By Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
Two elderly women were enjoying the warm breeze in the park. Their conversation eventually focused upon their husband. They began fussing about them. One woman said, “I do wish my Harry would stop biting his nails. That makes me terribly nervous!”
“Oh, my Elmer used to do the same thing,” the other woman commented. “But I broke him of that habit real quick.”
“Tell me,” said the other woman, “what did you do?” With a sheepish grin she said, “I hid his false teeth.”
The older we get the more we realize that the people who want to help themselves can only do so by helping others. It’s a basic law of success. This law comes to us right out of the bible, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brethren you do for me.” “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” “I’ve come to serve, not to be served.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
One of the most successful businessmen who has used this principle was James Cash Penney. Mr. Penney started with a small general merchandise store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902. From that store he built a multibillion-dollar business empire on one simple principle: The Golden Rule.
For years the Penney stores were called ‘The Golden Rule Stores.’ And it was Mr. Penney’s faith in the Golden Rule principle – always treating a customer as he himself would want to be treated – that made him grow and prosper.
But perhaps even more importantly was Mr. Penney’s attitude toward his employees. In the first place he did not like the word ’employee.’ He treated everyone as a partner. Rather than referring to his hired helpers as ’employees’ he referred to them as ‘associates.’ And he devoted himself to treating them as he would want to be treated. Most of all he knew that by helping them make money, his own success would be assured.
“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne. Yet, so many of us still fear the loss of self through serving others. Actually, serving others is the only way to find oneself.
In our scripture readings today we hear God inviting us to break down the boundaries that separate us from others. God wishes that all His children enter into community with each other and with God. J.C. Penney was promoting the same principle. It was his profound Golden Rule principle.
During World War I, a Protestant chaplain with the American troops in Italy became a friend of a local Roman Catholic priest. In time, the chaplain moved on with his unit. As the war progressed this chaplain was killed. The priest heard of his death and asked military authorities if the chaplain could be buried in the cemetery behind his church. Permission was granted.
But the priest ran into a problem with the chancery office. The bishop was sympathetic, but he said that he would not approve the burial of a non-Catholic chaplain in a Catholic cemetery. So, the priest buried his friend just outside the cemetery fence.
Years later, a war veteran who knew the story of the Bishop and the Pastor, returned to Italy and visited the old priest. The visiting veteran asked the priest to see the chaplain’s grave. To his surprise, he found the grave inside the fence.
“Oh,” he said, “I see that you got permission to move the body.” “No,” said the priest. “They told me where I couldn’t bury the body. But nobody ever told me I couldn’t move the fence.”
I wonder what God thinks when he watches us humans making laws and establishing policies that separate us from one another. Jesus had but two laws – love God and love neighbor…whether you are boss, employee, partner or associate,…or whether you are inside the fence or outside…we are all one in Jesus Christ. It is up to us to live the ‘Golden Rule.’
As we recognize the Golden Rule of J.C. Penney, let me share with you a current ‘J.C. Penney incident.’ Before the Redemptorist Students arrived at St. Gerard, the parish as a whole decided to purchase new sheets, pillow cases, blankets, comforters and towels for each student. Cliff and Eileen Padalecki shopped around and found the best deal at J.C. Penney. The saleswomen graciously welcomed us. They gave us a discount you couldn’t beat. It was a combination of ‘4th of July discount;’ ‘bulk discount;’ and ‘opening a new account discount.’ All toll, it was a ‘mammoth’ discount. These saleswomen followed the Golden Rule. Thank you J.C. Penney.
Save the date! Save the date!…and then we change the date! Yes, that’s what happened. San Antonio Catholic Television wanted to film a one hour program called ‘Discovering Your Faith’ in St. Gerard Church on Tuesday, September 22th. The date has been changed to Tuesday, September 26th.
‘Discovering Our Faith’ is a one hour program during which a moderator – Father Pat O’ Brien and Archbishop Gustavo speak about world-wide Catholic issues, Archdiocesan events ad St. Gerard ministries.
You are invited to attend. Let’s fill the church with parishioners. Let’s show the T.V. audience how we vibrant we are as a parish. So – Save the date! September 26 – 7:00 p.m.
Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.