The newly ordained Deacon Michael Tan has kindly provided Catholic Outlook with his first homily as a deacon, preached over the weekend at St Patrick’s Parish, Guildford.
Deacon Michael will serve the parish community of St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish, Kenthurst.
Homily for the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B 2021 at St Patrick’s Parish, Guildford
Readings: Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34
Our response to the psalm today reminds us that it is always good to give thanks to God.
Related article: Newly ordained deacons to be instruments of God’s love.
As many at St Patrick’s Guildford are aware, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, ordained me as a deacon at St Patrick’s Cathedral on the Solemnity of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on 11 June 2021.
I have much to be thankful for.
Yet, at the same time, my ordination date would have been the 100th birthday of my late mother-in-law, as well as the third anniversary of my father’s death – sorrow and joy goes together in our salvation history. We may give thanks in times of sorrow, knowing that the joy of the Kingdom of God will come – our faith tells us that our sorrow will be transformed through the grace of God into the joy of the Kingdom, the joy of the new life that comes from our resurrection faith.
We have now re-entered Ordinary time, after having journeyed through the discipline of Lent, then the joy and celebration of Easter, and then Pentecost, and the coming of the Holy Spirit who sends us, the people of God all, on mission as the presence of Jesus for the poor, the needy, and the marginalised in our society. We then celebrated the Feasts of the Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi before entering this weekend into the in-between time leading up to Advent, and then Christmas this year.
This in-between time is ordinary time – it means that we celebrate the mysteries of our faith in ordinary ways. We are still called to live lives of faith, hope and love in the ordinary circumstances of our lives – whether at home, work, in our communities, etc.
Ordinary time does not mean ‘nothing happens’ – ordinary does not mean trivial. Instead, it means that our call to give thanks to God becomes immersed in our day-to-day lives.
We give thanks for the little things as much as we give thanks for the big things.
We give thanks in good times as well as times when we are struggling in our lives.
We give thanks whatever the circumstances of our lives, because that is what Jesus did.
Last Sunday, we celebrated Corpus Christi – the feast where Jesus took ordinary bread and wine, gave thanks and blessed the bread and wine, transforming bread and wine into His Body and Blood. The ordinary becomes the extra-ordinary, the food we eat and the drink we drink becomes the real presence of Jesus for us who enter into communion with Him through giving thanks.
We can also reflect on this theme in our Gospel today. The mustard seed, like all parables, can have multiple levels of meanings. If we look at the theme of giving thanks, the mustard seed of giving thanks may be small, but it grows through the grace of God into something marvellous, and beyond our wildest dreams.
Returning to my ordination on Friday night, it was the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart – Jesus, true God and true Man, invites us to meditate on His Sacred Heart – the true heart of God just as it is the true heart of a man, Jesus.
I will forever thank God for the grace of my ordination – to give thanks to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, true God and true Man.
I will now share a story with you – There was once a woman, whose father was on life support in Intensive care after a car accident. One day, the doctors came to her, and said that her father’s condition had deteriorated, and they discussed with her turning off the life-support. At the same time, there was another man with a heart condition that required a heart transplant.
So, after discussing with her family, the family consented to allowing her father’s heart to be transplanted into this other man.
She kept in touch with this man over the years, and when the time came for her to get married, this man, who had her father’s heart beating within him, was invited to give her away at her wedding.
So, even though the circumstances of her father’s death was truly a time of suffering and grief, in allowing her father to give life to this other man, it opened the way for a time of thanksgiving for both families beyond the wildest dreams of this woman and her family.
In Jesus, it is always good to give thanks to God, for the Heart of God and the Heart of a man have come together in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.