Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – August 6, 2017

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Since the fourth century M. Tabor in Galilee has been identified as the sacred space where Jesus was transfigured before his three stunned and overwhelmed disciples; Peter, James and John. In November of 2010 a group of parishioners from the parish went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Part of the pilgrimage was a trip up to the top of Mt. Tabor. I don’t know how long it took Jesus, Peter, James and John to get to the top of Tabor but it took a few hours. Matthew writes that Jesus took his three confidants up a high mountain, he didn’t say to the top.

In 1924 the Franciscan Friars built a beautiful church at the top of Mt. Tabor. It is an impressive building, the central church and two small chapels, one of Moses and one for Elijah. Peter’s dream was realized. The view from the mountain is awesome.

On that mountain Peter, James and John were given a glimpse of the true nature of Jesus – he was transfigured in their sight, his face was brighter than the sun, even the clothes he wore were dazzling white.

The presence of Moses and Elijah representing the law and the prophets was to let us know that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

The primary purpose of this event, seeing Jesus in his glory, was to prepare them for the coming scandal of Jesus’s crucifixion. Remembering this vision of the glorified Jesus would save them from losing their faith in him as they saw him so diminished, dying naked on the cross.

Jesus told them they were to keep all this to themselves until he was raised from the dead. They wondered what this raised from the dead was all about.

Every one of us would agree with Peter’s outburst, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here.’ What a wonder, what a gift!

These three, Peter, James and John are the same three Jesus took with him in the darkness of night into the garden of Gethsemane. There they saw another Jesus, on his knees, sweating blood, praying his heart out, pleading, ‘Father if it is possible, if you can think of another way, let this chalice pass me by. Peter, James and John did not want to see this, they escaped in sleep. No one said, ‘it is good for us to be here.’ Yet that was where Jesus wanted them to be as a source on comfort and support.

Where are we when circumstances in our lives; serious illness, loss of a job, family conflicts, or any number of other situation invite us into our own Gethsemane’s? Can we trust that it is good for us to be there? Can we find the faith to say, ‘not my will but yours be done?

Homily – July 30, 2017

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

There have been photos in the news recently showing the very young Queen Elizabeth being crowned as Queen of the British Empire. We can just imagine how nervous and uncertain she must have been taking on such a responsibility at such at such a young age.

In our first reading we hear of young king Solomon and his encounter with God. God made Solomon an unbelievable offer, ‘Ask what I should give you.’ Solomon knew his limitations and his problems. He had an older brother who should have been made king but was passed over by King David, he wasn’t sure of the loyalty of his generals and advisors. In the face of the many things Solomon could have requested David humbly asked for an understand mind, that he be able to discern between good and evil. This young king wasn’t interested in wealth and power and expanding his empire. He just wanted to be a good ruler doing what was right and just for all his people.

An understanding mind to help him to know what is best for the people, especially the poor, the widows, the orphans. An understanding mind to appreciate the struggles of the poorest of his people. An understanding mind to grasp what was right and what was wrong. This young and inexperienced king knew in his heart that great wealth and power were not what he needed to govern God’s great people. This was Solomon’s pearl of great price.

Through the ages writers and thinkers claimed that the root desires of the human heart are the pride of power – think of the mess the most powerful man of the most powerful nation in the world has created for himself. The second driving force of the human heart is the accumulation of wealth, greed is good. The third driving force is the unbridled experience of pleasure. Experience shows us time and time again that all these drives are one way streets to nowhere. Powerful people come and go, wealth is accumulated and lost and even the most intense of pleasures become jaded.

We’ve all heard people say, ‘I’d give anything for… good health, a better job, this deal to succeed – whatever. They are searching for their hidden treasure, their pearl of great price.

Think on this for a moment. We are God’s hidden treasure, God’s pearl of great price. When God found us God bought us, not with gold or silver but with the precious blood of Jesus.

What is the hidden treasure we seek, what is our pearl of great price? Could it be in the eureka experience of realizing ‘not that we’ve found God but that God first found us’. Grasping such a wonder we are willing to let go of everything that we thought of importance and value and gladly respond to God’s loving movement toward us. The farmer and the merchant first had to find the hidden treasure, the pearl and then sell everything to purchase then. It was the finding that started the whole process. It is our finding, our grasping the wonder of John’s teaching when he tells us, this is the wonder, this is the treasure, this is the pearl, God first love us and sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ Men and women who grasp this truth, ‘God first loved us’ will let go of everything else to embrace that pearl of great price and respond as best they by living and loving and healing and forgiving every person who comes into their lives, doing for other what God in Christ did for them.

Homily – July 23, 2017

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

I just want to talk about one part of today’s gospel, the part about the enemy sneaking into his neighbour’s field and sowing weeds into the field his neighbour had just sown his wheat. Eventually both wheat and weeds began to sprout and grow. The field hands were horrified at the evilness of their master’s enemy and they wanted to root out the weeds right away. The wise master knew their enthusiasm would do more harm than good and advised that they just leave things be. ‘Let both grow together and at the harvest we’ll sort things out then’.

The farmer sensed that the grain’s struggle to overcome the weeds could provide a better crop of grain. His advice was wise; let both grow together til the harvest.’ We are all good seed but we find ourselves struggling with weeds in our lives, the cares of the world and our own personal issues with anger or resentment toward others, with our narrow-mindedness toward people of other nationalities, other cultures, other life styles, struggles with addictions, with patience and many other issues.

We find ourselves struggling with being accepting of the ‘different’. How do we accept people who think differently from ourselves as regards matters of our common faith? How do respect those among us who would like to go back to the good old days when Mass was said in Latin and the priest celebrated the Mass with his back to us- praying to God all by himself alone. How do react to Pope Francis’ stance of divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion – his suggestion that one size doesn’t fit all – that there can be exceptions. How we related to good people who see moral issues only in black and white? As one writer suggested, you cut the cloth to fit the person, not the person to fit the cloth.

Christ is telling us that everything will work out in the end, that we mustn’t rip out of our lives, out of our parish, out of our church men and women we may see as weeds, weeds who do not belong in God’s garden.

St. Paul is a great example of a person who struggled with weeds in his life, in his personality. There was one weed in particular that plagued him. He referred to it as a ‘thorn in the flesh’ people have many ideas as to what that thorn might have been; the opposition of his Jewish brethren, those who demanded Gentile Christian be circumcised, his own irritability. Paul tells us that three times he begged Christ to pluck out this weed he struggled with and three times Christ refused. Paul resigned himself to living with this weed saying,’ gladly will glory with this weed that the strength of Christ may dwell in me.’

Our weeds, the cares of our world, won’t go away. They will challenge us all our lives but remember the strength of Christ dwells in us.

As we continue to celebrate our Eucharist may we trust the truth that our weeds, our struggles, will help us, with God’s grace, to yield a harvest of a hundred fold?

Homily – July 16, 2017

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

There’s a story told of a small farming community that was having a rough time dealing with a long drought. At the Sunday service the pastor announced that that afternoon at 3 o’clock he would be holding a prayer service to ask God for rain, lots of rain. At 3 o’clock the little church was full, standing room only. The pastor went into the pulpit and asked the congregation, ‘how many of you brought umbrellas’? Nobody did. The service never began.

God knows we don’t need more rain at this time, we had more than enough. Sowing crops has been held up because farmers can’t get their equipment into the water logged fields.

Farming has always been a precarious occupation. No matter how mechanized it has become it is always at the mercy of the weather. Drought, winds, an early or late frost, insects, all these things can wipe out a farmer’s crops.

Israel had it fertile plains but in the mountainous region of Galilee farming was especially precarious. Rocky soil made it difficult for seeds to take root.

Though Jesus was a carpenter he knew how hard the life of farmers could be.

In today’s parable he uses the example of the farmer at seeding time. The farmer just flings a hand full of seeds into the air and the wind carries the seed to different destinations – some fell on paths where they were visible to the birds that quickly ate them. Some fell on rocky soil where they could not take root and couldn’t survive the heat of the sun. Other seeds fell among stronger weeds that chocked their growth. Most of the seeds fell on good soil and with the help of sunshine and rain produced a harvest.

Jesus talks about a harvest as high as a hundred fold. His listeners would know he was exaggerating. His listeners knew that at best a harvest of tenfold was an outside possibility.

Jesus tells us this parable to teach us how generous, how lavish God is as he pictures God flinging with abandon the seeds of his love and mercy on us all.

Then Jesus proceeds to spell out an allegorical interpretation of his parable, that names what blocks full growth of the word; gross heart and ears and eyes that spiritually deaf and blind. Men and women uninterested or failing to understand the gifts sown in their hearts; people shallow in their response to God’s gift and therefore wilting in the face of persecution, and those people being distracted by worldly anxiety and desire for riches.

Listening to this gospel we are asked to reflect on how receptive we are to the love and mercy and blessings of God. It is a question only we can answer. What kind of a harvest do we provide?

Homily – July 9, 2017

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

No one knows the Son except the Father and no one know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ That is what Jesus chooses to do. St. John teaches ‘God so loved the world he sent his son into the world, not to condemn the world but so that through him the world might be saved.’ Jesus made known to us that God was not some kind of cosmic force but a Father who so loved us he sent his son to bring us closer to himself. Jesus let us know God is a life-giving, life restoring, loving Father. St. Paul best summed it up by telling us that the crucified Christ is the love of God made visible.

Jesus is echoing our Father with his invitation, ‘come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.’

In the days of Jesus the peasants of the land were yoked as tenant farmers, their lives were governed by the will and whims of their wealthy land owners. These rustic, hardworking people whose subsistence existence allowed them to live only from day to day were controlled by religious and civil leaders who milked them for as much as they could.

In the village setting, Pharisees laid the yoke of their 613 commandments upon their followers and others who sought their advice about how to please God.

Today how many men and women are yoked, burdened by their addictions to drugs or booze or gambling, or pornography? How many are yoked, burdened by over-extended credit cards? How many are yoked to cell phones or the internet and so many other gadgets? How many are yoked to depression or debilitating illnesses? How many good men and women are yoked to under paid jobs?

Today we hear the compassionate and loving invitation of Jesus offering to yoke himself to us, a yoke that is neither burdensome nor oppressive but a yoke to support us and lessen our burdens. Jesus tells us ‘be yoked to me and I will walk with you and help you carry your burdens no matter what they may be.

This is a gracious invitation to all of us. Accepting it we will be yoked to Jesus, we will not walk alone; we will not bear our burdens alone, whatever they may be.

As we continue to celebrate our Mass we pray for ourselves and for each other that we be graced to accept Christ’s offer and face our struggles always supported by his presence and support.