Archive for July, 2007

Homily – 13th Sunday Ordinary Time C July 1, 2007

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Homily – 13th Sunday Ordinary Time July 1, 2007

Sherman's March to the Sea
One of the most astonishing events of the American Civil War was the campaign known as “Sherman’s March to the Sea”.

On November 15, 1864, the Union Army Major General, William Tecumseh Sherman, left the captured city of Atlanta Georgia, and led his 62,000 troops on a 300 mile march southeast to the port city of Savannah, which they arrived at and captured December 22 of the same year.

During that 37 day march, Sherman gave his troops the following order:  “In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested, no destruction of . . . . property should be permitted;  but should (they) molest our march, or . . . burn bridges . . . .or . . . .manifest local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation (of mills, houses, cotton gins, ect.,) more or less relentless according to the measure of such hostility.”

In today’s Gospel, we read about a quite different, but even more astonishing March:  the March of Jesus and His disciples from the shores of Galilee in Northern Palestine to the city of Jerusalem.

We don’t know exactly what day the March began, or how long it took, but we do know exactly when that March ended:  on Palm Sunday, when Jesus triumphantly entered the Gates of Jerusalem on a donkey, not to conquer the city, but to conquer the world by his death and resurrection.

And unlike General Sherman, who called down fire from the Northern Union Army upon all who didn’t show him hospitality, Jesus only wishes to call down blessings and healings and deliverance to all those towns he passes through.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this Gospel should remind us that the Church on earth is still being led by Jesus on a March to the Heavenly Jerusalem.

Jesus has resolutely determined to lead us there.  We are not to dilly dally, or get distracted along the way.  We especially do not want to lose sight of Jesus by wandering far from him and the other marchers.  Finally, we are not to show hatred towards those people we meet on the journey who don’t welcome us because we follow Christ.

Sherman’s 62,000 men army didn’t march in one big disordered group;  being a smart Commander, he divided up into a number of divisions, each division marching together under a sub-commander.

And in the same way, Jesus’ 1.1 billion Christian army on earth doesn’t march behind Jesus as a disordered mass;  being a divine Commander, Jesus has divided up the Church into Dioceses and Parishes, with Bishops and Pastors over them to lead the faithful on the march to the Heavenly Jerusalem.

And this weekend, I have been given the duty and the privilege to lead this parish of St Joseph as Pastor.

So I thought I review this weekend what my Marching orders are as your pastor, so that I begin marching facing the right direction.

Here’s what the Church says my job as your Pastor is supposed to entail.  This is from the Canon Law of the Church, Paragraph’s 528 & 529.

Can. 528 §1 The pastor has the obligation of ensuring that the word of God is proclaimed in its entirety to those living in the parish. He is therefore to see to it that the lay members of Christ’s faithful are instructed in the truths of faith, especially by means of the homily on Sundays and holy days of obligation and by catechetical formation.

He is to foster works which promote the spirit of the Gospel, including its relevance to social justice.  (Our food cupboard and pro life work for example)

He is to have a special care for the catholic education of children and youth.

With the collaboration of the faithful (you), he is to make every effort to bring the gospel message to those also who have given up religious practice or who do not profess the true faith.

§2 The pastor is to take care that the blessed Eucharist is the center of parish life. He is to strive to ensure that the faithful are nourished by the devout celebration of the sacraments, and in particular that they frequently approach the sacraments of the blessed Eucharist and penance.

He is to strive to lead them to prayer, including prayer in their families, and to take a live and active part in the sacred liturgy. Under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, the pastor must direct this liturgy in his own parish, and he is bound to be on guard against abuses.

Can. 529 §1 So that he may fulfil his office of pastor diligently, the pastor is to strive to know the faithful entrusted to his care. He is therefore to visit their families, sharing in their cares and anxieties and, in a special way, their sorrows, comforting them in the Lord.  If in certain matters they are found wanting, he is prudently to correct them. (one of the toughest parts of being a pastor)

He is to help the sick and especially the dying in great charity, restoring them with the sacraments and commending their souls to God.

He is to be especially diligent in seeking out the poor, the suffering, the lonely, those who are exiled from their homeland, and those burdened with special difficulties.

He is to strive also to ensure that spouses and parents are sustained in the fulfilment of their proper duties, and to foster the growth of christian life in the family. (preferential option for families, especially young families and married couples)

§2 The pastor is to recognize and promote the specific role which the lay members of Christ’s faithful have in the mission of the Church, fostering their associations which have religious purposes. (you are called to sanctify the temporal world you live and work in)

He is to cooperate with his proper Bishop and with the other priests of the diocese. Moreover, he is to make sure that the faithful are concerned for the community of the parish, that they feel themselves to be members both of the diocese and of the universal Church, and that they take part in and sustain works which promote this community. (this is why we have missionaries once or twice a year giving mission appeals)

So, there is what you could call my “marching orders” for at least the next six years here at St. Joseph Parish.

While the burden of being Pastor now falls ultimately on me, I certainly value and appreciate the many people in our parish who help out in too many ways to list.  When people ask me how I’m going to handle such a big parish, I think about the great staff and volunteers I have and the parishioners praying for me I’m not worried at all.

So, onward Christian soldiers!  May we all together put our hands to the plow and follow Christ fervently and faithfully to the Heavenly Jerusalem.