Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – January 13, 2019

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

Last Sunday we celebrated the first of three manifestations of Jesus when total strangers sought out the new born king of the Jesus. In today’s feast we celebrate the fact that Jesus is one like us in all things. He joined the people who came to John the Baptist seeking baptism, waiting his turn. He wanted to be identified with those around him .John resisted baptizing Jesus saying,’I need to be baptized by you and you come to me? Jesus insisted,’ it is proper for us to do it in this way. The manifestation that Jesus was favored by God was God’s spirit descending like a dove and the words; this is my son, the beloved in whom I am well pleased. Jesus wanted to be identified like one of us but the Father wanted us to know that he identified himself with Jesus.

In the Orthodox churches of the East the feast of the Baptism of Jesus was seen as far more important that last week’s feast of the Epiphany.

This is the feast that wants to make us think about our own baptism. While pouring water over our heads and saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and or the Holy Spirit – a ceremony far removed from the elaborate ceremony of baptisms in the early church when adult men and women who were gifted with the faith to see that Jesus crucified and risen as the one who made peace with humanity and God, were buried in the water of a stream or pond, symbolizing Jesus’ death and burial and coming up out of the water were clothed in a white garment, symbolizing their new life in Christ, their new life in the Christian community.

We all know that the Eucharist in the greatest of the sacraments when we are nourished with the body of Christ but Baptism is the most important of all the sacraments because it enables us to receive all the other sacraments.

Unless we are converts to the Catholic Church most of us have no memory of our baptism, we were infants. Baptism birthed us into our life with God, God our Father, Jesus our Savior, the Holy Spirit strength.

This feast challenges us to take and honest look at how we living the life that is ours through our baptism. St. Paul tells us that through our baptism, our birth into the Christian faith, we are to put on Christ. Paul tells us ‘clothe yourselves in Christ’. This feast challenges us to ask questions. How Christ like are we in the way we treat those who love us, in the way we relate to those who don’t love us. How Christ like are we in the ways we struggle to forgive those who have harmed us, disappointed us? How Christ like are we in the way we are there for those who need us; family members and friends who are ill, in nursing homes or confined to their own homes, people who would love a visit or a phone call? How Christ like are we in the ways we we welcome strangers into our lives as Christ did when with open arms he said, come to me all you who find life burdensome and I will refresh you with my friendship and support.

Asking ourselves such questions we will discover what impact the simple ceremony of our baptism has in our lives today and maybe we will, with the help of God’s grace, make greater efforts to live Christ-like lives. May the Father see in us what he saw in Jesus; a daughter, a son in whom he is well pleased.

Homily – January 6, 2019

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

I hope to be taking a course at Glendon College beginning the middle of this month. It is a course on Populism. Populism has been described as a range of political approaches that deliberately appeal to people who feel they have been shorthanded by society or people who bear a grudge at society because they see themselves at the bottom of the later. Populist politicians are divisive, setting people against one another. The immigrant, the refugee, the stranger are a threat to someone else’s job security. They are going to over-tax the resources of our social services, our schools, our affordable housing resources. Populist politicians conjure up ‘enemies.’ For Hitler it was the Jews, for Mussolini it was the Masons. Today it’s the Muslims especially if they are refugees. Populism is raising its ugly head in the U.S., in Canada, and in Europe.

Populism flies in the face of today’s feast of the Epiphany. These strangers from the East symbolize the truth that the infant they sought came to bring salvation to men and women of every tribe and tongue. This feast of the Epiphany is a feast of openness, a feast of welcome.

The great meaning of Epiphany is expressed in our second reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, ‘The Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

The Jewish people were and still the people of God. They treasured and protected their privileged place in God’s eyes. They never forgot the ancient promise spoken so many times in their scriptures ‘I will be you God and you will be my people.

Our early church was made up of Jewish men and women who came to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was their promised Messiah. He was not the victorious liberator they expected but a crucified savior who by his death and resurrection made peace with humanity and God. As our faith spread to other people the Jewish Christians resented their presence and insisted they follow the Jewish law of circumcision and dietary laws. They were the populists of those days. They resented the presence of Gentiles, the outsiders in the community. Paul fought these people tooth and nail and even Peter had to admit that any person of any nationality who did what was right was acceptable to God.

St. Peter put another after his encounter with Cornelius, a gentile Roman centurion, ‘The thing I have come to realize is this, and that any person of any nationality who does what is right is acceptable to God’

Now the question is, are we wise enough to live this truth and the openness of this feast of Epiphany and love and accept and respect men and women of different faiths or no faith, men and women of different social and racial and cultural backgrounds, men and women of different life styles? Are we wise enough to see through the narrowmindedness and especially the deviseness of populist politicians, be they local or national? May we be wise enough to see that refugees and immigrants to Canada are not a threat but a blessing to our country. May our prayer for each other today be that we all be wise enough to seek a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ and what he taught and what he did? He died for us all because he loves us all no matter where we come from, what we believe, how we live our lives.

Homily – December 25, 2018

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

The scriptures tell us that when all things were in quiet silence and the night was in the midst of its course God’s almighty word leapt down from heaven, from his royal throne.

This night is filled with magic. Mary gives birth to Jesus and the heavens are filled with songs of peace and good will. Startled shepherds are called to see the new born king of the Jews. We never grow tired of hearing Luke’s gospel of tidings of great joys for all people. We never grow tired of hearing the good news that a savior is born for us – Christ the Lord.

This is the season for giving gifts and a common question asked at this feast of Christ’s birth is, what did you get for Christmas? A more important question might be, ’what gifts do you already have?

Would you ever consider that that greatest gift is yourself? Do you ever stop and think about whom you are, your personality, your uniqueness. Do you know that before the world began God chose you to be God’s son or daughter? Such was his will and pleasure. We had nothing to do with it. That’s the truth, the wonder Christmas celebrates; God sent his Son into the world, into our lives; not to condemn us, not to get us, but to embrace us as his adopted sons and daughters. This is a gift we will possess and hopefully cherish all our lives. Sure we have our faults and failing, sure we’ve disappointed ourselves and others by decisions we’ve made. They are only a part of us, our shadow side. We may be mistake making people but we are good people, good people who do good things, loving things, generous things in our lives and they are more part of us than our shadows.

What did you get for Christmas? The gift of your life, the gift of health, the gift of seeing and hearing and movement. What did you get for Christmas? Look at the person next to you, your spouse and your children, your friend. What did you get for Christmas, the gift of faith that makes you a member of this parish, that helps you hear and believe the scriptures, that enables you to say ‘Amen’ I believe, as you receive the body of Christ at Communion. We are surrounded with gifts, gifts we too often take for granted, but still gifts.

We find our gifts, not under the Christmas tree but under the tree of life, the cross of Christ, who by dying restored the bond we have with the living God and enriches us with all these gifts. What did we get for Christmas, Emmanuel – God with us and us with God. So un-wrap the gift you are and share yourself with family and friends and all who come into your life every day of life. May we be blessed with a holy and grateful Christmas.

Homily – December 23, 2018

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

News didn’t travel fast in those days but when Mary heard the astounding news of her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy she went in haste to be with her to help her in any way she could. There were bound to be complications, Elizabeth was up in years, she was as old as Mary was young and both were involved in God’s great plan.

The trip from Nazareth in Galilee where Mary lived to a village in Judea where Elizabeth lived would take days. Since travel alone was not safe, people commonly joined a caravan. Headed to wherever they wanted to go. We can just imagine the young Mary hastening on foot over dirt and rough roads, probably under a hot sun. Mary doesn’t give a thought to the difficulty of the journey. She wanted to help Elizabeth, that’s all that mattered.

There can be many ways of looking at this gospel. Both Mary’s and Elizabeth’s pregnancies were out of the ordinary. Elizabeth was well beyond child bearing but she was important in God’s plan. Her son John would prepare the way for Mary’s son Jesus. Elizabeth sensed something special in her niece and wondered, ‘who am I that the mother of my Lord comes to me, declaring ‘blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’ Both share the wonders of their pregnancy. Both their sons would suffer painful deaths, John beheaded, Jesus crucified.

Our gospel is from the Feast of the Visitation, a feast on which we remember Mary’s act of concern and kindness toward her cousin, Elizabeth. What we learn from today’s gospel. To what does it challenges us?

There was a song out years ago and the refrain was, ‘where were you when I needed you, where were you? Young Mary was right there when her cousin Elizabeth needed her. In today’s gospel Mary answers the question of the song, ‘where were you when I needed you? I’m right here, I’m with you.

Is there someone in our lives, a spouse, a son or daughter, an in-law, a relative, a neighbour who might be asking us – where were you – I need you. Do we ever wonder about what a phone call, an e-mail, a visit can mean to such a person? What a gift we can be.

Pope Paul VI referred to Mary as ‘she whose life was available to God. In the gospel we hear that both Mary’s life and Elizabeth’s life were available to God. Each in her own way said, ‘be it done to me according to your word.’

Think on this. Our lives are available to God to the extent that we are available, when we find the time and make the time to be available to those who need us; need us to listen, need us to understand, need us to help them in any way we can. Where were you when I needed you? Can we say –I’m right here, I’m with you.

Homily – December 16, 2018

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

If we watch the evening news night after night we must have some form of depression. Night after night it’s a downer. It is difficult to laugh at the ‘gong show’ south of the border. Our own leadership is bent of turning back social programs meant to help men and women struggling to survive. We’re hearing of cutbacks to programs designed to protect our natural resources, our water systems, our lakes and forests. The message is ‘we’re open for business,’ come take what you want of our resources, develop our greenbelt areas and we’ll clean up the mess you leave behind.

Our friends in Europe are in a mess with political turmoil, strikes and anti-immigrant demonstrations. Brexit is front and center in England. And of course our weather doesn’t help. It would be nice to see the sun and blue skies more often.

Our life within our church is burdened by the failure of our bishops to face and handle the abuse scandals instead of covering them up to save the reputation of the church.

This season of Advent can be a downer too. We hear of predictions of the end of the world, stars falling from heaven, disasters on earth and people fainting for fear.

But this Sunday’s scripture gives us a boost. It’s not all gloom and doom. We hear words like; rejoice, rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice, the Lord is near, do not fear, do not let your hands grow weak. John the Baptist calls his listeners to a life of fairness and justice and care for the weak.

Priest put aside their purple vestment and wears a rose colored one, the symbol of hope and life. We light the rose candle in our Advent wreath, a light that calls us to hope.

No matter what worries and troubles weigh us down in our personal lives, there is a greater reality – the peace of God guards our hearts in Christ Jesus. God is with us, we are not on our own. This Sunday calls us to rejoice to celebrate the presence and love of God is our lives in the person of Jesus our Christ. As one writer wrote, ‘God has given us permission to enjoy life and it pleasures. Pleasure is God’s gift; it is not a forbidden fruit.’

Today’s scriptures call us to rejoice, to celebrate our lives, our families, our friends and our faith.

What does it mean to celebrate something? To celebrate an occasion is to heighten it, share it, savor it and enlarge it and enjoy it. We also celebrate in order to link ourselves more fully to others, to be playful, to intensify a feeling, to bring ourselves to ecstasy, and, more commonly, just to rest and unwind. Enjoy the moment, enjoy this person, enjoy this occasion. Enjoy. It is good to be. So often we don’t trust this invitation. There’s a down east saying, ‘you may be laughing today but you’ll be crying tomorrow.’ Because of our incapacity to enjoy something simply for what it is; a beautiful day, meeting an old friend, a birthday, we often try to create that enjoyment through our excesses. So we drink too much or eat too much and take the joy out of it all. We lose the simple joy, the gift of the present moment.

The simple joy of our present moment is; ‘The Lord is in our midst you shall fear disaster no more.’

May we all be blessed to enter into the celebration of this awesome wonder; the Lord our God is with us; right here, right now. Rejoice, again I say rejoice.