Homily: Faith Requires Sweat Equity

April 26, 2018

The following is the homily I will be delivering at the Bishop Chatard High School Mass today. Food for thought for all of us:

Let me begin by asking, “Why we are having a Walk-a-thon tomorrow?” I know Principal Hansen has offered several reasons: a break from the academic routine, building school spirit, providing financial support for student activities and clubs, and to meet the goal of getting Mr. Mayer to sleep on the roof. Those are all true, practical explanations for why we are having Walk-a-thon.

Here is a more philosophical rationale: We want students to take some ownership of their high school experience. We want them to earn some sweat equity. For those of you unfamiliar with the term sweat equity, it is a phrase home builders use. When people want to buy a brand new home and are unable to afford the full cost, builders will often lower the price if the buyers are willing to do some of the work themselves.

Mrs. Wagner and I did that with our first home. We finished all of the drywall and did all of the interior painting ourselves. We were given a lower price on the home in exchange for our labor. We invested ourselves in the project.

In other words, if you want something bad enough, or if it’s important to you, you should be willing to work for it. Likewise, we want our students to invest themselves in Bishop Chatard. Anyone can attend the school; we want students to commit to the school.

So, what does this have to do with our readings today?

Today’s readings, as well as most of the readings of the Easter season, are focused on going forth and sharing the joy of the Resurrection.

 In other words, we need to earn some sweat equity when it comes to our faith. Anyone can have faith; the challenge is sharing your faith.

Many people use the excuse, “My faith is personal.” That statement is absolutely true. Faith is personal, but it is not private; it is intended to be shared.

My relationship with Jesus Christ is unique. No one’s relationship – no one’s faith – is exactly like mine. That makes my faith personal. However, that does not give me permission to keep it to myself. I am called to share my faith. It is the difference between being a disciple (a follower) and being an apostle (one who is sent).

There were eleven men huddled in a room after Jesus rose from the dead. They had faith, but were not sharing their faith beyond that room. With the descent of the Holy Spirit, they had the courage to go out into the world. Sharing their faith is what has allowed Christianity to grow from those original eleven men to 2.3 billion believers today.

This Saturday, I’ll be assisting at the First Communion Masses at St. Pius X. Each year at this Mass, Fr. Jim invites the kids receiving their First Communion to come up near the altar to help him with his homily. He asks them a series of questions about Jesus and the Eucharist. The kids are so excited, raising their hands and hoping to be called on to respond. They can’t wait to share what they know.

What happens to that enthusiasm?

I hear students talk about powerful faith experiences they have on retreat or on mission trips. They talk about it in small groups at the retreat, but once outside the “safety zone” of the retreat itself, they shut down.

I have had adults over the years share some very powerful God moments with me. When I asked them if they had shared the experience with others, or would be willing to share it in front of a group, they say, “Oh, I could never do that.”

What are we afraid of? Are we afraid of what people will think? And what will they think…that we love God? That we are proud of our faith? What is the downside?

It is unfair of us to reap all of the benefits without doing any of the work. I think it is time we took ownership of our faith, time to contribute some sweat equity by sharing it with others.

It is not enough to have faith, you must share your faith.



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