Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – September 20, 2020

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Since March of this year our lives have been turned upside down. A virus, a plague has spread around the world with lightning speed. We are helpless before it. Scientists around the world are co-operating to find a cure. As of now they have not been successful.

Think of how this virus has affected us personally. Right here right now we have to sign in to come to this Mass. We have to wear masks, sit a certain distance apart, we’re not allowed to sing our hymns, there’s no choir and then we are restricted in our greeting of peace. We receive Holy Communion in a well ordered way. There is no spontaneity – we have to be careful. We can no longer take our time after Mass to greet and talk with one another.

There’s no more social life. We live in our own bubbles. No parties, no picnics, no fun.

The saddest and the hardest of all is the reality of seniors dying alone in nursing homes, no love ones allowed to hold and comfort them.There are no wakes, no hugging, no words of sympathy and encouragement. No funerals.

Weddings and their reception are cancelled; Thanksgiving and Christmas family gathering and dinners are discouraged. Snow birds are grounded.

Think of the numbers of small businesses that are gone. The financial impact of this virus has been disastrous for so many people.

This devious virus has touched us all in one way or another.

But think on this. We, the human family have become a virus to Earth. By our lifestyles, our consumerism, our wastefulness, our exploitation of Earth’s limited resources, our pollution of Earth’s oceans and lakes and rivers, our part in the extinction our so many species of plants, animals and birds and insects all these plus the climate change we’ve caused by our irresponsible human activity we’ve have caused a virus that damages and diminishes the health of Earth. What we do to Earth we do to ourselves.

We have no idea when our lives will get back to normal but scientist tells us the healing of Earth will be a long, long process.

Think on this. If we change our attitudes on our relationship with Earth, if we learn to respect the fragility of the life systems of Earth, if we appreciate the limits of Earth’s resources and live within them, if we are willing to live a simple life style, if we control our use of fossil fuel and harvest the energy of the sun and the winds, if we are willing to control the ways we harvest the seas and the land; then we will go a long way to developing an antivirus to the virus with which we’ve inflicted Earth and go a long way toward the healing of Earth.

A healthy Earth will be the antivirus we’re looking for and we can put behind us these difficult and tragic times in which we live.

Pope Francis and the Patriarch of Constantinople have asked that these days, until Oct. 4th the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi be known as the Season of Creation – days on which we see our place in God’s good creation.

Will we, during the Season of Creation, take the time to wonder at the beauty of creation, especially during this Fall season and take the time to examine our own life styles and by changing them make our own effort to work toward the healing of Earth and the healing of ourselves?

Homily – September 6, 2020

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

God made his prophet Ezekiel the watchman of the house of Israel. A watchman always takes up a position on a high place so that can see from a distance and warn the people of approaching dangers so they can prepare to defend themselves.

Our watchmen today as we deal with Covid 19 and our environmental crisis are our scientists and environmentalists. They both try to alert us to our present life situations. We ignore our watchmen to our own peril.

As catholic men and women our watchman is Pope Francis. Following the example of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Francis has declared a Season of Creation stretching from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4th asking the world’s 2.2 billion Christians to find time to pause and pray for the healing of Earth and ask guidance as we work to change our lifestyles which have a devastating impact on the life systems of Earth. We are called to live simply on Earth, live simply that others may simply live.

Covid 19 has brought the world to a stand-still. It spread around the world due to our lifestyle of easy travelling; we can jet around the world carrying disease with us. We are still at its mercy. Millions are afflicted and hundreds of thousands have died. We still don’t know the lasting effects of the virus.

As Pope Francis reminds us that this plague made us realize how unjust financial systems created the environment for the spread of diseases. Our lives are so fragile and we are so vulnerable before the virus,” The Holy Father reminds us that the pandemic also became an opportunity for us to joins hands to defend lives and ensure that we do not fall victims of the virus. It is also an opportunity for a new form of solidarity among peoples to emerge.”

The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the inequalities in our societies and our own fragility. In doing so, it has underscored our interdependence with one another and with the Earth’s ecosystems.

As you’ve heard me say many times’ the Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth and what we do to the Earth we do to ourselves. We did not weave the web of life; we belong to the web and what we do to the web we do to ourselves. What goes around comes around.

This Season of Creation, Sept. 1st til Oct.4th, the feast of St. Francis, is a time for a renewal of a deeper awareness of our relationship with all of God’s good creation, a time for us to reflect on how to responsibly use rather than exploit the planet’s finite resources and pray for healing for ourselves and for the world, and to make a commitment to living more lightly upon the Earth.

Pope Francis reminds us that healing the planet isn’t an elitist vocation that ignores issues of justice and marginalization. Church teaching makes clear that it’s all one struggle. The broad concept of “climate justice” challenges us to make real in every community the abundance of life promised in the Gospels. “In an interconnected world, we experience what it means to live in the same ‘global village.’ It’s a beautiful expression — the world is nothing other than a global village because everything is interconnected,” the pope said.

We’ve all heard of the concept of mindfulness, that we be aware and conscious of our present situation, the challenges and the possibilities of our present moment.

During this as we can pray for each other that be open to this time of reflection and prayer that is our during these days of the season of creation and even beyond Oct.4. We can all be watchman over our lifestyles and their impact of the health and healing of Earth.

Homily – August 30, 2020

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

In last week’s gospel we heard Jesus commending Peter for his answer to the question, ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter answered; you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Today reveals a lot more about himself. He will go to Jerusalem where he will be rejected by the religious authorities, the priests and many of the people. He will be put to a shameful death. The disciples were stunned to silence. Not Peter. ‘God forbid Lord, this must never happen to you. Last week we heard Jesus call Peter a rock, this week we heard Jesus call Peter a stumbling block, a Satan. Just as Satan tried to lure Jesus away from his Father’s will at his temptations in the desert, Peter wanted Jesus to avoid his future rejection and death. Both tempters were rejected.

Jesus spells it all out for us; ‘if anyone wants to be a follower of mine let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. What will it profit anyone of us to win the lottery and lose his own integrity? Jesus was able to read the handwriting on the wall. He made an ever-growing of powerful enemies. Their desire to get rid of him was no secret. Like Jeremiah Jesus foretold the sufferings of those who worked for the coming of God’s kingdom; ‘All the day I am the object of laughter, everyone mocks me. The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all day long.

The German Lutheran pastor Bonhoeffer wrote book titles, The Cost of Discipleship. Fidelity to Jesus demands a willingness to let go of security, approval and comfort and take us the cross of love and service and give ourselves away to family, friends and neighbours and strangers.

To be a follower of Jesus means we stand with the little people of Toronto. It all starts with the feet up. The challenge of the gospel, the grace of the gospel come from where we are. Toronto. The homeless street people, the men and women out of work, the families that depend on food banks, the wives and children hiding in women’s shelters, the family who can’t mourn for and honor their dead because of the virus.

We may not be able to do all that much but we can support church and government agencies who work to support these good people. May we not be part of what Pope Francis calls the global indifference that plagues so many people.

To be a follower of Jesus can mean we be ridiculed and mocked for being bleeding hearts, naïve socialist do gooders as we resist bigotry, racism and homophobia. Such stances could cost us friends but they will not cost us our lives.

Our personal Satans will tell us this is too hard, too costly, too naïve. Our answer must be; get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to my being a faithful follower of the Christ who loved and gave his life for me.

Homily – August 23, 2020

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020

In today’s gospel Jesus is looking for feedback. He’s been preaching and teaching and curing people’s ills. So Jesus asks his friends, ‘who do people say I am?’ They share with him what they’ve heard. Some say you are John the Baptist, back from the dead. Some say you are Elijah others say you are Jeremiah, others see you as a prophet.

Then Jesus asks the most important question, ‘who am I to you? How deep, how solid is our relationship? Peter is the only one to answer;’ you are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God’. It would take Peter quite a while to come to see the full impact of his answer.

You’ve probably heard Protestant friends or Protestant preachers say that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior. This was a great theme of the preacher Billy Graham and his call to the Alter to accept Jesus.

Most of us are not comfortable with that kind of talk but it speaks of an intimacy people have with Jesus, the Jesus who suffered and died for each of us.

Our personal prayer offers us the time to think about that intimacy that closeness with him. They tell the story of a little guy talking about how he prays. Well first of all I tell Jesus how I’m doing and then I ask him how he’s doing. That’s the way we talk to one another, a familiarity; an at easiness.

Who do you say I am, who am I to you? As one spiritual writer wrote; ‘Jesus is always seeking a two-way liaison between himself and us, not just one-way. He wants us to have a relationship to the fullness of who he is. Besides being a charismatic leader or a good friend, he is the very reality of God’s love, present in the world, wide open to loving each of us. As St. Paul said, Jesus is the love of God made visible. He wants a mutual love-relationship with you and me, one in which we open up our hearts and let Godly love in. This is who Jesus is to us; He is the person who loved us even unto dying for us. He is the one who daily invites us to bring our burdens of anxiety, depression, grief, our weakness and failing to him for his support and understanding. He is the one who willing forgives our sins and failings. He is the healer of our wounds. He is the one who gives us the strength to face the uncertainty of a new day.

Our part in our relationship is to trust in who Jesus is to us.

In today’s short gospel the important question is asked of all of us; who am I to you. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit only we can answer that question, it’s that personal.

Homily – August 2, 2020

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

People brought word to Jesus of the brutal death of his cousin, John the Baptist. Think of the comparison of the banquet Jesus provided the 5000 people and the banquet that led to the murder of John. Herod’s was at the royal court and his guests were sycophants, hangers on. To impress his guests he promised his dancing daughter whatever she wanted. She asked for the head of John on a platter. Herod would look foolish and weak if he didn’t keep his promise.

Jesus was aching with grief. The news of John’s brutal death made him want to be alone to feel his great loss. But things didn’t work out that way. The crowds found him. We have no idea what he told them that day, we only know his disciples presented him with these facts, it was getting late and there was no way they could provide food for all these people. Let them shift for themselves.

This offends Jesus sense of hospitality. He gets the people to sit in the open field and takes the limited resources of five barley loaves and two fish and satisfies the hunger of the people.

Everything Jesus said or did was meant to bring people to closer to God and one another.

These men, women and children who followed Jesus to that deserted place were not stupid people, they were practical people. They knew that at some point they would need to eat. The families had their own hidden stashes. Jesus’ willingness to share the little he with all of them challenged them to share what they had with those around them. And they did and all were fed because all of them followed Jesus’ example of sharing the little he and his disciples had with others. No one went hungry.

Everything Jesus said or did, his parables, his miracles and his inter-action with lepers, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the outcasts and the sinners, are meant to challenge we, his followers to take one step forward toward being a more loving person, a more just person, a more forgiving person, a more compassionate person, a more loving person, even if our movement is something like baby step, it moves us closer to being the kind of person Jesus would have us be.

Today’s gospel calls us to be willing to share, even the little we have for the well-being of those around us.

Will we take that step forward?