St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church - Naperville, IL

Fr. Peter’s Homily — November 27, 2022

2022 11 27 Homily Year A Advent wk 1 Sunday – Synod INCLUSION homily 3 L’s

Focus of homily – why and how to be inclusive

In the past year all the catholic churches in the world we’re asked to take time to listen to the people. It was called the Synod on Synodality. These listening time was requested by Pope Francis. Here at Saint Thomas, we did a survey of our parishioners and had a listening session. The results were printed in the church bulletin and then sent to the diocese. The diocese summarized the results and sent them to Rome. The summary of the diocese results were in a recent insert in the St. Thomas bulletin. The Pope recently summarized the results from the world. One of the most frequently heard requests was for the church to be more inclusive.

Today I will explain why and how we can be more inclusive and how advent is a great time to do it.

God loves all he has made (Romans 5:8, John 3:16, 1 John 4:8)

He hates nothing that he has made.

When I was young, we had a saying that God doesn’t make junk.

We are all beloved children of the king of the universe. So, what does that mean? We are all beautiful. And remember beauty is more than skin deep.  Beauty is as beauty does.

We are all made in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:26-28) We all wear God’s face. Every person wears God’s face. So, we are all equal in dignity before God. We are made in God’s image;

And it is the work of our lifetime to, with God’s grace, to grow into the likeness of God.


We are no longer Greek or gentile, slave or free, male or female. We are all equal before God. (Galatians 3:26-29)

God views everyone with the same esteem and dignity.

We are all one in Christ Jesus.  There is only one Holy Spirit.  Jesus is not divided

However, we’re not all the same. We are all different. But we’re all needed. If one of us is missing, it’s like a puzzle missing the last piece. We need every uniquely shaped piece of the puzzle to make the picture complete.

There’s a book that was written many years ago which I never read but I like the title because I felt it was so true. Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. How many people have heard of it? The fact is we are all different. Saint Paul said we are all like different parts of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

Some are an eye, some a finger some a foot. If we were all eyes, what kind of body would we have? Rather all parts of the body are necessary, and we are incomplete even missing just one part

Unity in diversity.  We are all related, we are all brothers and sisters since there is only 1 Holy Spirit. 

But how do we deal with the differences among us?

What are we to do?

Pope Francis gave us one answer.  He said, “Who am I to judge.”  In a news conference on a flight from Brazil to Italy in July 2013 about homosexual Catholics.

Pope Francis told journalists/ gay people should be integrated into society instead of ostracized.  /Answering a question about … homosexuals … the pope answered, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Many people complained about it. However, he was just quoting from scripture.

We are told to not judge.  And that’s not me saying it, that’s God saying it. Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 7:1 (also Luke 6:37, 40; Romans 2:1, 14:10, 13) We have one judge, God. If we judge, we are not followers of the law but judges.

In fact, when Jesus came to this earth 2000 years ago he came not to judge but to save us.  His second coming, when we die or the end of the world, is when he comes to judge us.

A good example of Jesus coming to save not judge is shown with the woman caught in adultery. In chapter 8 of John’s Gospel the people wanted to stone the woman. But Jesus said, he who is without sin cast the first stone. And everyone left starting with the elders. The older and wiser we get we recognize that we are all sinners and in need of forgiveness.

The Pharisees got in big trouble with Jesus for judging others.

Pope Francis said the church is not a club for the perfect but a field hospital for sinners. Someone said I don’t go to church because it’s filled with a bunch of hypocrites. The response was, there is room for one more.

All are welcome in God’s church. All are loved by God. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love others.

OK father Peter, that’s all nice and good.

That God loves all he has made and we are not to judge

 But the Synod process at our parish and the diocese and the world is asking for more change.

My father used to say that big changes aren’t real changes. Real changes are small changes. Real change takes time.

God is patient with us. The Bible says that God is patient wanting all to come to salvation.

The first attribute in God’s definition of love is patience. Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians chapter 13 verse one. God is showing his love by his patience. We show love by being patient with others. We show love by being patient with God’s timing not our timing.

The timing of this homily and the importance of the attribute of patience, is perfect for this First Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting. It’s a time of gestation in Mary’s womb. We need to let things gestate.

God is getting us ready.

God is getting the church ready.

God is getting the world ready.


What will be brought to birth in us this Advent?


Our nation is being torn apart by division, the culture wars, and red versus blue states. Many churches are being torn apart by division over inclusiveness including the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church.

So, what can we do in the midst of this discard and division?

I believe the answer is the three “L’s”

Listen, Learn, Love (repeat) then “can we say it all together?

We can disagree but love unconditionally with the three “L’s.”

First, listen. Listen to people who don’t experience the world the way you do.  the haves and the have nots, the Christians and non-Christians, Catholics and non-Catholics, young and old, black and white, gay and straight, married and single, new citizens, old citizens.

We say “All are welcome here” – and we mean it.

But welcoming is only the first step.

Next comes acceptance, fostering a sense of belonging in our community.  

Second, Learn.  Be a student, not just a critic.  We are all called to be disciples. The word disciple means learner.  And the first step in discipleship is to understand where someone else is.  We must meet people where they are and learn from one another.  Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying” (repeat slow) he knew a lot, but he still said you can learn more!  And if Einstein could learn more, certainly you and I have more to learn!

The third L word is Love. 

The two greatest commandments are commands of love – We are called to love God and love others.  In fact, we are not only called to love our neighbor, but to “love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us.” I recently saw a poster that said “Love thy neighbor (no exceptions).

The reason is God is not just the most loving, he is love itself. And he loves all people. Also, love is greater than death – look at the cross. Martin Luther King Jr. paraphrased the Bible when he said the only thing that can overcome hate is love.

Never ever burn a relational bridge over a personal viewpoint.  This goes back to the Law of Christ, because (slow) the you beside you is more precious to God than our potentially flawed view.  A view that may have changed 10-15 years ago and a view that might change 10-15 years from now.  Christ died for all of us.  How dare I burn a relational bridge for someone Christ died for?  We are called to build bridges not walls. (Pope Francis answering questions from journalists aboard his flight from Rabat, Morocco, to Rome on March 31, 2019.)

Our readings for the first Sunday of Advent reinforce the messages of peace and love and that God will be our judge not us.

Our first reading is from the book of Isaiah. He prophesied all people will come to the Lord’s mountain and that the Lord will judge – not the people. Weapons of war will be set aside and peace will prevail.

Our responsorial psalm calls us to pray for peace. Peace in the city. Peace in the home

Our New Testament reading was from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans. God’s word calls us to awake from our(spiritual) sleep Let us throw off the works of darkness, putting aside rivalry and jealousy, and put on the light of Christ.

Finally, our gospel reading also calls us to stay awake To be prepared. At an hour you do not expect the son of man will come to judge.

In closing, let us remember:

  • God loves all he has made.
  • We are all equal in dignity before God
  • We are all different

So how are we to deal with people who are different?

  • Not judge
  • Be patient with God and others and even ourselves!
  • Practice the three L’s – Listen, learn, and love

Let us pray: God, give us the strength and grace to love all that you have made and not to judge.

And when we struggle grant us patience and help us practice the 3L’s, listen, learn and love.

We ask this all in your Son’s name.