Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

This parable about the master who handed over his wealth to his servants in trust can be confusing.

We have to remember this parable is not about the stock market or entrepreneurship. It is about the bounty of life itself as well the awesome gifts of life and faith and how we invest these gifts of life and faith in the living of our own lives and the enriching of the lives of others.

Some people who visit here for the first time are struck by the difference between St. Gabriel’s and their own parish church. I try to explain that in planning the church we wanted to make an important element in our parish spirituality is to connect our worship nature and nature with our worship. We try to be aware of the beauty of Earth and the wounded-ness of Earth and we try to work toward the healing of Earth. Every now and then we are reminded to ‘live simply that others may simply live.

In one of the Prefaces we use during the year we pray;”

All things are of your making, times and seasons obey your laws but you chose to create us in your own image setting us over the whole world in all its wonder. You gave us the care of creation to praise you day by day for the marvels of your wisdom. The well – being of Earth has been entrusted to the human family, a family that is one with the family of all life on Earth. Remember the quote I’ve used so often,’ Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth and what we do to the Earth we do to ourselves.

The following thoughts are not mine; they are the reflections of Gerald Darring of St. Louis University;

”God our master has left us with the earth, not to do with it what we want but to care for it even as we live off of its abundant riches. God created the land to support living things: What will happen when God returns to find so much land strip-mined, forests strip-cleared, eroded, and burdened with toxic waste?

God created the waters to support living things: What will happen when God returns to find the oceans and rivers polluted with our garbage and chemical by-products? What will happen when God returns and discovers so many species of fish extinct?

God created the air to support living things: What will happen when God returns to find fresh clean air has been replaced with toxic fumes and smog?

God created plants and animals to live on this wonderful earth and revel in its beauty: What will happen when God returns to find so many of them driven to extinction by our destructive practices?

May we learn to care better for the Master’s goods so that when the Master returns, we will hear those blessed words: Well done good and faithful servant you have cared for and respected the world I gave you, enter into the joy of your Master.

We all have a unique responsibility under God to safeguard the created world and that responsibility requires of us that we live responsibly within it rather than trying to manage creation as though we are outside it. We did not weave the web of life; we are a strand in the web and what we do to the web we do to ourselves.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we pray that we will use wisely and justly the talents, the gifts of creation God has entrusted to us. May we be called good and trustworthy in the way we care for the gifts of nature entrusted to us.

Homily – November 12, 2017

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

About this same time last Sunday a group of about 50 men, women and children gathered at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas. As we do today so they did a week ago, they gathered to worship and praise Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Their gathering of worship and praise was turned into a blood bath as a mentally disturbed man shot and killed 26 of them and wounded many others.

Can you imagine how traumatized our parish family of St. Gabriel’s would be if such a similar thing happen within these walls? What might be the lasting effects of such a horror?

How will this small faith community in Sutherland Springs survive their senseless tragedy? They are supported by the other faith community in their small town and the prayers of people across the land. They will survive and live their faith lives more deeply because they believe, as we believe, the words of Paul in today’s Mass;’ we do not want you to be uninformed about those who have died, so that you do not grieve as others who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus; God will bring with him all who have died.

The survivors of that tragedy in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas will move on and live on and love on. They will not grieve their great loss of family and friends like people who have no hope, men and women who see their death as an entrance into nothingness. These good people believe, as we believe, that Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection is the Lord of life and the conqueror of death. They believe as we believe that death is not the end of life, it is the beginning of new and endless life.

This month of November with its many sunless days is the month of the Holy Souls. We remember those family members and friends who have died. We often see death as something that separates us from those we loved but the truth is that those who die in grace go no further from us that God and God is always near. They are with us as God is with us. They are with us as we remember, make present the past, what they said, what they did, their faults and failings, the good things they said and did. They are with us.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass, we make present the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, that great event that assures us all of endless life with God, we remember our faithful departed and especially we remember and pray for the men, women and children of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas who died one week ago today. We pray too for the healing of body and mind of those good people who survived that awful day.

May a tragedy like last Sunday’s help each of us to appreciate the gifts of faith and life with which we have all been blessed.

Homily – October 29, 2017

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

The words and advice in our first reading were written over 3000 years ago. These words still challenges our hard hearts and they have the same force and validity today as then, especially those about how we should treat strangers who come to our land, how we care for the poor in our land and how we deal justly with one another.

It is no secret that the political atmosphere south of the border has become very toxic; it is divisive setting one group of people against another. White supremacy is tolerated if not encouraged and police brutality toward Black citizens appears to be tolerated. Mexicans and Latin Americans who sought sanctuary in the country are classed as dangers to national security. Moslems have their loyalty to the country questioned. Our neighbour to the south is a divided country like never before.

But toxic fumes do not respect borders and some of the toxicity to the south has settled in Canada too. We’ve witnessed the killing of Moslem men at prayer. A town refused to sell land to a Mosque to use as a burial ground. In different parts of the country Mosques and Synagogues have been vandalized and Jewish homes have been defaced with Nazi symbols. Recently the Quebec government passed Bill 62 banning Moslem women from covering their faces. It is estimated that less than 100 Moslem women wear the nigab. One journalist described this bill as ‘a ludicrous claptrap of Islamophobia.’

All these actions, these mind sets are in stark contrast to what today’s scriptures call us. We all have our prejudices, our likes and dislikes and we’re uncomfortable with the different, the unknown. But these are demons we must fight. They are un-God like, they are un-Christian. We are all immigrants to Canada. As individuals and as a Christian community we try to drive the demon of division and prejudice from our lives, from our community.

Christ puts before each of us every day of our lives this challenge, this commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and you shall love your neighbour as yourself’.

The point of today’s scripture is to make us watchful in the way we treat any one of God’s sons and daughters. We are to look at each person who crosses our path, each one, rich or poor, friend or stranger, obnoxious or likeable, as a person under the protection of God who is Father to us all. By God’s help may we make sure that we do not cause any person to cry to God by what we say or do to him or her. May we join with God is losing all patience with those who would pollute of lives and relationships with the stench of bigotry and hatred.

Homily – October 15, 2017

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

I think it is safe to say that we all like a party and we all like to be invited to a party. Birthday parties are the most common of parties, but we have wedding banquets and anniversaries, we celebrate retirements and even party after a funeral. Parties are an important part of our lives and we can get upset with someone who ignores our invitation to join us in a celebration of an important event. The great banquet described in the first reading at which weeping and mourning are banned is all about is a classic example of the fulfillment of God’s saving purpose in history.

All through the Jewish scriptures we read time and again of God’s inviting his people to listen to God’s voice through the call of God’s prophets. In one of the psalms the writer has God saying; Forty years I endured this generation, they are a people whose hearts go astray and they did not listen to my voice, though they had seen all my works so I swore in my anger they shall not enter into my rest. None of the men, women and children, including Moses himself, whom God delivered from Egypt, entered the Promised Land. Though they experienced their deliverance from slavery, though they has seen God’s works of feeding them and giving water to drink, their hearts went astray, they worship false Gods, they would not listen to God’s voice. They did not enter into God’s rest.

Today’s gospel story about the king’s son wedding and the invited guests refusal to attend, even beating and killing those bringing the invitation is just another example of people not just ignoring but outright rejecting God’s invitation into God’s life.

When Matthew wrote his gospel Jerusalem had already been reduced to ruins by the Roman armies sent to put down the Jewish rebellion. He saw this as a punishment for the people, especially the religious leader’s refusal to accept Jesus, though they had seen all his works.

We have seen and at this Mass we renew the great work of Jesus, his teachings, his healings and especially his passion, death and resurrection.

Every day God beckons us, invites us to his banquet, into a deeper relationship with him. It could be by a hint that we could be more patient, more understanding of a spouse, a young adult son or daughter. It could be by a deeper sensitivity toward the way we relate to minority peoples of new immigrants to Canada. God may hint that we spend a bit of time in peace and quiet, step aside from our business. We may be nudged to be more patient driving the car, more patient with the bustle of people in the subway, more patient with the men and women with whom we work. We might be called to pray for the countless refugees of the world, the people whose lives are forever changed by natural disasters of floods or fires. God might gift us with a new insight into his new commandment, ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ But every day, in many different ways we are invited to the banquet of life and love that brings us into a deeper relationship with God – our host. Do we ignore or reject or accept God’s gracious invitation?

In the gospel story the invited offered flimsy and insulting excuses, implying that tending the farm or the business is much more important than the wedding of the king’s son. We are capable of brushing off God’s hints, God’s invitation to deepen our closeness to him. Do we have our flimsy excuses? Are we too busy, do we have too many things to do, more important things to do? Or do we gladly accept God’s invitation to come closer and enjoy the banquet of God’s life and love?

Homily – October 8, 2017

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend with your families and friends.

In the light of the murderous event in Las Vegas this past Sunday I think the one thing for which we could be most grateful is the precious gift of life. It is a gift we often take for granted. It is a precious gift.

How many of the men and women, the young and the old ever imagined as they went to that concert on Sunday night that this would be their last day of life. How many survivors ever imagined the action of a mad man would alter their lives forever?

We pray for all those families who, in their confusion and pain are now enduring the silence of God, good people who ask ‘why, why us’? Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and spouses who in their ways echo the words of Christ on his cross, ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me’?

They endure what Christ endured, the silence of God. There is no answer to the ‘why’ they ask. There is no satisfactory answer to the question, no answer that would take away the pain and sorrow, the anger that comes with such an act of madness. We have to trust that the silence of God on their Good Friday will one day be replaced by the Alleluia of their Easters.

Time and again we witness the abiding potential for evil in the human family. When senseless tragedies like Vegas happen we are stunned by them and yet within that same tragedy we hear of so many acts of heroism taking place within the same event. The bravery of first responders who put themselves in harm’s way. People helping other people, putting themselves in danger to be there for total strangers.

Time and time again we witness the abiding potential for the good and the generous in our human family. That potential is what helps us through the awfulness of a Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It really doesn’t. Sometime, somewhere this evil will happen again and it will bring out the same bravery and goodness in others to show that the good overcomes the bad and love conquerors the hateful heart.

As a parish family we can give thanks for the many manifestations of love and generosity we experience as a parish family. Your response to Share Life, your support of our refugee committee, your generosity to our food drive, our Christmas toy drive, your support of the works of our St. Vincent de Paul men and women and the list could go on and on.

In no way diminishing the evil on Las Vegas our lives and most people’s lives are blessed by good people. For this we are thankful.

As we continue to celebrate our Eucharist, our act of thanksgiving we pray for the victims and the heroes of Las Vegas and we thank God for the many good people who are a blessing in our lives…..