Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for September 22, 2013

• Amos 8:4-7 • 1 Timothy 2:1-8 • Luke 16:1-13 • 25 Ordinary C ‘13 • 

Scripture Readings: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

PDF Print: Weekly Homily 09.22.2013

Today’s gospel warns, “that no servant can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and riches.” 

Jim Hogan3I suspect most of us know these words by heart. Jesus is not telling us “the path to heaven is parallel to the path to hell but in different directions.  We cannot take both paths.”  Earlier in my life I made that suggestion in my efforts to open this text for the community.  Today I think that is a simplistic and incorrect understanding of what Jesus is teaching.

I am convinced that in his teaching Jesus intended to direct, encourage and inspire us to make choices that will assure we get the most out of life; that we become all we are capable of being.  Or in other words, he wanted us to become as fully human and as fully alive as possible.

It is not possible to over-emphasize that in his life style and behavior, Jesus demonstrated what it is to be fully human and fully alive.  So my approach to this parable is going to be simple.  I want to tell you a story.  Even if you have heard it I think it is a valid application of what the Lord may have intended with this parable.

This is the story.  Mitchell was a special needs student in Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas.  He never played a game for his basketball team.  As manager he spent an enormous amount of time on the court storing balls, collecting sweats, and getting water for the players.

For the last game of regular season, the coach told Mitchell to suit up for the game. He wanted to give him his “moment in time” before graduation.  He intended to play him no matter what the score.

Coronado led by ten points with one minute, thirty seconds left in the game. When Mitchell came in, players told him to stand at their end of court and shoot when they passed him the ball. Three times he shot, resulting in three misses, finally knocking the ball out of bounds.

With seconds left on the clock, rival player Jon Montanez called to Mitchell before inbounding the ball, tossing it directly into Mitchell’s hands, yelling, “Shoot it, it’s your time.” Mitchell shot, the ball slipped through the basket, the crowd went wild and Mitchell was carried off the court as a hero.

All those present said this was a game they will never forget.  A rival player intentionally threw the ball to a member of the opposing team, so that player would forever feel an integral part of the winning team.

The integration of this story with the parable of the prudent steward is rather simple.  The wise steward treated all of his master’s debtors as he would want to be treated.

When Montanez was asked why he threw the ball into Mitchell’s hands, he told Steve Hartman of CBS News he was a Christian, taught to treat others the way he’d want to be treated.

“No servant can serve two masters.”  One must make a choice.  In the case of players on a high school basketball team, the choice is simple.  “Always give your best for the good of the team.”

In his decision to inbound the ball to that special needs student on the other team, Jon Montanez knew intuitively that in the eyes of God “we all are on the same team.”  As Steve Hartman concluded, “Play any game with this much sportsmanship and both teams win.”

There are many levels of meaning in this parable.  Among them I have emphasized that we who are Christian are called to see and respond to others, not as poor and needy to be helped, or as enemy to be fought, but as brothers and sisters to be loved.  How different our world would be, will be, when all of us are Christ to others as Jon Montanez was to that special needs student!

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3 Responses to Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for September 22, 2013

  1. Kathryn hALL says:

    Thank you for the beautiful homilies you write, Father Hogan. Have you viewed the documentary “I Am” by Tom Shadyak? It is an awesome look from the viewpoint of clerics, scientists, people of faith at what the world could be if we all practiced what you sent to us in this homily. Thank you for your wonderful work!

  2. Mary Hendershot says:

    Dear Jim,
    I read your homily on the same day as the Pope reminds of compassion and understanding. Thank you for bringing to mind, once again, that we are to be fully human and fully alive.

  3. Kathy H says:

    What a powerful story! It reminds me that we are called to be Christ-like in the ordinary moments of everyday life. Montanez transformed that moment and created a “thin place” where all of us can see God.

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