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Monthly Archives: May 2015

Trinity Sermon

trinity5Last Sunday, we celebrated the sending of the Spirit, which sealed God’s new covenant and made a new creation.

In this new creation, we live in the family of God, who has revealed himself as a Trinity of love. We share in His divine nature through His body and blood (see 2 Peter 1:4). This is the meaning of the three feasts that cap the Easter season – Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi.

These feasts should be intimate reminders of how deeply God loves us, how He chose us, from before the foundation of the world, to be His children (see Ephesians 1:4-5).

Today’s readings illuminate how all God’s words and works were meant to prepare for the revelation of the Trinity and God’s blessing in Jesus Christ – the blessing we inherited in baptism, and renew in each Eucharist.

You are very special to God. You belong to God — all of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The reason why it’s so important to be baptized in the name of the full Holy Trinity, as Jesus instructs in this Sunday’s Gospel reading,   because God in his fullness — all three Persons of the triune nature of God — wants to have a personal relationship with you, a true friendship.

We have a special love relationship with each Person of the Trinity.  To sit and chat with God as Father, God as Saviour, and God as Holy Spirit. When you’re feeling hurt, you can sit in the Father’s lap and receive his comfort. When you’re fighting temptation, you can feel the strength of Jesus coming to your rescue. When you’re worried or confused or struggling to have faith, you can be aware of the Spirit’s gentle guidance.

The Father of Jesus is our own, very special Father. Is he a fearsome punishing authority who barely understands you? No, he gladly adopted you during your baptism, because he’s a doting daddy who provides for our needs.

The Holy Spirit assures us of this. God’s Spirit embraces us and comforts us and teaches us everything we need to know so we can live in the joy of a life that’s full of love. And in that love, Jesus sacrificed himself for us so that we can be free from the punishment of sin and live holy lives with the help of his Holy Spirit.

God is a trinity of helpers, healers, strengtheners, and faith-builders. He wants you to live in the fullness of his divinity! He wants you to benefit from all that he is.

As baptized Christians and as sacramental Catholics who have God’s presence fully available in the Eucharist, we lack nothing that really matters!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Trinity Sunday

Trinity2 Last Sunday, we celebrated the sending of the Spirit, which sealed God’s new covenant and made a new creation.

In this new creation, we live in the family of God, who has revealed himself as a Trinity of love. We share in His divine nature through His body and blood (see 2 Peter 1:4). This is the meaning of the three feasts that cap the Easter season – Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi.

These feasts should be intimate reminders of how deeply God loves us, how He chose us, from before the foundation of the world, to be His children (see Ephesians 1:4-5).

Today’s readings illuminate how all God’s words and works were meant to prepare for the revelation of the Trinity and God’s blessing in Jesus Christ – the blessing we inherited in baptism, and renew in each Eucharist.

There are two principal ways we come to understand things in life, namely, through study or through personal experience.

For example, we can learn about human relationships by study. We can take classes in human psychology and sociology. We can read books dealing with the ways people interact. We can observe how individuals form and maintain their connections with one another. We can watch movies and realty shows centred on family dynamics, friendships, and romance. In such ways we can grow in our understanding of human relationships.

The other way we can come to understand human relationships is through our personal experience. The dealings we have with family members, friends, neighbours, classmates, co-workers, and strangers teach us about human interaction. Our personal experiences of love, friendship, compassion, misunderstanding, and forgiveness expand our knowledge of how people interact. We quickly come to understand that relationships can bring us the greatest joy and they can bring the greatest sorrow.

This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. We celebrate the most important of all relationships – the divine relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Three Persons who are the One God.

We can come to some understanding of this central mystery of our faith in the same way we learn all things – through study or through experience.

We can study the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. We can analyze the Creed that we profess each Sunday. We can consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We can take courses in theology and read theological treatises. We can examine scripture passages that point to this doctrine. Such a passage makes up this Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 28:16-20). There the Risen Lord tells his followers, “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

We can also come to an understanding of this central mystery of our faith through our personal experience. As people of faith, we have experiences that can reveal the Holy Trinity and give us some understanding of the One God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

For example, we can experience God the Father and Creator in the power of nature, in the birth of a child, in the immensity of the universe with its billions of galaxies, and in lifting our hands in prayer as we call upon “Our Father.”

We can experience God the Beloved Son and Saviour in our fellow Christians gathered for worship, in the proclamation of a Gospel reading, in reverencing the cross on Good Friday, in quiet moments before the Blessed Sacrament, and above all in receiving his life-giving Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

We can experience God the Holy Spirit and Comforter in the wisdom that unexpectedly inspires us, in the courage that strengthens us to confront evil and injustice, in the words that come as we seek to explain what we believe, and in sensing the mercy, love, and presence of God even when all seems lost.

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity that we highlight this Sunday and that we bring to mind each time we make the Sign of the Cross will always remain a mystery. But it is a mystery we can understand, at least in part, through study and through experience.

St. Hildegard a Benedictine writer, composer and mystic used the image of a flame.

As the flame of a fire has three qualities, preached St. Hildegard, so there is one God in three Persons. How? A flame is made up of brilliant light…that it may shine; energy that it may endure; and heat that it may warm.

When we profess that God is a Trinity we are saying that God is   a flame, the flame of love, an eternal flame of eternal love.

God is love. And love is an experience, not a speck on the horizon.

When you and I find ourselves yearning for God, longing for God, we reach for love.  And, if St. Hildegard is right, that Love will light the darkness in our soul

Yes, our God is a Trinity. A Trinity of Light, Endurance and Heat. A Trinity of Fire. A Trinity of Love.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Pentecost

1-7The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9-11).

In today’s First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).

The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (see Jeremiah 31:31-34; 2 Corinthians 3:2-8; Romans 8:2).

The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

In the beginning, the Spirit came as a “mighty wind” sweeping over the face of the earth (see Genesis 1:2). And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as “a strong, driving wind” to renew the face of the earth.

 When a baby is born, it is pushed from the watery environment of its mother’s womb into the outside world. Within a few seconds, a critical thing must happen. The newborn has to take its first breath. It must begin to take in life-giving oxygen. A baby’s first breath brings joy to all in the delivery room. Breathing means life.

This Sunday’s Gospel for Pentecost (John 20:19-23)involves life and breath.  We hear how the Risen Lord appeared to his apostles who were hiding in fear behind securely locked doors. The Lord “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.'” Jesus blew the breath of the Spirit upon them and commissioned them to be agents of forgiveness, mercy, and new life.

In a sense those apostles were like infants in the womb unsure of what was waiting for them outside their hiding place. Enlivened with the breath of the Spirit they go forth to announce the Good News.

The action of the Lord that first Easter Sunday evening may bring to mind the action of God when he created the first human being. In the Book of Genesis, we are told, “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) In breathing upon the apostles, the Risen Lord brought his Church to life. It became his living presence in the world.

This Sunday we also hear the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 23:1-10) Luke tells us that on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, the Spirit came in tongues of fire and as a strong driving wind that filled the house where the disciples were gathered.

That mighty wind could be seen as the breath of God blowing from the heavens through the streets of Jerusalem until it rested upon those first disciples. It filled them with wisdom and courage and drove them into the streets where they “began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”

God has breathed that same Holy Spirit upon us. At our Baptism, the Spirit of God came to dwell within us. We became temples of the Holy Spirit. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1265). At our Confirmation, we were strengthened by the Holy Spirit to be bold and courageous witnesses of Christ in the world. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1303).

This Sunday of Pentecost reminds us of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our Church and in our personal lives.

In today’s Mass, when Jesus renews his commitment to guide us, let’s renew our commitment to pay attention – not in order to experience spiritual fireworks, but in order to feed the fire and breath  of God’s love in our hearts, whose light and heat we all need so much.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Feast of the Ascension



Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:17-23  MARK 16:15-20

          1-15The Scripture readings for the Solemnity of the Ascension   feature the mission of Jesus’ disciples. At the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells us that the disciples ask the risen Jesus about when the fulfilment of the kingdom of God will take place. Jesus had spoken about the in-breaking of the reign of God in his earthly ministry, and he had made that kingdom present in his words and actions. He had also promised the establishment of the fullness of this reign of God at the end of time. So the disciples understandably wonder when this will take place. But in his answer the risen Christ instructs his followers not to focus on speculations about the end of time. Rather, they are to commit themselves to the work of furthering Jesus’ mission in the present, in the here and now: “… you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The gift of the Holy Spirit will empower and guide them in this work of proclaiming the good news of the crucified and risen Jesus.

The Gospel reading also highlights the mission of Jesus’ followers. The risen Christ commands them to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” At the conclusion of this passage, we are told that the disciples “went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.” Jesus’ first followers hear the message and accept the mission; they come to understand how important they are in spreading the message of God’s saving love in Christ.

We may tend to associate the word “missionary” with lay persons, religious, and priests who travel to distant lands to evangelize. And certainly such missionaries have played a pivotal role in the history of the church. But each of us, wherever we live and whatever our vocation, has a missionary calling as a Catholic Christian. Pope Francis has emphasized this in his writings and various talks, stressing that every Christian is called to be a “missionary disciple.” We may or may not preach; we may or may not catechize others; and maybe we do not even feel very comfortable talking with others about matters of faith. But Jesus says to each one of us who has received the gift of the Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation, “You will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” Every single one of us is called to offer testimony to our faith in Christ and to reflect the presence of Christ to others. And the risen Jesus wants to make his presence known to people and situations in unique ways through each one of us.

The feast of the Ascension does not memorialize the absence of Christ. It does not suggest that Christ has been taken away from us. Rather, Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension make it possible for him to be present to us in an entirely new way – present to each of us in all of the particularities of our lives. He is so much a part of our lives, and we are so much a part of him, that Saint Paul can speak of believers as forming the body of Christ in the world. The closeness of Christ in our lives means that he finds ways to work through us to touch the lives of other people. It may happen through the words we speak about him, or it may take place without words in the compassion we show to others. We need to trust that we play an essential role in continuing the mission of Christ in the world today and that his Spirit is alive and active in us and through us.

As we come to the Altar this Sunday, may we be grateful for the priceless gift of Christ’s presence in our lives. And may we renew our commitment to make his presence known to others by our words and actions.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Sixth Sunday of Easter

1“Are you doing OK in school?” If you were to ask a teenager that question, most teenagers would answer, “Yes.” Even those whose grades were below average would compare themselves to students who were failing and arrive at the conclusion they were doing OK. At least they were passing. They were not being required to repeat a grade. They were not dropping out of high school. Using their personal criteria, most teenagers would conclude they were doing OK in school.

The same kind of reasoning is often used by people when they consider how they are living their Christian faith. Most believers would say that they are doing OK. After all, they were baptized. They profess that Jesus is the Son of God. They accept the truth of the Bible. They pray at least a few times a week. They try to get to church on Sunday if they don’t have something more important to do. They give some money to charity. They try to be nice to their neighbour. They try to do the “Christian thing.”

When we establish our own criteria for judging how we are doing as students, as Christians, or as anything else for that matter, most of us will conclude that we are doing OK – and many times even better than just OK.

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us that those who wish to be his disciples are to love God and love their neighbour. If we are the ones who decide what it means to keep those two great commandments, we can easily conclude we are doing OK as Christians.

However in this Sunday’s Gospel (John 15:9-17), Jesus gives us the standard by which we are to judge how we are doing in following his commandment of love. Jesus says, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” Jesus tells us that Christians are those who love others as he did.

As we know, Jesus showed his love by accepting the outcast, showing mercy to the sinner, forgiving his enemies, preaching a message of hope, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, confronting hypocrisy and injustice, seeing the good in everyone, and making God’s kingdom present by his way of life and in his interactions with others.

Jesus showed his love by respecting and valuing the people he met. He never saw enemies beyond redemption; he saw potential friends. He was even willing to lay down his life for others. As he said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

The love that God both offers and commands is not the narcissism or obsession that so often masquerades as love. God’s love is not self-care, sentiment, or self-indulgence. It does not change with the culture or erode over time.

When it came to God, Jesus showed his love for God by putting the will of the Father before his own. As he said, “I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” (John 5:30) Jesus loved the Father by letting the will of the Father guide his life. Doing so made him the Beloved Son in whom the Father was well pleased. (Mark 1:11)

God’s love is hardworking. It demands.  It endures. It hopes and suffers and transforms. It urges us forward. It carries sharp edges and a texture gritty with time and substance. It has a point of view. God’s love is one that can only be completely understood when viewed through the lens of the cross.

This is a love that breaks down barriers and opens locked doors. It is a love that heals and binds and holds us accountable. This is a love so deep, that it transforms our lives and our deaths, forever.

If we want to know how we are doing as Christians, we are not to evaluate ourselves by looking at others or by the criteria we set. We need to compare ourselves to Jesus Christ. If we use that standard we will not be so quick to conclude we are doing OK.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2015 in Uncategorized