“I love this life.” She told them. “I wish you all could just live it for a little while just to see. It’s so peaceful. I just feel like I’m not under-living life. I’m living it to the full” (Article ESPN, “Whatever happens to Villanova basketball star Shelly Pennefather? ‘So I made this deal with God.’, Elizabeth Merrill). These words were said by Shelly Pennefather. She holds the record for most points scored in Villanova basketball history. Her words spark a question for us all to pray about this weekend: what are we living for?
So, I’m a big sports fan. The people of my parish know this (visiting IHM this weekend). Admittedly, I read sports news every day; multiple times a day. Recently, Yahoo Sports released an article entitled, “The Most Tortured NFL Fan Bases”… Immediately my heart fell because I expected to see the Lions at the top of the list… And here were the top 5: 1. Giants, 2. Jets, 3. Redskins, 4. Falcons, and our beloved 5. Detroit Lions…
You would think that the Lions being number 5 on the list would make me happy. But it didn’t. I couldn’t believe it. I read this list and I thought, those fan bases are not more tortured than us. And the very fact that I was jealous is indicative just how miserable of an experience it can be to be a Lions fan. Then I thought about it, the Giants have two super bowls, the Jets have playoff victories, the redskins have a division title, and the falcons have been to the Super Bowl… All in the past 15 years. And our lions have none of those things. But here’s what they do have, an 0-16 season!
I do love the Lions, and I promise I have a point… I don’t think I can express adequately enough the great joy I would have if they ever won a Super Bowl in my lifetime. But… Here is the sobering thought. What would my life be like the next day, week, or year after that great moment? Would I look back at the Detroit Lions Super Bowl win and say, “that moment is what made life worth living?” It sounds silly doesn’t it? To find meaning in the Detroit Lions really is a silly goal in life… The point of this weekend is simple, nothing worldly… nothing worldly makes life worth living. There is only the one necessary thing, and remember we were told what that one necessary thing is. Jesus, a few weeks back spoke to Martha and Mary, the one necessary thing is a loving relationship with God — that truly makes life worth living.
And Jesus challenges us this weekend, brothers and sisters, take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions. One’s life does not consist of possessions. The man in our Gospel wanted to hoard his wealth and build a bigger barn. What is the bigger barn for us? For some of us it might be our love for sports… and yes even the Detroit Lions. For others of us that bigger barn could be our money, or our homes. And for others of us, that bigger barn could be the newest and best technology. The point is this, Jesus wants us to let go of our “bigger barn.” Our worldly signs of success and security. He desires for us to leg go of our disordered need for worldly things, and instead hold on to the one necessary thing— our loving God.
“I love this life.” She says. “I wish you all could just live it for a little while just see.” I started my homily with these words. I told you they were said by Shelly Pennefather. A young woman who holds the record for the most points in Villanova women’s basketball. But she goes by another name, Sr. Rose Marie. She left a promising career in professional basketball where she was making good money. She found that her life was fulfilled by the one necessary thing, and that she was called to pray for the world. Her college coach Harry Peretta said in his appreciation for her vocation, “‘I didn’t understand it at first,’ Peretta said. ‘But if you believe in the power of prayers, then [cloistered nuns] are doing more for humanity than anybody’”, he continues, “‘I want people to understand that they’re not weird or different or strange,’ [perretta] said. ‘They’re normal people who decided to take on this calling for humanity.’”
We are called to love the life we are living. And we do this in two ways: 1) by holding on to the one necessary thing—our relationship with God. 2) Rather than living for the things of this world, we live for God just like Sr. Rose Marie lives for God. And, since I am visiting Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish this weekend, I want to take this moment to encourage vocations a to the priesthood and religious life. Following the lord and living a life for God is a not a burden. It’s a happy one. Sr. Rose Marie loves her life and that she is not under-living. She lives a very fulfilled life. Priesthood is the same. Being a priest for the Lord is an incredible joy. To the world, it looks like we give up everything good, everything that seemingly makes us happy. But I promise, I life lived for God is one worth living. May we pray for young men and women to respond to God’s call. And may we too, live our lives for God, I life worth living!
In Christ’s love and friendship,
August 4 – Fr. Stephen: What are you living for?