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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2008

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Fr.Paul Weinberger

Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 199
Location: Greenville, Texas

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:26 pm    Post subject: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2008 Reply with quote

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2008

Homily by:
Father Paul Weinberger, Pastor
St. William the Confessor Catholic Church
Greenville, Texas
August 10, 2008

After doing so He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When it was evening He was there alone.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit


Yesterday was the Feast of St. Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross as she was known in religious life. Her father died when she was very young. She came from a large Jewish family in Germany in the beginning of the 20th Century. After her father died she became an agnostic, to her mother’s sorrow. She began studying at the university very soon after that and did something that many women in Germany did during her time; she gained a post-doctorate degree in philosophy.

One day Edith was invited to the home of some friends for the weekend. The friends went out one night and she went into the library and picked up the biography of Saint Teresa of Avila. The next morning she announced to her friends that she was going to become Catholic and that she too would become a Carmelite nun. This really happened and it happened in the “not to distant past”. It was before Hitler came to full power in Germany.

It was yesterday, in 1942 that she and her sister Rosa were executed at the death camp of Auschwitz. The people, who remember her on the train and at the death camp itself, mentioned what a calming effect she had on the people around her. Oh, it was inevitable that she was going to die; ten out of ten people die. She was going to die but while she was alive she had a peace, which she could communicate to those around her, even in a death camp such as Auschwitz.

Yesterday on the other side of the world in 1945, the second atomic bomb was dropped on the country of Japan over the city with the largest Catholic population. The city was Nagasaki. Every time August rolls around I like to read either “The Bells of Nagasaki” or “A Song For Nagasaki”, because the authors lean heavily on the written journals of a medical doctor, who was a pioneer in the area of radiology. His name was Takashi Nagai.

Takashi Nagai was the Dean of the Radiology Department at the University of Nagasaki. When the bomb was dropped over Nagasaki many of his friends and family members were killed. He and his two children survived but his wife was taken. He found her remains in their home. Her image was traced on the floor. The heat of the blast vaporized her instantly. Something had been melted together in her hand and later it was determined to be her Rosary, which is in a museum now in Nagasaki.

Dr. Nagai was already a Catholic and had been for years. It is a testament to his Catholic faith that he was not bitter toward those who’d done this to his family, friends, city and country, and that he was able to spread a sense of order and peace to those around him, even though the entire city was a pile of ashes and rubble.

As an adult, as a man in the service, his parents had been disappointed when they heard the news that he was going to become a Catholic Christian. His wife could trace her ancestry all the way back to the first Christians of that island, the last in the chain of islands that make up the nation of Japan. So, Nagai married someone, who had a strong Catholic faith and before they were married he converted, which meant that his military career could be impacted. They were very anti-Catholic there. Today in Japan only a handful of Catholic Japanese are populating the islands. At the University Nagai wished to advance and was told that if he became Catholic that it would hinder such advancement. We can see this was not the case because he was made the Dean of the Department of Radiology.

Before WWII started, China was invaded by Japan and many men, women, and children were indiscriminately killed by this attack. The journal of Dr. Nagai mentions this in great detail. It was a great sorrow for him to see so many killed. He managed to continue in Manchuria with the help of his newfound faith. He’d grown up in the Shinto religion but had noticed Buddhists around him. Buddhists have something along the lines of a Rosary and they have prayers that are prayed on their beads. So he was familiar with something of the Rosary. He took the Buddhist custom and he baptized it in a sense.

Nagai began praying a kind of Christian prayer; he would choose a short phrase from the Psalms or from the pocket New Testament that he always carried, and repeat it over and over. You know what they say about converts? They make the best Catholics. Nagai shows you that this is true. How many people could carry around a pocket New Testament and don’t?

Dr. Nagai writes of occasions when badly wounded soldiers were brought into his operating tent by the dozens and waited in lines on the ground.

His body and mind became almost numb as he worked around the clock but he kept his spirit at peace by continuously murmuring, “The Lord graciously restores the dead to life.”

He was also fond of the phrase from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.

”For your sake we are massacred daily and are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Dr. Nagai goes on to point out that he was very much influenced by the Frenchman, Blaise Pascal and his collection of thoughts. When he would go to pray, his prayer was not focused on what was behind him or on the future, but rather the heat of the present moment. This was very influential for Nagai and that is how he prayed. Nagai, practicing this ancient way of Eastern prayer brought to him a deep peace in the most unpromising places and helped him understand Pascal’s words.

Don’t just study the Scriptures, pray them.

Nagai wrote that he discovered the words of Scripture are real, even more real than what was happening in the war around him. He said he’d discovered great peace in intrusting himself and his men to God’s providence.

This is so important for us because we can see in the strong violent wind, in the earthquake, and the subsequent fire in the First Reading, the presence of mind of Elijah there in the cave on the side of the mountain. When he hears the small whispering voice of God he covers his face and goes to the door of the cave to listen. All that had happened before was mere distraction to put fear into him rather than to wait in patience for God to speak to him.

In the Gospel today the same thing happened to the Apostles in the boat. This was just after the death of Saint John the Baptist and Jesus had gone to the desert to pray and the crowds followed him. He had compassion on them; He cured them and feed over 5,000 men and many others. In the Gospel today He sends them off; He dismisses the crowds and the Disciples and they get in the boat. Jesus went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When it was evening He was there alone.

Something in this Gospel sounds so similar to the First Reading and to the experiences of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and Dr. Nagai. The waves, darkness, and the sea were all around, representing an enveloping chaos, which looks not merely formidable but unconquerable. Yet something, which might pass you by…the Gospel mentions the “4th watch of the night”, He came toward them walking on the sea. Notice that Jesus is seeking them out in the darkness of their predicament. The storm was raging around them, and most likely there is no light from the stars or moon, but when the Disciples saw Him walking on the sea they were terrified. Jesus had to be the only light around because when a healthy human eye, when opened, cannot see anything if it is completely dark. The eye needs light to see something and evidentially the only source of light was Jesus walking on the sea.

Then we have the figure of St. Peter, whose name in Greek translates as “The Rock.” Instead of sinking like a rock, Peter’s faith supports him. Jesus is the example and He is walking on the water. St. Peter is wise to follow the example of Christ and is bold enough to ask the Lord to command him to follow His example. But Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus and when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened and began to sink. He cried out to the Lord to save him. Peter started to notice the strong wind, the earthquake, the fire, and the waves around him. He noted the fear of the Disciples and took his focus off Christ and no longer is he walking on water but is sinking like a rock. Jesus says to him,

O yea of little faith; why did you doubt?

Today, if it were not a Sunday it would be the feast of St. Lawrence, the Deacon. A few weeks ago we had the Feast of Pope St. Sixtus II and his companion martyrs. In the early Church they were martyred for their faith in Christ. Pope St. Sixtus and his companions would focus on Christ, even to the point of shedding their blood for Him. When the pope was executed it would be just a few days before St. Lawrence, his Deacon would follow him.

The representative of the Emperor told St. Lawerence to bring all the riches of the Church to him and so St. Laurence, in his wisdom, asked for a few days. He took what there was of the wealth of the Church and gave it to the poor. A few days later he appeared before the representative and with a hand motion indicating the poor of Rome he said,

Here is the treasure of the Church

The emperor’s representative was not impressed; he wanted the money and not more poor people. He had a very grueling death prepared for St. Lawrence. A large grill was taken and St. Lawrence was attached to this grill. A large fire was prepared and only after the coals were down low was St. Lawrence placed above this intense and slow burning fire. They wanted him to really suffer; they wanted to make and example of him. Now, if what is attributed to St. Lawrence is true we see even more of his faith under such circumstances. He is supposed to have said to his executioner after being grilled alive,

You may turn me over; I am done on this side.

This is very dark humor is such a moment as this. If he didn’t say it, he said it in other ways by his willingness to be attached to a gridiron and roasted alive.

You and I are faced with amazing odds many times, so many against so few and yet we turn and cave in. I remember last week there was a case, which I thought would take days or weeks to makes any sense out of, but instead of going down that road I traveled so many times, I turned to Our Blessed Mother and told her that I put the case in her hands. In less than five minutes it was resolved and I attribute all of this to myself. NO! Not at all! I know what my capabilities are.

The example of the Lord is the example that you and I have to follow.

After doing so He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When it was evening He was there alone.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

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