Posted: October 30th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
Sharing Our Very Selves
St. Paul tells us in the second reading today that he is proud that he shared with his disciples, “not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well.” We all love teachers who put themselves into their teaching and give us more than just the words in the textbook. I think we love this quality in our priests as well. We love priests who understand us and with whom we have something in common. While we have beautiful examples of how the humanness of our priests helps us to know God better, their are also cases where the humanness of priests becomes a major stumbling block and even a scandal. It has always been this way since the beginning of the Church.
On this Priesthood Sunday we give thanks for our priests who are chosen from among us. We priests are called to image the perfect fatherhood of God, yet we often fall short, as all fathers do. Pray for your priests. Give thanks for the good you see, quickly overlook the bad, and remember that the two are always wrapped up together in the human condition. May God allow us as priests, broken though we are, to be living witnesses as we share not only the gospel of God, but our very selves.
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Posted: October 23rd, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
Affliction and Perfect Joy
St. Paul gives us what appears to be a paradox in the 2nd reading today. He praises the Thessalonians for accepting the Word “with affliction and joy in the Holy Spirit.” How can affliction and joy exist together? St. Francis of Assisi is a great model for solving this riddle. In his own unique way, St. Francis shows us how to radically live out the call of today’s Gospel to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. If we do that, we can have perfect joy no matter what affliction life throws at us.
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Posted: October 9th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
Accepting the Invitation
In the new translation of the Mass which we will begin using this Advent, the words of consecration of the chalice will be changing. Instead of referring to the fact that Jesus shed his blood “for all” we will hear the priest refer to Jesus shedding his blood “for many.” While Jesus did indeed die for all, the new translation is not only faithful to the Latin, but also points out the sad fact that not all will accept Jesus’ offer of salvation. Like the people in the Gospel, many of us today make excuses as to why we have better things to do than accept God’s invitation.
Every Sunday we are invited to the marriage banquet prepared by God. How do we respond? Do we tell God that we have “better things” to do? If we do come to Mass faithfully each week, how is our attitude? Are we really participating and putting ourselves fully into it so as to “get something out of it?” Perhaps the meditation in today’s homily concerning our beloved Kansas City Chiefs football team will help.
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Posted: October 4th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
The One Thing
I was conducting a parish retreat last weekend and so didn’t have a Sunday homily. As a bonus then, here is the homily I have at Bishop Miege High School for the homecoming Mass on the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi. May we be like Mary in the Gospel and know how to find the one thing that is most important among the many. When we find that it is God that we need, may we be like St. Francis in leaving everything to follow God, placing nothing before him, not even sports.
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Posted: September 25th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
Holy Role Reversal
Our readings today speak of several reversals of roles. None is greater than the one spoken of in the 2nd reading. Paul tells us plainly that God become man. The creator became part of his creation. To really understand the enormity of this event, we have to hold on to two very important truths about Jesus. Namely, Jesus was 100% God and at the same time he was 100% man. Jesus is God, consubstantial with the Father. Yet he also took on our flesh, became incarnate, and is one us.
Because of Jesus’ self-emptying and his death for us, we ourselves are in for quite a role reversal. God became man so that we might become like God. Jesus did not stay dead and neither will we. We are meant to be lifted up and live with God forever in heaven where “Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
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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.
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Posted: September 11th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
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.”
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Posted: September 4th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
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.
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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.
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.”
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