Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 155 – Easter Sunday

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

We See and Believe

An atheist once admitted in a debate that, although he did not believe in the resurrection, the only logical conclusion was that the apostles did. He said it was completely absurd to think that the apostles made up a story of the resurrection, or faked it, or just thought it in their minds. How did he arrive at this conclusion? He said that the lives the apostles led after the resurrection, the testimony that they gave…and especially the testimony of laying down their lives as martyrs…could lead to only one conclusion. The apostles really thought they saw Jesus raised from the dead.

Now this atheist also believed that the apostles were hallucinating, but his conclusion is at least partly right. The lives of the apostles bore witness to what they had seen. What about our lives? We have the same chance that Peter and John had in the Gospel today. They saw an empty tomb and it says that St. John “saw and believed.” We can see the same empty tomb today in Jerusalem. Do we believe? If we do, is there the same kind of evidence in our lives such that even an atheist would have to say of us that there is no doubt that we really believe we have encountered Jesus raised from the dead?

Today, 2000 years later, all Christians gather on this Easter Sunday to boldly proclaim together, “We have seen the Lord!” Alleluia!

Homily 154 – Good Friday

Posted: April 22nd, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Strangest Day

It is a great mystery to think that the Almighty God became man and became a part of His own creation. Yesterday we celebrated the incredible mystery that this same God would then take ordinary bread and wine and change them into Himself. However, nothing can compare with what we celebrate today. Today is the strangest of days. On this day we recall the inexplicable truth that God died for us.

This event is made so real today that the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Today we come confidently before the thrown of grace to receive God’s mercy. We venerate the wood of the cross now become the tree of life and we eat of it’s fruit, Jesus the crucified given us today in Holy Communion. Oh strange and blessed day on which the savior of the world died that we might live. Come, let us worship.

Homily 153 – Holy Thursday

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

Sing My Tongue the Savior’s Glory

This evening we sing an ancient hymn composed by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Mass of Corpus Christi in the 13th century. While most people will probably never read much of the volumes of theology he wrote, almost everyone is familiar with the words of his famous chant, Pange Lingua. We use the last two verses which begin with the words Tantum Ergo in the liturgy of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Tonight this chant serves to accompany the procession at the end of Mass whereby we spiritually follow Jesus as he leaves the upper room and goes to the Garden of Gethsemane. Tonight we sing of his glorious body and receive that same body through the gift of the Eucharist. Tonight we are Jesus’ “chosen band.”

Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world’s redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.

Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wondrously His life of woe.

On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law’s command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.

Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.

Down in adoration falling,
This great Sacrament we hail,
Over ancient forms of worship
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith will tell us Christ is present,
When our human senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
And the Son who made us free
And the Spirit, God proceeding
From them Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.

Living the Liturgy of Holy Week

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

Last night on Palm Sunday in Most Pure Heart of Mary Church, I gave a special presentation on the liturgy of Holy Week. The audio of that talk is now available below. Have you ever wondered what the Easter Vigil is all about? What is the history behind the Washing of the Feet or the Veneration of the Cross? Holy Week contains many rites that are celebrated only once a year and sometimes need some explanation. Listen and learn the meaning behind these special days. Learn how to pray with the Church during this holiest of weeks. I offer many spiritual and historical insights that will help to make this Holy Week the most meaningful week of your year.

The talk lasts about an hour with 15 minutes of audience questions at the end. If you want to jump to a particular point in the talk the time indexes below can be used. May God bless you and our Church during this Holy Week.

0:00 – Introduction
16:26 – Holy Thursday
29:05 – Good Friday
41:07 – Holy Saturday
1:07:03 – Questions

Homily 152 – Palm Sunday

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

The Blessing of Reconstruction

It was Palm Sunday 1865 and General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee were meeting at Appomattox Courthouse to officially end the Civil War. Grant was the conquering victor. Lee suspected that he would probably be executed for treason. Although Grant had all the power and could have completely crushed Lee’s army, he opted for a different route.  Imagine Lee’s surprise when he is met with a handshake and respectful greeting from Grant. After some friendly conversation Lee surrendered. Rather than imprisonment, trials and executions, Grant merely instructed Lee that his army must promise not to fight any more and they could return to their homes in peace.

Lee himself had chosen surrender because he knew that, while fighting remained possible, it would lead to countless deaths and only a slim chance of victory. Grant knew that the desire of many in the North to punish the South would only lead to more hostility and the end of the union he had fought to protect. The humility of both of these men would eventually allow to the country to recover and become a unified nation after the war. However, none of this would have been possible without the humble example and direction of President Abraham Lincoln.

The month prior to the famous Palm Sunday surrender, in his 2nd inaugural address, Lincoln addressed those in the North who wanted to severely punish the South. He said famously that there must not be any additional spilling of blood. Rather the country must proceed “With malice toward none, with charity for all.” Rather than retaliation and revenge, Lincoln envisioned what would come to be called “reconstruction.” 5 days later, on Good Friday, he was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Booth thought he would celebrated as a hero. Instead, many in the South were angry at Booth realizing that he had killed the best friend the South could have had after the war.

In our reading of Passion today, we see the kind of violence and retaliation, the mob rule that Lincoln wanted to avoid. Although Jesus had all the power and could have summoned legions of angles to fight for him, he chose not to fight. He remained largely silent at his trial. God would have certainly been justified in calling an end to this “human experiment” of his, given the way we have treated him and his plan for our happiness. Yet, rather than retaliate and punish us, Jesus chose to save us. On Good Friday we killed the greatest friend mankind has ever had. Through his humility and his love for us, Jesus chose not to fight and thus accomplished the greatest event in history, the reconstruction of mankind.

Homily 151 – 5th Sunday of Lent

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

Do You Believe This?

In today’s gospel we hear of the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. St. John makes it very clear that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Yet, when they are most in need and asking for his help, he instead seems to ignore them. When he does finally show up, seemingly too late, Martha and Mary both confront him in confusion and perhaps even anger, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.”

When our prayers seem to go unanswered we can find good company with Martha and Mary. Yet, just as was true in the gospel, Jesus does in fact hear our prayers. If he seems not to answer it is only because he desires to bring about a greater good. Who could have imagined that Jesus would bring the dead back to life? Jesus promises us that he loves us and will do what is best for us. Ultimately, he promises us eternal life. The question for us is the same he asked Martha, “Do you believe this?”

Homily 150 – 4th Sunday of Lent

Posted: April 3rd, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

3 Types of Blindness

In today’s gospel we hear of the miraculous cure of the man born blind. Jesus uses to story to point out that there are ways much more serious than physical blindness that affect all of us. The first is a moral blindness caused by sin. It is hard to see the right way to go when stuck in the darkness of sin. Second is an intellectual blindness. Are we blind to the truths of our faith? How well do we really know Jesus? Finally there is a kind of blindness of charity wherein we are blind to Jesus Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. We pray that this Lent will be a time of purification and enlightenment in which we find ourselves prepared for the coming of the light of the world at Easter.

Homily 149 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

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

Time to Kick the Bucket

Jesus never avoided difficult issues in his public ministry. In today’s gospel he is going right through the heart of the controversial region of Samaria where he encounters the woman at the well. Like the woman we often try to avoid our problems by going time and again to “wells” that will never satisfy us. Jesus promises to be living water to permanently quench our thirst. When we find Jesus we can joyfully leave our bucket behind at the well and live in the new freedom of Christ.

Homily 148 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 20th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Thank God for Mountains

We all love those experiences when we seem to be on top of a mountain in our faith. Everything seems so clear and God seems so close. That’s the gift that Jesus gave to Peter, James, and John in today’s gospel. Yet we tend to forget what it took to arrive at this experience. Climbing a mountain is not easy. It takes our effort. Even when we get on top, we know that we can’t stay there. Jesus didn’t intend for his apostles to just remain on top of the mountain. He had a mission for them. We all need those mountaintop experiences of God. Two questions remain for us. Are we will willing to do the work and what will be the result? We pray that this Lent might find us eager to draw close to God and that the result will be a greater desire to go out and spread the good news, to bring others to the mountain of God.

Homily 147 – 1st Sunday of Lent

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

The Temptation to Love

Temptation often seems to leave us frustrated. We ask God why he would allow such obstacles in our life. Yet in today’s Gospel we see Jesus freely entering into the wilderness to be tempted. He goes to do battle with the devil. While we too do battle with the devil, our temptations often come just from our fallen nature, our own human weakness. We shouldn’t get discouraged by temptation, even when we fail. Each time we are tested, it is an opportunity to tell God that we love him. If we had no freedom, there would be no temptation, but there would also be no love.

As you carry out the various Lenten disciplines that you voluntarily undertake this Lent, you might wonder how hard you should be on yourself. The thing about Lent is that there really aren’t any strict rules for “giving things up.” We abstain from meat on Friday’s of course, but beyond that…it’s up to you. So, how much and what to give up? It all depends on how much you want to grow and how many opportunities you want to tell God that you love him.