Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – July 1, 2018

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

I’m dating myself when I quote the Baltimore Catechism. The first question was ‘who made me? God made me. Why did God make me? God made me to know him and love him and serve him in this world and be happy with him in the next. We are meant to live in this world and in the next. Death is not the final word – life is the final word, the final reality.

This past week we celebrate the feast of St. Irenaeus, a bishop of the second century. One of his sayings was, ‘The glory of God is man/woman fully alive.

We are fully alive and give God glory when we are living the teachings of Jesus and the example of Jesus in our daily lives. We are fully alive and give God glory when we support the unborn, we are fully alive and give God glory when support hospices and a dignified life for our seniors, we are fully alive and give God glory when we support food banks, when we support efforts for affordable housing, when we work for a minimum wage that can support a family.

We are fully alive and give God glory when we follow the advice of St. Paul who tells to say only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them. We are fully alive and give God glory when we challenge sexist or racist or homophobic remarks in any conversation. We are fully alive and give God glory when we challenge racist remarks that lessen the dignity and worth of our brothers and sisters.

We are fully alive and give God glory when we have the courage to change our consumer life styles and live simply that others may simply live. We are fully alive and give God glory when we delight in the beauty and wonder of God’s good creation and we are fully alive and give God glory when we work for the healing of the wounded Earth.

We are fully alive and give God glory when we work for the healing of our church, wounded by the scandals of our priests and bishops.

We are fully alive and give glory to God when we love and support and respect life in all its manifestations. We are fully alive and give God glory when we are there for family, friend or stranger as Jesus we there for Jairus and his daughter and the suffering woman who touched his garment.

We are fully alive and give glory to God when we try, as best we can to live the new commandment – love one another as I have loved you.

We can continue this Mass giving thanks to God for living in this wonderful land of Canada and seek the grace to be fully alive.

Homily – June 24, 2018

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Our actions and our choices have consequences. We know this from our own life experiences. God’s actions and choices have consequences. We know this from what we call ‘salvation history’. God called Isaiah before Isaiah was born for a particular purpose, to bring back Jacob, the Jewish people to a greater fidelity to God. God picked David, a mere boy watching his father’s sheep to be the future king of Israel. Jesus was born as a member, a descendant of the house of David. John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus was chosen by God to be the one who would prepare the people to be touch and transformed by the life and ministry of Jesus. At John’s circumcision his father said of him, ‘you my child will be called the prophet of the Most High for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways’.

John the Baptist came out of the wilderness preaching a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He gathered a great number of followers and enjoyed a great popularity among the people. When Jesus came on the scene John told the people, ‘someone is coming after men who is greater that I and I am not worthy to undo the strap of his scandals Pointing to Jesus John told the crowd, behold the lamb of God.

Eventually some, if not many of John’s disciples left him and started to follow Jesus.

Most of us would be resentful at such disloyalty, angered at these ‘fair weather friends’. But John simply said, ‘he must increase, I must decrease.’ The church has used John’s words in fixing the feasts of the birth of Christ at the winter equinox, when the days, imperceptively get longer and the feast of John at the summer equinox, when the days, imperceptively get shorter.

When he heard reports of Jesus gently inviting sinners in, eating and drinking with them, rather than casting them off, John was scandalized, that kind of a messiah didn’t fit John’s expectations, nor his preaching. That’s why Jesus, in sending a response to John’s question, ‘are you he who is to come or should we look for another, invited John not to be scandalized in him but consider the works he was doing. John hadn’t wanted a gentle, vulnerable, peace-preaching messiah. He wanted bad people punished, not converted. But, to his credit, once he saw how Jesus’ power worked, he understood, accepted a deeper truth, stepped back in self-effacement, and pointed people in Jesus’ direction with the words: ‘behold the lamb of God, he must increase and I must decrease.

What can we learn from the life of John the Baptist? Maybe we could learn to let go. Let go of being in charge and be open to the thoughts of others. Let go of our need to control and let sons and daughters find their own way. Let go of thinking we know what is best for adult sons and daughters and their family affairs. Let go of interfering with the life choices of our young people and respect their wishes. Let go of believing we know what is best for every occasion, every person. In our senior years, let go of our independence and learn to live with our limitations. Let go of car keys and accept the wisdom of others.

Let go. It’s not easy, it wasn’t easy for John the Baptist. He stepped aside to make room for Jesus and his mission.

On this feast of a man who was graced to know how and when to let go may we be blessed, looking into our own life situations, our own relationship with others, with the grace and the strength to let go.

Homily – June 17, 2018

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

This is the planting season. People are planting seeds or plants in their gardens and in the front of their homes. Planting can be an act of faith. We trust the seeds will grow, we trust the plants will take root, but we don’t know. There is a lot at stake. Will the coming months be too hot or too rainy? Will we use too much or too little fertilizer? Are we planting in good soil?

In today’s gospel Jesus tells two parables in which he describes the kingdom of God, the reign or the action of God in our lives. In the first parable Jesus tells us the farmer can do nothing to hasten to produce of hasten the process of grow of the plant; the seed will sprout and grow on its own. It doesn’t need the farmer. In the second parable he tells about small beginnings, the smallest of all seeds ending up as the greatest of all shrubs.

Both are about growth.

When we were baptized the reign of God began in our lives, the mustard seed was planted. Through our Catholic up bring, our reception of our First Holy Communion, our first Confession, our Confirmation, our religious instruction, our presence at Mass and our receiving Holy Communion, the example of family and friends plus our involvement in the life of the parish that seed, the smallest of all seeds, was meant to take root and grow. Unlike the farmer who has no control over whether or not the seed will fructify, we have a lot to do with the growth of the reign of God in our lives. God’s reign isn’t a place. It’s a condition, it’s a mindset of God’s love inspiring and guiding our lives; opening our hearts to all those who come into our lives.

We can ask ourselves these challenging questions; has the mustard seed planted in me at baptism grown in such a way that my branches are strong enough and wide enough to welcome all those men, women and children who have come into my life, regardless of where they come from, what they believe or what their life style. Are my branches strong enough to support those who need my help and understanding? Do they offer shade of comfort and relief to all who need my compassion and understanding?

These two parables are about growth, the growth of the reign of God, the love of God in our lives. Part of that growth is our willingness to be sowers of faith, kindness and social awareness ourselves. Like sowers, we scatter our activities, our tiny acts of faith and service flung out far and wide. Our acts of random kindness are taken by the wind, all landing somewhere. We sleep our nights and do our days, and the growth takes place. We may not even be conscious of the flowering but we continue the good work.

St. Paul challenged his listener to grow, grow to full maturity in Christ. That’s still our challenge, to be more Christ-like in our service to and acceptance of anyone and everyone who comes into our lives.

As we continue to celebrate our Mass we prayer for ourselves and for each other that we grow stronger in our love of God and in our love and service to one another.

Homily – June 10, 2018

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Today’s first reading is from the book of Genesis, the book of beginnings. Every religion and culture has stories that attempt to explain our beginnings. The Indigenous people of Canada have several such stories. Our Judeo Christian faiths have the story we read about today. It was an attempt to explain the pain and mix-ups of life. It couldn’t be God’s fault, humans must have messed things us. So the story goes that from the dust of the earth God created man and from man God created woman. There was an intimacy between God and his creatures. God walked with them in the cool of the day. Adam and Eve lived in a lush garden, plants and flowers and fruit bearing trees. Everything was theirs to use. But there were limits. They were not to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil.

Along comes the tempter, the spoiler, the trouble maker. They were shown the fruit of the tree and it was pleasing to the eye and it offered great possibilities. Anyone who ate the fruit would become like God, knowing good and evil. The allurement was too much. Both Adam and Eve tasted the fruit and it’s been downhill ever since.

They broke their closeness, the intimacy with God. Things would never be the same. The garden was off limits. Adam would earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; Eve would suffer the pains of bearing children.

Our Christian faith tells us that Adams act of disobedience was undone by the obedience of Jesus, an obedience that brought him to his painful and shameful death on the cross, an obedience that was recognized by the Father’s raising Jesus from the dead. By the death of Jesus we were reconciled to God – Jesus made peace by shedding his blood on the cross.

The consequences of that primal act of disobedience are still with us. We could say the snake still slithers into our lives. St. Paul expresses that reality when he says of himself, ‘ the good that I would that I do not and the evil I would not do, that I do.’

The snake strikes when are tempted to anger or resentment toward family members of friends. The snake strikes when all we’re concerned about is satisfying our needs for sensual pleasure. The snake strikes when all we’re concerned about is amassing things. The snake strikes when we give up being concerned about poor people, homeless people and the working poor. The snake strikes when resent the presence of refugees and immigrants in our neighbourhoods. The snake strikes when we belittle the faith or cultures of other people. The snake strikes when we fail to see other people as sons of daughters of our loving God, who are our brothers and sisters in the eyes of God.

We are good people but at the same time we are mistake making beings. The good that we would do, we do not and the evil we would not do, that we do.

What’s saves us is the grace, the goodness of Jesus Christ. Christ in our victor. His life and death, his example and teachings all tell us that in the conflict between good and evil that we face every day of life, in the end love conquers hate, goodness puts an end to evil, and justice prevails over injustice. God’s love for each on us is the antidote to the serpents bite.

One author expressed it this way:

What the Genesis story tells us is that in the conflict between evil and humanity, humanity will finally win. Our victory comes from the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. The roots of evil are healed by the grace of God drawing those who seek to do God’s will into a community that serves one another and reaches beyond its own interests. Such people know the power of God and rightly call one another sister and brother, no matter what their natural genealogy. The “family values” of Jesus stretch us beyond the private interests of our immediate family to a much larger world. God grant that we be members of that greater world.

Homily – May 27, 2018

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity. This is a mystery basic to 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 us so much He sent His Son to the world – not to condemn the world – but in order that the world, that we might be saved thru him.

We call the Trinity a mystery – 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 we will not, we cannot completely comprehend the wonder of God – for God is beyond the limited capabilities of our human minds.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise – there are many times we are a mystery to ourselves – why did I do this – why did I say that – we are mysteries.

What this mystery teaches us in that the inner life of God is a life of relationships – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We pray in the Mass – all life, all holiness comes from you Father, thru your son Jesus Christ our Lord, by the workings of the Holy Spirit. And thru God’s goodness we are invited into those relationships when we were baptized God’s Holy Spirit was poured into our very being and gives us the boldness to call God – Father/Mother – God’s Holy Spirit permeates our very being, molding and fashioning us into the image of God’s Son Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us ‘The Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God.’

The creative, life giving, love giving relationship of the Trinity is to be the model of all our relationships. Our very existence springs from the creative love relationship of our mother and father. Our whole lives are lived in relationships – the life and death of each of us has its influence on others. We do not go thru life untouched or un-touching.

Instead of trying to sort out the mystery of the Trinity we can use this feast to sort out the mystery of ourselves. We can use this feast to look at the health of our personal relationships. How creative, how life giving, how healing we are in our relationships – husband/ wife – mother/ father – brother/ sister / friend or lover / neighbour/stranger.

On this feast of the Trinity we can ask the question – 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? 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.

This past year Pope Francis issued a letter to the world on the 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.