Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – June 18, 2017

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

In John’s gospel we read, ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ Such was God’s desire to be close to us, one with us. But today’s feast of the Body and Blood of Christ goes even deeper in Christ’s desire of closeness.

Jesus shocked his hearers, he turned many of them off when told them, ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you cannot have life in you… whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in them.’ How close can we get?

We read that many of his followers found this to be a hard saying and walked with him no more. Who ever heard of eating another’s flesh, drinking another person’s blood? The very idea is revolting. Yet this is the reality when we receive Holy Communion. Bread is more that bread and wine is more than wine. They are the body and blood of Jesus.

Every Jewish person knew the story of the manna, the mysterious bread from heaven that helped them survive their sojourn in the desert. Jesus tells the men and women listening to him that he is the new manna, the new bread from heaven. He adds the promise, ‘whoever eats this bread will live forever.’

This is the reality we celebrate on the day – the day of the Body and Blood of Jesus our Christ.

Receiving Holy Communion is not a private devotion. When we receive Communion we answer Amen, meaning I believe I am receiving Christ’s body. But there is more. We are affirming ourselves to be members of the Body of Christ the Church. St. Paul asks us,’ do you not know that you are the body of Christ? Paul teaches that when we receive Holy Communion we are bonded to Jesus and also to our neighbours, to everyone here with us. As members of the Church we support and sustain it by our good works; works entrusted to us by Christ; feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, welcome the stranger. Holy Communion has a horizontal as well as a vertical direction.

Before we receive the Body of Christ we repeat the words of the centurion, ‘Lord I’m not worthy that you should enter under my roof, say only the word and my soul shall be healed.’ Worthiness has nothing to do with all this. Who of us is worthy of such a gift? Need is our reality at this moment, our need for the grace of Christ, the strength of Christ, the love of Christ, the compassion of Christ, the forgiveness of Christ that we lack in our own lives at this time. The words of Pope Francis are so encouraging when tells us that the Eucharist, Holy Communion is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak – which we all are. Receiving Holy Communion we hold out an empty hand, showing our need for the strength and help we need to be faithful to the teaching of Jesus. Holy Communion is the bread, the nourishment we need to follow in the footsteps of the One who said, ‘love one another as I have loved you, forgive one another as I have forgiven you.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass may we always be thankful for this great gift, the Body and Blood of Christ.

Homily – June 11, 2017

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity. This is a mystery basic of our faith as Christians – this is the mystery that separates us from the great faiths of Judaism and Islam. They too believe in the one God, the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But we believe that the “ God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob loved the world, loved us, so much He sent His Son to the world – not to condemn the world – but in order that the world might be saved thru him. We believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sent the Holy Spirit to us at Pentecost to complete the work of Christ on earth and bring us to the fullness of grace.

. As you know a mystery is not something of which we can know nothing, a mystery is something of which we cannot know everything. Even when we see God face to face and know God as God is, we will still be dealing with mystery. Our limited intelligence cannot comprehend the immensity of God.

What this feast celebrates and teaches us is that the inner life of God is a life of relationships. The Father speaks the Word and the Holy Spirit binds Father and Son together in a relationship of love. One author put it this way, ’There is otherness in God’s oneness. God is the beholder and the beheld, the lover and beloved.’

Through the insights of science and thinkers we’ve come to know, if not appreciate, that all creation, the galaxies, the solar systems and Earth reflect the reality of the inner life of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Father, Son and Spirit are not expressions of God, each has their own identity, and they are different one from the other yet live in community, one with the other.

Slowly we’ve come to see our own reality in this way. Last week we celebrate the feast of Pentecost – the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church. The Spirit reminds us of our individual dignity ‘do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you ‘and Spirit reminds us of our oneness with all who share our faith and our common humanity. The Spirit binds us together in a life of love and service. But the reality of our own individuality and our oneness with all others goes beyond our human relationships.

Fr. Thomas Berry, a member of our Passionist Community expressed it this way;’ in reality, there is a single integral community of the Earth that includes all its component members whether human or other than human. In this community every being has its own role to fulfill, its own dignity, its own inner spontaneity. Every being has its own voice. Every being declares itself to the entire universe. Every being enters into communion with other beings.’ We are one with, we are family with everything, living and non-living that make up the planet Earth, this life pulsating planet we call home.

We try to recapture that sense of wonder St. Francis of Assisi had when, in his canticles he would sing of Brother Sun and Sister Moon, when he would sing of Brother Wolf and Sister Loon. In his heart he knew he was kin, family to all life on earth. Unfortunately we’ve lost that sense of oneness with the rest of God’s good creation. Through the centuries we’ve made great strides in science and technology and unfortunately we’ve come to see ourselves as masters of creation and see the bounty of Earth’s resources as commodities to exploit and waste. We have come to see Earth and all it contains as a collection of objects, resources to be developed and exploited, not as a community, a family of subjects. We forgot that everything on Earth, from the smallest sub particle to the greatest of whales has its own uniqueness; it is different from every other being yet is a vital part of the community of Earth. We are seldom impressed by the wonder and beauty of creation – we take it for granted. Pope Francis has reminded the world of this reality of oneness in his letter to the world titled ‘Laudato Si’. He gave a copy of this letter to President Trump recently. The President said he’d read it but it is probably being used as a door stop at the White House. The President’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord trashes the message of Pope Francis. Issues such as climate change, the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that feeds us, national issues about the safety of oil pipe lines, oil spills that pollute the oceans, tar sands developments and fracking, are issues we should be concerned about because they have an impact on the quality of our relationship with the rest of God’s good creation. The health and wellbeing of our environment are moral issues because we are dealing with our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the planet.

The human family and our relationship with Earth are matters of our faith in God, creator of heaven and earth. Remember the truth, the earth does not belong to us we belong to the earth and what we do to the earth we do to ourselves. We did not weave the web of life; we are strands in the web and what we do to the web we do to ourselves. What goes around comes around.

On this feast of the Holy Trinity made we be bless to know and to live out the reality that as God’s inner life is a life of loving relationships and so too is our life here on earth, when it is lived in a loving, life giving relationship not just with family and friends but with the total Earth community human and otherwise. May we all be blessed to know and live life in this reality.

Homily – June 4, 2017

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

This is a feast of empowerment and enlightenment. The image of a mighty wind swirling around the upper room tells of power. The tongues of fire settling on Mary and the apostles tell of enlightenment. Enlightened and empowered the gifted apostles boldly unlocked the doors of their room and went out into the streets to proclaim Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and Savior of all people. In tongues they never knew before they proclaimed the mighty works of God.

The Holy Spirit enlivens and enriches the church, men and women in every age with the Spirit’s gifts of wisdom and understanding, the gifts of courage and fortitude and a sense of awe before the Lord. These are not personal gifts meant to be kept to oneself, they are gifts given to enrich the whole Christian community.

In years past the opening prayer for this feast of Pentecost prayed that the Holy Spirit ‘Broaden the horizons of our minds’ so that we may see the dignity and worth of every person who comes into our lives. Broaden the horizons of our minds and enable us to be thankful for the blessing with which we are blessed. Broaden the horizons of our minds and help us to be more sensitive to struggles of the homeless, the under-employed and under-paid men and women living in Toronto. Broaden the horizons of our minds and help us to be more aware of the beauty and the frailty of God’s good creation and work for the healing of Earth. Broaden the horizons of our minds and help us deepen our faith in Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave his life for us.

There are men and women who are in the charismatic movement who sometimes experience the wonder of that first Pentecost, who pray in the Spirit or speak in tongues and heal and prophecy. This Pentecost Pope Francis is greeting a couple of hundred thousand Christian charismatics from around the world to Rome. They held a vigil in praise and prayer last evening in the Circus Maximus. This will be an ecumenical celebration. These pilgrims of Pentecost will be with the Pope tomorrow as he celebrates Mass in St. Peter’s square. I was at a similar meeting back in 1975 when Pope Paul VI met with charismatics from around the world.

There were many songs of praise and much speaking in tongues. It was all very impressive but I have to admit I wasn’t all that comfortable with it. As we say in golf ‘different strokes for different folks.’

I survive with the conviction that the Holy Spirit works in most of our lives by nudging us, a little push now and then to be more patient, kind or understanding towards spouses, children. Maybe the Spirit nudges us to make a phone call, drop a note, or make a visit to a house bound friend. The Spirit gives us the patience we need to be more understanding of aging spouses or parents who forget who they are or even where they are and test our patience with their repeated questions. Maybe we are touched by the idea to pray for people with cancer, especially children. Maybe we are nudged toward a deeper consciousness of the unfairness and desperation that darkens the lives of so many people. Pray that the Spirit bless with an attitude of gratitude for the blessings in our lives. I like to think this is how the Holy Spirit is alive and well in us in the ordinary living of our ordinary lives.

On this feast of Pentecost we pray for ourselves and for each other that the Holy Spirit empower and enlighten us and give us the strength to live lives faithful to the teachings of Jesus our Christ.

Homily – May 28, 2017

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

This has been a rough week for a lot of people, especially the families of those killed or wounded in the bombing that took place in Manchester, England. It is hard to imagine what goes on in the minds of the people responsible for such horrendous acts. Setting a bomb designed to kill and maim young people enjoying a concert. Speaking of horrendous acts, there was the murder of Coptic Christians on pilgrimage to a shrine. Then there was the signing of an arms deal between the U.S. the Saudis. Think of the destruction to human life and property that will result from such a deal. The lives of innocent men, women and children will be snuffed out, homes and schools and hospitals will be destroyed all in the name of profit and greed cloaked in the robe of national security.

Maybe some of you good people are experiencing your own time of terror, your own time of fright and fear. Pope John 23rd made the observation that behind every front door there is a cross. Maybe you are waiting for test results or you’ve just got results that are not good. Maybe there is the possibility of losing your job. Maybe you just can’t find a job. Maybe you are behind in your rent. Maybe what you thought was a good relationship has gone sour. Maybe your family life is disintegrating because serious conflicts or even separation. Maybe you’ve just discovered a son or daughter is caught in the web of addiction. All these and many other situations can be your own experience of a bomb blast that shatters your life. Our world, personal and social seems to be controlled by evil, greedy and unjust and hateful forces. At times we can find it hard to find the good and the generous and the beautiful in our world. The bright sun seems hidden by the black clouds of immorality and injustice.

Six weeks ago this past Friday we observed Good Friday. Notice I didn’t say we celebrated, we observed, we remembered in sorrow the sufferings of Jesus our Christ. We remembered how evil religious and political men decided it was better for an innocent man to die to maintain their political and religious stability. We remember how Jesus, a man who went about doing good, who called people to have compassion and love for one another was reduced to a victim of mockery and brutality. He was crowned with the mock thorn crown of kingship, declared innocent and yet scourged. We remember his way to the cross, his being nailed to the cross and his painful and lonely death on the cross. We remembered his was wounded for our offences and that by his wounds we were healed.

Today we celebrate the feast of Christ’s Ascension, his being taken up in glory. The resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus cannot be separated; they are separated in order to contemplate the meaning of two aspects of a single, indivisible event. Both feasts celebrate Christ’s vindication, his glorification. Both feasts teach us that the sacrifice of his life on the cross was accepted by the Father. As St. Paul teaches it was for this cause – his acceptance of death – that God has exalted him and given him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus ever knee should bend in heaven and on earth and every tongue should confess that Jesus the Christ is Lord.

These feasts of resurrection and ascension shout out loud that evil and hatred and injustice are not the final words in our lives.

A number of years ago Cardinal Wyszynski of Warsaw visited Auschwitz – the infamous concentration camp where thousands of Jews and Poles were worked and starved to death and finally executed. Auschwitz was the epitome of evil, of hatred. The Cardinal said to those who were with him, you see this place, the barracks are decaying, the barbwire fence is rotting, the ovens and cold and empty – those who ran this terrible place are remembered in shame and dishonor – those who survived this place of death now live new and fruitful lives. Evil does not and will not prevail. Love and life prevail.

The hatred and evil wrought on Jesus did not prevail – Christ has risen, Christ will come again.

The sadness, the anxiety, the hurt you may now be facing will not endure, will not win. God’s grace and love and mercy are with you – whether you realize it or not and you will, with God’s grace, overcome, you will prevail. Christ’s victory is our victory. Where he has gone we hope to follow.

The final words of Jesus in today’s gospel command us to go into our world, however limited ours may be, and by the way we face and endure our own sufferings, we witness to the wonderful truth that love conquers hatred, acceptance of other people into our lives shows the shallowness of bigotry, that is it better to give than to receive, that injustice and greed are a one way street to nowhere. Those who live in love live in God.

Homily – May 21, 2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

If you love me you will keep my commandments, in other words if you really believe who I and what I have said and why I died and rose again then you will try and no matter how many times you may fail you will continue to try to keep my commandments.

It is not those who say Lord, Lord, who will enter the kingdom, it is those who do the will of my Father. It is not those who speak words of love who come to God but those who do loving works speak loving words that come to God.

You’ve heard all this before; love one another as I have loved you. At this Mass we celebrate Jesus’ love for each of us. He handed himself over to people who rejected him and his teachings and then condemned to a shameful and painful death. Even in his agony he prayed, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’

In the opening prayer at this Mass we prayed, ‘what we live in remembrance we may always hold to in what we do.’ What we live in remembrance is Christ’s dying on the cross out of love for us. ‘May we always hold to in what we do’ is our own struggles to ‘love others as we have been loved by Jesus.

Love one another as I have loved you. It is not easy but Christ asks us to die to our selfishness, our ‘me first ‘attitude and put the needs of others first. He wants us to be there for others as he was there for us.

Jesus wants us to be there for men and women who hunger and thirst for respect and acceptance no matter what their race or faith or life-style. Jesus wants us to be there for the men, women and children who are fleeing civil wars and religious persecution and as strangers seek to be welcomed to our land and you’ve done this many times,

Jesus went out of his way to be there for the sick, the outcast and the forgotten. He challenges us to be conscious of family members and friends who may be isolated at home or in nursing and retirement homes who would be thrilled with a phone call or a visit. What we live in remembrance may we always hold to in what we do.

Jesus taught us to forgive not seven times but seventy seven times those who harmed us in any way. From his cross he forgave those who brought him to this place of shame. What we live in remembrance may we always hold on to in what we do. We are not asked to forget but we are asked to forgive the harm, the hurt and the injustice we’ve endured from family members or friends.

If you love me you will keep my commandments. That’s not easy, it can be a challenge but nourished by the bread of life we can always hold on to in what we do.