Sunday Homilies

from Father Kevin Laughery, Troy St. Jerome and St. Jacob St. James Parishes, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Note: Comments from this page do not reach me; instead, email:

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On this weekend, when the Gospel refers to believers as servants doing their duty, I'd like to explain the major duty which takes up most of my working hours.

When I entered the seminary in 1975, I knew that, following two years of studies at our own diocesan seminary in Springfield (it closed in 1986), I would have six more years of seminary in St. Louis.  Shortly after entering the seminary, however, I saw a list of all our seminarians and discovered that two of them were studying in Rome.  I said to myself: "I think I'd like to do that, too."  At the end of college seminary, Bishop McNicholas told me: "Well, Kev (bishops can get away with calling me Kev), I'll send you to Rome, but you'll have to get a canon law degree."  So I ended up living in Rome from 1979 to 1985, and I did get my licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1984.

As of the end of 1983, when a new code of canon law went into effect, it became necessary for diocesan tribunals to have judges with canon law degrees; no longer would there be a loophole by which judges at least had to be "truly expert" in the law.  I remain one of the very few priests of our diocese with a canon law degree.  Throughout my 27 years of priesthood, I have been involved in the work of our diocesan tribunal, as well as the interdiocesan Court of Appeals of the Province of Chicago.  Bishop Lucas put me in charge of the tribunal on an interim basis in 2005, and in 2006 I became judicial vicar.

Theoretically, a diocesan court or "tribunal" could litigate any matter which parties might care to bring before us.  In practice, however, our work is almost completely devoted to the petitions of persons who seek to be declared free to enter a new marriage in the Catholic Church following a divorce.  In weeks to come, I will write more about this work.

Category:general -- posted at: 10:29am CST

Jesus speaks about a wily business manager who uses initiative to prepare for a decent future, now that his boss is firing him.  Apparently what this man is doing -- for which his boss compliments him for resourcefulness -- is lowering the interest rates which he had originally proposed to his boss's debtors, so that these people might look upon him favorably when he is searching for a new situation.

Do believers show as much initiative as this man?  Our relationship with God is about eternity, something encompassing even more than the future!  We relate to God in what is for us the hard-to-imagine realm of timelessness.  We can hide nothing from God.  Do we show God at least as much devotion as the manager did toward the debtors?  

A relationship with God is something truly personal.  Christianity teaches us that God the Son established an unbreakable bond with human beings by himself becoming human.  If we who understand ourselves to be Christians do not take initiative in exploring the relationship which our God is opening up to us, we impoverish ourselves.

Christianity is a communal experience.  We must participate in shared worship with Christian brothers and sisters, and open ourselves to opportunities for service.  When we commit ourselves to what we know we must do, we will find a variety of doors opening up to us.  We come to discover who we really are.

Direct download: KML_2010-09-19_945am.MP3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:25pm CST

It is curious that the word "prodigal" is used in the English language almost exclusively in reference to this parable of Jesus, popularly known as "The Prodigal Son."  Many of us have learned the parable without learning the meaning of the word "prodigal."

Many of us identify with the "prodigal son" (the word "prodigal" means "wasteful" or "spendthrift"), and yet he is the least interesting figure in the parable.  We can imagine wanting to do what he did, and we are amazed that he got away with, essentially, pretending that his father was dead and getting his inheritance in advance.  He is a fool who, when he is starving, has only the cunning which comes from an urge to survive.  He figures that he would be better off a servant of his father than dead, so he heads home.

More interesting than this younger son are the father and the elder son.  We wonder: Why does the father enable the younger son to pretend that he is dead?  Why did he allow him to rip him off?  And now, why does he welcome him home?  Furthermore, we are anxious about what the elder son has to say, because has a very good point!

Jesus gave us parables to make us uncomfortable.  This is probably the second most aggravating parable, after the one about pay scales for workers in a vineyard (Matthew 20: 1-16).  As in the parable of the vineyard, you and I have a reaction reflecting a deeply felt sense about justice and retribution.  Why the lavish welcome?  We don't get it.  But such is the nature of God's mercy, which provides healing, affirming surprises for fools like you and me.

Direct download: KML_2010-09-12_945am.MP3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:21pm CST

From the Vatican, Wednesday, September 8, 2010: 

"The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue received with great concern the news of the proposed 'Koran Burning Day' on the occasion of the Anniversary of the September 11 tragic terrorist attacks in 2001 which resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and considerable material damage.

"These deplorable acts of violence, in fact, cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community.  Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection.  We are speaking about the respect to be accorded the dignity of the person who is an adherent of that religion and his/her free choice in religious matters.

"The reflection which necessarily should be fostered on the occasion of the remembrance of September 11 would be, first of all, to offer our deep sentiments of solidarity with those who were struck by these horrendous terrorist attacks.  To this feeling of solidarity we join our prayers for them and their loved ones who lost their lives.

"Each religious leader and believer is also called to renew the firm condemnation of all forms of violence, in particular those committed in the name of religion.  Pope John Paul II affirmed: 'Recourse to violence in the name of religious belief is a perversion of the very teachings of the major religions' (Address to the new Ambassador of Pakistan, 16 December 1999).  His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, similarly expressed, '…violence as a response to offenses can never be justified, for this type of response is incompatible with the sacred principles of religion...' (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, to the new Ambassador of Morocco, 6 February 2006)."

As president of the Greater Springfield Interfaith Association, as ecumenical and interreligious officer of our diocese, and as your pastor, I have sent a letter of greeting to the Islamic Society of Greater Springfield on the occasion of the end of the Ramadan fast this weekend.  I am happy to speak with individuals or groups regarding our responsibilities as Catholic Christians in seeking Christian unity and in appreciating what we have in common with people of other religions.

Category:general -- posted at: 10:29am CST

Hate your family?  No -- Jesus is talking about subordinating cherished aspects of our life to the goal of the Kingdom of God.  We do have to deliberate carefully about this, as in the examples of the builder and the king.

Direct download: KML_2010-09-04_420pm.MP3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:59pm CST

The N.Y. Times obituary feed brings news of the death of Paul Conrad, editorial cartoonist.  During my high-school years, I myself did editorial cartooning for a weekly paper where I grew up.  Paul Conrad was always my favorite.  It could be said that he lacked subtlety.  There were some issues, however, in which he displayed nuance.  He was anti-abortion, but he also tired of pro-life sanctimony.  He once portrayed a grim soul with a sign "Protect the Unborn" near another person with a sign "Protect the born, too!"  My brief career was during Watergate -- no better time to be an editorial cartoonist -- and Conrad too reveled in those times and events.

Category:general -- posted at: 4:49pm CST

Every year, the bishops of the United States make a Labor Day statement, reminding us of the rights of workers in the economic system.  Read this year's statement at, search term "Labor Day."

Again I encourage Sangamon County residents to complete the surveys regarding a rural transportation service.  Surveys may be picked up and deposited at the entrance of St. Mary's Church (above the missal storage area).  

The "Mass of Welcome" for Bishop Paprocki in the Jacksonville Deanery (in which Sacred Heart, Visitation BVM, and St. Sebastian are found) takes place this Wednesday, September 8, at 7:00 pm at St. John's in Carrollton.  The parallel event for the Springfield Deanery (St. Mary's is in this deanery) takes place Tuesday, September 28, at 7:00 pm at St. Joseph's in Chatham.  The liturgy planners for this event are asking that a St. Mary's parishioner act as a giftbearer for this Mass.  Please let me know if you are interested in serving in this role.

Two UIS professors will speak on "Lincoln and Race" at the Brookens Auditorium of UIS on Thursday, October 7, 7:00 to 9:00 pm.  I am active with an anti-racism team of the Illinois Conference of Churches, and I consider it vital to be aware of racial issues, because such awareness is an extremely important form of self-knowledge.  

Category:general -- posted at: 8:01pm CST

"It's good to be humble."  There's no subtlety in these readings; they hit you over the head as if with a 2x4.  So what is the complete meaning of humility?  It has to do with our connection with people we would prefer to overlook.

Direct download: KML_2010-08-29_800am.MP3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27pm CST