Fr David Baunach

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2023.01.29 Homily

I want to begin with something I've never mentioned in a homily before: video games. I grew up playing video games, and I still play a few from time to time. One of the games I played a lot, especially in college, was Team Fortress 2, a multiplayer first person shooter. Basically you get assigned to a team with a bunch of other players, pick your character, and fight against another team to accomplish an objective. Picking your character was important, each one had certain strengths and weaknesses, and a team needed the right mix to be successful. There where 9 different characters: the Scout, the Soldier, the Pyro | the Demoman, Heavy Weapons Guy, the Engineer | the Medic, the Sniper, and the Spy. You'd start a match, and whenever a player would die, they could choose a new character before they came back, so the mix would constantly change over the course of match, each team trying to adapt to the strategy of the other. This is called a "class system" and it's popular in many first person shooters. It adds another layer of complexity to a game, another level of strategy to have to balance your team against the other.

In a way, Jesus in the Gospel is offering us a chance to choose our character: The Poor in Spirit, the Mourner, the Meek | Hungry and Thirsty for Righteousness, the Merciful, the Clean of Heart | the Peacemaker, the Persecuted, the Insulted. A chance to choose the blessedness we desire: the Kingdom, Comfort, Inheritance | Satisfaction, Mercy, the Vision of God | the Child of God, Heaven, the Great Reward.

If we strive for holiness, we will cycle through all these characters at some point or other. We will mourn over our sins. We will show mercy to our fellow sinners. We will make peace between brothers and sisters. We will be persecuted and insulted. We need to cycle through them all to become saints. God needs them all to build the Kingdom, they each have their part to play to balance out the Church.

I'm going to give some homework today: go through this list of Beatitudes. Find one in particular you want to follow. And seek, for that blessedness.


2023.01.22 Homily

I wonder, if when Jesus heard that John was arrested, he thought about his own future arrest and murder. The news seems to have catapulted him into action. He had been baptized by John, tempted in the desert, and now, he begins his ministry in a whirlwind of activity, calling his followers, preaching and healing and casting out demons.

St Peter Damian, a Doctor of the Church, has this to say on the subject: "Nobody can fight properly and boldly for the Faith is he clings to a fear of being stripped of earthly possessions." Peter and Andrew, James and John, they apparently did not have that fear, they left it all. Jesus himself did not have that fear, he had already left everything, and would live on charity throughout his earthly ministry.

The whirlwind could not begin, the triumph of the Faith, could not even take it's first few steps, until the "fear of being stripped of earthly possessions" had been overcomed. That is the lesson of John the Baptist: preach the truth, and you're likely to end up in jail, and be murdered by a tyrant. The exact same thing happens to Jesus. The exact same things happens to the Apostles.

The whirlwind could not begin, the triumph of the Faith, could not even take it's first few steps, until the "fear of being stripped of earthly possessions" had been overcomed. That is the lesson of John the Baptist: preach the truth, and you're likely to end up in jail, and be murdered by a tyrant. The exact same thing happens to Jesus. The exact same things happens to the Apostles.


2023.01.15 Homily

Three Things. For the first, we read in the book of Exodus: "The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month will stand at the head of your calendar; you will reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every family must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a household is too small for a lamb, it along with its nearest neighbor will procure one, and apportion the lamb's cost in proportion to the number of persons, according to what each household consumes. Your lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You will keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole community of Israel assembled, it will be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They will take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They will consume its meat that same night, eating it roasted with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or even boiled in water, but roasted, with its head and shanks and inner organs. You must not keep any of it beyond the morning; whatever is left over in the morning must be burned up. This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you will eat it in a hurry. It is the LORD's Passover."

The second thing, is the barn in which Jesus was born in Bethlehem. There is a theory, that he was born in the temple barns in Bethlehem: the place where the lambs were raised for sacrifice. Specially trained shepherds watched over flocks of sheep bred to produce offspring without blemish. When the lambs were born, they were inspected, and if they were fit for sacrifice, they were wrapped in swaddling clothes, and raised with the utmost care. And that is the clue that Jesus was born there. These swaddling clothes would not be in other barns, for Jesus to be wrapped in them, means he was born in this special barn, where the lambs for sacrifice were also born.

So for the third thing, we return to the Gospel: "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." In birth, marked for death. By his stripes, we are healed. By his death, we are reborn. Our sins forgiven, in the slaughter of one lamb.


2023.01.08 Homily

The magi followed a star. And this should give us pause. After all, how many of us look at the stars regularly enough to notice a new star appearing.

Really, it was the same then as it is today. At that point in time they had scholars who paid attention to the stars, just as we have astronomers who do the same thing. Keeping track of patterns, noticing new arrivals, or even when stars fade away for various reasons.

These magi were those type of scholars; the stars were what they studied, and they had seen something out of the ordinary. There are many options of what they might have seen: a planet rising in a particular part of the zodiac, the appearance of a comet, a star going supernova. Whatever they saw, they determined it corresponded with a prophecy about the arrival of the King of the Jews. And they began a journey to bring him homage.

Standing on the outside and looking in, this process can seem kind of ridiculous. Seeing a sign in the stars, and leaving for a distant land, hoping to find a newborn king. They were stepping out in faith. Whatever they saw, must have been compelling.

Where do we look for signs? If we are not looking to the stars, then where?

It is a question we must ponder. God wants to speak with all of us, but if we do not listen and look, His words and signs, will go unnoticed.


2023.01.01 Homily

We need to have a little history lesson to understand the meaning for today's feast of Mary, the Mother of God. And this complicated lessons starts in the middle of the third century AD, when the Greek term for Mother of God: Theotokos, starts to appear. Mary is Theotokos, the Mother of God, because her son Jesus is one person who is both God and man, divine and human. This did not become formally defined by the Church until the Council of Ephesus in the year 431, but the term was in use at least one hundred years earlier.

One thing to know about Church history, is we usually don't formally define things, unless a heresy comes around first and makes it necessary. In this case, the heresy was Nestorianism, started by the archbishop of Constatintinople: Nestorius. He denied Mary the title of Theotokos, and to do so, had to split apart the divinity and humanity of Jesus, so that Mary was only the mother of the humanity of Jesus, the Christotokos. This direct attack upon the hypostatic union, which holds that Jesus is fully divine and fully human, was the main problem, but out of it grew the problem of seeing Mary as just the mother of a part of Jesus. Which is another thing to note: get one things wrong in Christianity, and other things will go wrong as well. Error begets more error.

To wrap up the history lesson: Nestorianism was growing in popularity, it was easier for people to grasp than the intricacies of the hypostatic union, and so the Council of Ephesus was convened. Nestorius was declared a heretic, removed from being archbishop of Constatinople, the hypostatic union of Christ was reaffirmed, and Mary was declared Theotokos.

Now, what to do with all this information? As our Gospel says: Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. It is an act of humility, to accept that some aspects of our faith, are difficult to comprehend and understand. But then it is an act of courage, to at least attempt to understand them. To do the research, to learn, and to keep all those things, reflecting on them in our hearts.


Christmas 2022 Homily

There are two lessons that Christmas teaches us.
The first, is pay attention to the small things.
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We have a tiny newborn, born to insignificant parents, in a backwater town, on an ordinary day.
But that tiny newborn, was the King of the Universe.
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His first visitors where shepherds, a class of men ignored and avoided.
And he led a life so ordinary, that besides an inscedent at the temple, nothing more is said about it until Jesus began his public ministry.
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When we look for God, we do well to look to the small things.
The cry of a child.
The plea of a beggar.
The streets of a small town.
The tiny whispering voice.
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But then comes the second lesson: be on the lookout for angels!
For God comes to us as an infant, but that arrival, was announced by heavenly messangers.
Terrifying supernatural beings of light.
Appearing to Mary and Joseph.
Appearing to those shepherds.
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God breaks into our world in tiny and seemingly insignificant ways.
But the spiritual significance of those little actions, is invaluable.
That is why the angels show up: to give some indication that what is happening, is beyond our comprehension.
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May we take with us these Christmas lessons:
To look for God in the tiny and insignificant events of daily life.
And prepare yourselves, to see angels!