posted on January 27, 2013 19:43
Homily: Father Mike Kuse
Blessed Sacrament Parish
January 27, 2013 - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 AM Service
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. The Spirit of the Lord is upon all of us. What does that mean? Theologically we can say when we were baptized we were anointed with the Spirit and the Spirit came into us. But for some of us that was a couple of years ago when we were infants. That same Spirit is still upon each of us. And if you notice in the first reading Ezra stood up and read. In the Gospel reading Jesus stood up and read. And both of them said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Two thousand years later, I took another book and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon all of us.”
In the second reading Paul writes about how we are one. We are one by our baptism. We are one by our birth. We are one because God created every single person. Someday we may find out why God made different continents, and why there still may be places we don't know exist. We're going to find out why God chose us all to be different. You can't put together a jigsaw puzzle if every piece is the same. They all have to be different.
So today if the Spirit of the Lord is upon us then we have to realize that no one is special - but we all are special. And what are we doing to let that Spirit come to the surface and touch the lives of one another? What do we mean to one another?
People in this parish are employed at different places. I don't know if anyone here worked for Electric Wheel before it became Titan Wheel, but my grandfather worked for Electric Wheel his entire life. And he worked out in the factory whether it was zero or a hundred degrees putting together and welding the wheels. When he died I was very struck, and I wasn't the only one, to find that Electric Wheel had sent a floral arrangement to the funeral home that was in the shape of a wheel. And the wheel was filled with flowers except for one little section - and that little section was to signify that someone, who was part of the entire wheel, was no longer there but would always be remembered. This was done for every employee who worked at Electric Wheel.
I will never forget and still remember walking into the funeral home and thinking, “Why didn't they put the flowers all the way around the wheel?” And then being told what it meant. I don't know if Titan Wheel does this today or not but that was a tradition. One of the things I have noticed is that sometimes smaller can be better, and sometimes bigger can be better. And when my grandfather worked for that company, the owner could walk through the factory and call everyone by name.
Today many of us here may work for companies that are huge conglomerates. And sometimes we get lost. Sometimes we have to be brought back.
The other night I turned on the TV and watched a show called “Undercover Boss.” It was about a large company and this particular gentleman, the owner, went uncover to find out how things were going. He changed his hair and appearance and went to several locations in the company to work and talk with people. And everywhere he went the employees said, “I do not feel welcome in this company. If I had the chance I would work somewhere else.”
And he asked, “Why don't you?” One man said, “You know, I am a single parent and I have four kids. This night shift allows me to work at night and be there during the day for my kids. I need this job. I have to raise these kids. I don't have the choice to look other places and take any job.” The owner kept hearing one story after another, and you have to remember this is a TV show that runs 60 minutes and everything is fine at the end.
And at the end it shows the owner living in his magnificent home, and his children have everything. And that's fine, that's the capital world we live in.
But the experience touched him. The show varies from segment to segment and I do not know what he did for the entire company. But for all those people working in trucking - the owner gave every one of them an hourly raise. And for the handful of people he worked and talked with - he made some changes in their lives. He took the father who had the four children and set up a scholarship for each child, and arranged for him to take his children on a vacation. When the man was told this - and he was not faking - he cried on TV.
It shows you the two extremes of the world in which we live.
We are not here to judge anybody this morning. We are here to look at ourselves and say, “We are a spiritual family.” No matter what parish you belong to, we are still part of one family. For the young people and their parents who are here from St. Thomas Catholic High School and St. Mathew's High School in Champaign/Urbana, and whatever parish you belong to - it is important to remember that every parish is suppose to be a family. And all of us should break down if someone says, “I don't feel like I am a part of my parish.” That's pathetic.
I don't care if you are Baptist or Presbyterian. I don't care if you are Catholic or Episcopalian. When Christians gather together they should sense that they belong to one another. We do wonderful things in this parish, don't get me wrong. People here are overwhelming in their charity and their faith and their love. But Jesus is saying to us, “We can't just do things. It has to be in our hearts.”
I can ask Laura here to do something and she'd say, “I'd be happy to.” Someone else might say, “Well, if you really want me to - I'll do it.” We need to find ways to awaken the spirit and to let the Spirit of God work through us so we sense that we are never alone.
You may have a next door neighbor and they have lost someone. All of us have lost someone - parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, kids - death is a reality in life. But just go to that person and say, “Our you busy?”
Then go in and talk to that person and let that person have the space to let go and to cry and to share their sorrow. That's how we link. That is the church. That is the people of God.
And as we talk here in our parish about stewardship, it's not about, “Well, how much money do you give to the church?” But if you are not involved in the church, then maybe you don't want to support anything.
Last night after the 5 PM Mass as I was placing the collection into the container for the people to count the next morning, I noticed that someone had taken a dollar bill and had rolled it, and rolled it, and rolled it and it was so tight you couldn't tell if it was a one dollar bill, or a ten dollar bill or a hundred dollar bill. It could be that was all that person had. Maybe that one dollar was everything he or she could give. But Jesus says, “Whether you give one dollar or a hundred dollars - give it freely. If you are going to do something, do it because you want to.” Because as Jesus said, “The Spirit is upon me.” As Ezra said, “The Spirit is upon me.”
There is a lot of ice out there on the streets this morning. So today as we are praying and reflecting - our hearts can melt that ice. It's all right if the ice is out there on the streets, but the ice cannot be in us and in our hearts. It just doesn't work that way. So may you and I realize as we leave church that the Spirit of God is sending us forth. I have no idea what is going to happen this week. All I know is that if the Spirit of God is within me - I need to respond. And if the Spirit of God is within you, I know I don't have a worry in the world because we will take care of one another. And the one another is our sisters and brothers throughout the world.
Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.