Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – September 24, 2017

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Just imagine for a moment that you are part of that labor pool standing in the market place hoping to be hired for the day. You have no education, no job security. You are at the mercy of the several land owners who are hiring that day. There is a lot of haggling going on, you’re hoping for the best wage possible, hopefully a fair wage. It’s a bargaining process. There are times when the harvest is a good one and the owner wants to get it off the fields as soon as possible. Because he needs you, you can ask for a better wage. If the harvest is poor then you take the best deal you can get. You’ve got a family to feed.

The working poor are always at the mercy of the market. Recently we read about a massive bakery here in the city that supplies most stores and restaurants in the city. The men and women who work in the plant are from a labor pool which acts as a go between the owners of the bakery and the people in the pool. The workers have no union and are paid the minimum wage, if they are lucky. Two such workers were killed on the job. No compensation. Totally unjust. The company was cited different times for failing to meet safety standards. They got a slap on the wrist. We don’t have to go to Asia for examples of the exploitation of the working poor.

In the gospel we have this landowner looking to hire men to work in his fields. He promises the men he hired,’ I’ll pay you whatever is right.’ At end of the day each man is given a full day’s wage. The men who worked in the heat of the day found this unfair. They were envious of the landowner’s generosity. That’s not the way it works.

We think of justice in terms of what is fair, of what people deserve. So we would say that the people who worked longer deserved more. But God doesn’t see it that way. God thinks of justice in terms of people’s dignity, their right to a decent life.

The people who came late had the same right to a decent life as those who had worked all day, so they are all treated equally. Nothing is taken from anyone, but all are treated in accord with their dignity, their right to a decent life. Such is God’s justice.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” Perhaps we would have a better world if we were to adopt some of God’s ways. After all, “the Lord is just in all his ways,” and that is something which cannot be said of all our ways.

There is another way of reading this parable beyond a moral lesson in labor relations.

What God is doing time and again in the public ministry of Jesus is giving the tax collectors and sinners, the outcasts and the prostitutes an equal share of God’s love and mercy. God has time for the riff raff and the unwashed. The righteous thought they were more worthy of Jesus’ time and attention. Jesus thought and behaved otherwise.

It is always good to remember that God’s ways are not our ways. We should thank God for that.

Homily – September 17, 2017

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

The most common prayer for most Christians is the Our Father. One of the most demanding – maybe even frightening words in this prayer are ; forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. In other words show the same mercy and forgiveness to us as we show to those who have hurt and offended us.

Refusing to forgive is refusing to love, and it is never acceptable not to love. That is why it is never right to withhold forgiveness either.

It is not easy to forgive, especially we’ve been badly hurt or disappointed by someone we thought was friend. It is not easy to forgive and forget the pain and anger and the bitterness one knows as a couple go through a divorce. It is difficult to forgive a person who has defrauded us of what we’ve saved or what should have come to us as an inheritance. It is hard to forgive a friend who has betrayed a confidence. But if our lives, our friendships, our family relationships have known hurt and betrayal this is what our appeal for God’s forgiveness demands of us. Forgive us as we forgive.

It is good to remember that when we find it in our heart to forgive that in no way denies the reality that we have been hurt, hurt badly by a family member or friend. Forgiving does not erase the memories of being wronged or betrayed. We may forgive but the memories of the wrongs and hurts we’ve endured stay with us. It is impossible to forget.

Anger and wrath, these are abominations. Anger and wrath are like parasites that devour our inner peace. We may imagine that by withholding our forgiveness we are punishing someone. The truth is we are only diminishing ourselves.

Peter asked Jesus what are the limits to forgiveness – seven times? Jesus answered, not seven but seventy seven times. In other words the challenge to forgive is limitless.

His challenging answer has never changed – not seven but seventy seven times. I read an article recently and the author asked this question; how do I forgive someone from my heart when my heart still stings and I find it hard to respect them’? I still don’t really know, but I know it’s my job to keep trying.

May we be blessed with grace to keep trying.

Homily – September 10, 2017

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

One of the greatest fears in many people’s minds these days is the situation between the US and North Korea. The posturing and the rhetoric of the two unstable leaders of these countries do nothing to ease the tension between these two nuclear powers. Both leaders don’t seem to be interested in any efforts at conflict resolution. It’s all very scary.

Most newspapers have a columnist who advises people who are in conflict with a family member or relative. The Dear Abby type. Misunderstandings seem to be part and parcel of family life and in our relationships with other people.

St. Paul was very concerned about maintaining the bond of unity in the church. He spent so much time trying to keep the peace and deepen the unity between Jewish and Gentile Christians.

Today’s short gospel is a great lesson on what is known today as conflict resolution.

Hurt feelings and misunderstandings can happen without our being aware of them. Friends may feel slighted or ignored. They can feel offended by something we said or did. Matthew teaches that if someone thinks another person has shown him/her disrespect, the offended person is advised to confront the other in private to talk things over, to get things straight. If there has been an honest misunderstanding then things are settled on the spot. It is over and done with. If the slight or offence is more serious the person might invite a third party in to try to sort things out, get an independent opinion. The hope in all this is that the independent person or witnesses will succeed where individual efforts failed and things will be made right.

If all these fail be bring about a reconciliation, in Matthew’s gospel the next step suggested is to bring the matter to the whole community. If the offended person will not accept the community’s judgement and persists in causing trouble, then he/she is asked to leave the community because they are disrupting the peace and order of the whole community.

The lesson is that we are to do everything, go to any lengths to resolve a conflict, keep the peace. It’s not all that easy. There was a book published years ago title, ‘Caring Enough to Confront.’ Can we care enough about another person, can we care enough about good people who are ‘put down’, belittled by racial jokes and remarks, to confront those who belittle other people’s dignity and speak up for men and women less fortunate than ourselves.

In our own family relationships do we care enough to confront misunderstandings or family feuds? Some families will go years before addressing a problem. Grudges or resentments within a family more often die with those who hold them rather than come to resolution in quiet conversation. Misdeeds of friends or relatives are usually discussed with everyone but the accused.

Willingness to communicate and forgive enhances a common life of faith and family. We know too that jealousy and envy rip families and communities apart.

Matthew teaches that the Christian community will to any lengths, walk the last mile to maintain community peace and unity. In our family life, our parish life, our community life are we willing to care enough to confront resentments, racism and bigotry in any form and work to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace and love and mutual respect? May we never let the sun go down upon our rifts and misunderstandings.

We pray too that the leaders of North Korea and the U.S will care enough to confront the possibilities of reconciliation and peace.

Homily – September 3, 2017

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

In our opening prayer we ask God to deepen our sense of reverence for God and how God works in our lives. In other words deepen in us a reverential attitude and appreciation for our lives, our faith, the gifts of health, our families and the possibilities that life offers us. Let’s face it, we take so many things for granted, we just presume on God and the gifts of God.

You’ve heard me speak before about having an attitude of gratitude. You know what it is like to be taken for granted, when family members just presume you will be at their beck and call. Sons and daughters expect you’ll put aside your own needs and be there for what they want. Your boss expects you to be available 24/7. We know how much we resent being taken for granted. We may have a smile on our face but there is a hard feeling in our heart.

How much do we treasure our good health? How much do we appreciate our mobility? How much do we appreciate the gifts and talents with which we have been blessed? How often do we take these precious gifts for granted?

How much do we appreciate our gift of faith, our membership in the church? How much are we in awe at what we are celebrating right here, right now; ‘when we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death of Lord’? Right here, right now we make present the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

What would it profit us if we gained the whole world and lost our sense of reverence, our attitude of gratitude for God’s love for us, a love we see proven in the crucified body of God’s beloved son?

Can we think for a moment and offer a prayer for the families who are now homeless, businesses now destroyed and jobs put on hold by the winds and rain that devastated Houston and surrounding communities this past week? Did this tragedy in any way make us more conscious of how consumerist life styles, how our careless exploitation of earth’s resources has impacted the very health of Earth’s life systems? We’ve presumed that Earth’s resources are limitless, and they are not. We presumed on Earth’s bounty and in many ways refused to share them with nations not as blessed as are we. Has this past week moved us in any way moved us to a reverential attitude toward God’s good creation and our relationship to it?

What would it profit us if we gained the whole world and lost any sense of our oneness with the rest God’s good creation?

As we continue this Eucharist may we pray for each other that each of us be blessed with a deeper sense of reverence and awe for all the ways we are blessed and enriched by God’s gifts to each of us.

Homily – August 27, 2017

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

In this particular section of Paul’s letter to the Romans he is trying to straighten out Gentile Christians who thought that they had replaced the Jewish people as God’s elect. Paul insisted that the Jewish people were and still are God’s people. Paul says of the Jewish people; to them belong the covenant, the adoption, the glory, to them belong the patriarchs and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah. Even though the Jewish people as a whole rejected Jesus, their rejection is a blessing for the Gentiles who do accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Then Paul breaks into a song of wonder ‘O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable his judgements and how inscrutable his ways.’ The disobedience of the Jewish people, sad though it was, became a blessing for the Gentiles.

There can be times when our lives can be so messed up, so confusing. Personally we may be faced with sudden illness, we may suffer the loss of our independence, the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the struggle to make ends meet, worries over the work possibilities of sons and daughters. When we think of world problems; the exploitation of the working poor, governments who deny the delivery of food and medicine to starving millions in Yemen and Somalia and other places, the civil wars and those who make billions of dollars supplying both sides with weapons, the blind refusal to admit our human input into climate change, the list goes on and on.

Is it any wonder we ask, ‘Who is running the show?’

God is and God knows what God is doing. Scripture asks, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord and who has been his counsellor?’

Someone once said that looking at our personal lives or the state of the world in general is like looking at the back of a tapestry, all we see is a mass and muddle of pieces of threads, we have no idea of what it all means. But when the tapestry is turned around we see it as a work of beauty and design – until then it had no meaning at all.

Theologians and biblical scholars reflect on the ways God works in salvation history. But for all their knowledge and insight they come to realize that the riches and wisdom of God are always too deep to penetrate. God’s judgements and ways are unsearchable. No theologian has ever known the mind of God.

We stand in awe before the wonder of God’s good creation, we stand in awe at the mercy of God we celebrate at this Mass – God so loved the world God sent his son into the world, not to condemn it, but that through him the world might be saved. Facing such a wonder and mystery all we can say is, ’glory and praise to the Lord our God.