Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – March 18, 2018

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

I want to say a few words about today’s responsorial psalm, Ps 51. It is one of the penitential psalms. King David is admitting to God his great sins of adultery and murder. As a successful and power king David imagined everything was his. He had the power of life and death over his subjects. In the second book of Samuel we’re told of how King David lusted and slept with a woman named Bathsheba the wife of Uriah, one of King David’s trusted generals. Uriah was at the front fighting David’s battle with the Ammonites. When David found out Bathsheba was pregnant he arranged to have Uriah placed in a hopeless situation on the battled field where he would be killed and David’s sins would be covered up.

God’s Prophet at that time was a man named Nathan. God sent Nathan to David to confront him with his sins and crimes. This 51st psalm is the record of Davis’s act of which he prays; “Have mercy on me O God according to your steadfast love.. cleanse me from my sins.. against you alone have I sinned, what is evil in your sight I have done.. restore to me the joy of your salvation …create in me a clean heart, with a steadfast spirit sustain me.”

Of course God forgives the penitent David of his great sins of adultery and murder.

This time of Lent has always been a time when we are encouraged to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation, the sacrament of pardon and peace. On Wednesday of this past week from 3 o’clock until 6 o’clock Frs. Brando and John were available to all who wanted to celebrate Reconciliation. This coming Wednesday we will have a service of reconciliation –it will be a time of quiet reflection and an examination of our consciousness of the sins we know, the sins we do not know and the sins that do not bother us.

We are good people but we all have our faults and failings. As I’ve said before, we are mistake making beings. Like St. Paul we all struggle the good that I would that I do not and the evil that I would not do, that I do.

What was the first thing we acknowledged when we began this Mass? We were mindful of the times in our lives that we failed to respond to the goodness and graciousness of God. We come as flawed men and women. This acknowledging of our faults and failings is the conditions for our participating fully in the Eucharist we will celebrate when we are told, ‘ this is my body which will be given up for you… this is my blood which will be poured out for you – take and eat – take and drink. We open our lives to the love and the mercy of God as we celebrate Christ’s great act of love for each of us, a love that brought him to his cross. It is as important to remember why died for us as it is to remember that he died for us. Christ died to make us one with God. Christ died to take away the sins of the world. I recently read this question. ‘If our experience of the Mass is bland or boring, if the Mass seems lifeless and contrived could it be that we do not take seriously either our sinfulness or God’s forgiveness?

As a parish family you are invited to this penitential service of Wed. evening at 7:30 at which, as a parish family we will admit our sinfulness and celebrate the mercy of God for each of us.

Homily – March 11, 2018

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

The core teaching in the scripture reading for today is found in the awesome words of Jesus to his new found friend Nicodemus; ‘ God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world , but in order that the world might be saved through him.’ St. Paul echoes this wonder when he reminds us; ‘by grace, by a gift, you have been saved through faith and this is not your doing, it is a gift of God.

Through the life giving passion, death and resurrection of Jesus each of us becomes and intimate friend of God – it is a gift. We don’t earn that friendship we are invited into it. The frightening part about all this is, we can say yes or no to God’s invitation. God can’t stop loving us, it’s God very nature to do so but we have the freedom to ignore or reject that love and end up losers.

I have a nephew who years ago when he was in grade three had a bad cold and had to stay home from school. He was bored and frustrated and became quite cranky. He was driving his mother crazy. Out of her own frustration she said to him, ‘Peter if you don’t behave yourself God is not going to love you anymore.’ Peter looked at her and said ‘who needs him’? His mother was on the phone with me convinced she’s raising an atheist. Here he is in a Catholic school and he’s asking ‘who needs God.’?

I didn’t help matters by telling her, ‘Mary, Peter is a better theologian that you’ll ever be.’ Who needs him? Who needs a moody, spiteful God carrying a big stick ready to get us when we get out of line? At that she went ballistic.

God sent his son into the world not to get us but to embrace us. Christ’s nail pierced hands hold us fast in an embrace of love. Unfortunately we have the ability to squirm out of that embrace and go our own way.

There was a little book out years ago titled, ‘Your God is too small’. From hearing such nonsense as, if you don’t behave yourself God is not going to love or God will punish you, or God is watching you, which makes God a spy satellite in the sky.

And we make God as small and stingy and spiteful as we sometimes are. Worse still is when we tell ourselves that God has had enough of us as we fail time and again to get our acts together. Such messages, such thoughts really distort how we imagine God’s relationship with us and our relationship with God.

God sent his son to us, as one of us, not to condemn us but to be in a loving, life giving friendship with each of as we struggle to live Christ’s great commandment, ‘love one another as I have love you’ As we continue to celebrate our Mass Christ invites us to take and eat, receive his body, our bread of nourishment that strengthens us to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God.

Homily – February 25, 2018

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

In St. Paul’s letter to his disciple Timothy Paul urged him to preach the gospel – the good news – be persistent whether the time is favorable or not, rebuke and encourage with upmost patience. Paul saw himself as one chosen by God to proclaim the good news of our salvation in and through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This past week a great preacher of the gospel died at the age of 99 – the Rev. Billy Graham. Many of you may never heard of him but many too may remember the famous Billy Graham crusades. He preached the gospel holding an open bible in his hand, to millions of people around the world. His message, his invitation to people was to accept Jesus Christ into their lives as their personal Lord and Savior. He invited them to open their hearts to an intimate relationship with the Crucified Christ. He was famous for his call to the altar and hundreds of men and women would come down from all over the stadium and knell before him as he prayed over them.

Rev. Billy Graham never claimed to heal anyone like other evangelical preachers do. He just invited them to accept the invitation of Jesus – come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened.

Most Christian churches are sacramental communities. We have baptism, reconciliation, confirmation, Eucharist, marriage and the anointing of the sick. Our Eucharist, this Mass is the most important for us. Here we make present the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. We proclaim the mystery of our faith: when we eat the bread and drink this come we proclaim your death of Lord until you come again.

Billy Graham saw our relationship with Christ as a one on one relationship, very personal. Paul the Apostle wrote of himself, ‘I live now, not I but Christ lives within me and the life I live I live trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me. Paul was blessed to be deeply aware of his personal relationship with Christ.

Paul was aware too that his personal relationship was best lived in community. He wrote to the early Church,’ do you not know that you – the community – are the body of Christ and that the Spirit of God lives in you?’ Then he goes on to say,’ if anyone destroys the body of Christ, by spreading discord and division in the community, God will destroy him.

In this season of Lent the Church, our community offers each of us the opportunity through the times we set aside for personal prayer, our efforts we make to cut back on the things we enjoy and being more mindful of other people’s needs – the pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting and alms giving – to deepen our personal, our one on one, relationship with Jesus, our Lord, our Savior.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we pray for a great preacher of the gospel of Jesus. Rev. Billy Graham, and we pray for ourselves and for each other that we may come to a time in our lives when we may say, “I live now, not I but Christ lives in me and the life I live I live trusting in the Lord Jesus who loved me and gave his life for me.

Homily – February 18, 2018

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Scholars are divided as to when or if there was such a flood as described in our first reading. Was the flood a universal reality of a local flood of such dimensions that its memory was passed on through oral traditions and found its way into the Hebrew Scriptures?

In the Hebrew Scriptures there are two important covenants; the Noah covenant and God’s covenant with Abraham and Abraham’s descendants. The covenant with Noah was between God was with Noah’s descendants and with every living creature that shares the earth with the human family. The sign of the agreement that earth would never again be destroyed by a flood was the rainbow we often see after a rain storm.

That doesn’t mean the earth can’t be destroyed by other means, such as nuclear war of by the destruction of the life systems that sustain life of earth – wind, soil and water.

Because of the political blustering between the U.S. and North Korea those responsible for the Doomsday Clock moved the minute has within three seconds of midnight. Governments around the world have finally accepted the reality of climate change and it impact, not just of humans but all life forms on earth and all life systems on earth, especially the oceans.

This has been a recording breaking year for wildfires, hurricanes, and tornados, floods and mudslides.

You’ve heard me say many times; ‘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.’ It’s another way of saying, ‘what goes around comes around.’

In Pope Francis’ letter on the environment titled ‘On Care for Our Common Home’ he tells us something we’ve forgotten or ignored for a long, long time. The Holy Father writes; ‘When we speak of the environment what we really mean is the relationship existing between nature and the society that lives in it. Nature cannot be that of as something separate from us. We are immersed in nature.’ As St. Francis would say, ‘we are kin, we are family with all the life systems on earth.’

The Holy Father tells us something we really don’t want to hear; the pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planets capacity that our contemporary lifestyle is unsustainable as it can only precipitate catastrophes such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world.

I’ve quoted this before, ‘Planet earth is not a collection of objects, it is a community of life in its variety of forms.

We belong to this family of live but we humans have because autistic members of the family, we are in a state of disconnect, we’ve lost of sense of belonging. The human family has made great advancements in the past couple of hundred years but we’ve lost our sense of belonging to the family life that sustains the earth. We’ve come to imagine that we are at the summit of all things, they are for our use. We’ve forgotten that in the scheme of things we humans are a point in the circle of that sustains all life.

As many of you know our parish church was designed to connect our worship, our faith with nature. Our garden reminds of this and the colors of the sun that comes down our walls at certain times of the day do the same.

Our praise and worship or God calls us love and care for all of creation. Our praise and worship of God calls us to a sense of wonder and awe of the world we live in. Our praise and worship of God calls us to live lightly on Earth, to share its resources with all others, to work toward Earth’s healing, to live simply that others may simply live.

Lent calls us to fast from consumerism, to give alms by sharing our abundance with those who have less and through our prayer and reflections come to a sense of awe and wonder of the blessings of creation that surround us.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we pray for the grace to live in the covenant of the rainbow and do what we can for the healing of Earth and thank God for the gift of God’s good creation.

Homily – February 11, 2018

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Today’s short gospel tells the story of the cure of the man afflicted with the dread disease of leprosy. The exchange between the leper and Jesus is very simple; if you want to, you can make me clean.. And Jesus responds, ‘of course I want to, be clean, and Jesus touched him and he was made clean. To touch a leper made the toucher ‘unclean’. Jesus made himself one with the man he cleansed.

Our first readings tells us how men and women where to be treated. They were to live away from any human contact lest they infect the whole community. In touching this leper Jesus restored him to his family and his community. Jesus told the cured man to keep this to himself but of course that was a waste of time, he couldn’t keep himself from telling family and friends the wonderful news that he was cured, he was free to come home to family and friends.

This Sunday is the World Day of the Sick. Every Sunday in our prayer of the faithful we pray for the sick and those who care for them. We pray for the sick, all those who are ill in any way; people suffering from lingering illness, and those who are going or have gone through surgery. We pray for those who suffer in mind of body. We pray for those who care for them, their doctors and the nurses and nurse’s aide in our hospitals.

Those who care for them; so often these good people are the forgotten ones, the daughters and sons caring for parents still living at home. Family members who want to keep the family together as long as possible, patiently working with forgetful and frustrated mothers of fathers. Parents who still resent having their car keys taken away, frustrated at needing help. We pray for the many wonderful live-in caregivers who are so faithful and loving to those in their care.

Years ago on my Friday rounds at North General Hospital the chaplain’s secretary told me that before I saw anyone else I was to go to the 8th floor to Mr. Bernstein’s room. He’s Jewish and he’s dying. But his care-giver is Philippino and Catholic and she needs help. I found out she had been his care giver for over ten years and they were close friends and she was grieving his dying. I spent some time with her but the truth of the matter was that after he died she’d have to start looking for a new job. That’s the reality of many of these wonderful women.

We are all sick, wounded in one way or another. We struggle with our weaknesses, our unwillingness to forgive and forget the bigotry and prejudices of our narrowmindedness, our coping with personal issues, whatever they may be. In our own way we say, ‘if you want to you can make me clean’.

It is good to remember that this Mass makes Calvary present – this is my body, this is my blood given for you. It is good to remember that it is by his wounds we are healed, we are made whole. That healing will come to us in Christ’s time and Christ’s ways.