View From the Monastery with Father Don - September 1, 2019

Based on the readings for Sunday, September 1st

Humility sounds strange in our culture. Let’s try to unpack it. Our culture tells us we need to package ourselves, we have to sell ourselves. Many people do crazy things to be recognized.

Think about it –

To jump out of a plane at 25,000 feet without a parachute, to spend our time drooling over the fads, frills and foibles of the rich and famous to dress just like the models dress even if you don’t look like a model to spend millions of dollars on unneeded surgery to spend millions of dollars on cosmetics –so that others will recognize us and invite us to the head of the banquet table.

I wonder what Jesus would say?

Let me tell you a story…

A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg , TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here,” But sure enough, the man did come over to their table. “Where are you folks from?;” he asked in a friendly voice. “Oklahoma,” they answered. “Great to have you here in Tennessee,” the stranger said. “What do you do for a living?” “I teach at a seminary,” he replied. “Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a really great story for you,” And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, “Great ... Just what I need .....another preacher story!” The man started, “See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, ‘Hey boy, where’s your daddy?’ Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students. He would avoid going into stores because that question hurt him so bad. When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, ‘Who’;s your daddy?’ But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast that he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, ‘Son, who’s your daddy?’ The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy.. ‘Wait a minute! I know who you are! I see the family resemblance now; You are a child of God.’ With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’ With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, ‘Who’s your Daddy?’ he’d just tell them, ‘I’m a Child of God.’ “The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, “Isn’t that a great story?’ The professor responded that it really was a great story! As the man turned to leave, he said, “You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything".” And he walked away. The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked her, “Do you know who that man was -- the one who just left that was sitting at our table?”The waitress grinned and said, “Of course. Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper. He’s governor of Tennessee!”

And so my question to you is:

Who are you?

Do we realize that you are a child of God – therein lies your worth… it’s not just ‘who you are’, it’s also ‘whose you are.’

Who are you?


You don’t earn that, God gifts you with that…

Claim it, give thanks for it, live it.

Let me share another story with you – a short one: The story is told of two rather wealthy business men walking past Mother Theresa as she was sitting in a ditch, caring for a dying elderly street person. One of them walked over to her and said, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” She looked lovingly into his eyes and replied, “Neither would I.” Mother Theresa knew who she was… a child of God and a disciple of Jesus. She would follow in the footsteps of Jesus, not in the footsteps of our world.

Who are you?

You don’t earn that, God gifts you with that…

Claim it, give thanks for it, live it.

Have you ever paid attention to our Pope Francis… not just his words, but especially his actions – what he does.

Do you want to know what someone who follows Jesus looks like?

Did you have a chance see or read about our Pope’s visit to our country back in September of 2015?

I was touched by his actions and not just his words. After talking with those in Congress, the center of so much power in our country, what does Francis do? Francis goes to have lunch with the homeless and he even serves some of them lunch. A PR gimmick? Then in NYC after speaking to all of the powerful at the UN – bless him for doing that – he goes to visit school kids in Harlem… the powerless. Then after his wonderful address and Masses in Phily, he goes to visit the inmates at a Philly jail. He encourages them not to give up on life… their God loves them. Then Francis went unannounced to visit a residence of elderly Jesuits, reminding his fellow Jesuits not to forget about their frail elderly.

Gimmicks?  I don’t think so. I think this is our Pope Francis walking the footsteps of Jesus. I believe he has ‘kept his eyes on Jesus’. He knows ‘who he is’ and ‘whose he is’. Who are you?

You don’t earn that, God gifts you with that…

Claim it, give thanks for it, live it.

Let me say one word about Jesus at this point.

Jesus knew who he was… a child of God… God’s very Son.

Jesus also knew who others were… children of His Father, His brothers and sisters. He treated them that way… He blessed and encouraged them and loved them and healed so many…

Remember, we are children of God and disciples of Jesus, called and challenged to continue Jesus’ mission in our world.

Who do we keep our eyes on, Jesus or Hollywood stars?

You are a child of God. You’ve got a great inheritance.

Go and claim it. Give thanks for it. Live up to it.

You are a disciple of Jesus.

Go and claim this and walk in his footsteps. Give thanks for it.

Let’s live up to it.

Joe Farris