Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 12 – Monday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 17th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Sadness of Being Ordinary

When the Israelites finally enter the promised land, their mission was to be an example to the pagan people they encounter (or else, in some scriptures, kill them all less they become a temptation). They are supposed to show them the worship of the true God. However, they soon give in to the temptation that keeps so many from achieving the greatness to which they are called; they decide that it is easier to just be like everyone else. They start worshiping false gods and sacrificing even their children to idols. They give up their identity as God’s chosen people to be just ordinary.

This is one of the greatest temptations that afflicts the Church to this day. Not long ago, you could tell who was Catholic apart from the rest. We had a unique identity. Now, in so many ways, Catholics are “just like every body else.” Abortion, contraception, divorce…Catholics are almost indistinguishable now from the general population. We’ve given up our special mission to be salt and light and to convert the world and have instead allowed the world to convert us. The rich young man in the gospel today is given the special call to follow Jesus if he will only detach himself from the worldly ways represented by his possessions. Unfortunately, he says no to Jesus’ invitation and goes away sad. Will we continue to try to be just ordinary, like everyone else? What will be our answer to Jesus’ invitation?

Homily 11 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 16th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

In today’s gospel, Jesus commands us to eat his body and drink his blood. He tells us that his flesh is true food and his blood is true drink. This seems to be such a strange teaching. We often ask, as those in the gospel did, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Perhaps a better question to consider first is, “Why would Jesus give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus tells us in the gospel that he wants to “remain” in us and wants us to “remain” in him. Jesus wants to be as close to us as possible! It is important to remember that we are not purely spiritual beings, but rather we are body and soul. We experience the world through our bodies as part of who we are. If Jesus wants to remain with us, he can’t do this in some purely spiritual and abstract way. Rather he remains with us in a way that is tangible to our body and our soul. If Jesus wants to be as close to us as possible, what could be closer than the very food we eat that becomes part of us?

This is why Jesus gives us his flesh to eat, but the question “how?” remains a difficult one. It is indeed a mystery, yet we need some language to talk about it. The Church has found use in the philosophical term “transubstantiation.” Simply put, it means that the appearances of bread and wine, the “accidents”, remain but the thing itself, the “substance”, is changed into the body and blood of Christ. If that helps…great, but you don’t have to be a philosopher to understand the Eucharist. Before the consecration we have normal bread and wine on the altar. When the priest in the name of Jesus says “This is my body” and “This is my blood” we now have the body and blood of Christ really present. Only the appearances of bread and wine remain. It is a great mystery, but ultimately we believe it because Jesus said it and we trust him. He loves us so much that he wants to be as close to us possible, even becoming our very food. Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar.

Homily 10 – Solemnity of the Assumption

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

Our Bodies Are Holy and Destined for Heaven

[This homily was given at the archdiocesan Pro-Life Mass held each month at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Kansas City, KS]

After the tragedy of World War II, many people were rightly shaken by the images taken upon the liberation of the concentration camps. Pictures of piles of human corpses and mass graves led many to despair and question, “Is this all the human body is really worth?” It was in view of this that Pope Pius XII asked the world’s bishops if they felt that the time was opportune to proclaim solemnly the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. While the Church had always believed this truth of the faith from the earliest days, in 1950 this dogma was offered to the world to reassure us of the dignity of the body. Mary was taken, body and soul, into heaven as a foreshadowing of the truth that all of us will one day raised from the dead, body and soul.

The modern tragedy of abortion has once again filled our world with piles of bodies and people are tempted to despair and question, “Is this all a person is, just a bunch of insignificant tissue to be thrown away?” Mary’s assumption assures us today as it did the world in 1950 that the body is sacred. One could hardly ask for a better Pro-Life Gospel than the Gospel of today’s Mass. The pre-born John the Baptist leaps in the womb of Elizabeth has be encounters the person of Jesus, also pre-born in his mother Mary. How could any Christian claim that babies in their mothers’ wombs are not people! We invoke Mary’s intercession today to pray for a greater respect for all human life and a renewed awe that our bodies are holy and destined for heaven.

Homily 9 – Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Posted: August 12th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Tending Well the Fire of God

The antiphon for today’s psalm exclaims, “Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!” We often used this image of fire to describe the presence and love of God. Jesus tells us that he came to set the world on fire. The Holy Spirit came in tongues of flame at Pentecost. In today’s first reading we see the the eyes of Moses remained undimmed at the age of 120, still filled with the fire of so many face to face encounters with God. While fires can sometimes be large and rage out of control, the fire that is the presence of God within us is much more like a small watch fire. A small fire has to be carefully tended and little sticks have to be added frequently to feed it. That’s a good image for the spiritual life in all of us. We have to carefully tend this gift of God’s presence and feed it often. St. Jane Frances de Chantal knew this is and is a beautiful example of tending carefully the spiritual life. May we all be diligent in keeping the flame of God’s love alive in our hearts.

Hayden Faculty Retreat 2009 – Talk 3

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

Lessons from the Lunar Landing
2009 Hayden Faculty Fall Retreat

Talk 3

How?

Saturn V Launch of Apollo 11

“Today, they’re shocked when the shuttle doesn’t work every time, but they were always surprised when the Saturn V did.”
- Neil Armstrong

“Each of the components of our hardware were designed to certain reliability specifications, and far the majority, to my recollection, had a reliability requirement of 0.99996, which means that you have four failures in 100,000 operations. I’ve been told that if every component met its reliability specification precisely, that a typical Apollo flight would have about [1,000] separate identifiable failures. In fact, we had more like 150 failures per flight, better than statistical methods would tell you that you might have. I can only attribute that to the fact that every guy in the project, every guy at the bench building something, every assembler, every inspector, every guy that’s setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, ‘If anything goes wrong here, it’s not going to be my fault, because my part is going to be better than I have to make it.’ …And that’s the only reason we could have pulled this whole thing off.”
- Neil Armstrong

“I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.”
- John Henry Cardinal Newman

“We stretch ourselves, and what we learn yields broad benefits.”
- Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator

“A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said, ‘Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water.’”
- Matthew 17:14

Closing Thoughts

The journey to heaven is even more exciting than the journey to the moon. We need leaders who know where we’re going to inspire us. How well do you know God’s story? Are you prepared for the challenge?

The crew of Apollo 8 expected to find the moon. Instead they found the earth and, ultimately, God. Can you help your students to find God where they weren’t looking?

400,000 people worked on the Apollo program to make “one small step” possible. Do you recognize the importance of your role? Will you do your part?

So Long from the Moon

Hayden Faculty Retreat 2009 – Talk 2

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

Lessons from the Lunar Landing
2009 Hayden Faculty Fall Retreat

Talk 2

Why?

Earthrise

The four “causes” of Aristotle
Material – what’s it made out of?
Formal – what is it?
Efficient – who made it?
Final – why?

“After all the training and studying we’d done as pilots and engineers to get to the moon safely and get back, and as human beings to explore moon orbit, what we really discovered was the planet Earth.”
- Bill Anders, Apollo 8 Astronaut

On Christmas Eve 1968 the crew of Apollo 8 was scheduled to do a live television broadcast from the moon. It would be watched by the largest television audience in history at that time. Mission Control reminded the crew of this fact and admonished them, “You better think of something good to say.” They chose to read the first 10 verses of the Book of Genesis. Over 2 billion people, more than half of all people alive at the time watched.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, d“Let there be an expanse1 in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

“A merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”
- Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Astronaut

“Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made? Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling? It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom; for your sake was the night regulated and the day measured, and for you were the heavens embellished with the varying brilliance of the sun, the moon and the stars.”
- St. Peter Chrysologus

“When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place— What is man that you are mindful of him, mortal men that you care for them? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, even the beasts of the field,the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!
- Psalm 8:4-10

Hayden Faculty Retreat 2009 – Talk 1

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

Lessons from the Lunar Landing
2009 Hayden Faculty Fall Retreat

Talk 1

Where?

 Kennedy Addresses Congress

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”
- John F. Kennedy, Speech to Congress, 1961

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
- John F. Kennedy, Rice University, 1962

“What is the purpose of a newborn baby?”
- Werner von Braun, Rocket Scientist

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
- God , Jeremiah 1:5

“They told Moses: “We went into the land to which you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit. However, the people who are living in the land are fierce, and the towns are fortified and very strong. Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there. Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb; Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites dwell in the highlands, and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan.” Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said, “We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us.” So they spread discouraging reports among the Israelites about the land they had scouted.”
- Numbers 13:27-32

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.”
- John Henry Cardinal Newman

“We’re on a mission from God.”
- Elwood Blues

Homily 8 – Feast of St. Lawrence

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

Cheerfully Knowing Where You’re Going

The words of Jesus in today’s Gospel can sound harsh as he tells us, “Whoever hates is life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” Jesus is reminding us to have our priorities straight and to know where we are going. When you consider eternal life in heaven, it is true that this life pales in comparison. St. Lawrence knew his goal was heaven. This faith allowed him to courageously surrender his life in this world rather than risk losing eternal life in heaven. St. Paul reminds us today that “God loves a cheerful giver.” St. Lawrence showed this cheerfulness right to the end as it is told that while he was being martyred by being grilled to death he cheerfully told his torturers, “You can turn me over now; I’m done on this side.” May we, like St. Lawrence, always be mindful of our ultimate destination and thus cheerfully live out our days on earth, whatever challenges might come.

Homily 7 – Memorial of St. Dominic

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

Another New Evangelization

The story of the early Church is filled withthe tales of the apostles going out and spreading the faith all over the world. Little by little, the faithspreads and even entire lands become “Christian.” Unfortunately, things don’t stay this way forever. Over times, the lands once famously converted by St. Paul fell away from the faith, came back again, and fell away again, over and over. Despite the initial evangelization of a culture, it is all too common that heresy gradually creeps in and soon the faith is lost. A “new evangelization” is then needed to go and plant to seeds of faith once again. St. Dominic encountered this problem in southern France in the 13th century. He was saddened that people did not know their faith and so had gradually fallen into heresy. He founded a special Order of Preachers, the “Dominicans,” to help teach people the truths of their faith. Mary appeared to him bringing the gift of the Rosary to aid in his task. Today we find ourselves in similar circumstances as St. Dominic. Once again people don’t know their faith and thus are falling away. For this reason the Pope has called for a “New Evangelization.” This isn’t the first new evangelization and it won’t be the last. With the prayers of St. Dominic and Our Lady, we know that we will be successful.

Homily 6 – Feast of the Transfiguration

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

Glimpses of God to Keep Us Going

Jesus gave Peter, James, and John a great gift on Mt. Tabor. For a brief moment, they saw the divinity of Jesus as clearly as any human eye can on this earth. We might wonder why Jesus didn’t reveal himself this clearly to everyone. He reserved this special moment not even for the 12 apostles, but only a chosen 3. Ultimately, the lesson is that God has never acted in such a way as to force himself upon our intellect or compel our will. In heaven we will have that beautiful Mt. Tabor experience permanently, but here on earth we are still on the way. Peter wants to stay on the mountain as well all would, but this vision is given not that Peter, James, and John might stop and stay. Rather the vision is given to strengthen them for the struggle of the cross that lies ahead. We too have moments in our life where we see God clearly, and they do often seem few and far between. We take courage as we look to the joy of beholding Jesus face to face permanently in heaven, but for now we treasure these transfiguration moments in our lives, these glimpses of God that keep us going.