Some years ago I read a book by Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, about his Homeboy Industries. Fr. Boyle was just given the Laetare Medal at Notre Dame this year. His address was beautiful. Watch it below. There is also a great video here, worth a watch, and from that I’ve snagged these lines….
- “How can we develop a kind of compassion that stands in awe of what the poor have to carry, and not in judgment of how they carry it?”
- “We must obliterate this illusion that we’re separate. No ‘us’ and ‘them’, just ‘us’. For there is an idea that has taken root in the world–it’s at the root of all that’s wrong with it–and the idea is this: that there just might be lives out there that matter less than other lives.”
- “It shouldn’t surprise us that God’s own dream for us–that we be one–just happens to be our own deepest longing for ourselves.”
La belleza de Dios es que siempre hay más. The beauty of God is that there’s always more. In our first reading, we hear about a fellow named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was a great speaker, a wise man, an authority on the scriptures. Very religious guy. He was talking beautifully about Jesus in the synagogue, with great spirit. But then Priscilla and Aquila hear him speaking, and they take him aside to explain some things a little better. Even this expert had something to learn. It’s the same with us. The beauty of God is there’s always more, he always goes deeper.
Today is the feast of St. Philip Neri, my confirmation patron. Love this guy! He is patron of joy. Thinking about his life, I’ve been thinking today about some sacred uses of humor and joy….
- Humor helps us be humble. St. Philip Neris’ jovial side hid his brilliance and his holiness. He kept busy with people all day, but at night he would patrol the city and especially the catacombs in humble prayer. He loved to pray quietly. He was brilliant, too. But, looking at the active and rather goofy fellow he was during the day, many might never have noticed his holiness and brilliance. Such was his humility.
- Humor helps us lighten up. It was a serious time in the Church, but Philip’s humor helped him stay happy and holy in the midst of it all, not to be overwhelmed by anxieties. Philip lived some 500 years ago and was the “apostle of Rome.” You see, he had wanted to be a missionary but God’s plan was that he be a missionary in Rome. So he did. Rome needed him, too, because the sixteenth century was a serious time for the Church. Tensions were high, what with the reformation and counter reformation and schismatics and so on. It was St. Philip Neri whose smiles, jokes, laughter and humanity that kept the church sane and holy during the mess that was going on. We all could stand to lighten up a bit!
- Humor helps us evangelize. The Church does not need any more dreary saints, said Teresa of Avila. What attracts people to God is a happy spirit. No one has ever been converted by a syllogism. But a smile? You bet. Philip never intended to found a religious order, but the Oratorian “order” just happened to kind of form around him.
- Humor helps us love. Here’s this: “He lived the life of a holy layman for the next ten years when on the eve of Pentecost in 1544, while praying for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, he had a mystical experience in which a ball of fire seemed to enter his mouth and travel down to his heart, filling him with so much joy and pain that he was thrown to the ground. When he awoke, two of his ribs were broken, and it was later discovered at the time of his autopsy that they were broken by the sudden expansion of his heart.” Few saints loved more deeply and widely than Philip Neri….
O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy, you who trusted Scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand and that we need not have anxiety about anything, in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows and lift the burdens from our hearts. We come to you as one whose heart swells with abundant love for God and all creation. Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here). Keep us safe through your loving intercession, and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen.
We have reached the end of the year! Today’s rain reminds us of our blessings (rain is a symbol of God’s blessings…since without it we have no life). So we thank God for all the new friends we have, the new things we did, the new things we learned. It’s been a year filled with blessings! Our cup runs over. God has downpoured graces into our lives. Thanks be to God. The rain also washes away all the bad things, the bad days we had last year. Rain does that….it purifies and cleanses away the ugly and blesses us with the beautiful. Thanks be to God for a wonderful year!
What imprisons us from living and sharing the faith??
- We see Paul and Silas in our first reading, who were literally within prison bars that prevented them from bringing the good news to people. Until there was an earthquake and God opened up the gates.
- Today is the feast day of Pope Gregory VII, the 157th holy father. He was imprisoned from his evangelical efforts by the Roman emperor Henry IV, who did all he could to minimize the power of the papacy and Gregory in particular. He even named an antipope (Clement III). God took care of that situation, though, and Gregory became a very important figure in the 11th century church and in the development of the doctrine of the papacy and our papal practices that survive to this day.
- I think a lot of people are in some kind of prison that prevents them from sharing the faith….be it fear, or busy calendars, or sins and addictions, or simply apathy.
But God wants to bring those prison walls down.
I would like to begin my homily with some news today. Last Tuesday, I received word that I am being transferred this July to be the administrator of St. Joseph’s Parish in Shelbyville and sacramental minister at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, also in Shelbyville. I have to tell you that, when I go the call, my first question was: “But who will come to OLG?” Hang tight, I’ll answer that in a minute. My second question was, “Are there donuts after Masses in Shelbyville?”
But you should know that I love this parish with all my heart. I feel like we are a family here. It will be hard to leave. I look out each day at Mass and think, “I remember that baby’s baptism,” or, “I remember burying her husband,” or, “I remember going to their house and playing basketball with that kid,” or, “I remember her last day of 8th grade.” It has been an incredible journey with you and I will miss you something crazy. Winnie the Pooh said, “How glad I am to have something so special that will make saying goodbye so hard.” Amen. But fortunately, today is not goodbye. I have a month to get that all put together. I am here through July 4. Then I will depart.