Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Homily Podcast



Homily 100 – Pentecost

May 23rd, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Preparing for a Birthday

Today’s feast of Pentecost is often called the “birthday” of the Church. It was on this day that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the Apostles gathered in the upper room and the Church was then made very visible as they spilled out into the streets proclaiming the good news. Although we can rightfully see this as a sort of “birthday,” it would be incorrect to think that the Church began on this day.

When a baby is born, we celebrate that we can see the baby now visibly in the world, but no one would claim that somehow the baby only came into existence at the moment of its birth. For the previous nine months the baby was being formed in his or her mother’s womb. In a similar way the Church was being formed for 9 days following the Ascension in quiet and expectant prayer in the upper room. Although Jesus had given the Church it’s mission at his ascension, he did not send them off on their own at that point. Rather he told them to wait in Jerusalem for coming of the Spirit. Only when they had received the Spirit were they ready to go out.

There is an important message here for all of us. We can’t be the Church by each of us going off and doing our own thing. The first reading tells us plainly that “they were all together” when the day of Pentecost came. We need to gather together in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit. We gather today in the “upper room” of our church, around the altar of the Eucharist, with the Apostles and Mary and we pray. Come Holy Spirit. It is the birthday of the Church once again.

Homily 99 – Monday of the 7th Week of Easter

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

Peace Amidst the Troubles of the World

Perhaps our natural response to opposition and setbacks is to assume that we have done something wrong. In today’s gospel, Jesus says quite the opposite. Jesus tells us to expect trouble from the world when we follow after him. Indeed, we can even see trouble and opposition as a sign that we are fact doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Jesus promises us peace amidst the troubles of the world. He promises us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and encourager. Let us strive to know the Holy Spirit better and trust in Jesus promise, “Have courage. I have overcome the world.”

Homily 98 – Ascension

May 16th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Hope for Those Just Passing Through

Today’s homily tells the story of a man who came to realize that we really don’t have a lasting home in this world; in truth we are all “just passing through.” The Solemnity of the Ascension which we celebrate today also reminds of us this fact. We should live our lives with our eyes fixed on heaven as the apostles eyes were fixed on Jesus as he ascended. As we sing in the liturgy today, “Where he has gone, we hope to follow.”

One would think that heaven would be an obvious goal for our lives, but do we really hope for heaven? Do we tend to think of heaven as simply the events of this world continuing on forever? Perhaps we wish for a place with only the good things in life and none of the bad. But still, if heaven is just more of this life stretched on forever, this seems more like a curse than a blessing. Heaven has got to be something radically different from the life we experience here.

Pope Benedict offers a cure for this thinking. He suggests that we see heaven not so much as “a place to go” but rather as a “person.” Heaven is not just some generic place of happiness. The joy of heaven comes precisely from being with Jesus. If we long to be with Jesus and live our lives set on this goal, then we will have our wish. We will experience the joy of being forever with the one we love. That indeed is something to look forward to with great hope.

Yet we need not wait until our death or Jesus’ return in glory to begin living this way. We’ve got to form this intimate relationship with Jesus right now in this life. In that respect, heaven really isn’t so radically different than this life. If our life is based on a relationship with Jesus, then we will find great joy in this life and will find ourselves very much at home when we get to heaven. This is the great hope held out for us today in the feast of the Ascension.

Homily 97 – 6th Sunday of Easter

May 9th, 2010, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Roses for Our Mother

May is the month in which we traditionally honor Mary and often crown her statues with wreaths of flowers. While this is a special event for May, we can actually “crown” Mary with our prayers any time. The tradition of praying the rosary developed from this idea. The prayers we say on each bead of the rosary are meant be like beautiful roses that we offer to Mary. The rosary is even designed in a circle, like a crown of roses.

I have read in the lives of the saints that sometimes while praying the rosary they would actually smell the scent of roses. This was seen as a great miracle from Our Lady to show her happiness with the prayer. I once had a similar experience…but you’ll have to listen to the recording to get the whole story.

The rosary is a beautiful way to meditate on the life of Jesus. As we reflect on the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries, we do so through the eyes of Mary. In all the important events in the life of Jesus, we find Mary close by his side. On this Mothers’ Day, we are also mindful that our own mother’s have often been right by our side too for all the important events in our life. Like Jesus, as we too go through joys and sorrows, our moms are there with us.

The circular nature of the rosary also points toward another truth of our faith. As we “go around” the life of Jesus again and again through the mysteries, we keep bumping into the cross. The otherwise perfect circle of the rosary has this rather interesting attachment of the cross to cause us to stop. In all the events in life we will find the cross popping up. Yet Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. He says that he leaves us peace. Jesus is on that cross clanking around on our rosaries, and he is with us through the crosses in our life.

So, whether you find your life in a joyful, illuminated, sorrowful, or glorious state right now, you will find the cross, and you will find Jesus there. Where you find Jesus, Mary is sure to be close by. May God bless all our mothers today and may our heavenly mother help bring us to Jesus.

Homily 96 – Saturday of the 5th Week of Easter

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

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

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

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

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

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.