Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – September 23, 2018

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

In today’s gospel we hear Jesus predicting for the second time his future fate, ‘The son of man will be betrayed into the hands of men and they will kill him.’ In last week’s gospel we heard Peter saying, ‘God forbid Lord this must never happen to you.’ Peter and the others couldn’t image that the man they saw as their Messiah, their liberator, would suffer such a fate. This must never happen to you.

Jesus is one of a long line of righteous men who challenged by the example of their lives the infidelities of their religious leaders, lives that scandalized the little people of the land.

In our first reading from the Book of Wisdom we hear of the resentment of a group of unfaithful people toward a righteous man who struggled to be faithful to God. He is charged with making life inconvenient to them, opposing their actions, exposing their sins against the law.

This is how the religious leaders and scholars saw Jesus as a know nothing. They challenged his teaching, said his miracles were acts of the devil and resented his friendship with tax collectors and prostitutes. How could such a person claim to be a teacher of the Law, how dare he challenge their authority, how dare he question their authenticity?

Like the people in our first reading the religious leaders were determined to discredit Jesus. They bribed one of his own to betray him. Once they had him in their power they had a phony trial loaded with false witnesses. Using the Roman authorities they brought Jesus, this inconvenient man to Calvary to test what will happen at the end of his life and condemn him to a shameful death. “If you are God’s son come down from the cross and we will believe.’ Inconvenient to the end Jesus prayed ‘father forgive them for they know not what they do.’

Things don’t change. Men and women who speak out for justice and fairness for workers or people on welfare, people who support families who are in need of affordable housing, people who support senior citizens in need of help, health care workers who care for young men and women struggling with addictions, all these caring people are dismissed by the powers that be as bleeding hearts, commies, socialists, do gooders. Like Jesus they are inconvenient, bothersome to people in power, people who can affect a change.

We’ve been blessed with inconvenient heroes in our time, Martin Luther King. Archbishop Romero, Mother Teresa and nameless others who worked and suffered and died trying to uphold the dignity of all men and women. People who died trying to save the forests and rivers and mountains from greed and avarice of big corporations.

They were all an inconvenience to the powerful politicians or the wealthy corporations or the masters of commerce.

They are all brought to a shameful end but they were the witnesses to God love for the poor and oppressed.

Each one of us, in one way or another is called to be an inconvenience, a pebble in a shoe. We are called by our crucified Christ to be an inconvenient man or woman and speak out and work for the dignity of every person as He did when he identified himself with the little people, the powerless, the exploited men and women of his time.

We are called to be an inconvenient man or woman when we challenge people who stereotype good people because of their place of origin or their faith or the sexual orientation.

Today’s scripture challenges each one of us to be inconvenient, a bother and be a living example of one who tries and maybe not always succeed to love others, respect others,support others, forgive others as Christ as done so to us.

Homily – September 16, 2018

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

A number of years ago when I was on the retreat team at Holy Cross Retreat Centre in Port Burwell down on Lake Erie a young man on retreat wanted to give me some advice as to how to get young adults back into the church.

He began by telling me we’ve got to get rid of the cross. It’s a downer, a bummer. We have to be more upbeat. The cross is a no no.

That sounds a bit like Peter in today’s gospel. Jesus gives the apostles a glimpse of his future. Beyond the admiration Jesus receives for his healings and curing there will be another reality. ’The Son of Mass must undergo great suffering and rejection by the religious authorities. He will be betrayed and undergo great suffering and be killed.’ This didn’t fit Peter’s image of the Christ, the Messiah, the delivered of Israel. ‘God forbid Lord this must never happen to you.’ For Peter this was a real downer, this wouldn’t work. It’s the miracles, the wonders that will win people over. A crucified Messiah won’t work!

But this is the reality, the foundational truth of our Christian faith; the crucified Christ, to the intellectual Greeks absolute foolishness, to the Jews a stumbling block. But to those who believe, Christ the wisdom of God, Christ the power of God.

You are the Christ. If Peter and the others saw Jesus as a miracle – working divine man and imagined they are to be likewise they had it all wrong.

Mark’s tells us the recognition of Jesus as the Christ involves the acceptance of a harsh truth; our Christ is a crucified Christ and we follow him bearing the cross in whatever form the cross may take in our lives and relationships, manifesting the dying of Jesus in our mortal bodies.

Our following of the crucified, our dying must find expression in our actions if it is to be real. Christ was a man for others. He showed his love and care for us in his acts of healing, his work to relieve the sufferings of men and women, he acceptance of people who were considered outsiders by society. Our second reading from James is quite blunt about this. If we say to a person who asks our help, ‘go in peace, keep warm, eat well and do nothing to clothe and feed them, we’re phony. Faith without good works is dead.

Faith is Jesus makes its own demands on us. There can be times when we are overcome by compassion-fatigue, things are beyond us. At such times we do the best we can but we never give up trying to be there for people in need.

There can be times when we have to challenge good people who are convinced the men and women who are fleeing persecution and danger are threats to our own prosperity, taking away jobs, living off our high taxes. They see families recused from refugee camps as freddy free loaders instead of good people looking for a new chance at life.

Faith without the good works of welcoming the stranger, seeking a living wage for the working poor, working for affordable housing, proper health care for our aged brothers and sisters is as dead as the dodo.

Faith in our crucified Christ has its own demands. It makes its own claims on us. Its implications are daunting. What you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you do to me.

Homily – September 9, 2018

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

They brought a man to Jesus. Who are they, these men who brought this man to Jesus? Are they concerned family members? Are they good friends? Whoever they are their efforts to bring this man to Jesus changed his life and theirs as well.

A number of years ago there was this young child in the parish who had difficulty learning to talk. His concerned parents took him to different specialists for help. To make a long story short they discovered he had a hearing problem. Because he couldn’t hear correctly he couldn’t speak correctly. This was the condition of the man in today’s gospel.

Jesus didn’t say ‘be healed’, no he entered into that man’s space; touched his ears then he spat at him, strange behavior, and then he touched to man’s tongue. Jesus look to the heavens to show this would be the work of God and then commanded ephphatha, be opened. We can imagine the man’s ears popped, his tongue was loosed and he spoke plainly.

Jesus spat at the man. Remember the movie ‘my big fat Greek wedding? The aunt who keep spitting at people? This was an ancient action to ward off the evil eye. Those present saw nothing strange at Jesus spitting.

The men and women there were amazed at what happened. He has done all things well.

This whole thing of hearing incorrectly and having a speech impediment was the experience of the apostles in their journey of faith in Jesus. In last week’s gospel Jesus told them they has it all wrong; it’s not what goes into our mouths that makes us unclean but what comes out of our mouths, swearing and gossiping, bigotry, lying and smutty talk. In time they would hear and grasp the words and the identity of Jesus. Their Messiah would not be a conquering hero but a suffering servant. Their ears would be open and their tongues loosed when as Peter their spokesman they could say, ’you are the Christ, The Messiah.

Sometimes in our younger years we probably were told things about God that we not all that true. God is watching you. God is watching us but not in the sense of spying on us to catch us in the act. God is watching us with love because we are precious to him. God is angry with us and will make us pay. No, God understands that we are mistake making beings and hopes we’ll learn from our mistakes. There were so many times when we were presented with a god who was too small – as we are often too small in our unwillingness to accept and respect men and women different from ourselves.

Often the voice that spoke to us of God was a muddled voice and we heard a muddled message and imagined a distorted God, a harsh judge not a loving Father.

Sometimes we can speak with a muddled voice about God, about our church and we give good people a bad image.

St. Francis is supposed to have said, ‘preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.’ Can someone, anyone say to us, I can’t hear what you’re saying when I see how you are acting?

Can the way we speak to and of other people, the way we accepted men and women who seek refuge in our country, the way we respect peoples of other faiths and racial backgrounds be a true expression of our Christian, catholic faith. Actions speak louder than words.

Homily – September 2, 2018

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

Religion pure and undefiled before God is this, to care for widows and orphans in their distress and keep and oneself unstained by the world.

In the gospel we have Jesus exposing the shallowness of the Scribes and Pharisees in their religious observance. They strain the gnat and swallow the camel. Jesus tells them that what we eat or drink does not defile us. It is what comes out of our mouths which tells what is in our hearts, what makes us tick.

Jesus was focused on faith and integrity, not hygiene.

TV ads are loaded with advice as to what we should eat if we want to maintain healthy weights and live healthy lives. There is a diet a day.

When we receive Holy Communion we become what we receive, Christ Himself. This should have an impact on what comes out of our mouths, how we speak to others, how we speak of others.

If what comes out of our mouths are racial slurs and bigoted remarks about good people of other races and faiths then we do not echo the voice of the bread of life we’ve received. If what comes out of our mouths are gossips and lies about family or friends, then we do not speak as one nourished by the bread of life. If our conversations are smutty and sexist then we do not speak for the bread of life we’ve received. If our words blame the victim, having no sympathy or empathy for the homeless person whose home is the street, if we have no feeling for the mother or father who has no job or the person who is paid a minimum wage instead of a living wage, then we do not echo the invitation of Christ, ‘come to me all you who find life burdensome. If we take the name of the Lord in vain, if the holy name of Jesus is a common expletive then what comes out of our mouths defiles us and the bread of life we’ve received is tasteless.

What comes out of our mouths defiles us if we fail to follow the advice of St. Paul; say only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them. When our words are positive, when our words are helpful and encouraging then the bread of life we’ve received is bearing fruit. When we speak respectfully of other people’s faith, when we speak sympathetically of the plight of refugees knocking at our doors, when we call for justice for the homeless and the working poor we echo the words of Jesus, whatever you do to one of these, the least of mine you do to me. Whenever we speak out for a person who is put down or belittled in a conversation we speak for Christ.

Whenever we hold out our empty hand to receive the host we are touched by Jesus who left us the new commandment, ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ How did he love us? On the cross he continued to love, forgive and give his life even when those he loved were destroying him.

May the words that come out of our mouths be words of praise and thanks to God and words that lift up, heal and strengthen those to whom we speak.

Homily – August 26, 2018

Sunday, August 26th, 2018

The core message of today’s gospel is in the exchange Jesus had with his disciples, not the crowd but his close followers. ‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you cannot have life in you … this is a hard teaching and who can take it? Many of his disciples walked with him no more.

Seeing many of his friends and disciples walk away, distancing themselves from himself, Jesus asked Peter, ‘do you also wish to go away’? We hear Peter’s response, ‘Lord to whom can we go, you have the words of eternal life.’

Peter couldn’t get his head around what Jesus was talking about, seeing the son of man ascending to where he was before, eating his flesh, drinking his blood, this was all so confusing, but Peter had formed a bond with Jesus and trusted what Jesus said and trusted that what he said was true. When Jesus challenged Peter,’ will you also go away? Peter’s reply ‘Lord to whom shall we go? We have come to know and believe that you have the words of everlasting life.’ In other words, I’m sticking with you.

The people’s complaint, this is a hard saying and who can take it is echoed today when men and women walk away from challenges and demands such as, love one another as I loved you and go the way of bigotry and racism. Forgive others as God has forgiven you and hold on to grudges and resentment for years. Give your cloak to those who ask for it, share your bread with the hungry and call the people on welfare as lazy bums living off hardworking taxpayers. Welcome the stranger and call immigrants and refugees as freeloaders looking for hand outs. Men and women still find the teachings of Jesus hard sayings and in their own ways, walk with him no more.

It is not easy to be a follower of Jesus, to live by his teachings, to follow his example. We do so by the grace of God and strengthened by this Mass where are nourished by the body and blood of Jesus. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him/her.

The recent exposes of sexual abuse and the lack of leadership and integrity among cardinals, bishops and priests have made many people wonder if they can walk with the church anymore, a church that has let them down, embarrassed them and disappointed them. It is a decision they alone can make. But Peter’s words are still true; you have the words of everlasting life. The teachings and example of Jesus that come to us in and through the church are words that can bring us to everlasting life.

At this Mass, at every Mass we celebrate the wonder, Lord by your cross and resurrection you have set us free, you are the savior of the world. In this time of expose’ and shame may we be strengthened to echo the words of the prophet Joshua from our first reading, ‘as for me and my house we will serve the Lord’ in this one, holy, catholic, apostolic and wounded church which still offers us the words of everlasting life.