Homily that wasn’t given 25th Sunday Ordinary Time A – Pat O’Brien

Homily that wasn’t given 25th Sunday Ordinary Time A –             Pat O’Brien

It was the deacon’s week to preach and I always have something ready just in case.  This has never happened, but one of the deacons started the homily exactly as I would have, but after that, went a little different way.  I liked my homily, so thought I would just share it here and as always it is something that I needed to hear.  So here is what my homily would have been for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time A.

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The Gospel was about the land owner that paid the same amount to those that worked one hour as those that had worked the entire day.  I would have started as Deacon Dan did.  Ranting as a child “It isn’t fair, it just isn’t fair.”  Life just isn’t fair.  The reality is that our faith isn’t about being fair.  All we have to do is look at the crucifix to see a sinless man that died for our salvation.  In whose book is that fair?  Not mine.

Our litigious society is all about what is fair and just.  People wrong us and we want justice.  People take advantage of us and we promise to not let that happen again.  Fairness has become a part of everything we do.

Fairness is subjective

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Confirmation – Something New for this Priest to Ponder!

Confirmation – Something new for this priest to ponder!

Confirmation is something new for me to ponder!  Sunday for the first time as the presider, I had the privilege to confirm 57 young people.  I have had the bad luck to hear some of the worst confirmation homilies of all time.  I’ve watched bishops warn young people about the dangers of sex, masturbation and porn in a way that gives them a road map to all these things.

Where my family lives was among the worst.  My brother even sent me a list of gifts of the holy spirit and social justice issues to help prepare my homily.  He did this having had to sit through some of the same, ick.  I reminded him that I only had 45 minutes for this.  I better would stick with the tried and true.

After our laugh, I started to think, what the heck can I say that will reach these sophomores on a hot Sunday afternoon.  After some thought and prayer, I left the readings behind and went with the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God.  I talked about my struggles and leave of absence and told them life can get hard, but with the gifts of Grace from the Sacraments, we can conquer anything.    I reminded them that God made them exactly as they were on purpose!  Each created to show a different aspect of who our God is to the world.  It was a good B+ homily, but nothing compared to what came next.

Renewing our baptismal promises, every question met with a strong response of, I DO!  The confirmation followed.  I had always wondered how Archbishop Gustavo could preside at over 120 confirmations a year and be so good at it.  Looking up for the first time, no more, mission accomplished, 57 newly confirmed, wow.  I figured we were half way, but we were finished!  What an amazingly intimate moment of grace with our youth.

In Short…

Until yesterday, there was nothing about being a dean that I would miss.  Now when this job is finished, I will greatly miss the privilege of confirming our youth.  From the beginning to the end, it was amazing.

Guest Blog – Message from an 8th Grader on Good Friday

Guest Blog – Message from an 8th Grader on Good Friday

My Parochial Vicar wanted to add to Good Friday and proclamation of the 7 last words of Christ.  I said to go for it and I am so glad that I did.  The only mistake was that I let him talk me into taking one of the words.  As pastor, people hear me enough and what came out of our parishioners was amazing.  Many priests think that priests that love having a school are crazy.  (We might be, but for good reason) If we let them, our young people can teach and amaze us.  This is the first Guest Blog and is a message from an 8th grader to those gathered for the 7 last words.  As I listened there was no doubt why I love being at parishes with schools.

So, a message from an 8th grader on Good Friday:

Carli Medina

The sixth last word of Jesus- it is finished.

From the Gospel according to John

There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said: it is finished.

“It is finished,” is written as the Greek word tetelestai which translates directly to “it is finished” or “it is completed.” There are only two places in the New Testament in which this word is used and both are found in St. John’s version of the Passion of Christ. In John 19:28, this word is used to state that Jesus completed the scripture passage from what the Old Testament testifies and in John 19:30 Jesus simply states “it is finished.” It may seem very obvious to us here today about what Jesus implied when he spoke these words, but I hope I may help you dive a little deeper through my reflection on these words.

At this time, the word tetelestai was also written on business documents or papers to indicate that the bill or loan had been paid in full. Now understanding the basic components of this word, it is clear to see why Jesus stated this words. It was no accident that he was handed over to be crucified, was beaten so horribly at Pilate’s Palace, it was not an accident when he died on the cross. It was all a part of God’s plan of complete salvation for his children. Jesus took the burden of suffering the hideous death on the cross so that we might obtain the promise of eternal life. When Jesus said this before he gave up his spirit to death, he stated of his fulfillment of his mission on earth. It can be easily mistaken to be spoken with grief, despair, and surrender. This probably what Satan believed to be true and he rejoiced, as seen in Mel Gibson’s, the Passion of the Christ film. We believe this to be the opposite. With these words, Jesus was victorious over evil and I am confident to say he spoke these words with an overwhelming sense of relief. Jesus knew that he had won over evil and that he had completed his earthly task. We must recognize that right now and have faith in our true Savior. God loved us so much that he gave up his only Son to death on the cross. To me, this is hope for my spiritual life and future and peace for knowing that God’s love never dies. It is at times like today when we feel most vulnerable when we have to look up at the cross and trust in what God has done for us.

 

Thanks for letting me use this and get my birthday off!

Homily 25th Sunday Ordinary Time Sept 18th 2016

Homily 25th Sunday Ordinary Time Sept 18th 2016

The readings for today from the USCCB website are AM 8:4-7  PS 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8  1 TM 2:1-8 LK 16:1-13

The Gospel is troubling as the Steward cheats his master and is rewarded.  I never write out my homilies.  My process starts on Sunday and I read the readings for the next weekend, Monday and maybe Tuesday.  I just start praying with them and Wednesday we go through the readings with staff.  If I don’t have a direction by Thursday I start reading commentaries or like for readings like today, I read the commentaries a bit earlier.

That said my homily develops each time I give it.  Sometimes the first time is the best, sometimes the last, I never know.  I do know that at this point in my life, that I am able to let go and let the Spirit guide me.  Some days like today, what I think I am going to say and what comes out are very different.

Many people today asked for a copy, so here is my attempt to write what I preached this evening.  This extra step will probably really change tomorrows message.

Last Sunday I was watching some mindless TV, don’t ask I will not tell, and the door bell rings.  A priest friend was at the door.  He enters and I say, “I hope you are not here for money”!  My fiend laughed and wasn’t there for money, but lets say I don’t have nearly as much vodka as I did earlier that Sunday.  He sits down and says, so what are you preaching one next weekend?

Knowing I had read the readings and knew that the main point was a dishonest steward being rewarded for his stealing.  He offered to let me preach for him, but didn’t offer to take my masses.  I joined in on the second drink, to be polite that is.  As you know I rarely avoid the tough topics, but this week the Amos reading was looking more and more attractive and a Deacon mentioned that if I lost my voice that was his plan.  Then Wednesday with the staff I realized that I had to deal with this reading and its implications, especially in today’s world.

Long time ago, in a diocese that none of you would ever connect me with a local priest that probably has been dead for 10 to 30 years now came to confession.  He starts out that he wants me to hear is confession for two reasons.  First he said I seemed like a good young priest and he felt his confession would be a cautionary tail and second he didn’t want to confess to a priest he knew.  He confessed that he had stolen around $30,000 from the Church.

This was one of the senior iconic priests of the diocese I was visiting.  I of course didn’t respond and he continued, it started with a quarter for the Coke Machine, then it was $5.00 for lunch than $100 to help parishioners or help with bills.  It was never more than a hundred and at that rarely $100, but he added it up and he believed the total was around $30,000.

Who would ever fault you for a .25 for the parish Coke Machine?  I was a very poor priest in a poor parish he said.  He then said to me, no one would ever fault you for the .25, but that .25 changed me forever.  I lost a bit of my integrity till I was ok on occasion taking $100.   He told me, never cross that line, once you have crossed to is to easy to stay over there.

I remembered this guy reading these readings.  In the time of Jesus there were not credit cards or ATMs.  People either had a bunch of money or no money and those that had no money bartered things of value they produced for things others produced.  The servant had no skill like that, he had been in his master’s care.  His fate was sealed, he was getting fired and the option he had was to make deals at his masters expense.  That was his only way to survive.  The “praise” he gets is more like a back handed compliment, his fate was already sealed, he had crossed the line.

Like the priest, he probably started small and as he got away with it it grew until he lost his livelihood.  We do that too.  How many white lies have been told to ease a situation and only lead to bigger problems in the future?  Once we tell one lie the second one is so much easier.

The first reading is at a time in Israels history where everything was going well.  They had started to lose their need for God. They were crossing the line and Amos is calling them back before as we know the pendulum comes back and things are not as easy.  The second reading is also calling them back to the straight and narrow, to the one mediator and the Truth.

Life would be much easier if we lived in a black and white world, we don’t.  Just turn on the news and see all the tough choices people have to make. Today’s readings as a culmination of the previous weeks of readings are calling us to the straight and narrow path.  Warning us that if we allow the gray of the world to permeate our souls, we lose.  When it comes to that integrity of self, we have protect our integrity.  We have to live the life God has called us to!

The world may be full of gray, but our faith isn’t, we are entrusted with the bright white light of Christ to be kept burning brightly from our baptism.  We have that light to keep us from the darkness of sin.  In this world, we have to be that light of Christ.  We have to live with integrity, that is really all we have left in a world that has far too many shades of gray.

Be That light

With all the turmoil in this world, you have to leave here to day and be that light.  We have our ministry fair, go and sign up for any of our ministries to help the Church be the light that this world is in dire need of.

Live with Integrity

We have many tough choices, we have to live beyond reproach.  We have to be that pillar of truth.  It only took a quarter for this priest to change his destiny, stay on the side of the light and protect your integrity at all costs.  As I tell our kids, if you always tell the truth, you never have to remember the story you told, we have to also model that integrity for our kids to see it at work in our lives.