Fr. McNeeley’s Homily – 6th Sunday of Easter

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Fr. Bill McNeeley
May 25, 2019 – 5:00PM
May 26, 2019 – 8:30AM & 11:00AM

Audio Recording

Astronomers at an Observatory in Australia Have been vexed for 17 years over a strange interference of wave particles called perytons. On New Year’s Day scientists installed a new receiver to determine the source of the signals. What could it be, extraterrestrials trying to communicate with us? No, it was the microwave oven in their break room. I can hear it now, “There it is again! Do you think its aliens trying to communicate with us?” “No, it’s Bob popping popcorn. It will go away in 4 1/2 minutes.” Sometimes we look to the stars for the answers to life’s mysteries, but sometimes the answer is much closer to home.

For us who call Jesus our Lord the answer to all of life’s questions as well as life’s joys and heartaches is as near to us as our own soul. Jesus is our constant companion in life, wherever we go and whatever we do, for better or worse, Christ is the answer. You have heard the saying, “We make our plans for the future, and God laughs.” That has happened to me many times in my ministry, and I guess it is why I must also announce that Bishop Stika has reassigned me as Pastor at Holy Ghost Parish in Knoxville effective July 15th of this year. I have mixed feelings, as I am sure you can imagine, but the Lord sends us where he needs us, and that is especially true for Catholic priests. Besides the unique needs of the parish there, another positive for me personally is that is where Sherri, my wife, attends Mass. Also, my commuting time will be cut by more than half, which is the least important factor in all this. Fr. Peter Iorio, whom some of you know has been appointed as pastor here. Fr. Collins has been appointed as pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Johnson City which means that he will trade places with Fr. Peter. Fr. Andres Cano, who has been resident here for a year will be the parochial associate and will celebrate the Spanish Mass. Once again, these changes are effective on Monday, July 15th.

I struggled for a few days with acceptance, but this past Thursday, I spent an hour at the Cathedral praying before the uncorrupted heart of St. John Vianney, who is the patron saint of priests. I don’t know what it was, but after a while, I felt at peace, and one of the things that helped was this Litany of Humility that was in the devotional booklet they had.

Lord Jesus. Meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. Amen.

Had I been given the choice I would have stayed put, but what I have leaned over the years is that the Lord seems to send me to parishes that need a lot of work. That being said, I begrudge nothing. I grew up in Norris in the Episcopal Church. I went to Episcopal seminary and served 15 years in that church until I finally figured out I was Catholic. Now I have been a Catholic priest for 12 years. I have the privilege of serving God’s one holy Catholic Church and I have a wife, children and grandchildren. I’m the luckiest guy in the world, and I begrudge nothing.

In his play Julius Cesar, Shakespeare said, “The fault dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.” My dear friends, so is the solution, so is the answer to all life’s joys and sorrows. It lies in our hearts, in our souls and in the love of Christ which through Word and Sacrament dwells in our hearts so richly.