Here is my farewell homily to the people of Crucifixion Parish. Thank you, and God bless each of you!
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
1Kings 19:16b, 19-21; Gal 5:1, 13-18; Luke 9:51-62
June 25/26, 2022
Taking leave, moving on, being guided by and following the Holy Spirit, loving your neighbor … these seem to be the themes in today’s scriptures. I don’t think there could be more fitting readings for me upon which to reflect today, as I take leave of all of you and move on to a new parish, new people, and new ministry.
I am “resolutely determined” as St Luke said (Luke 9:51) to journey on to proclaim as best I can the kingdom of God in Brownsville and Caledonia where my bishop has sent me.
I am struck today by our Lord’s words. He said we should look ahead to the future, and not to the past. There is a part of me that protests. I say, “Lord, let me take my leave of the parish I have served for 13 years.” Gratefully, He is giving me that opportunity today, but He reminds with insistence, “Go! Proclaim the Kingdom of God in Caledonia and Brownsville.”
Thirteen years ago, I stood here at this ambo for the first time to proclaim God’s Kingdom to you. I remember that day distinctly. Today, I am doing so for the final time. I truly hope that when I have stood here over the years I have indeed preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not my own gospel. I pray that I have gotten out of the way of God doing His work through me. One of the worst things a preacher can do is proclaim himself, advance himself and his own agenda so as to make himself look good and likeable at the expense of the Truth Who is Jesus Christ Crucified. I pray I have not done such a thing, and ask forgiveness if I have. I hope I have been humble. I pray that in some way my presence and my preaching have given you a glimpse of Jesus Christ our Lord in your midst.
You have given me much. Standing at the foot of the altar on Good Fridays and holding the Cross for you to venerate, I have seen expressions of faith witnessed by me and unseen to you. I have given you the Body and Blood of Jesus and seen how you have yearned for Him. I have baptized your children, married some of you, and buried family members. I have shared your meals. I have been welcomed by you. In these ways, you have solidified my faith, renewed my hope, and given me examples of how to live in love. I thank you!
All the staff at Crucifixion has been a great support to me. The teachers at the school have been all smiles and welcoming. The musicians have inspired me. My brother Knights have become men of increasing importance, and I desire to remain active in the local Council.
I am especially appreciative of the two pastors with whom I have served. Fathers Havel and Evans are brothers to me. We share the same Sacrament of Holy Orders and we have together worked collaboratively. Both of them have supported my diaconal ministry. Thank you, Fathers!
Yes, I am leaving you now in order to follow the path God has marked out for me. I am moving on to be hopefully guided by the Holy Spirit and by a love for others.
As the Scriptures remind me:
I cannot put my hand to the plow without faith. I pray for such faith.
I cannot resolutely move forward in life without hope. I pray for such hope.
I cannot follow the Lord and be guided by the Holy Spirit without love. I pray for such love.
I ask for your prayers. Pray for me! I need your prayers.
I urge you to “stand firm in your faith!” (Gal 5:1) Do not go back to the slavery of sin and infidelity! Love one another! Live in unity by accepting the Holy Spirit!
Finally, I echo St. Paul’s words. “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Th 5: 16-18).