Sunday, October 10, 2021

Golden Nuggets

This weekend - thirty-three years ago - I was ordained as a Permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Joliet-in-Illinois by Bishop Joseph Imesch DD.  I remember being hesitant about ordination - what to do - where to go - what to say - in the end everything came off without a hitch.  Later that Saturday I served at the 5:00 PM Holy Mass and delivered my very first homily. That homily with slight variations was repeated that Sunday again at the 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM Masses.  As I preached the same message at successive Masses I grew slightly more comfortable and the third time around felt as if I had delivered a decent message.  Two comments stick with me now - thirty-three years later.  The first - great homily only 9 minutes long - obviously I would learn better to be concise rather than lengthy - people had others things to do on Sunday rather than spend all day in church.  The second was from a lawyer friend who had considered becoming a priest and had spent a fair amount of time in Scripture study.  In regards to the Gospel which we heard again this weekend (Matthew 19:24)  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.I do not remember exactly what I said back then - the significant point was that my friend told me I had presented to him and the parishioners a - nugget - a thought on that verse that he had never considered in all of his years of scripture study.  I have preached hundreds of homilies since that day in different churches here domestically and internationally and in each and everyone I attempt to leave a useful nugget with those who have ears to hear.  Not everyone will hear the same message - all of us process information - stories - words - through various - different lens.  I use to laugh when my twin would tell stories of our childhood - very often I would turn to him and ask him - whose house did you live in - his version often like night and day from my recollections.  That does not say he was wrong or confused - rather his mind remembered - processed information slightly different than mine.  My goal - share the Word of God - in simple relatable terms - leaving nuggets as I preach. 

The "Other Twelve" Permanent Deacons Ordained Oct. 8, 1988

Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle - who was he kidding - or was he? Most people will think of a sewing needle when they hear that statement. Someone living at the time of Jesus more likely would have thought of the vey narrow passageway through the walls surrounding the village - openings in a wall that any person could easily walk through whereas a camel could - only if pushed and shoved after removing their load that they carried. Devested of that load with one person in front pulling while another in back was pushing would often be able to get a tall bulky animal through that "eye". The message from Jesus - unload ourselves of our burdens - obligations - our wealth - anything we carry on our shoulders - to free us up - to accept His gift of forgiveness - love - salvation. Then - only then - could we enter the kingdom of God.  To my brothers ordained in 1988 - Happy Anniversary of Ordination - may each of you as you continue in your ministry as deacon leave nuggets wherever you go.  For the rest of you - may our efforts as deacons be a constant blessing for each of you.

Deacon Dale