Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Prayers for Surgery

November 17th, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Endonasal Pituitary Tumor SurgeryOn Tuesday, November 21st, I will undergo surgery to remove a tumor on the pituitary gland in my head. I first became aware of this tumor four years ago when I was in a car accident. Use of medication since that time has prevented the tumor from growing, but it has not shrunk. More significantly, the tumor continues to mess with hormone levels, metabolism, and a host of other complications. The pituitary gland is sometimes referred to as the “master gland” because of all the things is controls.

Over the past year, side effects from the tumor and medication have created enough problems that my doctors and I recently decided that it would be best to have surgery to remove the tumor. The neurosurgeons involved say they perform this surgery at the rate of about one per week and it’s very common. The pituitary gland is on the bottom of the brain, so they are able to access it through a scope inserted through the nose without the need to open the skull. So, if there is such a thing as a “simple” brain surgery, I guess this is it.

The surgery is scheduled for Tuesday morning at the University of Kansas Hospital in the brand new building known as the Cambridge Tower. I am told that I will be in ICU overnight on Tuesday and then moved to the floor for “a couple days” while they “make sure there is no spinal fluid leaking from my brain.” So, I hope to go home perhaps the evening of Thanksgiving.

I am hopeful that this surgery will help eliminate some of the problems I’ve been experiencing and allow me to get back to being a “normal” priest very soon. I appreciate all your prayers.

N.B. I told them if they see a bunch of Latin in there to be sure to leave that part alone; I need that :-).

Homily 361 – Sharing the Love – Trinity Sunday

June 11th, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

TrinityToday’s gospel is one of the most well-known in all of Scripture. “God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” You often see people making reference to this famous passage by the reference, “John 3:16.” If you had to boil the entire Christian message down into one nutshell statement, this would be it.

St. John goes on to give us two key reasons that God sent the son. First, so that we might have eternal life. Just those words, “eternal life,” are enough to get the attention of even the most hardened atheist. With all the trouble we experience in the world, there’s something built into us that just says, “There has to be more than this!” We desire to live forever and we desire that all the wrongs of this world would one day be made right. We long for heaven and eternal life with God.

Secondly, the son is sent not to condemn the world, but to bring salvation. After we find ourselves attracted to the idea of God and eternal life, we almost always then realize that we are not worthy of this. We feel woefully inadequate to deserve to be so close to God and to live forever. That’s where the real good news comes in. We don’t have to earn salvation. It’s precisely because we can’t save ourselves that Jesus comes, not to condemn but to save.

It might seem strange that we read this gospel on Trinity Sunday. What does it have to do with the Trinity? You don’t even have the Holy Spirit mentioned in the text. I find the answer to this in that most important word, God so LOVED the world.

An isolated solitary person cannot love. You need somebody to love. That’s why God is not an isolated singularity, but a communion of persons. The Father loves the Son and pours himself out. The Son receives this love and returns it to the Father. Then, as the great St. Augustine tells us, the love between the Father and Son is so real, that it becomes another person, the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is a burning fire of love. Now hear that famous verse again, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” There’s God the Father, the Son, and the love, the love that is the Holy Spirit. So it turns out that all three persons of the Trinity are in there after all. And the best news of all… God shares that love with us. Experiencing this love is so amazing that we are called to go share this love with others. Now that’s good news.

Homily 360 – Peaceful and Powerful – Pentecost

June 4th, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Spirit of PeaceWe often think of the Holy Spirit being made known by powerful deeds and miracles, like at Pentecost. However, there is another important experience of the Spirit that I consider in today’s homily. Jesus comes to the upper room saying, “Peace be with you” and “Receive the Holy Spirit.” There is an important connection between peace and the Spirit.

From the day of our baptism, we become “temples” of the Holy Spirit. Before baptism, we had only our human spirit; now we become capable of divine life. The presence of the Spirit in us makes us capable of living forever with God. This special indwelling of the Holy Spirit we call “sanctifying grace.” When we have it, we refer to ourselves as being “in a state of grace.” This is where the peace comes in.

Many times in my life, when things get difficult and the weight of the world is bearing down, I am able to find peace in the simple thought, “I am in a state of grace.” If we are in a state of grace, if we have the Holy Spirit, then we can have peace. If we are in a state of grace, nothing else really matters. If we die at this very moment, none of the other cares will matter if we are in a state of grace; we will go to heaven. What a wonderful thought this is to remember!

Now, having this peaceful presence of the Spirit is important, but I conclude today by considering that the Spirit is also a spirit of power and action. There is a time to sit in the upper room and receive peace, and then there is the time for the Spirit to come as a driving wind and fire and force us out of the upper room. How amazing that it is the same Spirit that does all of this. Let’s cultivate a deeper relationship with this Holy Spirit so that we might have both peace and then the strength for action.

Homily 359 – Ready to Solo – Ascension

May 28th, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

PilotIt seems like today would have been such a sad day in the life of the Apostles. After 3 years of being with Jesus every day and 40 days with him after the resurrection, today’s Solemnity of the Ascension marks the moment when Jesus left this earth. It does seem like it would be sad. Yet, Jesus leaves his apostles, and us, with the encouraging words, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

After his ascension, Jesus was actually able to be even closer to his apostles. Like them, we no doubt wish we could experience his physical presence, but we are told today that Jesus is present with us in an even more real way, even better than if he were physically present.

As Jesus left this earth, he gave us our mission, to go spread the gospel, to teach, to make him present through the sacraments. Jesus had prepared the apostles and showed them how to do it. Now it was time for the them go out on their own. Just like graduating from school, there comes a time when the teacher leaves and the student has to go out and put into practice what he’s learned. This can be a moment filled with some sadness as a child leaves home, but we know that this is how it’s supposed to be.

Today’s celebration also reminds me of the days when I was training to obtain my pilot’s license. There comes a great moment in the life of any student learning to fly when his instructor gets out of the plane and says that you are ready to “solo.” An instructor won’t do this until he is sure that the student is ready. In much the same way, Jesus only leaves because he knows we’re ready. It may be scary, but it’s alos exciting and it’s what we’re made for. It’s our turn to go out and do the works of the Lord. But let us remember his final words. We are not alone. “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Homily 358 – Reason for Hope – 6th Sunday of Easter

May 21st, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Door to DoorAs we read about the spread of the gospel in the Acts of the Apostles, it’s easy to forget that the impetus that first caused this going forth was a persecution that arose in Jerusalem. Even today, we sometimes need a little “push” to get us going sharing the faith. Sometimes that push comes in the form of a challenge from someone. There is an entire branch of theology called “apologetics” that deals with this call to defend the faith. Literally, the word “apology” means “to give an explanation.”

In today’s second reading, St. Peter urges us to be ready to give such an “explanation” for the “reason for your hope.” In today’s homily I consider the two-step process that St. Peter outlines for this type of evangelization. First, we must sanctify Christ in our hearts, and only then will be ready to go out to make this “reasoned explanation.”

Whenever we attempt to share the faith, we must always remember that it is primarily Jesus himself that we are trying to share. It is important that we learn the answer to some basic arguments so we can give the “reason for our hope.” But we must always do this mindful of the fact that trading Bible verses and catechism citations is not the goal. There’s more to it then simply winning an argument.

In the end, the Holy Spirit, the “advocate” as he is called in today’s gospel, is working behind the scenes. He’s like your attorney, a technical meaning of the word “advocate.” He will take your language and translate it into a message the can be received by the heart of the other person.

So let’s be ready to give an explanation for the reason for our hope. Let’s do our homework so as not to keep passing by opportunities. But when you go out to share, don’t forget to do it with love and don’t forget to ask your advocate for help.

Homily 357 – Show Us the Father – 5th Sunday of Easter

May 14th, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Coat of ArmsIn today’s Gospel, St. Philip the Apostle gets his moment to shine. When he gets the chance to ask Jesus for the thing he most wants, he says that he wants to see God. “Show us the father,” he requests. What a great thing to have as your deepest desire. How many of us would say that the thing we want most is to see God?

Despite this seemingly great request, Jesus has to kind of correct Philip and tell him that his question isn’t really as perfect as it could be. This requires a lot of humility on Philip’s part. He didn’t quite ask for exactly the right thing, but this was still pleasing to God. We don’t have to be afraid to ask for what we think we want. Just trust that God can see our good intentions and answer with what we really need.

Jesus says that if you want to see the father, look at him. If you see Jesus, you see the father. But then, how can we who live 2000 years after his ascension see Jesus? In today’s homily I consider two ways. First, through the visible presence of the church on earth, built of “living stones.” Secondly, in the Eucharist where we are truly face to face with Jesus.

So if your deepest desire is to see God, then you need to see Jesus. And if you want to see Jesus, you need the Church and especially the Eucharist. Let’s stir up our desire for this greatest good and then be grateful for the means that God has chosen to use to make himself present in our world.

Homily 356 – The Church Has the Voice of the Shepherd – 4th Sunday of Easter

May 7th, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Good ShepherdJesus is the good shepherd. When he left this earth, he desired that we his sheep would still be able to hear his voice. Actually, to be compared to sheep is not so flattering. Sheep are not very smart and are prone to getting lost and hurt on their own. We definitely need to hear the shepherd’s voice. This is why Jesus us left us his Church. He left us shepherds and he uses their voice to be his voice. For 2000 years, the Catholic Church has faithfully handed on everything Jesus asked his first appointed shepherds to do.

Today, we desperately need to learn to hear this voice. There are many voices of “strangers” that we are all too eager to listen to. Jesus continues to speak clearly through the voice of the Church. We hear him in the teaching authority exercised by the successors of Peter and the apostles. We also hear him in the powerful and merciful words of the sacraments. So don’t be embarrassed to be a sheep. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that we are like sheep, provided that we know the voice of our good shepherd and will follow him wherever he leads.

Homily 355 – Back Without a Vengeance – Divine Mercy Sunday

April 23rd, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Wounds of JesusJesus is back! What great news. We all naturally accept the resurrection as the best news the world has ever known, but would it have automatically been this way for the apostles? No doubt there was joy that Jesus was alive; the gospel today tells us so. But I wonder if there wouldn’t have also been some doubt. After all, Jesus is back, but the last time the apostles were with him, well, things went badly. Other than John, everyone fell asleep, failed to pray, and ultimately ran away. Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus. Think about that. Peter’s last words to Jesus before he died were screaming “I don’t know him!” and cursing as he ran away. What would have been going through Peter’s mind as he saw Jesus for the first time after the resurrection?

Whatever doubt or fear the apostles had was quickly put to rest as Jesus appears and immediately says, “Peace be with you.” Jesus has not come back with a vengeance to condemn the apostles. He doesn’t yell at them or even bring up the events of Thursday night and Friday. He simply says, “Peace be with you.” Now the apostles could rest in the joy of the resurrection without the cloud of doubt. Notice this, however… the wounds of the crucifixion are still there. Why?

Jesus has a glorified body. It’s perfect. So why is there not a complete healing of the wounds? The only reason they are still there is because Jesus deliberately chose to have his wounds visible on his glorified body. I think this is a key insight into how Jesus sees woundedness. He doesn’t try to hide the wounds. He doesn’t pretend like Good Friday never happened. All those terrible things really did happen. Yet, and here’s the key, Easter is more powerful. As bad as Friday was, Easter Sunday is even more powerful. It takes the wounds and overpowers them, turning them into signs of love and not shame. Jesus can do the same with our wounds.

Are you wounded? Sure. We all are. The good news is not that Jesus is going to magically take away our wounds but, rather, that he is going to overpower them with his grace. Our wounds are part of our story, but he’s going to take the Friday and transform it so much through Sunday that we will actually end up calling it “Good” Friday. So don’t be afraid of your wounds. You don’t have to hid in a locked room of shame and weakness. Jesus knows your whole life and all you wounds. He offers you the gift as Divine Mercy as he bursts through your locked doors and says to you today as he said to the apostles, “Peace be with you.”

Homily 354 – You Are Witnesses – Easter Sunday

April 16th, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Easter“You know what has happened!” So Peter tells us in the first reading. Jesus has been raised from the dead. We’ve heard the reports. Peter and John both saw the empty tomb. We’re told that John “saw and believed.” So we’ve heard reports, the tomb is empty, and people have reported seeing Jesus alive. This is powerful stuff! Yet churches are not full on this Easter Sunday morning simply because of reports from 2000 years ago, or because there’s an empty tomb in Jerusalem. Each of us has, to some extent personally experienced the power of Jesus risen from the dead.

There is real power in the resurrection. It’s a power that caused the apostles and countless disciples after them to lay down their lives in testimony that they had seen Jesus risen from the dead. They are witnesses. But the scriptures also tell us today that WE are witnesses. How can this be? We have not seen the risen Lord like the apostles. Yet we can see what John saw. We can see the empty tomb and, like John, we can see and believe. We can believe because the witnesses are credible, but we can also believe because in a way each of us has seen the lord. We’ve experienced not just a story, but the real tangible power of Jesus in our lives.

Over one hundred thousand people became Catholic last night around the world. That’s a witness to power. They are willing to change their lives for the truth of this message. What about the rest of us? We too are witnesses. In fact we are the greatest witnesses there are. If we go out today and proclaim Jesus risen and that our lives must be different, we witness. But we also witness if we go out and do nothing, if we don’t even come back next week. That too witensses and says that really nothing happened here. The truth is, you ARE witnesses. But what kind of witness will you be?

Homily 353 – More Than Stories – Easter Vigil

April 15th, 2017, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Easter FireTonight we read the stories of how God has orchestrated this elaborate plan of salvation. Beginning with the creation of the world and the great covenants of the Old Testament, we see God’s providence at work. But these are not just stories. The same power that was at work from beginning is at work now. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in all of us today. The message of the resurrection is the most powerful story ever told, and it’s all real. Tonight we gather in the dark of Easter night because we want to be in touch with that power. We symbolize this power in fire, and water. Most especially, we see the power of the resurrection tangibly present in those who tonight choose to be Catholic and receive the Easter sacraments. They are a powerful witness. May the new light of Easter put all of us in touch once again with the power at the source of our faith, something much greater than mere stories, the truth of Jesus come back from the dead.