Building the Kingdom

At a construction site, three men were pouring a mixture of sand, water, and lime into a trough.  A passerby asked them what they were doing.  The first man said, “I’m making mortar.”  The second one said, “I’m laying bricks.”  But the third man said, “I’m building a cathedral.”  They were all doing the same work.  It was their attitudes that were different—and what a difference they made!  Each one of us can probably identify with this story in our own lives.  We all know people who take the short view of life.  They do just enough to get by, whether at their jobs or in their families or in their relationship with God.  They come to Mass at Christmas and Easter and drop their $5 in the collection basket when it comes by.  They bring their children to be baptized and bring their parents for a Catholic funeral.  They are the ones making mortar.

Surely, we know some of the second type as well.  These are the people we work with every day.  They show up, do a good job and take pride in being a good employee.  They love their families and their children.  They’re next to us in the pew at Mass every Sunday.  They know the words to most of the hymns and they usually give some of their treasure to help pay the bills.  They do all that’s asked of them.  They are the ones laying bricks.

If we’re blessed, we know a few of the last ones as well.  They are the people who do their jobs with joy and gladly help others to do their jobs, too.  They don’t ask for credit or recognition and just being around them makes you feel good.  They volunteer for the PTA and the carpool when they aren’t coaching Little League or teaching Sunday School.  They come to daily Mass.  They take Holy Communion to the nursing home and do what needs to be done around the church without even being asked.  They tithe ten percent of their income to the Church and are often those “anonymous donors” who contribute generously to keep the parish going when times are tough.  They are not only building a cathedral, they’re building the Body of Christ.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be one of these last people.  I want to serve God and His Church joyfully and gladly and I know that I can best serve Him by serving others.  “Just getting by” isn’t enough.  My faith is too important to me to spend my time on earth just making mortar.  I need God always at the center of my life and I need the strength and courage that He gives me in His Sacraments. I know that when I mess up (every day) that the Lord will forgive me and help me to do better. I know that He wants me to forgive others in just the same way. I need the love and support of my parish family.  This is what stewardship is all about—because the more we need, the more we need to give.  We need to offer serious time for prayer, Adoration, and Mass.  We need to give our time to help the poor and the needy.  We need to share our talents, whatever they may be.  We need to put ourselves at the service of the One Who gives us everything.  We understand that it takes a lot of money for the Church to function, so we give sacrificially so our parish can carry out its ministry work.  In helping to build the Body of Christ, I’m laying up treasure in heaven.  This is the joy of stewardship:  in knowing that my humble gifts laid at His altar for His purpose never belonged to me anyway.  They were always the mortar and the bricks in the Cathedral of His Kingdom.

“Persevere in the exact fulfillment of the obligations of the moment. That work – humble, monotonous, small – is prayer expressed in action that prepares you to receive the grace of the other work – great and wide and deep – of which you dream.”

           –St. Jose Maria Escriva

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Brian H. Gill
    Mar 11, 2018 @ 23:22:12

    Agreed. What’s behind door number three seems like the best idea.

    Being the sort of person I am, I also remember a gag from when this useful story was perhaps more well-known than it is today. It was the same mortar-bricks-purpose story, except the fellow who said he’s building a cathedral was fired. They were building a garage.

    And that probably illustrates another useful point. Or maybe not.

    Thanks for highlighting a good story. Fable?


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