The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

8 Sunday in the Ordinary Time – A

Our hearts are restless because we worry about tomorrow, we fear what might happen or we think that only in some future time we will be happy. Jesus invites us to trust in God, to serve him now. "Only in God is my soul at rest..."

Maybe you heard about a book “Confessions”. In that book a young man from North Africa tells about his search for meaning. At first he sought happiness in the pleasures of drinking, eating and sex. When those things left his soul empty, he began to pursue oriental philosophies. They seemed more sophisticated than the Bible he had listened to as a child. But something about those philosophies did not ring true, so he decided that he spend his life making money - and making a name for himself. At certain point - it was like a divine intervention - he experienced a conversion. He wound up dedicating himself totally to God. The young man's name was Augustine - and after St. Paul he is considered the Church's greatest theologian. St. Augustine summed up his quest for meaning in these words: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

St. Augustine has spoken to Christians through the centuries because we identify with his experience. Our hearts are restless - and nothing in this world can give us enduring peace. Today's Psalm says "Rest in God alone, my soul..." In the Gospel Jesus tells us how to find peace in God.

Jesus lays it on the line. "No man can serve two masters...You cannot serve God and mammon." Mammon means more than simply money. The word comes from a Hebrew root that means "to entrust" - like today we speak about credit, trust funds and bonds. Mammon came to mean "that in which a man places his trust."

Where is your treasure there is your heart.

In today's Gospel Jesus identifies one of the signs of clinging to a false god: worry. A person devoted to an idol becomes consumed with worry. What will happen if I lose the thing that gives my life meaning? I have talked to people who know that alcohol is ruining their lives - but they cannot stand the thought of living without alcohol. It has become a false god. But it is similar with money, with pornography, with any kind of false god, with any kind of addiction.

Jesus invites us to turn from idols and to trust in God. He uses the example of a wild flower. Palestine has a scarlet poppy that blooms in a single day. No ancient ruler, no Hollywood actress could dress so beautifully. If God can do that for an insignificant flower, why do we worry so much?

Regarding freedom from worry a story is told about a German mystic named Tauler.

  • "God give you a good day," Tauler said to the beggar.

  • - "I thank God, sir, that I never had a bad one." said the beggar, "I thank God that I am never unhappy."

In amazement Tauler asked him what he meant.

  • "Well," said the beggar, "when it is fine, I thank God; when it rains, I thank God; when I have plenty, I thank God; when I am hungry, I thank God; and since God's will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?"

Tauler then asked the man, "Who are you?"

  • The beggar replied, "I am a king."

  • "Where then is your kingdom?" asked Tauler.

  • The beggar answered quietly: "In my heart."

The beggar was a king because he had learned how to live in the present moment. The devil is constantly trying to get us to live in the future - either fearing something that might happen or dreaming about a time when everything will be perfect. God wants us to live in present moment. Jesus tells us not worry about tomorrow. For sure, we need to spend some time preparing - that is part of love and it is today's duty. But none of us own tomorrow. The only moment we have is now. Jesus assures us that if we ask for our daily bread, if we try to love the person God has placed in our lives today, well, "tomorrow will take care of itself."

So we are back to St. Augustine. Our hearts are restless because we worry about tomorrow, we fear what might happen or we think that only in some future time we will be happy. Jesus invites us to trust in God, to serve him now. Only in God is my soul at rest.

Jesus is inviting us to place our trust wholly in the Father who created all things. He assures us that he will provide for us even in the most extreme circumstances.

I am sure that each one of us can call to mind difficult situations in life when something unexpected turned up just in the nick of time. Sometimes we just know deep in our hearts that this was not some random accident but the very hand of God protecting us.

I am not counselling anyone to be irresponsible, I am not suggesting that you throw everything away and expect God to come to your rescue. And neither is Jesus. What he is saying is that we should not worry about material possessions or lack of them.

Jesus does not want us to become consumed with material desires or completely tied up in amassing wealth. He is helping us to understand that these are passing things and invites us to place our trust in God.

He is telling us that these preoccupations diminish our stature as human beings.

The right attitudes of the Christian are to be found in the virtues: faith, hope and charity being the highest of those virtues. If we live our lives aiming to achieve perfection in these things then we might not live our lives smoothly, but we certainly will have lived it well.

In other words we can say:

We are unhappy not because have not enough, but because we worry too much, we search for too much.

We are happy not because we have everything we need but because we don’t need everything.

from the page HOMILIES

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thursday Feb 17, 2011

Scripture: Mark 8:27-33

Do you know there is a classic children’s story by Philip Dey. Eastman, Are you My Mother? It has been a favourite story not only for children but also for everyone. It talks about a mother bird while she is away from her nest, the egg in it hatches. The baby bird’s first words are, “Where is my mother?” He jumps out of the nest, falls to the ground and begins looking for his mother. Because he doesn’t know what his mother looks like, he begins by approaching different animals, and asking each of them, “Are you my mother?” He talks to a kitten, a hen, a cow, and a dog, but he cannot find his mother.

The baby bird thinks the red boat in the river or the big plane in the sky might be his mother, but they don’t stop when he calls to them. Finally, he sees a big red steam shovel. The baby bird is so sure the steam shovel is his mother that he eagerly hops into its shovel, only to be terrified when it gives a big snort and starts moving. To the little bird’s surprise, the shovel rises higher and higher and the baby bird is deposited back into his very own nest. Not only that, but he has found his mother, who has just returned from searching for food for him. The mother bird asks her baby: “Do you know who I am?”

The baby answer:

Yes, I know who you are,

You are not a kitten.
You are not a hen.
You are not a dog.
You are not a cow.
You are not a boat
or a plane, or a Snort!
You are a bird, and you are my mother.”

Listen to the Gospel today; we also have to ask ourselves: “Who is Jesus for us?” The answer is easy or difficult that depends on us. If we see Jesus as a great man, the answer will be the same with the Jews long time ago. This is a vital answer to all of us. If we have a correct answer, we dare to follow Jesus, and if we have a wrong answer, Jesus will stay in the margin of our life only. Jesus today is also testing us personally with the same question: Who do you say that I am?

What did we do and what are we doing to show we are following Jesus, the Son of Man that God the Father sent Him to the world?

Lord Jesus, we profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are our Lord and our Saviour. Make our faith strong and help us to live in the victory of the cross by rejecting sin and by accepting your will. Amen

Sunday, February 13, 2011

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle “A”

Have you ever heard the verse “Judge not lest you be judged?” Do you think that this verse is telling us that we should not ever judge our neighbour? This comes from Matthew chapter 7 verse 1.

If we were to isolate that verse it would seem to tell us that we should not judge our neighbour at all. But if we go on and read the whole passage we see that that is not what God is saying at all. In fact what God is telling us is that we must judge our neighbour when we see him in sin but when we do so we must do so fairly and with love. We must judge our neighbour and correct him with Christian charity. Matthew goes on to tell us in Chapter 7 verses 2-5 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged [that is to say that if we judge with an evil heart or dark intent, God’s judgment of us will reflect that; however, if we judge fairly with honesty and justice with the intent to correct erroneous behaviour as we are obliged to do, God’s judgment of us will reflect that, too.

Matthew goes on to warn us against pointing out the sins of others while we ourselves are in greater sin because this then makes us hypocrites. Jesus gave this message while He was talking to the multitudes warning them not to become like the Pharisees and other hypocrites who thought they were above sin. Look at John 7:24. There, Jesus tells us to judge, but to do so righteously. Righteously means to use the Truth of His Word to discern sins and not to judge by appearances only. In fact, in 1Cor. 6:2-3 Jesus compels us to judge. We must judge otherwise we could not tell good from bad, proper from improper, righteousness from evil.

But how are we to judge? That is the key. How are we to judge? We are to judge behaviour, not the individual; the deed not the doer; the choice not the chooser. The individual, the chooser, is accountable for his/her /choice, but we are to fairly judge the deed/choice that the individual has made when we make our judgment. So while we must judge one's behaviour we must also try to nurture the goodness in an individual: we have to be like Jesus and separate the deed from the doer. And to continue, Matt 7:6 says. "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."

Tell me… How are we going to know as undesirable the behaviours of "dogs" and "swine" if we do not judge? Yes, we do have the right and the authority to judge the behaviour of others as long as we honour and obey God’s Word and in fact we are obliged to do so. Now, we know that Jesus is the only one who will judge whether or not someone is or is not saved. Neither you nor I nor anyone else has the authority to say whether another person will be saved. The Church has never condemned anyone by name to hell. Only Jesus can make that judgment since only He can give Salvation.

Jesus did not say “Judge not - lest you be judged” in order to prevent us from correcting others. In fact just the opposite is true. We are required, no, obliged to correct others. In the book of the prophet Ezekiel chapter 33: 8: God says “ If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way (and tell me. how can we do this if we do not judge his way to be wicked?) that wicked person shall die in his iniquity (in other words he shall be condemned) but God says, his blood I will require at your hand.” In other words if we see our brother living in sin and we say or do nothing, we shall be held responsible for his condemnation. If we see some evil going on and we say nothing then we shall be held liable for that evil.

We are our brother’s keeper. However, when we correct others we need to ensure that our sin is not greater than the one we are trying to correct. A couple of weeks ago we were reminded that we have free will and that we can choose to repent, to turn away from our sin and to follow God or we can choose to remain in sin and stay on the path to condemnation.

That same invitation to freely choose to follow Christ is repeated this week when we listened to the first reading - a proclamation from the book of Sirach: “If you choose, you can keep the command­ments, and they will save you. If you trust in God, you too, shall live. And to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. The Lord, has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose. Before each person are life and death, good and Evil and whichever one chooses, that shall be given. For great is the wisdom of the Lord; He is mighty in power and sees everything; His eyes are on those who fear Him, and He knows every human action. He has not commanded anyone to be wicked, and He bas not given anyone permission to sin.”

How can we in our day apply these words? What are the great public sins of our day? First of all there is contraception. The word contraception means against life. There are those who would try to tell you otherwise but for 2000 years the church in her doctrine has always taught that contraception is an evil which must not be practiced. The use of contraception was always wrong and will always be wrong. Many Christians who disagree and contracept will still have to answer to God for their failure to follow the truth.

Abortion – this is one of the great evils of today – the killing of millions of innocent human beings and it stems from the first evil – contraception.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide – two other great evils that stem from the over-population myth. Overpopulation is a myth – did you know that you could gather every person who is alive today on the face of the earth and put them all into the Sate of Texas and each person would have 1/3 of an acre. We couldn’t even touch hands. Euthanasia and assisted suicide. It is quite conceivable that given the mind-set of our present government – it is possible that in the very near future both of these evils will end up with no restrictions on them either.

All of these evils we must speak out against. We are obliged to if we wish to inherit the kingdom of Heaven. In today’s Gospel Jesus said to His disciples “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill it.” In doing this Jesus is drawing our attention to the spirit behind the law. He emphasizes that until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

Jesus warns us that whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom. But whoever obeys them and teaches them, will be called great in the Kingdom of God. Jesus goes on to warn us further that we must avoid the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees who accurately taught and interpreted the law, but did not live by that law in their own lives. They were hypocrites. They demanded strict observance of the law by others while keeping the law only in appearance themselves. By keeping the letter of the law the scribes and Pharisees felt that God owed them salvation. However, Jesus says that such persons will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

In today’s world Jesus would say that we have to be careful and observe all the commandments; however we too must not be hypocrites. For example, there are those who observe the law to attend Mass on Sunday because it is their obligation to do so but on the other hand are far away from God during the week. Like the scribes and Pharisees those people will also never inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Why? Because they worship God for appearance only and not with the hearts.

Jesus said we must be the Salt of the earth and the light to the world. We must set the good example for others and not sit back and let others do the work of promoting the kingdom of God. Make no mistake, no matter what anyone else tells you, we will be held liable if we do not speak out to correct our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the truth. As Christians we must speak the truth in a firm but charitable manner. Two things I want to clarify about abortion because it seems that not all of us know the truth about this evil.

The first thing is that it is true that abortions are extremely costly to our already over strained health care system. That’s right. The government won’t pay for your new teeth or your eyeglasses or even for a much needed hearing aid – but it is absolutely true that your tax dollars are being used to kill babies. Your tax dollars are used to fund abortions in Canada. All of this at a time when tax dollars for health purposes are at a premium. Just think of how many millions of our tax dollars are being used to cruelly snuff out innocent lives instead of saving lives? And all of this done in my name and in your name. My and your tax dollars pay for every abortion that is committed in Canada. We both are paying for this evil - so please don’t anyone try to tell me that we don’t have the blood of innocents on our hands. We may think that we are able to wash this innocent blood off of our hands but I’m sure it is still visible to Almighty God.

Secondly, Canada is the only western so called civilized country in which there is no legal restrictions against abortion. That’s right; there is no law whatsoever restricting abortion. Not even partial birth abortion. Partial birth abortion is where the baby is partially being born but not quite born as the abortionist kills it. I will spare you the gruesome details as to how this takes place but suffice it to say that you can legally have an abortion in Canada right up to and during the birth of the baby.

Only in Canada can you get away with this type of legal murder. Can you imagine what we would do to the person who was this cruel to an animal? I had the opportunity to hold my grandchild recently just after he was born and it broke my heart to think of those little babies who wouldn’t make it that day. And all this is perfectly legal in our beloved Canada. That’s right. In Canada there is no law restricting abortions even partial birth abortions. That went away with Pierre Elliot Trudeau. And our present Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on the record as saying he won’t even discuss abortion let alone allow any laws restricting it.

In Germany right after the Second World War there were those who pled innocent saying that they didn’t know that millions were being sent to the gas chambers. They said they would have done something had they known. We won’t be able to use that excuse when we come before Almighty God, will we? If we didn’t know this before, we know it now and the big question is what are we going to do about it?

As Christians what is our responsibility in the light of the gospel? What are we going to do to stop this slaughter and what are we going to do to try to stop our tax dollars from being used for this genocide? We might say “But what can I do? I am only one person?” We need to act to enlighten those around us about this slaughter and about how our tax dollars are being used for such an evil purpose. We need to act and we need to act now. We need to do it in a firm but Christian way. Perhaps we can begin by enlightening our members of parliament and all of our neighbours around us. Sure it might cost us some heartache and grief but you need to be alive to experience that, don’t you?

In Matthew 5:10 Jesus tells us “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And we need to recognize that there are many mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters out there who have been victimized by this system and are suffering and we need to do something about that too. The powers that be have made certain that all of us remain in the dark. Isn’t it time we accepted our Christian responsibility and stepped out into the light of the truth? As an example of what we can do - I want to close by reading this letter. It was sent this week as a letter to the editor of the Rocky Mountaineer. I am proud to say that it was written by one of our parishioners and is a wonderful example of proper judgement of deeds and of correction in the light of the Christian Gospel.

With her permission and your indulgence I will read it to you now.

I quote:

Dear Editor

With all the recent uproar in the media regarding the “massacre “of sled dogs in the Vancouver area, I have been compelled to write about my own concerns. I am an animal lover, and I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I am not. However, I am saddened by the fact that much of our population is very quick to “jump on the bandwagon” regarding cruelty to animals, and wanting to punish the people responsible for these acts of violence. At the same time, many people are oblivious to our own actions (or lack of action) which takes the lives of millions of innocent unborn children every year in our own supposedly civilized country. Horses, cows, dogs, cats and even rats are seemingly more important to protect than our human offspring. I’m sure you have all heard the outcry from “animal rights groups” who are outraged by the use of animals for research, even when done to help find cures for human diseases. Yet, you don’t hear the same kind of protests from the public regarding experiments going on using newly aborted human fetuses. Abortions are extremely costly to our health care system and are often used as one choice for birth control. “As the highest ranking animals of the animal kingdom, we humans are the only ones who have mothers who kill their own young, and people who openly encourage mothers to kill their own young”.

Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?

Milly McKenzie


You and I both know that there definitely is something terribly wrong with this picture. Canada is our country, and it is a great country that we should all be proud of. We need to let our elected officials know that we love our country and this is not the legacy we want to leave to our children and grandchildren, if we have any.

The powers that be are trying to keep us in the dark, let’s write to them and tell them that we have had enough of that and force them to re-open the topic of Abortion to public debate every chance we get. It’s our country and it’s our duty as Christians. I believe that it is the very least we can do to try to stop the slaughter of the innocents.

Deacon Bernie Ouellette

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday February, 10

Scripture: Mark 7:24-30

Do you ever feel “put-off” by the Lord? The Gospel today tells us the only occasion in which Jesus ministered outside of Jewish territory. (Tyre and Sidon were fifty miles north of Israel and still exist today in modern Lebanon.) A Gentile woman, an outsider who was not a member of the chosen people, puts Jesus on the spot by pleading with him to show mercy to her daughter who was tormented with an evil spirit. At first Jesus seemed to pay no attention to her, and this made his disciples feel embarrassed. Jesus treated this woman like this not to put her off, but rather to test her sincerity and to awaken faith in her.

What did Jesus mean by the expression “throwing bread to the dogs”? The Jews often spoke of the Gentiles with arrogance and insolence as “unclean dogs” because the Gentiles were excluded from God’s covenant and favour with Israel. For the Greeks, dog” was a symbol of dishonour and was used to describe a shameless and audacious woman. Matthew’s Gospel records the expression do not give what is holy to dogs” (Mt 7:6). No doubt, Jesus spoke with a smile rather than with an insult because this woman immediately responds with humour and faith: “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”. Jesus praises a Gentile woman for her persistent faith and for her affectionate love. She made the misery of her child, her own and she was willing to suffer refuse in order to obtain healing for her loved one. She also had indomitable persistence. Her faith grew in contact with the person of Jesus. She began with a request and she ended on her knees in worshipful prayer to the living God. And now we can see nobody who ever sought Jesus with faith whether Jew or Gentile was refused his help. Do we seek Jesus with expectant faith?

Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. May we trust you always and never doubt your loving care and mercy. Increase our faith in your saving help and deliver us from all evil and harm. Amen

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Thursday February, 03

Scripture: Mark 6:7-13

What kind of authority and power does Jesus want us to exercise on His behalf? Jesus gave his apostles both the power and the authority to speak and to act in his name. He commanded them to do the works which he did: to heal, to cast out evil spirits, and to speak the word of God – the good news of the gospel which they received from Jesus. When Jesus spoke of power and authority he did something unheard of. He wedded power and authority with love and humility. The “world” and the “flesh” seek power for selfish gain. Jesus teaches us to use it for the good of our neighbour.

Why does Jesus tell the apostles to travel with little or no provision? “Poverty of spirit” frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions and makes an ample room for God’s provision. Jesus wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves. He will work through and in each of us for his glory. Jesus also calls us to travel with little or no provision as we pass through this world. The aim of our lives is not to accumulate stuff. Rather, we are to live as people on a mission, on a campaign. This does not mean we are to take on a spirit of poverty. It is rather about where our focus is. Do we live to get more and more possessions for ourselves? Or do we live as a person with a calling?

The apostles go and preach the Gospel. “Going” is an important part of living for God. We need to go to our community, go to the poor, and go to those who don’t know Jesus. It is not about huddling in the church comfort zone but about taking the Gospel of repentance to the people.

Are we ready to handle the power and authority which Jesus wishes us to exercise on his behalf? God entrusts us with his gifts and talents. Are we eager to place ourselves at his service, to do whatever he bids us and to witness his truth and saving power to whomever he sends us?

Lord Jesus, make us a channel of your grace and healing love that others may find life and freedom in you. Free us from all other attachments that we may joyfully follow the things of heaven. May we witness the joy of the Gospel both in words and deeds. Amen