Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Homily Podcast



Homily 117 – Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

August 15th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Goodness of the Body

The dogma of the Assumption teaches that, at the end or her earthly life, the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken body and soul to heaven. Just as no corruption of sin touched her body in life, so no corruption was allowed to touch her body in death. Christians have always believed this, but it is interesting to note that the dogma was not formally proclaimed by the Church until 1950. Why?

The Marian year of 1950 followed shortly after the end of World War II. Throughout the world we were being confronted with the tragic and shocking pictures coming from those who liberated Hitler’s concentration camps. The newspapers featured picture after picture of dead bodies piled on top of each other. Everywhere you looked there were images of human bodies treated as if they were just trash to be thrown out. The sight, as well as the knowledge of what caused this, left many demoralized and questioning, “Is this all we’re worth?”

In the face of this, Pope Pius XII inquired if perhaps it would be an opportune time to proclaim the dogma of the Assumption and the request was met with overwhelming approval. The fact that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven was set forth as a great affirmation of the goodness of the body. We’re not trash. We are body and soul and both are sacred. Our bodies are holy, temples of the Holy Spirit. The fact that Mary is in heaven, both body and soul, points to what awaits all of us. At the end of our earthly life, our bodies too are meant to be in heaven. Let us find strength and hope from this truth today. Let us treat our bodies as sacred knowing that that we too, body and soul, are meant for eternal glory in heaven.

A Walk Through the Mass

August 14th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

An hour-long talk with 20 minutes of Q&A at Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka, KS

This talk looks at the practical details of the various parts of the Mass as well as the theological background behind them and how to get the most out of Mass.

People who heard this talk might also enjoy my Theology on Tap presentation I gave last month along similar lines.

Homily 116 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 8th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Trusting the Person of Jesus

The 2nd reading this weekend holds up our father Abraham as the great model of faith. Yet what is faith really? We tend to equate faith today with some irrational belief in things that otherwise just don’t make sense. This is not faith at all. The Church has always maintained that faith and reason go together. The things we believe can and should make sense to us. Yet, faith is much more than accepting a bunch of “things.” Fundamentally, faith is the belief in a person.

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Abraham had faith because he knew “the one who made the promise was trustworthy.” Ultimately, our faith is a trust in Jesus Christ, a belief in the person of Jesus Christ and his plan for our lives. This is not always easy, but we follow because we trust. In time, things may all make sense and we may come to believe a set of teachings, but at the core of the Christian life is a trust in Jesus. Let us strive to know him and to follow him with our whole hearts.

Homily 115 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 18th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The One Thing Necessary

As a Boy Scout, I like to go camping and particularly I like backpacking. Backpacking provides an interesting challenge in that you simply can’t take all the “stuff” you might want to. You have to leave a lot of stuff behind that might be useful, but ultimately too heavy or just not necessary. Jesus is saying something similar in the Gospel today. Martha seems to get criticized for being “anxious and worried about many things.” It’s not that the things she’s doing aren’t good. It’s just that she’s doing all these “good” things while missing what Jesus calls “the one thing necessary.”

How often do we do this same thing in our lives. We are busy doing “many things” all the while loosing sight of the “one thing” we need most, namely God. Think of how much time we spend on sports, especially our kids. It’s always sad to hear that someone missed Mass because of sports. It’s not that sports are bad, but choosing sports over Mass is missing out on the “one thing” in favor of the “many.” The same is true of all the work that we adults do. Supposedly we work to provide for our families. Yet, how often today do we work so much that we don’t have time for our families. We’ve become busy with many things and lost sight of the one thing that was the point in the first place.

Let us look carefully at our lives and, like good Scouts, do what we like to call a “shakedown.” Let’s take a good look at all the stuff we’re carrying around in our pack and see if maybe we’ve got too much of a good thing in some areas. Doing as many activites as possible is like carrying everything we can in our pack. It just causes you to fall over and lie on the ground unable to move. What are some things in our life that, while good, are getting in the way of the greatest good?

St. Augustine reminds us that, “Our hearts are restless until the rest in you, O lord.” Let’s take some time to put things in balance in our life and find peace for our restless hearts. If we know that God is the “one thing necessary” then we can follow Augustine’s other great advice, “Love God and do what you will.”

Homily 114 – Saturday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time

July 17th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Mary and the Problem of Evil

The first reading today describes several cases of injustice that would seem to cry out for God to “do something about it.” Yet, God’s ways are not our ways. He does indeed care about our problems and injustices, but his way of dealing with it may not be exactly what we would want. It can seem like he doesn’t hear our prayers. As we celebrate Mary today, we are reminded that it took God from the fall of Adam and Eve all the way to the time of Mary to send his promised Messiah. God won his great victory over evil not with an invading army, but with the quiet “yes” of a young girl living in a cave in Nazareth. Jesus himself won the ultimate victory not by “crying out in the street” as the gospel reminds, but by his silence at his trial and the silence of his death on the cross. God does indeed hear and answer our prayers. Let us be like Mary and say yes to God and allow him to work in his patient, sometimes silent, way.

Theology on Tap: Q&A

July 13th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Here is the Question and Answer session following my talk, “What is Worship” given at the St. Lawrence Center “Theology on Tap” night at Old Chicago.

Theology on Tap: What is Worship?

July 13th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Moses, the Mass, and the Meaning of Life

With so many different “churches” offering opportunities to “worship” one must ask the question, “What is worship?” “Where does it come from and how do you do it?” This talk explores the origin of Christian worship in the Old Testament, showing that it was God who first asked us for worship and the essence of this worship was expressed through offering sacrifice. But what place does offering sacrifice have in worship today? Are there any “rules” for worship, or do we just make it up and do whatever we like? Understanding how we are in fact called to offer sacrifice is the key to understanding the Mass and…the meaning of life.

This talk was given to a group of Catholic students and permanent community from the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence, KS. The talk was a part of their new “Theology on Tap” series and was given at Old Chicago in Lawrence.

Homily 113 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 11th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Knowing is Only Half the Battle

We are all familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan in today’s gospel. Yet, what do we do with the knowledge gleaned from this parable? Today’s homily gives the unfortunate results of several studies demonstrating that a lot of us are like the priest and Levite in the story…we ignore those in need. There are lots of reasons why this is and not all of them are because we are uncaring people. We’re often just in too big a hurry to stop and help. Perhaps more often, we tend to think that someone else will help.

There is an important principle of Catholic social teaching called “subsidiarity.” It says basically that problems and changes should be handled at the lowest level possible. If there are poor and needy people around us, it is not the job of the federal government, the state government, or anyone else to help them. The poor need to be helped at the lowest level possible and that lowest level is you and me. We cannot rely on some government program to help the poor. The fact that we may give money to a charity or pay our taxes that fund welfare doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to help those in need that we encounter each day.

Ultimately, there is no law that will force us to take care of those around us. However, Jesus doesn’t appeal to the law in today’s gospel. He appeals to our hearts. No policeman will arrrest you for passing by a homeless person or not helping someone change a tire. Only the love of Christ can compel you to act with compassion. St. John of the Cross reminds us that “in the evening of life, we will be judged on our love.” We all know the story of the Good Samaritan, but that’s only half the battle. The real question is…”what will we do?”

Homily 112 – Saturday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time

July 10th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

A Warning from Fatima

We often tend to ignore the reality of hell. We talk and act as if it didn’t exist. Yet, today’s gospel clearly says that it does, and that people go there. In 1917 our Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. On July 13th of that year she gave them a special warning about hell. She showed them a vision of hell and all the souls suffering there. She asked the children to pray and do penance for sinners so that fewer souls would be lost. Mary gave several prophesies to the children about what would happen if her call to repentance was not heeded. She continues to call to us today to pray, to pray the rosary especially for peace. Let us resolve today to change our lives, do penance for our sins and those of the whole world, and to pray the rosary every day.

Homily 111 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 4th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Independence Day

Today we rightfully give thanks for the blessings of freedom we enjoy in this country. Our scripture readings today also call us to give thanks for an even greater freedom, the freedom that only God can give. What is the source of this freedom? Isaiah reminds the Israelites that as bad as things might seem in exile, they have cause for hope. One day they will return to Jerusalem. Jesus teaches the apostles in the Gospel that if they have him, they needn’t fear that anything will be lacking. There is a great freedom in knowing that God is in control. Yet so many of us rarely experience this kind of freedom. What gets in the way? In a word…fear.

We’re afraid of so many things. We’re afraid of loosing our job, afraid we won’t find a job, afraid our kids will lose the faith, afraid our health will fail and list goes on and on. Ultimately, we’re afraid that we will die. In little ways and big ways we are confronted with death every day. If we live in fear of dying, we are not truly free to live.

St. Paul gives us the answer to this problem in our second reading. He talks of how we should boast in the cross of Jesus. The cross seemed like the ultimate defeat and yet was turned into the symbol of Jesus’ triumph over death. The cross reminds us that death is not the end and that Jesus has conquered death. We need no longer fear death.Boasting in the cross is now our ticket to true freedom. If we have nothing to fear from death then we need not be afraid to encounter the cross in our life. To live in the knowledge of the resurrection gives us a freedom the world can never give.

Today we are especially thankful for the freedom we have in this country and we know that it was bought at a great price. Men and women throughout history have given their lives that we might live free. Even greater though is the freedom in God that points beyond this world. This freedom too was bought at a great price. Jesus gave his life on the cross that each of us might live in freedom, freedom from sin and death. This is a victory we celebrate every Sunday. Each week we can rightfully celebrate the Lord’s day knowing that it is indeed our Independence Day.