Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 324 – There’s No Place Like Home – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 11th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

DorothyOne of the great story lines of all time can be summed up by the phrase “The Journey Home.” The protagonist has somehow wound up far from home and struggles to make it back. We can can think of many great movies along this theme, but one of the classics in the genre is the famous story of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. A tornado has taken poor Dorothy far from Kansas and now she has to brave the Wicked Witch of the West and flying monkeys to make it back home.

Although Dorothy may be one of the more famous secular versions of “The Journey Home,” the most famous biblical version is found in today’s gospel story of “The Prodigal Son.” Far from home, he makes the difficult decision to get up and return to his father. There he finds a surprise welcome that he never expected.

The most interesting thing to me about the “Journey Home” genre is that it rarely matters how the main character got so far from home. Maybe their spaceship blew up (think Apollo 13) or there was a tornado, like in the Wizard of Oz. Even in the case of the Prodigal Son who wound up far away because of his own foolishness, that’s not really the most important part. In some sense, the “Journey Home” story doesn’t really start or get interesting until the protagonist decides to head for home. That’s when things get exciting.

So where are you at right now? Are you far from home, literally or figuratively? Maybe you’re isolated from your family, or from God. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter how you got there. The real adventure is about to begin. All you have to do is decide that you are ready to head for home. It won’t be as easy as simply clicking your heals together, but it will be worth it. After all, as any good Kansan knows, “There’s no place like home.”

Homily 323 – The Desire to See Jesus – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 4th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Mother TeresaImagine someone you know is interested in learning what Christianity is really all about. What would you tell them? What’s the core message? Probably most of us could think of some attractive good thing to share. However, in today’s Gospel, we see the message Jesus shared with the crowds that were following him. “If you want to follow me, you have to be willing to sell all your possessions, hate your family, and ultimately be tortured to death…. Anyone still interested?” It’s not the most catching message for attracting followers. Many crowds followed Jesus because of the miracles he was performing. Yet, when it comes to actually being his disciples, it takes a lot more than casual interest. He likens it to building a tower. Before you even start, you better be sure you’re willing to go all the way and see it through to completion. Don’t say you want to follow Jesus unless you’re really in. You have to really want it, and it’s not going to be easy.

While it is true that being a disciple of Jesus is the path to surest happiness in this life and in the world to come, it’s not something superficial that you just get as some kind of signing bonus for beginning Christian. It takes time. You have to have two things to arrive at the true joy of Christian discipleship: First, you have to desire it. Secondly, you have to be willing to do the difficult things God asks. There is perhaps no one who did these two things better than Mother Teresa, now St. Teresa of Calcutta. She loved Jesus with a passionate desire of her whole life and was willing to do anything to see Jesus, including living her life in the slums of Calcutta. In today’s homily, I share one of my favorite Mother Teresa stories. Do you want to see Jesus? Have a listen and see how one person had that wish come true.

Homily 322 – The Secret of Giving – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 28th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Desert MosqueThe scene described in today’s Gospel reminds me a lot of the political atmosphere in Washington, DC: people jockeying for positions of influence, throwing parties to make allies. It can be a very self-centered culture. Jesus tell us, as Christians, that our lives cannot be like this. Rather than looking to be exalted, we should humble ourselves. Rather than always looking to get something, the joy of the Christian life is found by those who are always looking to give. Today’s homily comes on the occasion of the release of the annual financial report to the parishes and offers some concrete advice about stewardship and giving.

In the end, the thing that is most dangerous to us on our path toward heaven is our own selfishness. Anytime we put something ahead of God, we fail and are ultimately unhappy. The secret is to put God first. To put God first, we must pay God first. This is the beautiful secret to Christian happiness, a truth that I find best symbolized by, of all things, a mosque in the middle of the desert.

Homily 321 – Missionary Motivation – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 21st, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

St. Isaac JoguesIn today’s First Reading from the prophet Isaiah, we hear God’s desire to “gather the nations” and to send people out “to the nations.” In this we see, even in the Old Testament, a missionary effort to bring more people into God’s family. In Christianity, some of our most famous saints were missionaries. All endured great struggle and some even gave their lives to spread the Gospel to people who had not heard of Jesus.

Today’s homily examines three of these great Christian missionaries: St. Isaac Jogues, a French Jesuit priest who was martyred in New York in 1646 bringing the faith the the native people there; St. Junipero Serra, just canonized last year by Pope Francis and known as the “Apostle to California” for his efforts to bring the faith to the native people there in the 18th century; and finally, a saint hopefully familiar to those of us in Kansas, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, whose most desired goal was to come to Kansas and bring the Gospel to the native peoples right here in what is now my parishes, a dream that was only fulfilled in when the saint was 71 years old.

We can indeed marvel at the great love of God that drove each of these missionaries, but there is another, even more beautiful reason motivating their lives; they believed that the salvation of souls was at stake. Today we tend to easily fall into the heresy of “indifferentism” which says that it doesn’t matter if someone is baptized or not, or is one is a “good Catholic” or a “bad Catholic.” We tend to think that just about everyone goes to heaven. Jesus tells us something much different in the Gospel today.

All the great missionaries in Church history did what they did because they knew that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for thousands of people to go to heaven if someone didn’t go teach them about Jesus and ensure they were baptized. Countless missionaries have died as martyrs because they believed it was that important to bring the good news of salvation to the whole world. How important is the faith to you? Would you be willing to sacrifice yourself so that others might receive this gift? The truth is, if you have been baptized, you are a missionary. You have a mission and Jesus is sending you. What will you do with your mission?

Homily 320 – Spiritual Olympians – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 14th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Katie LedeckyI, like many people, have spent a lot of time this last week watching the Olympics and marveling at the great ability of the athletes competing. I especially like it when they do a sit-down interview and you can learn a bit about the person behind all the medals and hear how they got to where they are. Some, like Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles, you find out are committed Catholics. With all the athletes, it’s inspiring to see how driven they are and how much effort they have put in to being the best of the best.

Our Second Reading today makes some comparisons between the world of sport and the spiritual life. We are called to “persevere in running the race.” How many of us would say today that we are as committed to spiritual success as the Olympians are to physical earthly success? Behind every great athlete is a disciplined training regimen. No athlete expects someone just to hand them a gold medal simply for showing up and “participating.” Why would we expect that somehow will arrive at the gift of eternal life like it were some kind of participation trophy? No one arrives in heaven simply by running out the clock.

Jesus has already done the hard work through is suffering, death, and resurrection, but we have our part to play. It’s time to start training. Today’s homily provides some a sample training plan to get you going. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are or what you have or haven’t done. Today is the day to start running the race. Jesus doesn’t want mediocre Catholics; he wants us to set the world on fire! So get up and get going. Be a champion. See yourself as a spiritual Olympian.

Homily 319 – You Have Been Warned – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 7th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Marking Doors with Passover BloodIn the Old Testament story of the Exodus from Egypt referred to in our First Reading today, God’s chosen people are safe from the Angel of Death. They were warned ahead of time of this approaching 10th plague. Having followed God’s instruction, they watched the Angel of Death “pass over” their houses while the first-born of the Egyptians all died.

In a similar manner, Jesus gives us a warning in today’s Gospel so that we too might be prepared and safe. In this case, it’s not the Angel of Death who is coming but, rather, Jesus himself who will return in glory. On the one hand, Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t have to be afraid of this day, “Fear not, little flock.” Yet, he also warns us that we need to be prepared. If we put off turning away from our sins and taking seriously our relationship with God, then we will have much to fear when Jesus returns “at an hour you do not expect” and finds us unprepared.

Homily 318 – Learning to Pray the Mass – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 24th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass“Teach us to pray!” This is the request Jesus gets in today’s Gospel. When we think of learning to pray, we might call to mind learning our basic prayers when we were young: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, or and the Glory Be. Yet, it seems like Jesus is being asked something deeper than this. The apostles often saw Jesus in prayer, wrapped in intimate conversation with his Heavenly Father. This is what they wanted, to have that kind of relationship. More than just memorizing the words of set prayers, the essence of our prayer is a relationship with God.

One of the most important prayers, the one in which we are most in union with God, is the prayer of the Mass. I’m not referring to one specific prayer, but rather understanding the entire Mass as prayer. The Second Vatican Council called for the faithful to have “full, conscious, and active participation” in the Mass. Today’s homily shows how this participation is primarily internal rather than external and gives some practical ideas of how to be more active in our prayer at Mass.

Homily 317 – Be Prepared – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 17th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Fr. Shawn BackpackingThe famous motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared.” This admonition is deliberately vague, meaning that a scout should be prepared appropriately for anything. New scouts (and leaders) often get the practical details of the this wrong by bringing way too much stuff on a campout. Experienced scouts know how to be prepared by bringing just the right gear and knowing what they should leave behind.

In today’s Gospel, Martha seems incredibly prepared to welcome Jesus. She has thought of all the details of hospitality. Yet, Jesus reminds her that she is “anxious and worried about many things” and that “there is need of only one thing.” She is so busy with preparations that she misses the most important thing, Jesus himself. Like a good scout, Mary knows the secret. She is prepared for exactly what she needs most at the moment. She knows to “keep the main thing the main thing” and leave other details aside for now.

So maybe today you need to do a little “shakedown” as we call it in the scouts and see how much extra stuff you’re lugging around in your backpack. Put Jesus first and you’ll be prepared for anything.

Homily 316 – Lessons from a Scholar of the Law – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 10th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Jesus and a LawyerNormally, when a “Scholar of the Law” is mentioned in the Scripture, he’s not held in a very favorable light, at least not by Jesus. Yet, in today’s gospel, one such lawyer has a very interesting encounter with Jesus. Perhaps it’s party because I just spent three years studying very hard to become a “scholar of the law,” but I think this guy in the gospel today is actually one of the good guys. I think there are a few things we can learn from him. Today’s homily focuses on three things this lawyer does that we all would do well to imitate.

Homily 315 – A Scout Is Brave – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 3rd, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Chapel at BartleLast week at the beginning of camp at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation in Osceola, Missouri, I talked about the importance of loyalty, the ability to stick by our commitments. This week’s homily at the end of camp focuses on the 10th point of the Scout Law, “A Scout is brave.”

Loyalty and fortitude are great virtues for keeping us on track. However, it is possible to be loyal a committed to goals that are in fact pretty small. In order for loyalty to have it’s greatest effect, we have to make big goals. We have to dare to do more than we thought we could. We have to be willing to take risks. For this, we need bravery.

On this Independence Day weekend, we especially note the bravery of those men and women who have fought in our armed forces defending our freedom. We look to the next generation and ask who might be willing to be brave enough to serve. Looking at our readings today, we most especially ask, “Who is brave enough to risk every, to leave it all, for Jesus?”