Homily – July 23, 2017

July 23rd, 2017

I just want to talk about one part of today’s gospel, the part about the enemy sneaking into his neighbour’s field and sowing weeds into the field his neighbour had just sown his wheat. Eventually both wheat and weeds began to sprout and grow. The field hands were horrified at the evilness of their master’s enemy and they wanted to root out the weeds right away. The wise master knew their enthusiasm would do more harm than good and advised that they just leave things be. ‘Let both grow together and at the harvest we’ll sort things out then’.

The farmer sensed that the grain’s struggle to overcome the weeds could provide a better crop of grain. His advice was wise; let both grow together til the harvest.’ We are all good seed but we find ourselves struggling with weeds in our lives, the cares of the world and our own personal issues with anger or resentment toward others, with our narrow-mindedness toward people of other nationalities, other cultures, other life styles, struggles with addictions, with patience and many other issues.

We find ourselves struggling with being accepting of the ‘different’. How do we accept people who think differently from ourselves as regards matters of our common faith? How do respect those among us who would like to go back to the good old days when Mass was said in Latin and the priest celebrated the Mass with his back to us- praying to God all by himself alone. How do react to Pope Francis’ stance of divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion – his suggestion that one size doesn’t fit all – that there can be exceptions. How we related to good people who see moral issues only in black and white? As one writer suggested, you cut the cloth to fit the person, not the person to fit the cloth.

Christ is telling us that everything will work out in the end, that we mustn’t rip out of our lives, out of our parish, out of our church men and women we may see as weeds, weeds who do not belong in God’s garden.

St. Paul is a great example of a person who struggled with weeds in his life, in his personality. There was one weed in particular that plagued him. He referred to it as a ‘thorn in the flesh’ people have many ideas as to what that thorn might have been; the opposition of his Jewish brethren, those who demanded Gentile Christian be circumcised, his own irritability. Paul tells us that three times he begged Christ to pluck out this weed he struggled with and three times Christ refused. Paul resigned himself to living with this weed saying,’ gladly will glory with this weed that the strength of Christ may dwell in me.’

Our weeds, the cares of our world, won’t go away. They will challenge us all our lives but remember the strength of Christ dwells in us.

As we continue to celebrate our Eucharist may we trust the truth that our weeds, our struggles, will help us, with God’s grace, to yield a harvest of a hundred fold?

Homily – July 16, 2017

July 16th, 2017

There’s a story told of a small farming community that was having a rough time dealing with a long drought. At the Sunday service the pastor announced that that afternoon at 3 o’clock he would be holding a prayer service to ask God for rain, lots of rain. At 3 o’clock the little church was full, standing room only. The pastor went into the pulpit and asked the congregation, ‘how many of you brought umbrellas’? Nobody did. The service never began.

God knows we don’t need more rain at this time, we had more than enough. Sowing crops has been held up because farmers can’t get their equipment into the water logged fields.

Farming has always been a precarious occupation. No matter how mechanized it has become it is always at the mercy of the weather. Drought, winds, an early or late frost, insects, all these things can wipe out a farmer’s crops.

Israel had it fertile plains but in the mountainous region of Galilee farming was especially precarious. Rocky soil made it difficult for seeds to take root.

Though Jesus was a carpenter he knew how hard the life of farmers could be.

In today’s parable he uses the example of the farmer at seeding time. The farmer just flings a hand full of seeds into the air and the wind carries the seed to different destinations – some fell on paths where they were visible to the birds that quickly ate them. Some fell on rocky soil where they could not take root and couldn’t survive the heat of the sun. Other seeds fell among stronger weeds that chocked their growth. Most of the seeds fell on good soil and with the help of sunshine and rain produced a harvest.

Jesus talks about a harvest as high as a hundred fold. His listeners would know he was exaggerating. His listeners knew that at best a harvest of tenfold was an outside possibility.

Jesus tells us this parable to teach us how generous, how lavish God is as he pictures God flinging with abandon the seeds of his love and mercy on us all.

Then Jesus proceeds to spell out an allegorical interpretation of his parable, that names what blocks full growth of the word; gross heart and ears and eyes that spiritually deaf and blind. Men and women uninterested or failing to understand the gifts sown in their hearts; people shallow in their response to God’s gift and therefore wilting in the face of persecution, and those people being distracted by worldly anxiety and desire for riches.

Listening to this gospel we are asked to reflect on how receptive we are to the love and mercy and blessings of God. It is a question only we can answer. What kind of a harvest do we provide?

Homily – July 9, 2017

July 9th, 2017

No one knows the Son except the Father and no one know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ That is what Jesus chooses to do. St. John teaches ‘God so loved the world he sent his son into the world, not to condemn the world but so that through him the world might be saved.’ Jesus made known to us that God was not some kind of cosmic force but a Father who so loved us he sent his son to bring us closer to himself. Jesus let us know God is a life-giving, life restoring, loving Father. St. Paul best summed it up by telling us that the crucified Christ is the love of God made visible.

Jesus is echoing our Father with his invitation, ‘come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.’

In the days of Jesus the peasants of the land were yoked as tenant farmers, their lives were governed by the will and whims of their wealthy land owners. These rustic, hardworking people whose subsistence existence allowed them to live only from day to day were controlled by religious and civil leaders who milked them for as much as they could.

In the village setting, Pharisees laid the yoke of their 613 commandments upon their followers and others who sought their advice about how to please God.

Today how many men and women are yoked, burdened by their addictions to drugs or booze or gambling, or pornography? How many are yoked, burdened by over-extended credit cards? How many are yoked to cell phones or the internet and so many other gadgets? How many are yoked to depression or debilitating illnesses? How many good men and women are yoked to under paid jobs?

Today we hear the compassionate and loving invitation of Jesus offering to yoke himself to us, a yoke that is neither burdensome nor oppressive but a yoke to support us and lessen our burdens. Jesus tells us ‘be yoked to me and I will walk with you and help you carry your burdens no matter what they may be.

This is a gracious invitation to all of us. Accepting it we will be yoked to Jesus, we will not walk alone; we will not bear our burdens alone, whatever they may be.

As we continue to celebrate our Mass we pray for ourselves and for each other that we be graced to accept Christ’s offer and face our struggles always supported by his presence and support.

Homily – July 2, 2017

July 2nd, 2017

As you know I begin each Mass asking you to recall the many blessings by which God has enriched all our lives. This is the first reason we are all here, to thank God for God’s many blessings. Eucharist means ‘thanksgiving’. We may come with a list of our needs, but first and foremost we are here to say ‘thank you’. That’s why we call to mind the many blessings by which God has blessed our lives.

This weekend we will be celebrating the 150 anniversary of Confederation, an event that established us as a nation.

We know we have a lot for which to be thankful. When we look around the world we see our brothers and sisters victims of civil war and religious strife. Millions of displaced families are living in refugee camps, in Yemen thousands are dying from cholera. There is little of anything we can do about all this except that we protect ourselves from the global indifference toward our suffering brothers and sisters and keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

We have to admit our Canada has its own problems too. The living and health conditions of our First Nations people are a blight on our image as a land justice and equality. These good people still live with the effects the residential schools had on them. They still fight for rights guaranteed by the treaties they signed as nation to nation with the Crown. Our history books have ignored their histories as the first peoples of this land and their role in the building of Canada.

For all our openness and generosity toward refugees from countries of the Middle East we still have to face the racism and bigotry that periodically surfaces among us.

When we look south of the border we have to be thankful for our public health system and our welfare system that care for our seniors and infirm – there may be flaws but it helps so many good and needy people.

The gospel talks about giving a cup of cold water to a person in need.As a parish family you good people can be proud of your response to appeals such as Share Life, the Good Shepherd Refuge, St. Vincent de Paul, Justice and Peace and Rosalie Hall and your willingness to support our several refugee appeals. As the gospel tells us ‘you will not lose your reward.’ This has been your way of saying ‘thanks’ for living in a country like Canada.

We continue this Mass giving thanks to God for so many blessings, the blessing of our faith, the blessing of this Eucharist and the blessing of living in the beautiful land of Canada.

May we all be blessed with a wonderful Canada Day.

Homily – June 25, 2017

June 25th, 2017

There was a very disappointing article in the Star on Wednesday on a woman walking into a clinic in Mississauga demanding to see ‘a white doctor who doesn’t have brown teeth and speaks English’. I saw a video of the event on the website of the Huffington Post. It was really shocking. It looked like she expected to be seen before all the people of color who were waiting patiently for their appointments because she was white and should be seen immediately with her son who had a breathing problem. She was clueless as to how her demands dismissed and diminished the men and women waiting their turn to be seen.

A man waiting for his appointment filmed the whole thing. He said, ‘I could have just ignored it but some inner voice convinced me that it was totally wrong and there was no room for misinterpretation – I am a realist and I know these things exist but watching something like this in front of your own eyes, so openly and boldly just shocked me.’ He filmed the whole thing and it’s been seen by thousands of viewers.

I’m sure many of the people in that waiting room kept their heads down and wished the woman would go away but others in the room challenged her for being a racist and a bigot.

In today’s gospel Jesus is sending his twelve apostles out on the road to spread his message that God’s kingdom is in their midst. They are to speak this truth boldly – what Jesus said to them in private, they were to proclaim from the house tops. They were to be fearless; they were not to let themselves be intimidated by the authorities. “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.’ Jesus warned them they might be driven out of synagogues and towns but they were to keep on with their tasks. They were to fear no one except the persons who would try to get them to water down their message, take the heart out of Christ’s teachings. They were the ones who could kill the soul.

The men and women who confronted the women in that clinic about her bigotry and racism were in fact acknowledging the teaching of Jesus that we are to love and respect other men and women regardless of the color of their skin or the land of their origin.

These good people are an example to us. Like them we are all called to stand up and speak up against men and women who put down and belittle men and women of other faiths, other races, other social class, and other life styles. Christ’s new and revolutionary commandment is ‘love one another as I have loved you’. It is not an easy commandment to follow. We all have our built in prejudices, attitudes toward other people that we’ve picked up by osmosis, within our own families. As Canadians we pride ourselves for being a multicultural society but often times we discover that this can be a thin veneer hiding our latent resistance to the other and the different.

Today’s gospel and that harmful, distasteful event in the clinic in Mississauga should make us all stop and think and make us honestly face the efforts we have to make in our daily exchange with men and women of a faith or a nationality or a life style different from our own. I read somewhere that to be a bearer of the word of God means to suffer, because that word inevitably encounters hostility and rejection.

As we continue to celebrate this Eucharist we pray for ourselves and for each other that we have the conviction to stand up and speak up against those who would belittle and diminish the worth and dignity of another person. Especially this weekend.