15th S. 2021: Boxers and a Tire Iron

Today’s homily is for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 11, 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The YouTube link is here.

My son, Mark, turned fourteen and has started working and saving up some money for a car when he turns sixteen. The good news is that he has a job selling fruit at markets and is saving up for a car; the bad news is that until he has a car, I’ll be driving him to work! From our house in Denair it’s an easy trip. I did it just this morning. We get up at 4:15am, leave at 4:45am, and I drop him off to leave Cipponari’s at 5am. I always take the same route: Gratton to MonteVista to Quincy, to Taylor, to Geer. This morning though, I stayed on MonteVista all the way to Geer. Even my sleepy-eyed son noticed and made a comment that we never go this way. On the block between Johnson and Colorado there was a car on the side of the road with hazard lights on and the trunk open. I drove right past, dropped Mark off, and thought to return the same way to make sure some sort of help was on the way. 

The car was still there, hazard lights flashing, and I pulled up to see three high school boys complaining that in four years of high school they never learned to change a tire! I asked if they could use some help and they said they would gladly accept any help I would offer. It’s funny, before I left the house, I thought, I better grab my phone in case there are any problems on the way. What I didn’t think was, I should probably put some shoes on, and put something on over my boxers in case there are any problems on the way! Quite a sight, I’m sure. Just me, my boxers, and a tire iron in my hand! To their credit, not a single boy made a comment as I put my bare foot on the iron to get some leverage! 

I often hear good people talk about what good they are going to do when the time is right. When they’ve got more free time, they’ll coach, or volunteer in some other way. Good people say that when they’re more financially secure, they’ll begin to support their church or other worthwhile causes. Good people with all the right intentions talk about being a mentor for an at-risk youth, volunteering some time at an after-school program, lending their skills or talents in some way for a worthwhile cause, or investing in a non-profit, in the church, or another worthwhile organization. For these good people, the time is never quite right, the finances are never quite enough, and the situation just doesn’t seem secure enough. 

These are not bad people, these are good people! They know the good that God is calling them to do and they plan to do it…when the time is right, when the situation offers no danger, and when they’ve got adequate resources both to help others in need and ensure their own comfort.

Our Lord called his disciples and sent them out two by two–few are ready to go out and serve alone, and going into the unknown alone to serve and come to the aid of others in need can be quite dangerous, after all. Best to take a friend. How much gear would they need? Jesus may in fact have been a Marine! Our motto was pack light and freeze at night! We had no place in our pack for “snivel gear.” Jesus said just take their walking stick, one tunic, and some good shoes! No food, no sack, no money. Jesus calls his disciples to trust in him and in his father to supply all that they need. They just need to have a heart to help others…

Is there less need today than there was then? Are there no opportunities to serve now? Of course there are! Jesus said we would always have the poor, and we do. There are children with no foster placement, families with no food, children with no school supplies, men and women with no work, and high school boys who don’t know how to change a tire. 

Those boys must have thanked me a hundred times–one even called me his savior. I shook each of their hands and said it was no trouble at all. I’m pretty sure that I had even less than Jesus’ disciples in the Gospel today! At least they had shoes to wear–though I did have a tire iron. 

My brothers and sisters, the Lord has already gifted us to serve those who need help today–right now. What we have is not for our own use, but for ourselves and others in need, that the Lord has called us to serve. I think too many good people continue to gather for when the time is right…but, my friends, the time is always right to come to the aid of others. And if we fail to act today, with what we have today, then we have let pass by us the opportunity that the Lord has given us. 

Cardinal John Henry Newman said, “God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission–I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.” You have been given authority by God. You have all that you need. Grab a partner for the journey and serve. Do not wait! What definite service is the Lord calling you to do? There are tires that need to be changed–even if you’re barefoot and in nothing more than your boxer shorts. Grab your tire iron, there’s work to do. Good people don’t just plan to do good…they do it.

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