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There was a Hindu who studying to be a Catholic. He said to his instructor, “Let me get this straight; you are blessed if you are poor; you are blessed if you’re persecuted. If someone strikes you on one side turn and give him the other. Love your enemy. I must pick up my cross, EVERY day. I must forgive seven times seventy. I am not sure I can do this. Christianity is for extraordinary people like Gandhi and Mother Teresa.” The instructor Christ gives demanding objectives to live bysaid, “Just finish the classes and you will see.” After the classes, the Hindu said, “Now I think I understand Christianity a little better. God empowers ordinary people like the fisherman and me to do extraordinary things.” Then he added, “I think I like that vision.”
Several years ago, a park ranger came by while I was working outside and said, “We are finishing up the park down the street and we have a few extra plants. I’d like to donate them to the Church.” I thanked him and said, “I’ll come over to pick them up.” Down the street we went and I saw about twenty people working. I said, “You have a great team of landscapers.” He said, “Well, they are good, but actually they are all volunteers. They are all city folk.” He said, “I give them the best. I supply them with the best equipment: wheelbarrows, gloves, and shovels. I provide the healthiest plants and the instructions on how to plant. I try to give them everything they’ll need to succeed.”
When we were remodeling the Shrine and the seminary, we had one work crew of family members who came in every day. My job was to make sure that they had everything they needed: coffee, material, whatever. When everyone one left for the night, I cleaned up, put everything in order and bought any supplies they would need for the next day. My motto was, “A clean job site is a safe and happy job site. When everyone is happy, then I know that I am happy.
I joined a fly fishing club one winter with my father. It is a friendly group that gets together once a month. My first meeting happened to be the group’s 25th anniversary. To feature the event, they forked over some of their money to bring in a famous fly tier from New Jersey. Dad and I got there early. The fly tier sat at a table and asked if we had any requests. I said that I would like to see the “hollow fly.” He put a hook in the vice and started to explain each step to make the fly. Just as he started, a number of members were arriving and came to stand around the table to watch. Someone stood on my right and bumped into me. I made some room for him by stepping to my left. After I moved, he bumped into me again, so again. I gave him more room. After about the fifth time, I started to get annoyed. I thought, “What is it with this guy? I have my space and he has his. Why can’t he stay in his place?” Even though it was annoying, I didn’t let it distract me from the event at hand. When the fly tier finished, he took the fly from the vise, reached across the table and handed the fly to me and said, “Keep it.” The guy who kept bumping into me asked, “Oh, can I take a look at that?” I handed it to him and said, “Keep it, it’s yours.” Naturally, he was really happy to have it. Shortly after, the president asked everyone to take their seats. I went to my table. The president said, “It is now time for the most valuable member award.” Before naming the winner, he described the person as generous by naming all the things he does for the club. Then he called his name. The guy who kept bumping into me stood up and he received a loud round of applause. Apparently, he was well liked. He then hopped over to the stage area. I thought, “Why is he hopping?” Then I noticed that he had only one leg. That is why he kept bumping into me. As he was handed the award, it gave me pause. I was happy that I had been nice to him and gave him the fly. I am also glad that Christ gives demanding objectives to live by. In this instance, it saved me from looking very foolish. Christ makes big demands but we live better for it. Christ takes ordinary people and makes them extraordinary.Back to All Homilies