There has been much debate about the situation at Penn State University with the firing of Joseph Paterno, nationwide, and here in Reno Nevada. Joe Paterno is a Catholic who grew up in Brooklyn and went to Brown University. Paterno represents the Gospel Reading for this Sunday the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Joe Paterno was the steward given five talents. He invested those talents well, investing of himself, putting himself into his students. Penn State had one of the highest graduation rates for football players in the nation. Joe Paterno also had more Academic All Americans than almost any other football coach.
Joe Paterno sent graduate assistants to his player’s classrooms to make sure they were present for class. He monitored his player’s grades throughout the year to make sure they were doing what they were at Penn State to do, be students. Penn State uniforms did not have logos or names of the players. There were no decals on helmets commemorating the number of tackles, catches, or great runs. Every player played for the team/the system. That is why Paterno sent the graduate assistants and monitored grades. Paterno believed in a system that helped its members.
This past week, we found there is a key difference between the One, True God, and the system. The One True God loves us and cares for us. The system cares for itself. Jerry Sandusky used the system to prey upon little boys. When the system found out, it forced him to retire, but allowed him to be an emeritus professor, with rights to Penn State facilities. This pervert continued to use Penn State facilities to prey upon little boys. Then graduate assistant Mike McQueary exposed Sandusky’s actions and reported to Joe Paterno, who in turn reported to Athletic Director Tim Curley.
Joe Paterno could have reported to civil authorities, but trusted the system. It is unclear if Paterno knew why Sandusky retired three years earlier. Knowing, he may have been more likely to report to civil authorities when the system did not take decisive actions. “An anonymous trustee told The Morning Call of Allentown the board was angered because Paterno released statements on his own rather than through the university. This non-reporting to civil authorities is the stated reason for his dismissal. He is let go if he reports or if he does not report.
The temptation is to do as the steward only given one talent, to grumble that the master of the house was harsh, and bury the one talent in the ground. Penn State students did this when they found their coach and Penn State icon was gone, by rioting.
Instead, Paterno thanked the crowd outside of his house and stated, “The kids who were victims, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them. It’s a tough life when people do certain things to you.” Paterno expressed the desire to do the best interest of Penn State, the system, probably knowing what would happen next.
Joe Paterno gives us all an example. There is something greater than the Penn State board of trustees. That is Penn State’s, students, facility, and staff. There is something greater than Penn State, the One, True, God, who is ultimately the Paterno, the father of us all. When the world, in Reno Nevada, or at State College PA, is harsh and unforgiving, when management does as management does, protecting itself, we must remember there is the One True God who prepares a place for us. In heaven, there will be no earthly management. There will be the One, True, Father of us all, constantly working to feed, cloth, and house us all.