Hi everyone – Happy Sunday! Here’s my homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings for today can be found athttps://usccb.org/bible/readings/092213.cfm.
Have a great week! Fr Jim


What are you passionate about? What is something that you truly love to do, strive to master? Something that makes you, well you? We probably can think of examples of different activities, things we study, groups we belong to. And the more we think about those things, the more we can see how important those things are by our expending the most precious commodity any one of us has – the amount of time and energy we exert on these things.

For example, when I was growing up, one of the things that my oldest brother Chris took seriously was Wrestling. When I think back at what he had to do for his training, I realize how much I looked up to him – how impressive that was to me. There were the daily practices after school. There were his own personal workouts that he needed to complete after that – which either required getting up early in the morning (something especially admirable in High School) or on weekends. There was the requirements to be home (to make sure you weren’t partying and theoretically so you could get to bed at a decent hour) the night before a match (which you had better be when the coach would call the house and ask to speak to you at 9PM on a Friday night) There were even diets that needed to be maintained – which seemed the most strange of all to me. Chris was always in good shape, so you wouldn’t think he would have to be counting calories and watching what and when he ate. But for a wrestling match, your opponent is determined by comparing weights (so if you weighed 150 lbs – you wrestled a guy who was 150 lbs… if you went over that and were 152 or something, you might have to “forfeit” the match or end up having to wrestle in the next, higher weight class, with an opponent you weren’t exactly prepared to face) So not only would he be following some intense diet throughout wrestling season – the night before a match he’d be starving, or severely limiting what he would eat – get up early in the morning to get to the school gym for “weigh in” – and after the officials would weigh him, he would run home, have my mother make some huge breakfast for him and then go back to school for his match. Of the many things I admired about and looked up to my older brother (I should say brothers – since I could say similar things about my brother Craig) it was his commitment to being a wrestler. He had a somewhat single-minded focus to be the best he could at the sport because it was something that meant a lot to him

The same could be said of a good friend of mine Karen who was in the Drama Club. Whether it was the fall play or the spring musical – she would work hard to impress the director in the audition and once she was cast in the show, that play or that musical – well that would seemingly be all that she was about. Morning, noon and night she’d be “running lines” – asking anyone and everyone to go over scenes with her. Practices would go after school for hours till late at night or on weekends. Then they had to help with the building of the set. They’d do all of this just to actually perform the show before an audience for 2 or 3 nights. I’m not sure how Karen got all her other work done, let alone as an honor roll student every semester (although it’s been proven that people who are involved in other extra-activities tend to do better with their academics… I’m just saying, another plug to get involved) But again – there was this laser-like focus for Karen to accomplish what she was zeroed in on accomplishing – to be an actress. It was something that meant a lot to her.

The Gospel today contains probably one of the most off-putting parables we’ve heard. Because on the surface it can appear that Jesus is commending some questionable (at best) activities by this steward… even acknowledging that he’s being“dishonest” in his actions. So what is Jesus getting at? We have to look a bit deeper. The steward had “squandered” the rich man’s property. He had made a mess of things. He messed up what had been entrusted to him. Realizing what he had done, knowing that his job was on the line – a job that did mean a lot to him, since he admits that there’s really not a lot else out there that he was equipped or motivated to do – he somewhat craftily goes from person to person, from debtor to debtor and works out all kinds of new deals. Sure it would’ve been much better had he not gotten into the mess in the first place – but once he had, rather than simply giving up, he gets that single minded, laser like focus to do whatever it was to accomplish the task before him. He zeroes in with that single minded, laser like, dedicated focus on being the best steward he can, and turns the thing around.

Whether it’s the athlete preparing for the big match; the actress rehearsing for the play, or the steward who wheels and deals to turn around a man’s business – what Jesus is admiring is how determined, how committed to things that we can become when we get passionate about something. And most likely, every one of us can see that’s true in all of our lives. Whether its playing an instrument, learning how to cook, or playing Madden Football on X-box. As individuals, when we find something we’re really interested in, something we enjoy, something that’s important to us, we become invested in it. We make sacrifices for it.

What Jesus is challenging us on is how committed, how single minded are we about bringing about His Kingdom here on earth? How focused are we on serving Him? How passionate are we about this faith of ours that promises us eternal life? How consumed are we with trying to live by the teachings of the Gospel? Or are we so focused on the things of this world, the things that we’re interested in that we forget God (let alone put him at the center of our lives)

Jesus isn’t saying not to get excited by the things that we’re passionate about… He’s not saying give up sports, give up the arts to prove you love Jesus more than those things. Those things you’re passionate about – those interests you have are part of what makes you so uniquely special in this massive masterpiece that the Lord has created. The trick is to take those gifts, to take ourselves and to put them at his service. Being creative in bringing the Gospel to others. That’s why every Sunday I’m blown away by the choir – every parish should be so lucky to have talented people like that offering themselves up to praise God in song. And I sincerely mean that – every parish should be so lucky – so blessed – because there are people out there who can sing, who can play instruments – but perhaps they’ve convinced themselves that they’re too busy. Or to use a non-local example, why is Tim Tebow one of the few Christian athletes who really testifies and witnesses to his faith, who uses his fame, his talent, use those opportunities to glorify God – both on and off the field… There’s other athletes that I personally know were brought up in good Catholic familes, and sadly you never hear about their love for Jesus Christ, their practice of the faith. There’s plenty of coverage of other off-the field activities – like what bar they were at after the game, or who’s the latest girlfriend (s).

If we could take the time to see how gifted, how blessed, how unique each and every one of us are. That we possess great ability and great potential which is revealed every time we strive to excel at these different desires that we have. But the difference is if we lose ourselves in those pursuits, if we turn in on ourselves and our own desires for accomplishment and achievements we risk losing sight of the one who gave us those gifts and talents in the first place. We belong to God and His Kingdom. Who we are – who we are to fully become can be found in our relationship with Him. May we never lose sight of the only Master who should matter… who brings meaning to this life, and promises us eternal life in the next.