Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – May 21, 2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

If you love me you will keep my commandments, in other words if you really believe who I and what I have said and why I died and rose again then you will try and no matter how many times you may fail you will continue to try to keep my commandments.

It is not those who say Lord, Lord, who will enter the kingdom, it is those who do the will of my Father. It is not those who speak words of love who come to God but those who do loving works speak loving words that come to God.

You’ve heard all this before; love one another as I have loved you. At this Mass we celebrate Jesus’ love for each of us. He handed himself over to people who rejected him and his teachings and then condemned to a shameful and painful death. Even in his agony he prayed, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’

In the opening prayer at this Mass we prayed, ‘what we live in remembrance we may always hold to in what we do.’ What we live in remembrance is Christ’s dying on the cross out of love for us. ‘May we always hold to in what we do’ is our own struggles to ‘love others as we have been loved by Jesus.

Love one another as I have loved you. It is not easy but Christ asks us to die to our selfishness, our ‘me first ‘attitude and put the needs of others first. He wants us to be there for others as he was there for us.

Jesus wants us to be there for men and women who hunger and thirst for respect and acceptance no matter what their race or faith or life-style. Jesus wants us to be there for the men, women and children who are fleeing civil wars and religious persecution and as strangers seek to be welcomed to our land and you’ve done this many times,

Jesus went out of his way to be there for the sick, the outcast and the forgotten. He challenges us to be conscious of family members and friends who may be isolated at home or in nursing and retirement homes who would be thrilled with a phone call or a visit. What we live in remembrance may we always hold to in what we do.

Jesus taught us to forgive not seven times but seventy seven times those who harmed us in any way. From his cross he forgave those who brought him to this place of shame. What we live in remembrance may we always hold on to in what we do. We are not asked to forget but we are asked to forgive the harm, the hurt and the injustice we’ve endured from family members or friends.

If you love me you will keep my commandments. That’s not easy, it can be a challenge but nourished by the bread of life we can always hold on to in what we do.

Homily – May 14, 2017

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

A couple of years ago I was having supper with friends. They invited other guests to supper. I sat next to a woman from Texas and surprise, surprise she wanted to talk about Jesus and the importance Jesus had in her life. She felt sorry for all the people in the world who did not know Jesus. She was quite convinced they were lost. Didn’t Jesus say,’ no one comes to the Father except through me.’

I asked her, what happens to all those good, devoted men and women of other faiths who have never been exposed to our Christian faith? What happens to them? She answered,’ well I didn’t say this Jesus did. That’s true Jesus did say, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.

Might we understand these words of Jesus in this way; it is through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus that the human family is reconciled to God. The passion, death and resurrection of Jesus destroyed the barrier between the human family and God. Jesus told the disciples that he is the way, the truth and the life. He is the way to the father. That way might be seen as the crowded streets of Jerusalem Jesus struggled along and fell on as he made his way to Calvary. Jesus’ way of living and loving and forgiving is to be the norm of our lives. Jesus is the truth. The crucified Christ bears witness to the truth of God’s unconditional love for every human being. Jesus is the life, the eternal life offered to all of us, the life purchased for all of us, not by silver or gold but by his precious blood.

No one comes to God except through Jesus our Christ who died for all humanity. How men and women of other faiths come to God is their fidelity to the teachings of their own beliefs. The fanaticism of some people of some faiths is a distortion of their faiths, just as the fanaticism of some Christians is a distortion of our faith, a betrayal of the commandment, ‘love one another as I have loved you’.

In the Acts of the Apostles we read of Peter’s visit to the home of the pagan soldier Cornelius. Cornelius sent friends to Joppa where Peter was staying to ask Peter to visit him in his home. Peter accepted the invitation but when he came to Cornelius’ home Peter let it be known, ‘it is unlawful for Jews to associate or visit Gentiles but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. He accepted the hospitality of Cornelius and was gifted with this insight, ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, that in every nation anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God.’

God’s life and love and forgiveness are for every person of any faith community and all this comes to all of us through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus our Christ in ways known only to God.

May we be blessed to see God’s grace and love working in the faith life of good men and women of all faiths.

Homily – May 7, 2017

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

Today is the World Day of Prayer for vocations. We often hear of or read about the vocational crisis. There is a great shortage of priests, especially in Northern Europe and here in North America. Years ago Toronto would have as many as 40 priests being ordained. This year Cardinal Collins will ordain 4 men.

It is the same for religious communities. Our Passionist Communities in the States haven’t had an ordination in the past five years. Luckily we belong to an international community and so we are able to call on other Passionist communities for help to sustain the different ministries in which we are involved. The Passionists in the Philippines and in Kenya were willing to share their wealth with us by sending us Brando and John. After a lot of vetting Cardinal Collins invites priests from other dioceses to come and minister here.

There is a shortage of ordained priests that is world-wide but there is not a shortage of priests. All of you good people are priests because you are baptized. St. Peter wrote that because of our baptism we are all a chosen race, a royal priesthood called to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. This is called the priesthood of all the faithful, the priesthood of all believers.

You good people exercise your priesthood in so many different ways. For example a priest blesses people. Every time you show respect to another person, regardless of their sex, religion, racial origin or lifestyle you are blessing that person. A priest celebrates Mass; in thanksgiving he offers the body and blood of Christ at the altar. When your offer to God your prayers, works and sufferings of the day you are doing a priestly act. A priest preaches. When you try to live the teachings of Jesus in the way you relate to family members and friends you are doing a priestly work. A priest absolves sins in the sacrament of reconciliation. When you make peace, apologize to a person you’ve hurt and when you make up with someone who has hurt you in anyway, you are doing a priestly thing. A priest anoints the sick. When you are present to someone who is ill, house bound and lonely, you are a priest to that person. If you have a family member or a friend who is alienated from the Church for whatever reason or who live their lives as if God did not exist and you stick with that person, pray for that person and hope that by living your own religious conviction you may bring them back to God, you are doing a priestly thing. To be touched, loved, supported or forgiven by you, priest that you are, is to be touched, loved, supported and forgiven by Christ.

Can we think on this? If the members of the priesthood of all believers were living their priesthood as I’ve described it, might there be more men willing to take on the work of the ordained priesthood?

Today’s gospel is all about Jesus the Good Shepherd. Jesus calls himself a shepherd but he also calls the gatekeeper. I read a description of the Middle Eastern sheepherding practices that tie these two images together.

The sheepfold was a circular wall of stones, topped by barriers of briars and thorns.There was a small opening for the sheep to pass through. Once all the sheep were in, instead of closing a hinged gate the gatekeeper, who was probably one of the shepherds would lie across the entrance and sleep. No one could get in or out without going over his body. Christ the good shepherd laid down his life his sheep as a gatekeeper and as the one who died on the cross. So we pray on this good shepherd Sunday that Christ the Good Shepherd bless the church with shepherds after his own heart?

Pray for vocations.

Homily – April 30, 2017

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

We can hear the disappointment in the voices of the two men going home to Emmaus after their Passover celebration in Jerusalem. They are telling their stranger companion about what happened in Jerusalem during the past days. Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in deed and word was brought down by the power people in the city, the temple priests. They had Jesus condemned and crucified.

Then they spoke of the own disappointment. They’d hope that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel. They hoped Jesus would be the one who would turn things around, bring about the end of Roman control over their lives and bring them freedom. Their dreams went up in smoke. Some hysterical women were claiming Jesus was alive, but that was nonsense.

As Jesus carried his cross thru the streets of Jerusalem he was mocked and tormented by people along the way. How many of them had that same hope that Jesus, the teacher and wonder worker from Nazareth would be the one to redeem Israel shattered. They were frustrated and angry with Jesus whom they now saw as a fraud, a preacher who built them up only to let them down. They vent their anger at him as he struggled under the burden of the cross he carried.

In our time how many good men and woman have had their faith shattered if not destroyed when a bishop or a priest or a famous Evangelical preacher brought shame and embarrassment on their faith community by their sinful behavior. Their leader, their ideal let them down and like the men from Emmaus these good people walk away from it all. They’ve lost trust.

In the gospel these two despondent men are blessed by this stranger catching up with them and walking with them. He was a man who knew his scriptures and shared his knowledge with them. He tried to help them see that through the ages the prophets taught that the Christ, the Messiah was bound to suffer a fate like Jesus and so enter into his glory.

This stranger accepted their hospitality and shared a meal with them. He took the bread from the table blessed it, broke it and offered it to his hosts and with a graced insight they recognized the risen Jesus in that ordinary ritual of breaking and sharing bread.

Can we imagine that this resurrection story is a metaphor of how God deals with a man or a woman struggling with their faith, with their relationship with the church? Christ comes to us in and through other people and surprises us with acts of kindness and words of understanding and support. We experience the ‘breaking of the bread’ in and through the words and actions of loving and supporting people. We are all on a journey, a journey of faith, a journey that can lead us to deepening of our relationship with Jesus our Christ, a journey that can lead to a deepening of our relationship with our church.

On our journey we meet others and they meet us.

As we celebrate our own ‘breaking of the bread’ at this Mass may we always be there for family members and friends who are struggling with their faith in Christ and his church and at the same time be open to the example and support other people offer us as we try to grow ever more deeply in the life that is ours through the Passion Death and Resurrection of Jesus our Christ.

Homily – April 16, 2017

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

In his first letter to the Christian people of Corinth Paul writes to them of a matter of first importance; Christ died for our sins and was buried and that he was raised from the dead on the third day. We could say all the rest is commentary, Christ’s teachings and miracles, but this is the heart of the matter.

This feast of Easter is the foundational celebration of our Christian faith. St. Paul tells us that if Christ was not raised from the dead then we of all people are the most to be pitied. The shame and suffering of Good Friday were all for nothing. We are still estranged from God – there was no reconciliation. But we believe that the Father has raised the Lord Jesus from the dead and we too have been raised in him to live a new life for God. Christ’s resurrection is a pledge and promise of our resurrection. Death has no power over us anymore.

And who was the person, the apostle, the proclaimer of the resurrection of Jesus? Mary Madeline, a woman. His choice was revolutionary. Think about the position of women at the time of Jesus. It is pretty close to the way women are seen in many of the countries of the Middle East even today. A woman could never leave her home unless a male member of the family was with. She could never be seen taking with a man in public. Girls were never educated as boys were. Their marriages were arranged by their fathers. They were never allowed to be a witness is a court case. They could not inherit property. There was an old Jewish prayer that went; I thank God I was not born an ignorant man, a Gentile nor a woman. Women were none persons.

Jesus went out of his way to break many of these social taboos. Many of his friends were woman who travelled with him. He encouraged Mary to stay in the room with men and listen to his teachings – he praised her for choosing the better part. He spoke publically with the woman at the well. He cured the woman with the flow of blood; he raised a young girl from the dead. Dying on the cross he was comforted by the presence of his mother and other women. His male friends were nowhere to be seen.

Jesus wanted to share the glorious reality of his resurrection from the dead first of all with a woman, Mary Magdalene. Mary came early in the morning to finish the hurried anointing of Jesus body that took place on Friday only to find the tomb empty. A man she thought was a gardener called her by name and she knew he was Jesus. She lost him once; she would not lose him again. She clung to his feet but he had something important for her to do. ‘Go and tell, go and tell my disciples, go and tell the world I am risen, I am alive.’ Mary Magdalene brought this good news to all of us – He is risen.

In our time – skepticism has thickened with the advance of science and reason, there is little time for things spiritual or supernatural. Reports of miracles and divine intervention still draw faith and curiosity, but they run against the grain. Skeptics regard them, of course, as wishful thinking and attention getting events.

People who reject the astounding claim that Jesus is risen from the dead may believe the news has been faked, there must be alternative facts. But for the cluster of women who first reported it, including Mary Magdalene, there isn’t the slightest hint that they conjured or concocted it in order to manipulate the apostles for a predetermined end. No, they just blurted it out as stupendous, unanticipated truth.

Celebrating this great act of God St. Paul tells us we are to seek the things that are above, seek and live a way of life, away of relating to other people that mirrors the teaching and example Jesus gave us through his live and his dying. We are to love others as we are loved, accept others as we have been accepted, and forgive others as we have been forgiven. This is an authentic celebration of this feast.

And may we all be blessed with a joyful Easter and testify by the way we live our lives Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.