posted on June 23, 2013 21:00
Homily: Father Mike Kuse
Blessed Sacrament Parish
June 23, 2013 - 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 AM Service
Can you and I be identified as people who know Christ? I'm sure all of us would say, “Yes.” But there might be times that we do not always reflect what this Gospel is all about, that we are ready to suffer and to die to ourselves. We are to celebrate joy and happiness and we take it all as a package deal.
Sometimes we like to choose. If we were to take the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke, and when you take these two passages, Luke added one word that changes everything. He said, “You must do this daily. You can't choose. You can't say, 'Well I think I'll be a Catholic or a Christian on the fourth Tuesday of every month. I will be exceptional on that day. The rest of the time I will live my life however I choose.' ” And we find out that's not the message.
Jesus knows, because we are created this way, that we will not always do it perfectly. He says, “I am not worried about your perfection. I just want you to know me. And if you really know me, you know my feelings. You know why I suffered and died. You know why I worked all those miracles. But here's what I want to know - I want to know if you and I are connected in some way?”
As I just mentioned to the children, all of your children can pick you out as their parents, and you can pick them out as your children. You can be identified with one another as husband or wife, brother or sister, and that seems to be pretty easy. But the real question is, in all of these relationships - are we really showing someone else that God is a part of our life? That's who I am.
As I was on vacation this week, it is kind of fun when you can sit back and watch people. You don't have any kids to take care of and you can observe everything that is going on. I went with a priest friend of mine. We were there and it was kind of interesting. You know, when people see two old men walking around they begin to wonder, “Well, who are these guys?”
So we go have a drink and someone asks, “Are you both brothers?”
“No. We're just friends.”
We go to the restaurant. “Are you two brothers?”
“No, we're just friends.” Ah! What's going on in the back of their heads?
So one evening we were in a taxi driving along and there were four other people riding with us. There was a Mexican family and a lady visiting. So this one lady popped up and asked, “Where are you from?”
And we said, “We're from Illinois.”
And she asked, “Are you brothers?”
I said, “No.”
And she asked, “What do you do for a living?”
I said, “I'm a Catholic priest.”
“Oh!” she said. “Is he one too?”
I said, “Why don't you ask him. I think he is.”
Then the lady sitting in the back said, “I'm an Episcopal priest.” It was really getting interesting.
Then the Mexican lady said, “Wow. We have three priests. We're all safe.”
I said, “I wouldn't count on that.”
Isn't it interesting how people have to ask questions to figure out who we are and who we belong to. It's important for us to be able to ask, when we hear the voice of Jesus, “Who are you? Where do you live? What do you do as a person?” And hopefully we'd all say, “You know, I try to follow Christ.”
And then return the question to someone else and ask: “What do you do with your life?”
I don't really want to know if you are a teacher or a doctor or a plumber. What I really want to know is: Who are you? How do you touch people? How do you experience life, because for all of us, that's who we are. It's a collection of experiences. Some of those experiences are about you as husband and wife, as children within your family, and as friends within a circle of friends. But the question is still there: Who are you?
This week may you and I reflect on: What is my life really all about? Do I really take up my cross and my joys day in and day out? Or do I sometimes say to myself, “Last week I think I was a good Christian. I think I will let up a little bit this week, and I will think more of myself than anyone else. Then I will pick up on it in a couple of weeks. I'm not giving it up.”
And Jesus says, “But that's not daily. That's not every day.”
He says, “If you've been watching me, I didn't do it that way. I didn't go and multiply the fish and the loaves and then say, 'Man. That was a week's work. I think I'll go do something for myself.' ” Jesus just kept living out that Gospel, and the Gospel was his life. And for you and for me - it's our life.
And we are being asked, “Don't give up. We need each other. Because then maybe when I want to slack off, I'll see you do something that will challenge me and put me back in the swing of things.”
That's living the Gospel. That's when people know our identity. And once they know who we are - it changes them, it changes us.
And God is present.
Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.