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Fr. Dale’s Homily

3rd Sunday of Easter Homily

April 13-14, 2024

Gospel:  Luke 24: 35-48

Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez, a Latino actor, was having great difficulty finding work.  Fearing that it might be due to a bias against Latinos, he decided to take on a new name as an actor.  Out of respect for Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a popular television figure at the time, he chose the name Sheen and thus the origin of the name Martin Sheen.  His son, Emilio Estevez, released a film a few years back entitled, The Way, in which Martin plays the leading role.  The film tells the story of a man making a pilgrimage, walking 500 miles to the burial place of St. James the Apostle at a basilica near the Atlantic coast of Spain.  For the devout of heart, it is an inward journey, a pilgrimage.  Spiritual leaders write of life as a journey, a path.

Martin Sheen speaks of his own journey of change.  He began to get in touch with himself when he, an alcoholic, began the filming of Apocalypse Now in 1979 (45 years ago).  The pilgrimage is a physical journey to begin with.  It invites you to leave your comfort zone.  You have to endure some uncomfortable situations.  Then something else begins to happen, which is far more important and far more the reality of a pilgrimage. And that is the transcendence, the inner journey.  That is where we are forced to listen to our footbeat and heartbeat, the inner voice, and we become attentive to who we really are

As we begin to shed the material stuff that we’ve been carrying – our guilt, our false judgments, our resentments – and we begin to release people from the dungeon of our hearts, we begin to forgive others and to forgive ourselves.  The real pilgrimage is the inward journey.  We come to our true selves.  Pilgrims say that you cannot ask anyone to carry your bag and no one can walk in your shoes.  You have to do that yourself.  Yes, at the same time, you cannot walk that path alone.  You cannot do it without community.  God did not make us to walk alone.  We need friends along the way.

One such friend for Sheen was a man who became a great anchor.  Martin goes on to say, “The last book my friend gave me to read transformed my spirit.  When I finished reading it I put it down and literally got up and walked to St. Joseph Church (the English speaking parish in Paris).  It was May Day and I banged on the rectory door and the resident said, “What’s going on?”  I told him, “I have been away from the church for a long time, and I need to go to confession.”

Martin says that the focus of life-journey-transcendence lines up with the three most important steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  They are to make a fearless inventory (which for us means the examination of conscience), tell one person (confession) and make amends (penance and restitution). 

There are two themes in today’s readings: repentance and bearing witness to the risen Christ.  In order to bear a more authentic witness to Christ in our lives, we must re-think the way we live from day to dayRethink how we celebrate our relationship with God, our awareness of The Holy.  Do we take time to keep God in focus, to thank and praise God for the opportunities presented to us daily?  Rethink our relationships with others; with family, with friends, with those with whom we disagree.  Rethink our budgeting of time and resources; do we give quality time to our spouse or partner, our children, our parents

In a word, do we contribute to The Common Good?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations… you are witnesses to these things.”  Peter and Paul both repented and witnessed to Christ in their lives leading them to Rome, the center of the known world.  And John said, “The way we may be sure that we know Him is to keep His commands.”  Ergo, we witness to the risen Christ when we love God above all and love neighbor.  This is our primary work as a Catholic and as a Christian… and we respond wholeheartedly: 

                            “Thy will be done…” 

Indeed.

Fr. Dale’s Easter Homily

Easter Sunday 2024

March 31, 2024

Gospel:  John 20:1-9

Today, in this Catholic Church and in all the other Christian churches of the world; our Eucharistic liturgy is the most gratifying celebrations in our whole liturgical calendar.  Our church is decorated with more flowers than usual (lilies and poinsettias are not here 24/7); the choir is singing upbeat songs; most people are wearing their best clothes; there is a chance for some fellowship with friends we have not seen for a long, long, long while… 

Yet, none of us came here today for the scenery, the concert, the fashion show or the socializing.  We are here today because we are reminded that death was conquered ONCE.  Today, with all the Christian faiths that have spun off the root of Catholicism, we share in the hope that it will happen again… FOR USin due time… in God’s choosing… 

Have you even watched illusionists like Harry Houdini or David Copperfield in either the media or live at a theatre?  There is usually the one who puts a lady in a box.  Locks are secured.  The box is suspended.  The illusionist thrusts swords through the box.  When unlocked and opened, the lady was gone.  “HOW did he do it?”  Although we do not know HOW the trick was accomplished, we DO know that it was not magic.  There is a logical explanation for the disappearance for the lady. 

On Good Friday, many saw the wrapped lifeless body of Jesus laid in a tomb.  They watched a HUGE stone rolled into the groove before the cave-like vault sealing the only exit.  Sunday morning three people saw the same tomb.  The stone was rolled away.  The body was gone.  WHERE had the body gone?  There were three responses: Mary Magdalene thought the body was stolen.  Peter was puzzled, “Why would someone unwrap the body BEFORE stealing it?”  John saw and believed.  Our response to the empty tomb should make all the difference in the way we live life.  Does it for you?  What do you make of an empty tomb… if anything?

Christ is raised to new life by God.  The Resurrection is not a magic trick.  It was a feat foretold by prophets and accomplished by the power of God.  Peter and others ate and drank with him.  Mary conversed with Jesus.  We follow a risen Lord.  He is alive.  Bet on it.

Christ is raised.  We are raised with Christ.  Christ’s resurrection changes everything for all who lives before and after him.  When we die, we will not he held by death.  We believe through faith like John.  Eyes of faith help us see the invisible reality.  Believing is seeing.  

Christ is raised.  Our goal is eternal life with Him. 

Christ is raised.  Proclaim it.  We proclaim it with our words.  We are not responsible for the belief of the hearer.  Jesus was not always believed.  We will only be accountable for sharing the message.  Our message may not be popular or well received.  It is always difficult to go against the grain.  We may suffer, as disciples have, as Jesus did, for our faithfulness.  Doing comes out of believing.  Believing in eternal life makes all the difference.  When our words and actions match, we become credible.  People may not agree with us, but they can not ignore us.

A Dutch navigator sailing the high seas happened to come across an uncharted island in the Pacific.  He was just thrilled to land on it.  And this discovery happened on Easter Sunday in the year 1722… over 300 years ago.  Not surprisingly, the island was named “Easter Island”.  A well-known preacher used this bit of history to make a point.  He pointed out that we make a mistake if we regard Easter merely as an islanda nice place to visit once a year and then go back to the mainland.  Rather, he stressed Easter belongs on the mainland… your mainland is wherever you go… and with whomever you journey. 

Friends, the tomb is empty.

What do you have to say about that?

Fr. Dale’s Easter Vigil Homily

The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

March 30, 2024

Gospel:  Mark 16:1-7

Emma loves stories.  From her shelf filled with brightly colored books, she will happily bring one (or several) to any willing reader.  But her favorite stories are the ones the adults tell from memory – stories about the day she was born, how grandpa made her laugh when she was a baby, stories about things Mom and Dad did as kids and what kind of games Grandma and her sisters played when they were little.  These tales help her understand who she is.

Like Emma, we have been listening to the family stories our elders have told their children down through countless generations.  And in the telling we too discover who we are.  For what we have heard is the story of a people’s faith – and we are that people.

We have heard the stories of our ancestors in faith told.  We heard the story they told about how the world came to be.  It told of a good God who forms a good world and makes a creature in the divine likeness.  Hearing that story, we, like our ancestors, discover the goodness of creation and the potential for Godlike goodness that is in each of us.

We heard the story of the Exodus, in which the same good God leads an oppressed people to freedom.  And, like our ancestors, we discover that God leads each of us to freedom from whatever enslaves us.

We hear the story of a tomb found empty, its inhabitant raised to new life and then going ahead of his followers into Galilee.  And we know, as the followers of Jesus came to know, that those who enter the waters of Baptism lie with Jesus in the tomb and follow Him out of it to the familiar hometown roads. We sing Alleluia! As we walk into His steps, for we know that His resurrection has opened to us a whole world of new possibilities: (A) reconciliation with God and another (B) concern for our neighbor’s needs (C) confidence when sickness overwhelms us (D) life that even death cannot destroy.

We have shared our faith story with the new believers we welcome into our community tonight.  For many months, with the support of our prayers, they have reflected on the story of faith – ours and our ancestor’s as it unfolds in the Liturgy of the Word throughout the Church year.  They have told the stories of their search for faith.  They have heard many of us share our stories, the personal dimension of our communal faith, explored ways in which we LIVE our belief.  They discovered themselves in our story.  What they heard and saw has drawn them here to join us tonight.

Paige, CaLeah, Ariana, Linda and Chad, we are so very pleased to have you come to The Table for the very first time. 

We continue to tell the story.  Soon the whole saga will unfold once more in the Eucharist Prayer, the story we tell at every Mass.  And in the telling, in the breaking of the bread that is the risen Lord’s body, we discover again who we are; the Living Body of Christ in the world of today.  We are the people who carry His News to a waiting and needy world.    

Fr. Dale’s Holy Thursday Homily

Holy Thursday 2024

Gospel:  John 13:1-15

March 28, 2024

We enter tonight into the Sacred Triduum, three holy days that culminate in the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, by placing ourselves in humble service to others.  The solemnity, the symbols, and the beauty of this liturgy need very little – if any – explanation.  We can focus on many symbols tonight, but let out attention be drawn to the Gospel we have just heard proclaimed and the sacred action which will follow this homily: the mandatum (washing of feet). 

Instead of hearing the familiar story told in the synoptic Gospels, we hear instead John’s account of what happened after the meal Jesus shared with his disciples.  By telling them HOW Jesus washed the feet of these disciples, John makes the necessary connection between servanthood and Eucharist.  This is called mandatum because it is Jesus’ mandate that his disciples to as he did.  “Do this, do this love, in memory of me.  Do this Eucharist in memory of me.  Pour yourself out in complete service to others as I have done”.  Early in Church history, the mandatum was considered a sacrament; a transforming encounter with Christ. 

Sharing in the Eucharist means washing the feet of others. 

Feet are an interesting part of our bodies.  They help support us and keep us standing upright.  They prevent us from falling by keeping us balanced. Above all, feet are essential to walking as we take one step at a time.  They may not be the most glorious part of our body, but they have a major role to play.  Ask anyone who has lost the use of a foot.

The Hebrews walked from slavery into freedom.  The prophets walked from place to place announcing the message of Jesus.  Even at the time of Jesus, walking was THE mode of travel.  So, celebrating the Last Supper, Jesus, who took the role of slave and that of the host, washed disciples’ feet.  By doing this, Jesus not only performed a practical act of offering comfort to weary feet, he also emphasized that if anyone wishes to be a follower, she or he must be a servant to all.

The Hebrews were instructed to eat the Passover meal with their loins girt (that is to say, flexed, ready to walk), sandals on their feet, and staffs in hand ready to “hit the road”.  Before the journey, the Hebrews were instructed by God to prepare a meal.  They would need nourishment for the journey.  This meal was not one for the sake of eating/killing hunger – it was a sacred meal.  So they were prepared to hear God say, “Ready, set… go!”… they were called by God to set out on a journey with no clear knowledge of WHERE they would be going… kind of like handing your phone to someone who would program your GPS, click start, and tell you to follow it … wherever it tells to you walk … forever how long. 

Jesus shows the disciples the meaning of perfect love.  Just as Jesus knew the twelve, He also knows us.  In fact, Jesus is aware of our past sins as well as those we will commit.  In all of this, Jesus still loves us.  Knowing fully who we are, Jesus is still willing to serve us and asks us to do the same.  Doing Eucharist means service to one another on the journey of life. 

Where charity and love prevail, there is God.”  Let us commit ourselves to the poor, to humble service as a Eucharistic people who live by the mandate of Christ. 

Let us go forth and wash the feet of others.

Closures

The Parish Office will be closed on Good Friday, March 29th and Monday, April 1st for the Easter Holiday. The Xavier Center and Parish Hall will also be closed on Good Friday, March 29th through Tuesday, April 2nd for the Easter Holiday and to wax the floors. All activities have been cancelled. Please check the online calendar or bulletin for more information.

Adult Book Study on the Eucharist

Join us for a three-session adult book study to deepen your understanding on the real presence of Jesus within the Eucharist. Get your free “This is My Body” book by Bishop Robert Barron in the gathering space of church, limited quantities available. Click HERE to register.

The Eucharist as “Sacred Meal”
Led by Paula Silliman
Tuesday, March 5th 7PM-8PM

The Eucharist as “Sacrifice”
Led by Billy Blake
Tuesday, March 12th 7PM-8PM

The Eucharist as “Real Presence” 
Led by Deacon Earl Baker
Tuesday, March 19th 7PM-8PM followed by Benediction and Adoration in the Church from 8PM-10PM. 

Classes will be held in the Upper Parish Hall and are open to adults of all ages. Join us to rediscover the depth and beauty of the Holy Eucharist. 

For further information or questions contact Paula Silliman at 502-515-9361 or email Paula.Silliman@sfxmw.com.

Pat French Scholarship

ATTENTION HIGH-SCHOOL SENIORS– Don’t miss out on the opportunity to apply for the $2,500 Pat French Scholarship. This scholarship was established in honor of Patricia K. French to be awarded to a high-school senior who is a member of St. Francis Xavier Church. This person should be service-oriented and a person of high Christian moral values. In addition, this person should be a dedicated student, demonstrating a good work ethic. The recipient may use this one-time, non-renewable award to pursue any program of studies at any accredited college or vocational school. Complete the application below and return to the SFX Parish Office Attn: Wende Aubrey, no later than March 15, 2024.
Applications, reference letters and transcripts may also be emailed directly to wende.aubrey@sfxmw.com .

Applicants who are chosen to interview for the scholarship will be contacted by the parish office. Interviews will be conducted on Monday, April 8th.