Sunday, January 22, 2023

Beacons...of the Kingdom (Sunday homily)

 I want to call your attention to the second reading.

Am I the only one that smiles when it is read?

Saint Paul says, I hear there are divisions among you!

That could be any parish in any place in the world, from then to now!

It’s reassuring to know that some problems are as old as the hills – 

it takes the pressure off.

As we all know by now, Saint Mary, Saint Henry 

and Our Lady of Good Hope are now part of a “family of parishes.” 

And where Paul had to reprove the Corinthian Catholics about rivalries, 

I am very happy to give a commendation:

Our three parish families have been very cooperative 

as we move to being one parish family.

I hear this and that about the challenges other parishes are facing; 

I cannot emphasize enough how much your openness has helped!

Let me highlight an example: when St. Mary suffered a flood 

from the overhead sprinkler system on Christmas Eve, 

there was nothing but support and encouragement 

from folks at Our Lady of Good Hope and Saint Henry. 

No one hear complained about having to attend Mass 

at either St. Henry or Our Lady of Good Hope.

We were able to accommodate religious education classes 

at Bishop Leibold School for a couple of Wednesdays; no complaints.

Good news: starting this weekend, we’re back here.

Soon our offices downstairs will be ready to reopen.

Every year at this time, not only our parishes, but all parishes, 

all Catholics of the Archdiocese, 

do something very ordinary but very important, together. 

We organize something called the Catholic Ministries Appeal.

You may think of it as merely a fund drive. But it is more. 

It is all of us, united in one mind and purpose as St. Paul says today, 

being Christ to one another and to our community.

Let me remind you of the six projects funded by this annual drive:

- St Rita School for the Deaf;

- Catholic Social Services;

- The needs of our retired priests;

- Our seminary and vocations promotion;

- Ministry on college campuses, in hospitals, and in prisons;

- The revival of evangelization at every level of the archdiocese.

Every penny of this drive stays in our archdiocese. 

You may not realize we have four men in the seminary, right now, 

from our family of parishes. 

The chaplains at the Kettering and Premier hospitals 

are tremendously helpful, 

caring for many of our own parishioners during the year. 

This appeal supports outreach to the students at Wright State,   

Miami University and the University of Cincinnati, for example, 

working to keep our college students connected to their faith. 

And every year we have men and women in area prisons 

who become Catholic. 

Isaiah’s words about people in darkness 

sounds like what prisons can be; 

how wonderful to bring the light of Christ there! 

Last year, all three of our parishes significantly exceeded our goals. 

As a result, a portion of those extra donations 

come back to our parishes to support our local needs.

Perhaps each of us puts in $5 or $10; maybe $50 or $100, 

or even more if we’ve got the means. 

At the parish level, the goals for our three parishes totals $117,000; 

and the goal for all the archdiocese is $5,000,000. 

This is one of those times when you and I can look beyond 

our own family and our own parish, 

and see ways to make a difference in the lives of others.

To quote something Archbishop Schnurr said about this appeal:

we can do so much more together than each of us can do individually. 

In the Gospel, when Jesus tells us twice to repent, 

he means of course, being sorry for our sins. 

But it also means conversion, meaning a change in who we are.

The grave danger we can all fall into is to get so settled and satisfied 

that you and I can’t acknowledge a need to change. 

We’re just fine the way we are.

This applies in our family life; parish life, 

and in our personal spiritual life. 

To that Jesus says: Repent! Admit you need to change. 

Because change is coming, Jesus tells us.

He’s not talking about Beacons of Light, or social change;

He means change of the highest order: the Kingdom of Heaven.

Our parishes as a family, and each of us as individual Catholics, 

are beacons of that Kingdom; 

but only with conversion and readiness will you and I really shine.

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