Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – October 17, 2021

Sunday, October 17th, 2021

This virus has brought out the worst and the best in us; the worst in the men and women who refuse to be vaccinated or wear masks, the worst in people who harass and abuse health care workers at hospitals entrances.

The virus brought out the best in the doctors and nurses, the care givers and first responders who put their own lives in danger wearing themselves out caring for the sick.

Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served is enfleshed in these men and women who are with us to serve, not be served and have even given their lives in that service.

James and John were relatives of Jesus and felt they deserved more than the other disciples Family comes first, you always take care of your own. Taking Jesus aside they asked that he do for them whatever they wanted. Jesus was wise enough to ask what that might be. When he heard they wanted to sit on either side of him when he came into his glory Jesus basically said,’ ‘no way’ you’ve got it all wrong. I’m here to serve, not be served and to give my life as a ransom for many.

James and John were climbers. Climbers are everywhere; in politics, in business, in the professions and believe it or not, in the church. Jesus pulled the latter out from under these climbers. They got it all wrong. He came to serve not be served and to give his life for others.

Jesus is the suffering servant the prophet Isiah foresaw; a man of suffering, despised and rejected and held of no account. A man struck down by God. He was wounded for our transgressions and it is by his wounds we are healed.

Only after the glory of the resurrection did James and John get the message and eventually gave their lives as witnesses to Jesus.

At this Mass at every Mass we repeat the words of Jesus; this is my body give for you, this is my blood shed for you. Take and eat, take and drink. Strengthened by the Eucharistic food we are blessed with willingness to be there for one another, especially the person who needs our presence, our understanding and our support. Like the Jesus we try to follow we too are meant to serve in whatever way we are called to do so. May the bread of life we receive give us the strength and generosity to do so.

Homily – October 10, 2021

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

There’s a poem titled Maud Miller. It’s about a young couple from both sides of the track. They never got together but years later they met. Maud ended their meeting with this thought; ‘of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these – it might have been.

What might have been if this enthusiastic young man had accepted the invitation of Jesus, ‘Come follow me’ the young man couldn’t do it for he had many possessions that in reality possessed him. We’ll never what might have been.

This is the weekend of Thanksgiving. Hopefully because so many people have the double vaccination we’ll feel safe getting together with family to celebrate Thanksgiving. Hopefully we’ll have a deeper appreciation of the gifts by which our lives are blessed.

There is a Canadian authoress Miriam Twoes. She wrote a book a few years ago titled, ’A Complicated Kindness’ it tells of a young girl growing up on the prairies on a dirt poor farm. Her family belonged to an old German Mennonite Church. A joyless chuch.

Her father was a strict man, so much so that her mother and her older sister just took off. She got into drugs and was sleeping around. One day she was musing on her life and came to this amazing conclusion…

My life has been an embarrassment of blessings. An embarrassment of blessings.

Can any of us here say, my life has been such, an embarrassment of blessings?

I think I can. For all the years serving in this parish of St, Gabriels, celebrating feasts and funerals with you good people, my life, my ministry has been an embarrassment of blessing.

I’ve often suggested we develop an attitude of gratitude, a mindset of thankfulness.

We’re here today to celebrate this Mass, this Eucharist. We’re here to say to God, ’thank you.’ Eucharist is Greek for thanks. I’ll be saying the second Eucharist prayer,the second prayer of thanksgiving. You good people will be making this prayer your own when you sing ‘Amen’ at the end of if. We thank God for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus

I hope and pray we all have a great Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends. I hope and pray that God gift us all with a deep and abiding attitude of gratitude.

Homily – October 3, 2021

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

At different times when witnessing a marriage I’ve used the words of Jesus from his cross, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’ And they don’t. The young bride and groom are making an act of faith in an unknown future. In that act of faith they say to one another, in good time and in bad, in sickness and in health, in all the future possibilities of our lives, I will be yours and you will be mine. The old marriage ritual contained the following promise; ‘God will be with you in your needs, he will pledge you the lifelong support of his grace in the sacrament you are about to receive. ‘Still, they know not what they do.

One biblical scholar claims that we know very little about how divorce was handled in Jewish society at the time of Jesus, but Jesus maintains God’s dream of humanity is bigger than the social realities of that time and it still is. This ‘oneness of flesh is an ideal to aim for and not a rule to be applied strictly without taking circumstances into consideration. It is an ideal to reach towards, without pretending to have obtained it with a perfect love.

In the ancient Mediterranean world, marriages were between families. It is the custom in many cultures today. Each family selected a partner for the other. Marriage was intended to bind families together, forming a stronger unit.

A divorce was more than the separation of a husband and wife; it was the separation of the families. Such a separation could lead to family feuds as each side blamed the other for the break-up. This happens today as family and friends are expected to take sides blaming the other for the break up. It can get quite nasty.

Maybe the basic purpose of this commandment in ancient Israelite society was to head off feuding which led to bloodshed. The idea was to maintain internal societal harmony and stability.

Jesus saw the marriage covenant as a symbol of the unbreakable covenant between God and the people of Israel. St. Paul saw marriage as a symbol of the covenant of Christ’s love for his bride, the Church. A covenant sealed with his blood.

Sadly the words of Jesus, ‘what God has joined let no one separate’ have little or no influence on society today. Divorce is a sad and painful reality in our lives. Husbands and wives split, children are passed back and forth and one family wants nothing to do with the other.

Divorce is a fact in our reality as Church. Men and women who divorce believe they are out of the church. This is not true. A divorced man or woman who remarries without an annulment, which can be a painful process, opening old wounds, is at odds with the church but they are still in the church, they are still family, they are still welcome.

Jesus speaks about the hardness of people’s hearts. Pope Francis is facing resentment and resistance from cardinals and bishops as he’s asked for a reform of the annulment process and a change in attitude toward divorced men and women. He respects the decision of divorce men and women who, mindful of their need of God’s grace seek to come to receive Holy Communion. Who am I to judge? Pope Francis also reminds us the Holy Communion is not a reward for the righteous but a remedy for the weak. And we are all weak.

There may be many at this Mass whose lives have been touched by the tragedy and sadness of divorce. May we as a parish family pray for and welcome these good people whose lives have been touched by this blight. We pray for the children whose lives are in turmoil because of divorce. May our parish family always welcome divorced men and women to the Eucharist. May these good people find new life and new love. God said , ‘it is not good to be alone.’

Homily – September 26, 2021

Sunday, September 26th, 2021

Well we’ve had our election. Nothing has changed.You may have heard me preach just before the election oh you might consider voting for; the person or the party that is committed to issue such as feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, welcoming the immigrant, supporting a living wage.. These are what have called ‘gospel values.

Now that the election is over and we’re dealing with corvid 19 the next challenge for our politicians is how to support all the people who lost their jobs as restaurants and bars closed down because of the virus. We remember businesses that closed, never to re- open, because of the virus. The virus exposed the reality of the poor wages of the men and women who care the elderly in the ‘for profit’ residences and the poor wages of first responders and nurses and caregivers. The virus brought to the light of day many examples of exploitation and injustices.

The complaint of James, who echoes’ the complaint of the prophets of ancient Israel condemns those who hold back ‘The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields which you have held back cry out and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

Now that the election is over we can demand that our politicians right the social wrongs and injustices that covid 19 exposed. Their actions will speak louder than their campaign promises.

There are no easy answers, no quick solutions to our social situations but that doesn’t excuse politicians from trying to find them,

Back in 1967 Pope Paul wrote these words in his letter to the world; ‘it is not simply a question of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty. It is not enough to combat destitution, urgent and necessary as this is. The point at issue is the establishment of a human society in which everyone, regardless of race, religion, or nationality, can live a truly human life free from the bondage imposed by men and the forces of nature not sufficiently mastered, a society in which freedom is not an empty word, and where Lazarus the poor man can sit at the same table as the rich man.

As we continue to celebrate our Mass we pray the men and women we’ve elected to represent us that they work for that day when justice flows like a river and poor Lazarus can sit at the same table as the rich man. God knows they’ve got a lot of work to do.

Also, Sept.30th is theNational Day of Peace and Reconciliation, it is a Federal Holiday. If you are a new Canadian you’ve joined a family with a checkered past. In our relations with the First Nations of this land we’ve taken land and resources that were not ours. We signed treaties, nation to nation, treaties that were never honored. We wrote the Indian Act in which the white man decided where First Nation people were to live, who they could marry and the rights they’d lose if they wanted to live off their reserve. We established the residential schools. Children were forcefully removed from their homes and made to live at these schools. They were punished for speaking their own language or practising their own religion. The recent discovery of unmarked grave at these schools came as a shock to many people. That’s why tomorrow is such an important day. We, as Canadians, whether born here or immigrants, have much to regret for the injustices imposed on the first peoples of Canada. Like it or not we are the inheritors of past blunders and injustices. As we prepare to start a new session of Parliament we might keep an eye on how the new government is faithful to its efforts at peace and reconciliation with the first peoples of this land.

Homily – September 12, 2021

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

Today’s gospel deals with a turning point in the apostles understanding of who and what Jesus of Nazareth was all about. Jesus wants to know, ’who do people say that I am? They tell him, some say John the Baptist, and others say Elijah and some believe you are one of the prophets.

But then Jesus asks another question; who do you say I am, who am I to you. You’ve walked with me, you’ve heard what I’ve taught, you’ve seen me give sight to the blind, make the cripple walk, and so, who do you say I am?

Peter answers for all of them; you are the Christ. You are the Messiah. Then Jesus throws cold water on Peter’s idea of the Christ. He tells them the Messiah must undergo great suffering, be rejected by the authorities and be put to death. And after three days be

Peter was stunned by all this and tried to talk Jesus out of this. This must never happen to you. Jesus had changed Simon’s’ name to Peter, the Rock and because Peter tried to talk Jesus out of all this destiny Jesus calls him Satan because Peter couldn’t let go of the mindset he grew up with; the Messiah will be a hero, a liberator of the people, not a disgraced criminal.

Jesus’ question to his disciples; who do you say I am, who am I to you should make us pause and ask ourselves ‘who do I really think, believe Jesus really is.

In a minute we’ll all say the Creed, our statement of faith. We’ll rattle off the words.. and in Jesus Christ our Lord who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried and on the third day rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Have we ever thought of the real meaning of these words? That Jesus endured his passion and death because he loved each man, woman and child in this church, at this Mass with a love we can’t imagine and then challenged each of us to have that same love for every man, woman and child who comes into our lives.

It boggles the mind. Maybe sometime during this day or during this week can we find the time to be still and search our hearts to answer Jesus’ question; who do you say I am, who am I to you?

We here today live on the other side of the resurrection. St. John reminds us that Jesus did many signs in the sight of his disciples that are not written in his book, but these are written so that we may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that through believing we may have like in his name.

Paul the Apostle reminds us who live on the other side of the Resurrection that Jesus is the love of God made visible, the love of God enfleshed and Paul spells out to us the ramifications of being a follower of Christ in the community of the Church.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we try to find the answer to Christ’s question; who do you say I am? Who am I to you?