Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – January 19, 2020

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

This day is the beginning of the week of prayer for Christian lead by Unity. The Christian family throughout the world does not have a good history of family love and unity. Yet Jesus prayed for unity among his followers; Father may they be one as we are one may they be one is us that the world may believe that you have sent me. St. Paul prayed that the early Christians communities preserve the unity of the Spirit in a bond of peace.

Things have not worked out that way. There were divisions in the early centuries of the church; divisions healed by church councils. But the first great family feud was in the 12th century when our family split between the east and the west, the east following the oriental churches led by the Patriarch Constantinople; the west following the churches faithful to Rome.

The second great split was the Protestant Reformation led by the German monk Martin Luther. He called for a reformation of the abuses of the Church of Rome. Since then there have been other splits within the reforming churches both in Europe and in North America. Just recently there was a split in the Methodist Church in the U.S over the issue of accepting Gays and Lesbians into the Church.

In our Catholic Church we have divisions over people’s understanding of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, especially in the ways Mass and the Sacraments are celebrated. Some, not many, want to put things back the way they were years ago, Mass in Latin, Gregorian chants and the priest with his back to the people. Some people find Pope Francis too easy on people.

But there is way we Christians can be one; One in our respect for other people’s faith and convictions. One in our willingness to let go of ingrained prejudices of other faiths. One in our efforts to oppose anti-Semitism. One in our co-operation to work for social justice, such as affordable housing, a living wage, One in our willingness to accept refugees and immigrants to Canada. This is a oneness that bears witness to our faith in Jesus Christ.

Let our common prayer be, not just for this week but for every week; May we all be one in being faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Homily – January 12, 2020

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

On this feast of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jorden River we are taken back to the time and day when we were baptised – baptised by water and the Holy Spirit and adopted by our Father as God’s sons and daughters. Because most of us were baptised as infants we have no memory of that event, when through no merit of our own God’s Holy Spirit was poured into our hearts giving us the boldness to call God – Father/Mother.

Today’s gospel tells of Jesus approaching his cousin John the Baptist to be baptized. John protests saying it should be the other way around. Jesus says, do what I ask. We don’t know how many people were around on that occasion but our scriptures tell us that as Jesus came out of the river the heavens opened and Jesus saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove over him and an approving voice saying the words,’ this is my son, the Beloved with whom I am well pleased.’

Our first reading from Isaiah tells of unknown servant who delights the soul of God and receives God’s Spirit. This unknown servant is to bring justice to the nations and he is to be a source of healing and a light to the nations and bring freedom to oppressed people. Both this unknown person and Jesus were sources of delight to God

Can we imagine, even believe that God looks of each one of us here and now and says; ‘this is my son, this is my daughter in whom I am well pleased?

They’re not perfect, they’re not faultless but they are trying. They don’t live up to their own ideals, they struggle with their own issues and they keep coming back to me for the help and strength they need. They worry about their jobs; they worry about whether they are a good father, a good mother.

They struggle with their faith in a church that has shamed them with its scandals. They worry about their health and the health of those they love and they grieve over the death of those they loved. They wonder about the future of their children and grandchildren and the diseased planet they’re leaving them.They do their best to be there for people who need their help, they do what they can to help the poor and homeless and they resist the temptations that surround them to be racist and anti-semitic.

There are many times when wonder if I even care for them or even remember them.

But it is good for us to remember, to trust this truth; God does not deal with people as faceless members of a collective. He calls, and he heals one particular person at a time, as each individual comes to him. But then we ourselves need to come to the Lord, to face him, to know him, to love him, and to let him heal us. Come as ourselves, as we are, warts and all. We are God’s and God is our well pleased Father.

Homily – December 29, 2019

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

There was a song out years ago title; ’No one know what goes on behind closed doors.’ There is something called the hidden life of Jesus. We’ve just celebrated his birth. Today we hear of the family’s flight into Egypt to avoid a jealous king. January 1st we celebrate Jesus’ circumcision. The next we hear of Jesus was when he was 12 years old and driving Mary and Joseph crazy as he disappeared in Jerusalem for 3 days. Then there is silence til Jesus shows up where John the Baptist is baptizing in the Jordon and a voice sounds from heaven,’ this is my son, the beloved, in him I am well pleased.’ In all those years we have no idea what went on behind closed doors.’ And it really isn’t all that important. What is important is what Jesus said did in his public life and his passion death and resurrection.

Today is the feast day of the Holy Family. There was only one holy family and they had their problems and sorrows. They lived in the small community of Nazareth. Joseph was a carpenter; there may have been many times he was out of work. Like every Jewish boy Jesus was expected to follow his father’s trade.

We are all family, we belong to the human family, we belong to the family of the church and we belong to the family of all the life forms on planet earth. All these families have issues. For our own personal families the saying ‘no one knows what goes on behind closed doors is true. We keep our troubles to ourselves. Unfortunately the troubles of our family of the church are on the news constantly, sexual abuse and cover ups. Unfortunately our problems as a member of the family of all life on Earth are either being denied or put off to the next global meeting on global change. The latest in Spain was a bust. We seem to be in denial.

On September 1st of this year Pope Francis called for a world day of prayer for the care of creation. Here are some of the things the pope said when establishing that day;

Now is the time “ to reflect on our lifestyles, and how our daily decisions about food, consumption, transportation, use of water, energy and many other material goods, can often be thoughtless and harmful.”

Now is the time, “to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move, quickly and decisively, towards forms of clean energy and a sustainable and circular economy. Now is time to learn from “indigenous peoples, whose age-old wisdom can teach us how to live in a better relationship with the environment.”

Pope Francis is buoyed up by the fact that many young people all over the world are making their voices heard and calling for courageous decisions”,and he stresses that we owe them real answers, not empty words, actions not illusions.”

Realistically he says that ‘tragically, the human response to this gift of creation has been marked by selfishness and a greedy desire to possess and exploit, no matter what the consequences. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors. But the doors of climate change are wide open; look at the fires in Australia and California, the droughts in Africa or the rains and high tides in Europe and closer to home the climate changes in the Artic.

We need this year to be more aware on the reality of the mess our life family on Earth is in. Can we begin a new year with a deeper appreciation of the truth of these words you’ve heard before; the Earth does not belong to us, we belong to Earth and what we do to 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. We are family with all other life forms on Earth and family must come first.

Homily – December 22, 2019

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

Matthew’s gospel presents us with a teenage girl and a teenage boy invited into the mystery of what John describes his gospel, ‘and the word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.’ The young Mary and Joseph had no idea what was ahead for them’ yet both these young people said in their own way, ‘let it be done to me.’ Both these young people made their lives available to God. When Mary heard about her Cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy she went in haste to see if she could be of help.

In the days to come things didn’t work out too well for Mary and Joseph, in fact everything got botched up. Instead of the support of their families as their baby’s birth drew near, they found themselves facing a treacherous journey during the last stage of Mary’s pregnancy. In Bethlehem they would have no suitable place to stay, any family or friends around for support. Their earliest days of parenthood would be full of fear and flight. Eventually Mary and Joseph found themselves to be strangers in a strange land.

The Irish have a tradition of what is called the Christmas candle. In many homes on Christmas Eve a single candle was placed in the window. It stayed lit all night. If the Holy Family had no place to stay, if a homeless person had no place to stay, the Christmas Candle was a message that they would find welcome and comfort in that home, no matter how poor it might be.

As all of us prepare for the great celebration of the birth of Jesus it would be a blessing for us all to have a Christmas candle, a message of welcome to the many immigrants and refugees who want to come to Canada and start a new life, a life free of oppression and persecution, free of civil strife, as many of our own families in years past.

Different groups and some politicians want us to believe that hordes of illegal people are sneaking into Canada and we’ve had enough immigration. It’s called xenophobia, a fear of the stranger. A mindset totally opposed to the spirit of Christmas.

As we prepare to welcome the birth of Jesus wouldn’t be a Christmas blessing if our hearts, our mindsets were free of bigotry and prejudice towards men and women of different cultures, different life styles or different faiths.

In all nativity cribs we see the infant laying in a manger his arms wide open welcoming each one of us into his life and love. Wouldn’t it be a Christmas gift to each of us if Christ blessed us with the gift of openness and acceptance for all those men, women and children from distant lands who come to Canada and into our lives?

It would be a Christmas blessing if each one of us was a Christmas Candle of welcome, not just to Jesus, but to every person who comes into our lives,

Wouldn’t be a special Christmas if each one of us was a Christmas candle, a shining light of welcome

Homily – December 15, 2019

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Last Sunday’s gospel John the Baptist was telling the religious leaders who, probably out of curiosity came to listen to him as he preached and baptized at the Jorden river, that they were nothing but a brood of vipers and that they had better change their ways or they would face a future wrath. John pictures the one who would come after him, Jesus, as a pretty rough judge who would gather good men and women into his granary but the wicked would be thrown into unquenchable fire.

Today we find John in prison. He was a person who called things for what they were. He confronts a king, a king living in sin and told him ‘what you are doing is a sin against God’.

Maybe John thought he had it all wrong. Jesus didn’t seem to be warning people, scolding them about the wrath that was to come if they didn’t change their ways. So we have John’s famous question,’ Are you he who is to come or should be look for another?’

Jesus lets John know he is doing the works of God; the blind see, the deaf hear, cripples walk, lepers are made clean and the poor are hearing the good news of God; they are important to God, loved by God. And blessed are they who take no offence, are not shocked by what I am doing. Remember how the Pharisees were shocked that Jesus ate and drank with sinners and that he cured a man on the Sabbath – they took offence at him.

There is a saying, ‘the more things change the more they remain the same.’ We are blessed to have a very human and a very understanding Pope, Francis. He comes from the very different culture of Latin America, where as his predecessors who come a European culture, John Paul from Poland, Benedict from Germany.

There are many in our Church, lay men and women, priests, bishops and cardinals who take offence at what he says and does as he tries to guide our Church into an unknown future. Pope Francis is accused of weakening the discipline of our Church, he lacks rigidity, he is too soft. His remark, ‘who am I to judge’ when asked about those struggling with their sexuality identity was a shocker. He does not prevent couples in second marriages from coming to Holy Communion as he reminds us that Holy Communion is not a reward for the righteous but a remedy for the weak.

Those responsible for our liturgy couldn’t believe it when Francis broke with tradition and the Pope washed the feet of women, one a Muslim, at a Holy Thursday celebration.

Pope Francis is imitating Jesus as he meets people where they are as Jesus met people where they were, be they tax collectors or prostitutes and walked with and led them on to the experience of God’s love and healing.

Could we imitate the example of Jesus and Pope Francis and accept family members and friends and patiently walk with them and support them as they grapple with their personal struggles, no matter what they may be. May we not be intimidated by those who take offence at our efforts to imitate Jesus and Pope Francis.

the God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our sorrows, so that we can offer others, in their sorrows, the consolation that we have received from God ourselves.