Sunday, July 15, 2012


On his way out of church this morning, a visitor stopped to say, "Thanks for nothing, Father!"

Stay cool...

   Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time   B 

I had several ideas for a homily 
floating around in my head
when it hit me:
since it’s so blasted hot around here this weekend,
I ought to preach about nothing.
Now, before you get too excited,
I don’t mean no homily at all;
I mean a brief one on nothing.

St. John Vianney—
the patron saint of parish priests
whose image is right here beside the pulpit—
once said:
I have been privileged to give great gifts
from my empty hands.

You’ll notice in the gospel
that Jesus sends out his twelve Apostles—
his first priests—empty handed
no food, no money, no change of clothes. 
(Jesus did, however, say they were to wear sandals…
…so I’m carefully following 
his instructions this morning!)

Given the crucial nature of this mission,
why are they sent—apparently—with nothing?

Fr. Tom (right, with modern "sandals") and I in the
sacristy before Mass yesterday evening at 90° F
Well, because they are sent to preach…
…but theirs is to be 
Jesus’ own message of repentance,
and not some new teaching
which they themselves have devised. 
And because they are sent to drive out demons…
…but they can only do so in Christ’s name,
rather than their own. 
And because they are sent out to heal…
…but they are to use an intermediary—
oil for anointing—
since they, too, are but instruments
of Another’s power to cure both body and soul. 

You see, the Twelve go out with nothing—
nothing of their own, at least—
to make it perfectly clear 
that what they have to give
does not in any way come from them.
And just what is it they have to give?
Every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
lavished upon us 
out of the riches of God’s grace.

Like the Apostles, all of us—
yes, we priests in a particular way,
but every single follower of Jesus, as well—
are summoned and sent out to proclaim his gospel,
to drive out the spirit of evil from this world,
and to restore the sick to health.
So if you’re feeling inadequate
or ill-equipped for the job at hand,
have no fear;
you’re probably right where you should be,
since what’s most needed to accomplish this mission is nothing:
not our talents or skills or abilities,
not popularity or power or pedigree,
but our nothingness.

What a privilege to be chosen to give such great gifts
from these, our empty hands!

1 comment:

Director of Young Adult Ministry said...

Fr. Joe,
Thank you for such an important message, you reminded me that when I think I have nothing, it is then that God can use me the most!! I keep forgetting and having a fit instead. Great message.