Never Too Late to Say “Yes”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes two kinds of people: those who initially say “no” but then follow through on what they were asked, and those who say “yes” immediately, but fail to follow through. Which of these descriptions fits you more accurately?  With which of these people would you rather work?  Or serve on a parish committee? 

The answer is obvious: it isn’t enough just to say “yes”; we have to really mean it, and then follow through on what we promised.  And if we can’t, we save ourselves and others a lot of grief if we can just admit that up front, and avoid raising false expectations. 

To give of ourselves well and wisely, we must recognize and accept our limits, as well as our gifts and talents. Quaker author Parker Palmer says it well:  

When I try to give something I do not possess, I give a false and dangerous gift, as if God had no way of channeling love and generosity to others except through me.  (…) If we are to live our lives fully and well, we must learn to embrace the opposites, to live in a creative tension between our limits and our potential.  We must honor our limits in a way that does not distort our nature, and we must trust and use our gifts in ways that fulfill the potential God gave us.” 

Some people try to say YES to everything.  They impress us at first by their generosity, but sooner or later, they disappoint, because it is not humanly possible to be all things for all people all the time.  Others take the opposite tack: they protect themselves by a systematic “NO” to any perceived intrusion from the outside world.  Such people may never “burn out”, but then, if they were never “on fire” in the first place, who’s going to notice?

As we strive to say “yes” to what God is asking of us in these challenging times, let us make St. Ignatius’ “Prayer for Generosity” our own:  

Dear Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to love and serve you as you deserve
To give and not to count the cost
To fight and not to heed the wounds
To toil, and not to seek for rest
To labour, and not to ask for any reward
Save that of knowing that I do your most holy will.

Thank you!

Fr. Raymond Lafontaine, E.V.