The Bottom Line
By Father Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose,
Vicar General for Special Projects, Diocese of San Jose
One Sunday, a visiting businessman went to the local Church and after the mass congratulated the priest on his homily while adding some constructive criticism.
“Father that was wonderful sermon but if you were a salesman working for me, I would take you aside and have a couple of words with you.” “Oh really!” said the rather startled priest, “why is that?”
The man continued without strain, “Your appearance and your voice got my attention. Your delivery aroused my interest enormously. You said some things that needed to be said. It made a lot of common sense. But then you stopped. You didn’t go on to ask me to do something about it. In business you have to get people to sign the dotted line; otherwise you’ll soon be out of business. Father, don’t forget the bottom line.”
The readings for today from the book of Sirach and the Gospel of Luke really get to the bottom line. We are told that “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.” In other words, “Don’t be a hypocrite in your life and come, follow me in action and not just words. Then you will bear fruit.
Jesus is saying that our words reveal our hearts. In the same way that an Irish accent tells us that person is Irish, so also the words we use will reveal what is in our hearts. When we talk to others, do we always try to turn the conversation back to ourselves? When we talk to others, does our conversation turn to talking negatively about other people, about those in authority? When we talk to others, do we complain and bemoan all our problems and struggles? When we talk to others, do we only talk about earthly things such as our job, our recreational activities, and the local news without ever turning to spiritual matters? Do our words ever turn to speaking about God or spiritual matters? Our words reveal our hearts.
Jesus leaves no doubt about what is the required to sign the dotted line. The bottom line is very clear from this Gospel reading, that is to follow Jesus not only in your words but in your deeds too. May we watch what we say and try to align it to God’s way for us all.