Monday, September 20, 2010

25th Sunday - homily

When I was out of the seminary, I was the sales manager for my brother’s construction company. It was a cool job. The thing is that when I started, I really had no idea about sales. I had to attend seminars and do all kinds of reading. One of the main points was to make yourself stand out as a salesman so that people would remember you and what you were selling. So, in order to be unique, I started changing my voicemail greeting every week. They were memorable, to say the least. One week’s message was, “Hi, this is Greg with Imperial Stone Paving. I’m sorry I missed your call, but I am in the Middle East right now searching for Osama bin Laden. Please leave a message.” People were like, ‘what the?’. Another week it was, “I’m sorry I missed your call. I am on the other line talking to the US Olympic Committee trying to finalize and realize my dream of being an Olympic figure skater.” I went to a general contractor’s office one time and when they heard who I was they said that they would call my voice mails just to hear the new message. Sales tripled in the first year!

It was a lot of hard work (and corny messages) to make honest wealth for the company and myself. It was even harder competing against dishonest contractors. There was one job we bid on that was high-profile and lucrative. We submitted our very competitive bid which we knew was the best bid. Another paving contractor got the job even though their bid was incomplete. It turned out they had an in with the owner. The whole job was this way – it was corrupt, illegal, and dishonest with all kinds of kickbacks and favors.

We all have a choice in how we acquire wealth – we can do it the hard way and do it honestly or the easy way through dishonesty. Professional wealth can be achieved through dishonesty like the construction example or those from the first reading who fixed scales for cheating. College students know they can acquire academic wealth through cheating or they can gut it out and get honest grades and honors. And then, there is social or personal wealth which I’d like to focus on. Accumulating honest wealth personally means being the person who you are. You are simply yourself with people socially. Dishonest personal wealth means being a fake or a phony to people; in other words, being someone you’re not. How many of us said when we were young things like, “I’ll never get into drugs or alcohol”. Or, “I’m waiting ‘til I’m married to have sex”.

What happened? Well, we went to college (or high school). Peer pressure, or pressure from the “children of the world” (as Jesus puts it in today’s Gospel – Lk 16:1-13), has worn us down. Little by little over time we have given into things we used to see as wrong. They don’t seem like big deals anymore to us but they are. The people in the construction job might not have thought it was that big of a deal to be involved in such illegal and dishonest activity. The people in the first reading might not have thought it was that big of a deal to trample all over the poor or to cheat in their wage-earning. I have worked with many young people when they realize that what they have been doing is wrong. They get to the point late in high school or college when they see that they have become someone they are not and they hate it. They have gotten away from who they are and hate who they have become.

It is an uphill battle to be yourself in college. It’s like going up a really steep hill or like being in the ocean and going against a really strong undercurrent. That hill and that undercurrent are the children of the world. It’s not just sheer pressure, it’s really smart pressure. The Lord says that “the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light”. Last year, in Thurston Hall, they had buckets of candy with condoms in them. That is brilliant. Sick and twisted, but brilliant. Stuff like this didn’t happen years ago. I went to get my haircut in a local barber shop recently wearing my clerics and was having a good experience until I went to pay. There were a stack of Playboy magazines on the rack. I asked the owner, “what’s up with this?” He and the other men laughed at me as I walked out. Our approach to pornography, contraception, abortion, etc. has changed. As a society and as individuals, we have let our consciences be diminished. We don’t see these things as evil and dishonest to the human person anymore. My job is to call our evil and dishonesty for what it is. My job is to remind you to stay true to who you are and live the truth.

Finally, whenever we come here to Mass and the Eucharist, we are saying who we really are. We are children of light and Christ is our master, especially in the Eucharist. This is who we are and this is where we want to be – with Christ. One important point to remember is that the more we know Christ, the more we know ourselves. The more we go away from Christ, the more we go away from who we are. We come here to be who we are. The world hates that we come here every week. You might experience this with your roommates, friends, or family. “Or, you’re one of those!” The children of the world hate sit but God loves it. And, He loves who you are. So, do I! I hope and pray that each one of you knows in your heart two very important things: one, you are good, and two, you are loved.


Anonymous said...

*snicker* picturing Fr G in a sequinned skater outfit

Anonymous said...

Just to razz you a little FG, "Was this during your first or second round of being 'out of the seminary'?!!"

Anonymous said...

And, "C'mon college kids - your fingers can type an IM faster than I can say my name! How 'bout some typing out your thoughts here? You guys are full of energy and inquisitive thoughts and have a lot to offer. Why not share some of that knowledge you're building up there?"

Anonymous said...

Why DOES figure skating have different names for the jump-spin move? They all look the same to me.

Anonymous said...

anon 1:25

I don't think anyone over 30 would understand all the abbreviations. I'm lost after c u l8tr.

Anonymous said...

LOL at " the Middle East..."

Can you see Fr G jumping out of a perfectly good airplane like the priest in that video he posted a couple of months ago? And I've NEVER seen Fr G in a cassock.