Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 191 – Catholic Schools Week

Posted: January 31st, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Learning and Living the Faith

This week we celebrate the ongoing legacy of a system of education that has been handed on to us as a treasured gift from past generations. Our Catholic schools continue to exist for one reason: to pass on the faith. This begins with outstanding teachers who form the minds of young Catholics in our great Tradition. Yet, intellectual knowledge of the faith is not enough. In a real sense, the faith cannot just be handed on; it must be caught anew by each generation. Our Catholic schools provide a wonderful environment for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully in our students. May God bless our dedicated educators as they work tirelessly to not only inform, but truly transform the lives of our children.

Homily 190 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: January 29th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Prophetic Witness of Celibacy

People are often confused by the meaning of celibacy practiced by those in religious life. Sometimes people think that priests are celibate because it gives them more time to devote to ministry. Sadly, sometimes people might assume that marriage is less holy than priesthood. Neither are the real reason for the celibate vocation. Rather, the celibate person serves as a prophetic witness to the reality of heaven.

Marriage and family are good, holy even. Celibacy is a sacrifice precisely because the priest or religious gives up something good. Yet, as good as this life is, it is not the greatest good. The celibate person is meant to be a sign reminding us of heaven. In heaven there is no marriage because it is as though we are all married to God. That relationship of love with God is so real that celibates forgo the early sign of marriage to point to the reality of the heavenly marriage awaiting us.

So, never feel sorry for your priests or religious, or wish for them to be married. We freely and joyful choose to give our lives completely to God. Pray that we may be good prophetic signs that point people to heaven.

Homily 189 – Epiphany

Posted: January 8th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Model of the Magi

Today we rejoice in the manifestation of the Jesus to world, symbolized by the arrival of the “magi” in Bethlehem. The journey of the magi began long before Christmas. In them we can find a model for our Christian journey. Through the light of reason alone, interpreting the stars, the magi know that something special has happened and they follow the star. Needing more than just reason, they receive the last piece of the puzzle from God’s chosen people and form the Scriptures. This leads them to a personal encounter with Jesus in Bethlehem.

Our lives are meant to follow this example. What signs is God giving us? Are we following and using all the tools available in the Church and Sacred Scripture? Have we had a personal encounter with Jesus? Hopefully we can say yes to these things. However, one more thing remains. The Gospel says that after encountering Christ, the magi return by “another way.” We too must follow another way after meeting Jesus. May this new year be a time when each of us encounters Jesus in a new way and follows him more closely.

Homily 188 – Mary Mother of God

Posted: January 1st, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

What Child is This?

We might think of Mary’s title “Mother of God” as saying something about Mary. Some even think that the title is too exalted for a mere creature, even the greatest of creatures such as Mary. Yet this title is important not so much for what it say about Mary, but rather what it says about the baby the Mary gave birth to in Bethlehem. Mary’s title answers the famous question in the Christmas carol, “What Child is This?”

Mary’s child is God. If we refuse to admit that Mary is “Mother of God” then we end up saying that Jesus was not God when he was born. The truth is that Mary gave birth to Jesus and Jesus is God. The title “Mother of God” is therefore not so much about Mary, but rather reminds us that this child born of the Virgin Mary is truly God in the flesh. This is what we celebrate at Christmas and this is why we honor Mary today.

Homily 187 – Christmas

Posted: December 24th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

What Christmas is All About

In the classic Peanuts show “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Charlie Brown famously asks, “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?” His friend Linus then proceeds to give perhaps the most famous reading of St. Luke’s Gospel account of the birth of Jesus. St. John has his own version of the story, what one might call the “advanced” version of the Christmas story. John tells us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” He also says beautifully that “The light shown in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The truth is that there remains much darkness in all of our lives. It is precisely to this situation that Jesus came and continues to come. God did not abandon the world 2000 years ago and he has not left us alone either. God has been and always will be with us. In times of darkness, the light shines all the brighter. In whatever situation we find ourselves this Christmas, God comes to us just as he did in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. This light brings us great hope, and that’s what Christmas is really all about.

Homily 186 – 4th Sunday of Advent

Posted: December 18th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The King Shall Come

The opening scene of today’s gospel is filled with names of people and places that readily evoke the expectation of Christmas: Gabriel, Nazareth, Joseph, Mary… Yet, the name that would most stick out to a Jew at the time of Jesus would have been that of David. God had promised that a king of the line of David would rule over his people forever. Exile and destruction had left many questioning if God had forgotten his promise. The family tree of David seemed to be annihilated, that is until the angel Gabriel brings good news to the a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph of the House of David.

Homily 185 – 3rd Sunday of Advent

Posted: December 11th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Top Tips for Confession

Has it been a while since you’ve been to confession? Maybe you’re worried or just reluctant to go because you feel you don’t know how to go confession. This weekend’s homily provides some practical tips and an explanation of the basics of making a good confession.

Homily 184 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

Posted: December 4th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Under Construction

Advent is a time filled with many treasured symbols: the Advent wreath, the Christmas tree, favorite foods and songs. In today’s homily I introduce my favorite Advent symbol: the orange construction cone. At first it may seem like an unlikely symbol for such a peaceful season, but if you look at the readings today, they’re all about road construction. Isaiah says plainly that our job this Advent is to build a highway for God.

How’s you’re road to God looking these days? Have you patched so many potholes that it looks more like a mine field? This Advent God invites us to put a big “under construction” sign out. We’ve got to do the hard work of repairing our road/lives through some spiritual resurfacing. No one likes construction while it’s going on, but there’s nothing nicer than a brand new road. The Sacrament of Penance is our chance to resurface our road and start over.

Finally, the season of Advent is one that can easily get out of control is we’re not careful. If we follow the wisdom of society we will wind up being very busy and arrive at Christmas exhausted and glad it’s over. To avoid this we need to slow down. Picture that construction worker on the side of the road with his big orange “SLOW” sign. Consider it a sign from God this Advent. Slow down, take time for prayer and quiet, and think of the beautiful new road God has planned just as soon as you get through this construction zone.

Homily 183 – 1st Sunday of Advent

Posted: November 27th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Resolve to Run Forth

Jesus tells us over and over in the Gospel today to “watch.” This is our attitude for the season of Advent. Just as the new translation of the Mass is causing us to have to watch carefully the words we use and pay attention, so we are meant to pay closer attention to our spiritual lives this Advent. This watchfulness of Advent is not a passive sitting back. Rather, the collect of today’s Mass prays that we will have “the resolve to run forth” to meet Christ at his coming.

Advent recognizes two comings of Christ. The obvious one is the coming of Jesus at Christmas. Yet, these first weeks of Advent urge us to prepare for a more important coming, the return of Jesus in Glory. This anxious expectation gives Advent and the Mass a sense of direction. We are not sitting around idle waiting, rather we are on a mission. May this season of Advent increase our resolve and an eagerness to welcome Christ at his coming.

Homily 182 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: November 13th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Pop Quiz

Like a pop quiz or a thief in the night, Jesus will return. The good news is that we know the questions that are on the test. We even know the answers. In the evening of life we will be judged on our love. How well did we care for the least of those among us? How well did we use the gifts God gave us? That is the emphasis of today’s Gospel. God has given each of us special gifts according to our ability and each of us is called to greatness. Let’s resolve not to compare ourselves to others but to do the best we can with the talents we have been given. If we do that, we will hear at the end of our life, “Well done good and faithful servant.”