Father Joseph Illo gave an 11-minute homily on Sunday, February 20 at Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco.
The subject was that it is impossible for us to love our enemies. “But we can do the impossible if we call upon the grace of God.”
“By His grace Father Maximilian Kolbe starved to death for a perfect stranger in a Nazi death camp in 1941…. By the grace of the Almighty, St. Agnes faced down the entire might of the Roman Empire at 12 years old…”
“I want to tell you a story of a person in the seminary. This was 35 years ago. Anthony was tall athletic fellow whose assigned seat in the chapel was right next to mine. He was everything I wasn’t. He was popular and athletic, and he knew how to work the system. He was a great basketball player. I can’t make a basket if my life depended on it.
“Anthony liked to wear bright sweaters over his black clerical shirts. He was fashionable. The rector of the seminary said, ‘listen, guys, you’re wearing black shirts because they’re black, so don’t put pink, green, and pastel sweaters over your black shirts. Just wear black. We’re trying to be humble and simple to prepare for the priesthood.’ Anthony would regularly come into the chapel with bright yellow, canary, red ones, teal. And it would drive me nuts.
“‘Anthony, did you not hear what the rector told yesterday about wearing bright sweaters.’ And he just smiled. And so one day he came in with a yellow sweater and sat net to me, smirked. And I said, ‘I hate this guy.’ Then I said a quick prayer, ‘Lord, help me to love Anthony.’ And suddenly I was flooded with grace.”
“The person you sleep with, if you’re married, is often the enemy. I have to marvel how spouses can sleep together when they are very angry at each other. I don’t know how it happens, but it does. They tell me it happens.”