After a 5 hour layover in New York we are just about ready to get on the plane to Tel Aviv. We’re just 10 hours and 22 minutes away. You can follow our flight in real time at the link below. No blogging over the Atlantic…sorry. Tomorrow, in Jerusalem! (well, Bethlehem actually).
Greetings pilgrims! We’re all pilgrims of course, but special greetings from 86 of us on our way to the Holy Land. It’s high noon and we’re currently 37,000 feet high on our way to New York. I will be your official blogger and electronic tour guide. I look forward to bringing everyone back home a little closer to the holy places and proving a bit of a journal to reminisce after our return home. My camera and iPad are at your service. Feel free to interact by leaving comments and letting me know if you have any questions or want pictures/video of anything in particular.
Here’s some live flight info for you:
Our God Is a Family
God is love. We hear that a lot, but somehow it seems like we need more than just that line. Augustine famously described the love of God as a communion of love that necessarily had to involve more than one person. Lover, beloved, and love are the titles he used. This can help us understand a bit more about the Trinity.
Blessed Pope John Paul II took the understanding of Augustine regarding the Trinity and applied especially to the family. Our God is not a solitary God, but rather a family of persons. We on earth are called to image this love in our families. This is why the Church takes marriage so seriously. Our families are a most precious gift by which can come to know a little bit more about the love of God, even if we do it imperfectly here due to sin. May God bless all families in the mission to be a reflection of the love of the Trinity.
What Drives You?
In today’s first reading, the Holy Spirit is described as a “strong driving wind.” We’re all familiar here in Kansas with just how powerful the wind can be. It can literally push you…or your house…over. On Pentecost, the Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit was a force like this. If we look at our lives, what drives us? Is it the Holy Spirit? Perhaps we’re driven by a lot of the things that St. Paul mentions in our second reading…immorality, lust and the like.
The Holy Spirit is also described as being fire. Fire can be destructive but also purifying. If we are driven more by the spirit of the world than the Holy Spirit, then maybe we could use a little purification from the Spirit. Renewing the face of the earth is a big task, but it starts on person at a time. Don’t be afraid to unlock the doors and let the Holy Spirit start driving.
Today is the 4th anniversary of my ordination as a priest. In honor of this occasion, I received a rather unique gift. Some of my parishioners commissioned an artist to design a coat of arms for me. While Popes and bishops are required to make use of arms, it is optional for the rest of the clergy. Like bishops, however, there are official rules for how a priest’s coat of arms are designed. The primary symbol is the black hat (galero) with the two tassels.
For the elements on the shield (called “charges”) I worked with the artist to create something meaningful and that people might recognize as belonging to me. My first thought was of course to honor my patron St. John the Baptist. For this I thought of a river. It just so happens that the coat of arms for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has a river. I therefore decided to borrow the symbols from the archdiocesan arms. This is especially fitting since the tower by the river represents Ft. Leavenworth and I was born in Leavenworth.
The tower in my arms therefore evokes my place of birth, but also primarily the Church. Notice that the way to enter is through the gate with a keystone and 12 smaller stones. The defense of the top of the tower is marked by 4 large stones representing the 4 evangelists. Notice also that one must cross the river (baptism) to enter the church (through Jesus and the apostles). The strong tower by the river could also signify St. John standing strongly by the river and the tower is also often used as an image of Our Lady.
Those who know me will have no difficulty with the thuribles. I love the Sacred Liturgy and don’t mind some Holy Smoke every now and then. Together they represent Divine Worship and our prayer rising up to God, as well as liturgy in general.
Finally, the motto underneath is the famous line of St. Philip to Jesus, “Show us the Father” (Ostende Nobis Patrem). St. Philip is my secondary patron and the saint who put the “P” in Shawn P. Tunink. I love St. Philip’s request because when he finally gets up the courage to ask Jesus for exactly what he wants, the thing he most wants is to see God, the beatific vision. Now, Jesus kind of had to correct him a little bit, but I like that too. It shows humility and that we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what we want, even if we don’t get it perfectly right.
The motto also expresses a prayer for a renewal of fatherhood in our world. More than ever today we need strong and holy fathers. There is truly only one Father, Our Father in heaven. If I, or any other man, am to be called father, it must be my mission to show others “The Father.”
The official description (called a blazon) and explanation follow. Much thanks to Fr. Guy Selvester for his great talent in designing these arms and to my parishioners for a perfect anniversary gift.
Blazon and Explanation
Armorial Bearings of
Rev. Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
BLAZON: Gules between two thuribles Or with smoke emanating from them Argent, a tower embattled with an open portal composed of twelve stones and a capstone Or; in base a barrulet wavy Argent.
EXPLANATION: The armorial bearings of Fr. Shawn P. Tunink reflect the local Church to which he belongs, his baptismal patrons, and his love of the Sacred Liturgy. The field is colored red; a color often associated with Divinity and with the Holy Spirit as a way of expressing the desire that all the endeavors undertaken by this armiger have God at their source. The gold tower is symbolic of the Church. Its open gate is composed of a keystone and 12 smaller stones signifying Jesus and the 12 apostles. The river below the tower, which one must cross to enter, alludes to Baptism and the bearer’s primary patron, St. John the Baptist. The tower and the river together are borrowed from the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas in which the bearer is incardinated as a priest. Therein the tower and the river represent Fort Leavenworth, the bearer’s place of birth, and the Missouri River. The two smoking thuribles, evoke the incense used in divine worship as a sign of our prayers rising up to God and being pleasing in His presence, and allude to the bearer’s love of prayer and the Church’s Sacred Liturgy.
The shield is ensigned with the black galero of a priest, with black cords terminating in two black tassels in accord with the ancient custom of the Church and the decrees of the Holy See. The motto appears below the shield on a scroll saying, “Ostende Nobis Patrem” (show us the Father). This phrase, uttered by St. Philip, expresses the desire to see God and is very meaningful to the bearer as St. Philip is his secondary baptismal patron.
The armorial bearings of Fr. Shawn P. Tunink were designed and emblazoned by the Very Rev. Guy W. Selvester, a priest of the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ.
Heavenly Help for a Universal Mission
When Jesus ascended to heaven, he did not abandon his apostles. Rather he becomes present in a new and even more powerful way. The divine assistance he gives from heaven will be all the more necessary considering the mission he has given them. He tells them to go to the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel. Their mission is the make the Church “universal” or, in the Greek, Catholic. Today the Church does exist even to the ends of the world. We must carry out this same mission. The good news is that we are not alone. Jesus is with us as well.
All You Need Is Love
In 1967, the theologians Lennon and McCartney pronounced their famous dogma, “All you need is love.” It sounds so simple and peaceful. Yet, as another later theologian (and Eurodance phenom) Haddaway asked in 1993, “What is love?” We use the word love to refer to a lot of different things. I “love” everything from my dog, to pizza, to my spouse, to God. Using the same word to refer to such different things has indeed created confusion.
Fortunately, in the original languages of the Bible, there is actually more than just one word to talk about all these different kinds of “love.” Today’s homily focuses on 3 of those words from the original Greek of the Bible: eros, philos, and agape. If you understand the distinctions between these three, then maybe Lennon and McCartney were right.
What You Need To Know
To the Bishop Miege High School class of 2012. Congratulations on your achievements. Having finished your finals and passed all your classes, it is clear that you know a lot about a lot of things. However, as you leave Bishop Miege, here are just three more things that I hope you will know.
Jesus tells us today that our mission is to go and bear fruit, much fruit. Yet, in order to achieve this mission he reminds us that we have got to stay connected to him, as branches on a vine. Notice that remaining connected to Jesus, the vine, also means that we must stay connected to all the other branches. We need all those branches. To be united in Jesus is to become a family. This is what we see in the Acts of the Apostles and this is what we are called to be today. It’s more challenging with a couple billion of us, but we are truly all brothers and sisters, united in our connection to Jesus.
Be Like Binkles
Today we hear the beautiful story of the Good Shepherd. We probably don’t think much about it, but this means that Jesus is calling us sheep. What kind of sheep do we think we are? We normally picture sheep as being cute and fuzzy, like Binkles my little stuffed sheep. Today’s homily reveals the true story…the dark side if you will…of sheep. On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations let us give thanks for our shepherds. Let’s be the kind of sheep we normally picture in our minds. Let’s all do our best to “Be Like Binkles.”