16th S. 2021: Work & Retreat

Today’s homily is for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 18, 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here

How exciting it must have been for the apostles, after casting out demons, curing the sick, and proclaiming the good news to come back and report all they had done. I always enjoy hearing my sons report to me all the good they have done throughout the day, whether fishing, or working, or working out. With excitement and zeal they share the day’s events. I imagine how I feel hearing all this good news from my sons must have been a bit like how Jesus felt hearing his disciples–unlearned fishermen–tell of the good work they had done. There are three points I want to make here.

The first point is the apostles were nothing special in the eyes of the world, but with God’s power and faith in Jesus, they were able to do good work. The number one reason I hear for people NOT to be courageous enough to live their faith, start a Bible study, lead a catechism study, teach CCD or RCIA, or be a minister at Mass, is “I don’t know how,” or “I don’t think I know enough.” God does not call the qualified–he never has!–He qualifies those He calls. The disciples gave their “yes” to God and he did great things through them. God wants to do great things through us too. We need to say “yes” too.

The second point is there is as much or more work to do today than there was then, and the world needs our help. The apostles were sent out, and today, our Bishop is sent out too. And he has some priests, and he has some deacons, but that is NOT enough. Our bishop and our parish need every member to step up! One of my favorite sayings is that many hands make light work. Today we have Mass; we need lectors, communion ministers, musicians, sacristens, ushers, altar servers and greeters. That’s just for one Mass. Yesterday Silvia and Sam, our family and others made almost 500 meals for the VBS drive-thru pork sandwich fundraiser. At the same time floats were being built for our parish celebration coming up in August. The Knights of Columbus are always in the mix, serving whenever and wherever possible. We need more Knights. We need more hands. We need more ministers. We need more help. The Church is not, nor has it ever been, a place to come and get something. The Church, the Ekklesia are the people of God called by God, out of darkness into light. The Church are those who gather to give something–their time, their talent, their treasure–for the good of the community and of the world. Each of us must ask ourselves, “How am I supporting and serving the community to which I belong?” If you’re not…why not?

Finally, my third point is like the apostles, some of us get so busy, we don’t even have time to eat! Those who are serving MUST get away by yourself to a deserted place to rest a while. Get in your boat and get away from time to time. Get something to eat and relax; be recreated. You know, that’s where we get the world, “recreation.” Engaging in recreation is to be about the business of being re-created, made new and whole again. Getting right with God, with family, and friends, and trusting that although we participate in the saving work of God–we are not the Savior. 

I want to thank Fr. Manuel for coming back…but also for going away. More than any priest I know, our pastor is always present to his flock. Fr. Manuel is at most every meeting, every activity, every retreat or talk. Mostly just to say hi and give a blessing, to say a prayer and eat some food, but forever the working priest, and I appreciate him for that. I also appreciate that he rests on retreat and stays connected to God. 

St. Paul of the Cross said, “Withdraw often into the depths of your being, and there, with living faith, rest on the breast of God, like a child, in the sacred silence of faith and holy love.” And so, my brothers, I encourage your retreat as well, but first your work. We must each step up and answer the call that the Lord places in front of us for us to do. He will qualify you, but he needs your “yes,” then your work, and then your rest. Call your parish office for opportunities to serve as ministers at Mass or CCD, to join the Knights of Columbus, to make some rice pudding, and maybe just to see how you can serve the Lord, his Church, and the world.

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