Thursday, December 24, 2015

Come Let Us Adore Him!

Christmas Eve 2015
Christ the King Church Topeka
24 December 2015
Daily Readings

O Come let us adore Him!  Christ the Lord!

Why are you here tonight?  Have you come to adore the Lord?  What does it mean for us to adore our Lord?  My dearest friends, on this most holy night, coming to adore the Lord Jesus can only mean one thing. It means that we have come tonight - each one of us - to fall in love again!  It means that we have come tonight - each one of us - confessing that we have fallen out of love with God and each other, confessing that we need this night - each one of us - to fall in love again.  If you have come to Church tonight for any other reason that to fall madly, completely, hopelessly in love with God, then you are in the wrong place!  For the scene of Bethlehem that we contemplate together tonight is way too absurd for any kind of lukewarm response from us.  The biggest and most invincible person imaginable, the one through whom everything was made, the one before whom the entire universe is but a speck of dust, the one who doesn't need any one of us for anything - that person shows his ultimate power in allowing Himself to be made small.  Irresistibly small.  Helplessly small - begging us to hold Him and take care of Him.  Our Lord at Christmas desperately wants to break through our fears and indifference.  He shows tonight that He is ridiculously in love with each of us and everything it means to be a human person, especially our weaknesses.  Knowing that we have an amazing capacity to resist love and to fall out of love and to fear love, even rejecting the depth of His love revealed on the cross, Christ comes as a baby at Christmas, begging our love, pleading that if He comes among us poor, naked and helpless that we may no longer fear God. Do not be afraid, the angel told Mary.  Do not be afraid, the angel told Joseph.  Do not be afraid, the angel told the shepherds.  Do not be afraid of this baby. God is desperately in love with you.  Yes you!  He loves every circumstance of your life exactly where you are this Christmas. Do not be afraid to allow Him to be born in your heart tonight, and if you have come tonight to do anything less than to fall madly, completely and hopelessly in love with God tonight, so much so that after tonight you can never be the same, then you are in the wrong place!  Come, let us adore Him!  Jesus Christ our Lord!

Tonight we fall in love with God more than ever, and we come to rediscover what it means to be a human person.  For not only have we fallen out of love with God, we also confess tonight that we have forgotten who we are.  Our smart phones make us capable of so much more, and we are busier than ever, but we are horrible at keeping things simple.  We are worse and worse at communicating with God in prayer and having intimate, personal and spiritual conversations with each other.  We are less capable of falling in love, being in love and staying in love, and making and keeping promises to God and each other!.  We have forgotten that to be a human person is to be known and loved and desired beginning at our weakest point.  We don't become persons by getting big and smart and important - we do not become persons by gaining the freedom and intelligence to create our own reality and the meaning of our own existence.  We do not become more human by pretending that we do not need God!  No, we become persons by remembering where we came from, and by finding a way to remain small and poor and vulnerable.  We become persons only insofar as we remain like children, by keeping things simple, and by entering with awe and wonder into the great adventure of discovering reality and who we are rather than giving into the temptation of trying to manufacture or control it! Man has forgotten how much He needs God - and by giving into the agnosticism of the day we are making ourselves miserable.  Man needs God - not as a slave needs a master, but as each one of us needs to be known and desired and loved at each moment of our life to reach our highest destiny and happiness.  Love is man's origin, love is his constant calling, and love is his perfection in heaven!  And only God can know us, desire us and cherish us in the deepest parts of our soul, where we cannot love or change ourselves.  Man needs God - this Christmas cannot pass with our giving into the pride and laziness of pretending we can manufacture the meaning of our own existence.  It's a lie that makes our world increasingly miserable.  Tonight we come to remember who we are, and if we remain like a baby - poor, and vulnerable and dependent upon God and each other, we will always be able to realize the meaning of our life - that for which we were created - to fall in love, to be in love and to stay in love.

When we remember who we are and fall in love again, we participate as well in the remaking of our poor world from the inside out.  Tonight is a night chock full of hope! The sign of a baby born of a Virgin mother is THE SIGN that a new creation has dawned on the earth, a creation stronger and meant to last longer than the first creation of everything out of nothing by our virgin Father! Jesus who alone has the power to recreate our poor world, makes himself as small as possible, being born through a tiny, insignificant mother, with complete vulnerability and poverty, at the darkest hour of the darkest night, adored at first only by the most uneducated and mangiest of shepherds, to show us that our world is being remade beginning with the weakest.  Jesus walks every second of his earthly life in perfect humility, always taking the lowest place and preferring the poor, the weakest and most neglected, the greatest sinners, to show us that the recreation of our world will follow a different path.  For the first creation of everything from nothing began big but will be reduced to nothing.  It started in goodness but has been touched by evil.  It started with life but will end in death.  But the new creation is different.  It starts small but ends big.  It starts weak but ends strong.  It starts in poverty but ends in riches. It starts with sinners but ends with saints.  It embraces death, but rises to everlasting life.  Caesar's kingdom that seemed so intimidating when Jesus was born is now gone, as will every kingdom that does not belong to Christ. But Jesus' kingdom that started with nothing is still gaining strength, and His kingdom celebrates with exceeding joy throughout the whole world each Christmas.  Whenever you choose the path of sacrificial love you participate with Jesus in building this kingdom that will last forever.  Do not fear or give into discouragement regarding the evils that threaten our world and our lives and our souls.  Choose to love, no matter what, and the hope of Christmas will continue to grow until the enemies of evil and sin and death are destroyed forever!

All that would be enough for tonight - falling in love, remembering who we are, accepting our mission to build with Christ a kingdom of love, truth and peace that will last forever, but those three things are not the final and full meaning of Christmas! Christmas takes its name not from the birth that took place in Bethlehem, but from the birth about to take place on this altar.  For as small as Jesus made Himself at Bethlehem, He makes Himself much smaller, and more vulnerable, and more beautiful to fall in love with, as He allows Himself to be born on this altar.  We fall in love with Jesus tonight not just by remembering Bethlehem, but in encountering Bethlehem becoming real for me at Christ's Mass.  It is through Christ's Mass that with Joseph we allow Jesus to be born under our roofs, and with Mary allow Jesus then to be born in the deepest recesses of our hearts.  The precise and original meaning of Christmas is what changes in our lives when we receive the Eucharist at Christ's Mass.  Let's put the Mass back in Christmas this year!  Let us recognize the richness of our faith, and confess that Christmas makes no sense at all without Christ's Mass.  Let us be present to the reality that Mary, the mother of our Church, is more excited for this Christmas than she was for the first Christmas, for what is happening tonight, yes even here in Topeka, Kansas - is more dramatic than what happened in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, if any of us, yes if even just one of us, humbly accepts Jesus' desperate plea to be born in our hearts.

Jesus is begging us to receive Him worthily in tonight's Mass.  Do not be afraid, my dearest friends, of this Christ who once came among us as a helpless baby, but who comes to you now - yes you - even more helplessly at Christ's Mass.  This is the meaning of Christmas - right here, right now!  The stage is set now for you - yes you - to receive the Eucharist with greater devotion than ever.  If you resist Him tonight, can you honestly say that you will ever receive Him?  I beg you!  Do not let this Christmas moment pass with fear or indifference.  Do not be afraid to fall helplessly, desperately and completely in love with God tonight, so much so that your life will never be the same.

Now is the time for Christ's Mass!  This most irresistible of babies begs YOU

to hold him now, and allow Him to reach a place in your life where you have never let Him be born before!

Come, let us adore Him - Christ the Lord!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

LeRoy Brungardt Funeral Mass

LeRoy Brungardt Funeral
18 December 2015

I pray that where I am you also may be!  Where I am going, you know the way!


Hey everybody!  It’s LeRoy.  I’m back.  Bet you didn’t expect to hear from me again so soon, but God is good!  I made it . . thanks for the prayers.  Needed a few of those for the trip through purgatory . . . in a life like mine, I got mad at my kids a few times.  I lost patience with some of my students, players, parents, fans and colleagues.  But all in all, purgatory wasn’t too bad - was a quick trip!  I thought I’d have to pay more for all those times I lost patience with Linda, but St. Peter let me by on that one . . he said - we all know Linda!  That’s a good sign babe - they all know you up here!  JK - you’re the greatest and I miss you and I love you!  I’d do it all over again . . in a heartbeat!  We did good! I’m sorry I’m not there beside you anymore.  I’m so sorry!

Maureen - the choirs sound great up here!  But they could use another soprano, so please listen to you fantastic boss and pastor, Fr. Mitchel, and do whatever he tells you, so that you make it to heaven.  You have no idea how lucky you are  to have him guiding you!

God is good everyone!  Trust in God with all your heart!  Love Him with your whole mind and strength!  The same God who blessed me throughout my life is the one who asked me to carry my cross in faith and leave you all behind and trust His plan!  I gave it all I had and Jesus was there waiting for me as He promised!  God’s plans are mysterious - beyond our understanding - but they are mysteriously beautiful.  He knows what He is about.  He is always doing more, in life and in death.

To my dearest family and friends, I miss you too!  I love you with all my heart.  Yet the view from up here is incredible.  I wish I had this view as a referee . . it would have been helpful to have this view as a parent (although some things my kids did are better left unseen I am sure).  This view is better than any seat I’ve ever had in any auditorium or stadium or gym.  And I can watch all of you at the same time. I love it - God is good! Trust in God!

When Jesus ascended to heaven, his disciples were scared and lost, but He promised to send the advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with them always until He would see them again face to face!  Jesus found a way to be with everyone always, in a different way but a better one.  He allows me to be with you all now in a new place - in a deeper and better place - in the depth of your heart and soul.  I am still with you . . look for me there in that same place where you love God and pray to God.  I am there.  I will always be there.

When Jesus left, he told the disciples that it was ‘game on’ for them - that they would go out and do greater things than He did. The apostles received the Holy Spirit and became the most passionate and courageous persons the world has ever known, founding our beautiful family, the Catholic Church, that will prevail against the gates of hell for all time!  So no more of this fried bologna (which is the only thing that I knew how to cook - thank God you all kept me well fed!) - no more of this fried bologna of me being the best person you’ll ever know!  I taught you all to compete - go out and do greater things than I did!  I believe in you.  I didn’t raise you to worship me . . go beyond . . dream higher . .  go farther . . compete to be the best!  You can do it!

You my dearest family and friends, are God’s gift to me.  I pray that where I am you also may be!  Love heaven more than anything.  Hope with all your heart to remain a child of God forever!  You are my dream team, each one of you God’s gift to me, and starting today you have me as an advocate - a mentor, a coach, a servant  - a husband, a daddy, a papa - rooting you on like crazy from heaven.  So dust yourself off, and get back in the game!  I miss you too . . but I want you to keep going until we see each other again!

Jesus said to his disciples that if they loved him, they would keep his commandments.  Jesus loves our weakness, even our sinfulness, but He loves us too much to let us stay there.  Jesus believes in us. More than we believe in ourselves.  He loves us enough to believe that we are made for greatness, to be heroes, to be holy!  His commandments are challenging but exciting and awesome for those who love Him.  

I can’t believe you’re all here today!  I can’t believe God brought you all into my life and how you changed me for the better!  I love you so much - but I love you enough to leave you my commandments of life.  I hope I was sent to you to make each one of your lives better!  If you love me, keep my commandments.

God blessed me with 9 grandchildren - so how about 9 commandments

  • play to the whistle - Death is God’s gift.  A strange gift, but a gift nonetheless.  Have no fear!  No class makes sense without a final exam, no performance without a finale, no game without a final horn.  Don’t ever forget that we are playing the game of life for keeps and there is a final score . . and that’s a good thing!  Choose what you will give your whole life to, and choose to die for someone and something bigger than you long before death comes for you!  Get it the game and play to the end!
  • make yourself small . . . even if you’re a giant.  I was no small guy.  Yet Jesus teaches us how much fun it is to make ourselves as little as possible!  Serve others.  Think more of others than yourself.  Make yourself the least important person in the room . . and see if people trust you and want to be around you!  Be merciful . . if you win an argument but lose a relationship everyone loses.  Your life is not about you . . it’s about God and others!  Make yourself small!
  • leave it all on the court - Be sacrificial and generous at all times!  Everything that you have is meant for someone else - is meant to be given away.  All of it!  Live the great paradox that if you want more of something, give what you have away!  Try it . . it works!  Leave it all on the court.
  • embrace your role - once upon a time, a young man named Mitchel Zimmerman came for a seminary interview in my basement.  I asked him how he treated women and what kind of man he was when nobody was looking.  I am pretty sure he lied to me, but he was from western Kansas and had a great German name so I gave him a pass . . who knows, in God’s plan I might need his help someday in shepherding my family.   at any rate, all of you - my dream team - you all have a critical role to play in the beautiful story God is writing.  Whatever your role is - whatever his dream for you - whatever His will - embrace your role . . find your mission and vocation and embrace it . . we are all counting on you!
  • cheer on Hayden - Go Wildcats!  Dang I love that school and love watching my kids and grandkids perform!  Invest in Catholic education.  We learn the most important lessons of life, and all our learning goes deeper, when we are connected to the source of love and truth, our Lord Jesus - we compete better when we are trying to glorify Him!  Hayden holds our Topeka Catholic family and greater community together like no other institution!  Believe in Hayden . . always and forever!
  • follow through - let your yes mean yes and your no mean no, and be faithful to the promises you make.  You will be remembered in life for the promises you broke and the promises you kept!  Thanks Linda for choosing me . . . we followed through, and it made all the difference!
  • Go to Mass!  It’s one of the greatest cop-outs and lies out there today that you don’t have to go to Church to be a good person.  That’s like saying you can be a good fan and not show up to the games, or a good grandpa and never show up for Christmas dinner.  It’s a lie.  The truth is we show up for the things that matter, those things we believe in! We have to love God not on our terms, but on His, and He has invited us to be with Him in His family the Church and not live our faith in isolation, but in a way that builds up His family and kingdom that lasts forever.  Get to Mass.  No excuses. I never missed.  Ever.
  • write a fairy tale with your life - my life ended listening to a fairy tale from my youngest granddaughter..  You get to write the story of your life.  No one can write it for you.  Only you get to choose if you will slay the dragon, and be faithful to death to those God has given you to love and serve.  Write a fairly tale with your life!
  • always be there - I died with my wife and five kids at my side - the best gift I ever received!  Did anyone show up at my funeral today?  Can you see Fr. Mitchel amidst all the flowers?  I’m not saying this to brag . . I don’t deserve any of you or any of it . . I did only what I was obliged to do by God, who created me and loves me and has called me home.  I say it as my last commandment to remind you . . that the ultimate  thing people will remember about you is if you were there.  Did you care enough to show up?  You must be present to win at the game of life.  Do whatever you need to do to be there . . always get there . . in the end, it makes all the difference.  Don’t let anything pull you apart!

That’s it, dear family and friends.  There are your nine commandments. With that I’ll sign off, resume my conversation with St. Peter about getting Danny a free pass for having to endure all those sisters, and send graces your way and beg God to allow me to speak to you and be with you in the depths of your hearts.  I love you.  i can never say it enough.  It’s fun having the view of an angel, but there’s a reason it’s better to be a person than an angel - our bodies are a gift for sharing our soul and our heart and our love. . I miss seeing you all face to face - I miss hearing your voices - I miss being able to give you a smile, a hug and to tell you I love you . . to give back to you the joy you all have given me.  I’m sorry to have gone . . I will miss you always until that day when Jesus completes his magnificent work.  Until then, Linda - hug them and kiss them for me and remind them of how much I loved them.

It’s game on for you all now, my dear family and friends - go out and do greater things than I did.  I believe in you.  If you love me, keep my commandments.

Ready, set . . . . tweet.

I pray that where I am you also may be.  Where I am going, you know the way.