Fr. Tim’s Homily Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Third Sunday in Advent

Zephaniah 3: 14-18a
Philippians 4: 4-7
Luke 3: 10-18

It is right there in today’s Gospel – that question that we human beings have been asking since time began: “What should we do?”
Sometimes the question is about small things like, “What should I wear tonight?” Or, “What should we have for dinner?” Sometimes, though, the question is around really big things like, “What should I say to my children who no longer go to church, or who say they don’t believe in God anymore?”
“What should we do?”
We are in good company today with the people that posed that question to John the Baptist. They knew they needed to make some changes in their lives. And they knew that John the Baptist would give them straight answers to their question, “What should we do?”

To the first group John the Baptist replies, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Where do we fit with this? Think for a moment about how many coats, how many jackets, how many sweaters you have right now that maybe you haven’t worn in a while and perhaps don’t even have room to store.
Saint Basil the Great said, “The unused coat in your closet belongs to the person who right now is cold.” Maybe we can share some of our things to keep someone else warm this winter.

The tax collectors ask him, “John, what about us? What should we do?” John very simply responds, “Stop collecting more than is prescribed.”
What does that mean for us who may be tempted to save and store everything “just in case we might need it one day”? Maybe God is nudging us to get serious about the biblical prescription of tithing: giving 10% of my income back to God in gratitude, with 5% going to the Church and with 5% going to other charities, to enable God to bless other people through me.
I remember someone being shocked when I suggested that he consider tithing his earnings. “Ten percent?” he exclaimed. “That’s a lot!”
To which I replied, “Well then think how huge the ninety percent is that you get to keep!”

The soldiers ask, “What about us? What should we do?” John the Baptist says, “Do not practice extortion. Do not falsely accuse anyone. And be satisfied with your wages.”
What does that have to do with us? Well, how do I use my speech? To judge others? To gossip? Or to build other people up? Am I greedy and envious, or am I grateful for what I have received and ready to share some of it with others?

“What should we do?” Or a better way is to ask, “What should I do?”
Often we know very well what we need to work on, and so does everyone around us. But sometimes there are faults known only to us and to God. We try to keep them secret. Maybe they are embarrassing or make us feel ashamed. And yet, with God’s grace, we need to work on them too because they get in the way of our becoming better versions of ourselves.

“What should I do?”
I will leave you with a very short story that comes from Native American lore. It is about an Indian grandfather who was giving some advice to his grandson. He said, “Inside each person there are two wolves: one is a wolf of love and sharing, while the other is a wolf of anger and greed. They struggle within us all the time.”
The boy asked, “Grandpa, which wolf will win?”
The grandfather’s response would have made John the Baptist smile with approval. He said, “Which wolf will win? Whichever one we feed.”

“What should we do?” “Lord, what should I do?” Help me to know what it is and give me the grace to do it.

 

Fr. Tim’s Homily Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Second Sunday in Advent

Baruch 5: 1-9

Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11

Luke 3: 1-6

 

         On this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah, which John the Baptist makes his own in the Gospel: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”

         How can you and I do this during this Advent season?

         This weekend we take up the annual collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious. So many elderly religious sisters, brothers and priests have had such a profound influence on us. As we assist our retired religious, we help to “prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths.” You may put your specially-marked envelope in the collection basket today or any Sunday in December.

         In addition to the regular weekly Confession times, this weekend and next I will also make myself available after each Mass [except for the 4:00 PM Mass on Saturday] to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance. This is an excellent way to “prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths” as we get ready to celebrate His birth at Christmas.

         Now I would like to tell you a story about someone who would eventually become a Capuchin Franciscan.

         He was born Bernard Francis Casey in 1870 near Milwaukee. Everybody called him “Barney” Casey. He was one of many children. He worked as a farmhand, a lumberjack, a brick maker, a prison guard and a streetcar conductor.

         On a cold, rainy afternoon, as he guided his streetcar around a curve in a rough part of town, he saw a crowd of people on the tracks. He stopped the car and saw a young, drunken sailor standing over a woman that he had assaulted and stabbed repeatedly.

         Barney could not get that brutal scene out of his mind. He prayed for the woman, he prayed for the sailor and then he gradually felt that he needed to pray for the world.

         Eventually he quit his job and applied to the diocesan seminary in Milwaukee. But Barney had trouble with his studies so the seminary dismissed him and suggested that he become a religious brother where the academics were not as difficult.

         Barney Casey continued his search and finally joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit, Michigan and was given a new religious name: Brother Solanus Casey.

He then began seminary studies. But when it came time for his ordination to the priesthood, the seminary faculty did not recommend him because they did not think he was smart enough.

         An elderly priest went to bat for him and Brother Solanus was ordained a priest in 1904 and became Father Solanus Casey, but with a restriction. He was ordained simplex, which means that he was allowed to celebrate Mass, but he was not permitted to preach or to hear confessions because his superiors did not think that he was bright enough.

         So for forty-three years Father Solanus Casey was the doorkeeper at Capuchin Franciscan friaries. As a humble, obedient priest, he accepted the ministry of hospitality as his calling. And like John the Baptist in today’s Gospel, the Word of God came to him in his desert and lodged in his heart.

         As time went on, visitors to the friary bypassed the other Capuchins. They wanted to see Father Solanus. Because he was attentive to God in his life, Father Solanus was a wonderful listener and was able to share some wise advice. There were miracles that were attributed to his intercession. This doorkeeper turned out to be a wonder-worker.  

         Father Solanus died in Detroit in 1957 at the age of 86, never having heard a confession or preached a homily. But people from all over had come to him like they came to John the Baptist in the desert, learning to “prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths.” Father Solanus Casey was beatified on 18 November 2017 is now on the road to canonization as a saint of the Church.

         Why do I tell you this story today on this Second Sunday of Advent? For the same reason the motto of the Christophers gives us: “Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

         Father Solanus Casey’s priestly life did not turn out as he had first dreamed and imagined. He could have lived those forty-three years as the door keeper in the darkness of resentment and bitterness. But he chose instead to be the light of warmth and welcome to each visitor.

We live in a world that can be so dark, so cold and so violent. So let the Word of God lodge in your heart. Pray that next prayer you are inclined to pray. Do that next good deed. Put yourself in God’s hands. Have a deep sense of your calling, your vocation.

Be a candle, be a John the Baptist, be a simple doorkeeper who offers warmth and welcome to those who come. Be a voice of hope, crying out in the desert of our times: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.” Let your very presence and the way you live your life announce to those around you that the Lord is near.

Blessed Solanus Casey, pray for us.

 

Bishop’s Conference Information

Bishop Perez and the bishops nationwide are joining in seven days of prayer and fasting prior to their general assembly in November where they will be making critical decisions in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.  

Please find attached the following, click to read:

–          Letter to priests from Bishop Perez

–          A letter to parishioners from Bishop Perez

–          Prayer of the Faithful: Suggested Intentions

Please see the attached Pastoral Letter from Bishop Perez and Q & A regarding the clergy sexual abuse crisis.  Click below to read.

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Perez

Q & A  on the abuse crisis