Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – November 22, 2020

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. I can’t remember the number of people who’ve asked me if I’m watching The Royals on Netflix. Of all the series it’s supposed to be the best yet.

In today’s gospel our king was hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger, a prisoner and ill treated. No crown except thorns, no royal robes but naked, no throne but a cross, no jewels but the gaping wounds in his hands and feet and side.

Who are this king’s loyal subjects? Ordinary men and women like ourselves who give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, who welcomed strangers and clothe the naked, who comforted the ill and visited prisoners.

Our king’s kingdom is not of this world, it is not a threat or challenge to the Caesars of our time. His kingdom is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.” Those who respect truth and life, who live in holiness and grace, and who work to bring justice, love and peace, will “inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the creation of the world.”

When we think of the essentials of the Christian faith we generally associate these with belief in a certain creed, acceptance of various dogmas, adherence to a certain moral code, especially as it pertains to private morality,

Jesus, our king, would add something else. For him, a criterion, in fact the criterion, in the practice of our Christian faith is the exercise of the corporal works of mercy.

Feed the hungry? Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked., be there for the sick, the person in prison, welcomed the stranger to your neighbourhood And remember, faith without good works is dead. Are you getting tired of or numbed by the daily reporting of the victims of Corid 19 or the daily reports of the soap opera south of the border? But these are the realities of our lives. We can’t ignore them. They won’t go away.

The same can be true of the reality of the plight of world’s hungry or the desperation of the world’s countless refugees, the exploitation of the working poor or our avoidance of and our denial of climate change. We can get angry or we get numb. We can ask, what can I do about all this and throw up our hands.

The answer is ‘we be mindful’ of these harsh facts that wound the body of our crucified King and make a mockery of his love for the world.

Pope Francis urges us to avoid the anesthetizing allure of indifference and none involvement. We can’t look the other way, we can’t walk away. When all is said and done it comes down to this – whatever you did to these, the least of mine, you do to me.

An Argentinian folk musician who sang during the time of Argentine’s dirty war put it this way – all I ask of God is that I not be indifferent to sorrow – that death not find me empty and alone without having done enough.

Whatever we do or don’t do is what matters.

Homily – November 15, 2020

Sunday, November 15th, 2020

In a way we can hear today’s parable as a ‘give an accounting of your self. What have you done with the gifts God gave you?

Let’s start with ourselves as members of the human species.

Think on these things;

God our master has left us with the earth, not to do with it what we want but to care for it even as we live off of its abundant riches.

God created the land to support living things: What will happen when God returns to find so much land strip-mined, strip-cleared, eroded, and burdened with toxic waste?

God created the waters to support all living things: What will happen when God returns to find the oceans and rivers polluted with our garbage and chemical by-products?

God created the air to support all living things: What will happen when God returns to find polluting smog and holes in the ozone?

God created plants and animals to live on this wonderful earth and revel in its beauty: What will happen when God returns to find so many of them driven to extinction by our destructive practices?

What answer can we give? What excuses can we make?

Another thing to think about…God graced us with the gift of our Christian faith. St. Paul urges us to grow to grow in our faith to a full maturity in Christ

Years ago Pope John 23rd challenged us with these word’ we are not on earth to guard a museum but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life. This challenge is still vital. At a moment when many good people are preoccupied with keeping the deposit of our faith secure, faithful to the past, this is the way we always thought, Pope John called us to a new venture of openness and dialog with the world in which we live. To use Pope John’s own image, ‘open the windows and let in the fresh air.

In Pope Francis choice of Bishops and Cardinals he’s moved beyond the old practice of choosing places like Paris or Milan, London or New York. He’s gone to the frontiers, choosing bishops who have the smell of their sheep. Pope Francis chooses pastors over administrators.

The Pope promotes, what he call a culture of encounter, he talks with and listens respectfully to people who think differently from himself, so he’s upset many people with his opinions of the LGBTO community and his thoughts on civil unions.

A Jesuit author wrote an article about 80 year old Bob Dylan’s recent album , Rough and Roudy Ways. This Jesuit sees Dylan as a deeply spiritual person whose musical message encourages us to ‘stop spending our efforts on earning God’s, bur to spend our efforts on receiving God’s love.

Something to think about…am I trying to earn God’s love or am I willing to accept God’s love? A love we celebrate right here, right now – this is my body given for you, this is my blood poured out for you – receive!

Homily – November 1, 2020

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

Every evening at the end of our meal we read out the names of all the men of our Passionist Province who died on this day. Some of these men died before our time. Some were our professors or our superiors, some we lived with in different monasteries. After their names are read we share our memories of the ones we knew. Some were great preachers, some great leaders, some great teachers. Many we remember with great kindness, others not so much, after all we are aa family. Some of these men had power over us as seminarians. They could decide whether we stayed of sent home. Some we remember as saints – others, not so.

Today is the feast of All Saints. Today we remember the saints we knew and those who challenged us to be saints – I’ve worked with you good people of St. Gabriel’s since 1960 and I’ve known so many saints among you – men and women, mothers and fathers who lived lives that put me to shame – as I’ve said so many times before the saints of the church and in the pews of the church.

Every Sunday we rush through the words, “I believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. The communion of saints is all about our oneness with all the members of the church. We used to talk about the church militant, the church suffering and the church triumphant..the communion of saints.

This feast reminds us we are family with all God’s people.

We remember our saints and those who challenged us to be saints –

On this feast, this celebration of all saints we thank God for the many saints who have touched our lives, we thank God for family members and friends who challenge us to be saints, challenge us to be open and loving people, who challenge us to free ourselves from bigotry or narrow mindedness, who challenge us to be people who let past hurts and slights be gone.

Today we thank God for inviting us into this wonderful family that stretches back two thousand years and looks forward to an always better future – this wonderful family not bound by time of space – this communion of saints and those struggling to be saints. This is our family. By the way we struggle to live our own Christian lives may it always be a better family – a family of justice – love and peace

Homily – October 25, 2020

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

In our opening prayer we make this simple request; ‘make us love what you command so that we may merit what you promise.’

Our gospel brings us back to the basics – the great commandment – love God above and before everything – and love the man, woman or child standing before you as you love and cherish yourself… another way of putting it – do unto others as you would have done to you.

It all seems so simple – why do we mess it up so often.

Jesus quotes to the Pharisees the Shema (“Hear!”). It is so named after the first word of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which begins, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

This the daily prayer of an observant Jewish person as they touch the muzuzah on their doorpost.

I remember in our social studies in the seminary. Our prof was Fr. Fergus MacDonald from Nova Scotia. The first day of class he comes in and writes on the blackboard in capital letters OS.

He tells us that everything we’ll be studying this coming year; social justice and social injustice all are the result of OS. That moment unknown in time or place when the human species fell for the fake promise that if we didn’t listen to God we would become like God..The Book of Genesis tells us it was downhill from then on.

Subjects such as social justice, exploitation of indigenous people and the earth’s limited resources, slavery, racism, white privilege, sweat shops, child labor; inadequate housing and health care, the list is endless but all the result of original sin.

When Cain asked God; am I my brother’s keeper? The answer was and is still the same; yes. Recently Pope Francis said;

To not recognize the human person as an image of God is a sacrilege, an abomination, the worst offense that can be directed toward the temple and the altar,”

As Jesus said; ‘whatever you do to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me.’ You shared your food, you shared your water, you shared your clothing, you shared your clothing, you shared your home, your homeland; you shared.

Whenever you did these things to one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me. Come enter the kingdom prepared for you.

The reality is we are to love others, not like others. We know there are some people who just turn us off; they’re brass, in your face, know it all, just not nice people. Its all about personalities. We just don’t like them but Christ challenges us to look beyond their foibles and see them as they are; sons and daughters of God, as we all are. Mistake making beings as we all are. We are to wish them well,

We go back to our opening prayer. Make us love what you command so that we may merit what you promise. Love one another as you’ve been loved… enter the joy of my kingdom.

Homily – October 11, 2020

Sunday, October 11th, 2020

Scripture scholars maintain that today’s parable of the wedding feast is a mixture of two parables: the wedding invitation and the lack of the wedding garment. Matthew’s gospel was written for the Jewish Christian community. From 66-70 AD the Romans were busy putting down a Jewish revolt. In 70 A.D. the Romans captured Jerusalem and destroyed it. The Temple was looted and leveled to the ground and there was a slaughter of the citizens. Whoever remembered this parable of Jesus told it in the light of the destruction of Jerusalem and the people’s rejection of Jesus and their persecution of the Christian community.

He saw the punishment of the citizens of the Jerusalem like the punishment meted out to those who ignored the invitation to the banquet celebrating the king’s son’s wedding. This happens different times as the writers of the gospels remember Jesus’ parables and apply them to a situation in the early Christian community.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving in a way we’d never dreamed of, today’s parable sets before us the danger of taking life’s blessing for granted and God’s graces for granted.

You’ve heard me talk many times about the importance of an ‘attitude of gratitude.’

We take so many of life’s blessings for granted. We got out of bed this morning, some maybe faster than others. A lot of people can’t. We’re gifted with health, sight, speech, hearing, mobility, we have a roof over our heads, a job, we’re surrounded by those we love and who love us and we have the freedom to come to church and worship God.

My constant memory at this time of year is from a novel I read. It was titled, ‘A Complicated Kindness’, by Mirian Teows. It’s the story of a young girl growing up in the prairies. She belonged to a strict, joyless old German Mennonite church. Her family life was totally dysfunctional, her mother and her older sister just took off to escape the oppression under which they lived. This young woman made her escape through drugs and booze, and sleeping around. In telling her of her crazy mixed up, dysfunctional life she made an interesting statement. She said, ‘my life has been an embarrassment of blessings.’ I had to read those words a couple of times to see if I was reading correctly. My life has been an embarrassment of blessings.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, with all its restrictions ,maybe we can remember that it is good to give God thanks and praise for the embarrassment of our blessing which we’ve been blessed.