Greetings and Goodbyes

lebron-shaqSo you are saying: “Now the Cavaliers have a lock on the 2010 title.” You are saying the LeBron-Shaq juggernaut will be unbeatable.

I defy these auguries.

Preacher predicts: The Wizards will be a better team than the Cavs in 2009-10…

…Click here for a priest-blog far superior to this pathetic endeavor. The reason it is a better blog is because the blogger is a better priest…

Father Tom King, S.J.  1929-2009
Father Tom King, S.J. 1929-2009
…In 1999, The Hoya newspaper declared that Fr. Tom King, S.J. was Georgetown University’s “Man of the Century.”

He was an irrepressible man of zeal and love. He alone kept Georgetown from falling off the Barque of Peter. He lived in a state of perpetual suspension between heaven and earth.

He is the first Catholic priest I ever spoke with in my life. If it weren’t for him, I would probably still be waiting tables for a living.

Rest in peace, Father King! I will never forget you. Please pray for your unworthy spiritual sons!

…Here is my sermon bidding farewell to the year of St. Paul:

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. –II Corinthians 8:9

Exactly one year ago, the Year of St. Paul began. The Holy Father invited the whole Church to consider the contribution that the Apostle has made to the life of the Church. And the Pope called us to rejoice on the occasion of the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul’s birth.

How important is St. Paul in the plan of God? According to the Fathers of the Church, St. Paul was like a second Noah.

noe's arkIn ancient times, God chose Noah to build the ark which saved mankind from the flood. Noah did God’s will with obedient generosity.

St. John Chrysostom compared Paul to Noah with these words:

Paul did not place together the shafts to build an ark. Instead, in place of uniting tablets of wood, Paul composed letters, and thus dug out of the waters not two or three or five members of his own family, but the entire inhabited world that was about to perish.

The letters of St. Paul are like an ark that keeps us from drowning in the flood of our sins.

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the day when the Pauline Year comes to an end. Perhaps you are tired of hearing about St. Paul. I, for one, will be sorry to say goodbye to this Holy Year.

Last fall, some of us went on pilgrimage to Rome to visit the tomb of the Apostle Paul. And all of us have made some effort to focus on his life. We have considered his heroic courage, his unswerving devotion to Christ, and—above all—his tireless generosity.

Statue of St. Paul at his Basilica outside the walls of Rome
Statue of St. Paul at his Basilica outside the walls of Rome
Today our last Pauline reading of the Pauline Year is taken from his second letter to the Corinthians. In this passage, St. Paul urged the Greek Christians to send money to the Christians in Israel, where there was a famine.

It is fitting that this should be the reading with which we finish the Pauline Year, since St. Paul’s entire life was an act of untiring generosity.

Once the Lord called Paul to embrace the truth and serve the Gospel, he never looked back. His life became like a burning flame. His zeal for souls consumed everything.

Paul filled Turkey and Greece with the sweet aroma of Christ. Then the hand of Providence took him to the great city of Rome. During the persecution of Nero, St. Paul gave his life for the faith. When they beheaded Paul, fountains sprang up where his head hit the ground.

Here is how Pope St. Clement I summarized the generosity of the great Apostle:

Owing to envy and discord, Paul was obligated to show us how to obtain the prize of patience. Arrested seven times, exiled, stoned, he was the herald of Christ in the East and in the West, and for his faith, obtained a pure glory. After having preached justice in the whole world, and after having arrived to the corners of the West, he accepted martyrdom before the governors; thus he parted from this world and arrived to the holy place.

To St. Clement’s observations, Pope Benedict added this:

St. Paul’s patient endurance is the expression of his communion with the passion of Christ, of the generosity and constancy with which he accepted a long path of suffering.

St. Paul was motivated in everything he did by the mystery of the Incarnation. “The Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, became poor, so that by His poverty, you might become rich.”

The unfathomable richness of God was the subject of St. Paul’s constant meditation, even from his youth. Paul was transformed into a zealous Apostle of Christ while he was a young adult. He spent the years of his young adulthood meditating on the mystery of Christ, preparing himself for fruitful ministry in his later life.

St. Paul’s meditation always focused on this: Almighty God, who holds everything in His sway, stripped Himself of His glory for the sake of our salvation. To make up for our sins, the Creator became one of us and suffered the excruciating death of the cross.

mosaic-saint-paulThe Passion and death of Jesus Christ is the consummate act of generosity. It reveals to us the magnificent truth about God.

God is all-powerful–yes. He is perfectly just–yes. He is pure in every way–yes. But above all, God is generous.

God created us out of generosity. He saved us out of generosity. He leads us to heaven out of generosity.

St. Paul grasped this—that God had, out of perfect kindness, saved us from sin and death by sending His Son. And the Apostle grasped that this greatest of all gifts was meant not just for him, and not just for the Jews, but for the whole human race.

So St. Paul consecrated himself to this boundless and holy divine generosity. With joy, with reckless abandon, St. Paul spent his life preaching the gospel and drawing people to the love of Christ.

May each of us, according to the lot we have been given in life, do likewise. St. Paul, pray for us always!

3 thoughts on “Greetings and Goodbyes

  1. Well said! Hans Urs von Balthasar, in his little book “Credo,” says something to the effect that God’s omnipotence is nothing other than what is, for us, the unimaginable force of His self-surrender, the Father to the Son, the Son to the Father, the Holy Spirit to the Father through the Son. It is this omnipotence of self-surrender that makes possible both man’s creation and his Redemption in the perfect sacrifice of the Cross, the saving Mystery to which St Paul gives so eloquent a testimony in his words and in the self-surrender of his own life.

  2. I have two Masses scheduled for Father King, S.J. He often celebrated the late Sunday Mass at Georgetown University. I agree with you. He will be sorely missed!

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