There is a quote that has always meant a great deal to me - it goes something like this, “Our lives are a gift from God, but what we do with them is our gift to God.” That quote came home to me in a powerful way some years ago when I visited our Nation’s capital with my mother and sister. Washington, DC is a city of powerful symbols and memorials that speak to us of the history, promise and destiny of this land. Two of those memorials touched me deeply - the memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Vietnam Memorial. Both these memorials powerfully convey in many respects the heart of God’s Word to us this day.
Shortly before my mother married my father, the Second World War broke out in Europe. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor my father enlisted and served in the South Pacific. During those turbulent times, it was President Roosevelt whom my mother remembers calmed the fears and anxieties of a nation with his fireside chats and hope filled speeches. No wonder then that on visiting his memorial a flood of memories touched my mother’s heart as she remembered what this one man, bound to his wheelchair was able to do for the spirit of this nation especially in the midst of war.
The Vietnam memorial remains one of the most visited sights in Washington. This silent memorial from a grateful nation remembers the heroism of thousands of men and women, many of whom died before the age of 25. History will be the final arbiter of all the factors - both positive and negative - that brought us into this conflict. Yet, for the men and women who died in this foreign land, it was the ageless value of patriotism and their willingness to lay down one’s life in defense of others, that is their glory.
My brothers and sisters, each one of us have been blessed by God in rich and varied ways. God’s creative word has fashioned each one of us with multiple gifts and talents. And with those gifts you are I are called to leave a legacy for others by the way we live our lives. In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of the importance of sinking the roots of our lives into soil that will yield a rich harvest. As followers of the Lord, we have the privilege of being enriched by God’s Word and the values that it challenges us to live. In our tradition of faith, it is the sacramental life that nourishes and supports us in our Christian walk with the Lord. These gifts are the soil out of which we are to yield a rich harvest and bear much fruit.
As members of the Church each one of us with our unique gifts and talents are called to shape a world with the values and convictions of Jesus Christ. The responsibility to be church and to build the Kingdom in our midst belongs to no one else but ourselves who have been made new in Christ. Our lives are indeed gifts from God, but what we do with them for the sake of the kingdom is our gift to God.