Below is my homily for the Saint Philomena Healing Mass for the sick, unemployed, and addicted. This homily was given at the 7:00 pm healing mass at my home parish, Saint James, in Erie, PA.
At the request of Father James McCormick, my home parish pastor, this homily was also my homily for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, given to Saint James Parish at the parish 5pm Sunday Vigil Mass.
I was honored and humbled when Father McCormick offered the opportunity to me to preach at this mass, and ever since that moment, I have been praying and thinking deliberately on what message to pass today.
We come together this evening for a special reason: to pray for all who are sick, unemployed, and those fighting addiction.
And I think that that last piece is extremely important in our world today, especially in our own city.
Addiction is a nasty demon. It can wreck families, friendships, jobs, you name it. And we don’t have to look too far away from home to find it.
We all have an addiction. Some addictions don’t seem to be as big of a deal as others, such as addictions that lead to prison or even worse, death. Yet we all still have our own addictions.
But the question we must ask ourselves about these addictions is who is the master of my life?
Is it my addiction?
Or is it Jesus Christ?
Now, I’m not saying that one can pray away the addictions in life. What I am saying is that Jesus Christ promised us that, if we lean on Him, He will hold us up.
How can we see that in our lives?
When we reach out to someone else for help, we humble ourselves, we lay down our pride, we become vulnerable.
We must always have the courage to admit when we do not know something and ask for help when we need it. We must be willing to take that step out of our comfort zone, knowing fully well that Jesus Christ is already there, waiting for us to follow Him.
If we take this step toward Jesus, he becomes the master of our lives. If we trust in Jesus, he becomes our purpose, but this is not a once and done decision. This is a daily decision to follow Christ. It is an hourly decision. It is a breath by breath decision.
Every moment of our lives must be devoted to one thing: to follow Jesus Christ, no matter where He takes us.
And when we follow Him, we attract followers.
We must always be the beacon of hope for others in our life, always pointing back to Him, back to the salvation that gives us this hope: the cross.
In whatever way we might suffer, we suffer in union with the cross. We suffer in union with our patroness, Saint Philomena; we suffer in union with our parish patron, James the Apostle, and all the rest of the martyrs of the world.
Yet when we suffer, we don’t make a scene “like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be [suffering]. They have received their reward.” (Mt. 6:16 edited to be suffering)
We suffer with joy, knowing that this is not the end. We suffer with hope for the coming of Christ. We suffer with love, especially with love for those who persecute us. We suffer with faith, knowing that He will come again!
And in everything that we do, we should be Jesus Christ to others.
In high school, I worked for the Sisters of Saint Joseph. I was their Saturday morning telephone receptionist. In my work there, I became aware of how important it is to answer the phone with a smile on my face. You could not see me, but in the tone of my voice, you could tell that I was ready and willing to assist the caller on the other end of the phone.
I soon became aware that every so often, people would call for just someone to talk to, never visiting in person, just looking for someone to talk to, someone to commiserate with. Realizing this, I set out on a personal mission that I continue to work toward today, yet I fail miserably at achieving this goal.
This goal of mine: that every person that I meet, whether in person, over the phone, or over email, meets not Andrew Boyd, but rather Jesus Christ first.
This should be the goal of all of us here. We may not have an addiction that we need healing from, but we sure do know someone in our lives who is suffering, either from addiction or from unemployment, or from illness. We need to bring Jesus Christ to that person. When that person suffering meets us, they need to see Jesus Christ first. They need to know that they are safe with us, and that we will be willing to help them in the best of our abilities. And we need to also be humble enough to know when we cannot help anymore, when we ourselves need to reach out and get help to assist this person.
None of us are Jesus Christ Incarnate, and therefore none of us will save the world by ourselves.
But we all have a part of Jesus inside of us, aching and yearning to get out and work in this world. We must be willing to work for Him in whatever capacity He calls us to, knowing that He will give us whatever we need so as to further His will in our world today.
My dearly beloved brothers and sisters, please pray with me now:
Lord Jesus Christ,
We need You now more than ever.
We look around our world
and see destruction, desperation, evil.
We need You now, to save the lost,
the hungry, the suffering, the innocent.
Father, make us Your messengers,
make us Your hands and feet to do your will.
Give us the courage to follow You everywhere You go
knowing that You give us the strength,
the will, the ability to bring a message
of Hope and Peace to the world.
Come Holy Spirit, set the world on fire,
a fire of Your great Love and Mercy,
bringing together all of your children
in peace to do Your Will.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
Fr. Andy Boyd is a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Erie, PA. Currently, Father Andy is assigned to Saint George Parish in Erie, PA.
Father Andy entered seminary after high school, graduating from Gannon University and Saint Mark Seminary in 2014. In the fall of 2014, Father Andy began his Major Seminary Studies at Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe PA. Father Andy graduated from Saint Vincent Seminary with his Masters of Divinity in May 2018, and was ordained a priest in June 2018.
An avowed “Catholic Geek,” Fr. Andy spends his free time dabbling in media creation and network and server management.
Listen to Father Andy in his podcast Encounter Mercy.