“You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin;…You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people” (Leviticus 19: 2, 17-18).
A question that I am often asked as a priest is: “Do I really have to forgive?” The answer to that question for a Christian is an emphatic: “Yes, you really have to forgive—with all your heart.” The reason why we have to do this is because that is what God has done for each one of us. If we wish to be forgiven, we must be willing to extend this forgiveness to other people. The fact that we must forgive others is plainly stated in the words of the prayer that Jesus has taught us: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In this sentence, the word “as” functions to mean “like” or in “the same way that we forgive others.” Continue reading
This Sunday, within the Archdiocese of Toronto is being celebrated as Marriage Sunday. I am not sure if this date was chosen because this is the weekend before Valentine’s Day and it is a day to celebrate the love of all married couples; or if it was chosen because next weekend is the Family Day Weekend and the Sacrament of Marriage is the foundation of all Christian Family Life. As it is Marriage Sunday, this weekend I would like to share with you the prayer that I talk about with all couples who are preparing to be married here at St. Peter’s Parish. Continue reading
Sunday, February 2nd is the World Day for Consecrated Life. On this day, the Church celebrates and gives thanks to all who have responded to God’s call and embraced the vocation to religious life. We ask God to continue to strengthen those who have been called and ask him to call more women and men to the religious life. As we celebrate this day, and those in consecrated religious life, the parish’s Vocation Committee would like to once again share with you the witness stories of many who have shared their gifts with our parish community. Continue reading
“Repent” is the word that is at the heart of today’s Gospel. Scripture scholars say that when Jesus uses the word “repent,” he used a word “metanoia” that had the intention of a complete change and conversion in the manner and way a person lived. This is why the disciples whom he called were invited to leave everything and begin a new life with Christ.
As we begin a new decade, and I hear this word “repent” in 2020, I cannot help but think that the change in life and conversion that all of us are being called to is in regard to the environment and the way in which we all treat our common home; or what both St. Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis have called, our “sister earth.” There is perhaps no more important issue facing all of humanity today then the environment and the way in which we treat our common home. Continue reading
Over the years, I have had many people ask me a very simple question when we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. That question is: “Why was Jesus baptized? If Jesus is sinless and the Son of God made flesh, why does he need to be baptized?”
The reason why Jesus chooses to be baptized is connected with who Jesus is. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus has become one of us in order to show us the way to salvation and how we are to live in order to be saved. He is baptized, in order to show us that it is through Baptism that we are called to share in the life of the Holy Trinity. Jesus is anointed by the Holy Spirit before he begins His public ministry in order to show us that when we are anointed by the Spirit in the Sacraments of Initiation, we too share in His mission. Just as in Baptism the Father declares Jesus to be His beloved Son, so too through our Baptisms the Father claims us to be His beloved sons and daughters. As Jesus took up His ministry after His Baptism and anointing by the Spirit, so too each one of us is given a mission within the Church through our Baptism and anointing at Confirmation. Continue reading
One of the things about being here at St. Peter’s Parish that I find a little funny at times, is that often I will be walking between the Centre and the Church, and as I do so someone will roll down their car window, and stop me on Bathurst Street, to demand that I give them a blessing as they are driving by on the street. My first inclination is to try to have a conversation with them to find out what they think that a blessing signifies. However, as the traffic is often heavy and they are in a hurry, they frequently get a little angry with me and demand that I stop my small talk and quickly give them the blessing that they are seeking before they drive off. These experiences have helped me to realize that many people may not even know what a blessing signifies or be aware of what is required for a blessing to really be of any value. Continue reading
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 week in the movie theatres, a movie called “Just Mercy,” which played at the Toronto film festival in September, will be released across the country. This movie tells the story of a Harvard law graduate, by the name of Bryan Stevenson, who turns down a very comfortable law job to go to Alabama and defend a poor prisoner on death row. Stevenson takes up the case of a poor African American by the name of Walter McMillan, who had been falsely convicted of killing a white women. Because McMillan is a very poor African American in Alabama, even though there are many witnesses who can testify that he was somewhere else when this women was murdered, McMillan is falsely convicted and sentenced to death. Hardly anyone cares about his situation and no other lawyer in Alabama is willing to take the time to defend him or show any concern about his situation. Continue reading
Over the past few years, there have been a few films made about Fred Rogers and the influence that he made on young people through his television show for young people, entitled “Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood.” I remember speaking to you a few years ago about the documentary that was made about him. It showed how he took young people seriously and very deliberately spoke to them about some of the very political issues that dominated the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. I can remember watching the documentary and being surprised at how intentionally he was working to form children to respect others and how he had a real ability to feel for them. So for example, while I remember Officer Clemens on the show, I had no idea that he had been purposely placed there during a time of de-segregation in the United States to show an African-American in a position of authority and to de-bunk prejudices that were often held at that time and perhaps still are today. Continue reading
For those of you who are as old as I am, it can be hard to believe that it has been almost twenty years since we began the new millennium. Given the expectations that awaited the change of millennium in 1999, it is actually amazing how well things have gone. At the end of the 1990’s, there were all sorts of scenarios about how the world was going to end when the clock struck midnight and the new millennium came in. Not too surprisingly, there are many historical accounts which tell of the same kind of hysteria at the time of the millennia change in the year 999. One of the biggest concerns in 1999 was a fear that all computers were going to shut down because they had not been programmed in order to take into account the new dating for the years 2000 and after. As we approached midnight on December 31, 1999, many were waiting to see if chaos and total collapse of all computer networks was going to be the great tragedy of the new millennium. Continue reading