Live More Purposefully – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily July 21, 2019

“Not too many years ago a high school was having parent teacher conferences and it happened that this one father came in to visit with the teacher and as they were sitting there talking he became very emotional and just anxious and then he admitted, he said ‘You know I’m very interested in my son and how he’s doing in school, but the fact is my wife and my four kids left me this afternoon.’  And then he broke down further and as he sat there he said really a sad thing. He said, ‘You know I worked so hard for all the things that I could dream I could give me wife and my children. I’m a building contractor. I work 16 hours a day and it’s all because I wanted to give them so much, but I’m a failure because I failed to give them what they really needed, things that money would never buy: The presence of a father, the love and the support that a husband should be.’  He recognized the challenge and obviously it is so easy for us to have misplaced priorities within our lives. It is so easy for us to get so tied up in the day in and day out to fail to realize, what is it really all about? We are so busy living that sometimes we don’t think about the purpose of life itself. We are so busy providing that sometimes we are not sure about what we should really provide. That is a real challenge and I think that’s the challenge that Martha had in the Gospel today.  Martha was very very concerned about Jesus having a wonderful meal. She wanted a fantastic meal for Jesus, but she didn’t realize that Jesus didn’t come for a free meal, he came to be with friends and that’s what Mary realized is that Jesus wanted to spend time with her and with the other ones and that’s what Mary did as she sat there at the feet of Jesus.

Probably most of us are Martha’s.  We’re more about activity. We’re more about doing things, accomplishing things, of being successful in whatever our undertakings might be, but we also have that Mary side that needs to balance out the Martha.  I think maybe years ago that was more easily done within families than it is today. I was thinking about when I was a teenager if Jesus had been coming to our house, the first thing would have been that my mother would have gone into her Martha overdrive.  She would have had the house cleaned, she would have had the china out, the silver polished. She would have had everything taken care of. She was a true Martha, but also she would have made sure that while Jesus was there that he wasn’t just well fed, but that he was well loved, to take time for people, to take time.  She taught us kids to be more aware of people, of trying to know where they’re coming from and what they’re about and no, that’s not always easy, but the Martha and the Mary balance is so very important and I think probably it was easier for people of my parents generation and maybe even my own generation than it is for families today.  I really in a sense feel some sorrow for families today. There are so many expectations that are out there. There are so many demands. There are so many activities. There’s so much being pulled in this way and that way and expectations are there and they really can cause us to lose a sense of what’s our real priorities? What is this really about?  What type of family life do we have? What choices and decisions do we need to make as a family to be the family we want to be rather than living up to the expectations of our friends or others?

Recently I heard about some parents who were castigated by some other parents because they missed their child’s ballgame.  Gosh, what a terrible sin that was. How stupid, but there are so many pressures, there’s so many expectations and I think it’s really hard to balance out our life and to keep priorotities in line to keep things in perspective of what is really important and lasting and what is temporary.  What is the stuff of life and what is the stuff truly of love? They can be very much two different things.

I remember hearing the story about a young man who was in the service in the second World War.  He was stationed in Saipan and they had some R&R time there and so he and some of his buddies they went out and they went swimming in this one kind of secluded place, that it was beautiful crystal-clear water and you’d walk up to the water he said you’d look down and you could see ten-twelve feet right down to the bottom, but he said when we got in and started swimming around and everything, suddenly all the sand and the dirt and everything came up and the water became very clouded, so you could only see about a foot down, but he said then next day we’d come back and again, crystal-clear, everything could be seen very very clearly and the fact is our minds are a lot like that agitated water.  We have so many things going through our minds, we have so many distractions, we have so many concerns and worries that we begin to lose focus, to lose the clarity that we really need to have within our life of what our life is truly about and what is most important of all and in those cases I think we need to do what Mary did, to take time to be quiet at the feet of Jesus, to take time for the Lord, to take time away from all the business and all the activities and to spend time with the Lord and certainly as Catholics we have many ways of doing that and Sunday Mass is one of those, but it’s in a sense only minimal because we need more personal quiet time and maybe it’s praying the daily Rosary or maybe it is Eucharistic Adoration.  I really wish that every family in this Parish would come to Eucharistic Adoration and yes, someday we will have a larger Eucharist Adoration chapel. Can’t tell you when, but we will have one, but to take time, even if it’s only fifteen minutes to take fifteen, thirty minutes, an hour to spend time in the presence of the Lord, face to face with the Lord who is there 24/7 to share with us in our life, to journey with us, to help us to see greater clarity in what our life and purpose it truly is.

Another thing, and this is a very simple prayer.  It’s for people who maybe have kinda lost that sense of personal prayer within their life, but it’s just a simple thing that will take you three minutes.  Now that is less time than you spend watching TV ads for fifteen minutes of programming. Three minutes and the first minute you take a look at your day and this is an examination of conscious for the night, you take a look at that day and you say, ‘What was good?  What was the high point today? What really was a good time that I had today?’ And to say, ‘Thank you Lord.’ To share that with the Lord. Then the second minute is to take a look at the day and say, ‘Where was the low point of the day? Where was it that I really wasn’t my best self?  Where was it that gossiped about someone or I hurt someone or I yelled at the kids or I talked back to my parents?’ What was the low point of the day and then to talk about that with the Lord and to ask the Lord’s forgiveness and healing and then thirdly to think about tomorrow. What grace, what strength do I need for tomorrow?  What do I need to have from God in order to live this life more purposefully and more beautifully and to take that last moment then to pray for one particular grace or strength or help. Three minutes, but it can transform our life. It can bring us to a much deeper relationship with Christ Jesus. We are all called to develop that Mary that is within us.  We all have that draw to listen to the Lord to go to the deeper part of our life, to live more purposefully, to live with a greater sense of clarity and to realize yes, what are the things that money can buy, but more importantly, what are the things that money can’t buy that I most need to give to those I love?”