Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 96 – Saturday of the 5th Week of Easter

Posted: May 8th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Following the Spirit

In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see how Paul changes his plans several times because, as he says, “The Spirit prevented me.” Can we say in our own lives that we are listening well enough to the voice of the Spirit that we recognize Him directing us? If not, perhaps we need to spend more time in quiet prayer and learn to listen. Another reason why we may not always hear the Spirit is that the spirit of the age, the evil spirit, may be choking out the voice of the good Spirit.

Often we follow the spirit of the age without even thinking about it. We just go with the flow. Jesus promises us that if we follow after him, the world will hate us. If we’re getting along too comfortably in this life, it’s a good sign that we are probably following the wrong spirit. Likewise, if we are often persecuted and don’t fit in for following the path that Jesus seems to demand, that’s a good sign that we’re on the right track and following the lead of the Holy Spirit. Let’s be sure to take time for prayer so that we hear and follow the right Spirit.

Pope Encourages Priests

Posted: May 6th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Yesterday from Zenit

The Holy Father gave some particular words of encouragement to priests. He urged them: “live the liturgy and worship with joy and love: It is action that the Risen One carries out through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, with us and for us. [...]

“And I would also like to invite each priest to celebrate and live the Eucharist with intensity, which is at the heart of the task of sanctifying; it is Jesus who wants to be with us, to live in us, to give himself to us, to show us the infinite mercy and tenderness of God.”

I can imagine the media being rather befuddled wondering, “in the wake of so much crisis” (as they love to remind us), why would the Pope would choose to remind priests about the importance of the Sacred Liturgy? When things seem to go badly for the Church and the priesthood, how many people would look to the liturgy as the answer? Yet this is exactly the solution (and the problem). We are blessed to have a very smart Pope who knows the liturgy well.

There is an ancient axiom with regard to the liturgy that is paraphrased as lex orandi, lex credendi, “The law of praying is the law of believing.” I like to say that if we pray correctly, we will believe correctly, and we will act correctly. If, therefore, we find problems in the way we are acting, the first place we should look ought not be to a “study” or “poll” or “experts.” Rather, we should look to the liturgy. If things are messed up in the Church, there’s almost a sure bet that things are messed up in the liturgy.

Homily 95 – Monday of the 5th Week of Easter

Posted: May 3rd, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Feast of Sts. Philip and James

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is spoken in today’s Gospel by St. Philip. He asks Jesus, “Show us the Father.” While Jesus has to rebuke him slightly for his lack of trinitarian theological understanding, the desire is exactly right. We should all have this great desire to see God, to know God. Philip learned from Jesus about the love of the Father. He wanted to know God the way Jesus knew the Father. St. James (the less) became the head of the Church in Jerusalem. Both Philip and James gave their lives as martyrs in witness to their love for Jesus. We pray today that we may have the desire to want to be with God and the courage to offer ourselves totally to Him in this life that we might be happy with Him forever in the next.

Homily 94 – 5th Sunday of Easter

Posted: May 2nd, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Finding the Perfect Church

How do you find the Church? Can you find the Church? Many Christians who say they believe in the Church and even claim to be members of it, also claim that the Church is “invisible.” They think of the Church as an idea or an intangible body made up of all those who “accept Jesus into their hearts.” The Scripture gives us a very different image of the Church.

It’s clear from our first reading, that the Church is in fact very visible. When Paul and Barnabas go to a town they either find the Church there or they establish it there. It’s a physical, tangible, group of people. More than that, Paul and Barnabas appoint men to be leaders, “presbyters”, from where we get the word “priest.” The Scriptural accounts of the Church show that it is clearly something that you can seek out and find. It’s marked by authentic teaching, the practice of the sacraments, devotion to the saints, an officially appointed clergy, etc. All of these things help one to identify the Church.

However, our Gospel today gives us perhaps the most important way to identify the followers of Jesus. St. John tells us that all will know we are Christians by the way we love one another. If someone walked into our church today, would they be able to tell we are members of Christ’s Church by the way we love one another? What about in our daily lives?

Perhaps the reason non-Catholics came up with the idea of an “invisible” Church was because we often do a rather poor job of showing ourselves to be members of this Church. The officially appointed hierarchy, a gift from Jesus, often fails miserably (just ask St. Peter). How well do we actually show that great love for one another we’re supposed to? Often we are countersigns to the holiness the Church is supposed to have. One can see how it would be more attractive to pretend that the Church is “invisible” rather than admit that we sorry bunch of sinners are actually it.

Yet, this is the truth. The Church is made up of sinners. From the Pope right down to every adult that ever darkens the door of a church. The Church on earth is not perfect. If you do find the perfect church, for heaven’s sake don’t join it…you’ll wreck it!

The Church may not be perfect on earth, but St. John gives us a beautiful vision of the Church perfected in heaven in our 2nd reading. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. The Church will be beautiful as the Holy City coming down from Heaven, as a bride prepared for her bridegroom. Yes, that day is coming. Let’s all do our part to make the Church on earth more like the heavenly image. As St. John himself would tell us, let us love one another and the rest will all follow.

Homily 93 – Friday of the 4th Week of Easter

Posted: April 30th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Memorial of Pope St. Pius V

St. Pius V is probably best known for the leading the Church through the reforms following the Council of Trent. In 1570 he promulgated an updated version of the prayers used at Mass, the so-called Missal of Pius V. This missal was in fact just an updating to the texts of Mass that had been in use almost unchanged since the time of Pope Gregory the Great in the 5th century. At the time of the Second Vatican Council, the texts of the Mass had been in use for over 1500 years.

After the Second Vatican Council ended in 1965 many things were done in the way of experiment with the liturgy. Most of these changes were not authorized but undertaken on private initiative in the name of the “Spirit of the Council.” Our present Holy Father, Pope Benedict, is a great lover of the liturgy as was Pius V and has written extensively about the need to correct some of these unauthorized experiments. Pope Benedict has continued what is often called the “reform of the reform”. In 2007 he gave permission for all priests to celebrate Mass according the the missal of Pius V with a few updates (now technically therefore the Missal of John XXIII). Just yesterday, he approved a new English translation of the Mass to help us return to the use of a more sacred language in the liturgy.

We pray through the intercession of St. Pius V and the leadership of Pope Benedict we way truly see a renewal of the sacred liturgy in the way intended by the Second Vatican Council.

Homily 92 – Monday of the 4th Week of Easter

Posted: April 26th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Humility of Being a Sheep

We tend to think of sheep as these adorable cuddly little fluff balls of cuteness. However, when you get right down to it, sheep really aren’t all that cute. They actually smell bad and are rather unruly. When Jesus refers to his followers as sheep, it’s not exactly a compliment. Yet it is the truth. He knows us. Sheep are not very bright. They have no idea how to find food for themselves. Left on their own they tend to wander off and get lost or hurt. Yes, Jesus knows us well.

It actually takes a lot of humility to admit that we are sheep. We’re admitting that we need help. Fortunately, help is not lacking. Jesus is our good shepherd and he continues to give us shepherds. All we need do is listen to his voice and follow. Unfortunately, we seem to follow the voice of strangers a lot these days. The culture tells us all these false places where we can supposedly “get fed.” Yet, we continue to find ourselves empty. Why don’t we try listening to Jesus? He tells us plainly that he came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Let’s trust that voice and stop listening to strangers.

Homily 91 – 4th Sunday of Easter

Posted: April 25th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

To Teach, Sanctify, and Govern

Today we celebrate what is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday” in reference to our Gospel reading. It is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Since this is also the Year for Priests as proclaimed by our Holy Father, I devoted my homily today to the mission of the priesthood. The priest has traditionally been charged with three sacred tasks, to teach, to sanctify, and to govern. Each of these tasks can be seen in the readings today.

In the first reading, we find Paul and Barnabas out teaching. God did not leave us with just a book to be a “do-it-yourself” Christian. He left us teachers. Our world is filled with darkness and error. It is precisely into this context that the truth of the teaching of our faith shines as a bright light. May we always be grateful to God for the teachers he gives us, especially in our priests.

In the second reading, we have a description of the beautiful scene in heaven where those who have struggled through this life now live in joy. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. This is a sign of where we are all destined and a sign of our mission here on earth. We are called to be holy, set apart. That’s what it means to sanctify. The priest especially is set apart by his ordination, but all of us are called to be God’s special people through baptism. May we have priests who are selfless models of holiness to point us to heaven.

Finally, the priest is called to rule or govern. Jesus reminds his priests that the model for their leadership is that of the shepherd. At the time of Jesus and even to this day the way a shepherd leads is unique. A shepherd does not forcefully drive the sheep with whips and prodding the way cattle are driven. Rather, a shepherd goes to the group of sheep, some of which might belong to other shepherds, and simply begins to sing. He then walks away singing and his sheep know to follow. As Jesus tells us in the gospel, they know his voice. This is how the priest is to govern; he walks ahead of the sheep, leading them to the green grass of the life of grace, all the while singing the praises of God. May we have priests who are not afraid to walk alone at the front of the sheep and may the sheep listen well and know to follow the voice of their shepherd.

Homily 90 – Saturday of the 3rd Week of Easter

Posted: April 24th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

How to Handle the Hard Stuff

“This is a hard saying. Who can accept it?” This is the reaction of the disciples of Jesus to his teaching on the Eucharist. Because many people were unable to “accept” what Jesus was saying, his own disciples left him…and Jesus let them go. He was even content the let the apostles leave as well. Although Peter doesn’t understand any better than the others, he does give us the model of how to deal with hard sayings. “Lord to whom shall we go? We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

We learn to trust the truth of the hard sayings because we trust the one who says them. If Jesus says it, it must be true. We’ve got the rest of our life to figure it all out. If God can become man, does it really seem so impossible that the God-man can change bread and wine into God? It might be a hard saying, but it sure isn’t impossible.

Homily 89 – Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter

Posted: April 19th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Happy Anniversary Pope Benedict

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the election of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. On this day the Church throughout the world remembers him in prayer and thanks God for the gift of his faithful leadership. May we continue to be good sheep, following our good shepherd. Ad multos annos!

Homily 88 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

Posted: April 18th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

St. Peter Shows Us the Beauty of Repentance

   

In Jerusalem there is a church in honor of St. Peter called “St. Peter in Gallicantu.” It sits on the location of the house of the high priests where Jesus was tried and St. Peter famously denied Our Lord. Why a church to commemorate this tragic event in the life of St. Peter? This church is all about repentance. In the crypt level are three icons, one depicting Peter stating “I do not know him,” one of Peter crying saying simply “He wept bitterly,” and a final one after the resurrection with Peter telling Jesus, “You know that I love you.”

Because Peter has this powerful conversion from his sin he is able to then go out boldly as we see in the first reading. The leaders of the Sanhedrin demand that Peter and the other apostles stop talking about Jesus. Peter refuses and with great courage preaches the good news of Jesus raised from the dead. He knew he was forgiven and he knew that he had a mission to bear witness to the one that he loved.

How tragic it would have been if Peter had remained in shame over his sin and gave into the demands to be silent. Perhaps we too at time feel ashamed by our sins. We feel too much like hypocrites to go out and tell anyone about living a life of holiness. These feelings are not from God. Jesus forgives our sins and tells us to forget the past and go out boldly. Nothing will separate us from the love of God, not even our sins if we repent as Peter did. We thank God for the gift of our Holy Father today who continues to speak boldly about Jesus. May we be attentive to his teaching, thankful for his ministry, and follow his example.