Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – July 7, 2019

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

We know from Paul’s letters to the churches he founded that he had a deep personal relationship with Jesus. He would say of himself, ’I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me and the life I live, I live trusting in the love of Christ who died for me.’ In another letter Paul writes, ‘for me, to live is Christ.’

These powerful words that begin our second reading say everything about Paul’s relationship with Christ, ‘May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world crucified to me and I to the world.

Paul “glories,” not in his circumcision as assign of his Jewishness as some of the Jewish coverts of Galicia did, Paul’s boast was in the life giving cross of Christ, by which the world is crucified to Paul and Paul to the world.’

Paul is utterly rooted in trust, the blessed assurance in a God who bears and nourishes all of us, who would also die for love of us.

So much of the words of Paul sound like a deep personal relationship with Christ Jesus. But it is more. Have you ever heard a person say that they have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior? It sounds like, ’just the two of us.’ For Paul who did have a deep personal relationship with Christ, but for Paul it was much more than that. Paul saw himself as a member of the Christian community which he describes as the body of Christ. Paul writes to the Christian community in Corinth; ‘ just as the body is one and has many members so it is with Christ…we are all baptised into the one body, Jews and Greeks, slaves and free, male and female. One member cannot say to another, ’I have no need of you.’ In other words, we’re all in this together.

Right now we are members of an embarrassed church because of the sins and crimes of priests and the cover-ups of our bishops seeking to protect the reputation of our church. It’s all coming crashing down around us. That’s part of the picture. But as the eyes and ears and hands and feet of the body of Christ we Catholic Christians are to work to bring peace and justice to our troubled world. Our parish family of St. Gabriel’s is a microcosm of the whole church in our many efforts to help the hungry and homeless, in the way we’ve welcomed and supported refugee families from the Middle East, in our hospital visitors, our support of the Good Shepard Refuge and Rosalie Hall, our support of Share Life, the work of St. Vincent de Paul, in our support of Just Coffee and our young people’s involvement in local issues. We are the Body of Christ in our own simple and small ways bringing Christ love and healing to all the people who come into our lives.

Someone once said that there are two things in life we can’t do alone – get married and be a Christian. Remember the song from the musical Carousel, you’ll never walk alone? We’ll never walk alone, we’ll never pray alone, we’ll never suffer alone, and we’ll never serve alone. We are the Body of Christ. We are all in this together.

As we continue this Mass we give thanks to God for inviting us into our own personal relationship with Jesus. May we be blessed to know that this personal relationship is best lived appreciating the relationship we have with all who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Homily – June 30, 2019

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

In our first reading from the Book of Kings we can see in Elisha’s slaughter of his oxen and using his wooden plow for firewood was his way of burning his bridges, of never going back to his former way of living and setting to follow Elijah in his ministry as a prophet to Israel.

In the gospel Jesus put an either or before the three men who wanted to follow. They wanted to take care of unfinished family matters first. They’d catch up with him later on. But Jesus had urgency about him; for him there was neither holding back nor turning back. One time he said, ‘one who sets his hand on the plow and looks back is not fit of the kingdom of God.’

Many good people today find it difficult to make a commitment. They’ve replaced ‘forever’ with let’s wait and see. When it comes to relationships, people can be quite comfortable with the notion of friends with benefits. Commitment can be too demanding. We do not easily make commitments, still less easily do we keep them. This is true of any time and nation. And yet it is particularly true of us. These days, it is difficult for a person to keep a promise fifty hours, much less fifty years. In years past there were plenty of marriage breakdowns but few marriage break ups. Wives were trapped; they had nowhere to go, so they stayed.

As one writer wrote, ‘There’s a loss of heart for almost everything such as for fidelity in relationships, as less and less people find within themselves the resiliency needed to live out the tensions that long-term commitment inevitably brings; Hence, more and more, we have less heart to put up with the strains and tensions of family, church, neighborhood, community, and country. Fidelity is never an easy journey. Yet we are surrounded by examples to promises made and promises kept. We celebrate with husbands and wives who celebrate 25 or 50 or 60 years of marriage. We celebrate with teachers who retire after years of teaching in our schools. Last week at a Passionist community in Jamaica, New York I celebrated with two classmates our 60 anniversary of ordination and others celebrated 50 and 25 years.

Jesus wanted from his followers that same commitment he had to always do the will of his Father, that why Luke tells us that Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, Jesus was determined to go where he would confront the religious authorities for their allowing his father’s house to become a market place instead of the house of prayer it was meant to be. Jesus’ cleansing the temple was the last straw. The religious authorities made the decision, he had to go.

We can ask how we follow Christ in the ordinary living of our ordinary lives. Some follow Christ in answering the invitation to the priesthood or religious or single life. Most follow Christ by being faithful to their marriage vows, being faithful in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. Most follow Christ by being source of life and love to one another and their children. We all follow Christ when stand for the worth and dignity of all people regardless of their faith, their race, their life styles. We follow Christ when we support social justice issues such as a living wage or adequate housing. We follow Christ when stand against bigotry and racism and discrimination.

We follow Christ when on this Canada weekend we give thanks for living in this country of immigrants where all are welcomed and we ask God for the grace we need to be faithful followers of His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord and giver of life and love.

Homily – June 23, 2019

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

St. Paul tells us that Jesus did not consider his equality with God as something to be clung to. He emptied himself of his divinity and took to himself our humanity, becoming as we all are. He became a slave to his father’s will being obedient, even unto death, even death on a cross.

On this feast of the Body and Blood of Christ we are awed by another expression of Jesus’ emptying – becoming a piece of bread, a small host, for our nourishment. Our celebration of the Eucharist is the most important religious thing we do; it is our act of thanksgiving, Eucharist means thanksgiving, for the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, the event that restored our friendship with God.

When we receive that small white host on our tongue or in our hand we are receiving Christ, our bread of life.

Baptism is the most important of all Sacraments but the Eucharist is the greatest of the Sacrament. We receive the body and blood of Christ and this nourishment strengthens us to be more Christ-like in the living of our lives.

Paul’s description of the Last Supper came from a direct testimony of Jesus, because Paul was not present at the Last Supper, as he said, ‘I received it from the Lord.’

At every Mass Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is recalled and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

Every cultural has a stable food they use as a basis for survival; it is usually some form of bread. As Catholic Christians our stable food is Holy Communion as we receive Christ our bread of life. When we eat any food it becomes part of our body. When we receive Communion we become more like Jesus who gave us this promise; ‘ he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood live in me and I live in him and I will raise them up on the last day.’

Before communion we say the words, Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the words and my soul shall be healed. None of us are worth to receive such a gift but all of us are needy.

The words of Pope Francis ring true for all of us; The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’ God know we are all weak. May we all accept Christ’s invitation- take and eat, take and drink – this is my body, this is my life given for you.

May we always be thankful for such this gracious gift.

Homily – June 16, 2019

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

What a wonderful weekend to celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity as we also celebrate Father’s Day. A mother wrote this beautiful reflection on the birth of her first child.

God is love, and the love between Father and Son is so profound that it begets a third Person, the Spirit. Our human experience of love approaches this mystery we call the Trinity. ‘I can remember catching a glimpse of the power of our relational God when I saw my first child at the moment of her birth. As I, a new mother, and her father looked at our baby we both cried at what our love had created.

As I’ve mentioned before a mystery is not something of which we can know nothing. A mystery is something of which we cannot know everything. Even when we come to see God as God is we will not be capable of grasping the immensity of God.

This feast is a feast that celebrates relationships. God’s inner relationships and God’s relationship with us, as Father, as Savior and as Sanctifier. It is a feast that challenges us to question the health of our own relationships.

That questioning might go something like this; in my relationships am I a source of life, love, growth, healing, forgiving. Do I enrich the lives of others by my friendship? Are people better people thru their friendship with me? Do I encourage, foster the gifts and abilities of others. Do I give my spouse, my sons or daughters, my friends, the freedom to be themselves, to find their own way? Is my friendship strong enough that I am willing to confront or face up to issues that are not healthy, that can weaken my relationship with another person? In any and all of my relationships am I dependable, trustworthy, and faithful?

Forming and maintaining good healthy relationships is not easy. Friends ‘fall out ‘husbands and wives split, parents and children are alienated. That’s why it’s important to question ourselves – am I a control freak – am I a demanding person, a needy person, do I try to manipulate, dominate family or friends. Does everything have to center of me? Living in healthy, life giving relationships is a life time task. When all is said and done – our whole lives will be judged on how we lived our many relationships – with family, friends or strangers – These are the facts by which our lives will be judged – I was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned – and you were there for me – welcome into the eternal life giving relationship of Father, Son and Spirit – for as often as you did these things to one of these, the least of mine, you did it to me.

We refer to ourselves as St. Gabriel’s parish family. Years ago a person said to me, ‘I’ve been coming here for years and no one has ever spoken to me.’ I asked her how many people she’d spoken to. None. She presumed it was up to others to speak to her. We invite to greet those around as we begin our family celebration of Mass. Do you feel welcome here? Do you feel you belong? Do you feel at home? Have you made any effort to help others feel at home here? It’s something to think about.

A few years ago Pope Francis issued a letter to the world on the environmental crises facing us all but denied by many. We really have messed up our relationships with the rest of Earth’s life systems, systems that support and sustain our lives. To satisfy our need for more and more we have polluted Earth’s lakes and rivers with our wastes from pulp mills and mines. We’ve polluted Earth’s air with toxic fumes and the soil with pesticides. We’ve ignored the fact that we are not lords of creation; we are kin, we are family with all other life forms on our common home, Mother Earth. You’ve heard me say this many times, ‘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 a strand in the web and what we do to the web we do to ourselves. We humans have placed a great strain on our relationships with the rest of God’s good creation. The church, even common sense, calls us to live simply that others may simply live and to see that Earth’s bounty is shared equally by whole human family.

As we continue to celebrate this feast of the Blessed Trinity, this feast of relationships we pray for the ability to always live in holy, life giving, life sustaining, life healing relationships with all those who come into our lives.

Homily – June 9, 2019

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Pentecost, a Jewish celebration, originated as an agricultural festival of thanksgiving for the early crop, the ingathering of the grain harvest, which had begun at Passover. Later Judaism transformed it into a feast of salvation history celebrating the giving of the Law at Sinai and the establishment of Israel as God’s people.

The apostles were probably celebrating this feast when all was changed as the Holy Spirit swept into their lives with the power of a mighty wind and the gentleness of tongues of fire resting over the apostles and Mary. This Spirit’s coming brought about great changes in the early Christian Jewish community. The old feast of the Law became the new feast of the life giving Spirit.

The violent wind of the Holy Spirit forced the frighten followers of Jesus who had hidden behind locked doors out into the crowded streets of Jerusalem to proclaim in many languages the wonderful work of God – the raising of Jesus from the dead.

As Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians the Holy Spirit enriched the church with a variety of gifts. But these gifts are given for the benefit of the whole community not the gifted individual.

We still believe the Holy Spirit guides the church today, the Holy Spirit is the source of the Church’s holiness despite the sinfulness of its members.

But how does the Holy Spirit touch our lives today? I like to think that it is not through a violent wind but through a nudge, a poke, a push. The Spirit nudges us to be more patient with others; the Spirit nudges us to keep our hurtful thoughts and words to ourselves. The spirit nudges us to visit a friend who is house bound or offer a ride to that person so they can get out of the house. The Spirit nudges us to bite our tongue and not say a caustic or hurtful answer in our conversation with someone. The Spirit pushes us to speak up for someone who has been put down by a racist or sexist remark. The Spirit pushes us to be involved in different parish activities such as being involved with the St. Vincent de Paul or the Good Shepherd Refuge. The Spirit nudges us to pray for our wounded church, wounds caused by a lack of honesty from our leadership.

We pray that the Holy Spirit broaden the horizons of our minds beyond our personal concerns and see the broader picture. We ask the Spirit to broaden the horizons of minds to appreciate the beauty and the woundedness of God’s good creation. We can ask the Spirit to help us appreciate the reality of climate change and the impact it will have on our children’s, children’s children. May the Spirit broaden the horizons of our minds to see the evils of racism and the fear of the stranger, broaden the horizons of our minds to see destructiveness of nationalism, the evils of world hunger and poverty. May our minds be broadening to the goodness in all peoples, in all faiths.

As we continue to celebrate this Spirit filled feast we pray for ourselves and for each other that we are responsive to the nudges, the poking of the Holy Spirit that we be open to the goodness and the needs of others and appreciate the goodness found within ourselves.