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I was with dad one afternoon watching Phil Mickelson on TV. He was about to make a putt. If the ball goes in the hole, he will win the tournament. If it does not, he will tie and will have to play a very talented player in extra rounds. Phil walks behind the ball and looks, he steps in front of the ball and looks. There is a lot at stake and he need time to absorb information from the undulating landscape between the cup and his ball. He finally puts his putter behind the ball and hits it. We watched the ball as it rolled into the cup. I turned to my father and asked, “Dad, I know why Mickelson is excited, but why is his caddie so happy?” “Because,” he said, “when the ball went into the hole, and he won, the caddie just had his pay doubled.” That is what happens when you work for someone who is talented and skilled. It makes a big difference: Whom do you work for? If you work for a great coach, as we know in New England, you are going to the Super Bowl. If you work for a CEO who is demanding, and committed to excellence, you are going to reap benefits.
There are a thousand ways to lose money in the ancient world. You can take that five talents in the gospel and buy a boatload of grain, knowing that your investment will double at its arrival at the next port. But if the boat sinks, you lose your money. You could take your five talents to the bank, and that night it is robbed (which happens all the time in the ancient world). You lose your investment. Or, you can give your money to an investor, and he could be run over by a Roman chariot. Again, you lose your talents. The smartest way to secure your money, in the ancient world, is to dig a hole and bury it. Everyone did just that. Thieves can’t steal it nor can it be lost at sea. Then if it is the smartest way to secure money and everyone does it, why is the man in Gospel story end up a bad guy? He forgets that he had a really good boss. If you don’t work hard for a good boss, you are not going to get benefits.
A nurse called me and said a student was the victim of a hit and run and the parents just arrived from Italy. When I arrived at the hospital, the nurse asked me if I spoke Italian. I said, “As a matter of fact, I do.” I entered a conference room with a long table. Around it was seated doctors, nurses, social workers, and friends from the student’s school. I met the parents and translated the conversation. I can’t imagine what it must be like to see your son or daughter die in a foreign country and you can’t talk to anyone. After a long afternoon, the parents asked me for a favor. After I heard what it was, I said I would be honored to do it. The next day, for the first time in my life, I said Mass in Italian and gave my first homily in Italian. Most of the people in the chapel did not know what I was saying. Needless to say, it was personal. After the Mass, the parents came up to me, and said: “We are convinced that God is going to take care of our daughter the same way He took care of us by sending you.”
It took me six years to learn Italian. For six years I stood in front of Italians with my mouth open wondering what the heck they just said. For six years I pulled Italian dictionaries out of my pocket to look up words. For six years Italians would say: “Stop, stop talking, you are destroying our beautiful language” For six years I wondered why I was putting so much time and effort learning a language I probably would not use when I returned to the States. I have a great boss. He picked me to do a very important job, and he trained me well.
Remember, we all have a great boss. That means if we work hard for Him, we will gain benefits.Back to All Homilies