Twenty-Ninth Ordinary Sunday – A
Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6
1 Thessalonians 1: 1-5b
Matthew 22: 15-21
There was a grandfather who loved to play golf, and his little grandson was very interested in learning to play. So Grandpa bought a small set of golf clubs for the boy, who began practicing to be just like Grandpa.
Later that summer at their big family reunion, the little fellow brought his golf clubs. When he had everyone’s attention, he said, “Let me show you how Grandpa taught me to play golf!” He put down the ball, took a big swing and missed – and let out a full stream of profanity! Then he took that little golf club and wrapped it right around the maple tree.
Boy, had Grandpa taught him well!
We have the expression that “actions speak louder than words.” That applies to both good and bad example. Our good example – our embracing stewardship as our way of life, for instance – can encourage someone else to do so and become an even better disciple of Jesus.
I thank all of you who have returned your stewardship commitment cards with your plans for the next twelve months. And I thank those of you who brought them with you today. If you forgot to do so, there is still time to make your commitments either with the card or online. And I thank you in advance for getting them in to us this week.
In today’s second reading, St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians about how their example has inspired and encouraged so many others, including himself. So he writes: “We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith, and labor of love, and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ…. For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”
Good example is something that we are all need to give. And it is also something that we all need to receive.
When Dave Thomas was fifteen, he quit high school and went to work in the restaurant business. He was very successful, and eventually founded the Wendy’s empire.
But Dave worried about the example that he was setting for young people. He didn’t want to be known as “the high school drop-out who made millions.”
So at an age when most people were retiring, Dave Thomas hired a tutor and earned his high school GED. It was important to him that he set a good example.
Rose and her husband lived in Albania and had a large family. Whenever Rose saw someone who looked hungry or lonely, she would invite them to have dinner with their family.
This happened all the time. And when the children would ask who that stranger was, Rose would answer, “Oh, they are a member of our family.”
The children grew up thinking that they had a huge family. Of course, Rose was teaching them that they all belonged to “one family in Jesus Christ.”
One of their daughters, Agnes, from the time she was small, had a real interest in people who were sick or lonely or poor. The seeds that God planted in Agnes’ heart really were nurtured by the example of her mother and father in their home.
You all know Agnes, although by another name. She became a nun, and took the name of Mother Teresa – and is now known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
Example is powerful. I know that, as a priest, a lot of people look to me for example. I am very aware of this, and I ask the Lord every day for the grace to be Christ-like for you. But I must also tell you that I look to you for your example too.
There was a mother of five children. She was trying to finish the Saturday housework, and one of her little ones kept getting under her feet. She said, “Honey, it’s a nice day. Don’t you want to go outside and play?” He said, “No, Mommy. I want to be here with you.”
About the fifth time that she almost tripped over him, she said, rather impatiently, “Will you please get out of my way?”
He looked at her with his big blue eyes and said, “Mommy, my teacher said that I should always walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But Mommy, I can’t see Jesus, so I’m walking in yours.”
Out of the mouths of babes so often comes wisdom. “I can’t see Jesus’ footsteps so I’m walking in yours.”
We all have opportunities to give good example and we all need the good example of others. St. Paul acknowledges this in today’s second reading. And so I leave you, as I began, with St. Paul’s words to us today, that I ask you to carry in your hearts this week:
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith, and labor of love, and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ…. For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”
Indeed it has. Amen.