Project Description

 27A Isaiah 5:1-7 / Phil 4:6-9 / Matthew 21:33-43


A 10-year-old boy decided to study judo

despite the fact that he had

lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.


The boy began lessons with

an old Japanese judo master.


The boy was doing well,

But he couldn’t understand why,

after three months of training,

the master had taught him only one move.


“Sensei,” the boy finally said,

“Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?”


“This is the only move you know,

but this is the only move

you’ll ever need to know,” the sensei replied.


Not quite understanding,

but believing in his teacher,

the boy kept training.


Several months later,

the sensei took the boy to his first tournament.


Surprising himself,

the boy easily won his first two matches.


The third match proved to be more difficult,

but after some time,

his opponent became impatient and charged;

the boy deftly used his one move to win the match.


Still amazed by his success,

the boy was now in the finals.


This time,

his opponent was bigger,


and more experienced.


For a while,

the boy appeared to be overmatched.


Concerned that the one-armed boy

might get hurt,

the referee called a time-out.


He was about to stop the match

when the sensei intervened.


“No,” the sensei insisted,

“Let him continue.”


Soon after the match resumed,

his opponent made a critical mistake:

he dropped his guard.


Instantly, the boy used his one move to pin him.


The boy had won the match and the tournament.


He was the champion.


On the way home,

the boy and sensei reviewed

every move in each and every match.


Then the boy summoned the courage

to ask what was really on his mind.


“Sensei, how did I win the tournament

with only one move?”


“You won for two reasons,” the sensei answered.


“First, you’ve almost mastered one

of the most difficult throws in all of judo.


And second, the only known defense for

that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”


Great story, isn’t it?


Learn that one move!!!

Learn that move where there is no way to defend it!!!

I love this story

Because it reminds me of St. Paul and

his letter written to the Philippians.


It’s what we’ve been hearing in the second reading.


Paul’s in prison when he writes this letter.


He’s awaiting a trial. . . .


And Paul knows when he comes up for trial

he may be sentenced to a good beating. . . .

which happened many times. . . .


Or he may even be sentenced to die. . .

which was also a real possibility.


But even though Paul was in prison—

and there was a good chance he

would be beaten. . .

or put to death


Joy and confidence and peace

just leap off the pages.


Why? . . . Why?


Because Paul has learned the move. . . .

He’s learned that one move that has

no defense against it


He taught it to the Philippians when he

started the church there. . .


and continues to teach the move

in this letter to them.


It’s a simple, simple move. . .

but it’s profound.


And if we live by grace. . . .

it can be an easy move to learn and put into practice. . .


But without grace . . .

the move is nearly impossible.

And as mentioned. . .

it’s a move

that in the end. . .

in the end. . .

when all is said and done. . .

has no defense.


Are ready to hear the move?


Paul teaches us in the very first part of the Letter.


Here it is.


Paul writes:

“Conduct yourselves in a way

worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” (1:27)


“Conduct yourselves in a way

worthy of the gospel of Christ.”


Simple yet profound. . .

takes a good teacher, Jesus,

And it takes grace.


And this same theme is repeated

using slightly different words

throughout Paul’s letter.


This theme is like concrete and steel pillars

spread out in different places. . .

that holds up the entire letter.


Paul writes:


“Boast in Christ Jesus”  (1:26)


“Stand firm in one spirit,

with one mind

struggling together for the faith of the Gospel (1:27)


“Be of the same mind [as Christ]” (2:2)


“Have among yourselves

the same attitude [as Christ]”



“Rejoice in the Lord,

[rejoice in Jesus]. “


“Stand firm in the Lord” (4:1)


That’s the move—

that in the end—

has no defense.


“Conduct yourselves in a way

worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (1:27)


If we want,

as Paul writes:


to be blameless and

innocent children of God,

without blemish in the

midst of a crooked and

perverse generation . . .


Be of the same mind as Christ. . . .


Act like Jesus.


That’s the move.


That means changing what we think

it means to be powerful.


Imitate Jesus

Who. . . .

as St. Paul writes in this letter. . .


Who though in the form of God,

did not regard his equality with God. . . .

instead. . . .instead. . . .

he emptied Himself and

took the form of a slave—

a servant for all.


That’s real power. . . .

That’s Jesus power. . . .

That’s power that lasts through eternity.

Stand firm in the Lord. . .


And let our kindness be known to all (4:5)

That what St. Paul tells them.


St. Paul writes that

if we want to shine

like lights in the world.


Then we have among ourselves

The same mind as Christ. . .


The same mind as Christ.. . .


Act like Jesus. . . .


Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;


humbly regard others

as more important than yourselves,

each looking out not for his own interests,

but [also] everyone for those of others.


We just heard that.


That’s the move. . .


That move that in the end has no defense.


So no matter what the world throws at us. . .


Whether it’s

vitriolic rancor. . .

or the Corona Virus. . .

or division. . .

or hostility. . .

or fear. . .

or injustice. . .

or suffering. . .

or even death. . .


Our move is to

conduct ourselves in a way

worthy of the gospel of Christ.


And you know why that move has no defense. . .

Why it can’t be stopped?


Because Jesus is the closer. . .


Jesus is the closer.


He’s already fought and won the big war.


That’s why Paul tells the Philippians

not be intimidated in any way—

in any way—

by your opponents. (1:28)


Because in the end. . .

Through Jesus. . .


Mercy defeats revenge. . .


Forgiveness defeats resentment. . . .


Justice defeats injustice. . .


Resurrection defeats death. . .


Love defeats hate.


That’s why that in the midst of the trials of St. Paul. . .


Beatings or death. . .


Surrounded by enemies. . .


In St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians

joy and confidence and peace. . .  peace

just leap off the pages.


You see He’s learned the move. . .


The move that in the end can’t be stopped.


“Conduct yourselves in a way

worthy of the gospel of Christ.”


Holy Spirit 10/03-04/20