Father Brian Konopa’s Homily 2019-09-01 the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

By | September 4, 2019


– In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “When you are invited, “go and take the lowest place “so that when the
host comes to you, “he may say my friend, “move up to a higher position. “Then you will enjoy the esteem “of your companions at table. “For everyone who exalts
himself will be humbled, “and the one who humbles
himself will be exalted.” A week ago Thursday,
I was invited to Holy Trinity Cathedral
in New Ulm, Minnesota to concelebrate
an 11 o’clock mass where three young ladies were going to make
their temporary vows of poverty, chastity,
and obedience, which was a three-year term. And the reason I was invited is four years ago, I was
the spiritual director to one of them. Her name is Janelle, now
Sister Anastasia Grace. And going there, I wasn’t
going to know anyone except one person,
Sister Donna Krzmarzick, who is a employee
for our diocese. So I planned to just
prayerfully enjoy the experience kinda from the back
row, the lowest place. It was my first time ever
at the cathedral in New Ulm, so I didn’t really
know where to go, where I was going to be vesting, and I went into the church and went into the first
sacristy to see if this was where they were, and it was completely
empty, no vestments. Well, this isn’t the right one. So I went down the steps, and off to my left, I saw a
priest coming up the steps with a gold chain, which
meant this is a bishop. He was a big one. This was the Archbishop Hebda
of Saint Paul in Minneapolis. I thought ooh, they’re bringing
the big guns to this one. And then, as I was,
I thought well, I know I shouldn’t go to the
main sacristy for the priest. It’s gonna be way too busy, especially seeing an
archbishop walking in, but I didn’t know
where else to go. So I start making my way, and a younger priest, kind
priest saw my confusion ’cause I was exiting
the wrong sacristy and heading to another
wrong sacristy. And he said, “Father,
are you looking for “where the priests are vesting?” And I said, “Yes, please.” And I explained that I didn’t
know where I was to go, and I was afraid if I
went to the main sacristy, the words of Jesus were
gonna be spoken to me saying, “Someone more distinguished
than you has been invited.” And then I would proceed to the lowest place
in embarrassment. So I said, “Thank
you for saving me.” So he directed me to the
back church to the corner, down a hallway, a flight of
stairs, into the basement where my brother
priests were vesting, and I didn’t know a
single one of them except one, Father
Paul Timmerman. I haven’t seen him for years. He’s the brother of a
parishioner I once had. So I met him a few times. After an exchange, a greeting, I quickly explained
that well, I’m here be one of the sisters, I was
a spiritual director for her for only about a year. And it turns out that he
was the assistant master of ceremonies, and he says,
“Oh, well, Father Konopa, “would you like to
distribute from the cup “at communion time?” I thought, sure,
that’s always an honor to participate and distribute
the precious blood. Plus, Sister Anastasia
might notice me that I made it all
the way from LaCrosse. Well, then Father Timmerman, being an assistant
master of ceremonies, needed to give
some instructions. So he’s like, “Fathers, Fathers, “if I could have your attention
for a few directions.” Then he explained how the
procession was gonna go and how we’d gather
around the alter for the eucharistic
prayer and how communion was going to be received by us, and then he explains the exit. And he says, “Bishop LeVoir
after the final blessing “will go to the alter to
venerate the alter, to kiss it, “and you just stay.” We were gonna be
in the front pews. “You just stay in your pews, “and you just bow
where you’re at, “and then he’ll come around
to the front of the alter “to genuflect to the tabernacle. “And if you could just
genuflect from your place “in the pews, and
then we will exit “via the main aisle two by two.” Well, then there was a prayer, and then we all climbed
up the flight of stairs and got to the back of
church and lined up. And I was in the procession
next to Father Paul Timmerman. And when I saw this procession, there were eight
bishops of Minnesota, 20-some priests,
all the seminarians that the diocese in New Ulm has and, of course, dozens of
dozens of women religious from the Handmaids of
the Heart of Jesus. And the eight bishops
were going to be, so there was a ninth actually. Eight bishops were in
the front two pews, and we priests were
gonna be in the third pew and further back. Well, as the procession went, I ended up in the
third pew, okay? So the first one for priests, and I was on the main aisle with a good view because there were all bishops in the
first two pews except one. He was a priest,
must be a parochial or a diocesan administrator
who was not a bishop because he didn’t put
on one of those miters and block my view. So I really had
like a great spot. Well, then it got to
be communion time, and I distributed
the precious blood, which meant I was the
last to be seated. And as I was going to my spot, I realized it was taken, and there was no one
there to tell that priest give your position to a
more distinguished guest, Father Konopa, and you
may go with embarrassment to the lowest place. And I thought well, it’s not
like my name’s on that spot. And the whole pew
three was full. So I walked past
pew three, pew four, pew five and then pew six, which was the last pew and
the last spot behind a pillar. So did I see the
rest of the mass? I did with my left eye. And then there were
announcements and announcements and announcements
and the final prayer. And then we get to the blessing. “The Lord be with you
and with your spirit. “Bow down for the blessing.” Now, a half bow would’ve hit
my head against this pillar. It was that close. And I thought no
problem, quarter bow. (congregation laughing) And then after the final
blessing and the dismissal, the bishop goes up to
venerate, kiss the alter, and we’re all supposed to bow. And I thought no can do because the priest next
to me never budged at all. So I thought well, everybody’s
bowing at the waist. And, of course, at this time, it’s only the clergy
that are doing this. It isn’t the assembly. So everybody else in church
sees this sea of white with these pointy hats. And there’s me. (congregation laughing) Well, and then, the
bishop comes around to genuflect to the tabernacle
in front of the alter, and everybody’s like. (congregation laughing) And there’s me. (congregation laughing) And it’s like I believe
in the real presence! I really do! I believe that is
Jesus in the Eucharist, but it was just like kind of an embarrassing
situation to be in. So I experienced
in two hours’ time both the highs and the lows, the higher position
and the lowest place. And life really is filled with these experiences. Sometimes the doors are open. There’s a seat
available at the table. We feel respected, honored
and part of the action. Then there are other
times during life when the doors are closed, there isn’t a seat for us
available at the table, we feel disrespected, dishonored
and left out of the action. There is one banquet
that matters most, and the host is Jesus Christ. Certainly at the
eucharistic banquet every time we come to mass, but even more so the
banquet that is in heaven. So don’t worry too much if you feel like you
are in a moment of life that is in the lowest place or even if you feel like you’ve
been in this lowest place for many years, for Jesus says, “everyone who exalts
himself will be humbled, “but the one who humbles
himself will be exalted.”

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