Though it may seem like a repeat reflection for much of it, this is actually a continuation of a recent theme, one I’ve been sharing in different forms during mission appeals that I’ve been doin in May and June on behalf of the St. James Society. Have a great Father’s Day!
Some 25 years ago, I worked at Fenway Park. But not on the inside. I worked in the parking garage behind the Green Monster, the famous big green wall in left field. So, my first day, I got a red shirt with staff on the back, and I decided I’d go into the ballpark. I thought, maybe I could see some of the game, or maybe get some free food, or maybe get into a dugout and meet a player. So as I was walking through the doorway, I got a tap on my shoulder. I turned, and there was a security guard. He had a mean look on his face and he pointed outside to the parking garage. So, I turned and showed him the big word “staff” written on my back. He just shook his head.
So, with my head and shoulders slumped over, I went back to the parking garage, and started getting the cars parked. And as I was doing that, I suddenly heard a loud bang that made me jump. I turned around and there was a baseball bouncing around the parking deck. It had come over the wall! So, I ran after it, and when I got it I held it in my hand. I didn’t get any food, didn’t get to see the game, didn’t get to meet a player, but I got the best thing you could get at a Fenway game: a homerun ball over the Green Monster. I had a treasure.
So, the games went on and I got more and more baseballs, until one day, the Home Run King, Mark McGwire, came to town. You might remember him: really tall guy with big muscles, set homerun records. Well, he set another record that weekend, and the record ball landed on the parking deck and I went chasing after it and I got it. While I held it in my hand, a newspaper journalist approached me with some questions, and the next day, there was a whole article in the newspaper about me and the Home Run King, Mark McGwire. I was famous!
Some time later, I wondered: why did that happen to me? Why did God have that happen? I think I know why:
It was because I had *no* baseballs.
I had given them all away.
A little boy comes out of the car with crutches, and I take out a homerun baseball and say, would you like one of these. And of course, he says Wow! The senior with his walker surrounded by family members, maybe on his way to the last game he’ll ever make with his family. I take out a homerun ball, how about this? Wow! Or the young girl in the wheelchair being pushed by her mother, I think, this will make her day. Another baseball, another Wow!
And I saw that all the people I gave the baseballs to, they had the same joy and excitement that I had when I got my first homerun baseball.
And I realized:
The only thing better than getting a treasure, is giving it away.
I gave that baseball to my Dad.
Well, later in life I was entering into adult success, and I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was God. He communicated to me, in some mysterious way, something like this: Jerome, I am looking for someone to be *outside* the ballpark in life. That is where my homerun baseballs land, and I am looking for someone that will notice them, that will get them, and then lift other people up with them.
I am looking for someone who knows that the only thing better than getting a treasure, is giving it away.
I have spent the time since in places outside the ballpark of life. In hospitals, orphanages, prisons, nursing homes, on the streets. For most of the last 7 years, I’ve been in Ecuador in some of the simplest and poorest communities. I get to lift up children without a home, seniors in the their last days, sick people without hope, villages and communities on the brink of ending from natural disasters and suicides. I get to see it all come back to life, all because that is where God’s homerun baseballs land. I get to find them and lift others up by giving them away.
When I first started going to Ecuador, my Dad passed away. Now, in the Gospel, Jesus says that, “Everything that the Father has is mine.” (Jn 16:14) He’s talking about the inheritance. And so, when my father died, my brother and I got everything that was his. And part of what I got in the inheritance was … the baseball back! That goes with me to Ecuador when I go.
Don’t be afraid to give your treasures so that others can have what you have. Don’t worry about what you’ll be left with. When you find out that the only thing better than getting a treasure is giving it away, then you have an inheritance that is coming some day, where yours treasures will come back to you in the biggest way.
Because you have a Father that loves His sons and daughters.
And all that is His will be yours.