There is a story about a travelling salesman who was assigned to work in a rural area. One day he came upon a farmer sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of a rundown house. After introducing himself, the salesman launched into an eloquent pitch about his product. He said, “Sir, I have a remarkable book for you. It describes how you can farm your land ten times better than you’re doing now.” The farmer continued to rock. Then, after a long pause, he replied, “Young fella, I know how to farm ten times better than I’m doing now. My problem is doing it.” The story reminds me of St. Paul’s famous self-indictment in his letter to the Romans (7:19) when he writes, “The things I want to do I don’t do and the things I don’t want to do I do.” We are all like the farmer and St. Paul at times. We leave undone the things we should do. We let opportunities for doing good pass us by. We sin, not so much by what we do, but by what we don’t do. It’s not so much that we do evil, but that we don’t do the good we can and should. We can be like the rich man in the gospel who doesn’t harm the poor beggar lying at his door, but is condemned for not helping him when he could easily have done so. At the last judgement scene in the Gospel of St. Matthew, people are condemned not for what they did, but for what they didn’t do, e.g. feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and so forth. Each day the Lord provides us with opportunities to bring peace, love, mercy and many forms of help into the world. Often those opportunities are once in a lifetime occasions because if we let them pass we don’t get a chance at them again. Let us pray for the grace to do what we can, when we can so that we don’t leave undone what the Lord expects of us.
top of page