Homily – November 20

On this great feast of Christ the King we are celebrating our 60th anniversary as a parish family. Six years ago this weekend Cardinal Ambrozic blessed and dedicated our new church so we chose this weekend to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of our parish. Sixty years ago our original church was a farm house and most this area was farm land. Our first church was completed in 1953. At that time Sheppard Ave. was a two lane road. As a parish family we’ve seen a lot or changes in our church and in our neighbourhood. In the 70’s we redid the church to keep up with the changes in the liturgy that came from Vatican 2. Our last big change was moving to this new church. Some people found that whole process very difficult and went to another parish. It took people a while to be comfortable with our new seating arrangement. But we weathered all that.

The make up of our parish family has changed. Sixty years ago we were all squeaky white Caucasians. Today our family is blessed with people from many lands and cultures.

Speaking of changes, we are in for changes in the celebration of our Sunday Masses. These changes are taking place in every Catholic Church around the world and they will begin on the first Sunday of Advent. They are not changes for change sake, they are meant to capture scriptural images in a clearer way than the texts we have been using these past years. These changes are the result of a long process of research by scholars in an attempt to have a translation that is closer to the original meanings in the texts that came out of Vatican 2. I hope you have been reading the inserts in the bulletin about these changes and the explanation for them.

The process by which these changes were decided has not been without controversy. There are those who feel is was a ‘top down’ decision that neglected the principal of collegiality fostered by the Second Vatican Council. Some find the new translation stilted, too formal. Others believe that the new rituals foster a new form of clericalism, the specialness of the priest over the laity and that attitude can diminish the sense that the Mass is a celebration of the whole community. There is the lack of inclusive language.

The changes are not all that drastic but they are different and we can be uncomfortable with things different. There are cards in the pews we’d like you to use during Mass. They help us to be more familiar and comfortable with these new prayers. By the way, if you’ve taken those cards home please bring them, we need them here. I think the biggest difficulty will be getting used to the responses we make at Mass, for example when the priest greets you with ‘the Lord be with you ‘ the new response will be ‘and with your Spirit,’ which is a truer translation of the original ‘et cum Spiritu tuo.’ The new words to Gloria and the Apostles Creed may throw us for a while.

We are all in this together. The changes in the prayers the priest prays are many so don’t be surprised if he stumbles a bit and even if he does the world is not going to end.

There are new directions for the way we are to received Holy Communion. As you approach the priest or one of the Ministers of the Eucharist you are asked to bow before the priest or minister as a sign of reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament you are to receive – there is no need to genuflect or kneel, a simple bow will do. You can receive the Eucharist in your hand or on your tongue. It is proper to place the host in your mouth before walking away from the priest or the minister.

In the light of all these changes I have to say there are some things that never change in this parish and one of them is the generosity of you good people.

In the light of today’s gospel I would like to say a sincere thank you for your great generosity to the parish and to those in need. Matthew’s description of judgement has nothing to say about whether or not we go to Mass or are faithful in saying prayers. His description has every thing to do with who we are and how we are to others. I was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, in prison and you were there for me. Our parish’s response to Share Life and the many appeals that come our way, the way you support St. Vincent de Paul, the Good Shepherd Centre, Rosalie Hall, and our Refugee Committee shows you talk the talk and you walk the walk and you are there for Christ as you meet him in the poor and needy men, women and children who need our help. Thank you.

As we celebrate this feast Christ the King we can pray for ourselves and for each other that by the way we live our lives we can bring about Christ’s kingdom on earth. A kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.