Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Introduction Homily ~ Saint Patrick Parish
June 25/26, 2016
I feel as if I should apologize; it seems that my face is everywhere. I'm really sorry. I have seen my face on the website; it's on Facebook, there’s a Fathead - that one took me by surprise, as well as a poster out there in the narthex, the gathering space. On that poster, besides my face, there is my favorite Scripture verse which is: Jesus said to them ‘unbind him and set him free.’ This verse is from the Gospel of John, and it is the scene where Lazarus has been raised from the dead. Even though Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, he was still bound by the bandages, the wrapping that they used to lay him in the tomb. He was alive, but he still needed to find freedom, so Christ ordered those who were around to do just that - to set him free.
We as a society are obsessed with freedom. We are in the season of freedom, we have our fortnight for freedom, here in a week we will celebrate our freedom. Our freedom is certainly not far from our minds these days. I find that when, as Americans, we think of freedom we think in terms of what we are free from: tyranny, oppression, over taxation, regulation... for the school kids they are currently free from school, during the weekend many of us are free from work - when we are free we don't have to worry about any intrusion that takes away our freedom. When the Church, when Christ, talks about Freedom, however, we hear about freedom regarding what we are free for. When we are freed from something we are often left there, perhaps wondering what to do with this freedom. But when we are freed for we know for what purpose we are set free. In our second readings today we hear Saint Paul tell the Galatians about freedom. He declares that it is for Freedom that Christ set us free and that we are brothers and sisters called to the freedom of Christ. To be a disciple of Christ is to be free. I try and live a life example as an example of that freedom, an example of what it means to be set free from the things that bind but also an example of what I am free for. It is with this in mind that I'll tell you a bit about myself.
First I know that schools are vital to us, you have to go through the list, so I went to Saint Aloysius in Pewee Valley for grade school, I graduated from St. X in ‘01, and I studied history at UofL- this last affiliation will make things interesting at the rectory... we’ll suffer together, or more likely I’ll suffer, and he’ll do his thing... It was after I graduated from college that I really began seriously discerning a vocation to the priesthood. That’s when I first meet Fr. Jeff. In fact, we were sitting in a restaurant about nine years ago now and I kept wondering why he insisted on talking so loud about the priesthood - I was worried people would look at us weird. One milestone lead to another and eventually I began studies at Saint Meinrad Seminary where I graduated last spring.
The path to priesthood is rarely an easy or straightforward path and a few difficulties stood in my way. I have shared these struggles elsewhere, and I want to make sure that you hear about these struggles from me. I have, for most of my life, struggled with depression and anxiety. These are maladies that affect many people and often they can go hidden and untreated. My brother too suffered from similar difficulties and three and a half years ago the pressure of those ailments became too much, and he took his life. I had, even before my brother’s suicide, self-medicated with alcohol. That nasty habit only got worse after my brother’s death. It almost cost me my life and possibly the life of a faultless bystander when, after my first wedding as a deacon, I drank too much and drove. I am ashamed that I did this but thank God that I hit a telephone pole and not a person or another vehicle. It was from there that my life could have either gone further from God by giving into self-pity by listening to all those thoughts of ‘why God has this happened to me!?’ Instead, I chose the freedom that God called me to; freedom to let go of all the things which I held onto and move closer to God - the source of true freedom. Fr. Jeff was one of the first phone calls I made, and I began surrendering a lot of my freedoms with the hope of gaining true freedom. I went away for six months and got some much-needed help; I came back, and even though it was difficult I returned to seminary and was eventually ordained to the priesthood this past December. I was freed for ministry as a priest, I was freed to minister to your spiritual needs, I was freed to be an example for the school kids and a living witness for the girls at Sacred Heart. I was freed to be present to and offer the sacraments for, all those who approach the Church through me. I have been freed for a life of discipleship. I look forward to walking alongside each one of you as we together find the freedom to which Christ calls each of us - the freedom to live in the Kingdom of God.