You Belong to God – You Are Not Your Own! The Core Values of Stewardship

The readings that we hear proclaimed this weekend present us with a reminder of something that is very true and yet very contrary to the way most of us think today. These readings remind us that we belong to God and do not belong to ourselves. This, I think, is exactly the opposite to the way most of us think. It is certainly the opposite of the way the world today would like us to think about ourselves. My own sense is that most of the anger and difficulties that people have towards God and the world are based on the fact that we refuse to recognize that we truly do belong to God and that He is in charge of the world and of our lives. We all like to live under the impression that we belong to ourselves, that we are in charge of everything, and that God is supposed to listen to what we tell him to do and follow our instructions. I remember very clearly one of the great spiritual lessons that Bishop Mikloshazy, one of my favorite instructors in the seminary, used to always say to us was at the heart of the spiritual life: “Remember that God is God and you are not.” This truth is also at the heart of the Stewardship Campaign that Cardinal Collins has asked the parishes of the Archdiocese to focus on in the coming years. For that reason, this weekend, I would like to focus upon four core values that are at the heart of Stewardship and that follow from this Sunday’s readings. I take these values from a book that has been shared with our parish’s Stewardship Committee by the Archdiocesan Office of Faith Formation. The book is called Making Stewardship a Way of Life, by Fr. Andrew Kemberling and Mila Glodava. They identify as the Core Values of Stewardship: 1) Identity; 2) Trust; 3) Gratitude; and 4) Love. All of the readings this Sunday calls us to embrace these values. Continue reading

A Short Homily and a Brief Update

I know a few priests who during the summer months make a point of giving very short homilies. Today, I would like to give a short homily, but I do so not to speak for a shorter period of time, but rather so that I can also give you a brief update about a few significant changes that will take place at the end of the summer. First a short homily.

 

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is perhaps one of the most famous parables in the bible. For most people, when they hear this parable, they hear it as a story about what they are called to do for their neighbour. I have to admit, when I hear this parable, I think of it a little differently. When I hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, I hear it as a story of what Christ has done for me. Continue reading

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Holy Trinity Sunday

As Catholics, every time that we pray, we begin by invoking the names of the three persons of the Holy Trinity, whose feast we celebrate this Sunday. This custom can be so habitual that at times we may do it without realizing how profound the words are that we are saying. Each time we name the three persons of the Holy Trinity, we are articulating a great mystery about God and his proximity to us that has been revealed to us by God Himself. The only way that we know about the Trinity and the names of the persons contained within God is because Jesus Himself has told us about Them. As the Son of God sent from the Father, Jesus has told us to call God “Our Father” and has repeatedly spoken to us about the Father. During His life Jesus promised His disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit after He had returned to the Father. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church by Jesus and His Father in Heaven. That the three cannot be separated is witnessed to in the Gospel passage from Matthew where Jesus commissions His disciples to baptize all people “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Everything that we know about God as the Trinity has been revealed to us by the Trinity Himself. We can learn so much about God’s love for us in reflecting upon this great mystery of our faith. Continue reading

Pentecost— Fulfilling the Promise to be With Us Until the End of the Ages!

At the beginning of this Easter Season, you and I celebrated Easter by renewing our baptismal promises. In the Ritual for Infant Baptism, there are about a hundred different readings that can be used at a Baptism for a child. Despite this great variety, I find that I have used only one reading at almost all of the Baptisms that I have celebrated in my years as a priest. The reading that I always use at Baptism is the text from Matthew in which Jesus commissions His disciples to go out into the world and baptize all nations. The exact words that Jesus used are as follows: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the ages” (Matthew 28: 19-20). What strikes me most about this passage is the amazing promise that Christ has made to all of us through our Baptisms: “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the ages.” Christ promises all of us that He is with us always, forever, until the end of time. Today, as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, Jesus tells us that He will fulfill this promise to be with us always by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. Continue reading

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” Discerning God’s Voice in Our Lives Today

After they are baptized at Easter, the men and women who were received into the Church at the Easter Vigil through the Sacraments of Christian Initiation, are not finished with their formation. Following Easter, they continue to meet and learn about the significance of their baptisms through a period called the “Mystagogy.” The Mystagogy is a time when the baptized are invited to think about what it means to live with the gift of the Holy Spirit that they received when they were baptized and confirmed. Since these are gifts which all Christians receive when they are initiated into the Church, this theme is also one that we hear repeated in the Easter readings through the Easter Season. In fact, last week, as I met with our own parish’s RCIA, I could not help but think how one of the handouts that we were dealing with provided important insights for the readings that we hear proclaimed this Sunday. The fact is, that this period called the “Mystagogy” is not one that applies just to those who were baptized this past Easter. All of us should understand our own lives as a constant period of the Mystagogy. We should all be striving to understand the significance of our baptism throughout our life. Each Sunday throughout the year we should be attempting to understand how to live through the Holy Spirit a life closer to God and His Church. For this reason, I have decided to share with you the contents of one of the handouts that we used in the RCIA regarding the subject of discernment. Continue reading

“We Are His People, the Sheep of His Flock: World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Yesterday morning, at St. Paul’s Basilica, Archbishop Prendergast of Ottawa, ordained Deacon Adam Hincks and another Jesuit to the priesthood and five others to the diaconate. At almost the same time, Cardinal Collins, our Archbishop here in Toronto, ordained four priests to serve the diocese at St. Michael’s Cathedral. Earlier this month, Sister Christina of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and a parishioner here at St. Peter’s Parish, made her profession of vows to her community. All of this happened to be taking place on a weekend in the Church that coincides with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Continue reading

Divine Mercy Sunday

“Give Thanks to the Lord, for He is Good; His Steadfast Love Endures Forever.”

Have you ever noticed how people speak to one another when they fall in love? Once they have first gained the courage to tell the other person that they love him or her, they begin to use this expression quite frequently. As it begins to loose some of its impact, they begin to use expressions like “very much,” or “very, very much.” Ultimately, people who are in love tell the other person that they love the other so much that they will love them “forever,” or for “all eternity.” In fact, if the person you love ever tells you that they love you so much that they will love you until next Thursday, you can be pretty sure that your relationship is in trouble. Continue reading

Celebrating A Love That Cannot Wait

The celebration of Easter is for all Christians the highpoint of our year of faith. At Easter we celebrate the fact that Christ has risen from the dead and destroyed death for all who place their hope in Him. Easter means that, because of Christ’s resurrection, we shall not die but rather we are all invited to spend eternity with our loving God in heaven. At Easter we think of our loved ones who have died and we rejoice that they have been spared death because of Christ’s resurrection and are with Him in Heaven for all eternity. Ultimately, at Easter we celebrate that God loves us so much that He destroyed death so that He might spend eternity with each of us. Easter is the greatest celebration of God’s unconditional and undying love for each of us; a love so strong that death cannot destroy it. Continue reading

Palm and Passion Sunday

Jerusalem is, and has been for several millennium, a great walled city that must be entered through one of the several gates in the city’s wall. It is a holy and sacred city. For the Jews, Jerusalem is that city where God dwelt among His people in the great temple at which they could visit Him and offer Him sacrifices. In His Holy City, God would listen to His people and they could be assured that they were standing in His presence. Whenever there was a great feast for the Jewish people they would go up to the city of Jerusalem to be near to God and celebrate with Him. For the Jewish people to live within the walls of Jerusalem—the Holy City—was the perfect life; it was equivalent to living with God on earth. In the mind of the Jewish person, the perfect place to die was within the walls of Jerusalem. To die within the walls of the Holy City meant that one had died with God in His Holy City and had indeed lived a blessed life. Continue reading

Today, If You Hear God’s Voice, Harden not Your Hearts

This Sunday’s first reading, from the Book of Exodus, presents us with what is probably the second most famous story about fire that is to be found in the Bible. In this story, we hear how God called Moses to lead the Jewish people from the slavery that bound them in Egypt to the freedom that they would experience in the Promised Land. Called by God, Moses responds “Here I am.” From this point on, he will be called to lead the Jewish people to freedom. The Exodus story is extremely important in helping us to understand what it is that Christ has done for us by His life, death and resurrection. We will hear much of the Exodus story throughout the Lenten season. Once Moses has responded to God’s call, he will go into Egypt and confront Pharaoh and demand freedom for the enslaved Jewish people. In order to obtain this freedom, Moses will lead the people of Israel through the desert. On the journey, those whom he is leading will doubt in his leadership and turn away from the true God towards false gods and they will spend forty years in the desert before they are willing to trust God and are finally allowed to enter into the promised Land. Through this experience, the People of Israel will come to believe that Yahweh really is the true God and they will believe that they are able to experience His blessings in the Promised Land where He dwells with them. The image of fire is also used to show that God is leading the people of Israel to their new land as a pillar of fire goes before them. Continue reading