Announce or Renounce – Dcn. Ken Billinger

Dcn. Ken Billinger’s Homily August 30, 2020

“To renounce our faith or the denounce our faith, that’s the question for this morning. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus says for those who wish to save their lives they will lose it, but for those who lose their lives for my sake will find it. In 1943 during WWII there was a young seminarian who was in the throes of the war in the European theater and this young seminarian somehow eventually became ordained a priest and was able to serve his fellow military comrades in arms, but also serve those many innocent victims of war. During this time he was persecuted very much. He was threatened with death, but he persisted. The interesting thing about it was that there was some divine intervention certainly because Heinrich Himmler who was second in command of the Nazi party, Hitler’s right hand man and the architect of the Holocaust actually allowed him to serve others as a priest. It’s interesting because he went through tons of persecution, but he continued to persist. In fact there’s a book out called, ‘In the Shadow of His Wings’ about this German priest named Fr. Gereon Goldmann, but what about us? What about us living our faith? We all are called to a vocation and that’s a husband, a wife, priest, deacon, but first and foremost we are called to a vocation that’s the same for everyone and that’s a call to holiness. So do we announce our Catholic faith or do we renounce it? Now I’m not talking necessarily about being martyred for the faith although there are many more martyrs today than there were in the early Church and throughout Christendom, but when we pick and choose what we like about our faith, so called ‘Cafeteria Catholics’, are we then renouncing our faith because we really not embracing it totally?

I know when I was a few years younger, a few years ago, not that long ago actually I believe I renounced our faith because people would talk about Catholics and I wouldn’t defend our faith. I was too scared. I was just going to step back and not cause a conflict. Do we renounce our faith or announce our faith when we do things day to day. With the elections coming up do we announce our faith or renounce our faith in our decisions at the poles? In the other part of the Gospel today Jesus rebukes Peter. It’s interesting because just last week in the Gospel we heard Jesus say, ‘Peter you are a rock and on this rock I will build my Church.’ and just a few verses later in Matthew’s Gospel we see Jesus rebuking Peter, right? Peter said, ‘Lord this can’t happen to you.’ and Jesus says, ‘Get behind me Satan! You’re thinking as humans do not as God does.’ and in a few minutes we’ll have the opportunity to receive the Eucharist, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ and oftentimes I think Catholics take that for granted. We sometimes really don’t think about what we are receiving. We think more in human terms than in God terms. We put our limits on God knowing God can change that during transubstantiation into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. Many of you remember Fr. Alessandro who was our associate here a number of years back. He’s now moved back to Italy. We miss him, but he had a beautiful analogy at one of the noon masses and he talked about the transfiguration which we celebrated just a few weeks ago and in that he said during the transfiguration Christ was changed on the outside. He became dazzling white, but Christ did not change on this inside. He remained the same. If we look at transubstantiation during the Eucharistic prayer, we see the wafer and we see the wine. It doesn’t change in appearance on the outside, but it’s changed on the inside becoming the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Do we think of that in human terms or do we look at what God can do for us and what God’s ability is? We can not put our limits on God, so if we announce our faith it changes our lives. If we announce our faith, it changes the lives of others. If we announce our faith it could change the world.”