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I am one of five boys. Growing up with four brothers meant that we pretty much had Toys-R-Us covered. It also meant that every kid that lived within a mile radius of our house knew that we had toys. Mom had a household rule that was rigorously obeyed: if you wanted to come inside the Grover house to play, shoes off at the door. No exceptions. That made sense. My mother did not want to spend all day vacuuming the carpets. Some of the friends objected of course. “Why do I have to take off my shoes; I do not have to do that at my house?” We would tell them, “Look, this is serious. This is not negotiable. There is no wiggle room for compromise here. If you don’t take the shoes off, you don’t come in.”
I tell you this household rule because we were invited to dwell in the house of our God . There happens to be a household rule that is never compromised: Everything. They give everything. Every time Jesus talks about his Father he says, “The Father has given me everything and I have given everything to the Father.” We have been invited to dwell with God in His house and the same rule implies. That is why Jesus said, “Ask for whatever you wish and it will be granted.” That is the everything rule.
One Saturday afternoon I was at Mass and I had a wad of money rolled up in my pocket. It was money I received from shoveling snow, mowing lawns, raking leaves and working in the garden. After Mass, my plan was to go to the mall. So there I was at the Mass and it was time for the collection so I took my roll and I flipped through the tens and the fives until I found a one-dollar bill, the standard for church collections. I pulled it out and put the rest back in my pocket. As the usher came closer I had a thought, “Nothing says I love you more than cold hard cash. Show the love. One-dollar! Is that it? Just once in your life, do something great.” I sat there and heard the choir singing and I was inspired, so when the usher finally arrived I reached into my pocket and dropped the whole wad in the basket. The roll of money unraveled. Tens and twenties filled the basket. The usher took one look at all that money and pulled the basket away from me quickly in case I changed my mind. Needless to say, I did not get anything at the mall. I got something better. A new best friend.
We all know that God does not need money. He made the universe. Everything belongs to God. The “everything” rule means to give all we have from our hearts.
There was a very successful businessman who came to Mass every Sunday and put a one thousand dollar check in the collection. This went on for several months. After Mass one Sunday this businessman came over to me and said, “I am moving to Cleveland for my new job.” I retorted, “Cleveland is not that far away; you could still commute.” I thanked him for his generosity. He said that generosity was a part of his success. He not only gave from his checkbook but also of his time by giving talks to high school seniors on how to be successful in life. So I asked him, “What do you tell them?” I wanted to know how to be successful in life. He said, “I tell them to be committed to excellence in everything you do. I don’t care what it is: mow the law for dad, clean your room for mom, write a paper for your teacher. If you are committed to excellence in everything you do, you will never have to worry about your future or your career. Success will always follow you.”
That is how we apply the everything rule. Be committed to excellence when we forgive, or generosity, or compassionate toward others. No matter how small it may seem, if we are committed, we will never have to worry about the future. Success will follow us.Back to All Homilies