Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – November 18, 2018

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

I think we’re all familiar of cartoons showing a bearded man carrying a sign telling us ‘The end is near’. The message being, shape up.’ Another version is ‘Jesus is coming, look busy.’

Today’s readings are called apocalyptic readings. They are meant to be unsettling, their message is, ‘get your act together.’ They’ve been described as follows.

The apocalyptic writer first recounts, under the guise of future prediction, a selected series of historical events up to the moment of writing, then indicates future historical events rather vaguely, using other words describing what’s going on now. He finally foretells cosmic events of the end time when all will be dissolved and there will a complete transformation of all creation. St. Paul tells us, ‘The eye has not seen, nor has the ear heard, nor has it entered into human mind the things that God has prepared for those who love him.’

These predictions speak to every historical generation, including our own. After all, the end times happen to us all, not only to each of us in facing our own death, but to all of us together as a generation that will pass into the mist of disappearing ages.

Today’s prophets of doom are members of our scientific communities. They do not speak in symbolic languages like the prophets of old. They speak in un controvertible facts. Like a voice crying in the wilderness of our mindless consumerism they are telling us we are in trouble. Our misuse of Earth’s resources over these past two or three centuries has brought us to a tipping point. Extractive industries, coal mining, the extraction of oil, gold, silver and other minerals and our consumption of these resources as part and parcel of modern living are the major contributor to climate change.

Modern science has an apocalyptic message for the human family. We’re heading for a whole new and diminished world. The message to governments and big business and all of us is, ’you better change your ways of thinking and living, you better change the ways you see your relationship with the earth on which your destiny and survival depends.’ The message of scientists around the world is that we have upset the harmony needed to live on Earth. You’ve heard me say many times, ‘The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to Earth and what we do to 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 ourselves.

Our modern prophets, the world – wide scientific community is calling us to take seriously the reality of climate change. Those who deny and dismiss the reality of climate change are on the wrong side of history. Governments around the world have to be more faithful to and supportive of the Paris Climate Accord and work to reach the goals to which they committed. Thursday Toronto Star claims that Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions per person are more than any other country in the G20. This report claims that none of the G20 has a plan in place to meet the goals set by Paris Agreement.

Yet we have power hungry and uniformed politicians denying the reality of climate change and cancelling environmental controls programs that were made with the world community for the well- being of all nations. Politicians tell us these controls and restrictions are bad for business, they will take away jobs. God help us all.

Things are staring us in the face. Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, hurricanes, droughts, the poisoning of oceans and rivers and the poisoning of the soil that feeds us. Scientists are telling us that the toxicity of our land and air and oceans are a reality. We deny or ignore these global realities at our peril.

The world will not end tomorrow but the life systems of earth are changing faster than we thought and your great-grand- children and their great- grand- children will be struggling to survive on a totally different planet. Can we think that far ahead? Can we live simply so that future generations may simply live?

Homily – November 11, 2018

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

In our opening pray we ask God to keep from us all adversity so that unhindered in mind and body we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are God’s. Good luck. Keep from us all adversity. Can you imagine going through a day without some kind of conflict or misunderstanding? Even on the best of days there always seems to be a fly in the ointment. Carefree days are to be treasured. Look at the forces impacting our daily lives. The political and social chaos south of our border is in our face whether we like it or not. It impacts our lives too. We can buy into the rhetoric of racism and bigotry, the fear of the stranger, the resentment toward immigrants, the belief that our taxes go to support a bunch of Freddie free-loaders. We don’t appreciate the possibilities of where these negative attitudes can lead us. We fail to learn from past histories.

November 11, 1918. The end of the war that was to end all wars. Today we remember the millions upon millions of young men who died or were wounded during four years of conflict. We remember the countless civilians who lost their lives and homelands. All these victims were on both sides of this war.

In a way that war to end all wars was a family feud. Nicholas, the Tsar of Russia, Wilhelm the Kaiser of Germany, George V, the king of England were all first cousins, descendants of Queen Victoria. November 11, 1918 was the beginning of the end of the German Empire, the Austro- Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of the end of the British Empire. As one poet wrote, ‘The paths of glory lead but to the grave.’

The war to end all wars? No. Within 40 years the Europe was at war again. World War 2 ended when the atomic bomb was dropped on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Since then we’ve had the Korean War, the Indo China War, the Vietnam War followed by the phony war on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, followed by the Afgan War, the elusive war on terrorism and the civil wars in Syria and the civil war in Yemen, wars fostered by outside interests.

Remember Pete Seager’s protest song? Where have all the flowers gone? Where have all the young men gone, long time passing, gone to grave yards everyone, when will they ever learn, when will we they ever learn?

Are you all thoroughly depressed? Me too. How do political leaders convince ordinary men and women that they should go to war? By demonizing people of other nations.

We’ve had the savage Huns, the Russian Tartars, the Japanese who eat raw fish, the Afghans were the rag heads, the Viet Cong were the little men in pajamas, and we know every Moslem is a terrorist.

We’re told refugees are streaming into our country illegally. These people are a threat to our social and our financial stability. They don’t speak English, they don’t speak French. They’ll try to impose their laws and values on us. We have problems enough of our own we don’t need to import them. Don’t trust strangers.

All this rhetoric is so un-Christian. All this rhetoric leads to distrust and alienation. Such rhetoric has led us to all the wars of the last century and all this rhetoric is still part of our daily conversation.

Our Christian faith tells us we are children of God; we are brothers and sisters in the human family. Our Christian tells us the Jesus our Christ died on the cross for all of us.

Nov. 11, 2018 is an important anniversary of an event from which we have learned so little because we allow ourselves to buy into fear of the stranger, fear of change, fear of something new.

We sing ‘let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.’

As we continue to celebrate our Mass we pray for ourselves and for each other that we refuse to listen to calls to distrust and reject the stranger and be instruments of God’s peace in our homes and in our communities and in our nation.

Homily – November 4, 2018

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

I’m sure you’ve heard or used the statement, ‘let’s get down to basics.’ Let’s get to the heart of the matter.

For the Israelites delivered from centuries of slavery in Egypt the basic, the heart of the matter, was ‘behold Israel the Lord our God is one.’ They were to love their liberating God with all their heart, all their soul and all their strength. From the beginning of their journey into freedom the Israelites had difficulty believing or trusting this ‘basic’, the Lord thy God is one. For centuries they’d lived among a people who worshiped many gods and that tainted their concept of God. To hedge their bets they crafted a golden calf as their deliver, not the God of Moses.

As Christians we believe in one God and we believe our one God involves the mystery of Father, Son and Spirit. Like the Israelites of old we too are tempted to follow other gods; so we idolize power, wealth and pleasure. These powerful idols lure us away from the God we are to love with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our strength.

In Hebraic thought the heart and soul and strength are not separate human facilities but the person in the totality of his or her being. God is totality ours and we are to be totality God’s.

In our first reading we’re told to ‘fear the Lord all the days of our lives.’ This doesn’t call us to a cowering relationship with God. The word fear is best understood as awe or wonder. The Jewish people awed, overcome with wonder that God choose them as his own people. ‘I will be your God and you will be my people.’ We are told that God lives in light inaccessible. But our inaccessible God became flesh and dwelt among us. As John the Evangelist tells us ’what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, this we declare to you. Our inaccessible God came to us as obedient slave to his father’s will, an obedience that brought him a shameful death as a crucified common criminal.

And our crucified Christ us a new commandment, ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ We all know that is not an easy thing to do. Men and women may disappoint us, break vows to us, lie about us with gossiping tongues, cheat or rob us. They break our hearts and we want to get even. Tit for tat. That only diminishes us, makes us less than we are meant to be. Every day we are challenged by the words, ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’scary.

This time last week we were shocked by the murder of 11 Jewish men and women who were praying in the Living Water synagogue in Pittsburgh. Some blame this tragedy on the divisive political speeches going on in the States and in Canada, speeches that demonize other people from other lands or live by other convictions. But we experienced a similar tragedy in Montreal last year when a fanatic bigot killed 10 Moslem men praying in their local Mosque.

Demonic politicians around the world are setting neighbour against neighbour for their own purposes as they worship at the idols of power. Love one another as I’ve loved you calls us to give life not take a life. Love one another as I’ve love you calls us stand up for and protect good men and woman who are different from ourselves in what they believe, in their social or cultural backgrounds, and in their life styles and not see them as less than ourselves.

Love one another as I have loved you challenges us to see beyond the hostile words that call us to be suspicious of men and women different from ourselves and try to understand why good men and women fall into bigotry and discrimination toward others. Basically these preachers of hate and discrimination play on the fears and insecurity of people. They lure them into believing that the outsiders, these newcomers are going to take away their jobs, they are going to lower the real estate value of the neighbourhood, live on welfare, up our health care costs and cost us higher taxes. Such talk is devious.

As we continue to celebrate our Eucharist we can pray for ourselves, family members and friend that we be graced to see through the seduction of bigotry and suspicion and believe in the goodness of good men and women who seek to come into our country, our neighbourhood and our parish. Whatever you do to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.

Homily – October 28, 2018

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

Bartimaeus was a blind groper, sitting by the side of the road. He heard Jesus the wonder worker was passing by. In desperation he calls out ‘Jesus son of David has mercy on me.’ It was a cry that pounced off Jericho’s sycamore trees. People tried to shut him up but he called all the louder, ‘Jesus help me.’ When Jesus asked him how he could help him he begged, ’Lord that I may see again.’

It must be a terrible thing to loose one’s eye sight. To never again see the faces of loved ones. To never again see a sun rise of a sun set. To never again see the splendor of fall colors. It must be a terrible thing to live in the dark. Bartimaeus asked Jesus, ’Lord let me see again.’ “I want to see.” To want sight is to want a capacity which can be used for all kinds of purposes, to see those we love, to see where going when driving a car, to watch TV, to use an i pad. To see is to want the connection with reality that the exercise of sight makes possible.

The first person Bartimaeus saw was Jesus. But Jesus gave Bartimaeus another gift, he gave the gift to see Jesus as more than a miracle worker but also a suffering servant destined to die on the cross. Responding to that gift Bartimeaus followed Jesus along the way as a disciple.

Sight is a wonderful gift, but insight, the ability to see deeper into what we see is a still more wonderful gift.

The first thing we see in the morning is ourselves when we look into the mirror. We usually look pretty awful. But if we are gifted with insight we can see beyond our dishevelled selves and see a person precious to God. We can see a person so loved by God that God sent his son into our world, not to condemn us but to embrace us in God’s love. Gifted with insight we can appreciate our blessings and face our shortcomings.

When we enjoy seeing our fast disappearing fall colors may we all be gifted with the insight beyond the beauty before us and face the truth that by our unbridled human activity we are exploiting, polluting and destroying Earth’s life systems and endangering our very own existence.

I think one of the insights we really need today is the insight to see beyond the toxic rhetoric that’s filling our newscasts night after night. A rhetoric that distorts the way we think about men and women different from ourselves. A rhetoric that makes us suspicious that newcomers to Canada may fail to accept of Canadian values, may fail to fit in, may try impose their ways, their customs on us. This rhetoric that seeks to cover up outright bigotry and intolerance. We all need the insight to see this kind of rhetoric for what it is; an attempt to lure us into believing these good men and women are undeserving of our respect and acceptance. It is basically un-Christian. These men woman and children are our brothers and sisters in our common human family. Remember the words if Jesus who as an infant was a refugee fleeing for his life; I was a stranger and you made me welcome.

May we be gifted with the insight to see God’s deep abiding love for each of us. May we be gifted with the insight to see any and every person who comes into our lives, no matter what their faith, cultural, racial or sexual background as a person precious to God and as a brother or sister worthy or our respect and acceptance. Could our daily prayer go something like, ‘Lord let me see beyond what I see.’?

Homily – October 21, 2018

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

Our first reading from Isaiah is from Chapter 53 it tells of God’s suffering servant. It is a reading used on Good Friday as t the church applies these words of Isaiah to our crucified Christ as we remember him hanging on his cross, stripped, wearing his mock crown of thorns, nails through his hands and feet.

What was true of Isaiah’s suffering servant was true of our crucified Christ; ‘he was rejected and despised by others, a man of suffering, he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, by his bruises we are healed.

From its very beginning the church has always to deal with climbers. James and John started the trend causing their fellow disciples to get angry at their pushiness.

Jesus had to set them straight. No one is to lord it over others. Jesus gave us the example we are all to follow. ‘The son of man came, not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Real glory doesn’t come from lording it over others, but from serving others. Jesus is most glorious in his crucifixion, when he has lost everything but love. But the tendency to be ‘number one’ has always been in our genetic make-up. We all want to be notice, appreciated and duly recognized and loved. We want the flood lights t shining on us.

Pope Francis, to the chagrin of many, has called the church, but especially the clergy to have the smell of the sheep. It’s a powerful image. We are to be so close to the daily lives of people that we pick up the odor of their pains and fears and desperation. He does this in the simple actions of washing the feet of immigrants and prisoners. He provides showers and laundering at St. Peter’s for the homeless men and women of Rome. He maintains that clericalism, that sense of privilege or of recognition of being someone special in the family of the church is a scourge and plague on the church. Bishops and priests who think of themselves as over and above the rest of the people of God are so off base. There are churchmen who resent the openness of Pope Francis to the basic needs of people; the Pope is getting too soft. For them there’s too much talk of love in the church and too little about hatred of evil.” He’s inherited all the pomp and circumstances of the papacy but he’s obviously uncomfortable with it all.

We are supposed to be a servant church at the service of the good people who seek justice, love and support in the struggles of their daily living. It was Pope Pius V who described himself as Pope as ‘The servant of the servants of God.’

We do need authority in the life of the church. We usually think of the word authority as ‘power over people.’ One of the meanings of the word ‘authority’ is that we author, stimulate, encourage people to grow, we coax what is best out of them. This meaning of authority is just the opposite of putting people down, belittling them in one way of another. St. Paul encourages us, authorizes us to say to family members, co-workers, even strangers only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them. That’s how we can be servants to one another by encouraging the very best in others. This is how we do our part to make our church a servant church.