An Abundance of Loans we Can Never Repay

BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time | October 14, 2018

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

I would never have made it as a financial advisor.

This is a lesson I quickly learned from my father.

Because he would watch my seeming inability to keep 20 bucks in my wallet for more than a day.

But Dad, he just needed someone to spot him for lunch.

But Dad, it was her birthday.  I just wanted to get her some flowers.

But Dad, they were raising money for hurricane relief.

But Dad, he was holding a sign asking for money for food.  

And like a diligent father trying to prepare his son for success in the world, he would gently remind me.  But you have to think about your own future.  You need to start saving to take care of yourself.

Well, I never got the lesson.

And thankfully, to my father’s great relief,  I’m in the one career where I don’t really need to worry about money.  Because we have a treasurer that makes sure that money exists to turn on the lights, pay the medical bills, and put food on the table.  And that person will never be me.

And thank God, because I am still terrible at making good financial investments.

I am constantly loaning money to high school and college students, always with the promise.  I’ll repay you.

Father Brian, I’m just a little short on prom.

Father Brian, I need to register for the SAT and my parents just don’t have the application fee right now.

Father Brian, these college textbooks are so expensive.  I don’t know how I will afford them.

And I know you’re surprised, but my return rate on my investments is shockingly low.  I think I got five dollars back from a kid I loaned lunch money to once, but that’s about it.

But just the other day, I was with one of my former students that owes me quite a bit from some legal bills I covered a few years ago.

And he goes, one day I’m gonna pay you back.  I’m gonna buy you a house.

I smiled at his generosity and said.  Brother, I don’t need a house. You wanna know how to pay me back.  Go and pay it forward.  Find some high school freshman who is hurting and angry like you were.  And befriend him. Mentor her.  And I will be repaid a hundredfold.

He got real serious and said.  I can do that. In fact, there’s already a guy I’m worried about.  He reminds me of me when I was in 9th grade.  I’ve got you, Fr. Brian. I’ve got you.

And in that exchange, I think I understand Christ’s message in today’s Gospel on a whole deeper level.

See, I believe that Christ would not have made a good financial advisor either.  

Because Christ was concerned about a whole other set of investments.

Investing in people.

Especially people who were not “successful”

He poured out his life for the sake of people who could never repay him.

Working class fishermen and despised tax collectors

Prostitutes and Widows

Paralytics and Persecutors

Some of those investments flourished.  Others failed. But Christ kept investing anyway

And in so doing, he left each of his disciples with a model to follow.  

To pay it forward.  Pouring out our own lives, especially for those who will never be able to repay us.

To remain faithful to this mission, instead of worrying about being successful.

My friends, all that we possess is gift.  Our possessions, our portfolios, our property.  Our talents, our time, our relationships. Our very lives.  Our faith. Our promise of eternal life.

We truly have received an abundance of loans we can never repay.

And this truth should inspire us to pay it forward.

Using every gift we possess for the sake of another, especially the other who will never be successful in the eyes of the world.  The other who will never be able to repay us.

Investing our lives in the lives of the poor, in the lives of children.  In the lives of felons and homebound.  In the lives of women and men with disabilities and the lives of immigrants.  

And in so doing, we too shall receive a hundredfold on our investment.  You can’t get a better return that that.

May God be Praised

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