Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 328 – Where We Got the Bible and What To Do With It – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 16th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Monk WritingIn today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds St. Timothy about the importance of Sacred Scripture. As Catholics, we can fall into the tendency of focusing on Mass and the sacraments and thinking that these are the primary tools for growth in holiness. What a terrible thing it would be for us to neglect the Sacred Scripture in favor of things that seem more routine. While the Mass is obviously filled with readings from the Bible, how much time do you really spend studying those readings and praying with them?

Today’s homily is a short introduction to the Bible. One of the most important things we need to keep in mind is the context from which the Bible came. The Bible is not the complete instruction book for life. So first we consider where the Bible came from. The same authority that gave us the Bible remains the authority we need to interpret the Bible today. That authority is the Catholic Church. After we understand this, the homily moves on to talk about the important concepts of “inspiration” and “inerrancy,” and then finishes with some practical tips. Let’s heed St. Paul’s words to St. Timothy and give the reading and study of Sacred Scripture the important place in our lives it deserves.

Homily 327 – Lessons from Lepers – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 9th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Ten LepersBoth the first reading and the gospel today involve lepers as the star characters. Today’s homily highlights three lessons that we might learn from the figures.

First, humility. It’s takes great humility for the lepers to come out of their hiding and protected places to seek healing. They know they are sick and are humble enough to get admit they need help.

Second, identity. When you read the Scripture, who do you normally identify with? It seems most people like stories of Jesus comforting people, but why does no one ever identify themselves with the Jewish leaders to whom Jesus has some pretty harsh words at times? It’s the foreigners in today’s readings who come out on top not the leaders. Be careful whom you identify with in the Scripture.

Finally, consistency. Neither Naaman nor lepers in the gospel were cured in an extravagant way, just the simple washing in the river or in the command to go to the priests. Sometimes we might want God to heal us or make us holy in some grand display of power, but normally he works slowly, through our consistent willingness to do little things. This is the “Little Way” of St. Therese and the surest path to holiness.

Humility, identity, and consistency. Three important lessons from the lepers in today’s reading.

Homily 326 – Do Something for Life – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 2nd, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Tragic PreludeThe first Sunday in October has been designated in the United States as “Respect Life Sunday.” While much progress has been made in this area since the passing of Roe v. Wade, there remain many causes for concern. At the time of the Civil War, many people fought to protect the right to own slaves using the false teaching that African Americans were not actually people. Kansas can be proud that we fought against this nonsense. The label “Free State” is now proudly etched in our history.

Sadly, in our present day, people are again trying to say that some people are not people, whether it be the baby in his or her mother’s womb, or the elderly who no longer fit the definition of what society considers “useful.” At the time of the Civil War, abolitionists like John Brown of local fame here in Osawatomie, stood up against injustice. Many people today are opposed to abortion, but it is necessary to do more than simply be personally opposed. We’ve got to be like John Brown and actually do something about it. While we may not agree with all his tactics, we have to emulate his fervor. He was willing to give his life rather than sit idly by and tolerate injustice.

Despite setbacks, we know that we can’t measure success based on worldly terms. We must be faithful and each of us do what we can. John Brown’s apparent failure at Harper’s Ferry and subsequent execution finally sparked the Civil War that ended slavery. God will use even apparent failures to bring about his plan, as is evident in an amazing story I share in today’s homily. More and more people are coming to see the injustice present today that denies so many people their human dignity. This is wonderful. Now, go out and do something about it!

Homily 325 – The Noble Confession – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 25th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

BaptismIn today’s second reading, St. Paul writes to St. Timothy, who he has appointed Bishop of Ephesus, to give him some advice on how to be a good bishop. St. Paul urges St. Timothy,

“Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

This “noble confession” to which Paul refers is most likely a reference to the day of Timothy’s baptism. Today’s homily takes a look at some of the details of early Christian baptism. One thing that has remained a part of the ritual from the beginning is that there must be a “confession” of faith before the person is baptized. We refer to this today as making our “baptismal promises.” How often do you think about your own baptism and your baptismal promises? St. Paul can think of no better advice to give St. Timothy, and it’s perfect advice for us today as well. I pray that today’s homily might help you to look more deeply at your baptism and then compete well for the faith, holding fast to your own noble confession.

Homily 324 – There’s No Place Like Home – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 11th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

DorothyOne of the great story lines of all time can be summed up by the phrase “The Journey Home.” The protagonist has somehow wound up far from home and struggles to make it back. We can can think of many great movies along this theme, but one of the classics in the genre is the famous story of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. A tornado has taken poor Dorothy far from Kansas and now she has to brave the Wicked Witch of the West and flying monkeys to make it back home.

Although Dorothy may be one of the more famous secular versions of “The Journey Home,” the most famous biblical version is found in today’s gospel story of “The Prodigal Son.” Far from home, he makes the difficult decision to get up and return to his father. There he finds a surprise welcome that he never expected.

The most interesting thing to me about the “Journey Home” genre is that it rarely matters how the main character got so far from home. Maybe their spaceship blew up (think Apollo 13) or there was a tornado, like in the Wizard of Oz. Even in the case of the Prodigal Son who wound up far away because of his own foolishness, that’s not really the most important part. In some sense, the “Journey Home” story doesn’t really start or get interesting until the protagonist decides to head for home. That’s when things get exciting.

So where are you at right now? Are you far from home, literally or figuratively? Maybe you’re isolated from your family, or from God. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter how you got there. The real adventure is about to begin. All you have to do is decide that you are ready to head for home. It won’t be as easy as simply clicking your heals together, but it will be worth it. After all, as any good Kansan knows, “There’s no place like home.”

Homily 323 – The Desire to See Jesus – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 4th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Mother TeresaImagine someone you know is interested in learning what Christianity is really all about. What would you tell them? What’s the core message? Probably most of us could think of some attractive good thing to share. However, in today’s Gospel, we see the message Jesus shared with the crowds that were following him. “If you want to follow me, you have to be willing to sell all your possessions, hate your family, and ultimately be tortured to death…. Anyone still interested?” It’s not the most catching message for attracting followers. Many crowds followed Jesus because of the miracles he was performing. Yet, when it comes to actually being his disciples, it takes a lot more than casual interest. He likens it to building a tower. Before you even start, you better be sure you’re willing to go all the way and see it through to completion. Don’t say you want to follow Jesus unless you’re really in. You have to really want it, and it’s not going to be easy.

While it is true that being a disciple of Jesus is the path to surest happiness in this life and in the world to come, it’s not something superficial that you just get as some kind of signing bonus for beginning Christian. It takes time. You have to have two things to arrive at the true joy of Christian discipleship: First, you have to desire it. Secondly, you have to be willing to do the difficult things God asks. There is perhaps no one who did these two things better than Mother Teresa, now St. Teresa of Calcutta. She loved Jesus with a passionate desire of her whole life and was willing to do anything to see Jesus, including living her life in the slums of Calcutta. In today’s homily, I share one of my favorite Mother Teresa stories. Do you want to see Jesus? Have a listen and see how one person had that wish come true.

Homily 322 – The Secret of Giving – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 28th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Desert MosqueThe scene described in today’s Gospel reminds me a lot of the political atmosphere in Washington, DC: people jockeying for positions of influence, throwing parties to make allies. It can be a very self-centered culture. Jesus tell us, as Christians, that our lives cannot be like this. Rather than looking to be exalted, we should humble ourselves. Rather than always looking to get something, the joy of the Christian life is found by those who are always looking to give. Today’s homily comes on the occasion of the release of the annual financial report to the parishes and offers some concrete advice about stewardship and giving.

In the end, the thing that is most dangerous to us on our path toward heaven is our own selfishness. Anytime we put something ahead of God, we fail and are ultimately unhappy. The secret is to put God first. To put God first, we must pay God first. This is the beautiful secret to Christian happiness, a truth that I find best symbolized by, of all things, a mosque in the middle of the desert.

Homily 321 – Missionary Motivation – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 21st, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

St. Isaac JoguesIn today’s First Reading from the prophet Isaiah, we hear God’s desire to “gather the nations” and to send people out “to the nations.” In this we see, even in the Old Testament, a missionary effort to bring more people into God’s family. In Christianity, some of our most famous saints were missionaries. All endured great struggle and some even gave their lives to spread the Gospel to people who had not heard of Jesus.

Today’s homily examines three of these great Christian missionaries: St. Isaac Jogues, a French Jesuit priest who was martyred in New York in 1646 bringing the faith the the native people there; St. Junipero Serra, just canonized last year by Pope Francis and known as the “Apostle to California” for his efforts to bring the faith to the native people there in the 18th century; and finally, a saint hopefully familiar to those of us in Kansas, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, whose most desired goal was to come to Kansas and bring the Gospel to the native peoples right here in what is now my parishes, a dream that was only fulfilled in when the saint was 71 years old.

We can indeed marvel at the great love of God that drove each of these missionaries, but there is another, even more beautiful reason motivating their lives; they believed that the salvation of souls was at stake. Today we tend to easily fall into the heresy of “indifferentism” which says that it doesn’t matter if someone is baptized or not, or is one is a “good Catholic” or a “bad Catholic.” We tend to think that just about everyone goes to heaven. Jesus tells us something much different in the Gospel today.

All the great missionaries in Church history did what they did because they knew that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for thousands of people to go to heaven if someone didn’t go teach them about Jesus and ensure they were baptized. Countless missionaries have died as martyrs because they believed it was that important to bring the good news of salvation to the whole world. How important is the faith to you? Would you be willing to sacrifice yourself so that others might receive this gift? The truth is, if you have been baptized, you are a missionary. You have a mission and Jesus is sending you. What will you do with your mission?

Homily 320 – Spiritual Olympians – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 14th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Katie LedeckyI, like many people, have spent a lot of time this last week watching the Olympics and marveling at the great ability of the athletes competing. I especially like it when they do a sit-down interview and you can learn a bit about the person behind all the medals and hear how they got to where they are. Some, like Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles, you find out are committed Catholics. With all the athletes, it’s inspiring to see how driven they are and how much effort they have put in to being the best of the best.

Our Second Reading today makes some comparisons between the world of sport and the spiritual life. We are called to “persevere in running the race.” How many of us would say today that we are as committed to spiritual success as the Olympians are to physical earthly success? Behind every great athlete is a disciplined training regimen. No athlete expects someone just to hand them a gold medal simply for showing up and “participating.” Why would we expect that somehow will arrive at the gift of eternal life like it were some kind of participation trophy? No one arrives in heaven simply by running out the clock.

Jesus has already done the hard work through is suffering, death, and resurrection, but we have our part to play. It’s time to start training. Today’s homily provides some a sample training plan to get you going. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are or what you have or haven’t done. Today is the day to start running the race. Jesus doesn’t want mediocre Catholics; he wants us to set the world on fire! So get up and get going. Be a champion. See yourself as a spiritual Olympian.

Homily 319 – You Have Been Warned – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 7th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Marking Doors with Passover BloodIn the Old Testament story of the Exodus from Egypt referred to in our First Reading today, God’s chosen people are safe from the Angel of Death. They were warned ahead of time of this approaching 10th plague. Having followed God’s instruction, they watched the Angel of Death “pass over” their houses while the first-born of the Egyptians all died.

In a similar manner, Jesus gives us a warning in today’s Gospel so that we too might be prepared and safe. In this case, it’s not the Angel of Death who is coming but, rather, Jesus himself who will return in glory. On the one hand, Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t have to be afraid of this day, “Fear not, little flock.” Yet, he also warns us that we need to be prepared. If we put off turning away from our sins and taking seriously our relationship with God, then we will have much to fear when Jesus returns “at an hour you do not expect” and finds us unprepared.