Saturday, July 05, 2014

Introducing myself (homily)

No doubt you’ve figured out 
that I am Father Martin Fox, your new pastor. 

I know that when a new priest comes in, 
and everyone has to adjust. 
Let me say this about Father Amberger: 
he is greatly respected by so many of his fellow priests. 
He is a role model for many of us. 
So I readily understand that having him move 
to a different parish is difficult.

I’ve been through this several times, 
and I know that from the first moment anyone set eyes on me, 
you can see how I am either like Father Amberger, or different. 

You can see we both wear a cassock -- 
but I fill mine out a lot better! 
That’s because I’m not malnourished like Father Amberger! 

I didn’t realize this until just recently, 
but apparently Father Amberger 
liked to do these outdoor adventures. 
That sounds like fun! 
But my wilderness skills are pretty limited: 
I can toast marshmallows, 
and I think I remember how to turn on a Coleman lantern. 

As I see it, there are only two groups I’m bound to disappoint. 
First, those who expect me to be exactly like Father Amberger. 
Second, those who expect me not to be like Father Amberger.

Since I like and respect Father Amberger, 
of course I’m pleased if you do, too. 
I won’t be able to fill his shoes -- my feet are too fat! -- 
but I’m happy to follow such a good priest. 
Like the altar servers this week at Holy Mass, 
who had to adjust to my particular quirks, 
I’m sure we’ll get used to each other.

I have a letter from Archbishop Schnurr 
that he asks I read to you...

On Tuesday, I signed that Profession of Faith 
and Oath of Fidelity, immediately after the morning Mass. 
Father Steve Shoup is the dean for this area, 
who helps organize things around here. 
He came over, right after Mass ended. 
And I made my oath on the Holy Gospels. 
Here’s some of what I promised God, the Archbishop, and you: 

> “Always (to) preserve communion with the Catholic Church”;
> To “hold fast to the Deposit of Faith in its entirety, 
(to) faithfully hand it on and explain it,” 
to “avoid any teachings opposed to that faith”;
> To unite myself to the bishops 
as “authentic…teachers of the faith” 
and to “faithfully assist” them.

Every priest, upon becoming a pastor, swears that oath. 
I think it’s important for you to know about it. 
And that I take it very seriously.
Very  bluntly: my eternal soul is on the line, here! 

So that tells you a lot 
about how I will conduct myself as your pastor. 
I will do my best to teach and explain 
everything our Faith teaches. 
I will do my best to practice it -- 
and to confess my failings in the sacrament of penance, 
just as all of us do as Catholics. 

Speaking of the Gospel, what did we just hear? 
The Lord says he is grateful for the “hidden” things 
that the smart people don’t get, 
but which “little ones” do understand. 

These mysteries aren’t really hidden -- 
it’s just that for folks who live “in the flesh” as Saint Paul put it, 
the Lord’s way seems to be nonsense, or unfair or unreasonable. 
There is no getting around it: 
the way of Jesus Christ is at odds 
with the ways of the world around us, 
and that has always been true. 
If we ever thought otherwise, we were kidding ourselves.

Who are the “little ones” who can accept it? 
Those who are not ashamed to come to the Lord and admit, 
we need his strength; ours won’t cut it.

Frank Sinatra, of whom I am a big fan, 
had a song called “My Way.” 
A great song; but a terrible spirituality.

To be able to penetrate the mysteries of the Lord, 
we have to be willing to come to the Lord and say, 
“yes, I did my way--and it didn’t work!“
Then we can accept doing it Jesus’ way. 
That’s when we let the Holy Spirit take charge. 
And that’s the key. 

Today is another opportunity to yield control to the Lord. 
Right here and now. And that goes for me, too.

That first reading is a prophecy fulfilled on Palm Sunday. 
And it reminds me of a story. 
There was a donkey that came into a big city, 
and as he walked in, everyone was so excited! 
As he saw the huge crowds gather, the donkey thought, 
“wow, I must really be something!” 
And then when he stopped, 
Jesus climbed off his back! 

You know what? That’s me. 
I’m the…donkey who gets to bring the Lord to you. 
And I’m just fine with that. 
And if each of us can accept being the servant 
who brings Jesus to others, 
we too will discover the secret of his Kingdom.

1 comment:

David Oatney said...

Father, I understand that no cleric, is perfect. All are different, all have their "quirks..." I love and pray for my pastor, who is himself a fine preacher. He's also new, he has been with us a year, and I am still getting to know him and praying that we can build a good relationship in the Lord.

There are times when I read your homilies and your entries here and wish with sincerity that I could have a pastor like you. I wish every priest were as committed to fidelity as you seem to be, and as committed to teaching the fullness of the faith as you seem to be. I pray that if the Lord allows me to be ordained a deacon, that I will be thus committed (and I pray for pastoral wisdom).

The Church is all the better when holy and committed priests are handing on the deposit of faith. The people of your new parish are blessed indeed.