Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's not a quick sale, it's about relationships (Sunday homily)

One of the jobs I had, when I was in my 20s, 
was as a salesman in a men’s clothing store. 
I had that job for about a year or so. 
It was a good job, and I learned some valuable lessons.
The way it worked was that as customers came in, 
each sales person on the floor would be “up” – 
meaning, your turn to wait on a customer. 
And, if you made a sale, you got the commission on that sale.

Of course, not everybody walking in would buy something; 
But a smart salesman knew that Mr. “I’m just looking today” 
might well come back a week later, or an hour later, 
and make a purchase. And, if you took good care of him, 
you’d see him again, and again. 

So, one thing I learned 
was that it wasn’t just about making a quick sale, 
but rather, about creating a relationship.
Someone has a need and comes to me.
If I can help them find what they need – that’s valuable.
That’s not just a good day’s work, 
it’s a good way to live your life
And all that came to mind as I thought about our parish patron, 
Saint Remy, whose feast day we celebrate today. 

Saint Remigius, as he would have called himself,
was a Roman; he lived in northern part of the province of Gaul,
in an area near the present-day border between France and Belgium. 
As a boy, Remy was very bright and well read; 
he was renowned for his learning and his holiness. 
When he was 22, he was recommended to be bishop – 
and he wasn’t even a priest!

Remy was born in AD 437. 
This was a time when Roman society was falling apart. 
Foreign peoples were moving across the borders,
Public order was breaking down,
And when people sent for help from Rome, little help came.

This is how the Kingdom of the Franks – what later became France – 
was established, with Clovis as the first King.
And Remigius, as Bishop of Reims, was in the middle of it all.

Remy had a choice. He might have wanted to stay away 
from these barbarians, and just stick with his fellow Romans.
That would have been a lot easier and more comfortable.

Instead, Remy sought out Clovis and his wife, Clotilda. 
While Clovis was a pagan, Clotilda was a Catholic. 
Remy was eager to share the Gospel with Clovis, 
but the king wasn’t very interested.

Remy wasn’t after a quick sale; 
he and the king and queen formed a friendship, 
despite all that separated him from them.

He may well have been influenced 
by Saint Paul’s words in the second reading: 
“I have become all things to all, to save at least some.” 

Because Remy made himself available to the Lord, 
not only was King Clovis baptized, so were many of his advisors. 
That set the whole kingdom on the path to becoming Catholic; 
and thus the future nation of France.

Now, in case it’s not obvious, let’s notice how our situation is similar.
Our society is in the midst of dramatic change. 
I don’t mean technology, I mean in values.

Some of us can remember taking for granted 
that our society around us knew who Jesus Christ is. 
If that was ever really true, it’s not true now. 

Like the situation in St. Remy’s time, 
you and I can retreat into what’s comfortable and familiar – 
or we can seek out relationships that take us outside our usual circle.
Those are our opportunities to share our Faith, 
and to make a difference in people’s lives.

Just as a practical step, ask yourself:
Do you know all your neighbors – say, on all sides of your house?
How about the next house, in each direction?

What about the other students in your grade at school?
Are there students you don’t know very well?
Maybe they don’t go to St. Remy – or maybe they aren’t Catholic?

As I said a moment ago, the point is not making a quick sale, 
But about being able to help people.

The call that God placed on Isaiah’s heart, and later, 
his call to Peter and Andrew, James and John, 
was to make a difference in people’s lives 
by helping them know who Jesus is 
and the life and hope Jesus gives.

And who does God send? He sent St. Paul; he sent St. Remy; 
and he sends you, and me.


Mary McElroy said...

Oh Father. I thank God for good, faithful priests such as yourselff. Stand strong Father. You are being prayed for more than you know. God bless you.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Thank you, Mary! That's very encouraging!