Some Requests

(Homily for Fourteenth Ordinary Sunday, Year B)

Bottom line: Like St. Paul all of us have weaknesses - and needs; in Christ we can together do great things. I will let you know what I need from you - and I ask you to tell me what you need from me.

My name is Fr. Phillip Bloom. I am priest of the Archdiocese of Seattle - and am happy to be here in Monroe as your pastor. I was brought up near here - Arlington, then Camano Island - so I am a local boy as Jesus was for the Nazarenes. I hope you will treat me more kindly than they treated Jesus. (smile) Jesus was God so he obviously had a much bigger perspective than I do. Being only human, I need your care, your acceptance and your affection. I am sure you will give that to me - as I will to you.

As a priest of the Archdiocese since 1971, I have known your former pastors from Fr. Joseph Petosa to Fr. Michael OBrien. From them I learned that St. Mary's is a loving, supportive community. I pray that God will give us many good years together.

So we can get off to a good start, I would like to make three requests regarding participation in Mass - and one request concerning food.

The first request relates to the sound system. If at any time you cannot hear me, let me know - maybe cup your ear. Or if I am too loud, put a hand over an ear. I want everyone to hear me, but I don't want to blast anyone out of the pew.

Second, even though God did not give me much of voice, I love to sing - especially chant responses during the Mass. For example at the Preface: "The Lord be with you...Lift up your hearts, etc." Please respond as best you can. In the future I hope to spend time with our children and young people to teach them the responses.

My third request might surprise you: I ask that you not applaud during Mass. I know that people often want to express appreciation for music and other efforts, but I ask you to do it by a prayer and a word of gratitude after Mass. We are here to give service and worship to God - not to win applause. Pope Benedict has written something on why applause should not be part of our Masses. I will share his words in a future bulletin. Applause of course is not a sin and it might happen sometimes, but in the Mass let's try to show our appreciation by a word after Mass rather than applause during Mass.

Now, a request about food. This might seem mundane, but I am saying it because I want to be here to baptize your children and grandchildren and to celebrate marriages, so I am trying to follow a healthy diet. Even though I can eat almost anything, I try to avoid a lot of sweets and to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. I hope we have a lot of meals together, but help me stay healthy so I can serve you better - and longer.

I wanted to say these things up front. There are other things I could say, especially about deepening our participation in Mass. Beginning the last Sunday of this month, we will have five Sundays dedicated to the Sixth Chapter of St. John - the "Bread of Life Discourse." In it Jesus says, "I am the living bread come down from heaven...Unless you eat my Flesh and drink my Blood, you will not have life within you." Those five Sundays will give us a wonderful opportunity to grow in our appreciation of the Mass - and for practical guidance on participation in Mass.

Today I would like to conclude with St. Paul's words - where he speaks about having a thorn in his flesh. We don't know what the thorn was: perhaps some physical infirmity like stomach problems, insomnia or impaired vision. It may have been some moral problem - lust, anger, gluttony - that he could not overcome. We don't know. In my thirty-eighth years as a priest, I have seen that most people (myself included) identify with Paul's words. We feel weakness - maybe even a crippling weakness - that won't go away. But Paul sees an advantage in his weakness. It reminds him of his dependence on Christ. He of course never quits struggling to overcome his weakness, but he knows that the victory belongs not to him, but to Christ. Because of Christ he can say, "When I am weak, then I am strong."

Like St. Paul all of us have weaknesses and needs, but in Christ we can together do great things. I will let you know what I need from you - and I ask you to tell me what you need from me. Along with our weaknesses, God has given each of us gifts to help one another. As your pastor, I need your care, support and affection - and I will give you mine. With St. Paul we say, "When I am weak, then I am strong." In Christ, together, we will do great things.

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General Intercessions for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B (from Priests for Life)

Spanish Version

From Archives (14th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):

2015: Building on Strength Week 1: Scripture as Word of God
2012: Mary Opens a Window (about "brothers & sisters" of Jesus)
2009: Some Requests
2006: How Jesus Handled a Put Down
2003: Insults and Persecution
2000: Separation of Church & State?
1997: "The Conscience of our State"

Spanish Version

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