Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – December 16, 2018

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

If we watch the evening news night after night we must have some form of depression. Night after night it’s a downer. It is difficult to laugh at the ‘gong show’ south of the border. Our own leadership is bent of turning back social programs meant to help men and women struggling to survive. We’re hearing of cutbacks to programs designed to protect our natural resources, our water systems, our lakes and forests. The message is ‘we’re open for business,’ come take what you want of our resources, develop our greenbelt areas and we’ll clean up the mess you leave behind.

Our friends in Europe are in a mess with political turmoil, strikes and anti-immigrant demonstrations. Brexit is front and center in England. And of course our weather doesn’t help. It would be nice to see the sun and blue skies more often.

Our life within our church is burdened by the failure of our bishops to face and handle the abuse scandals instead of covering them up to save the reputation of the church.

This season of Advent can be a downer too. We hear of predictions of the end of the world, stars falling from heaven, disasters on earth and people fainting for fear.

But this Sunday’s scripture gives us a boost. It’s not all gloom and doom. We hear words like; rejoice, rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice, the Lord is near, do not fear, do not let your hands grow weak. John the Baptist calls his listeners to a life of fairness and justice and care for the weak.

Priest put aside their purple vestment and wears a rose colored one, the symbol of hope and life. We light the rose candle in our Advent wreath, a light that calls us to hope.

No matter what worries and troubles weigh us down in our personal lives, there is a greater reality – the peace of God guards our hearts in Christ Jesus. God is with us, we are not on our own. This Sunday calls us to rejoice to celebrate the presence and love of God is our lives in the person of Jesus our Christ. As one writer wrote, ‘God has given us permission to enjoy life and it pleasures. Pleasure is God’s gift; it is not a forbidden fruit.’

Today’s scriptures call us to rejoice, to celebrate our lives, our families, our friends and our faith.

What does it mean to celebrate something? To celebrate an occasion is to heighten it, share it, savor it and enlarge it and enjoy it. We also celebrate in order to link ourselves more fully to others, to be playful, to intensify a feeling, to bring ourselves to ecstasy, and, more commonly, just to rest and unwind. Enjoy the moment, enjoy this person, enjoy this occasion. Enjoy. It is good to be. So often we don’t trust this invitation. There’s a down east saying, ‘you may be laughing today but you’ll be crying tomorrow.’ Because of our incapacity to enjoy something simply for what it is; a beautiful day, meeting an old friend, a birthday, we often try to create that enjoyment through our excesses. So we drink too much or eat too much and take the joy out of it all. We lose the simple joy, the gift of the present moment.

The simple joy of our present moment is; ‘The Lord is in our midst you shall fear disaster no more.’

May we all be blessed to enter into the celebration of this awesome wonder; the Lord our God is with us; right here, right now. Rejoice, again I say rejoice.

Homily – December 9, 2018

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

Can we just imagine this gaunt, dishevelled man showing up out of nowhere and going from town to town along the Jordan River shouting to people his desperate message, repent and prepare the way of the Lord?

This was John the Baptist, a first cousin of Jesus. His destiny was to alert men and women to the man who was to come after him, Jesus. John was a severe man, he believed his mission was to warn and prepare the people for the one who was to come after him. John imagined Jesus as a man like himself, a firebrand, and told the people Jesus’ his winning –fork was in his hand and he will clear the threshing –floor and will gather his wheat into the granary but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

But Jesus was just the opposite of John’s expectations. He spoke of love and forgiveness. He touched and healed people; he embraced the outcasts of society and patiently listened to their painful stories. A confused John sent his disciples to ask Jesus,’ are you he who is to come or should we look for another’. John expected a different Jesus.

But John’s message rings as true for us today as it did for the people of his own time as he calls us to be open to and readily accept the workings of God in our lives and in the world. John calls us to ‘put on Christ.’

John’s imagery of lowering mountains and filling in gullies and smoothing rough roads should not be lost on us. Can we recognize and face the road blocks, the obstacles we’ve set up by our own life-styles and mind-sets that prevent or stall Christ’s life, teachings and love touch our lives making us better than we are?

Am I whistling in the wind when I suggest our best preparation for the coming feast of the birth of Jesus might be taking the time for self- examination and trying to discover what mindsets and attitudes, what ways of speaking to or of others, what ways of treating and respecting others are road closures to our growth as Christian men and women in the ways we seek to ‘put of Christ’, live Christ-like lives. But whistle I will.

What of that mountain of prejudice, that mountain of our lack of care and concern for the homeless, the unemployed that our own selfishness makes so difficult to level? Why are we resistant to working toward a level lane so that we can welcome men and women different from ourselves as our brothers and sisters and as equally loved by God as we are? Do we seek Christ’s strength to push aside boulders of embarrassment and shame that block our trust in his forgiveness and our road back to the sacrament of reconciliation? Do we trust that Jesus comes to us in the deep gorges of discouragement or depression or the feelings of failure that blight our lives? Do try to fill in those pits with a firm trust in God’s care and love for each of us? As men and women of faith are we ready to prepare the way of life and love into our lives? Can we ask ourselves these questions?

As we continue to celebrate our Mass can we pray for ourselves and for each other that with the help of God’s grace we will do the road work we need to do, and we all know how disruptive road work can be, and open our hears and lives for the coming of the Christ into our lives.

Homily – December 2, 2018

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

Annie Dillard the author of the book ‘Silent Spring’ tells this story on herself. She had been watching a butterfly emerge from its cocoon and was fascinated by the process until she grew impatient with how long it was taking and, to speed things up Annie took a candle and heated the cocoon, albeit very gently. The experiment worked, but it was a mistake in the long run. The butterfly emerged more quickly; however, because adding heat to the cocoon violated something within the natural process, the butterfly was born with wings too weak to fly. Haste and prematurity had stunted and deformed a natural process. Annie learned that some things can’t be rushed.

That’s a hard truth to understand in our age of instantcy. We want jobs or assignment done yesterday. We think that waiting, delaying, postponing means doing nothing. How many times in the next weeks will we hear, ‘I can’t wait for Christmas?’ Truth is you have to, unless you have your private celebration ‘right here, right now and ruin your Christmas. Annie made the mistake of being impatient; she tried to hurry the natural process of the butterfly’s struggle to be free of its cocoon and ruined the butterfly’s future.

These next weeks of December we’ll be reminded time and again that there are only so many days left for shopping. These next weeks of Advent remind us this is the time to prepare the way of the Lord coming into our lives with his grace and love and healing. This can’t be rushed. Advent is a season of patience and fortitude. Are we strong enough to resist our need for ‘right now’?

Perhaps this Advent we all need to rediscover and try to live a bit more consciously the real purpose of this liturgical season as a time of longing, hoping, waiting, preparing and praying for God’s grace to free us of any cocoon that restricts our living in the grace and love of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In one way of another we are all in our personal cocoon, a cocoon that restricts our growth in maturity and in God’s grace. But we have to remember that we are all mistake making beings and that God isn’t finished with us yet.

We are all in one cocoon or another struggling to be better than we are, struggling to grow in our love for God and one another. Maybe we struggle to break out of our cocoon of impatience with our own faults and limitations or the cocoon of our impatience with the faults and limitations of our spouse or children, or those with whom we work. Maybe we need God’s grace to break out of our cocoon of our inability to be faithful to Mass or find a time of quiet before God. We all need God’s grace to break out of our cocoon of our fixation with shopping for more and more for the things we need less and less. We need God’s grace to break out of the cocoon that keeps us from seeing not only the goodness in ourselves but

the goodness of every person who comes into our lives. We need God’s grace and strength to break out of our cocoon to addictions for food or drink or drugs or any other addiction that holds us captive. Do we need God’s grace to break out of a cocoon of indifference, a lack of interest in the hungry and the homeless in Toronto?

During this holy season of waiting we pray for ourselves and for each other for the grace and patience we all need to be freed, by God’s help from any and all cocoons that hinder us from being the person God calls us to be.

Homily – November 25, 2018

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

At this Mass we celebrate the culmination of our church year. We sum up the year with the proclamation that Jesus Christ is King. Jesus reigns over a kingdom of truth and love, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice love and peace.

Our gospel shows us Jesus the king of the Jews. He has been whipped and beaten; his face is dirtied by the spittle of the soldiers. He wears the purple robe of his mocked royalty. His crown of thorns is another gesture of the contempt the authorities had for him.

When Pilate asked Jesus is he was the king of the Jews he did not deny it but he went beyond any political claim. Jesus answers Pilate, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. For this was I born, for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.’ Roger Bacon wrote an essay on truth. It began with the words, ‘what is truth asked jesting Pilate and he did not wait for an answer.’ What is truth? A good question for our times.

Where do we find truth today? Certainly not in certain politicians. Every day we hear bold face lies, campaign promises are forgotten and we are inundated with ‘alternative facts.’ Scientific facts that warn us of the reality of climate change and its consequences are ignored. Our church leaders have been caught in the cover-up of the sexual and criminal abuse of minors.

Jesus, our king spoke truth to power. He placed himself on the side of the little people of his time, people who had no power and were oppressed by those who had; the military, the land owners, the tax collectors and the religious law keepers.

In what Jesus preached and the way he made himself present to ordinary people he manifested the presence, the love and the mercy of God to the forgotten of his time. Through his Father’s presence working through him Jesus could say, ‘go in peace your sins are forgiven’, he could say,’of course I want to, be made clean, receive your sight, get up and walk.’ Jesus gave hope to the little people assuring them, ‘you are of more value than sparrows, the very hairs of your head are numbered, and the Father knows what you need even before you ask. In other words, you are known, you are loved despite what those in authority may tell you.

Jesus spoke truth to power, especially the power of the Temple. That is what brought him to how we see him in today’s gospel. For this I was born, for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.

Jesus told Pilate, everyone who belongs to the truth hears my voice. What did Jesus teach us? ‘Love one another as I have loved you. Welcome into your life, into your neighbourhood men and women and children of any racial background, any faith, any lifestyle. Forgive as I’ve forgiven you, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless. As often as you these things to others, you do them to me. Do we belong to the truth? Do we hear the voice of our humiliated king?

God give is the grace to hear the voice of our king’s voice and live and love as he calls us to do.

Homily – November 18, 2018

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

I think we’re all familiar of cartoons showing a bearded man carrying a sign telling us ‘The end is near’. The message being, shape up.’ Another version is ‘Jesus is coming, look busy.’

Today’s readings are called apocalyptic readings. They are meant to be unsettling, their message is, ‘get your act together.’ They’ve been described as follows.

The apocalyptic writer first recounts, under the guise of future prediction, a selected series of historical events up to the moment of writing, then indicates future historical events rather vaguely, using other words describing what’s going on now. He finally foretells cosmic events of the end time when all will be dissolved and there will a complete transformation of all creation. St. Paul tells us, ‘The eye has not seen, nor has the ear heard, nor has it entered into human mind the things that God has prepared for those who love him.’

These predictions speak to every historical generation, including our own. After all, the end times happen to us all, not only to each of us in facing our own death, but to all of us together as a generation that will pass into the mist of disappearing ages.

Today’s prophets of doom are members of our scientific communities. They do not speak in symbolic languages like the prophets of old. They speak in un controvertible facts. Like a voice crying in the wilderness of our mindless consumerism they are telling us we are in trouble. Our misuse of Earth’s resources over these past two or three centuries has brought us to a tipping point. Extractive industries, coal mining, the extraction of oil, gold, silver and other minerals and our consumption of these resources as part and parcel of modern living are the major contributor to climate change.

Modern science has an apocalyptic message for the human family. We’re heading for a whole new and diminished world. The message to governments and big business and all of us is, ’you better change your ways of thinking and living, you better change the ways you see your relationship with the earth on which your destiny and survival depends.’ The message of scientists around the world is that we have upset the harmony needed to live on Earth. You’ve heard me say many times, ‘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 ourselves.

Our modern prophets, the world – wide scientific community is calling us to take seriously the reality of climate change. Those who deny and dismiss the reality of climate change are on the wrong side of history. Governments around the world have to be more faithful to and supportive of the Paris Climate Accord and work to reach the goals to which they committed. Thursday Toronto Star claims that Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions per person are more than any other country in the G20. This report claims that none of the G20 has a plan in place to meet the goals set by Paris Agreement.

Yet we have power hungry and uniformed politicians denying the reality of climate change and cancelling environmental controls programs that were made with the world community for the well- being of all nations. Politicians tell us these controls and restrictions are bad for business, they will take away jobs. God help us all.

Things are staring us in the face. Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, hurricanes, droughts, the poisoning of oceans and rivers and the poisoning of the soil that feeds us. Scientists are telling us that the toxicity of our land and air and oceans are a reality. We deny or ignore these global realities at our peril.

The world will not end tomorrow but the life systems of earth are changing faster than we thought and your great-grand- children and their great- grand- children will be struggling to survive on a totally different planet. Can we think that far ahead? Can we live simply so that future generations may simply live?