Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 27 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 20th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Competing Well

Competition can be a good thing. St. Paul himself urges us to “compete well for the faith” and likens the whole of Christian life to the competition of a race. He reminds us that all compete for a single prize…”Run therefore so as to win!” Competition can indeed be a good thing when it causes us to strive to be the very best we can be. Yet, as is often the case, the devil can take what is good and twist it.

A good spirit of competition can degrade to the spirit of “jealousy and selfish ambition” spoken of by St. James in the today’s second reading. Instead of competing to be the very best we can be, how often to we instead try to bring others down? How often do we fall into the trap of thinking that putting someone else down somehow makes me higher? This is what is happening in our first reading today. Here we have a just man who is mocked and attacked all because he is trying to be holy and others don’t like it and try to tear him down. This is competition turned to jealousy and selfish ambition indeed.

We see this tendency in the corporate world too where getting ahead can often mean pushing back a bunch of others. In climbing the corporate ladder too often we see people not at all concerned about the people they are stepping on while trying to get to the top. All of this is summed up in one word, “use.” We can be guilty of using people for what they can do for us. We try to win friends and influence people by having the right friends that can get something for us.

As John Paul taught us, the opposite of love is not hate, but use. We should never use another person as a means to an end. To disrupt the cycle of jealousy and selfish ambition of our society we need love. This is exactly what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel. In the face of selfishness and a desire for power, Jesus gives self emptying. He who is on top of the power chain, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, gives it all up. He uses his power to serve and wins with love.

The apostles obviously don’t understand and famously argue about who it the greatest. They are still stuck in the cycle of jealousy and selfish ambition. To disrupt this Jesus gives the example of a child. If you think about it, what advantage is a child in this scheme of using people to climb higher. You really don’t gain anything by having “influential friends” amongst 2nd graders. A child has nothing to offer your selfish ambition. Rather, a child must be served. This is how we should see people, someone to be served without jealousy or selfish ambition.

Homily 26 – Our Lady of Sorrows

Posted: September 15th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

Today’s memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows reminds us that Mary shared intimately in every aspect of the life of Jesus. This means that she shared in many great joys, but it also means that she felt, more than anyone, the sorrows of his life. The Church has traditionally reflected on seven events in the life of Mary that have come to be called the “Seven Sorrows of Mary.”

  • The prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her heart
  • The flight into Egypt
  • The finding of the child Jesus in the temple
  • Mary meets Jesus as he carries his cross
  • Mary stands at the foot of the cross
  • The body of Jesus is placed in Mary’s arms after being taken down from the cross
  • The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb

We remember that to be close to Jesus means to share in both the joys and sufferings of his life. No one did this more perfectly than Mary. We ask her to help us to carry our cross well through the difficulties of life that we may share in her joy and the joy of all the saints as we one day behold Jesus face to face. May we always stay close to Jesus as Mary did.

Kathleen Sebelius on Federal Funding of Abortion

Posted: September 15th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

From Catholic Culture News with my comments

In an interview published in The Washington Post, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said that as a Cabinet official she supported PresidentBarack Obama’s pledge not to make abortion funding part of health care legislation but did not give her own opinion on the subject. She also refused to say whether she is heeding Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann’s admonition not to receive Holy Communion, according to the interview transcript.

MS. ROMANO: You are pro-choice.

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Yes.

MS. ROMANO: Do you think that the federal government should do some federal funding of abortions, personally?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, the President has made it pretty clear that Congress and the new health insurance plan will not provide federal funds for abortions.

Despite what the President may have said, multiple independent groups point out that the actual details of each of the bills that have been proposed all do in fact fund abortion. Further, every time an amendment has been proposed to specifically exclude abortion from the bill, those amendments have been voted down. So, while Sebelius can say that the President has “made it pretty clear,” if he really wanted to be clear he would state plainly that he will veto any bill that does not explicitly exclude abortion funding. In the end, that is really the only legislative power the President has; until he promises a veto he’s really not promising anything.

MS. ROMANO: Well, I know that. I was asking you what you thought.

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: I am the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and I will support the President’s proposal moving forward.

MS. ROMANO: You are also a pro-choice Catholic, and I was reading some stories out of your home state recently where one of the bishops took an action. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, the Archbishop in the Kansas City area did not approve of my conduct as a public official and asked that I not present myself for communion.

It is not her conduct as a public official that gets her in trouble with the Church. It is her conduct as a Catholic who creates a public scandal to other Catholics that gets her in trouble.

MS. ROMANO: What did you think about that?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, it was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced in my life, and I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and I feel that my actions as a parishioner are different than my actions as a public official and that the people who elected me in Kansas had a right to expect me to uphold their rights and their beliefs even if they did not have the same religious beliefs that I had. And that’s what I did: I took an oath of office and I have taken an oath of office in this job and will uphold the law.

There are two key issues here. First, she uses the the excuse that public officials can behave immorally because they are just following orders. This is no different than if the leaders of Hitler’s Nazi party were to claim that they were personally opposed to slaughtering millions of innocent people but had taken an oath to separate this private belief from their public action. If the pro-abortion politicians of today can get away with the “just following orders” defense then we owe a huge apology to a lot of people we convicted of war crimes after WWII. An unjust law is no law at all. Further, the idea that Sebelius merely upheld the law is also false. She activelyvetoed pro-life legislation passed by both houses of congress duly elected to represent the will of the people to whom she claims she is beholden. Only 7% of the American people support abortion on demand as it is currently interpreted by our courts. Clearly it is not the will of the people that is being protected here.

Secondly, most dangerous is this attempt to turn abortion into a “religious” issue. Abortion has nothing to do with the “separation of Church and state” issue as Sebelius claims. Abortion is not merely a religious issue. This is an issue of civil rights. Can we continue to deny the rights of fellow members of the human race simply because of where they are located or what functions they are capable of performing? Any atheist can come to a logical conclusion that a baby growing inside its mother is a separate and unique human being that is alive. Every medical text book states this fact. The issue is whether we will continue to deny human rights to these human persons. That is a civil issue and separate from religion although religious people would no doubt fight for civil rights. 

MS. ROMANO: Do you continue to take communion?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: I really would prefer not to discuss with you.That’s really a personal–thank you.

Holy Smokes

Posted: September 14th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Holy Smokes Mass

This weekend was a really exciting one for me. One of my many jobs as a priest is serving as the Scout Chaplain for the Archdiocese. I’ve been a scout for 23 years now and have always loved how the Catholic faith and scouting go together so nicely. When the Archbishop appointed me Chaplain for all the scouts I was very excited. I also had a few ideas.

One of those ideas was that I thought we should have an annual event that gathered all of the Catholic scouts together for a big campout. I thought maybe we could have a cooking competition, Mass, and maybe a Christian music concert. I went to the Catholic Committee on Scouting that existed at the time and told them my idea. I told them that I knew that there were wide open fields surrounding the headquarters of the Archdiocese and that I thought it would be great if we could fill those fields with tents and scouts. I think they thought I was crazy.

Eventually we agreed that it was possible, but I was told that events had been done in the past and that I could probably expect about 40 to 50 people. I was a little disappointed, but I thought we could start small and grow the event over the years. So we decided to do it.

Holy Smokes

I started praying a lot to the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t sure how techno savvy the Spirit is these days (have youever gotten a text message from the Holy Spirit? I’ve never even seen a Tweet from Him), so I also helped Him a little with some Facebook, Google, Web pages, and a lot of networking. The end result was that this small little event went big time really fast. We had over 300 scouts surrounding Savior of the World pastoral center. It didn’t occur to me until later, but if we had wanted to take over the Archdiocese, we actually had a pretty formidable army surrounding the place.

Holy Smokes Campsite

Fortunately for the Archbishop these scouts came not to invade, but to cook and have fun. We had beautiful weather and the day was everything I hoped it would be. Celebrating Mass that evening with all the scouts on the surrounding hill with the sun going down was just perfect. We then had an awesome concert by campfire light and I sat and tried to digest all the BBQ entries I had judged earlier in the day. Meanwhile the lights of scouts camped all around lit up the hill while Cub Scouts chased each other around with flashlights for no apparent reason.

Me Juding an Entry in the Cooking Competition

The first annual Holy Smokes was a huge success. I might have had the idea, but it never could have happened without the support of many people, including our great new Scouting Chairman in the Archdiocese, Harold Bradley. Everyone that came said they had an awesome time and will be back next year along with more people. Maybe next year we’ll have a thousand! We better start planning now.

Holy Smokes Heroes

 Check out more pictures on our Facebook group

Homily 25 – Thursday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 10th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

A Heavenly Peace…and Justice

Jesus gives us many difficult examples in the Gospel today. “Turn the other cheek” best sums up all of them. He tells us when someone wrongs you, don’t try to get even. Not only are we not supposed to get even, but we’re actually supposed to give even more than the person has already unjustly taken. This is a hard teaching indeed. However, I think we tend to focus too much on the “what” of this teaching and miss the “why.” Jesus says that if we do these things, “Your reward will be great in heaven.” All of these difficult things Jesus asks are ultimately to remind us that we should live with our eyes fixed on the life to come.

Because we believe in life after death and that there is a heaven, we don’t have to “get even” in this life. We all long for a justice that ensures that everyone gets what’s coming to them. The difference for Christians is that we don’t have to get it here and now. If this world were all that existed then Jesus’ sayings make no sense. If there is not heaven then when someone wrongs you in this life then you’ve got to get back right here and now because that’s all there is.

Christianity and a “Christian world view” can be a great source of peace in the world. If everyone has to get even right here and now then we are doomed to endless war and violence. “An eye for an eye just makes the whole world blind.” Yet, if we as Christians are able to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile with our eyes fixed on a reward that comes later then we have a chance for peace. We still have to work for justice, but we as Christians work for justice in this world knowing that the true and lasting peace and justice we long for will only be experienced in the life to come.

Happy Birthday “Super Mom”

Posted: September 8th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

In honor of the birthday of our Blessed Mother today and the upcoming birthday of the famous Matty Molnar, I thought this video to be a fitting tribute. This video was recorded live at the Mundelein Seminary coffee house night on May 5th, 2005. Matty was tragically killed in a car accident the following September 15th, so I believe that this video represents the last public performance of this famous song that Matty wrote in honor of Mary.

For some reason the camera wanted to focus on me way too much, but at any rate, that’s me singing off key on backup vocals (if you can call it that), former seminarian and now holy husband and man of God Ben Beier on drums, and Fr. Tien Tran on bass. This was a great night at the seminary. I’ll try to post some more videos of the event if people are interested.

Here’s to the Blessed Mother and Matty. Happy Birthday to you both.

Homily 24 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 6th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Be Open to Hear the Word of God

We all know that Jesus performed many healings in his public ministry, most of which were not recorded anywhere. Why then, among all these, did St. Mark choose to tell us about the healing of the deaf and mute man in the Gospel today? For one thing, the Greek word for “mute” is used in only two places in all of Scripture, in the Gospel and in our first reading from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah tells us that when the Messiah comes he will restore sight to the blind, restore hearing to the deaf, and the “mute” will sing. Mark is clearly telling us that Jesus fulfills this passage and is the Messiah.

However, both St. Mark and the early Church often made use of this healing for another reason. It is a symbolic model of the process of evangelization, or spreading the “good news” about Jesus. The apostles heard the Word of God and then went out and spoke about it to everyone. These people heard the apostles preaching and they in turn went and spoke about it to all their friends. Eventually the good news reached the entire world.

Today, however, we are in danger of losing the faith that the apostles gave their lives to hand on. Many people are abandoning the faith. For this reason, John Paul II called us to what he termed a “New Evangelization.” We’ve got to start this process of hearing and speaking all over again. When we hear the term “New Evangelization” we might immediately think about going out and speaking more about the faith. This is backward. The reason we are not speaking the Word of God well is because we are not hearing it well.

It is common that when a man goes deaf he will ultimately develop a speech impediment because he can’t hear. The Church is suffering from a sort of spiritual speech impediment and the cure can only come from learning the hear again. Jesus first heals the man’s hearing and then frees his tongue. The same will be true for the New Evangelization. The Good News is that God so loved the world that he sent his only son that we might have life. That’s really great news, but most of us are not “hearing” it and hence are not sharing it.

In order to heal the deaf and mute man in the Gospel, Jesus had to take him away from the crowd. Maybe God is calling you to come away, to leave what is comfortable so that he can help you to hear the Good News. Jesus could have just willed that the man be healed, but instead he touched him. He put his fingers in his ears and spit on his tongue. He then spoke a seemingly magic word…ephphatha. It means “be open” in Jesus’ native Aramaic. Jesus wants to touch each of us as well and allow us to hear clearly so that we may speak clearly. What next step is God asking you to take? Whatever it is, hear Jesus saying ephphatha…that is…be open.

Wisdom from Webb

Posted: September 6th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Homily 23 – Saturday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 5th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Being With Jesus

In today’s Gospel the Pharisees criticize the apostles for picking heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath. Jesus responds by reminding them of the time that the army of Israel violated the law by eating the bread of the temple that only the priests could eat. What do these stories have in common? In the story of the army eating the temple bread, Jesus reminds them that it was King David himself who led this supposed violation of the law. You can imagine that if some general of the army had showed up at the temple with such a request that he probably wouldn’t have gotten very far. Yet, when the king shows up…well who is going to say no to the king?

Obviously, it makes a difference who you are with. David had authority over the laws of the temple and could allow the men who were with him to eat the sacred bread. In just the same way, Jesus claims that he is “lord of the Sabbath” and has the authority to allow the men who are with him to “harvest” grain on the Sabbath. This is an amazing claim if you think about it.

If we remember back to yesterdays’ Gospel, the Pharisees wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus didn’t fast. He replied that they were “with the bridegroom” and thus it was not the time for fasting. Today, Jesus reminds us of the special privileges of those who were “with King David” and, most significantly, the special privileges of those who are “with him.” Do we realize that we too are “with Jesus?” We are his special friends. This allows us the freedom not to arbitrarily violate the Sabbath, but rather to live out what the Sabbath was always meant to be about. We get to spend time resting “with Jesus.”

Homily 22 – Friday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 4th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Image of the Love of God

We often hear that “God is love.” Yet, this can be a hard thing to understand in the abstract. Love is a concrete thing manifested by tangible actions. Until the time of Jesus, God revealed himself through sacred words and deeds in history. Yet, the greatest revelation of God was when he became one of us and came in person to show us how much he loves us. St. Paul tells us in the 1st reading this morning that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” If we want to know what God’s love is like, we just look at Jesus and see the way he loved people. Since Jesus is God he shows each of us in person the perfect image of the love of God. The call to us as Christians is that we too are called to be an image of the love of God to our neighbor. How well do we reflect the love of God to others in our daily lives?