First homily-I have NO agenda!
Today is the 1st aniversary of my serving here at Saint Teresa – However, I am nor preaching – we have Father Tony – from the Island – with us this week for the mission! So, here is my last year homily!
First thing first, I am delighted to be here – at Saint Teresa of Avila. Unfortunately, I also have to admit to all of you that I arrive to this great parish with no agenda!
Second, I am telling you the same words that Elizabeth Taylor told all her 7 husbands “I am not going to keep you long!” If you happen to know me from my years either at Saint Mary on the Hill, or Saint Frances Cabrini in Savannah, or Saint Anne in Columbus, I do not preach long! My mother told me after my ordination that if I cannot finish my homily in 10 minutes then two things happen: 1. I do not know what I am talking or 2. People do not know what I am talking about!
Father Martino Nguyen Ba-Thong (St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church – Grovetown, GA)
15th Ordinary – Year B – (2009)
I told you that I arrive here with NO agenda, I lied! Actually I have three items on my agenda!
1. To work with the staff and to assist father Michael to accomplish the vision he has for this parish.
2. To be with and for you!
3. And to preach the Gospel faithfully in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, whether it is convenience or inconvenience, politically correct or not!
I am honest with you that I do not come here to search for fame or honor! I do not come here to be the best priest, or the holiest one, or even to be the most handsome priest you ever met in you life! As I said, I am here to be with and for you! So my dear friends let me make it crystal clear to all of you, that my phone line is always available, my office door is always open! When you need me for any thing, call me! When you need someone to pray for you or your loved ones, contact me – That is what I do best!!! After the office hours, when you your loved ones are taking into the Emergency or dying, call me! I do not care what time it is, 3 or 5 in the morning – no problem! In the past 5 years of my priestly life, people had come up to me and said “I mom/dad just pass a way last night and I did not call you because I did not want to bother you.” You know what my dear friends; you are now bothering me, because you did not call me! You do not bother me when you call! Now, that does not mean you have the right call me in the middle of the night for everything that can wait until the next day!
So my dear friends, it is pretty simple, like the twelve in today Gospel, I too, am sent to “preach repentance, drive out many demons, anoint with oil many who are sick and cure them.” (Mk 6:13) That is what I am call to do and to be! Please help me to fulfill my call!
I am called to serve you, not because that I am better than anyone but just simply, because God had chosen me out of all my weaknesses and brokenness which you will come to know in the up coming years. Just like the 1st twelve and the people he had call in the Old Testament, God call you and me, the ordinary people to do extraordinary things, as long as we allow his will to be done!
Remember the man in the first reading today? He was an arborist. He ran a tree service. Amos’ Tree Trimming, Inc. He lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, just south of the border with the Northern Kingdom of Israel. There were a lot of professional prophets of his day, people who would prophesy for a fee. They even had a professional prophet association. It was the AFT (Association of Fortune Tellers) and AOQ (Assorted Other Quacks.) Amos wasn’t part of that scene. He worked in orchards. But God chose him, Amos, to deliver His Word and truth to the people of Bethel just over the border in the Northern Kingdom. Amaziel, the local authority, told Amos to shut up and get out, but Amos said he had no choice. “The lion has roared, who will not fear? God has spoken, who can but prophesy?” That’s Amos 3:8. So this ordinary man, Amos, became the vehicle of God’s truth.
My dear friends and faithful parishioners, I think you got my point. I ask you; I invited you to joint with us, the priests and staff at Saint Teresa, to be God’s vehicle. To allow God to use your TIME, and TALENTS. You cannot make excuses that you do not have talents, or gifts to do so. Because I am giving you a history of salvation in 30 seconds:
– When God needed a father for his people, he chose an old man: Abraham.
– When God needed a person to speak on behalf of his people, He chose a man who stuttered: Moses.
– When God needed a leader to lead his people, He chose a young, small boy: David
– When God needed a cornerstone to build his Church, He chose a man who denied him three times: Peter
– When God needed a witness to preach to the Gentiles, He chose a man who persecuted his Church: Saul of Tarsus, later named Paul!
– When God needed someone to be the Mother of His only Son, he chose an unknown and humble young 17 years old girl: Mary
– When God needs someone to gather His people, to proclaim the good news, to be his witness to the end of the world, to defend his Holy Name. He chooses you; he chooses me, and he chooses each and every one of us.
My dear friends, I urge you; I challenge you; and I dare you to stand up for God, to allow him to use you to be the vehicle for his salvation! Because, after you leave mass today, you can no longer say “I DON’T KNOW” you can only say “I DON’T CARE!”
Father Martino Nguyen Ba-Thong