Here is the video of how a misplaced homily created ripples that went on to work a miracle of God's grace for at least one family. Hopefully, sharing this will lead to more people realizing that life is too short to not forgive. If you haven't read the article in the Winter 2023 issue of the Four County Catholic magazine, we've included it below. The video can be found after the article.
they know not what they do
The words below are an edited transcript of a sermon given recently in the diocese.
Whenever I’m giving a homily on the radio, I always have notes in front of me in case I go blank (which is most of the time). Not too long ago, I read the Gospel from the pulpit and then looked down to pick up my notes. After 52 years in the priesthood and nine years in the seminary (61 years), I forgot my notes. “Dear Lord, what do I do now?” Well, I couldn’t retreat, so I had to move forward. I said, “Lord, this is in your hands.” All I could do is keep talking. I hadn’t the slightest idea what I was about to say.
In the midst of my rambling, a story from a book I read, which I had told the week before, came to mind. “Well,” I thought, “They’re accustomed to seeing reruns all the time. I’m going to tell it again.”
The story goes like this: There was a boy, Kevin, who got in constant trouble. His father said to him, “Next time you get in trouble, there will be consequences.” A week later, the boy got in trouble again. The police called: “We have your son here. It’s minor, but you have to come down and get him.” The father went down to the police station and picked up his son. He said to the police officer, “He really is a good boy. We love him. We will work this out.”
On the way home, he calmly said to his son, “You remember that I said there will be consequences?”
“Yes, Dad,” Kevin said.
“Tonight, Mom’s cooking your favorite meal. You will have bread and water.”
However, as Kevin went to pick up the bread on his plate at dinnertime, his father reached over and put his hand on Kevin’s. He took his son’s plate. In other words, he took his son’s punishment. Nothing was said at the meal. When they finished, the father left the table first. Kevin excused himself and went to his room.
About a month later, Kevin’s mother stopped him. “You’ve been doing so well lately. What changed? Was it the fact that your father picked up your meal that night?”
“No,” Kevin said, “that wasn’t it at all.”
“Then what changed?”
“When I passed his room later, I heard dad crying. Then I knew how much he really loved me. That’s what changed.” Kevin said.
Rest of the Story
A few days after telling that story, I walked into the rectory and noticed the light blinking on the answering machine. I pushed the button and heard a woman’s voice. She said this: “Would the priest who said the nine o’clock Mass on the radio please call me? I would like to talk to you.” I thought, “Oh no, here we go.”
When I called, she said: “You don’t know me, but Sunday morning my husband, Kevin, and I were driving home. I turned on the radio. We picked up your broadcast, but I moved to change it. To my surprise, my husband said, ‘No. It’s OK. Leave it alone. Might do us some good.’ So I continued to say my rosary for a safe trip home. Then you began your sermon. You told the story about a father and the boy who got in trouble. I went to turn it off (again) and my husband said, “Leave it on. Please, let’s hear what he’s got to say.” We both listened in silence. When you finished, I looked at my husband. There were tears in his eyes. We were dead silent the rest of the way home. I continued to say my rosary.”
She continued, “When we reached our exit, my husband kept driving. I said to him, ‘Kevin! You missed our exit.’
“‘I know. I know,’ he replied.
“I thought we were going for a ride. I had no idea. I kept praying my rosary. I prayed, ‘Blessed Mother, help us, help him.’
“Then, I knew. I knew Kevin was the prodigal son. We were on our way to see his father and mother, who we had not seen in 10 years. You see, over 10 years ago, Kevin had gotten in trouble. His father tried to talk to him. There was an argument. And Kevin walked out of the house, never to return again. We got married and had two children. I’d never met my in-laws. My children have never met their grandparents.
“As we turned down their street, I asked him, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’
“‘I have to,’ Kevin said.
“I held his hand as we walked to the door. I noticed a gray-haired woman looking out the window. I saw Kevin’s hand shaking as he went to ring the doorbell. His mother slowly opened the door and immediately began to cry. ‘Kevin!’ she said, ‘Oh, Kevin.’ She ran to embrace her son. She cried, he cried, I cried.
“Hearing his wife’s cry, Kevin’s dad rushed into the room. ‘Mary, are you OK?’ He then stopped dead in his tracks. It was the most deadly silence I’ve ever heard in my life. Slowly, my husband walked over to his father.
“He threw his arms around him and they both said at the same time, ‘I’m sorry. I am so sorry.’
“As I raised my arms to hug my mother-in-law, we both noticed a rosary in our hands. Mary said to me, ‘I’ve been praying for 10 years.’ ‘I’ve been praying to Our Lady, too,’ I said.”
There was reconciliation. Kevin’s wife said to me, “By the blessing of the Blessed Mother and your sermon, I heard my husband say to his father today, ‘I realized how much you really loved me. I am so sorry.’”
The reconciled family sat and talked for hours. They arranged for Kevin’s children to meet their grandparents and planned for the holidays together. I thanked them for sharing the story and said I would pray to God that this reconciliation will be one of great happiness and joy.
We all hurt. Sometimes we’re so selfish. We can’t forgive one another. Why? There’s a man hanging up on that cross who gave His life for us. His words were, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We don’t know what we’re doing. Because my friends, as much as we are hurt in this life, we have to ask forgiveness.
Because if we do not in this life, we will in the next. Christ has told us that. But we are so proud that it goes over our heads. “Oh I forgive you, but I can never forget.” It doesn’t go like that.
What I’m saying to you is, my friends, in the name of Our Lady, there is a man hanging up on the cross. He cries out to His Father, for us, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” We will know what we’ve done when we close our eyes and pass on to the next and when we walk into that confessional (which He has given us for the forgiveness of our sins in this life). In that confession, Christ will whisper in your ear, “I forgive you. I love you.”
God bless you.
If you would like to know who said these words watch the video below.