Homily for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time November 14, 2021

Can you sleep when the wind blows?

When it comes to this end of time stuff, with all its wild imagery, it can leave us confused, if not scared out of our wits. How are we to understand it? What do we do with it?


To help us gain perspective, I want to begin with a story. A young man answered a want-ad for a farmhand. He told the owner about his previous work experience and then added, “And I can sleep when the wind blows.” This puzzled the farmer a bit. However, he needed the help, so he hired the young man.


During the next few months the hired hand did everything asked of him, and the farmer was satisfied.


Late one night, one of those infamous Midwestern windstorms roared across the plains. It was two in the morning, but the farmer got up, put on his clothes and ran out to tie down whatever needed to be secured. First, he checked the barn. The doors were shut tight, shutters were closed, and the animals were all properly in their stalls. He checked the springhouse, the pump, the storage shed, the machinery, and the trucks. All were secured.


The farmer ran frantically from place to place. He just knew something had to be loose, uncovered or rattling. However, everything was as it should be. The farmer then stuck his head into the bunkhouse to thank the new hand, only to find him sound asleep.


Then the farmer remembered the curious statement, “I can sleep when the wind blows.” He smiled, realizing that the young man had done everything he was expected to do. He could, indeed, sleep when the wind blew.


And I think that is basically what our readings boil down to. We know that things will eventually come to an end. We do not know when, and neither does Jesus for that matter. We also know that the end will come for each of us at the time we will die, although many of us hate to think about that. But if we have lived responsibly, taking care of our duties, living in a decent way, striving to do God’s will, and showing love and compassion—well, then, I think we can, as the young cowhand put it, “sleep when the wind blows”—sleep soundly, knowing that all is in order. On the other hand, if we don’t feel quite so secure, if we have unfinished business and loose ends to tie up, if there are responsibilities that we have been neglecting, if we haven’t followed the commandments or been concerned about doing God’s will—well then, there is an invitation here, and a warning: someday it will end, the final act will have played out, and the curtain will come down. Today’s readings invite us to take stock, to make adjustments, and to live honorably and responsibly, so that no matter what, we can sleep when the wind blows.