Sometimes a Gospel reading runs so counter to common sense that I don’t know how to reconcile with it. One of those difficult readings is the parable of the vineyard owner who hires workers throughout the day and at the end of the day, pays them all the same wage (Matthew 20:1-16). It was the Gospel for a weekday in late August at Madonna House and Fr. Sharkey had the Mass.
Fr. Sharkey’s homily focused on verse 15: I am free to do with my money as I please, am I not? Or are you envious because I am generous? I remember feeling blown away by the concept of God’s generosity. None of the laborers had been “cheated out of” or shorted any money. No one receives less from God; His generosity is simply more, an even greater abundance than the standard.
I thought of Fr. Sharkey when the current issue of Restoration, Madonna House’s monthly newsletter arrived last week. The issue was dedicated to Fr. Sharkey and Elsie Whitty who both died this past February 21. I didn’t know Elsie, but I could always count on some “lively discussions” with Fr. Sharkey.
Preaching is associated with the Dominican order and Fr. Sharkey was a Dominican. Restoration reprinted an article Fr. Sharkey had written on the story of the Good Samaritan titled An Education of the Heart. It is somewhat lengthy, but very much worth the read.
Fr. Sharkey also did a lot of spiritual direction and Restoration included a letter written by Catherine Doherty to the staff on Spiritual Direction.
In the issue, but not online, is Fr. David May’s homily for Fr. Sharkey’s funeral. Fr. David described when he was a seminarian and Fr. Sharkey came to give a retreat. Someone apparently mentioned to Fr. Sharkey that “the true faith was not being totally adhered to” and Fr. Sharkey’s response was to focus on John 6:51-58: I am the Bread of Life. Fr. Sharkey said, “If God said it, he meant it! … This is the center of our life. Without this, a priest is nothing!” Fr. David then talked of how the Eucharist was the center of Fr. Sharkey’s life.
The Eucharist, of course, is the center of each Catholic’s life, but I thought this was a particularly apt story for this Year of the Priest.