Sunday, December 7, 2014

Homily - Archbishop Murphy High School Thanksgiving Mass

Deuteronomy 8:7-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9

What in your life are you thankful for?  Do you live always with gratitude?  Or are you just walking through this life oblivious to all that’s been given you?
I’m grateful for a video I saw in 2007.  It was the same year I was discerning whether to apply for a difficult and demanding five year program to become a deacon.
God spoke to me through this video and helped change my view of the world and my role in it. But most especially, God gave me perspective of what’s expected of his disciples when it comes to building up the Kingdom.  He kicked me in the backside and changed the trajectory of my life forever.
At the time, I had a cushy job, making good money. I was quite comfortable. But it wasn’t enough. There were times when I still wanted more. I was falling into a dangerous trap. I was on a fast-moving treadmill and felt trapped with no way to jump off.
But in February 2008, I put in an application for the diaconate, did a series of interviews, and out of 350 people, was selected as one of 35 called into deacon formation by Archbishop Brunett.
In 2012, I was blessed with ordination along with 21 of my fellow deacons who survived our nearly five year, grueling ordeal.
            Now about that video I mentioned – the one that changed my life’s course, the one delivered by God, the one I’m so thankful for. It's by a guy named Rob Bell. He's a Christian pastor. And it's called "Rich." 


            This perspective of how richly blessed we Americans are changed everything for me. 
            Halfway through formation, I shocked everyone (except my wife and family); by quitting the best job I ever had.
I’m here today to tell you that you are all richly blessed.  
You live in the most blessed nation on the planet. 
It doesn’t matter how much money you and your family have, you have so much more than most people on this planet. You are rich.
            But God has high expectations for us all.  He commands us to be thankful for these blessings and to use them to bless others.
            God also commands us who are rich to put our hope not in wealth, but put our hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
            That smartphone you have: It’s a gift.  That house you and your parents live in: gift.  That car you drive or drive in: gift.  The clothes you wear: gift. This school you go to: gift. 
            That breath you just took:  It’s a gift from God. 
            As we heard in today’s reading from Deuteronomy: “when you … are satisfied, you must bless the LORD, your God, for (what) he has given you.”       
            So, thank the Lord for all these gifts in your life. 
 But thanking God isn’t enough. Now what can you do to bless others?
            Jesus commands us to give, and give, and give. And when we give, when we offer our lives for others, something amazing happens.  We are transformed by God. “We take hold of life that is truly life.”
             We become content with what we have. We begin to realize “that the kinds of people we are becoming matters to God. It’s has eternal implications. It’s about our future. It’s about our forever.”
            This is the perspective that rocked my world and changed my life forever. (PAUSE)
            Our two sons Sean and Connor graduated from Murphy. When I ask them what they are most grateful for in their lives, almost always they name people:  Mr. Wright, Mrs. Alkire, Mr. Clapp.
            In fact, as our son Connor was about to head back for his junior year this year at Gonzaga, we asked him what he wanted to do on his last night home. 
He said, “I want to have Mr. Clapp over for cigars and a steak dinner.”  No joke.  And we did.  Here’s the proof.
            When our family traveled to Italy and France during Christmas break in 2011, our boys were our walking, talking Church travel encyclopedias… thanks to Mr. Clapp.
As I scaled the Scala Sancta, the sacred staircase Jesus walked up and down to be condemned to death by Pontius Pilate, our son Connor was recalling to my wife Mary all Mr. Clapp had shared with him about this sacred relic taken by Constantine’s mother St. Helena from Jerusalem to Rome in the 4th Century. 
When we were in Assisi, they regaled us with little known facts about St. Francis and St. Clare. 
            While we were in Lourdes, our sons remembered what they learned in Mr. Clapp’s class about Bernadette and her encounter with the lady who called herself the “Immaculate Conception.”
            Our son Sean credits Mr. Wright with steering him along his career path, giving him a passion for scholarship and showing him how a quiet person can command respect by giving respect to others. 
Our son Connor says Mrs. Alkire helped open his eyes to the wonders of math, science and physics. This Thanksgiving break, he’ll be reading a biography on nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer – for fun, not for school.  All because of a special teacher.
On the final night of our trip, as we sat overlooking Sacra Coeur Basilica, our boys told my wife and I how grateful they were for the sacrifices we made to send them to Catholic schools and give them the life they live.

They get it. They understood everything about their lives, about their experience at Murphy was a gift. And they are thankful.
Do you look at your time at Murphy that way? I know someday you will even if you don’t now. 
And I want you to remember this day, remember this homily and remember something I shared with you today.
I want you to go to that teacher who made an incredible difference in your life here at Murphy and say, “Thank You.” 
Be like the lone cured leper who returned in today’s Gospel, “fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.”  

No need to fall at the feet of your teacher.  Just say, “Thank You.”  That’s all. 
Don’t be like the other nine who are given these amazing gifts and walked away without saying a word of “thanks."
Then I want you to go into the world and bless others the way these teachers have blessed you.



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