Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – May 20, 2018

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Pentecost is a feast of power and energy and activity. The apostles were seized by the living spirit of God and driven from their hiding place out in the city streets to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. We can imagine the Spirit taking the apostles by the cuff of their necks and dragging them out into the streets. All this is imaged by the violent wind.

In the early church and maybe even in today’s church the Spirit worked and works in such forceful but not normal ways. Today can we imagine the Spirit not pushing us but nudging us to act with compassion, patience and understanding of the needs of the people who are in our lives? The actions of the Holy Spirit bears different fruits in us that enrich our lives; fruits such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and gentleness.

By the Spirit’s gentle nudging we may be moved to be more patient and understanding of an aging parent or spouse who keeps misplacing things or who asks the same question over and over again.

Watching young children at play or a mother pushing a stroller may nudge us to be more grateful for the gift of our own families.

Seeing a man or woman using a walker nudges us to be grateful for the gift of our own mobility. Certainly a visit to a hospital should cause us to be grateful for our own good health.

Celebrating this Mass as a member of our parish family might move us to be grateful for out gift of faith and for our freedom to practice our faith openly.

As we enjoy this spring season and see the beginnings of new life in trees and plants may the Spirit move us to be grateful for the gifts and the wonder of God’s good creation. When we see the liter that lines our streets and highways or the tons of plastic polluting the oceans, destroying its marine life may the spirit move us to be ashamed of the many ways we diminish the beauty and health of God’s good creation.

Hopefully the Spirit may bring us to a sense of shame when we hear of so much food thrown out or wasted and know of the hunger that is the normal part of the lives of countless of our brothers and sisters.

When we see or hear of the ruins of bombed out cities and the lives of innocent men, women and children the innocent victims of civil strife – may the Holy spirit stir us to pray for peace and rid our own lives of racism and prejudice of any kind.

When we see the courageous work of doctors without borders, or of first responders or of United Nations aid workers who put their lives on line for total strangers may the Holy Spirit move us to admiration and gratitude for such brave men and women.

For all the lack of love we see around in acts of bigotry and prejudice, for all the exploitation of helpless men and women, for all the injustices that victimize our brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit still nudges, inspires and embolden generous and loving men and women to bring the love and mercy and healing power of God to our troubled world.

The Holy Spirit is still gifting us with the Spirit’s transforming power not so much in the heavy winds and tongues of fire of times past but in the nudges and pushes that inspire little people to do brave and generous things in our lives and world today.

As we continue to celebrate this feast of transforming power and love we pray for ourselves and for each other that each of us responds with open hearts to whenever it may be the Holy Spirit nudges or pushes us to say or do that we may, in some small way, bring God’s love, mercy and justice to the world.

Homily – May 13, 2018

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

Two American presidents have made outlandish statements that proved to be totally untrue; they claimed a mission accomplished when in reality it was from being so.

Today we celebrate that moment in time when the risen Christ truly claimed, mission accomplished. Jesus returns to the Father, his mission is finished. Through his passion, death and resurrection Jesus reconciled the human family and God, making peace through the blood of the cross.

Before Jesus returned to his Father he gave the apostles their mission, a mission which is also our mission; ‘go into the entire world and proclaim the good news to all creation.’ Our mission is still a work in progress.

Ours has begun. Jesus told the apostles they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit and they were to his witness to the very ends of the earth. Their mission, our mission is still a work in progress.

Someone once wrote that our primary task, our primary mission, is not to do good works but to believe, to trust in God’s love for us revealed in suffering Jesus Christ. Once we embrace this wonder, Christ loved me and gave his life for me, then we are empowered and sent to love others.

Our unaccomplished mission is to live this Mass outside these walls in the lives we live, the work we do, the service we give and in the prayers we pray. We pray the words of mission every Sunday. The question we have to ask ourselves is, ’do we leave them here like the hymn books we use, or do we take these prayers with home us and try to live them, outside these walls?

Do we say only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them? Do we talk to others with respect and encouragement? Do we challenge racial or social slurs? Do we defend men and women when we hear them stereotyped by people who diminish their dignity? Are we there for someone in need, family members or friends or total strangers?

Do we reach out to family members or friends who have wronged us, let us down, or do we wish them gone from our lives? Are we thoughtful about the damage our lifestyles, our consumerism, our wastefulness has on the health and wellbeing on the planet earth, our home? Do we give a thought to the homeless men and women in Toronto, or the men and women looking for work, or the men and women who are cheated out of a living wage? How do support families who come from away seeking freedom and security from persecution or civil strife?

As we celebrate this feast of the Ascension, the return of Jesus to the glory of the Father – mission accomplished – we pray for the strength and generosity to accept our mission – to preach the gospel as we live our ordinary lives in our ordinary way – and when necessary may we use words.

Homily – May 6, 2018

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

There is a psalm that sings; ‘this is the day the Lord has made let us be glad and rejoice.’ The church sings, this is the season the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad.’ Most people think of Easter as lasting a day but the church sees Easter as lasting a season, it is not a one day event, Easter lasts for 50 days, we’ve two other weeks to go before we celebrate the feast of Pentecost which closes our Easter season. We need Easter’s long day because it takes time to grasp and integrate what the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus was all about. What does it mean when Paul tells us; God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself? The frustrated Jesus complained to his disciples, ‘how long have I been with you and still you do not understand.”? He complained to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, ‘O how foolish you are and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets declared . Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and so enter into his glory.’

There is an exercise called ‘theological reflection’ in which we ponder a truth of faith over and over to discover its deeper meaning. We can compare it to a kaleidoscope, it is made up of a set number of colored glasses and with each twist of the tunnel of the kaleidoscope we get a whole new pattern of color. In reflecting on a truth of our faith we might come to another and deeper meaning of that truth than we had before. Reflecting on the sufferings of Jesus we might come to see, in a way we never did before, that in his passion Jesus is telling us, ‘I can’t stop loving you. You may neglect or ignore of doubt my love for you, you may fail to return my love, but I can’t stop loving you.

In our first reading from Acts we hear of St. Peter, the first Pope coming to a deeper understanding of the saving power of Christ’s passion. As a Jewish person he believed his people, the Jewish people were God’s own. Everyone else was excluded. But his faith was challenged when in a dream he saw all kinds of food offered to him to eat. Most of the food was forbidden by Jewish dietary law so Peter refused to eat it only to be told. ‘ What God has made clean you must not call profane.’

Then Peter meets the Gentile centurion named Cornelius. He told Cornelius, ‘You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with of visit Gentiles but God has shown me that I should call any person profane or unclean.’ Then we have the shocking words of Peter and he is blessed with a eureka insight, ‘ I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God. Then we have Peter’s bold break with his ancient Jewish beliefs,’ can anyone withhold water for baptising these people who have received to Holy Spirit just as we have?

For all of that it took the Jewish members of the early Christian community a number of years to welcome non-Jews into their midst.

We are still in long day of Easter. May we be moved to pray for a deeper understanding of our faith and be open to the embracing love of our crucified Christ for all people and embrace the simple message of our shrine for the victims on Yonge Street – Love for all, hatred for none.

Homily – April 29, 2018

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

There is a principle that says; things joined to the same thing are joined to one another. In the gospel Jesus tells us he is the vine and we are the branches. We draw our nourishment from the life giving vine. If we are cut off from the vine we die. Joined to the vine we are one with all the other branches.

Last Monday’s tragic events on Yonge Street, not that far from here, brought this reality of oneness to the forefront. Around noon the lives of innocent men and woman going about the daily business were forever changed when a young man took it upon himself, for whatever reason, to rent a truck and drive it down the side walk on the west side of Yonge St. barreling through men, women and children, killing twelve and seriously injuring fifteen others.

We thought these things happened elsewhere, Paris, London, New York, Boston, but not in Toronto, not in North York, not down the street. I venture to guess that in one way or another we all felt we were hit by that truck. Toronto, North York, Willowdale: we are all members of these communities. We are all effected when our community is attacked.

The scenes of people of different races and faiths coming to place flowers, light candles and pray at the makeshift memorial wall gives witness to our oneness. St. Paul reminds us that the life and death of each one of us has it influence on others. We can’t go through life untouched or un touching. We can’t help but to have touched, shocked, threatened and saddened by last Monday’s mass killing and maiming of innocent people.

How do we cope with this tragedy as it affects each of us in one way of another? First of all we can thank God we weren’t strolling on Yonge Street at noon of Monday. Next we can appreciate more deeply how precious and precarious is the gift of life and the people who are part of our lives.

We never know what a day will bring our way. Last Monday causes us to appreciate the gift of life more deeply and appreciate the gift of family and friends.

Thank God we didn’t get caught up in the possible hysteria of seeing this tragic act as the work of a Moslem or Isis terrorist. Monday’s tragedy was the act of a disturbed and obviously angry young man with an axe to grind against women; women were his prime targets and sped down the sidewalk running over good people.

All this man’s hatred and anger were answered the by the courageous and generous response of peoples of different faith, racial and social backgrounds that make up that local community as they helped and comforted the injured as best they could.

It may take a long while for the injured and those who witnessed this whole thing to get over this awful experience.

What can you and I do. We can keep in our thoughts and prayers the good people who died that day. We can keep in our thoughts and prayed those were injured that day. We can keep in our thoughts and prayers the families of those killed and those injured. We can keep in our thoughts and prayer all those men and women, first responders and ordinary people who did what they could to be of help. We can keep in our thoughts and prayers Alex Minassian and his family upon whom he’s brought such shame.

We can pray for ourselves that we never lose faith in the goodness of ordinary men and women and children like ourselves, a goodness and a love that gives us the strength to get on with the ordinary living of our ordinary lives.

Homily – April 22, 2018

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Jesus was the master at using images. On our tabernacle we have the vine and its branches. Jesus is the vine all of us are branches drawing life from the vine.

In today’s gospel Jesus uses the image of the shepherd and his sheep. He leads his sheep to feast on green pastures; he goes in search of a lost sheep and restores that sheep to the fold. In the end Jesus the shepherd gives his life for his sheep.

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday, a day we are asked to pray that young men of the parish consider the possibility they might be called to priesthood or religious life. That’s a big challenge for young men today. There are so many more interesting choices offered them in job markets. Still I want you to pray that some of them take the time to think and pray about the possibility of priesthood.

It is no secret there is a shortage of priests. In the corridors of St. Augustine`s seminary there are photos of the men ordained each year. In the 30`s, 40`s, 50`s and 60`s, there could be up to 30 ordinations. In recent years it’s a low at two. A great number of parish priests serving parishes today are not Canadian born. At St. Gabriel`s we are blessed with Fr. Brando, a Passionist from the Philippines and Fr. John a Passionist from Kenya. Without them we Passionists would be hard pressed to serve this parish.

At different times I`ve asked a young man, `have you ever thought of being a priest? They look at me as if I`m out of my mind. It`s disappointing.

I have to tell you I have been happy in my priesthood. As I`ve been told different times` It must be nice, you only work one day a week and your only busy times are Christmas and Easter.` I tell these jokers, ‘don’t knock my racket, get your own’. I have to tell you, my life as a priest has been an embarrassment of blessings, thanks to you good people.

Today we are asked to pray for vocations to the priesthood. But think on this; every one of you are a priest by reason of your baptism. St. Peter tells us, ‘You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God`s own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Every one of you is a member of the priesthood of all believers.

Priests baptize. You baptize your children when you deepen their faith in Father Son and Spirit, a faith with which they were gifted at their baptism. Priests absolve sins. You absolve every time you forgive a person who has wronged you. Priests bless people. You bless others every time you speak kind and encouraging words to others. Priests celebrate the Eucharist and you share in that celebration when you consciously share in the prayers of the Mass. Priests offer the sacrament of the sick to those who are ill. By your presence and care of family members and friends you strengthen that anointing. Priests preach the gospel. You preach it too as beat witness to your faith by what you say and what you do. We are all priests.

At this Mass of the Good Shepherd as we pray that young men be moved to consider the ordained priesthood, we pray as well that each of us be faithful to our own form of priesthood and that others follow us in the ways we live out our own priesthood.