Fr. John Kerns
Fr. John Kerns
We have asked some local priests to give us the brief homily they would offer if they knew it would be their last.

Where do you want to be in the next five years? Where do you want to be in the next 10 or 20 years? These are questions that life coaches will ask their clients. They are definitely good questions. However, Msgr. Arthur Dernbach, who has now gone to God, had a better approach. One of the chief duties of priests, he says, is to direct people from the short view to the long view. With a sincere twinkle in his eye, he said, “People should ask themselves, ‘Where will I be in 200 years?’”

You are eternal. Your eternity began the moment you were conceived in the womb of your mother. God cooperated with your parents in creating the miraculously unique and beloved individual that you are. And you were born into communion: communion with God, with your parents, with your siblings, and with those you would come to know as your consciousness developed. You are a unique individual, and at the same time you are part of this collective humanity where we can recognize ourselves in each other. We are made to be in relationship. And that is eternal, too.

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of bad stuff that happens in this world. Some is quite painful: physically, emotionally and spiritually. And some of the bad will be caused by you. But this one-and-only God who created the one-and-only you, sent his only begotten Son to live with us to show us who we are meant to be. Jesus, completely divine and — at the same exact time — completely human, shows us, by living and teaching, and by dying and rising from the dead, that the goodness of God will always triumph over the worst of the bad. That is what love does. Therefore, in order for us to be able to know this and live accordingly, he only asks one thing of us…

Remain faithful.

Remain faithful to the God who created you; remain faithful to the beauty of the truth revealed through his son; remain faithful to the sacramental vision passed down through the apostolic ages through his living body, the church; remain faithful to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in good times and in bad; remain faithful to your true identity as one of his beloved children.

The good news is that you don’t have to remain faithful on your own. God will help you, and we will all help each other. This for the sake of our happiness now, and for the sake of where we will most happily be in 200 years.

Fr. Kerns is pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego.