Fr. Brian Konopa’s Homily 2018-08-25 21st Ordinary

By | September 11, 2019

– Yesterday, on Friday,
the administrators, teachers, and staff of
Aquinas Catholic Schools attended our 7:30 morning
Mass, and used our parish hall for their in-service. We’ve all been through
school fire drills, but a large agenda item
for their in-service was training for an
active-shooter drill. An active-shooter drill. What is this world coming too? Yet in the 1950s,
schools had bomb shelters and bombing drills
after seeing the force of atomic weapons in
World War II, and the race of nations to build
them and stockpile them. People must have wondered,
what is this world coming to? In the last couple of
weeks we’ve learned of new scandals in
the church, namely the former Cardinal, Theodore
McCarrick, using his authority to pressure seminarians
and young priests into giving him “favors”,
which sounds like the Harvey Weinstein of
the Catholic Church, and the possibility of a #MeToo
movement within the church while many people chose
to do nothing about him. And even promoted him
within the hierarchy when, as some people
say, everyone knew. We wonder, what is
our Church coming to? Yet, in 2002, we had the
scandals of pedophilia, priests taking advantage of
children, and even greater number abusing those who
already crossed the threshold of puberty, most victims
being boys and young men. The recent Pennsylvania
grand jury report reminded us of this
scandal, but has shocked us with the breadth of the
crimes, and we wonder, what is our Church coming to? And, what is happening
within each of us? We’re all being
challenged whether or not we’re going to keep
attending church, or even whether or not we’re going to
stay in the Catholic Church. Today’s gospel completes
the five Sundays in a row from John, chapter
six, in which we heard how the crowds struggled
with “a hard teaching.” Jesus wanted to give them his
flesh to eat and his blood to drink, so they might
not die, but live forever. Many could not accept it, even
many of his own disciples, and they left; some stayed. What helped the few to stay? Peter said, “Master,
to whom shall we go? “You have the words
of eternal life, “we have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the
holy one of God.” Peter focused on the
person of Jesus Christ, and continued to trust
in Christ’s wisdom, and Christ’s goodness, even
though it was difficult to understand and believe
this new teaching. Looking to Jesus in times
of confusion and doubt, that is the key. In today’s gospel, the
teaching might be “hard”, but the Rabbi-Teacher
was believable! Well, at least they had a
teacher they could believe in. We wonder if we can
trust our teachers, our priests, and
especially our bishops, who were covering up the
scandals, and allowing criminal perpetrators new
assignments, new chances, new opportunities,
which for many of us, is the worst part
of this scandal. When the Bishops met in
Dallas in 2002, they addressed important issues, and
Safe Environment policies were put in place and enforced
so children and teenagers would have a much greater
protection than ever before. Also, new accusations
were going to be handled in a new way, that many people
believe violates due process of the accused, but in order
to guarantee that mistakes would not happen, and
those found guilty were addressed with new
severe penalties. But there was a serious flaw. The Dallas meeting
didn’t address the
bishops sufficiently. When the US Conference
of Catholic Bishops meets this coming
November, what new measures will be put in place, and
enforced, so cover-ups are nearly impossible? What new severe penalties will
be assigned to this crime? This needs to be addressed. We need cleansing,
purifying, and reforming. On the weekend of July
22nd, our first reading was from the profit Jeremiah; “Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter “the flock of my
pasture”, says the Lord. “Therefore, thus says the
Lord, the God of Israel, “against the shepherds
who shepherd my people. “You have scattered my
sheep, and driven them away. “You have not cared for
them, but I will take care “to punish your evil deeds. “I myself will gather
the remnant of my flock “and bring them back
to their meadow. “There they should
increase and multiply. “I will appoint shepherds for
them who will shepherd them “so that they no longer
fear and tremble, and none shall be
missing, says the Lord.” Until these promised days
come, what shall we do? Leave? Scatter? Ultimately, we do what
we heard in the Gospel, we focus on Jesus,
and we choose. At the last supper, when
Jesus was fulfilling his promise for the first
time, to give his flesh to eat, and his blood to
drink, he was with the members of his fledgling church,
the 12 apostles who became his first Bishops
when he commanded them to “Do this in memory of me”,
so others could eat his flesh and drink his blood by
participating in Mass. Somewhat surprisingly,
a few hours later, Jesus was in the Garden of
Gethsemane, and he seemed tempted to give up. He had already predicted his
apostles would abandon him, and his first pope would
deny him three times, and he had excused one of the
apostle-bishops from the meal, Judas Iscariot, who was
going out to betray him. Jesus looked at the
difficult path ahead, and prayed to His Heavenly
Father that the bitter chalice of the Cross might
be taken away, but He told His Father He would do
whatever the plan was, He would do the
will of His Father. Jesus was faithful when
all was falling apart. He was going to fulfill his
mission: the Good Shepherd laid down His life
for His sheep. In days like these,
we can be tempted with discouragement, and
at the long road ahead. As Jesus looked to the
Father and drew strength, we must look to Jesus Christ
for the strength we need. May we never give
up on the plan. Never give up on
Christ’s Church. We are needed if there
is going to be reform, with our prayers to God,
with our watchful eyes upon our Bishops, including
the Bishop of Rome, and with our voices,
to demand reform. I received the Sacrament of
Holy Orders, which made me no longer a member of the
laity, but of the clergy. (emotion in voice)
And on behalf of the
clergy, I apologize to you for the harm and the shame
that has come upon you. I also received the
Sacrament of Baptism, and as a member of
the flock with you, as a child of God, I join
in the demand for reform, and I’m not going to leave. Perhaps I’m naive, but
I have hope that reform is coming and the Lord
will appoint new shepherds who will shepherd us rightly. Included in today’s
bulletin is a letter from Cardinal DiNardo, the
President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which
sounds like a positive movement to empower
others, the laity, with the authority they
need to hold Bishops and all clergy accountable. And let’s pray for Pope
Francis to do the right thing. I have hope, the kind of
hope which Saint Augustine described in this quote;
“Hope has two beautiful “daughters, their names
are Anger and Courage. “Anger at the way
things are, and courage to see that they do not
remain the way they are.” In today’s Gospel,
Jesus saw many of His disciples return to
their former way of life and no longer accompany him. Let us join Jesus Christ
in making a difference, in his body, the Church. Like Peter, let us keep
our focus on Christ, the Good Shepherd, and
like Joshua in the first reading, let us say, “As
for me, and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

One thought on “Fr. Brian Konopa’s Homily 2018-08-25 21st Ordinary

  1. Mark Millich Post author

    This is a recording of the homily at the 4PM mass on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Just prior to it, there seemed to be an anointing, if you will, blessing or graciousness present, especially upon the first reading and the song sung (Psalm 34) before the second reading, at least from where I sat. It comforted me, and others also, I suspect, including the homilist, preparing them for the somber, heartfelt message to be given.


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