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Dachshund Dilemma

Homily 01 27 13
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time C


View the Readings for this day

Like most pastors I'm always looking for ways to improve our church. Recently I ran across a list by a Pastor Grant MacDonald of what he calls the "TOP Five Ways to Promote Growth in Your Church." These suggestions are offered with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but I thought you might enjoy some of them.


These are ways we might grow our church:

  1. Offer free frequent flyer miles with every visit!
  2. Use bigger hosts to give at Communion.
  3. Issue "Get Out of Hell Free" cards!
  4. Or how about this one? Reclining pews!
  5. Every fourth week raffle off the offering!

How can we have a growing church? What does it take to revive a church? How can a church that is stumbling along recapture the joy and enthusiasm that once gripped its fellowship? In many ways I think all of our committees and commissions have been dealing with.

The biggest barrier confronting many churches today is what I call the "Dachshund Dilemma." The "Dachshund Dilemma" is derived from an old poem about dachshund dogs that are long of body and short of legs. The poem goes like this:

There was a dachshund,
Once so long he hadn't any notion
How long it took to notify
His tail of his emotion;
And so it happened,
While his eyes were filled with woe and sadness,
His little tail went wagging on
Because of previous gladness.

This is a good description of the plight of many parishes today. We are still wagging our tails, not because of what is going on in our church now, but because some remember 30-40 years ago when the congregation was made up primarily of younger adults and the church was filled

How do we deal with the "Dachshund Dilemma"? How do we revive a church whose better days were so often in the past?

Our lessons for the day suggest three elements that must be present if a church is to be the vital body of Christ God calls us to be. If any of these three are missing, a church regardless of its size, the beauty of its building or the affluence of its congregation is in trouble.

The first of these elements is this church must have a clear understanding of what it is about.

When Jesus began his ministry, the first thing he did was to announce his mission...

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce the acceptable year of the Lord."

From his baptism to his death upon the cross of Calvary, Jesus understood what he was here for. The question is, do we? What is our purpose as followers of Jesus today?

The Pastoral Council has been dealing with the "reason for being." All too often parishes are concerned with statistical information. Usually churches have little difficulty with these,

But another question we need to ask is: "What is the particular mission of our particular church?"

We had a number of meetings and had a hard time to deal with the question. "Most people do not even know that there is such a thing as a mission for the local church.

What is the mission of our church?

In Rachel Carson's book, The Sea Around Us, she describes the microscopic vegetable life of the sea, which provides food for many of the ocean's smallest creatures. She tells how these little plants drift thousands of miles wherever the currents carry them, with no power or will of their own to direct their own destiny. The plants are named plankton, a Greek word that means "wandering" or "drifting." Plankton describes the wandering plant life of the ocean. Plankton may also be a good way to define the life of the parishes today. We are wandering adrift.

We asked: What is our mission as a church? Why do we exist? Going through the Scriptures we see Jesus' ministry and teachings.

We believed that we exist for two reasons:

  • One is to reach individual people with the good news of God's love as revealed in Jesus.
  • The second is to influence society to the point that the kingdoms of this earth more closely resemble the kingdom of God.

According to Robert Bellah a sociologist notes that the governing values of a whole culture may be changed when 2% of its people have a new vision. Think of that! All you need is 2% of the people, according to Bellah, and you can change an entire culture. I wonder if we realize just how powerful we potentially could be. But first we need to define our mission.

Jesus called his followers salt...he spoke of the kingdom as leaven. What he was saying is that we should be having an impact on our surrounding culture and also on our Catholic people. A vital church understands its mission.

The second thing that a vital church must have is a sense of unity and fellowship.

In our lesson from Corinthians, St. Paul writes, "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body".

So it is with Christ . . . The church at Corinth was made up of people from both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. Some had worshipped idols. Some were slaves, some free. Paul knew that they could not effectively serve Christ if they were torn into little cliques.

So it is with the church today. If we are to be effective in winning people and influencing society, we need unity. We need to think of ourselves as one family. One body.

We make it through life's difficult times by holding on to one another. Even geese know that. Watch a large flock of Canadian geese winging their way in a V formation to the north or south.

We are told that when a goose gets sick, or perhaps is wounded by a shot, it never falls from formation by itself. Two other geese also fall out of formation with it and follow the ailing goose down to the ground. One of them is very often the mate of the wounded bird, since geese mate for life and are extremely loyal to their mates.

Once on the ground, the healthy birds help protect the wounded bird and care for him as much as possible, even to the point of throwing themselves between the weakened bird and possible predators. They stay with him until he is either able to fly, or until he is dead. Then, and only then, do they launch out on their own. In most cases, they wait for another group of geese to fly overhead and they join them, adding to the safety and flying efficiency of their numbers.

A vital church is one that understands its mission in the world, at the same time caring for the members of its flock.

This brings us to the final element in a growing church: in a growing church each person knows that he or she has a ministry to fulfill.

As St. Paul tells us: "All of you are Christ's body, and each one is part of it..." Some are the eye, some the ear, some the mouth, some are the feet...".

Paul speaks of the various gifts or vocations as parts of the body. But one thing is clear everyone has his or her role to play, and no part is more important than another.

Simon Peter was the rock of the church at Jerusalem. Yet there would have been no Simon Peter leading the church if there had been no humble Andrew to lead Simon to Christ. Some of you may never occupy an exalted leadership role in the church, but your life may touch the life of another whom God will use in a great and splendid way.

St. Paul was probably the second most influential person who ever lived, after Christ himself. Wonder how effective Paul would have been had it not been for Barnabas, who had that marvelous gift of encouragement.

When Saul of Tarsus claimed Jesus Christ had turned him around, the disciples in Jerusalem refused to believe it, or accept him. They gave him the cold shoulder. You can understand their feelings. The Jerusalem disciples thought Saul had joined the spy business.

They suspected their arch-persecutor of adopting a deceitful ploy. By becoming an undercover agent in Christian guise, he would discover the followers of the Way.

They feared he would send them to prison or to death, but Barnabas believed the best about Saul. Taking him to the leaders of the Jerusalem church, Barnabas vouched for his conversion. He documented the validity of Saul's transformation by reporting his public preaching of Christ in Damascus.

Because the apostles knew Barnabas and trusted him, they accepted Saul.

How grateful I am that there are persons in our church family with the spirit of Andrew the spirit of evangelism, and Barnabas the spirit of encouragement.

Each of us has a gift that Christ can use in the building of his kingdom. This is no dead shrine. This is the body of the living Christ. All are all parts of it. I am just one member of the body. My role is no greater than yours. When each of us feels that we have a calling to fulfill, we will see great things happen in this church.

On Jan 21, 2013, Americans heard the inaugural speech of Barak Obama, opening his second term as the 44th president of the United States. You may not know this, but every single Inaugural Address from George Washington's to Barak Obama's has been preserved. In these speeches, presidents have laid out for the country their dreams, goals, and aspirations.


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Mass Schedule

Saint Aloysius
Tue - Fri - 8:30am
Sat - 5:00pm
Sun - 10:30am

Holy Days
8:30am & 7:00pm

First Friday
8:30am followed by Adoration until 7:55pm

- After weekday Mass
- Before Sat & Sun Mass
- Mon - 3:00pm

Sat - 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Or by appointment

Our Lady Of Lourdes
Sun - 8:30am

Before Sunday Mass

Find Us

Saint Aloysius
211 West Mason Ave.
Buckley, WA 98321
Phone: 360-829-6515
Fax: 360-829-5190
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Office Hours
Tue - Fri 9am - 12:00pm

Our Lady Of Lourdes
506 Ash Street
Wilkeson, WA 98396
Phone: 360-829-6515
Fax: 360-829-5190
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