Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 221 – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 2nd, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

All That Jazz

When we’re growing up, no kid seems to like rules. I remember a similar experience learning to play the trumpet. My teacher wanted me to learn a bunch of scales. I just wanted to play songs. Our readings today also speak of rules, but especially having them in the right balance. It’s good to follow the rules, but we can’t become obsessed with the rules. No musician will perform scales for a concert.

In music, perhaps the best analogy to the kind of life God wants for us is found in Jazz. You’ve got to know the rules…the scales, the key, the changes, etc…but then you get to make it up. You improvise. May we all learn well the rules of life and then improvise with our unique lives as we give God glory with all that jazz.

Homily 220 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 26th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

How Important is the Eucharist

We’ve spent the last several weeks learning about the Eucharist as we read St. John’s gospel. However, there comes a time when you have to make a decision to act. It’s not enough just to think about the Eucharist or understand it. Ultimately, our lives must answer the key question, “How important is the Eucharist?” Today’s homily looks at how three different priests answered this question.

St. Edmund Campion, S.J.  Fr. Walter Ciszek  Cardinal Francis Van Thuan
St. Edmund Campion, Fr. Walter Ciszek, and Cardinal Francis Van Thuan

Homily 219 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 19th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Behold the Lamb of God

This weekend’s homily continues the theme of considering various aspects of the Eucharist as we reflect on St. John’s gospel. Today we learn about what is meant by the term “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” What sacrifice is this referring to? What does it mean that Jesus is the Lamb of God?

Homily 218 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 12th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Not As It Appears

We normally use our senses to understand our world and to identify what things are. However, things aren’t always as they appear. In in philosophy, we use two important terms to differentiate between what our senses can tell us about something and what that thing actually is. The properties that are perceptible to our senses we call “accidents.” This would include things like color, taste, smell, etc.. Beyond what something looks like, we call the property that actually makes something what it is “substance.”

The terms substance and accidents are philosophical terms that are important to our understanding of the Eucharist. We start with ordinary bread and wine. After the words of consecration the substance of the bread and wine is changed while the accidents remain. What still appears to be bread and wine has been completely changed into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. The Eucharist is God although it retains the accidental properties of bread and wine.

This transformation is so important and unique to the Eucharist that a new word was created to describe what happens at the consecration. “Transubstantiation” is the word used by the Church and simply means “a change in substance.” As we go forward to receive the Eucharist today, let us be mindful of this great mystery. Jesus says that whoever eats this bread will live forever. Indeed this “bread” is much more than what it appears to be.

Homily 217 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 5th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Athletes of Christ

I always enjoy watching the Olympics. There are so many sports that I would never watch if it weren’t for the Olympics. I was watching diving the other day and marveled at all the complicated moves they are able to do. All of the athletes are so inspiring. We marvel at the “finished product” we see on TV, but I especially enjoying hearing the stories of all the hard work it took to get there. The training routines and years of discipline are truly inspiring. Why do they do it? …to win a gold medal of course.

St. Paul reminds us that we are competing for a much bigger prize in the competition we call life; we want to win the prize of heaven. If heaven is our goal, why would we expect that getting there would be any less difficult than winning a gold medal? The Christian life requires training and discipline. The early church gave each newly baptized Christian a new title, “Athlete of Christ.” It’s not easy to be a Christian. No one hands you a gold medal simply for showing up.

The lighting of the famous Olympic flame marks the beginning of competition at the Olympics. In our baptism we too are given a flame to mark the beginning of our race in life. The priest passes the torch as it were from the Paschal Candle to the baptismal candle and onto the parents and godparents. As he does so he says to the newly baptized, “Receive the light of Christ.” He might just as well be saying, “Let the games begin.”

Homily 216 – Natural Family Planning Awareness Week

Posted: July 22nd, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

New Life for Your Marriage

This week is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. If you are now asking yourself, “What is Natural Family Planning?” then you see the need for the week. Today’s homily considers the joy and sacrifices of married love and the great gift of family. For those unfamiliar with NFP, it will also hopefully be an introduction to something that is not only free and over 99% effective, but could also radically change your marriage and your relationship with God. Perhaps it is enough simply to say that if you follow society’s wisdom you have an over 50% chance of getting divorced. If you follow God’s plan through NFP, you have less than a 5% chance of getting divorced. Those are good odds that will hopefully make you want to become more “aware” of NFP this week if you’re not already.

Homily 215 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: July 15th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Go

After observing Jesus and learning from him, today it’s time for the apostles to “go.” The word “apostle” literally means, “one who is sent” so it makes sense. However, Jesus also asks them to take nothing with them so as to build their trust in God. They are supposed to take a walking stick and sandals. This is a good image for the Church. We are a people on the go; we have a mission and we’re not meant to stay still. At the end of every Mass, the deacon or priest tells us all to “go.” The word “Mass” actually comes form the Latin word meaning “to be sent.” There’s a lot of going and sending implied in Mass. Today’s a great day to make sure we know our mission and then to get going.

Homily 214 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: July 8th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Problem with Prophets

Most people tend to think of prophets as people who foretell the future. The biblical notion of a prophet is much different. A prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of God. Sometimes their messages are about the future, but most of the time they are concerned with talking to people about the present moment. The Old Testament is filled with stories of prophets. One thing they all seem to have in common is that it often doesn’t go very well for the prophets. They all end up ridiculed or dead.

The problem with prophets is that God doesn’t normally send them when everything is going well. Normally, a prophet is sent to say that God is not happy or that we need to change somehow. Not surprisingly, we tend to shoot the messenger. It’s a tough job to be a prophet. The interesting thing about the Christian life is that not only are we called to listen to the prophets that God sends us even today, but we are also called to be prophets. By virtue of our baptism, each of us is a prophet. That means we are to speak about God and bear witness to him by our words and actions, just like the prophets of old.

So how are we doing? What message does your life send? What kind of prophet for God are you?

God and the “God Particle”

Posted: July 7th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Higgs bosonYou might have noticed on the news this past week that there has been great excitement among particle physicists over the apparent confirmed observation of the famous Higgs boson. Scientists from all over the world followed live on the internet in the middle of the night when the announcement was made and were then seen drinking champagne and going crazy. Scientists don’t normally go crazy very often, so the average person would first of all probably assume that “these guys are nuts,” but then might think that “something big must have happened.”

As a fellow scientist, I feel for the excitement of of the discovery. However, as a bit of an outsider to the intricacies of particle physics, I am also sufficiently removed so as to be able to laugh just a little at the thought of a bunch of people in white coats going crazy over a “particle.”

With all that said, probably the number one reason that this discovery has received so much attention in the news is because the Higgs boson was previously given the nickname the “God Particle” (much to the disapproval of the scientific community). To the casual observer, one might think that this discovery has in some way proved that there is in fact no real “God” and that everything can now be explained as related to this “particle.” It’s an attention grabbing story, but it has nothing to do with the Higgs boson and how it got it’s nickname.

The Higgs boson is the last piece to be put in place completing what is known as the Standard Model in physics. It’s similar to what the Periodic Table of Elements is to Chemistry. For instance, if you have confirmed an element with 22 protons (Titanium) and also confirmed an element with 24 protons (Chromium), the “model” in Chemistry would speculate that there should be an element with 23 protons, even though you haven’t “seen” it yet. (fyi, Vanadium, atomic number 23, was in fact discovered in 1801). The reason that the Hiiggs got the nickname “God particle” was because all of the scientists agreed that it should exist, but no one could actually observe it. Test after test confirmed that, to fit the Model, the Higgs boson should in fact exist, it’s just that no one had been able to create an experiment that proved it.

Because of the fact that all the evidence confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson and yet it remained so hard to definitively observe and prove, some people compared this to the qualities of God. Hence the certain but mysterious Higgs became known as the “God particle.”

So what can the God particle tell us about God? Here’s the key for me. The whole process of “proving” the existence of the Higgs shows that science and faith really operate on systems that are a lot closer than people think. Look at the “scientific” process at work here. Because the physicists had such confidence in the Model they had proposed, they were convinced by the evidence that the Higgs boson existed, even though no one had been able to see or maybe ever would see it. One might say that they had “faith” in the existence of the Higgs boson. Science requires faith too!

Now some might object that “That’s not faith. They used sound reasoning and hard data to project the existence of the Hiiggs.” Exactly…and this is what faith does as well. Faith is not some random belief in something crazy that is illogical. Faith is reasonable. In the same way the physicists can make observations and apply their knowledge to form a model of physics, so we can learn about God and even arrive at enough certainty to posit a God-centered “Model” of the universe.

In the end, the Standard Model of physics was confirmed. The particle long-believed to exist has at last been “seen” and people in white coats everywhere are going crazy. If all this happens just for the discovery of a “particle,” imagine the joy when one day the God-centered model of the universe is confirmed and the long-believed to exist God is at last seen by all. People in white robes will indeed go crazy, and this time everyone will know why.

I’m on EWTN Radio Tomorrow at 4:00 CDT

Posted: July 6th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

I recently did an interview for the Vocation Boom show on EWTN radio and it is going to air tomorrow, Saturday 7/7, at 4:00pm. Since this is EWTN that means it will air GLOBALLY. That’s right, Shawn the Baptist will be heard WORLD WIDE tomorrow. Thanks to the Kansas City Catholic radio people at KEXS that passed my name along. They said I had the perfect face for radio. I’m touched, and hope people like hearing a little bit about my vocation story tomorrow.

If for some reason you think there is something more important than listening to your radio tomorrow at 4:00…here is the recorded version of my part of the show. May the Holy Spirit do something beautiful with this apostolate at Vocation Boom Radio and may many more young people respond to a call to priesthood and religious life.

Vocation Boom Radio Interview VBR1226 (Air Date 07-07-12)