Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, October 28, 2018

 

Sunday, October 28,  2018

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time-B

National Priesthood Sunday 

image

Jeremiah 31: 7-9

Hebrews 5: 1-6

Mark 10: 46-52

         This is Priesthood Sunday in the United States. It is a day that we give thanks to Our Lord for giving us the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

         The second reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews tells us about the priesthood of Jesus Christ: “No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God…. You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

         The Eucharist is the center of our Catholic life. And so, in order that we can have access to this great gift of Himself, Jesus gives His ordained priests a share in His own priesthood.

         Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders we are doing right now at this Mass what Jesus did at the Last Supper when He took bread and wine and said: “This is my Body. This is my Blood. Do this in memory of Me.” We are now doing this in memory of Him.

         I thought today I would share a little bit about my own calling to the priesthood.

         My vocation really came from God. But God used my family as His instruments. My parents, Tom and Cheri O’Connor, who are now both with God, had five boys and one girl, and I am the oldest.

In our family life, my parents nurtured an environment of faith. We went to Mass EVERY Sunday. The only excuse was if you were sick – and sick enough to be in bed all day. Sunday Mass was the center of our family life.

         My parents went to Confession regularly and invited us to go along with them.

We prayed in our home: grace at meals and the family Rosary. When it was time for the youngest to go to bed we would all kneel on our favorite step going up to the bedroom level of our home, and say night prayer together, led by my mother and father.        

         My own calling to the priesthood, I believe, happened when I was about four or five years old. (We moved a lot as a family, and I can associate different ages with different houses we lived in.) I was attending Sunday Mass at St. Jude’s in Elyria. I was in the third row on the main aisle. (I liked to sit there so I could see). It was the Offertory of the Mass, and I was watching the priest, Father John McCaffrey. I was looking at the altar, and at the cross that was above the altar. And then I said to myself, “I could do that! I could DO that!” I believe, as a four or five year-old, that was when God first called me to be a priest.

         There is a line in Graham Green’s novel, The Power and the Glory, that goes: “There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” That was the moment when the door opened and let the future in for me.

         Father Frank Kosem, the pastor of St. Jude’s in Elyria, knew the story about that cross over the altar in their original church, and when their new church was completed in 1991, he delivered it to me.

Today that cross is on the front wall of the daily Mass chapel at Saint Joseph.

Before that cross the Lord opened the door and let the future in for me as a four or five year-old boy.

         I was ordained a priest at the age of twenty-six on June 14, 1975 with twenty-five of my classmates, 43 years ago.

         I always wanted to be a parish priest, but God had some other ideas for a period of my life.

I taught in our diocesan seminary, Borromeo Seminary College. I was involved in diocesan work at St. John’s Cathedral, in the Diocesan Worship Office, and for nine years I was Bishop Pilla’s secretary – although I always continued to be involved in a parish somewhere.

I was the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Avon Lake for 18 years and then the pastor of Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Akron for 2 years, and now for 3-plus years I am the pastor of Saint Joseph Parish and the pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish. And I am very happy and very grateful to be here with you all!

         Now, you have heard the witness of this old man who is 69 years old and a grateful priest for 43 years. After Communion, we will hear from a young man who is 20 years old and who just entered Borromeo Seminary two months ago, Nathan Frankart, a member of Saint Joseph Parish. And he will share with us what his journey has been like so far.

All of us are instruments of Christ for vocations to priesthood and religious life in the Church. If you know a young person that you think might have that calling, let them know. Tell them you think they have what it takes. Encourage them. Pray for them. I am convinced that many of our future priests, deacons and religious are right here in the pews of our own parishes.

You might ask me, if I had it to do all over again, forty-three years after my ordination to the priesthood, would I still want to become a priest, even knowing all that I know today? My answer is, “Absolutely! Yes, I would! Without a doubt!”

And I still thank the Lord for the call that He gave me so many years ago as a young boy, before that cross during Sunday Mass, when He opened the door and let the future in.

Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, October 21, 2018

 

Sunday, October 21,  2018

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time-B

 

image

Isaiah 53: 10-11
Hebrews 4: 14-16
Mark 10: 35-45

A teacher was telling her second-graders that if you carry your cross here on earth, one day you will wear a crown in heaven. And then she asked, “Who do you think will wear the biggest crown?”
A student answered, “The person with the biggest head.”

That sounds a bit like today’s Gospel. James and John had pretty big heads – not literally of course. But they did have large egos. They said to Jesus, “Grant that in your glory we may sit, one at your right and the other at your left.”
Are they really so different from us? Don’t we all want our moment of fame, our day in the sun?
When no one notices us and our accomplishments, it can feel like being in prison. In fact, someone who did not like their job very much penned these descriptive lines:
“In prison, you spend the majority of your day in an 8×10 cell. At work, you spend most of your time in a 6×8 cubicle. In prison, you get three meals a day. At work, you only get a break for one meal, you have to pay for it, and it tastes like prison food.
“In prison, you get time off for good behavior. At work, you get rewarded for good behavior by getting more work to do. In prison, all expenses are paid by taxpayers, with no work required. At work, you get to pay all the expenses in order to get to work, and then they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.”
Mary Kay, of Mary Kay Cosmetics, said: “Always remember that everybody wears an invisible sign around their neck that reads, ‘Make me feel important.’ Remember that whenever you work with people.”

Now, before we get too tough with James and John about their request to sit on either side of Jesus in heaven, we must remember that they were not lightweights in their commitment to Him. They had left behind their father and mother and a very profitable fishing business to follow Jesus.
And, even in spite of their ego-driven ambition, they loved Jesus. Jesus knew this. They are like us in many ways, I believe.
Harvey and Patricia lived in Arizona. Adele Astaire was their neighbor and she loved to host dinner parties. Harvey and Patricia were regulars on her guest list. One night, Adele invited her brother, Fred, to come.
As the evening drew on with a lovely dinner and lots of candlelight and beautiful music, Patricia turned to Fred and said, “Mr. Astaire, would you dance with me?” He graciously got up from the table and they circled the room.
Harvey said that from that day on, whenever they were out with friends, Patricia would always manage to bring up the night she danced with Fred Astaire. It was a memorable and defining moment in her life.

When Jesus invited James and John to follow Him, it was a memorable and defining moment in their lives. They believed in Him and they loved Him. But sometimes their ambition carried them away.
So Jesus says to them, “Can you drink the cup that I drink?” Jesus meant the cup of suffering. “We can,” they replied, not knowing what they were saying.
“The cup that I drink, you will drink,” Jesus told them. And they did. In fact, James was the first of the Apostles to give his life for Jesus as a martyr. And John, his brother, was the last of the Apostles to die, and at a very old age.
Their faith started small and it needed to mature. And it did. Their ambition needed to be purified. And it was.
When was the defining moment in your life when Jesus called you to follow Him? Can you remember? How are you maturing as His disciple? And where is Jesus calling you now to further your growth as His disciple?

Whether or not James and John are seated at Jesus’ right and left hand today, we do not know. We will know someday. But whatever the seating arrangements, we do know that they are indeed with Jesus in heaven.
And from their place in heaven they guide us still, as we “cling to the old rugged cross,” and hope to “exchange it some day for a crown.”

Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, Oct 14th, 2018

Sunday, October 14,  2018

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time-B

Stewardship Renewal Commitment Weekend

image
Wisdom 7: 7-11

Hebrews 4: 12-13

Mark 10: 17-30

 

         This is our Annual Stewardship Renewal Commitment Weekend. Thank you for being a part of this great opportunity for our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parish Families as we make our stewardship commitments together in the areas of time, talent and treasure for the next twelve months – as we become even better disciples of Jesus

         I know that many of you have brought your commitment cards with you today, all filled-out. Thank you! Others of you have already mailed in your commitment cards. Thank you!

         Perhaps you forgot to fill-out a card. Well I am going to give you the opportunity to do so right here with the cards and pencils in the pews. The cards trimmed in gold are for Saint Joseph parishioners. The cards trimmed in blue are for Nativity parishioners. Just raise your hand if you need a card or a pencil and I would ask those nearby to pass one to you.

You can use one card for all the persons in your household – adults and young people. Please write your first name next to the ministry that you are either “already involved in” or that you are “interested in joining.”

         At the time of the first collection, we may all deposit our completed commitment cards in the basket along with our regular Offertory envelopes.

         Since this Commitment Weekend is so important, if you have not already completed a card, I invite you to do so right now while I offer some thoughts about today’s Gospel.

         When I was growing up, I would often hear my mother say: “Now stand tall, put your shoulders back and hold your head high because good posture says a lot about the person inside.”

         Well, it’s true. Our body language does tell a lot about what is going on inside of us. And today’s Gospel is a case in point.

         A rich young man ran up to Jesus, knelt down and asked: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

         Jesus told him: “Keep all of the commandments.”

         The young man replied: “I have kept all of the commandments since I was a little boy.”

         And the Gospel says that “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him: ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow Me.’”

         The Gospel goes on to say: “At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Poor posture – “his face fell.” You can picture him walking away, a bit hunched over because of his sadness. His body language revealed the struggle that was going on inside of him.

         This Gospel is not, first and foremost, about money. Its message is about being a disciple of Jesus. And there are many obstacles to being a follower of Jesus. For the rich young man, the obstacle was his possessions.

And so he went away sad.

         Do you consider yourself wealthy? I would imagine that if I were to ask all the wealthy people in this church right now to stand up, you would all remain seated. Why? Because “being wealthy” is relative. No matter how much we have, we can always think of someone that we think has quite a bit more.

         Try to tell a homeless person that you have nothing to share because you are too poor. Do you think that homeless person believes you? After all, we all have a place to call home, we all have food for the day, and none of us is wearing every single article of clothing that we own.

         We do need money to take care of our needs. Yet money alone does not give us full security in life. But sometimes we live as though it dies.

         That was the trouble with the rich young man in the Gospel. He not only owned things; his possessions owned him. He could not release his grasp of them to open his hand to the hand of Jesus.

         What if this Gospel had ended differently? What if that rich young man had said: “Yes, Jesus. Just give me a little time and I will go home and put everything on the market and give the proceeds to the poor. Please keep my spot as your disciple open. I will be right back.”

         If he had said this, he would have walked away with a smiling face, standing tall with his shoulders back, and knowing what Jesus was calling him and enabling him to be.

         Jesus looks upon us with love too. What is Jesus asking of you right now so that you can be an even better disciple? Do not be afraid to listen to Him. You can count on Jesus for the grace to do it. Your whole demeanor will reveal Who it is that you love and Who it is that you serve.

         And that makes all the difference in the world.