I offer this homily (and take off my hat) to any brothers who are celebrating Mass or live streaming during this crisis
Bottom line: In Jesus God humbled himself to serve us. he has humbled himself to serve you. You too must humble yourself.."
I will give this homily mainly in English, but with this Spanish summary: Extrano no poder abrazarlos, sobre todo no poder darles la Comunion y celebrar el Sacrificio de la Misa. Sueno con algunas formas de hacerlo. La Eucaristica es centro de nuestra vida. Dios se humillo para servir a nosotros. No es facil ser servido como aprendi cuando me fracture la pierna. Usamos estos tres dias - Jueves Santo, Viernes Santo y Pascua de Resurreccion para acercarnos a Jesus.
Brother and sisters, we are in the strangest Holy Week ever. I miss you especially on Holy Thursday. This evening we normally gather our core parishioners - both in English and Spanish communities.
It seems strange to communicate with you this way. I wish I could reach out and hug each one of you.
At the same, I wonder if we will ever hug - or even shake hands - again. I've joked that this pandemic is turning us all into Norwegians. The Norwegian family I grew up in never hugged. I only learned that when I started working with Latinos. Now, even the Latinos have become Norwegians!
More than hugs I miss giving you the Eucharist - the physical Body and Blood of Jesus - and gathering in our church full of people to offer the sacrifice that saves us.
I miss that and I admit I have had crazy dreams. I dreamed about doing a parking lot Mass like priests have done in other places. I've dreamed about doing an outdoor Mass in our field - with youth, young adults and young families, each keeping social distance but together in the Holy Sacrifice. Perhaps my craziest dream: to somehow deliver a package like this. (hold up) It contains the Word Among Us with all the readings for the Easter Season - from this Sunday to May 31, Pentecost. Most important, a pyx with sufficient Hosts for a household. Different members could read the Bible passages, the dad could take the Hosts, all kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, then give Communion to his wife, children and any others present. It may be a crazy dream, but I would love to do it at least with some of our families.*
The Eucharist is the center of our faith. God has humbled himself to accept the humiliation - and the torture - of the cross. He humbled himself to become bread and wine - food to nourish us, to heal us and to give us strength for the journey. If you cannot receive Jesus bodily, at least make a Spiritual Communion.
Last Sunday - Palm Sunday - Pope Francis had a striking message. He pointed out that God saves by serving us. We see God's humility in Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Jesus takes the role of a servant. It's not easy to be a servant. I've experienced it in my 49 years as a priest. Often I want to do heroic things, but what someone wants is for me open the hall!
It's not easy to be a servant, but it can be hard to be served. I found that out last January when I fractured my leg. All of sudden I was completely dependent on others. Thank God wonderful people in Peru and in our parish took care of me. It wasn't easy for me to be so dependent. Still, if no one served me I would have simply died - like some people do on our streets.
It's similar in our relation with God. If we do not allow God to serve us, we die spiritually. That's why Jesus said to Peter, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." In these three days we see the depth God will go to serve us.
Let's use these three days - Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter - to draw near Jesus. Tomorrow come back at 3 pm. The youth have a special program each day at 3. Meri Price, Sister Carmen and I will lead Divine Mercy Chaplet, Stations and rosary. Then in the evening we have Veneration of the Cross. On Saturday evening at 8:30 we have the Easter Vigil, often called the mother of all liturgies. Make every effort to keep watch as we have the Service of Light, Scripture readings and of course the Holy Sacrifice. On Easter Sunday we will transmit Mass of the Resurrection, 9:30 in English, 11:15 in Spanish.
Brothers and sisters, allow God to serve you. In Jesus he has humbled himself to serve us. You too must humble yourself so he can heal you, sustain you and bring you to everlasting life. Amen.
*I think of St. Tarcisius taking Communion to Christians in prison. Many of our families feel imprisoned at this time.
Audio Homilies for Holy Thursday:
From Archives (Holy Thursday Homilies):
Homilias en Castellano Para Jueves Santo:
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru