Homily: Father Michael Kuse
Blessed Sacrament Parish
October 7, 2012 - 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 AM Service
Every year in the month of October the church invites us to reflect on the dignity of life, and to look at ourselves and ask, “Who am I? Is my life all that God wants it to be, or am I trying to be someone else? Do I really understand how God is working in my life?”
When we sit down quietly and think about this the one thing we all have to acknowledge is - life is complicated. It is complicated because you and I sometimes forget why we were put here. So often we live our lives like, “When I was born, God created the world. And I thought I did a pretty good job, and so I asked God if he wanted to be part of this world that I created.” And God just slaps us on both sides of our face and says, “You've got it wrong. I created the world. Then I asked you to come into the world.” And that's why life is complicated.
It starts right there. It took place in the Old Testament, it was taking place 2,000 years ago in the New Testament, and it is still taking place today. The question for us is, as I was telling the children, we are supposed to be here so that each one of us can become the best person that we can be - and not for just one day a month but for every single moment. That means that our task is to make sure that we are encouraging each other to achieve that goal - to become the best person that we can be.
During the last few years, the children in our grade school have been participating in what we call the Covey Process, and it is a process where you learn the basics of being human. The gentleman that put that all together, Stephen Covey, passed away not too long ago. But he wrote lots of books and he did some fantastic things.
In one of his books he shares the story about the eight-cow wife. He says, “There was this young man who noticed a young girl. Something within him got very excited about her, but to everybody else she was just a homely person. She was stoop-shouldered, she was not the most beautiful girl around, and she was drawn into herself. But the young man was in love with this girl.”
This happened back generations ago when you would pay a dowry to the father of the girl to marry his daughter. The normal fee was to give two or three cows to the dad. Then the father would say, “You can have my daughter.” In those days, women had no worth and children had no worth. You could buy and sell them.
So without question this young man came up to the father of this homely girl and said, “I will give you eight cows if you will let me marry your daughter.” Now remember, not just two or three cows - eight cows he was willing to give for this homely daughter. It took the father about two seconds and he said, “You can have her. Just give me my eight cows.”
The father took the eight cows, and the young man and the young woman got married. A few months later a friend of his came by to visit and he looked and here was this man's wife. She was standing straight, she was beautiful, and she was happy and the friend said, “Is this the girl you paid eight cows for? I can't believe it.”
The young man said, “Yes, it is. She's worth much more than eight cows. She's the love of my life. I will do anything for her, and she will do anything for me. That is what makes us one.”
Their life went from being complicated to uncomplicated. That's what marriage is all about. That's what my priesthood is all about - is to make sure that all of you become your best, and together you can make sure that I become my best. That's what life is. It's very simple but somehow we enjoy making things in our lives complicated.
Jesus says to us, “What uncomplicates things is when you go back and realize that this is my world and you are invited to live in it, and if you have faith in me you will uncomplicate your life. But without faith in me you're just going to be going around in circles and it will take you nowhere.”
We can use that when we look at our lives.
I'll share a couple of experiences about marriage. When you get married and two people stand here and they join hands and they say they will take each other as man and wife, nobody else in church says a word. It's just the two of them. They promise to make sure each other will reach their personal best. But to do that, God has to be there.
A couple that I married twenty-five or thirty years ago came in before the marriage and met with me. The young man was Catholic and his fiancée was not Catholic. In our process of talking about things, we got on the subject of faith. I said, “How are you going to raise your children? Are you each going to go to two churches every weekend? Are you going to support each other's faith?”
The young girl said, “Father,” and her husband John was sitting right there, - she said, “You know, I would give anything to be Catholic but I cannot get John to go to church. So it doesn't quite make sense for me to become Catholic and go to church if he will not go with me.”
I looked at John and said, “Did you just hear that?”
“Yeah,” John answered.
I said, “This is a moment for you. She wants what you have. You've got to be willing to give it. Uncomplicate your life.”
As we went on with the discussion and got to talking about the wedding I said, “A wedding is a beautiful moment. But what really is important is the rest of your life.”
The girl said, “You know, Father, the other day that's what I told my Mom. And my Mom said to me, 'Get over it. This is just your first one. There are more to come.' ”
I said, “Mom, just because you're on your fourth doesn't mean I want all these weddings! This is real for me. This isn't the wedding, this is my life and I love this man. This is what it's all about.”
We all deal with this. We have no control. There are some people who are married and I said, “You can't stay married. You just can't. You're ruining your lives, your children and everybody else.”
Then there are other people who don't want to stick with it and my only answer is, “Grow up. Get a life. Uncomplicate your life.”
Life is not easy to explain. But remember, God does not hold onto things.
I hold on to things, you hold on to things. God doesn't and he's just saying, “Move on with your life. Keep it uncomplicated and then you will see how much I love you and how important you are to each other. And your friends can only remain friends when you are helping each other to grow.”
It's not just about marriage. It's about life in general. It's the people you work with, the people you go to school with. Everybody, twenty-four seven - we are making a difference in each other's lives. But are we complicating it? Or are we uncomplicating it?
So when the church says, “Think about life,” it is simply saying, “Life is so precious. Hold onto it. When you sense life becoming complicated, then just go to the gift of faith.” And Jesus tells us, “When you have faith you will always come back, and I will light the path for you.”
We need each other. And it's God's world.
Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.