Collaborative First Homily

by Fr. Joe & Fr. Jared
07/07/13

Fr. Jared and I wish to express our gratitude to Fr. Kevin and everyone at St. Philip for your very warm welcome this past weekend. In case you were unable to celebrate with us, we offer below a copy of our first homily, given as a collaborative effort. – Fr. Joe

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 30, 2013, Year C Readings
Rev. Joseph J. Garbarino, Rev. Jared Brogan
HOMILY

Fr. Joe

In a time before electricity, pipe organs required collaborators to pump wind into the instrument’s many pipes through bellows. The work of a Calcant or bellows-pumper was quite taxing. The Calcant’s efforts literally breathed life into the instrument. The action of the Calcant was an essential gift for the creation of beautiful music.

A story is told from this time about a famous organist who is delighted with his over three-hour performance. He announces to the enthusiastic congregation that he will play yet another musical piece. The organist’s fingers touch the keys and nothing happens. He says aloud, “I will now play!” With a flourish he presses the keyboard, silence. The organist, exasperated, shouts, “I said, I will now play!” From behind the organ comes the equally loud voice of the Calcant repeating, “Say we!”, “Say we!” Silence, and then the organist says, “We will now play” ….beautiful music is heard. Saying “we” acknowledges the relationship needed to create music.

Collaboration is essential to the organist and to the Calcant because they are in a mutually dependent give-and-take relationship. Saying “we” echoes our relationship with God and our relationship with one another. God reveals relationship, as Trinity, by saying “we” in the act of creation. God is our creator who animates us with the very breath of life. All of creation and our lives are a free, loving gift of God. We are given our lives, all that we have ever been and ever will be, as gift. Our lives are a graced gift of earthly abundance with an eternal significance. God invites us to collaborate in creating beautiful music in community. We share our gifts by saying “we” in our spiritual communion with God and in our lived communion with each other.

Our Sacraments empower us to connect our experience of God with choices and actions in our daily lives. Elisha was anointed to be a witness to God’s presence in the world. We are anointed through the sacrament of Baptism. We are entrusted to give service as the Christian community that cares the world. We like the prophets before us, go forth to proclaim the Good News that all creation and every person are graced with the dignity of God’s own providence. We hear God’s Word in Scripture. Scripture and Tradition continue to reveal the paths of sanctifying life. We learn wisdom by listening to one another to make the Gospel relevant. We discover the fullness of joy and peace through prayer and worship. We delight in the God who is closer to us than we are to ourselves. We live our deep gratitude by ministering to the world’s deep need.

We are called for freedom by Christ as brothers and sisters, equal in dignity, diverse in gifts, co-creators with God, guided by the Spirit to love all neighbors as ourselves. We are challenged to journey beyond the imaginary line that we draw between people, remembering that as God’s children when we say “we,” we mean all. Jesus gives us the example for our mission in today’s Gospel. He pursues dialogue with the Samaritan’s who represent the perceived enemy, the other, the different. Jesus witnesses to the unconditional mandate of God’s love that is not mere sentiment, but is committed to justice and peace. Saying we and living God’s mission involves a cost to ourselves as disciples. We follow the Christ who does not rest or look back in making God’s kingdom present right here and now.

God’s mission is challenging because it involves living what we profess. As companions on the journey we sometimes hesitate, falter and even fall. But as church, we discern how to help each other with the Spirit’s guidance to turn more fully toward the God who is already running toward us. We breathe deeply again forgiven, healed and empowered to play on – to play a new and even truer note with clarity and resonance.

Father Jared and I join you today, as your fellow Calcants, to unite our gifts with yours in continuing the beautiful music being created in this parish. Father Jared will now add a few notes to this score……………

Fr. Jared

Being a disciple of Jesus and being human is no easy task…especially today. Part of being human involves messing up…making mistakes…sinning. You may have seen this video on YouTube recently that went viral of a high school band performing the Star Spangled Banner. Up in the front row of the band was this young man playing the cymbals. Every few bars of the national anthem he would have to clash the cymbals. He was very intent on doing a good job. You could see it in his face. Well, at about the fifth clash, one of the cymbals fell from his hand. He was left dazed and confused. He didn’t know what to do. Should I pick it up? Should I leave it? He was visibly shaken. He eventually made a decision…he stood at attention and saluted the flag! The band kept playing and did so beautifully…albeit without the cymbals.

In the orchestra of life that Fr. Joe has been talking about, we each have a part to play…and it’s an important part. However, when we inevitably fail to do what it is that we ought, the band goes on…life goes on, and so does God’s interaction with us. Despite our faults, God comes to us to pick us up…to fill us back up with air. God operates through each of us as a matter of fact. We help one another. As priests we play a very unique role in allowing the grace of God to come to us through the sacraments. But each of you plays an active role in accepting that grace and sharing that experience with one another. God knows that we are frail human beings. He knows better than we know ourselves. All he asks of us is to say yes to him and to try our best to remain united with him…never turning back and keep moving forward. It’s easy to make excuses as the people in the gospel did. “Yes Jesus I want to follow you, BUT I have to do this or that.” We tend to be “enslaved” to different things…sin, habits, worldliness. Heed the advice of St. Paul: “Stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Together we can be the Church. Together we can be the Body of Christ. Together, even when we drop the instruments, we can make the beautiful music that God calls us to.

Fr. Joe

In order to keep the image of a Calcant and not to give the impression of a windbag, the conclusion is upon us. In these last moments, you are invited to think of the beautiful, good and true notes you have played and are playing in your home, family, work, parish, church, and world. What are the unique notes that God plays through your heart and actions? Gratefully reflect on ways you give forgiveness, healing, hope, encouragement. Thank God for your notes of service, sacrifice, honor, compassion, zeal. In many situations you bring, from discordant notes, Christ’s beautiful music of love.

We acknowledge how God is using our lives to create music in this graced world. All notes are needed; even one note missing makes us less. All notes are called to be played. Let us stand- Please Stand- and say “we”- “We”- as we breathe life into the instrument of God’s Church. Say “we” -“We” – to the music we are creating together as God’s people. Say “we”-“We” – all people are needed and welcomed in this place. Say “we”- “We”… (Organ plays.)