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McTeigue: John Paul the Great and the Gospel of the Family

Familiaris Consortio

Sometimes, a homilist feels like a DJ at a wedding reception. He always knows that some people will leave disappointed because they didn’t hear what they were hoping to hear that day.

Today’s feast day is in honor of Saint John Paul 2, and so one might reasonably expect a homily that waxes eloquent in praise of that great saint.

We have just marked the end of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, of which John Paul should have been the patron. That synod did not leave the Church in a state of serene clarity, and so one might reasonably expect a homily that applies the wisdom of John Paul to the synod.

And today we have a disturbing passage from the Gospel of Luke, wherein Jesus describes the blessings of faithful servants and the doom of unfaithful servants. We tell ourselves we are one and fear that we are the other, and so one might reasonably expect a homily that helps us to take this painful parable to heart.

But why should we settle for reasonable expectations? Let’s try to do it all in the short time that God has given us!

The parable we heard today warns us that we do not know the day or the hour when our Lord might return to us in His glory, or when death might carry us off to Him. We would do well to be ready for either event. But that observation is as facile as it is banal, and by itself, it isn’t likely to do us much good.

The parable reminds us, and John Paul would surely agree, that the Lord comes to us day by day, moment by moment, in Word and Sacrament, in our neighbor, and in mundane events. Are we ready to greet our Lord hidden within the ordinary and the familiar? Do we see ourselves as serving our Lord’s hunger as we prepare yet another meal? Do we see ourselves as honoring our Lord’s wisdom as we write another essay? Do we see ourselves as reverencing our Lord’s innocence as we dry a child’s tears? These familiar acts, John Paul would tell us are truly familiar—that is, they are the acts of family. The family is an altar upon which are placed loving acts of praise, sacrifice and care—sometimes dramatically, sometimes quietly, and, please God, always with great love, regardless the cost.

The Synod on the Family would agree that the families entrusted to our care deserve, as their birthright, Capture“faithful and prudent” stewards. It is right, then, as disciples of Christ, to have an examination of conscience regarding our stewardship of the families entrusted to our care. Our Lord Himself resides in each member of our family, and we would do well to attend to His needs and the gifts He brings.

I fear that we often misunderstand these words of Our Blessed Lord: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” Many seem to think that what Jesus means is this: “Well, if you’ve been given lot of resources and blessings, expect a lot of accountability. And if you’ve been given a whole lot of resources and blessings, expect a whole lot of accountability.” If that were a correct interpretation, one would almost be inclined not to be very blessed.

I think that’s a misunderstanding of the gospel. I think Jesus is saying this: “Look, if you’ve been entrusted with responsibilities, expect to give an account before God of your stewardship. And if you’ve been entrusted with responsibility for creatures made in the image of God and redeemed by my Precious Blood—if you have been entrusted with the care of family—then expect to give an exacting account before God of your stewardship.”

Frightening? Maybe. But it is also wonderful news! God gives not just His love but also gives us those whom He loves! He gives us the vocation of loving as He does—freely, fully, faithfully and fruitfully. God calls us to become like Himself, He Who is Love, and He gives us the family as a great school of love. That’s why the family must be cherished and protected and guarded most vigilantly—because without proper stewardship of family, we will fail, each of us and all of us, at our human vocation to become love by loving as God loves.

Let’s pray today for the intercession of Saint John Paul, that great apostle of the family, to bless the work of the synods and our family life, so that, like him, we may be faithful in love, even unto death. Then with him we can echo the words of the psalmist and say, “God indeed is my savior. I am confident and unafraid.”

May God’s Holy Name be praised now and forever.

Ave Maria’s Father Robert McTeigue, S.J., preached this homily on the feast of Pope Saint John Paul the Great last Wednesday. Father McTeigue is currently finishing a collection of homilies and essays on preaching entitled, I Have Someone to Tell You: A Jesuit Heralds the Gospel. He recently began writing a weekly column, which this week focuses on what he would want the Synod Fathers to know about his long-suffering divorced friend, Pete. Father McTeigue earnestly seeks your prayers that his life and work be to God’s greater glory – and he invites your comments.

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McTeigue: Christ wants a radically welcoming and inclusive Church

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Ave Maria’s Father Robert McTeigue, S.J., preached this homily at Mass last Friday:

We were created for the praise of God’s glory. What is God’s glory? God’s glory is the shining forth of His truth.

In these days, when people tell us that we must be a “welcoming” Church and an inclusive “Church”, I think we must ask, “Can we be the Church that welcomes and includes the truth of God that God Himself has revealed?”

Can we welcome and include the truth of God’s wisdom? The wisdom that made us male and female and for each other as male and female? Can we be such a welcoming and inclusive Church?

Can we welcome and include the truth of God’s goodness? The absolute goodness that cannot abide any evil or lie? Can we be such a welcoming and inclusive Church?

Can we welcome and include the truth of God’s mercy? The mercy that allows us to embrace the justice of God which names good as good and evil as evil? Can we be such a welcoming and inclusive Church?

It is for such as these that we were made, we who were made for the praise of God’s glory. And at this moment, when we are being called upon to welcome and include what dishonors God, that we must decide whom we shall worship? Shall we worship the living God Who has revealed Himself to us through His only-begotten Son, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life? Or shall we worship an idol of our own making?

If we make our choice well, then we will know the truth of the psalm we heard today: “Exult, you just, in the LORD; praise from the upright is fitting.”

May God’s Holy Name be praised now and forever.

Father McTeigue is currently finishing a collection of homilies and essays on preaching entitled, I Have Someone to Tell You: A Jesuit Heralds the Gospel. He recently began writing a weekly column, topicwhich this week focuses on what he would want the Synod Fathers to know about his long-suffering divorced friend, Pete. Father McTeigue earnestly seeks your prayers that his life and work be to God’s greater glory – and he invites your comments.

3 degrees of unity: Ave Maria pastor requests Synod input from the faithful

While sometimes we think Rome is so far away, in fact each Catholic parishioner is only three steps from the Pontiff: parishioner to pastor, pastor to bishop, bishop to pope. As requested by Pope Francis, our local shepherd, Bishop Frank Dewane, has asked our pastor Father Cory Mayer to gather from parishioners feedback for the upcoming extraordinary synod having the theme “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”. As is the custom with a synod, the pope has asked for input from all parts of the globe so as to assist the bishops as they prepare for and participate in the synod meeting. Francis-Synod

This exercise is a shining example of the real love and concern that is shared across these relationships we have with our pastors at every level – their pastoral love and concern for us and our love and concern for them as brothers in Christ and as the shepherds God has provided to lead us on life’s pilgrimage.  This is a unique opportunity to share our views and concerns with our spiritual leaders at every level.

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