Homily: Father Chuck Edwards
Blessed Sacrament Parish
July 29, 2012 - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 A.M. Service
It's a wonderful Gospel that all of us has heard and remember the story. We know that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. But there was so much more that was happening, especially in the lives of the disciples. Obviously, he had called them together to train them so they could go out and do ministry together. He did that because he wanted to get them ready and provide them with the experience of faith so that eventually they would go out to all the world and spread the good news.
So the disciples were now there with him on the mountain. I think it is important for us to try and remember the stories we have been hearing so we can appreciate what this Sunday is all about. When we look at the Gospels that have been given to us over the past couple of weeks, the disciples already were being sent two by two, and they did all this work, they went to all these places, gained conversions for many people. They came back to report what happened, not so much what he gave them to take out, but they came back sharing the good news about what took place, what happened, and how wonderful the grace of God can be.
They were excited. They loved what they were doing already. So Jesus said to them after he listened to them, and he wanted them to know, “You've done a lot. The grace of God is working with you in wonderful ways. And it's bringing people to a deeper faith. But you can't do this everyday all the time, twenty-four seven - go, go, go.” So last week what did we hear about? He took them off to a deserted place. And he said, “You've got to sit awhile. You've got to stop, you've got to relax. You've got to pray. You've got to just be focused.”
That's kind of what we do today. We really do stop. We come to a place where we can focus. We hear the word of God proclaimed beautifully, both in word and in song. (Father Edwards turned to the cantor) You're still cantoring. You're my favorite cantor of all the places I've been. When you started singing I thought, Ohhhh. Wow. Don't you feel that? (People applaud.) How long have you been here? Thirty years. I've been gone twenty.
And what a beautiful pianist you have here at this church. It just flows out of him, doesn't it? That's how God provides. And he does.
So Jesus says, “You've got to come away with me? You need to sit down and relax, and take time to be with God.” It's so important that we do that.
When I came here twenty years ago I remember when we threw the slabs of paint on the wall. Remember that? And we had three different colors of what to paint the walls. And we let you pick. (Turns to one parish member) You didn't get your pick did you? And some people did. And we changed some things up here. Not too much, but we did do some changing. Some people liked it, others did not. We heard about it.
I sat back in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Some people think it should be up here, some people are fine with it there. That's the church. Things change. But I sat there all by myself. You all didn't get here until about ten 'til ten. I was beginning to worry and the bus pulled up. God provides. Some things are the same, ten 'til ten, nobody here. Two 'til ten, you can't find a seat. Everybody comes.
But as I sat in the chapel and looked at the beautiful Blessed Sacrament Shrine, it is so personal. How many of you have ever sat back there? Well, you should. It's your church. It's your time and your space. When we come here we come here to worship together, to be fed together, to hear God speaking to us as he feeds us with his word, and he feeds us with the Eucharist that comes forward to this altar. That's where our focus is this hour as we gather as community.
I know your church is open every day to just sit in the presence of Jesus and have your time. That's why Jesus said, “Come away with me. You've got to do this. If you don't you're going to wipe out, you're going to wear out.” Many people who cantor for thirty years don't cantor anymore. And I hope that this congregation continues to pray that you will always say, “Yes.” That's God's gift. And yet if she did say, “I need to move on to another ministry,” I think she has that right - don't you? But don't do it.
Because I'll be blamed. But that's the gift we give.
We will not be able to give that gift - the God that is within us, the power of God within us as he is within us, will not suffice if we don't take time to listen. I heard a homily last night at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. I know St. Peter's has one. How many of you go there to pray? The priest therewas saying that people come into the Adoration Chapel and what do they do? They bring a book. They read the book. Or we play music, beautiful music, it touches us. That's where I find Jesus some time. I like beautiful music.
But in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel Jesus is saying, “I'm here.”
The priest was saying, and I agree, “If you come over to my house to spend time with me, and you read a book and you listen to music - well, I don't think we had a visit. I don't think there was a lot of one on one time together.”
So sometimes we just have to stop, and we just have to be. And that's when we will hear God. And he'll provide. So Jesus and the Disciples went away. They did that. This week, when we hear about the multiplication, is all about Jesus saying, “If you do these things and you go out and spread the good news, and you take the time to be present and to listen and to share with me, even in the silence, you are going to see - I'll provide. You are going to see that ministry is not so much about what we can do, and I can do, but it is about the God within us and what we can accomplish together.
When you look at the liturgy itself, it is not one person that does it. We have our server here. (turns to server) Come on up. She's so cute, smile. You are pretty. You are our server, nobody else. Right? Now what was your question to Father Mike? Do you think we can get another server? But guess who we got? We got the best. We got you. And who else? A seminarian. Do you know who a seminarian is? This is a person who is studying to be a priest. And who knows this job better than anyone else? He knows it like the back of his hand. So we have the best. God provided. Good job, go do it.
God provides. When we think we cannot do it ourselves, God provides. And that's how the Lord is. So the Lord sat them down. He really wanted to see if the disciples had “gotten it.” Because they had been ministering with him, he had been showing them the way. So after showing the changing of the water into wine, that occurred a few weeks ago, they've already seen miracles that he has done. He tested them, and they didn't respond in the way he wanted.
“What are we going to do?” the disciples ask. He says to them not, “How are we going to feed them?” But he asks, “How much money will it take to feed these 10,000 people.” He knows money is one of those ways, such as, “I can be faithful, I can be a Eucharistic minister, I'll do anything you want, Father.”
“So write a bigger check,” Father says.
“Ahhaaa, I don't know.”
How many of us are still writing the same amount on our check that we did twenty years ago? Some people do. Some people do. Father Mike told me to put that in.
But Jesus will multiply, he'll take what we have to offer. That's what God wanted to tell them but they were not able to realize his power. And so they said, “There is no way, we don't have enough money, we can't do it.”
So Jesus said, “Watch me. Watch me”
We know the story. He sits them down, they are fed, and not only are they fed but there is even a lot left. They started out with how many fishes? Two. How many loaves of bread? Five. That isn't much, is it? Even at Elder's that not much. It won't feed that much. But when they got done, there were twelve wicker baskets full, twelve wicker baskets full. Who is he talking to at this point? Who? Come on, it's not a trick question. You know, the ones who didn't think he could feed them, and how many were there? Who were they? The twelve what? Yes. The disciples. And there were twelve baskets. Twelve guys who didn't get it. Is there a connection?
He wanted each one of them, in the end, to be standing there holding this basket full of leftovers. He wanted each one of them, hopefully on their own, to get it - to see the power of God, to see what I can do. I can't do it alone. We have a little boy, or small shorter beautiful girl and I am going to take their gifts and I am going to use them. I am going to use them. Watch and see what I can do?
Why do we see those kids off? Why are they leaving us? So they can hear the word of God in a way so they can learn the truth better. That's why we send them off. I remember when we sent you off. You were a little girl when I was here before. We used to send you off. The twins. Now are you dating or married? Married. Wow. See how God provides. I watched you as little kids. God provides. And your children are here because you provided. When you brought them to the waters of life that we hear every Mass, we hear that water. Why? Because God starts there. It is at baptism that God says, “I'll be with you always.” But he also says to the parents, “Are you ready to accept the responsibility of sharing the faith of Jesus with your daughters.” And you said yes. You've obviously done it well, or they wouldn't be sitting here. That's how God provides.
God takes the little bit, or the lot of what we got, and he takes it and multiplies it. He'll take your son from the goodness of who you are and he will strengthen him to become a man of God. But he needs a man of God to show him the way. And a woman of faith to show the way. I hope this is your son. Good. I feel better. I did that one time and it wasn't. So this time it is good.
In 1992 I was leaving here and you were celebrating your 100th. This church, this building, this place - people have been coming here for 120 years. Why? So that that multiplication, that faith can continue to grow in all of our hearts. It isn't enough that it just grows in us, it isn't enough that we just go away and talk to him. From that we have got to respond, and be generous stewards of the gifts given to us. And so we serve.
I am not as old as your pastor. I saw in the paper where there was a big party for the three of them. Father Knuffman, and Father Venvertloh who was here when I was here, and Father Kuse. How many years together was it? 137 years that God has provided his ministry through them. It is a chosen vocation that they chose. Two of them are already retired but they still continue to serve the Lord.
Father Kuse is still here but he is not going to be here forever. I am waiting for the day that he says goodbye. Hopefully then I can say hello. But that's who's coming next. Is it worth seminary? Is it worth it today to go to seminary? Are there parishes out there who would love to have young priests like Adam? Yes or no? You need to tell him, yes or no? (People respond yes) And that's why he says yes. Because he believes he has gifts, he believes that God has spoken to him and said, “Come. And I will make you a fisher of men. And I will make you an instrument of my peace - and through your ministry, and through your ministry, and your ministry, and my ministry, and her ministry, and the ushers' ministry. We can do our song and dance at St. Mary's all we want, but if you come and look at us like “stick in the muds” it ain't gonna be good worship, is it.
When I heard you singing the opening hymn I knew it was good. I saw what I had seen twenty years ago. And that's probably why I'd love to come back - because of good families, good faith, good multiplication that God continues to work in your lives. And you listen and you hear it and you absorb it, not just hold on it and say “it's mine” but to say, “God, show me the way. Inspire me.”
We have a young girl who spoke to you. She was here working in your parish. And in the midst of that journey she is being called, and she heard it. She is going to go work in campus ministry at colleges. Do you think they need to hear the word of God in our colleges? What do you think, folks?
We should all write her a one hundred dollar check just knowing what God is doing in her life. How many forgot the homily right there? But we should. If we've got it, we should. It all started here, when she was baptized.
That's what the Lord invites us to, and he says, “I'll be with you always.” He tells those disciples, “If you had just trusted me, you would have known I could have done this. If you would have spent time enough with me and listened, the minute the crowd sat down you should have said, 'Feed them Jesus, show us what you can do.' ” They already saw the water turned to wine. But they weren't there yet. That's where the Lord wants us to go.
And we pray for each other, and for God's grace that we will be open to hearing that invitation, to do his work, to sit down with him in silence, and then to trust. Even in the most trying of times, in the things we cannot believe are happening to us it is there that God says to us, “Do you trust me? Do you trust me?”