An Extraordinary Life – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily October 11, 2020

“The radicalness of that parable today is probably lost on most of us because we are so used to the fact that we are called into the kingdom of God. That parable was addressed particularly to the Jewish leaders, the ones who were the inheritors of the covenant promises that invitation to be part of the banquet of eternal life given through Christ Jesus, but unfortunately so many of those who were the natural heirs, the ones, the invitees to that banquet refused to come. They became so preoccupied that they refused to respond to that invitation and that is representative of so many of the Jewish people who did not accept Christ Jesus and the power of His death and resurrection and so it is the ones on they byways and the roadways, the poor, the afflicted who are invited into the kingdom and that really represents all of us that we have been invited into the kingdom of God into that eternal banquet that begins here, but extends into eternal life and so that’s a radical statement for the Jewish people, but also for ourselves and for the invitation that we have, but at the time there at the banquet the wedding garment was provided by the host, but the one individual decides not to wear the wedding garment and therefore is rejected from the banquet which is probably the more important lesson for us today is that many are invited, but few are chosen. The few chosen are the ones who choose to respond to the invitation to a new life in Christ Jesus and to be transformed by the gift of that life. That wedding garment is a symbol of new life. I’m reminded of a story a friend of mine who is a priest said happened to him at a wedding not too long ago where a young boy came up after the wedding and said, ‘Father, why does the bride wear all that big, white, fluffy dress and all dressed up and everything?’ And he said, ‘Well son it’s the bride’s happy day that she is dressed so beautifully in that white dress and it’s a symbol of life and joy and the happiness that she has.’ And the little boy said, ‘And why is the groom wearing black?’ He said, ‘You’ll have to ask him.’ But the wedding garment is that reminder of the eternal life that we are promised and to me, and there’s many interpretations of what that wedding garment is, but the best one from my understanding, it is faith expressed in love. That’s the garment that we must wear, the attitude of life that faith is a gift from God, but it is a gift that must be personally accepted and must be lived out expressed in the actions of our life and so as St. Paul reminds us in Galatians, ‘It is faith expressed in love that brings about eternal salvation.’ And so we are reminded of our own call to live continually that faith expressed in love.

Yesterday there was a beatification of a 15 year old young man. His name was Carlo Acutis and he just died in 2006 and probably most of us are not aware of Carlo Acutis, but he’s a wonderful example and I invite all of the young people here today to listen to this because Carlo is a wonderful example for all of us, but particularly for young people. He was a typical boy. He grew up in a family that really was not religious, but he learned about Jesus from his Polish nanny and the preschool that he went to and he had a tremendous personal love for Jesus, but he loved to play sports. He loved soccer. He loved his computer. He was a gamer. He did all kinds of normal teenage, childhood things. He did that regularly. He just loved life and loved his friends, but most of all he loved Jesus. He received his first communion when he was 7 years old even though his parents were not even going to Church at that time, but he desired it so much and he went to Mass and communion almost every day for the rest of his short life and he loved computers and he learned computer programming and while he was a gamer he restricted himself to only 1 hour a week for gaming. The rest of the time on the computer he used other ways of trying to communicate with friends, but also he put together a whole series of 117 Eucharistic miracles that had occurred over the years and so he used his computer skills to try to share his faith with others and he reached out in a special way to the needy. He lived in Milan and there was a lot of homelessness there and he used to take food to the poor and he used his allowance to buy blankets for those who were homeless and cold. He just lived a very much normal life of a young person, but it was an extraordinary life of a young person because he had that deep faith in Christ. He had that desire to live and to share that faith with others. As I mentioned, yesterday he was beatified on his way to canonization. He only died in 2006, so he was at the age of 15 and he died of Leukemia three days after being diagnosed, but again what a tremendous example of someone who accepted that wedding garment that Christ offered. That life of faith lived with love. He’s an example certainly for young people, but for all of us that challenge to recognize our own call that yes, we are invited into the banquet of God’s kingdom. It is but for us to accept that gift in faith and in love.”