Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – January 14, 2018

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Imagine you are a Christian living in Syria or Iraq or Iran or Lebanon or Egypt or in any country that is caught up in civil or religious strife. Because you are in a minority you are subjected to suspicion and hostility. You can’t find work; you can’t feed your family. You live in an overcrowded, unhealthy refugee camp. You are trapped, wrapped around with the red tape of bureaucrats as you seek refuge in a new country.

Your paper work keeps getting lost. You are unaware of the fact that in the country you seek to enter there are many people who don’t want you. You are seen as a tax burden or a stealer of jobs. They want you to stay where you are.

You are an educated person, an engineer, a dentist, a doctor. You want to bring our skills to a new land. But you are made to feel like a beggar sitting on a street with your hand out grateful to any pittance thrown your way.

Around the world there are millions of migrant and refugee families who live in hopeless situations such as we’ve just imagined.

Today the Catholic Church around the world focuses it thoughts and prayers on these refugee and migrant people. These good and desperate people are our brothers and sisters. Pope Francis wrote a letter to us Catholics on the occasion of this day, it is titled, ‘Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless.’

Francis calls the nations of the world to be open and welcoming to the refugees and migrants who are desperate for a new beginning in a new land. In no way dismissing the challenge the nations of the world face in trying to be open to the millions of refugees and migrants Pope Francis exposes the hypocrisy of national leaders who for political reasons, foment fear of migrants instead of building peace. Such national leaders sow violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia among their people in the name of national security. We had example of such rhetoric this past week from south of the border.

Francis quotes Pope John Paul who wrote; if the dream of a peaceful world is shared by all, if the refugees and migrants’ contributions to the countries that make them welcome are properly evaluated, then humanity can become more and more a universal family and the earth a common home. Throughout history many have believed in this dream, it must be ours too.’

Child migrants, the vulnerable and the voiceless.

We’ve ended our Christmas season and celebrations. But who was at the center of our celebrations. Wasn’t Jesus the reason for the season? I’m quoting from an article I read recently;

“The real Christ is forever seeking a home in a world within which there’s no room for him.

So who best fits that description today? I suggest the following: Millions of refugee children. The Christ-Child can be seen most clearly today in the countless refugee children who, with their families, are being driven from their homes by violence, war, starvation, ethnic cleansing, poverty, tribalism, racism, and religious persecution. They, and their families, best fit the picture of Joseph and Mary, searching for a room, outsiders, powerless, uninvited, no home, no one to take them in, on the periphery, strangers, labeled as “aliens.” But they are the present-day Holy Family and their children are the Christ-Child for us and our world.

Where is the crib of Bethlehem today? Where might we find the infant Christ to worship? In many places, but “preferentially” in refugee camps; in boats making perilous journeys across the Mediterranean; in migrants trekking endless miles in hunger, thirst, and dangerous conditions; in people waiting in endless lines to be processed in hope of being accepted somewhere, in persons arriving at various borders after a long journey only to be sent back; in mothers in detention centers, holding their young and hoping; and most especially, preferentially, in the faces of countless refugee children.

What can we do about all this? We have no power, no influence, but we can keep these children and their families in our prayers. Samuel says in our first reading, ‘speak Lord you servant is listening.” Does the Lord speak to us in and through these voiceless children? We know he does. Will we answer by our mindfulness and our prayers for these migrant children, the vulnerable and the voiceless?

Homily – December 31, 2017

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

This is the season of too many feasts. Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, the gospel event tells of Mary’s purification in the temple forty days after the birth of Jesus. Tomorrow we celebrate the circumcision of Jesus eight days after his birth. Things get out of cynic this time of year.

On a feast like today scripture holds up models of what holds families together. Christian art has done a great disservice to the Holy Family. They were struggling working class people and life could be rough. All we see is a tranquil setting, angels all around, everything is perfect. Not so.

Have you ever watched the TV series ‘Modern Family’? It follows the stories of three families living in the same neighborhood. They are in and out of one another’s homes all the time. One family is a traditional family; mother, father, son and daughter. One family is interracial, made up of a divorced couple and the child of a first marriage and the third couple consists of two gays and their adopted son. A true picture of the complexities found in family life today and far removed from what we’ve always thought of what family life is all about.

These three families have all the joys and stresses of family life. They cope with good times and bad. They deal with stress and misunderstandings. They deal with the conflicts between parents and children. All of them in one way or another have financial worries. For all their differences they have so much in common with all those living the community life of families.

What holds them together is that each family finds a way to be faithful to the teachings we heard in our second reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians; they face their difficulties trying to be compassionate and kind and patient with one another. They find ways to be forgiving of one another. Harmony is the goal of each family and even after all the blowups and misunderstanding that are found in every family they strive for peace and harmony as they live out their differences.

You’ve probably heard of a letter from Pope Francis titled the Joy of Love. It is the Pope’s reflection on the Synod on the Family held a couple of years ago by bishops from around the world. Pope Francis makes clear that the causes of the family’s distresses are diverse, and that no single response to them will prove a silver bullet. The Pope makes clear that the Church has too often been content “simply decrying present-day evils,” and sought “to impose rules by its sheer authority. Pope Francis tells it like it is.

Francis wants us to In turn away from such attitudes by constantly redirecting our attention to the beauty and joy of married life and the family. He says we’ve been wasting pastoral energy on denouncing a decadent world instead of being proactive in supporting those struggling with the challenges of family life.

Francis makes a crucial point: “The Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes.” God is with all of us, not only the sinless and so the Church is called to accompany the weak, to discern with them and to integrate them into the life of Church. He calls Bishops and priests to look beyond laws and regulations, important as these may be, and take a more pastoral approach to the complexities of the reality of divorced couples and walk with husbands and wives helping them to find a way back into the life of the church.

On this feast of the Holy Family we pray for all the families in our parish family; the solid, the broken, the struggling and the searching, remembering the words of Pope Francis, “The Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes.” God is always present to them though they may not be always present to God.

Homily – December 25, 2017

Monday, December 25th, 2017

The most important day of the year for we Christians is the day Jesus was raised from the dead to the glory of God the Father.

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus, a date we really do not know but a date decided on by the church centuries ago. The Romans had a feast called the feast of the unconquerable sun, celebrating the winter solstice and decided this would be a good time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the unconquerable son of God.

May we be gifted to see beyond the infant lying in a manger and come to appreciate the full meaning of this feast? St. Paul tells us that Christ emptied himself of his divinity and took to himself our humanity, becoming like us in all things, though he did not sin. Jesus’ assuming our humanity has clothed us in his divinity. St. John tells us that ‘before the world began God chose us in Christ to be his adopted sons and daughters.’ John also muses, ‘ this is the wonder, not that we love God but that God first loved us and sent his Son into the world to save us from our sins.

This feast of Christmas has a message we all need to hear. It is a message of our own human dignity. Every one of us is precious to God, every one of us is important to God. If this is true of us it is just as true of every person who comes into our lives regardless of the racial origin, their faith, their sexual orientation, be they rich or poor, woman or man. They are precious to God and the child whose birth we celebrate today died on the cross for each one of them as he died for us.

This being so we really have to take care that we do not be influenced by the negative rhetoric we hear on both sides of the 49th parallel that calls us to be suspicious of men and women who dress differently, look differently, believe differently from ourselves. It’s called xenophobia, the fear of the different, and the stranger. The stranger is dangerous. The stranger is to be watched, avoided. This fear of the stranger, the different is the cause of bigotry, prejudice and intolerance. Negative forces in society and in our lives, negative forces that blind us to the goodness in other peoples of other races and faiths, negative forces that deny we are all sons and daughters of our loving God. An article in the Star told on an increase in vandalism of Synagogues and Mosques. Such acts are totally un-Christian and offensive to God.

There are two images of Jesus that are the most common; one is the image of the infant Jesus holding his arms open looking for our embrace. The other is the open arms of the crucified Jesus, open to embrace us sinful and struggling humans.

These arms are open to us and to every person who comes into our lives. On this great feast of God’s love for each one of us may we be blessed to live lives of open minds, open hearts, open arms, and welcome all our brothers and sisters who come into our lives in all the circumstance of our lives.

A blessed Christmas to you and yours.

Homily – December 24, 2017

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

I think that by the time this weekend is over Frs. Brando, John, Steve, Bernard and I will be ‘preached out.’ The gospel for this day before Christmas goes back to that moment when eternity was joined to time and the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you – the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.”

Mary was certainly confused and overwhelmed by Gabriel’s message. She was probably 15 years old at the time. She put her trust in the living God and said those words that changed human history – ‘let it be done to me according to your word.’

Mary opened her heart and her life to the will and way of God.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the child Mary conceived by the saying of those words – be it done to me, may we pray for ourselves and for each other that we be blessed with Mary’s faith and trust in God and echo her words as we face the uncertainties and challenges of life – be it done to me according to you will.

God knows it is not an easy thing to say, especially as wait for the results of tests that may determine the months and years ahead of us. It is not an easy thing to say as we deal with the death of someone we love. It is not an easy thing to say as we surrender our lives to the mysteries of our future. It can frighten us, if we stop and think of what we say as we rush through the Our Father, ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done’.

Pope Paul VI called Mary ‘she whose life was available to God’. As we celebrate this Mass shortly ending one year and beginning another let us pray for ourselves and for each other that we be blessed with the strength to say, in all the circumstance of our lives, ‘be it done to me according to your word’. Thy will be one on earth as it is in heaven. It ain’t easy.

Homily – December 17, 2017

Saturday, December 16th, 2017

There is a term Pope Francis often uses when he tries to sensitize us to the blights of poverty and injustices suffered by our brothers and sisters around the world, he calls it ‘global indifference’. These so many nameless people just like the man who fell among thieves on the road to Jericho and was avoided or worse still ignored by other travellers. Finally a Samaritan, himself an outsider to the Jewish community came to the victim’s rescue.

When Jesus told this story to people he ended it by telling them, ‘go thou and do likewise.’ In other words, be there for those who need you as best you can.

When Jesus began his public ministry he came home to Nazareth and like an observant Jew went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. He was asked to do a reading and the reading for that day was the same as our first reading at our Mass today.

Making the words of Isaiah his own Jesus read,’ the Lord has anointed me, he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release to prisoners and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. And Jesus would say to us today who may be caught up in global indifference, ‘go thou and do likewise.’

Not one of us here is going to head to the refugee camps in Iraq or Turkey or Jordan, of Yemen or Bangladesh or other camps around the world. The best we can do is to send a donation to those agencies that help the people in these areas. Can we hear the words of Isaiah and Jesus as challenges to us to ‘be there’ not only for those in distant lands but for those in our own homes, our relatives, our friends, our co – workers?

There’s a song that sings, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. We can be so caught up in our own concerns, our own projects that we become too dense to appreciate what is going on in our own families or among our friends or co-workers? Questions. Are we willing to aware of and be there for the oppressed, people we know who may be oppressed by financial burdens, oppressed by unfair working conditions, oppressed by depression and discouragements?

Can we be there for the broken hearted; people we know to be grieving for deceased loved ones? Can we support spouses dealing with divorce or marriage breakdown? What can we do for a relative or a friend held captive by his or her addictions?

What about family members who are still brooding over past hurts or slights? Can we make an effort to be for them and encourage them to let the past be past? Are we patient and understanding and supportive of sons and daughters, young adults who are still trying to figure out their uncertain futures? Do we spend the time and listen to mothers and fathers held captive in dementia appreciating that their situations could be our future?

There is a saying, ‘The law works from the feet up’ wherever we are we follow that law. The grace of God works from the feet up as does the mercy of God. We don’t have to go looking for it. The challenges of God work from the feet up. We don’t have to go looking for them – they are where we are.

The question is; are we open to receive God’s love and are we willing to accept the challenge, ‘whatever you do for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you do to me.’