The little parts of the Church

I didn’t record this homily, but here is my homily for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

A tendency I’m sure some of us have is to compare ourselves to others. It may be to our benefit saying, I do this better than so and so, or it may be in the negative. I wish I could be more like so and so. While I was in seminary I would do more of the later, wishing I could be more like my brothers in the areas I’m weak in.  You may have noticed that I sometimes look nervous when speaking in front of you. My hands shake some, and this can cause things I’m holding to shake as well. I remember the first time I ever served in the seminary I carried the incense and I was shaking so much I was causing the chains to make noise.

         You likely have also noticed that I’m introverted, I have a tendency especially in big crowds to stay to the edges of the room, gravitate to people I know well and hesitate to meet new people. In seminary, I would see guys who would go up to a random guy on the street and introduce themselves like it was something he did every day. I would think to myself man I wish I could be more like him. It’s been told to me that I can be socially awkward at times. You could say my social interaction; my social mannerisms aren’t what you might typically expect. It brings me some challenges that others may not have, and I work hard to overcome them. However, for me the reading from St. Paul gives me hope even amid my weakness.

         St. Paul tells us about the body and how all the man parts are one, but still many. He is speaking to us about the true nature of the Church and how it is just like a body. Who are the parts of the body? You and me, not only those who work for the Church, those who are called to be priests and religious, but all of us, all of us who have been baptized. What Paul also makes clear is that the body should both have diversity and that every individual part is valued and loved.

Now we may think that the Church would be made up of these great men and women of faith, who God could point out and say look how great my Church is. However, I don’t believe this is how God sees the Church. We certainly have great saints. However, I think God calls not the strong but the weak to make up his body the Church, as St. Paul says “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary.

I want all of us to think about some of the significant figures of our Church. Mary our Blessed Mother, while she didn’t struggle with sin as we do, she likely came from a poor family, in a small town and wasn’t that well known. Jesus didn’t pick royalty, the greatest minds, the most charismatic to be his apostles. Instead, he picked tax collectors who were hated by many in the ancient world. Fishermen who had very little formal education. He called St. Peter who denied him three times. He even chose St. Paul, who persecuted Christians, to write the largest portion of sacred scripture. I would suggest that Jesus didn’t pick the strong, the smart, the greatest among us. Instead, he saw the smallest, the littlest, the most broken, and he turned them by his grace into his instruments.

         We too can look at the saints. St. Therese of Lisieux, she dealt with scruples and didn’t amount to much in her convent, now she is a doctor of the Church. St. John Vianney couldn’t pass his courses to get into the major seminary, however he became the patron saint of priests. Mother Theresa faced great interior darkness in her own life. Our Lady of Fatima appeared to children who were just ten years old. These are just a small sample of the many little ones who became great saints!

We should not become discouraged by our brokenness, our weakness, those things we struggle with that our lives more challenging. Jesus doesn’t look at those as we see them. He doesn’t see them as attributes that make us less qualified, less important than those who seemingly have things more together. Instead, our Lord looks on our littleness, our brokenness with love. We can become great saints not because we have all the qualities of one, but because God’s grace transforms us into his saints.

I want to thank all of you for being so welcoming to me at this parish it has helped me grow into a better man a better Deacon and God willing a better priest. Your love and support of me has helped me be open about my struggles. St. Paul’s words give me the hope that God has a plan and place for me in his Church. The same is true for all of you as well! God created all of us with a specific purpose and to receive salvation. Don’t be discouraged by your shortcomings rather see them as an opportunity to go to God and let him lift you up as he does any of his children who come to him. God looks at our brokenness not in sorrow but in Love. He can and will help us in our weaknesses, we just need to trust and love him.

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