The Rev. Raymond Burkle

Rev. Raymond Burkle

During Mass on Tuesday morning, I received my idea for this articles topic.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles it stated; "Stephen said the the people, the elders, and the scribes: 'You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute?'"

Just a couple of nights before this, I slept in a position that put a severe pain in my neck whenever I looked one way or another. In other words, I was stiffed necked.

Therefore, when I heard stiff-necked in the reading, it gave me a whole new understanding of the term.

Stiff-necked is when we are so set in our ways and our mind set, we refuse to see things in any other way.

Our focus is straight forward, just like a horse with blinders on.

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Then I went to the Baccalaureate of the Osage seniors on Wednesday evening and my topic started to change. Not in topic, but in direction. There are times being stiff-necked can be a good thing.

When I graduated high school and moved on to college, I was pulled in many ways, by people and circumstances to set aside my faith. I was tempted over and over again to put my faith and values on the back burner.

However, one thing I learned was even when I was away from family and friends, when I sensed a feeling of being out on my own in the world, going to church always made me feel like I was at home.

When I went to seminary in Baltimore, Maryland, being in the chapel gave me that same sense of comfort and love.

Now, some of you might say, "Father, as a priest you have to say that you feel at home in church." Whereas I say,"I am a priest because church gave me the feeling of being at home. My love for God and others tells me this is where I belong, and nothing can pull me away from my faith, nor from my God."

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