When I first moved out to the Terre Haute Deanery for my first ever stint as a pastor, I was tasked with having to finish off the closing of Holy Rosary parish in Seelyville.
The North Star is located almost directly on the line the Earth spins around and so it always is in the same place in the sky and was used by sailors and others as a reliable way to orient themselves.
In my final homily at Holy Rosary in Seelyville before the parish was merged into Annunciation, I encouraged the parishioners of Holy Rosary in Seelyville to keep their eyes fixed on the only True North Star, Jesus in the Eucharist, and if they did that, they would be able to weather whatever storms came their way, including the closing of their parish.
I have tried to follow my own advice as much as possible. Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist has been a North Star, a fixed point that I know is true, and I have kept my eyes fixed on Jesus throughout my time in seminary and the priesthood. There has been a lot that has happened in my priesthood, a lot of the things from my priesthood have been good beyond my wildest dreams, and some of it has been difficult, but all of the things that have happened have been a blessing to me.
Tonight, the Church asks that the homily reflect on 3 related topics, the priesthood, the Eucharist and service to the poor and our friends.
Right after the homily, I will wash the feet of 12 parishioners as a reminder of what Jesus did before the First Mass. At that First Mass he also instituted the priesthood and also, for the first time turned bread and wine into Himself.
It is pretty easy to see how these three themes of the priesthood, the Eucharist and service are related. In the priesthood, we are called to die to ourselves. This “death to self” is actually sometimes easier in big ways than it is in small ways that no one will ever see. In both arenas, the public and the private, the priest is called to die to self, and so is every person who is baptized.
Dying to our own desires and wants; dying to how we want to spend our free time; all those ways of dying, like Jesus’ death, bears fruit in other people’s lives because when we lay our wants to the side, we more easily recognize the ways we can serve others. And Jesus says when we serve others, we also serve Him.
May Jesus in the Eucharist be a North Star for all of us, a point that we fix our eyes and hearts on, and, in walking toward Jesus, also imitate His laying down His life, so we may share in His Resurrection