Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 173 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

Thankful Workers in the Vineyard

The landowner in today’s Gospel has such compassion that he goes in search of workers for his vineyard time and time again. Even though he probably has no need for more workers, he knows how much the people need the work. God has no need of us, yet we have great need of God. He has called each of us into his vineyard, some early in life, some later. Our response should never be to compare ourselves to others and become jealous. No matter when we were called, our response to God must always be the same…gratitude.

Homily 172 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

Never Forget

On this 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country, the phrase often featured on signs and memorials reads simply, “Never Forget.” Yet, what is it that we are not supposed to forget? In the days and weeks following the attacks there were many feelings of anger and hatred and a desire for revenge. Our scripture readings today encourage us not to try remember these feelings of hurt and anger, but rather to have a heart of forgiveness. While certainly we resolve that we will never forget those who died, there are some other things that we as a nation would do well to “Never Forget.”

Before 9/11 many in our country didn’t think very much about God. Things seemed to be going well and our country and our lives seemed strong and invincible. Many proudly claimed that we didn’t even need God any more. On 9/11 and the weeks following, the country prayed. We went to church. We knew how much we needed God and how only trust in him who brings good out of evil could make any sense of such sad events.

Before 9/11 many of us took our families for granted. It seemed that our lives would go on forever and that we had plenty of time to make needed changes later. On 9/11, the people in the planes that had the chance to make one last phone call or scribble a few hurried words before the planes impacted almost universally had the same wish. They weren’t worried about money or their sports teams. They simply wanted to tell their family that they loved them. Many family members left behind wished the same.

Before 9/11 it seemed that America was divided and so many people were only selfishly focused on what was in their own best interest. Other people didn’t matter so long as I got what I wanted. On 9/11 we saw average Americans become heroes. As the twin towers were falling we know that they were filled with fighters and police racing to get into those towers to help people. In the following weeks thousands of young men and women volunteered to protect our country by joining the military. 9/11 brought the country together around the common desire to help others.

There are many things to remember about 9/11. Most people alive then can remember where they were. On this anniversary, let us resolve not try to remember the past anger and hatred. Rather, I pray that we might once again be reminded of how we learned what was really important on that day. May we never forget how much we need God. May we never forget how special our family and friends are. May we never forget the great pride and sense of community we found when each of us cared about others more than ourselves. These are truly worthy things. These are things that I hope we will “Never Forget.”

Homily 171 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

Corrective Action

A popular philosophy plaguing our society today is the idea of moral relativism. This way of thinking says that there is no truth; it’s all relative to whatever morality an individual person might want to create. The supreme virtue in such a society is that of tolerance. We should condemn nothing and tolerate everything since nothing is objectively right or wrong. We often hear the Scripture quoted reminding us not to “judge” others. Yet is this really the Christian view?

In today’s readings, God is clearly telling us that not only is not wrong to correct someone doing something bad, such correction is required. This is a natural consequence of a correct understanding of the fact that there is of course such a thing as absolute truth. Something can be true even if no one believes it at the time. More importantly, in our Christian beliefs, we understand something as sinful not because it breaks an arbitrary rule but because it is bad for us. Sin is bad because it ultimately makes us unhappy and less free.

In this light, we can see why the Bible is so forceful that not only must we judge when our brother or sister is doing something bad, but we must correct him or her. The key here is how we do it. Fraternal correction is an act of charity when motivated by unselfish love for our brothers and sisters. We all need the support of the community to help us get out of sin when we are stuck. We pray that our Church would be such a community where we build each other up and help each other live a moral life. Indeed we really are called to be our brother’s keeper.

On Vacation

Posted: August 21st, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Sorry, but there will be no homily this week or next as I am on vacation in beautiful Alaska. Look for some Alaskan homilies on my return and follow my progress on Facebook.

Homily 170 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 14th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

That Desire Might be Enkindled

In today’s gospel a Canaanite woman comes to find Jesus and asks healing for her daughter. Surprisingly, Jesus won’t even talk to her. When he does finally talk to her he calls her a dog. In the very next sentence he then praises her for her faith in a way that we don’t even see him compliment his disciples. What is going on here?

First, we have to see that this woman is not Jewish. She is not a part of the chosen people. Jews often referred to gentiles as dogs, so we see Jesus repeating a popular objection to involving himself with a non-Jew. Notice though that this woman is said to be coming out from the land of the gentiles and is going toward Jesus. Spiritually, she represents all the gentiles who will come to have faith in Jesus. Most Christians today were not born Jewish, therefore we are gentiles and the fulfillment of the Psalmist’s desire, “O God, let all the nations praise you.”

However, there is a second important reason behind Jesus’ delay in responding to the woman. St. Augustine remarks that “The woman is ignored, no that mercy might be denied, but that desire might be enkindled.” The crisis that led the woman to leave Tyre and Sidon behind, to beg Jesus for help, allowed her desire for God to increase. God wishes to do the same for us. Through the difficulties and struggles of our life, we pray that our desire for God might be increased.

When we are ready to come out of Tyre and Sidon, to leave sin and separation from God behind, we will discover that God is also coming out to meet us. Let us therefore persevere and turn to God in moments of crisis that our desire might be enkindled and we might hear those beautiful words of Jesus, “Christian, great is your faith.”

Homily 169 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 7th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Where is God?

In today’s first reading, the prophet Elijah has an amazing encounter with God. Mt. Horeb was the famous mountain where God appeared in smoke and fire to give Moses the 10 commandments. Elijah would have been full of expectation, and indeed while on the mountain he experiences some powerful signs. There is a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire…all powerful signs that God had used in the past to show his presence. Yet, this time, Elijah discerns that God is not in any of these. Rather, Elijah encounters God somewhat unexpectedly in “a tiny whispering sound.”

Where do we expect to encounter God? Do we tend to look for him primarily in big and powerful ways, in ways that stir our emotions and excite us? This can happen, and we need it to happen every now and then. However, God is more often found not in loud exciting ways, but in silence. If we make time for silence, we might just be surprised that we will have an amazing encounter with God. In the ordinary work of our day, don’t forget to take some time to meet God, to be silent, and listen for the tiny whispering sound.

Homily 168 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: July 31st, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Satisfaction for the Thirsty

Maybe we’ve never experienced a lack of water in our lives, but all of us experience thirst. We have a spiritual thirst put in us by God that only he can satisfy. Society gives us all kinds of things that it says will satisfy us, but they ultimately leave us unfulfilled. Today God invites us to “come to the water.”

After we have found the life giving water in our faith, Jesus then asks us to share it. Perhaps we are afraid. We may think that we’re not qualified to be an “evangelist.” The truth is that we don’t have to be experts to share the faith. Maybe we only have a little, like 5 loaves and 2 fish. We bring to Jesus the little that we have and he does the rest. All it really takes to be an evangelist is to recognize that you are someone who is thirsty and that you’ve found the source of water. Now who wouldn’t want to share that?

Our world is hungry like never before for the satisfaction only God will give. Don’t wait for someone else to do something about it. Jesus says to us as he said to the apostles…”Give them some food yourselves.”

Homily 167 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

What’s in Your Field?

Jesus speaks today of a treasure hidden in a field. Hopefully we get the point that our faith is a treasure and our relationship with God worth “selling” everything. Truly there is wisdom in our Church beyond what Solomon could have imagined. Yet, do we realize this? Can we really say that our faith is what we value most of all?

We tend to focus on the man in the story who finds the treasure, but did you every stop to think about the man who sold him the field? He obviously didn’t know he had a treasure. Maybe he never bothered to really look around his field or else he could have found the treasure. As a result he probably sold his field cheap, no knowing what he had.

This parable is a warning to all of us. We have a treasure in the Church. However, if we fail to learn our faith, to dig around in our field, we will one day find the little faith that we had…gone. We will run the risk of leaving the Church and selling our field cheaply, believing that we actually got a pretty good deal on what we thought was just an empty field.

Homily 166 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: July 17th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

A World Full of Weeds

With all the violence, difficulties, and scandals in our world, this place can really seem less than ideal. Well, it is. The good news is that we don’t have to make everything right in this world. We don’t have to fight to the death to avenge wrongs done to us. There is another world where all will be made right. As we go through this world, our task then is patience, like the farmer who allows the weeds and the wheat to grow together until the harvest.

While we’re at it criticizing the world and everyone else in it, we can often think that of course we’re the wheat. Is that so? Most of us probably look a little more like weeds than wheat at times. The good news is that God is not done with us. We are all works in progress and that is why we must be patient, with each other and with ourselves. The harvest will come when all will be made well, until then…patience.

Homily 165 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: July 10th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Sink Your Roots Deep

Today’s homily was given in the Chapel of the Twelve Apostles on the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation in Osceola, Missouri.

Our young people today have so many options before them. Particularly alluring is the world of sports. It is not uncommon for kids to be playing multiple sports and giving great amounts of time to this. On top of sports there is a multitude of other activities to be involved in and it seems that no one wants to risk “missing out” on anything, so they try to do it all. In this way they seem to be a lot like the situation described in today’s gospel.

The gospel from today’s Mass describes a sower going out to sow. As he goes, it seems that he is throwing seed everywhere. Some lands in rocks, some on the trail, some among thorns, and some on good soil. Like kids who try to do everything, he seems to be casting seed everywhere, much of it having little lasting effect.

There is a notion of freedom today that relishes the ability to do whatever we want. However, I would propose that the true joy in life comes not from doing a great number of things, but rather in being committed to a few important things. The seed that falls on good ground needs time to stop and put down roots. We too need to stop trying to find happiness in the quantity of activities and realize that true joy and freedom will come only from commitment.

What is worthy of the commitment of our lives? For what are we willing to say that we will forgo all these other activities in order to commit to something special. The greatest joy in life comes when we find the special things that are worthy of our commitment, when we stop and put down our roots. While there will be many things along the way that will give great meaning to our life, ultimately only God is worthy of the total commitment of our lives. May we have the strength today to sink our roots deep in something of great meaning, most especially our faith.