Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Homily Podcast



Homily 55 – Monday of the 3rd Week of Advent

December 14th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

A Star to Guide Our Way

Today’s first reading tells of the little known prophet Balaam. He is best known for his prophecy foretelling that “A star shall advance from Jacob.” This prophecy is often interpreted as referring in part to the star of Bethlehem seen at the birth of Jesus. The readings today remind us that God has a plan for all of history. If we are going to find fulfilment and happiness then we need to conform our lives to that plan. We need to follow the star.

Homily 54 – 3rd Sunday of Advent

December 13th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Change Your Minds

On this third Sunday of Advent we hear the great cry of John the Baptist, “Repent!” The word in the original Greek comes from meta, meaning a change, and noete, a command referring to the mind, the nous. So the word repent literally means “Change your minds.” When I looked it up in the dictionary I found that the full definition referred to “A change of mind leading to a change in action.” That is what we are called to do in this third week of Advent, to think differently so as to act differently.

This past week I had the rather sad occasion to baptize and confirm the little baby of our youth ministers, Bryce and Angela. It was sad because little Corrigan was born at only 23 weeks and lived for only about an hour after his birth. It is easy in these situations to wonder just what God is doing. We trust that He always brings good out of everything, but sometimes it’s hard to see. In this situation, however, it didn’t take long to receive some amazing grace from God.

I first have to say that Bryce and Angela themselves are amazing. They truly “thought differently” about this situation. While they were certainly sad at the death of their son, they also found cause to rejoice that they had a saint in heaven. Since Corrigan was baptized and confirmed before he died, we know that he is in heaven. The truly amazing part of this story is that it didn’t take very long for Corrigan to start working miracles.

One of Angela’s grade school friends saw a picture that Bryce and Angela put on the internet with them holding Corrigan. It turns out that the friend was also 23 weeks pregnant and had made an appointment to have an abortion. Seeing the picture of little Corrigan caused her to have a profound change of mind. She canceled her abortion appointment, and instead called a real doctor and scheduled an ultrasound. She has now decided to keep her baby. A change of mind leading to a change of action.

The end result of repentance leads to the other focus of this day, rejoicing. Whenever we change our minds and begin to act in accord with the plans of God we will find great joy, no matter what obstacles may come. In this third week of Advent, let us look carefully at the ways that we need to change our minds, to repent, so that we can then fully rejoice at Christmas.

Homily 53 – Friday of the 2nd Week of Advent

December 11th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Being in Tune with God

The Gospel today speaks of children who are upset because people aren’t dancing along with the various tunes they are playing. Society plays many tunes for us and often we do in fact dance right along without giving much thought. It’s just easier to go with the flow and do what everyone else is doing. If we refuse we get singled out like those mentioned in the Gospel. Yet, this is what we are called to do. Let’s be careful who’s music we’re following. Let’s try to stay in tune with God.

Homily 52 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

December 8th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Catholic Predestination

We might think of predestination as a Calvinist idea that rightly no Christian could hold. While this is true of Calvin’s and many Protestant understandings of predestination, there is a clear teaching on predestination that Christians can find acceptable. Our readings speak of this today. God has predestined each of us for holiness. We were made to be with him forever in heaven. We celebrate Mary’s immaculate conception today as a sign of what we are all called to be. We are all called to be free from sin. This is the gift given us in baptism and restored in the sacrament of penance. Withe the Blessed Mother as our example let us all realize our common destiny, to be holy and to be with God forever in heaven.

Homily 51 – Memorial of St. Ambrose

December 7th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

A Little Help From Our Friends

Today Jesus shows us in the Gospel that he has the power to forgive sins. He also shows us that sometimes we need a little help getting to the point of forgiveness. The man int he Gospel is paralyzed and it is the faith of his friends that brings about his healing. We all need to be forgiven, to be healed, but we don’t have to do this alone. St. Ambrose is a great example of a friend who helped bring many people to know Jesus. His most famous convert is the great St. Augustine. Who are the people in our lives who have helped us come to know Jesus? Who do we need to reach out to and help? With a little help from our friends, and God’s grace, we can do a lot more than just get by.

Homily 50 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

December 6th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Caution – Construction Ahead

Advent is a season full of symbols. We have the Advent wreath and Advent calendars. There is the Jesse tree. We put lights on our houses to symbolize the light of Christ coming into the world to scatter the darkness. At Christmas the familiar manger scenes replace the wreathes of Advent. We make special food, sing special songs, and send special cards. Yes, there are many symbols of this season. One symbol that is often overlooked is the ever familiar…orange construction cone.

Why an orange construction cone to symbolize Advent? No one likes to encounter a construction zone while driving down the road. The person holding the sign with the ominous warning “Slow” says it all. It can take a great deal of patience not to get frustrated with a construction zone. Despite the inconvenience while the construction is going on, pretty much everyone is pleased with the result when the construction is over. Driving down a nice smooth road or having a new turn lane are often worth the wait.

Today’s readings speak of our relationship with God using images taken from road construction. In order to prepare for the coming of God, we are told to straiten the crooked roads, smooth out the rough places, level the hills and fill in the valleys. As we look to get our highway prepared for the coming of God this Advent, maybe we notice a few potholes that need to be fixed. Maybe the work required is more substantial. Sometimes you’ve patched things so much that there comes a time when you need to scrape off the worn out layer and resurface. What kind of spiritual roadwork do you need to do to prepare this Advent?

In addition to the repairs that we need to make, the message on the familiar sign is a good one, “Slow.” This season can become so busy with all the extra things we add. Yet, what we need most is to slow down, take time for prayer and reflection, to simplify our lives. Maybe an orange construction cone is not such a bad symbol for Advent after all. The next time you encounter some construction, think of the smooth road being created and then remember to slow down in your own life and prepare the way of the Lord.

Homily 49 – Friday of the 1st Week of Advent

December 4th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Following Jesus Even When We’re Blind

Today’s Gospel tells of two blind men who, despite not being able to see, are described as “following” Jesus as he passes by and then “approaching” him when he goes inside. Have you even thought how difficult that must have been? We all go through periods of darkness in our lives when it seems hard to see Jesus. We know Jesus is there, but the situation is so difficult or God seems so far away that it’s like we’re blind. The men in the Gospel give us a great example today. When things are difficult and it’s hard to see, we’ve got to keep going and keep following and approaching Jesus. After all, we walk by faith and not by sight. A little blindness now and then can be a great opportunity to strengthen our faith.

Homily 48 – Feast of St. Andrew

November 30th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Taking the Gospel to Scotland and Beyond

St. Andrew is best known in the Gospels as being the brother of St. Peter. He is in fact the one who introduces Peter to Jesus according to St. John’s Gospel. We know very little else about St. Andrew, but we do know that he gave his life in witness to Christ, probably on this day in A.D. 60. It is said that, like his brother, he felt unworthy to be crucified after the manner of Our Lord, so he was crucified on a cross in the shape of an ‘X’ as opposed to the familiar ‘T’. This cross has come to be known as the St. Andrew’s Cross. St. Andrew is also the patron of Scotland whose flag bears his cross. In the early Middle Ages, the relics of the saint were taken to Scotland, the “end of the earth” at the time, to keep them safe. Since that time, St. Andrew has been helping keep the faith in Scotland safe. We pray that he may inspire us to continue to take the Gospel to the “end of the earth” in our day. That might even mean to members of our family. Maybe we too have a “brother” who needs to hear about Jesus.

Homily 47 – 1st Sunday of Advent

November 29th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Beginning of the End is Coming

We begin this new year somewhat where we left last week, focused on the coming of Jesus. The message today is to be vigilant and be ready. This is really the point of the season of Advent, to prepare well for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. I’m getting asked a lot lately if the world is going to end in 2012. There’s a new movie out that uses this as part of the plot. Although I’m not recommending the movie, it does have people thinking. Will the world end in 2012? I don’t know. It might. It might end long after that…or it might end…TODAY.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel today that many will fear his coming, but that we are to hold our heads erect knowing that our redemption is at hand. Does the thought of the world ending in 2012 scare you? Why? Maybe there is something that you know you need to change that you’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve been to confession. The bottom line is this; if there is something that you would change in your life to be ready if you knew the world was going to end in 2012 then…DO IT! Don’t wait, just fix it now. You may not even have until 2012.

We’ve been given the next several weeks to spiritually prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. We have to realize that society is not going to help us with this. We need quiet, simplicity, and time for prayer and contemplation to awaken a sense of hope and anticipation. Society is throwing materialism, noise, and an overwhelming sense of busyness at us. Be deliberate with your preparation this Advent. Clear away anything that impedes Jesus coming fully into your life. If Jesus returned today, are you fearful or prepared and read to hold your head erect? Jesus is coming; let’s be ready.

Homily 46 – Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2009, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Thanksgiving Has Two Parts

There are two parts of thanksgiving, and I’m not referring to food and football. On this national civic holiday of Thanksgiving you will often hear people listing the things for which they are thankful. The first part of thanksgiving is knowing just what it is that we should be thankful for. This task can be harder than it seems these days. When you stop think about it, we’re a society that really has it all. Yet, just as Jesus warns time and again in the Scriptures, material wealth and “having it all” don’t lead to happiness, yet alone thanksgiving. Rather we seem to be a culture of complaining and dissatisfaction most of the time. Thanksgiving is therefore a great day to stop and smell the turkey before devouring it and remember just how fortunate we really are. There is much for which we should be thankful and that should be a cause of real joy.

However, having a lot to be thankful for is only the first part of thanksgiving. Even more important than knowing the things for which we should be thankful, we’ve got to know the one to whom we should be thankful. In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of ten lepers who are cured but that only one returns to give thanks to God. We might be tempted to think that the point is that only 1 out of 10 were thankful. I don’t think that is the case. To be cured of leprosy would have left all ten overjoyed and no doubt feeling very thankful. The difference between the one who returns and the other nine is not that one was more thankful than the others. Rather the one who returned knew not only what he should be thankful for, but to whom he needed to go to offer that thanks. He returned to to Jesus, to God, to express his gratitude.

On this great day of Thanksgiving, let us take time to to call to mind all the things we should be thankful for, our material prosperity, our freedom, our family and friends…even food and football. But let’s not forget the one to whom we owe all thanks and praise. The most important part of thanksgiving is knowing and thanking the God who gives us everything. Praise God from whom all blessings flow, today and every day.