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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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Posted: April 11th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
This is Our Feast of Victory
Everyone loves a good story. Some stories are just made up (see my previous post on the Clash of the Titans movie). Today we celebrate a story that is not only true, but the greatest story ever told. As the sequence for Mass sings, “Death and life fought bitterly for this wondrous victory. The Lord of Life who died, reigns glorified.” As the popular Easter hymn sings, “This is the feast of victory for our God.” It is also our feast of victory.
We all need a chance to be victorious. Perhaps this is why we love sports so much. We like the feeling of winning. Just imagine if the Royals won the World Series this year (it’s April…we can still dream). It would be a victory all the sweeter because we in Kansas City know all about being down and out. As wonderful as it would be to have 1985 all over again, that victory would pale in comparison to the victory we celebrate today.
“Christ the lamb has saved the sheep.” No one has ever been more down and out than the human race since the fall of Adam and Eve. Yet, God has continuously mounted a rescue mission. As he used a lamb at Passover to save the Hebrews in Egypt, so today he uses the Lamb of God to save us from the bondage of sin and death. Jesus truly died and was buried and is now raised from the dead. This is the greatest comeback story in history!
Today is our day to be excited and cheer that we are victorious. It is also Divine Mercy Sunday which reminds us that our sins need not get in the way of sharing in this victory. When Jesus appears to the apostles in the Gospel he still bears the wounds of the crucifixion, the mark of what our sins have done. Yet he comes not with condemnation, but reassurance for his apostles. “Peace be with you,” he says. He says the same to us today. Our sins are lost in the ocean of his mercy and we sing the hymn of victory with the lamb.
“Christ the paschal lamb has been sacrificed, therefore let us keep the feast.” This is our day of victory, a day won for us by the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad for the Lord is risen…indeed he is risen!
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Posted: April 9th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
I went with some priest friends recently to see the new Clash of the Titansmovie. I remember studying all this mythology in High School and did a bit of comparative religion study in seminary. However, seeing Zeus and Hades battle things out on the big screen was something new. As I enjoyed my “fork and screen” experience of all the technological wonder that Hollywood can provide, I had a profound realization….these Greek myths are stupid!
Perhaps this was just another pathetic example of the current lack of talent in anything besides special effects coming out of Hollywood. However, to be fair, this story was written before Hollywood. There’s something just silly about the whole story in the first place. One couldn’t help but see how ridiculous it would be to live in a world in which God(s) was somehow in competition with us. The men in the movie rebel against the gods by refusing to “nourish” them with their “prayers”. “The gods need us!” one rebel triumphantly shouts as he refuses to “pray.” It’s no wonder people think religion is for imbeciles
Does it really make any sense to think that the one true God who made the entire universe out of nothing would then be subservient and dependant on his own creation? God isn’t just the most powerful thing out there. He’s not the most powerful titan or head of some group of powers. He’s outside of and above all of this. Despite our attempts to treat God as though we could control him or even just avoid him, we know that this is ultimately impossible, and thank God for that.
In a strange sort of way, the film actually helped reinforce my faith. The Bible simply must be true, because if we tried to make up our own religious story we’d get something like Clash of the Titans.
Posted: April 9th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
It’s Easter! Now What?
Now that Eater is finally here, you might be wondering…”now what?” It would be easy to go back to our normal routines. That’s what Peter appears to be doing in the gospel today. Not knowing exactly what to do with this news of resurrection, he decides to go back to fishing. For those of us born again in the new life of Easter, there really is no going back. May we have the love of St. John to recognize the Lord in our everyday life and may we have the zeal of St. Peter to jump into the sea when we find him. Nothing should separate us from the new life offered us by Jesus.
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Posted: April 7th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
Can you read and write Italian? If so, please call the New York Times immediately and apply to be their new head of Italian research. Your skills are desperately needed to save the failing newspaper any further embarrassment (good luck with that).
It turns out that much of the false attacks against the Pope initiated by this newspaper were in fact not properly researched (I know…it’s shocking). Apparently they were in such a hurry to find some facts to back up the story they had written that they didn’t even have time to properly translate the key source for their story which happened to be in Italian. Seemingly lacking even one person on a staff of thousands who was fluent in Italian, they instead decided to use “Yahoo translator” to interpret.
Perhaps they also consulted Wikipedia as a source for this story. Thank goodness for journalists who can work to find all the hard facts we normal people could never figure out. Read the sad details below and then say a prayer for the Pope (and maybe think about that job at the NYT).
New York Times Story Based on Gross Translating Error
Posted: April 6th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink
When I lived in Lawrence I would often walk along a street where the people had a great devotion to political yard signs. In many of the races, I knew who to vote for…and it was not the people being endorsed on this street. Yet, whenever I had a question about a race, I would go to this street and see who’s names were in their yards. This way I could always figure out who not to vote for. If a person’s name was popular on this street, I could be just about 100% certain that the other candidate was the one I wanted.
I was reminded of this street when I read today the rather silly article that boldly claims that the papacy of Pope Benedict is now officially a failure. If the mainstream media are declaring the Pope to be a failure, I can be just about 100% certain that he is succeeding overwhelmingly. Let us pray for an end to the lies and calumny against the Holy Father, but let us also take courage that all the right people hate him.
I wonder if there is a possibility that a culture given over to all kinds of immorality would have an ulterior motive in trying to undermine the world’s only remaining moral authority. I’m just wondering.