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.
Last week in his homily, Father Paul explained how the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity can best be understood as a celebration of the fact that God has so much love that He exists as a Trinity of persons and desires to always be in relationship with us. God, Father Paul reminded us, is love and exists always as a relationship of three persons within Himself and is always in relationship with us. Ultimately, the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, he said, was celebrated to help us understand how much God loves us and how much He desires to be in relationship with us—all the time. Continue reading
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 person 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 passage from the end of the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 28), as 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
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 twenty-five years as a priest. The reading that I always use at Baptism is the same as that which we heard proclaimed last Sunday on the Solemnity of Christ’s Ascension into Heaven. To refresh your memories, the Gospel which was proclaimed last Sunday was 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.
How is it possible that Christ can keep this amazing promise? Continue reading
As many of the young boys and girls in our parish make their First Communion today, the Gospel reading for this Sunday tells us the powerful story of the very first Holy Communion to take place after Jesus rose from the dead. The story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus shows us the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. In this story we hear that on the very day that Jesus rose from the dead, the first day of the week, that day being a Sunday, Jesus Himself celebrated the Eucharist with His disciples. It was only in His doing this that these two people, who had known Jesus personally in life, were able to recognize Him and see Him present in their lives. This story tells us a great deal about what it means to be Christians and the place that the Eucharist is to have in the life of each Christian. Continue reading
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