Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – February 24, 2019

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

In John’s gospel Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life and tells the people that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood they have no life in them. We’re told that some of his followers told him, ‘this is a hard saying and who can take it and many of them walked with him no more.’ Jesus challenged Peter, ‘are you leaving too?’ Peter answered, ’Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of everlasting life.’

Today’s gospel is filled with ‘hard sayings’. Love your enemies, pray for those who abuse you, lie about you, steal from you, and take advantage of you. These are hard sayings, they ask too much of us. We tend to hold on to grudges and resentments for past hurts. Don’t get angry, get even.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. We liken that to be a one way street, heading our way. Love your enemies, do well and lend expecting nothing in return. Don’t judge, don’t gossip and don’t condemn other people’s actions. Hard sayings all.

There is a meeting going on in Rome with bishops meeting with Pope Francis. They are trying to cope with the scandal of child abuse by priests and bishops and even a cardinal that has been going on for years. Today’s gospel asks the victims of sexual abuse, victims who have been robbed of their innocence and their lives robbed of peace to forgive those who harmed them. This is a hard saying. We can sympathize with a spouse struggling to cope with a deep sense of betrayal at the infidelity of a partner but challenged to forgive. There can be many circumstances in our lives where we are challenged by these hard sayings of Jesus.

In our first reading we have the powerful example of David who would not harm the Lord’s anointed even though he had every reason to kill the sleeping Saul who, if given the chance would gladly killed David.

The gospel saying are hard sayings and who can take them, following them, live them? Many of them walked with him no more. Are we willing to take to heart these hard sayings of Jesus? They go against the grain. But they are the way to peace in our own hearts and peace with others. If we are among those who walk with Jesus we are realistic enough to know that there are times when we do our best to follow these hard sayings and there are times when we will fail, but the point is that we always try to do unto others as we as we would have them do unto us.

This point of these hard saying of Jesus is that our behavior toward others is to be the reflection of the treatment we’ve received from God who offers us love and forgiveness and healing and we try in our own limited ways to do unto other what God has done unto us. After all to whom shall we go, Jesus has the words of everlasting life.

Homily – February 17, 2019

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

There is nothing blessed about having to worry about where your next meal will come from. There is nothing blessed about trying to survive on a minimum wage. There is nothing blessed about living on the street or in a shelter. There is nothing blessed about grieving over the death of a spouse or the death of a child. There’s nothing blessed about grieving over a failed marriage or a broken relationship. There is nothing blessed about being excluded from the company of others because of the color of your skin, or the church, synagogue or mosque you attend. There is nothing blessed about being ridiculed and excluded because of your sexual orientation or a physical or mental disability.

These realities of being excluded, rejected or belittled can make a person bitter, harden a person’s heart, sour their outlook on life and limit their ability to have any relationships.

The reality of poverty, exclusion and loneliness are not things we look for or want in our lives. Can we remember that we believe in and follow Jesus Christ? He was born in poverty, earned his bread by the sweat of his brow, was rejected by his own town folk, rejected by people of power, betrayed and abandoned by close friends, tried and convicted as a common criminal and condemned to the shameful death of crucifixion but he was vindicated in his resurrection.

In our second reading Paul maintains that ‘if Christ be not risen then we are still in our sins, Good Friday was a waste. But Christ is raised.

For our faith in Christ to be fruitful, we need to believe that there is a life after this one where there is no more hunger, weeping, or hatred. If we can trust the truth that after the crucifixions of this life, there is the life of the resurrection when God himself will wipe all tears away, then and only then will you be fruitful in love, joy, peace, and patience.

This is not pie in the sky. As followers of Christ we are called to do whatever we can and support in any way we can all those good people who are burdened with poverty and homelessness. Good people who suffer discrimination because of their racial background or sexual orientation.

May we always remember these words of Jesus; ‘whatever you do to one of these least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me, you do for me.’

Homily – February 10, 2019

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Just a few words on our second reading; Paul is explaining his faith in Jesus to the infant Christian community in the seaport city of Corinth. He wants to get right to the heart of the matter and so he tells them of what he knows in his heart after his meeting with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus. This is of first importance, that Christ died for our sins; he was buried and was raised from the dead. Paul writes in this letter, ‘if Christ be not raised then we are still in our sins, nothing has changed in our relationship with God. Paul insisted Christ has been raised, the Father has accepted his sacrifice on the cross and we are invited into a life giving relationship with God. For Paul and for each one of us this must be of ‘first importance’ that Christ died for our sins.’

We celebrate this awesome truth at this Mass, this sacrament of the Eucharist. A sacrament is a sign of something that speaks beyond itself. The simple water of baptism speaks of the living waters of God’s grace poured into our hearts as our Baptism. The oils used in Baptism, Confirmation, the Sacrament of the Sick and Ordination are signs of the healing, strengthening and consecration that come to us in these sacraments. The power of the keys tells of the ability of the Church to bind or let loose the sins of our lives.

At every Mass we place the sign of death – separated body and blood and we renew the sacrifice of Christ’s life giving death on Calvary. After the words of consecration we say; when we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death O Lord until you come again.’ Calvary is made present, right here, right now.This is of first importance. This is a constant reminder of how loved we are by God, no matter what our faults and failings. This a constant reminder of the wonder that God so love us God sent his Son into our world, into our lives, not to condemn us but to embrace us, to heal us. This is of first importance.

The gospel Paul preached rests upon the recognition that we mere humans stand in need of salvation and that we are powerless to do this for ourselves. What is more, we are sinners who need to be healed of our moral wounds. This, we believe in faith, has been done in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and promises us a world beyond our earth and our earthly plans.

There was a prayer we used to say that began with the words, ’for how many ages have you hung upon your cross and still we pass you by and regard you not.’ Have we reduced the crucifix to a trinket? Do we look at a crucifix and are numb to the suffering, the humiliation and the degradation Christ endured on that cross? Do we presume on the love the crucified Christ has for each one of us? Do we forget that the love of Christ crucified for you, for me, demands a love for him in return?

Are these personal questions of first importance to us as we reflect on our own personal relationship with Christ?

The reason our Passionist community exists in the church is to keep reminding ourselves and the people to whom we minister in our parishes, retreat houses and mission of what is or most importance; that Christ died for our sins and brought us back into life with God. The motto of the Passionist community is, ‘may the Passion of Christ be always in our hearts.’

As we continue to celebrate our Eucharist may we pray for ourselves and for each other that we never forget what is of first importance; Christ died for our sins. A question we might ask of ourselves is what is my response to Christ’s great act of love? Is this truth of first importance to me? Do I stop to thank him? Do I trust in Christ’s love for me? Do I try to love others as Christ as loved me?

Something to think about.

Homily – February 3, 2019

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

Did you grow up in an area where everyone knew everybody and everybody’s business? Have you heard your parents, when speaking of someone else say, “I remember them when.’ People are not expected to get to uppity. They are to stay in their place.

The more things change the more they remain the same. At the time of Jesus this was the same mentality – know your place. Everyone had a proper place in society that was established by birth. No one was ever expected to neither become something better nor improve on the lot of their parents. The people of Nazareth knew Jesus was the son of Joseph the carpenter. What’s with his going around and acting like a rabbi?

Jesus worked his way home after spending 40 days in the desert praying and fasting and sorting out the message he’d received at his baptism – you are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.

His neighbours had heard that this son of Joseph was saying and doing wonderful things in Capernaum. They didn’t know what to expect of him. The word went out that he was going to read the scriptures on the Sabbath. The synagogue was packed with curious people. His neighbours were curious about what he had to say and wondered about his popularity. Jesus read from Isaiah and attributed the call of Isaiah to himself – the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed. Jesus is perceived by his neighbours as being uppity, as stepping shamefully beyond his family boundaries. His father Joseph was a carpenter – who does he think he making such claims.

Rubbing salt into the wounds opened by his insulting behavior Jesus inserts himself into the prophetic line of Elijah and Elisha. Prophets who worked beyond the confines of the Jewish people, prophets God sent to the gentiles, the widow in Sidon and the Syrian leper Naaman. Jesus too would reach out to Samaritans and Gentiles. He was called to be for all people.

This was too much; who did this man think he was, preaching to them. ‘All in the synagogue were filled with rage, they drove him out of town, proving the truth of his saying, and ‘a prophet is not without honor except in his own town.

Prophets can be bothersome, they can make us uncomfortable, we ask, ‘who do they think they are’’? We could ask ourselves the question, are we listening to the prophets of our times, prophets who disturb us, make us uneasy with their messages. Prophets such as the scientists who tell us of climate change and the negative impact our use of fossil fuel has on the health of Earth’s life systems, prophets who warn us of the impact our lifestyles have on the acidity of the oceans, the quality of the air we breathe, the health of the earth that feeds us, the waters that nourish us. Prophets like Pope Francis who calls us to our human and Christian responsibility to honor and care for God’s good creation. Their messages really can make us uncomfortable, they challenge us to a change in our life styles, our wastefulness, our unconcern about the impact we have one the wellbeing, not only on the earth but on those who share the earth with us, the people who live in lands facing drought or devastated by heatwaves, climate changes that bring about artic blasts or hurricanes. Prophets who challenge us to think about what kind of an earth we will leave for future generations.

As we continue our Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that hear the words of our prophets and commit ourselves to living simply that others may simply live.

Homily – January 20, 2019

Saturday, January 19th, 2019

There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It was not the first wedding in Cana and it wouldn’t be the last but it was a wedding Cana would never forget.

I was a guest at a wedding a few weeks ago. In a way it was over the top. The many showers before hand, the dress, the wedding party, the ceremony, the banquet, nothing was spared. It was far removed from that wedding in Galilee.

The families in Cana were hard working people who couldn’t afford to splurge on anything. I imagine that a wedding banquet was something like a potluck supper – everybody brought something for the common table. The wedding was a community affair, everybody shared.

Tragedy of tragedies they ran out of wine. The party is over. Mary spots the problem and tells Jesus about it. He doesn’t want to get involved. Jesus tells his mother, ’my hour has not yet come. Mary would not be put off and tells the servants, do whatever he tells you.

I don’t think many families in Cana had servants so that would make the lack of wine more embarrassing for the host family. Jesus tells the servants what to do, and there is an abundance of wine, the bride and grown are spared a great embarrassment and the party goes on and Jesus reluctantly let’s his glory be known and his disciples believed in him.

The servants offered Jesus gallons of the stagnant rain water usually used to wash the dusty feet of guests. No matter, he made it the best tasting wine.

We know how important water is to all of us. There is nothing more refreshing that a nice cold drink of water. We all know men and women and even children in Toronto, in Canada, around the world, who because of the circumstances of their lives, drink from the cup of the stagnant water of poverty, illness and disease, discrimination, misunderstanding, marital conflict, drug abuse, sexual abuse, unemployment, homelessness and other life situations that diminish their human worth and dignity. Men, women and children in our neighbourhoods suffer a thirst, a drought for respect and acceptance of themselves as persons, thirst for adequate housing, a just wage, home care or just simple companionship.

This Sunday our gospel lets us watch Jesus as he begins in his years of public ministry, being there for people in any need, offering the celebratory wine of their human worth and dignity, the wine of their healing of mind and body, the wine of being loved by God, and finally the life giving wine of his death on the cross.

Can we imagine that this is our personal life’s mission, as followers of Jesus who was always there for those who needed him? Will we use the gifts given each of us by the Holy Spirit Paul describes in our second reading; gifts of wisdom and knowledge, and compassion, gifts of faith or healing to enrich the lives of others; not with a glass of choice wine but a with simple cup of water of human kindness, love and acceptance.

Remember this promise of Jesus, ‘whoever offers a cup of cold water to one or these little ones will not lose his reward.’

Refreshing others may we be refreshed by the kindness of others.