25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 22, 2013 10:30am and 12 noon
Saint Margaret Parish, Bel Air
My Parents: Three Fundamentals
When I look back to my childhood and teenage years, I have to say that my parents gave my brother Charlie and me an awful lot.
I especially mean that they taught us a lot of important things. When I think about today’s readings, I recall three core things my parents gave us.
First, they grounded us in God. They took us to Church every Sunday.
They made sure that we learned our catechism and religion lessons. What came across was that God is first and that our life ought to be built on God.
The second thing I recall is a sense of right and wrong. They taught us what is good and bad and it was based on our faith.
For example, they taught us to respect our elders and to tell the truth, and not to cheat in school or to use bad language. And all of this was based on the commandments of God.
And the third thing that they left us with is care for the poor. My father had the saying: “Never forget the little guy” and by that he meant persons who didn’t have much or were simply poor.
My father wanted us always to be sensitive to those in need. He taught us social justice without using the expression.
The Fundamental Option
Now what my parents taught us in those formative years was crucial.
And of course, what all parents teach your children in those years is crucial. Some of our Catholic theologians speak of what is called the Fundamental Option.
These theologians say that somewhere along the line, we all make a Fundamental Option about our lives. This is the basic direction or guiding theme or value we choose for our life.
For most of us, our experiences in those childhood and teenage years have a great effect on the Fundamental Option that we make. And then, as we mature and go through life, we may reaffirm or change our Option.
Our Fundamental Option may not be perfect. So I can choose to make God and Jesus and the gospel the guiding force for my life.
And yet, I can say and do things that are inconsistent with that. This means that I need to grow to greater wholeness and get my life more fully lined up with my Fundamental Option.
We can also change our Fundamental Option. I can back off of my Option for God and start living just for myself, or I can back off of living for money and career and start living for God.
The Scriptures: Fundamental Option
Today’s Scripture passages lead me to share all of this.
In today’s gospel, Jesus says it in one sentence: “You cannot serve God and mammon.” The word “mammon” means anything besides God that we make the center of our lives.
So Jesus is saying we cannot serve both him and something else. Somewhere along the line we must make a choice about the purpose and direction of our life.
In this gospel, Jesus is also concerned about right and wrong in everyday life. He calls us to be honest and trustworthy.
Jesus calls us to do this out of our basic choice or option for him. And if we do this now, in everyday matters, then he says God will give us greater blessings in eternity.
And finally, the prophet Amos in the first reading focuses on our relationship with the entire human community. He decries taking advantage of or neglecting the poor.
Amos calls us to social justice – to compassion and justice for those in need. He sees this as part of our relationship with God, part of our Fundamental Option.
So, maybe the question today is: what Fundamental Option have we made?
We have all made one, consciously or subconsciously. It is good to get in touch with this and see what we have to do to tighten it up or even change it.