Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – October 14, 2018

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

On the 4th of October we celebrated the life of St. Francis of Assisi. He came from a wealthy family and lived the ‘good life’. God gifted Francis with the wisdom and understanding to see the shallowness of his lifestyle and invited him to live a life of poverty as a witness against the extravagances of the church at his time.

Not so the young man in today’s gospel. Jesus saw the goodness in him; he was faithful to the commandments all his life. So Jesus invited him to deeper life. This good young man couldn’t take the risk of giving up all his possession, could not trust the promised treasures in heaven. He went away sad, missing the opportunity of a life time.

The point of this encounter of Jesus with this young man was not the giving up of wealth as such but an invitation to a life of discipleship that leads to eternal life. Come follow me.

Every day of life Jesus quietly invites to grow, to move beyond where we are.

Maybe Christ’s invites us to move beyond the resentment and dislike we feel toward men and women from other countries, of other cultures and faiths and lifestyles and invites us to have an open heart and open mind toward these good people as we try to imitate the all-embracing love God has for all people. As we watch the world news each night can we hear Christ calling us away from what Pope Francis called, global indifference, global boredom, to the blight of our brothers and sisters living in dire poverty, our brothers and sisters trapped in the sweat shops of the world or in a war torn country? Is Christ calling us to imitate his sensitivity to the needs of others?

Can we image that Christ is inviting us to times of prayer and quiet as he hints that we’d be more peaceful people without our dependence on our cellphones or I pads, or Facebook 24/7. Are we afraid of his invitation, ‘be still and know that I am God?

Is Christ inviting us to imitate his patience toward us as he challenges us to put aside old resentments and feuds towards relatives and friends and stop picking at old wounds and let the past be the past and live in the now?

Recently the scientists of the world gave us warning. The human family has until the year 2030 to avoid the inevitable results of climate change. Can we hear this warning as a call to all of us to a drastic change in our consumeristic life styles and live lightly upon Earth?

As a church community we’ve been hurt and embarrassed by the exposure of the sins of sexual abuse by priests, bishops and cardinals. Christ challenged the abuse of power and in infidelity of the religious leaders of his time. Is the harsh reality of today’s scandal a challenge to the people of the church to speak truth to power?

Every now and then we sing a hymn titled The Summons.

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name..will you go where you don’t know and never be the same…will you let my love be shown..will you let my name be known …will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

The point of this encounter of Jesus with this young man was not the giving up of wealth as such but an invitation to a life of discipleship that leads to eternal life. It is an invitation we’re offered in countless ways every day. Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?

Homily – October 7, 2018

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

At different times when witnessing a marriage I’ve used the words of Jesus from his cross, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’ And they don’t. The young bride and groom are making an act of faith in an unknown future. In that act of faith they say to one another, in good time and in bad, in sickness and in health, in all the future possibilities of our lives, I will be yours and you will be mine. The old marriage ritual contained the following promise; ‘God will be with you in your needs, he will pledge you the lifelong support of his grace in the sacrament you are about to receive. ‘Still, they know not what they do.

One biblical scholar claims that we know very little about how divorce was handled in Jewish society at the time of Jesus, but Jesus maintains God’s dream of humanity is bigger than the social realities of that time. This ‘oneness of flesh is an ideal to aim for and not a rule to be applied strictly without taking circumstances into consideration. It is an ideal to reach towards, without pretending to have obtained it with a perfect love.

In the ancient Mediterranean world, marriages were between families. Each family selected a partner for the other. Marriage was intended to bind families together, forming a stronger unit.

A divorce was more than the separation of a husband and wife; it was the separation of the families. Such a separation could lead to family feuds as each side blamed the other for the break-up. This happens today as family and friends are expected to take sides blaming the other for the break up. It can get quite nasty.

Maybe the basic purpose of this commandment in ancient Israelite society was to head off feuding which led to bloodshed. The idea was to maintain internal societal harmony and stability.

Jesus saw the marriage covenant as a symbol of the unbreakable covenant between God and the people of Israel. St. Paul saw marriage as a symbol of the covenant of Christ’s love for his bride, the Church. A covenant sealed with his blood.

Sadly the words of Jesus, ‘what God has joined let no one separate’ have little or no influence on society today. Divorce is a sad and painful reality in our lives. Husbands and wives split, children are passed back and forth and one family wants nothing to do with the other.

Divorce is a fact in our reality as Church. Men and women who divorce believe they are out of the church. This is not true. A divorced man or woman who remarries without an annulment, which can be a painful process, opening old wounds, is at odds with the church but they are still in the church, they are still family, they are still welcome.

Jesus speaks about the hardness of people’s hearts. Pope Francis is facing resentment and resistance from cardinals and bishops as he’s asked for a reform of the annulment process and a change in attitude toward divorced men and women. He respects the decision of divorce men and women who, mindful of their need of God’s grace seek to come to receive Holy Communion. Who am I to judge?

There may be many at this Mass whose lives have been touched by the tragedy and sadness of divorce. May we as a parish family pray for and welcome these good people whose lives have been touched by the blight of divorce. We pray for the children whose lives are in turmoil because of divorce. May our parish family always welcome divorced men and women to the Eucharist. May these good people find new life and new love. God said , ‘it is not good to be alone.’

Homily – September 30, 2018

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Would that all God’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his spirit on them. It is good to remember that prophets were not those who foretold future events. Prophets were men and women who called the community to be faithful to the call and message of God, right here, right now.

No one has a corner of God’s love and grace. There are men and women in every Christian community who imagine they have such a corner and they often belittle the good works of others. The truth of the matter is that the Holy Spirit is within every child of God and it is good for each of us to be alert and respectful of the working of the Spirit even within people with whom we do not agree. I often drive by Peoples Church on Sunday and see the people streaming into it and the thought that comes to my mind is – here God is glorified and praised. Not as we glorify and praise here at St. Gabriel’s, but glorified and praised none the less.

Here is a Christian community that supports needy families in the community just as you good people.

I don’t know about you but I am so proud of Pope Francis, for all the pressures on him as he faces and copes with the scandals bishops and priests have brought upon our church, he is still a prophet, a man who challenges our fidelity to teaching of Jesus.

His talks to world leaders or to people gathered in St. Peter’s square has the same message; recognize and respect the human dignity of the person in front of us, whether that person is a CEO or a street person. Time and again he stood with the poor, the dispossessed and the oppressed men and women of the societies in which we live. No one was surprised when, as a prophet, he asked that people put aside political and business interests and admit to the ecological and environmental crises developing around us. As prophet Pope Francis called us to respect life in all its stages. He calls for an end to the death penalty and the worldwide sale of military arms. In all his speeches his main concern was for the poor, those who wait for crumbs to fall from the tables of the prosperous. Economically it is called ‘The trickledown theory.’

I think Pope Francis has done us proud. I think he echoes the words of Moses, ‘would that all God’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his spirit on them.’ Would that each one of us had the courage to be prophets and speak the truth to bigots and prejudicial men and women who belittle men and women of other faiths, cultures and life styles. Would that each of us were prophets and ask the men and women running for office in on coming elections, what is the track record of their party as regards justice for support affordable housing, employment for our young people, care for our veterans, support for welfare recipients, and so many other serious social concerns that are part and parcel of lives of Canadians.

In one of his talks Francis tells us ’we need to avoid a common temptation now a days; to discard whatever proves troublesome and face the issues that stare us in the face. Remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you have them do unto you.’

Several times Pope Francis asked people to pray for him and then he added, ‘if you do not believe in God and do not pray please send kind thoughts my way.’ He certainly needs our prayers and kind thoughts in these challenging times.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass may we all keep Pope Frances in our thoughts and prayers. We pray for ourselves that we have the boldness to be prophets – speakers of God’s truth when, in the different circumstances our own lives, we are challenged to be so.

Homily – September 23, 2018

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

In today’s gospel we hear Jesus predicting for the second time his future fate, ‘The son of man will be betrayed into the hands of men and they will kill him.’ In last week’s gospel we heard Peter saying, ‘God forbid Lord this must never happen to you.’ Peter and the others couldn’t image that the man they saw as their Messiah, their liberator, would suffer such a fate. This must never happen to you.

Jesus is one of a long line of righteous men who challenged by the example of their lives the infidelities of their religious leaders, lives that scandalized the little people of the land.

In our first reading from the Book of Wisdom we hear of the resentment of a group of unfaithful people toward a righteous man who struggled to be faithful to God. He is charged with making life inconvenient to them, opposing their actions, exposing their sins against the law.

This is how the religious leaders and scholars saw Jesus as a know nothing. They challenged his teaching, said his miracles were acts of the devil and resented his friendship with tax collectors and prostitutes. How could such a person claim to be a teacher of the Law, how dare he challenge their authority, how dare he question their authenticity?

Like the people in our first reading the religious leaders were determined to discredit Jesus. They bribed one of his own to betray him. Once they had him in their power they had a phony trial loaded with false witnesses. Using the Roman authorities they brought Jesus, this inconvenient man to Calvary to test what will happen at the end of his life and condemn him to a shameful death. “If you are God’s son come down from the cross and we will believe.’ Inconvenient to the end Jesus prayed ‘father forgive them for they know not what they do.’

Things don’t change. Men and women who speak out for justice and fairness for workers or people on welfare, people who support families who are in need of affordable housing, people who support senior citizens in need of help, health care workers who care for young men and women struggling with addictions, all these caring people are dismissed by the powers that be as bleeding hearts, commies, socialists, do gooders. Like Jesus they are inconvenient, bothersome to people in power, people who can affect a change.

We’ve been blessed with inconvenient heroes in our time, Martin Luther King. Archbishop Romero, Mother Teresa and nameless others who worked and suffered and died trying to uphold the dignity of all men and women. People who died trying to save the forests and rivers and mountains from greed and avarice of big corporations.

They were all an inconvenience to the powerful politicians or the wealthy corporations or the masters of commerce.

They are all brought to a shameful end but they were the witnesses to God love for the poor and oppressed.

Each one of us, in one way or another is called to be an inconvenience, a pebble in a shoe. We are called by our crucified Christ to be an inconvenient man or woman and speak out and work for the dignity of every person as He did when he identified himself with the little people, the powerless, the exploited men and women of his time.

We are called to be an inconvenient man or woman when we challenge people who stereotype good people because of their place of origin or their faith or the sexual orientation.

Today’s scripture challenges each one of us to be inconvenient, a bother and be a living example of one who tries and maybe not always succeed to love others, respect others,support others, forgive others as Christ as done so to us.

Homily – September 16, 2018

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

A number of years ago when I was on the retreat team at Holy Cross Retreat Centre in Port Burwell down on Lake Erie a young man on retreat wanted to give me some advice as to how to get young adults back into the church.

He began by telling me we’ve got to get rid of the cross. It’s a downer, a bummer. We have to be more upbeat. The cross is a no no.

That sounds a bit like Peter in today’s gospel. Jesus gives the apostles a glimpse of his future. Beyond the admiration Jesus receives for his healings and curing there will be another reality. ’The Son of Mass must undergo great suffering and rejection by the religious authorities. He will be betrayed and undergo great suffering and be killed.’ This didn’t fit Peter’s image of the Christ, the Messiah, the delivered of Israel. ‘God forbid Lord this must never happen to you.’ For Peter this was a real downer, this wouldn’t work. It’s the miracles, the wonders that will win people over. A crucified Messiah won’t work!

But this is the reality, the foundational truth of our Christian faith; the crucified Christ, to the intellectual Greeks absolute foolishness, to the Jews a stumbling block. But to those who believe, Christ the wisdom of God, Christ the power of God.

You are the Christ. If Peter and the others saw Jesus as a miracle – working divine man and imagined they are to be likewise they had it all wrong.

Mark’s tells us the recognition of Jesus as the Christ involves the acceptance of a harsh truth; our Christ is a crucified Christ and we follow him bearing the cross in whatever form the cross may take in our lives and relationships, manifesting the dying of Jesus in our mortal bodies.

Our following of the crucified, our dying must find expression in our actions if it is to be real. Christ was a man for others. He showed his love and care for us in his acts of healing, his work to relieve the sufferings of men and women, he acceptance of people who were considered outsiders by society. Our second reading from James is quite blunt about this. If we say to a person who asks our help, ‘go in peace, keep warm, eat well and do nothing to clothe and feed them, we’re phony. Faith without good works is dead.

Faith is Jesus makes its own demands on us. There can be times when we are overcome by compassion-fatigue, things are beyond us. At such times we do the best we can but we never give up trying to be there for people in need.

There can be times when we have to challenge good people who are convinced the men and women who are fleeing persecution and danger are threats to our own prosperity, taking away jobs, living off our high taxes. They see families recused from refugee camps as freddy free loaders instead of good people looking for a new chance at life.

Faith without the good works of welcoming the stranger, seeking a living wage for the working poor, working for affordable housing, proper health care for our aged brothers and sisters is as dead as the dodo.

Faith in our crucified Christ has its own demands. It makes its own claims on us. Its implications are daunting. What you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you do to me.