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17th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

17th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

The story we heard in the Gospel of John today — about Jesus feeding the 5,000 — stands out in the Gospels. The Gospel writers clearly thought this story was important. It shows up in Matthew, Mark, and Luke but John also includes it.

 In the Gospel writers’ hands, the  feeding of the 5,000 is a parable about what we are called to do and who we are called to be. If we are going to follow Jesus, at some point, he is going to turn to us and say: “You give them something to eat.” And it matters how we respond to his command.

God has already given us a world out of nothing, already provided sun and earth and water and seeds.  God provides something out of nothing. That is the basic story of creation. But this story is different. Jesus does not make something out of nothing here. No — he takes what God has already provided. He draws out the resources that are already present in the community.

As Andrew points out, all they can find is five barley loaves and two fish belonging to a boy in the crowd. But then, Jesus gets them to see what is there with new eyes. The disciples are coming from a place of fear, of scarcity: there will never be enough! Six month’s wages would not buy enough bread to feed them! What Jesus shows us is that whatever we have, whatever God has already given us, is always enough. If we look at it in the right way. If we decide to share. If we let, go of our fear and stop holding onto to what “ours” is so tightly. If we can do those things, we absolutely have enough bread to feed the whole world.

That is how Jesus wants us to see the world: 5,000 people on the lakeshore is not a problem. Whatever we brought with us is what we have to share, and there is plenty for everyone, and more left over besides. This is a pretty compelling picture of what the Kingdom of God is like.

Here is another way of looking at this story about feeding the five thousand it is the first supper, instead of the last supper.  It is important to remember that the last supper is not the only Eucharistic feast in the Gospels. Every time Jesus broke bread with friends, it was a thanksgiving meal (for that is what eucharist means—thanksgiving).

Jesus follows the same pattern at this first supper as he does at the last supper.  “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready.” Take, bless, break, give: those are the actions of the eucharistic feast. Jesus wants us to take what we have, whatever it is, whatever is already here, and bless it: in other words, give it to God. And then break it open, divide it up, and give it away. Joyfully. So that all will have enough.

Jesus does this with bread, every time he shares a meal. And he does this with his life: lives it for God, breaks it open, gives it to us. And this is what Jesus wants with our lives too: You give them something to eat. It is not enough to simply pray that God will change things, will feed the hungry and clothe the naked. God needs us to participate in this eucharistic action. God is calling us to take our lives, and bless them, and be broken open, and then given away in service of others.

Take, bless, break, give. No matter how hard or impossible this seems, the end result is worth it: everyone ate until they were satisfied, and when they gathered up what was left over, they filled twelve baskets. This vision is possible. We already have what we need, right here in our midst. In this Eucharist, we are made one Body with the Lord, as we hear in today’s Second Reading. Let us resolve again, then, to live lives worthy of such a great calling. The Kingdom is waiting to be born. Will you join in this eucharist?

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

 Sunday’s gospel begins with a description of the disciples exhausted and tired. They have returned from their missionary journeys and so many people are coming to see Jesus that “they had no time even to eat.” (Mk 6:31). This is an image of what happens when we are running on low batteries. Without quality time spent with Jesus, his disciples become wearied and hungry.

In this we can surely see a metaphorical description of the spiritual life of every Christian. If we simply base our life in constant activity and don’t make time to be fed and restored by Jesus, we simply collapse and are overcome. Jesus, however, calls those who follow him to take time to be with him in a deserted place. ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’

How refreshing this response must have been to his weary disciples. Notice Jesus did not respond to the apostles reports about what they were doing by going over a new strategic plan. Notice he did not respond to their reports of what they were teaching by going over a new curriculum. No. He said to his weary apostles‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’


Don’t we all long to hear these words spoken to us by our Lord? Don’t we all desire to hear the invitation to come to a place all by ourselves and simply rest a while in the presence of our gracious God?
No doubt our faith requires us to do certain things as well as believe certain things. No doubt we are created to find meaning and value in the work we do, especially when it is done to the greater glory of God and the service and up-building of our neighbours. But our weariness in what we do, and our pervasive busyness are signs that something is not quite right.

To put it in contemporary terms, our pervasive business and weariness are signs of the failed illusion that we are in control of our lives, that we are self-made men and women. To put it in theological terms, they are signs of the illusion that we can make ourselves right with God through our actions and beliefs. Since these are illusions, we need to keep propping them up. We keep adding one more thing to our to-do list, rather than take some time and reflect on why we are doing all these things.

And rather than see weariness as a sign that something is out of whack, we take it as a sign that we are making headway. See how busy and weary I am? Does not that mean that I am valuable? Doesn’t that somehow make me worthy of admiration? Doesn’t that merit at least a little divine favour?

When the apostles gathered around Jesus, they told him all that they were doing and all that they were teaching. They were so busy, so many people were coming and going, they did not even have time to eat. And Jesus said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’


Our Lord knows what we need, even when we do not. When we gather around him, we may want to tell him all the things we have done and all the things we have taught others. We hold up before him our busyness and our weariness as objects worthy of praise and reward. We tell him that we have been so busy that we have not even had time to eat. And we say to ourselves, surely all these things will prove how important and valuable we are.

And our gracious Lord looks past all our illusions, and he does not even mention them, because if he did, he would have to remind us that all that we are and all that we do are gifts from God in the first place. Rather, he looks into our hearts and sees what we truly desire, what we truly need. He makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside the still waters and restores our souls. And he says to us,  ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

In commissioning the Apostles in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives them, and us, a preview of His Church’s mission after the Resurrection.

Like Amos in today’s First Reading, the Apostles are not “professionals” who earn their bread by prophesying. Like Amos, they are simply men summoned from their ordinary jobs and sent by God to be shepherds of their brothers and sisters.

Once more this week, we hear the theme of rejection: Amos experiences it, and Jesus warns the Apostles that some will not welcome or listen to them. The Church is called not necessarily to be successful but only to be faithful to God’s command.

 Mark’s description of this interaction between Jesus and his disciples is meant to inform and encourage early followers of Jesus.  The disciplines of traveling lightly, of accepting whatever hospitality was offered to them, and of impressing on their hearers the seriousness and urgency of their message were crucial to helping them stay focused on their important task.

But what do such instructions – to take no bread, no bag, no money; to wear sandals and a simple tunic – have to do with us, who seek to carry out the mission of God in the context of an institutional church embedded in an affluent society?  What might these admonitions mean for us?

Let me suggest three possible answers to that question and invite your further reflection on these words of Jesus.

First, consider Christ’s call to us to travel lightly.  In what ways has our mission been weighed down by extra “baggage”?  The message of Christianity has at times been compromised by missionaries who were overly concerned with their own physical comfort and well-being, and whose reliance on material resources sent from their sponsoring churches undermined the integrity of their call to place one’s faith and trust in God.  What testimony will we give in our own generation?  Will we, for example, dare to embrace and model a simpler lifestyle – not only in response to growing populations and shrinking resources, but as an act of trust in God’s gracious provision and in obedience to God’s purposes?  How will we imitate and follow the one who made himself poor so that we might become rich (II Cor. 8:9), by emptying himself and taking the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7)?  What does this text say to us about our own relationship with, and dependence on, material wealth?

Second, we consider the urgency of our message and the response of those to whom we offer it. Author Lamar Williamson writes “[Jesus’] command to shake the dust off our feet against those who will not receive us, or our message is a reminder that we are responsible for our obedience in mission, but not for the response of others or for results, we are not to force ourselves on other people or to assume responsibility for their decision.  At the same time, we are to understand, and to try to help them understand, the seriousness of their decision and response.”[i]  How do Jesus’ words shape how we think about our responsibility to carry the Good News to others?

And finally, we reflect on the promise imbedded in this commission.  In Mark’s gospel it is abundantly clear that the disciples did not grasp the message of Jesus or understand the meaning of his life and death until after the Resurrection.  In fact, Mark presents them in a rather unflattering light.  And yet, Jesus chooses to send out these bumbling, slow-to-understand followers, entrusting to them his message and his power, and working in and through them to teach, heal and deliver those in need.  In like manner, he chooses us and sends us out to accomplish by his power things beyond what we could ask or imagine.  Consider how he has chosen you, how he has empowered you, how he has used you as a channel of God’s light and love in the world – and give thanks, resolve to further the Church’s mission—to help others hear the call and welcome Christ into their lives.

[i] Williamson, Lamar (Jr.); Mark (Interpretation Commentary); Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1983); p. 121.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

The Gospels do not give us much on Jesus’ upbringing;  but  it is safe to assume that Mary and Joseph were Jews who trusted in God’s plan and brought Jesus up accordingly.

Well, nearly twenty years later, Jesus sets out from his home, and begins his formal ministry. He is seen traveling around the Galilee, teaching, and healing and calling others to a new sort of life.  Word spreads, as word tends to do, and people flock to Jesus. Jesus has been busy, and away from home, but the road now leads him back to Nazareth.

Nazareth was a place of some comfort for Jesus. It held sights and sounds that forced him to think of playing in the dusty alleys or sitting down to a Sabbath meal with his family. But whatever nostalgia flooded back was quickly stemmed by  a collective inability to see the hand of God at work because of past assumptions:  ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ 

A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house.”

Prophets are not dictated by comfort or custom but driven by divine obligation. Hometowns are places often bound, sometimes paralysed, by precedent. Hometowns often toe the line of the status quo.  

Thinking about a hometown is an exercise in thinking about the complexity of being human, our myriad, everyday habits—some good, some not so good. It is about appreciating the intricate beauties of a place we have called home for years. But it is also about shrewd ways we insulate our lives from failure, from fear, from “those people.” What are the hometowns we have created for ourselves? Where are the places of comfort that have brought us grace? Where are the sealed-off places where we are doing our best to insulate ourselves and curate a nice, clean life, untouched by those we deem filthy?

But letting God speak into what we think of as the warmest, places of our lives might increase our souls’ capacity for love—for both God and our neighbours. If we allow Jesus’ prophetic presence to sink in, something like scales might well fall from our eyes, encouraging us to see those who were, for the longest time, invisible. We might start to witness walls of hostility and division come down or cease to be built in the first place. We might learn to welcome those whom we, at one time, labelled “unsafe” or “other” or “criminal”.

 Besides all this, we see something in the story that is as troubling as it is interesting. Jesus is unrecognized in his hometown. He is recognized of course, but he is not accepted as one who is deeply connected with God. Indeed, once they do begin to recognize him, they are offended by him. And it is in this unbelief, that Jesus cannot work as powerfully as he would have normally. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

This should concern all of us who claim to know who and what Jesus is. The church is the hometown of Jesus, as it were. Are we offended by him?  The church has, at times, carefully kept Jesus safe and contained, but Jesus keeps leaving the familiar, and most importantly keeps showing up in strange places that are not his hometown.

Of course, we meet in this space each week. We come for solace and strength. We certainly believe that Jesus is present with us, especially in the Holy Eucharist; but Jesus is also found outside, in the villages, in the world. We disciples are always playing catch-up to the Risen Lord. Ever since that day when the women found an empty tomb, we have been going to where Jesus has gone ahead of us, into Galilee, into the villages, into our neighbourhoods. And once we go there, seeking him in the face our neighbours, he will be revealed, and we will be empowered to do his work: healing wounds, preaching God’s love, and calling out evil.

Let us go from here, into the villages following Jesus where he has already gone—and not simply following him but being empowered by him to do his work of love and healing which the world so desperately needs.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

Our gospel reading this Sunday is a healing within a healing. We begin by hearing the story of Jairus’ young daughter who is very ill, but that story is interrupted by the older woman afflicted by a flow of blood, who touches Jesus’ garments and is healed. Once she is healed, we return to Jairus’ daughter, who is brought back to life by Jesus.

As Jesus makes his way to Jairus’ home, he is interrupted by an encounter with a woman who would have seemed destined to die unknown, unremembered, unremarked. But this woman showed her great faith in trusting that all she needed to do was reach out and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Nothing more was required, but nothing less would do.

Clearly, she had heard of Jesus’ reputation as a healer. As we learn for twelve years, After long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse”  The perception in the culture of the day was that if someone was suffering, this was God’s punishment for sin, also she is presented as without family. Through her faith she just needed to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, this one last hope of healing.  His reputation was clear.    She would have to push against a lot of pressure from her society just to reach Jesus.

As she gathered with a large crowd of others, all bent on hearing Jesus, many wanting healing as well. An important religious leader named Jairus came to implore Jesus to heal his daughter.

As Jesus started toward Jairus’ house, the woman knelt down, reaching out for the edge of his robe, and grabbed hold as if   life and healing from the one God flowed through it.  The bleeding stopped. Her body was finally healed after twelve years of suffering.

Then  Jesus stopped wanting to know who touched him, with such a great crowd, a lot of people had been bumping into Jesus. But Jesus kept looking because he too felt the miracle. The woman everyone came to ignore became the centre of attention.

Mark’s Gospel tells us she fell down before Jesus,  she throws herself at his feet and recounts her whole story.  After so many people had cast her down, Jesus lifts her up, and says the words which make her healing complete. “ My daughter, your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint”.

In Jesus naming as daughter the woman, we see the very heart of God.  God never forgot her, always loved her, and wanted to welcome her home. “Your faith has restored you.” Jesus knew what great faith she had come to have that even the very hem of his robe could heal;  this woman’s faith knew no bounds.

 Sickness had defined her. Then Jesus set her free to be a daughter of God. She did not continue to follow Jesus that day, at least not physically. She could cut away from the crowd, confident that Jairus’ daughter would be healed, as she began the journey to Jerusalem.  

So often, people are judged by society and found wanting. They are named in various ways as outcasts and treated as less than human. And until all of God’s children, the whole human family, are welcome at the table, we will be falling short of the kingdom of God. For those of us with a seat at the table, we can pray for the grace to see the world as God sees it and the courage to act.

But if you are one whom others have seen as unworthy and judged as lacking, know that God loves you as you are and wants better for you as well. You do not have to even touch the hem of his garment. You only have to reach out your heart in prayer and offer God your pain and suffering. God wants to take that hurt and give you shalom—the health, healing, and wholeness—he gave to a woman not named in scripture, but whose faith is unforgettable.

This is something we can all experience every time we gather for the Eucharist, Jesus is the host. At this table, all of us are known and loved. In the meal of bread and wine, we are fed. And in this meal, we find ourselves beloved children of God. Then we are empowered to share that same love with others.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

In today’s Gospel, our Lord calms the wind and the waves and says to the tense disciples,  ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’

 Listening to this story, for those of Mark’s community who were from a Jewish background, the Lord’s mastery over the violence of the sea would have called to mind an Old Testament theme echoed in the first reading from the Book of Job. St  Mark’s community belonged to the infant Church of Rome, who found themselves in the storm unleashed by Nero’s persecution – that was to lead to the martyrdom of Peter. They have found the ‘faith’ to which Jesus had invited the disciples in the boat – a trusting awareness of God’s almighty presence in the ordeal that they were facing. This gospel speaks to the Church in every age – its relevance to our stormy times needs no elaboration.

So, Jesus surely intended the link between faith and fear.

The opposite of faith is not doubt or unbelief; those tend to be doctrinal differences. No, the opposite of faith more often as not is fear. We fear the unknown. We fear the undiagnosed lump in the breast, or the persistent cough. We fear SARS or, in the region where I live, West Nile Virus. We fear losing control of our bodies and our health because of aging. We worry about how changes in politics, technology, or the economy will influence our jobs and the income from our savings and retirement funds. Fear is like waves ever seeking to knock us off our footing — our faith footing.

The story that follows, one of faith in a potentially fearful situation, was told by a Presbyterian minister. He told of his days as a Navy submariner in the Pacific during World War II. “We would often come under depth charge attack by Japanese destroyers,” he said. “The other sailors would be trembling with fear, while I just leaned back and read a comic book. One of them asked how I could be so calm. I explained to him that in my childhood I had truly little supervision from my parents, so I spent many hours each day at the New Jersey beach. Sometimes a huge breaking wave would catch me by surprise and thrust me under the water, rolling me in the sand. But I learned when I would just relax thousands of air bubbles like the fingers of God would catch me up and lift me to the surface. Now, whenever I find myself in trouble, I just relax and wait for the fingers of God to reach under me and lift me up.”

Faith is a stance toward life. I had a friend who, several years ago, within a period of six months, lost his last surviving parent and grandparent, as well as a favourite aunt and uncle. It dawned on him at the time that all of the people in his life who loved him unconditionally were dead, and that he was out in the front of the line. About the same time, his non-tenured University position was eliminated because of lack of funding. In those painful and challenging months, my friend wrote down his own definition of faith. I share it with you: Faith is the simple trust that life still can be good despite the fact that it is very painful and difficult. Out of the worst of experiences that my friend could have imagined, he found many little bubbles of love, joy, and hope in the form of friends, family, and church lifting him upward like the fingers of God. And the worst year of his life was followed by what he declares to have been one of the best years of his life.

 ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’  In these rather impatient words directed to his disciples, our Lord brings into focus to the polarities of faith and fear. Faith is a stance and how we stand up to those things that would threaten us and how we manage our fears makes all the difference. In the midst of troubles, try reaching up your hand to God and saying, “Help!” And when you reach your hand out to others around you and say, “Help!” the fingers of God will never fail to reach down and lift you into new and reassuring experiences of God’s grace. AMEN.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

After Lent, the Easter season, and three Sundays of feast days—Pentecost, Most Holy Trinity, and Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ—the Church returns to Ordinary Time. This Sunday’s Gospel from Mark consists of two parables about seeds and carries a significant message regarding faith and the Kingdom of God.

Seed-sowing and plant-growing seem to be simple and straightforward. Nevertheless, we know Jesus uses simple images for his message, but the message is never simple and straightforward.

Usually, when we plant the seeds, they are buried in the soil. They live in darkness. While in darkness, they absorb nutrients from the fertilizers in the soil and go through transformation. How long will this transformation take place? We can guess, but do not know the exact timing. What exactly occurs in the darkness? We do not know. Will anything grow from the seed? We do not know that, either. As a matter of fact, the Sower may put in the best fertilizer, water as often as he or she should, and tend to the seed passionately, but sometimes nothing grows from it. However, we have faith that something will grow from seeds and plant them anyway.

That is what our first parable in today’s Gospel is about: God’s grace and our faith. The parable talks about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not far away, or in the future, after we leave the world, but rather like growing seeds. We need to be faithful planting the seeds of love and have faith in those God-given seeds. God created the seed; God will graciously take care of it. We just keep planting, keep proclaiming the good news of God’s love.

Actually, planting is a wonderful metaphor for our spiritual journey and spiritual growth.

 This is like the metaphor of planting. Someone plants the seeds, but if the seed is not buried and never releases its old form, it is difficult to sprout into new shoots and have new life.

When the seed is buried in the soil, it dwells in the darkness. While in the darkness, it absorbs the nutrients from the fertilizers in the soil and goes through transformation. Our life journey can be the same. Sometimes it is when we feel buried in dark moments,  that we are actually receiving God’s gracious blessings in our life. However, we may become afraid and reject the presence of God. Then we get choked by the darkness and the smelly environment and no spiritual growth occurs. By accepting the grace of God, we go through transformation and have new life. Eventually, the plant inside the seed will break through the soil and sprout into a small plant, grows leaves, flowers, then fruits. Endure the dark moments; a new life will come out of it. Therefore, following our Lord Christ, we need to die from our old lives before we can be born again.

In our other lessons, we also read about planting. In Ezekiel, a twig is planted and bears fruits. We might have thought that a young twig would not have a chance to survive since it has no root, but because of God’s grace and love, it grows into a noble cedar tree and offers shelters to God’s other creations. Let us also look at the second parable in the Gospel. It talks about the smallest of all seeds growing to be the largest shrubs. These are about something small that turns out to be big and great—but this greatness is not about the product itself, but about its effect of offering protection and a resting place to others. In God’s kingdom, anything is possible. The kingdom of God is not for material gain, but God’s love for us, and our love for God and each other.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Corpus Christi B

Corpus Christi  B

Today, we are observing a Feast that officially dates back to the 13th century but unofficially to the earliest days of the Christian Church. The Feast (or Solemnity) of Corpus Christi is a day set aside to commemorate not only the institution of the Lord’s Supper but the Real Presence of Christ.

Corpus Christi gives us an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate the deep joy we find in our experience of Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament.

In many ways the rites for Corpus Christi are reminiscent of Maundy Thursday and include a procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Unlike Maundy Thursday, which shifts the focus from the Lord’s Supper to the Gospel account of Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples, Corpus Christi keeps our attention on the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar and the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ blessed, broken, and shared among us to give spiritual life to us and to the world.

Holy Communion was not just a bit of bread and wine consumed in memory. Rather, in some profound mysterious way these elements of creation held within them the very substance of Christ and through the Holy Spirit could unite us to Christ in his sacrificial love and by that union we could partake of spiritual healing and strength and in fact become ourselves agents of God’s Grace to bring blessing to the world.

For first century Christians Holy Communion was so important, so mysterious that only baptized members of the community could even be present. Following the liturgy of the Word, which probably ended with a homily and prayers of the people, new people were escorted from the assembly to a separate space to receive instruction in the faith. There were two reasons for this. The first of course had to do with respect for the profound sacredness of the Rite, and the symbolism of the ritual would have had no meaning or would have been confusing to someone who had not been educated in the faith.

We cannot separate ourselves from the essence of what we have eaten. In the same way when we have consumed the Christ really present in the Sacred Elements of Communion, we incorporate his divine person into our own. We cannot define where Christ ends and we begin for he is in us and because he is eternal with God and no longer flesh, we are in him as well.

Jesus used these symbols to get at the heart of relationship with God. To be in full communion with God is to be consumed by the Holy Spirit, eaten up with the divine. We consume the bread of life and Christ becomes us as we become Christ.

There really is no way to understand this Mystery. It must be experienced. As Christians we believe that something precious and profound happens when we gather together in holy fellowship around the Altar to share in the Communion of the Blessed Sacrament. We believe that in some way Christ becomes present, whether in the bread and wine or in the community of believers gathered…we know our Lord to be with us. And one cannot be in the presence of God and remain unchanged. In the Blessed Sacrament we find strength for reconciliation, comfort for affliction, healing for the soul and the body. It is the Kingdom made present, a direct connection to the Communion of saints. It is the thinnest place where earth and heaven meet, and the ordinary becomes sacred.

Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ…the Word made flesh and the flesh made bread…bread from heaven that once eaten brings life and immortality. Brothers and Sisters, in the Blessed Sacrament we come as close to Christ as we can in this life. Through the Holy Spirit our Lord is with us and in us and we in turn are with and in him…given life in the spirit, strength for holy work and healing for soul and body. This is gift…this is blessing….this is grace.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

THE HOLY TRINITY B

THE HOLY TRINITY B

Some truths, like the very existence of God, can be known by human reason alone. Others, like the fact that God is One in Three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – can only be known if God reveals them to us. We could never conclude on our own that God is a Trinity. In Christianity one plus one plus one equals one: one God. So, in the Creed we recite, we affirm that we believe in One God and then go on to talk about “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” For centuries on this day the church recited the long and complicated Creed of St. Athanasius.  In one section it states, “Father incomprehensible, Son incomprehensible, Holy Ghost incomprehensible.” George Bernard Shaw used to mutter, “the whole thing is incomprehensible.”

It may be helpful to turn to those Christians throughout the ages we call saints and mystics on the topic of the Trinity. Take, for instance, Julian of Norwich, a woman in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries who lived in a cell, attached to the outer wall of St. Julian’s Church in Norwich.  Julian received a series of visions or “showings” and wrote them down in the first book ever written in English by a woman: Revelations of Divine Love.

The text begins:

“And our good Lord answered to all the questions and doubts which I could raise, saying most comfortingly: I may make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well, and I will make all things well; and you will see yourself that every kind of thing will be well. When he says, ‘I may’, I understand this to apply to the Father; and when he says ‘I can’, I understand it for the Son; and when he says, ‘I will’, I understand it for the Holy spirit; and when he says, ‘I shall”, I understand it for the unity of the blessed Trinity, three persons and one truth; and when he says, ‘You will see yourself’, I understand it for the union of all men who will be saved in the blessed Trinity. And in these five words God wishes us to be enclosed in rest and peace.”

She refers to “these five words” which are: I may, I can, I will, I shall, you will. With these five words, we learn that God’s wish for us is to be “enclosed” in rest and peace! God wants to surround us with Divine Love, and each persona of the Holy Trinity is forever and constantly involved in this enclosing or surrounding us with Love.  It is a quality that humans are to share with God: that generous ability to put the interests of another weaker party before one’s own, most especially the needs of the poor, widows, orphans, and strangers from other countries who are sojourning in the land. That is, God’s Divine Love, as revealed to Julian, is acting with love on behalf of others just as God acts with love on our behalf.

Since scripture says we are made in God’s image, then we are to be those people who exemplify  acts of faith and love toward others in the same way that God desires to enclose us – surround us – with God’s own Divine Love, rest, and peace. This suggests that the five words are, in the end, meant for us.  To be made in God’s image is to wake up each morning and say the five words: I may, I can, I will, I shall, you will see yourself. Then we  go about our days, generously putting the interests of others ahead of our own. We will then be enclosed and surrounded by God’s Divine Love in rest and peace as we share that Divine Love with others.

In this receiving and giving of God’s Divine Love, we discover that all shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of thing shall be well; we find ourselves enclosed in rest and peace.

Today’s Feast is not only an opportunity for thanking God for telling us more about himself. It is an occasion to take courage as we strive for deeper unity within the human family. God reveals himself to us in order to make us more like himself – not just as individuals, but as families, nations, and an international community. We grow in unity as we give ourselves away to one another, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit give themselves to each other completely. 

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

PENTECOST SUNDAY

PENTECOST SUNDAY

Sadly, today we see people and nations torn apart by racism, religious tension, man-made borders, and cultural bigotry. We have become a culture of us-versus-them, where the “other” is to be feared and never trusted. This is not a new occurrence, but one would have hoped that humanity would have learned from its past mistakes and recurrent genocides over the ages; however, here we are in the 21st century, repeating history again with chilling efficiency and cruelty.

Pentecost is a reminder that God’s Holy Spirit is given freely to all people with no respect for race, culture, socioeconomic standing, gender, or any other distinguishing mark used by people to differentiate one person from another. In God we are one.

On the Day of Pentecost, reported in the Book of Acts, people gathered in Jerusalem from all corners of the Roman Empire.  Nevertheless, God’s grace was given freely to all who heard the message preached by St. Peter, and thousands converted to Christ.  

From its inception, the church was a diverse group of people who came from a variety of cultures and languages. It was in this diversity that God sent the Holy Spirit upon his church and started a movement that would change the history of the world forever.

The message of Christ has not changed, but those who claim to be his followers have often failed in living up to that message. The greatest temptation facing Christians  is losing sight of the fact that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female. In God’s kingdom there are no illegal aliens or asylum seekers. The Holy Spirit is given freely, without respect for citizenship or socio-economic class, and God continues today to pour out his Spirit on all humanity.

The Holy Spirit works as a transformative agent in the lives of believers. In order for this transformation to take place, we must be willing to die to ourselves and surrender ourselves to Christ and God’s will for our lives.

Jesus promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit whose fruits are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. These fruits are the qualities of Jesus that the Holy Spirit develops in our lives as we grow in our faith. That is who we are and who we are to become as Christians. The Holy Spirit transforms the believer into the image of Christ and obliges the Christian to share in the Church’s apostolic and missionary activity. Just as the disciples’ bold and fearless witness at Pentecost led to the conversion of more than 3,000 people, so too are we called to bear witness of God’s love for the world today. This love is freely given to all humanity.

The Holy Spirit compels us to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbour as ourselves. One way we do this is by reaching out to the unloved, the hard to love, and the rejected in our midst and loving them, emulating our Heavenly Father’s love for us who are called by His name.

An elderly man of some affluence once asked a pastor how he could possibly learn to serve the least in society. The pastor answered, “You will be able to serve others when you see the crucified Christ in every person you meet, regardless of their social standing.” That is a tall order to fulfill, but not an impossibility for those who allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to work in them.

Every time we who are baptized into the Body of Christ approach the Eucharistic table, we are reminded of God’s love for us. It is around the altar gathered with our brothers and sisters in Christ that our Heavenly Father graciously accepts us as living members of his own Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, and feeds us with spiritual food in the blessed Sacrament.

 Pentecost is an awe-inspiring day of joy and celebration on many levels. Through the Holy Spirit, we welcome strangers into our midst and become family, and we welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives and become transformed into the image of Christ. May the gift of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost renew us today and stir up within us those spiritual gifts which God has so richly and freely given to us when we were baptized into Christ’s holy church.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2021 in Uncategorized