How crazy is this?

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Homily for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

A Boston man by the name of Glen James
recently found a backpack outside a T.J.Maxx  store in Dorchester.
In the bag was $2,400 in cash and nearly $40,000 in travelers checks.
Mr. James alerted the police who found the bag’s owner,
a student visiting from China,
and returned the backpack and the money to him.

Glen James is unemployed and he suffers from Meniere’s disease,
an inner-ear disorder that causes prolonged spells of vertigo.
Glen James is also homeless and lives in a shelter.
He lives off of food stamps and what money he panhandles
outside T.J.Maxx in Dorchester.

When asked if he’d thought about keeping the money for himself, 
he said, “Even if I were desperate for money,
I wouldn’t have kept even a penny of the money I found.
God has always very well looked after me.” 

He also told reporters the homeless shelter is a good living situation
for someone with Meniere’s disease
because there are so many people at the shelter to help you.

And remember,  
“God has always very well looked after Glen James…”

And remember, 
“No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate the one and love the other
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and money.”

It couldn’t be any more clear whom Glen James has chosen to serve.
But it’s not easy, is it, 
to understand how an unemployed, homeless man
could say, “Even if I were desperate for money…”
It’s not easy to understand how, in his circumstances, he could say,
 “God has always very well looked after me…”

In fact it might cross our minds that perhaps Glen James
is suffering from more than Meniere’s disease;
that perhaps he’s lost more than his job;
that maybe he’s even a little “crazy” to be talking that way…

Does that mean I need to be at least a little crazy
to take Jesus seriously when he tells me I have to choose
between him and my money?
Well, actually, that’s not precisely what Jesus is asking here.
He’s less interested in how much money I have
and more interested in how it functions in my life.
He’s asking: do I choose to serve him first and above all
or do my finances direct my decisions and shape my choices?
Who, what, is the master I serve?

You know, I don’t think Glen James is at all crazy.
It’s just that in circumstances you and I would deem severe and dire,
he continues to choose Jesus as the master of his life.

And in that choice it’s just possible
that he finds more peace and contentment in his poverty
than you and I do in our abundance.
And from our perspective, that can look – crazy.

You probably have heard or read about the interview with Pope Francis
that was published just a few days ago.
In it, he continues to reveal himself as a deeply spiritual man,
surprising us at nearly every turn, with what he says.
Many of the headlines reporting on this interview have been misleading
and have the pope saying things which, in fact, he didn’t say.
The hot button issues are easy to fan into flames.

But the media have largely ignored what Francis himself noted
to be the central and key remark in his interview:
“The most important thing is that first proclamation:
 ‘Jesus Christ has saved you.’”

First, you must have a relationship with Jesus,
and only then will you discover the consequences, the implications,
the ramifications of that relationship with him in your life.
First you have to acknowledge that you need him,
you need help, you need to be saved, you need to be redeemed
and that Jesus is the One who does that.

To choose Jesus in this way is to make everything else secondary:
money, possessions, wealth, health, status and prestige.
What’s for us to see is that none of those things
matters more to Glen James than God.
That’s why he doesn’t think of himself as being “desperate for money.”
That’s why he’s grateful for the roof over his head and the caretakers
at the homeless shelter where he sleeps at night.
That’s why he's able to say, with faith in Jesus,
 “God has always very well looked after me…”

Is Glen James crazy?
Only crazy in his love for God
and his faith in Jesus, the Master of his simple life.
Only crazy enough to find peace and contentment, day by day,
not in what he owns, not in what he has, not in his wealth,
but in his poverty.

I dare say Glen James has found in abundance
what we in our abundance endlessly seek for and often fail to find
because what we seek we will only find in God.
Whether you’re happy or sad
over what Pope Francis has said and done, be sure of this:
his primary agenda is not to change the Church and its teachings;
his primary agenda is to draw you and me and the world closer to Jesus
so that Jesus might change us and how we live our lives - in faith.
Francis is inviting us to be crazy like Glen James,
crazy enough in faith to choose Jesus over all,
 Jesus, who will “always very well look after us…”

We come to the table of Jesus 
with the simplest of gifts, bread and wine.
Those gifts were first God’s gifts to us and we give them back here,
along with our thanks and praise.
And in giving back what we’ve been given,
we ask God to give us Jesus,
in the bread and cup of the Eucharist.
To give us Jesus… 

(my homily concludes with this song which is on the audio above)

In the morning, when I rise… give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Give me Jesus…

And when I am alone… give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Give me Jesus…

Oh, and when I come to die… give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Give me Jesus…


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  1. I am not homeless, but I do struggle financially and every day I live with illness...

    so, I feel that I can understand, very much, the statement of Glen James-
    that, "God has always very well looked after me..."

    In all of my struggles, I see that I pray more, to thank God for what I DO have and for all of the people He has given me to help me-
    I pray more for this than to ask God for things-

    Do I want more?
    well, yes, I do-
    I want things that don't seem at all possible for me-
    love, peace (in my mind and heart), self-acceptance (and to really feel this from others)-
    to really feel a part of this world-

    I doubt these things for me-

    but, my faith and love for God is stronger than this-
    and I pray to keep this faith and love for God every day-

    thank you.

  2. I hardly know what to say.I am so touched by this story....shame on me for ever complaining. I will strive to be more like Glen James and live my life for Jesus. Thank you Father.

  3. Your homily was superb and your "Give Me Jesus" was absolutely beautiful. What a voice you have!



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