Every year, on the first Sunday following Christmas, the Church celebrates the beautiful feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The purpose of this beautiful feast is to remind each and every one of us that the most important place where we are to encounter God’s love for us is within the family. Like all of us, Jesus was born into a human family so that we might all be reminded that it is first and foremost within the family that we are to make Christ’s love present to our brothers and sisters and where we are to encounter the love and acceptance that we all desire and long to know. This beautiful feast is to remind all of us that every family—mine and yours—is a sacred place where God’s love is to be encountered. Continue reading
This past week, there has been a very powerful film called “The Human Flow” showing at both the Bloor Docs Cinema and the Toronto International Film Festival’s Bell Lightbox Theatre. “The Human Flow” is a movie by director Ai WeiWei that presents a powerful look at the plight of the world’s 65 million refugees. It shows the way in which so many human beings have been uprooted from their homes and wander the world aimlessly, often because they are regarded as mere objects and pawns in the world of international politics. This movie attempts to show how real human beings are effected and destroyed by the manner in which world politics have impacted their lives. Not since World War II have so many people been uprooted by events like civil war, global warming and the political unrest that has been unleashed by the greed and power struggles of the world’s elites. This past year, the St. Peter’s Parish Community became acutely aware of the tragedy of the world’s refugee crisis as after a long wait, the community welcomed the re-settlement family that we have sponsored through Project Hope. This beautiful family left Iraq because they were persecuted as Christians; only to find themselves in Syria as civil war broke out there. To this date, some of their family are stuck in Turkey, awaiting re-unification here in Canada. I am so grateful to the many members of our community who have worked tirelessly to welcome and support this wonderful family. What this movie “The Human Flow,” and our parish’s experience with a resettlement family, make so very clear is how powerless individual persons can be in the face of the world’s political arrangements that are negotiated by the powerful elites of this world. It can be tempting to feel only despair in the face of such a situation where the dignity of the human person is given so little concern. Continue reading
Where I am presently living at Holy Rosary Parish, during the renovations of the rectory, I do not have access to internet and cable. This has happily meant that I do not watch a lot of television. Last week, when I was in Vancouver for the National Liturgy Conference, I was able to watch more television than I normally do in a month. One of the things that surprised me is the number of television shows that are on related to developing and celebrating the talents that some people possess. Some of the shows that can be found on the television include titles like “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” Britain’s Got Talent,” “So You think you can Dance,” and “Dancing with the Stars.” All of these shows have in common the desire of those who appear on the show to have their unique talents and qualities recognized in the hopes of becoming famous. Continue reading
I really like the way that people who are in love speak to one another. It can almost seem like there are never enough words to express their affection for one another. The first really big challenge in their communication usually comes when they desire to tell the other person that they are in love for the first time. Once the first person has mustered the courage to tell the other person “I love you,” it almost seems like they cannot say it enough. They start to say it to the other person all the time. Soon those words lose their force and they need to start adding adjectives, like “I love you very much,” or “I love you very, very much.” Usually, once people run out of words for how much they love one another, they usually start to add expressions of how long they wish to love one another to their words of affection. These expressions of love, which have to do with time, usually state something like “I will love you to the end of time,” or “I will love you for all eternity.” I do not think I have ever heard people who really deeply are in love say: “I will love you until July 1, 2020; that is how much I will love you!” Real and true love always wants to express that the beloved is everything to the one who loves and that the hope is that this love will last forever. Continue reading
There are many times in life that we are asked to do something and we say “yes” because we imagine what we are being asked to do will never come to pass. This was certainly the case when I was asked to be power of attorney for my pastor while I was in my first parish more than twenty years ago. At the time, the priest who was my pastor was about 65 years old and he asked me if I would look after him if he ever got sick or needed care. He was very healthy, and I thinking nothing would ever happen to him, happily said “yes” to his request. Continue reading
In our Gospel reading this Sunday, Jesus puts a very pointed question to His disciples— “Who do you say that I am?” Before He does this, He asks them: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Whether we recognize it or not, this is also a question that Jesus puts to each one of us. In fact, the fact that we are here at Mass this morning means that we are answering Christ’s question. You and I get up on a Sunday morning and make time to come to Mass, because like Peter, we too believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. To make this choice, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, is not an easy choice to make. Like the disciples, we who are Jesus’ disciples of today, live in a world that says that Jesus is many different things. Just as Christ’s original disciples report that the world says many different things about Jesus— that He is John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or a Prophet— so too our own world reports that Jesus is many different things. Today there are many who say that Jesus was a good person, a profound thinker, or one who was deeply compassionate and truly understood the human condition. All of these are beautiful answers, but they do not explain why you and I, and billions of people throughout time, have professed Jesus to be the Son of God and the Messiah who has come to bring us eternal life. Ultimately, the reason why you and I get up and come to Mass is because like Peter, we too believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And as Jesus tells Peter, this is not a fact that is revealed to us by flesh and blood, but rather a gift that we have received from the Father in faith. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I was out walking on my sick calls. As I walked near Christie Park, I found myself approaching a group of rough looking young men who I noticed were pointing at me and started smiling and laughing among themselves. Not recognizing any of them, I tried to look away from them and hoped that their attention would turn to another matter. Soon one of them started to yell at me “Yo man.” Because it was a pretty large group, I was sure that I was in for a bit of trouble. I started to pray that I would find the right things to say and keep my calm. I still hoped that they would find someone or something else that would catch their attention. As the group approached, the largest member of the party said to me “Yo man, are you a priest.” Not knowing what kind of trouble I was in for, I meekly said that “yes” I was. As soon as I said I was a priest, this man’s face lit up and he said to me: “Yo man, you used to visit my school. I loved it when you came into our class.” Although he had changed significantly from when I had known him years ago, as soon as he told me his name, I remembered what a kind and wonderful person he had been, and, as I discovered, still was beneath his rough and tough exterior. We had a great talk about what he was up to since I last knew him in school and he introduced me to all of his friends, some I had known from the same school, with whom he had just finished playing sports in Christie Park. Continue reading
Last week after Father Seamus preached his homily on the parable of the sower and the weeds, I said to him, “you could have summarized your homily by saying: “God is determined to do everything to get us into Heaven. The Devil is determined to do everything to get us into Hell.’” When I said that, Father Seamus said that while that was correct, life was never that simple. In fact life is always much more complicated. Life is full of times and instances when we never know what is right and what is wrong. We can find ourselves having to decide between two bad choices or two things that we would never have selected on our own. There are times when we doubt that we have the strength to do what is right and other times when the cost of doing what is right can seem just far too high for us to pay in the normal events of our lives. Continue reading
Our faith teaches us that all human life is a sacred gift that we receive from God and that God alone is to decide the beginning and the end of our life. For that reason, both the Scriptures and the Church have always taught that it is a grave sin to take a human life; either the life of another or our own.
While life is indeed a gift from God, there are many challenges and difficulties that we all encounter in life. It was to save us from these difficulties, and the sinful choices that they can cause us to make, that Christ came into the world. Confronted by the trials of life, and the suffering these can bring, Jesus speaks these comforting words to us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). It is not for nothing that this passage is used as one of the series of scripture passages for the celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick. Jesus has come to help us to do the Father’s will in our difficult and challenging situations in life. To show us how this is to be done, Jesus Himself took up His cross and was obedient to the will of God the Father. Jesus, the way, the truth and the life has given us the example by which we are to embrace God’s will for us, ask His grace to strengthen us, and follow His example in the words of the perfect prayer, the “Our Father.” In this prayer we ask for the strength to do God’s will for us each day of our lives. Continue reading
I was born in 1964. One of my first memories that I have in life is of my parents and grandparents taking me to Montreal for Expo 67 and the Centennial Celebrations for Canada’ s 100th birthday that year. I think one of the vague memories that I have of this experience is that it was the first time in my life that I recall having been exposed to persons from all of the different countries of the world. Expo 67 was a great moment of Canadian hospitality extended towards all of the people of the world who came to visit Canada for the Expo event. As it is one of my first memories of life, it has also become for me symbolic of what I believe this great country in which we live is all about.