Posted by: frroberts | July 18, 2015

Sunday Sermon Notes: Training for the Mission (sneek peak)

Last Sunday we began a three-part series of homilies on the sacrament of Confirmation.  We saw how the sacrament of Confirmation is emphatically not, nor has it ever been, a sacrament that celebrates an adult decision to embrace the faith.  Instead, it is a sacrament that equips each one of us with a mission to share the Gospel.  We learned that the medieval mystic Saint Vincent Ferrer prophesied that in times of tribulation only those who have kept what the Book of Revelation calls the seal of the Lamb that they received in this sacrament will be able to withstand persecution.  Today we continue with a discussion of the training that is necessary in order to be fit for the mission that we have received in Confirmation.

When a man is ordained to the priesthood, he usually has between two weeks and a month between his ordination and beginning his first assignment.  It is a glorious time wherein one is able to celebrate being a priest before facing the challenging realities of serving in a parish.  In the two weeks between my ordination and starting my first assignment, I took a Saturday evening trip to Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Toledo, Ohio, the Polish parish of my mother’s side of the family.  It was the first time as a priest that I would preach at a Sunday Mass.  I had worked hard on my homily.   About two minutes into it, someone’s cell phone went off.  The phone rang and kept on ringing for what seemed like thirty seconds.  It was all that I could do to keep focused on the text that I had written before me.

After the Mass, I greeted the people, took my vestments off and left the church building to catch my ride to the reception.  My father was driving the car and it was just the two of us.

“How did you think homily went, dad?”  I asked.

My father seemed hesitant to respond with anything other than generalities, which if you know my family, is rather odd.

“No really dad, what did you think?” I persisted.

“To tell the truth, I didn’t hear most of it because my cell phone went off at the beginning and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off.  Eventually I had to leave the church and spent a couple of minutes finding the right button.  By the time I came back in, you were almost finished.”

I chuckled.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites His Apostles to come away to a deserted place and rest for a while.  His apostolic band had just returned from its first preaching mission and was understandably exhausted.  He could see that they needed a break.  On a literal level, this passage from the Gospel of Saint Mark teaches us that Jesus encouraged His first priests to take time away from their work to pray, reflect and recharge.  In fact, a careful reading of the Gospels indicates that Jesus Himself was not constantly preaching and healing, but also took time away to teach us how to cultivate our relationship with His Father through rest and prayer.  Taking time to rest and pray is very important, not only for priests but for all Christians.

We continue our three-part series of homilies on confirmation today with a homily on how keeping Sunday holy helps a person prepare for the mission that he has received in the sacrament of confirmation.

The interesting thing about the world in which we live today is that it does not give us much quiet time to be still and rest in the presence of Almighty God.   The television is on all the time in many homes.  Cell phones constantly interrupt the ebb and flow of daily life (even Sunday Mass!).  Some people spend a great deal of their free time on facebook, twitter, instagram and other social media.   Through all of this noise and distraction,  I have heard parishioners say more than once, “Father I am just too busy to come to Mass on Sunday.”

To be continued (podcast coming tomorrow)

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