Fifth Sunday of Easter
Fifth Sunday of Easter Homily Transcript
>>How does one begin to capture 40 years of gratitude in a couple of minutes? And as I was reflecting on what I wanted to say, today was, really begins with a scripture passage that I think is somewhat the foundation of my own belief system and the privilege of priestly ministry. The passage from the Scripture goes like this: What has been given to you as a gift you give to others as a gift.
It’s a very simple maxim You receive gifts in life and then you share them with others. Means to be a disciple of the Lord. 40 years ago, I was ordained a priest at Mundelein Seminary, and the following day I was at Saint Juliana Parish, where I was a deacon, now a priest. And I remember walking into the rectory and the pastor was there, a wonderful man, Don Ahearn.
And as I walked in, the phone was ringing. The secretary picks up the phone. A little high school girl, and she’s talking to a woman – she’s flustered – and she said, “Father,” First time. Yeah, I am a Father. I am a priest, you know. She said, “There’s a woman on the phone. She wants to talk to a priest.” And so I said, “What’s what’s, you know.” She said, “Well, her dog is sick and she wants to talk to a priest.” I had not a clue. They didn’t teach us about this.
So the pastor, great guy, comes walking in, Don Ahearn, and I said, “Don-” and he’s congratulating me. And I said, “Don! There’s a woman on the phone. She wants to talk to a priest. Her dog is sick.” He said, “I’ll take care of it.” Goes over to the phone, picks up the phone. First thing he says, “Bring the dog to the phone.” [laughing] Starts talking to the woman. Talks to the dog. Next thing you know, a little blessing. It’s over. It was amazing.
Amazing how beautifully and pastorally he handled that. I was going to say my first mass, it was the school mass that morning in the parish. About 600 kids at the school at the time. One of our lectures, Fran O’Malley, Saint Juliana guy, and his wife, Loretta. So, Don said, “Let’s have a quick cup of coffee.” Okay. Nervous as a wreck. You can imagine, my first mass. He said, “Let me tell you what I believe about priestly ministry, about life itself. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. Say yes whenever possible. Keep a sense of humor. And always remember, it’s not about you. It’s about God’s work that we’re all about.” Was the best gift I ever received 40 years ago.
And what has been given to me as a gift I give to all. Wonderful advice as to how to live as a disciple of the Lord. Treat everybody with dignity and with respect. Say yes, whenever possible. Keep a sense of humor, how important that is in life. Don’t take yourself so seriously. And remember, it’s not about you. It’s about doing the work of God. Enhancing the world in which we all live. As been given this gift is given as gift. The other is, as I look back over 40 years of priestly ministry, 30 years here at Mercy Home.
What a wonderful privilege. Life itself is a privilege. And to be able to spend energy and time and talent with a mission. I love the children here at Mercy Home, my coworkers, my family members and friends to be supported. What a blessed life. And so, as we celebrate Eucharist here and now. A word, once again, that means gratitude. It means Thanksgiving. How grateful and thankful to God I am for so many things in life. And I’m reminded of the words of Dag Hammarskjold. He was the secretary general of the United Nations. And I use it often, this other little phrase. For all that has been. Thank you. And for all that will be. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. And yes, to our future together.
Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35