transformational! How challenging! But how evident of the transformative power of God’s grace in the life of the community. No nit-picking, back-biting, whining, score-keeping and the like. A harmonious community and likewise a well-ordered family places others ahead of themselves. Hence Paul can encourage: “If there is any encouragement in Christ… complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.” Harmony with its origins in humility.

“Please empty the dishwasher” “Sure, Dad - happy to help.” God bless!

Fr. Wilson