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

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

The Eucharist—Our Weekly Encounter with the Risen Lord

Decorative ImageThe season of Lent is that time in the Church year when the baptized are called to prepare to renew their baptismal promises, and when those who are not baptized enter into the final stages of their baptismal preparation. As we are to prepare to do this throughout Lent on Easter Sunday, today I would like to speak a little bit about what is one of my favorite themes in the Liturgy for Baptism by making particular reference to the Ritual for the Baptism of Infants.

When a child is baptized, the Rite of Baptism begins at the doors of the church. The priest greets the parents and godparents of the child at the doors of the church and asks them to introduce the child to the Christian community. This is also what we did with the adult catechumens when they were introduced to the Christian community for the first time. The only difference being that the adult candidates are not baptized right away, but undergo a period of preparation. In the baptism of a child, the infants are baptized right away in the same liturgy. The reason why the infants are to be introduced to the community goes back to that period in time when the Church was persecuted and only those known by the community could enter the Church. In fact, it is the role of the sponsors even to this day to testify to the sincerity of those who inquire into the life of the Church. Once the children have been introduced, they process with the priest and their families into the church to hear God’s Word proclaimed. A similar procession takes place at the Easter Vigil when the candidates and the whole community process in after the Easter candle, which represents the Risen Christ who they are all to follow. At the Easter Vigil, the symbolism is of us all following Christ, the true light of the world.Continue Reading The Eucharist—Our Weekly Encounter with the Risen Lord

Lent 2022: Back to Life – Back to Reality!

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Decorative ImageDuring these past few Sundays, leading up to the beginning of Lent 2022, the second reading at Mass has been taken from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. In this early letter, from about the year 54 A.D., Saint Paul writes about some of the very basic realities of our Christian faith. As we hear proclaimed on this Sunday, the eighth in Ordinary Time, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57), Saint Paul is reminding us what our faith is all about—what we are preparing during Lent to celebrate this coming Easter. The Christian faith is based in the reality that Christ truly entered into our world, really died and was raised from the dead in order that we, through baptism, might also be raised up with him in the flesh and truly share in His victory over death and come to eternal life with Him.Continue Reading Lent 2022: Back to Life – Back to Reality!

“Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

Decorative ImageIf you have been to a wedding lately, it is very likely that you heard the second reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians that we heard proclaimed this Sunday. In fact, I think this would be the second reading that has been used at about ninety percent of the weddings that I have ever celebrated. So often is this reading used at weddings, that I think for many people they may assume that it is the love between a couple that St. Paul is writing about. For that reason, I thought it would be good to speak this week about St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians and the place that this passage plays within it.Continue Reading “Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

“We Have Seen His Star in the East…” Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022.

Decorative ImageWe Have Seen His Star in the East.” This is the theme that was chosen for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year.  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes place each year in the week leading up to the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul, which is celebrated on January 25th. Along with this theme, the organizing committee for this international week of prayer also wrote a meditation to accompany this week’s prayer intention. At the same time that we are celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, this Sunday in the Catholic Tradition is Word of God Sunday; a celebration introduced to the Church by Pope Francis in 2019.Continue Reading “We Have Seen His Star in the East…” Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022.

“Baptized and Confirmed, We Are All Of Us Anointed as Members of the Body of Christ—Called to Discipleship”

Decorative ImageOver 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 “Baptized and Confirmed, We Are All Of Us Anointed as Members of the Body of Christ—Called to Discipleship”

Mary—Model of the Blessed Life

Decorative ImageI have often recounted at New Year that 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 along Bathurst, in front of 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 Mary—Model of the Blessed Life

Praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary this COVID Christmas

Decorative ImageMy Dear Brothers and Sisters:

As we approach yet another COVID Christmas, I thought I would repost a homily from last year that proposes that those who cannot attend Mass this year consider praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary this Christmas.

While our churches are open this year for Christmas, those who are unwell are asked to remain at home and watch our celebrations on the livestream. There may be others who because of the high COVID numbers may be concerned about attending church at this time.

For those who do remain at home, praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary as a family, group or alone, may provide a beautiful way to reflect on the birth of Jesus and His loving gift of self at this time of year.

I pray that you all remain safe and well this Christmas. I will remember all of the parishioners of St. Peter’s at all of our Christmas Masses.

Merry Christmas!

Fr. Michael
Continue Reading Praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary this COVID Christmas

The Manger—A Sign of Hope for Troubled Times

Decorative ImageThe Nativity Scene is one of the most beloved symbols in Christianity. It is perhaps one of the of the most painted scenes in the history of art. At this time of year, Nativity Scenes are set up with great love and devotion in homes and churches around the world. Before the celebration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day, the Nativity Scene with its empty Manger proclaims the anticipation of a people who await the coming of God’s love in their midst. After the celebration of Christ’s birth, when the baby Jesus is placed in the Manger, the Nativity Scene proclaims the presence of a loving God with His people. The birth of Christ into the poverty of the Manger not only proclaims God’s love for us, but it announces boldly the extent to which God will go to show us His love for every single person. Born into absolute poverty, Jesus wishes to show us that there is nothing that will get in the way of His loving us. No matter where we find ourselves in this world, Jesus desires to come among us and be our God. He is truly God with us- or as the scriptures call Him, Emmanuel. In the midst of this ongoing pandemic, when so many people are isolated and alone, often without feeling any sense of hope, the Manger takes on a powerful significance as it announces to all of us God’s desire to be with us in these difficult and troubled times. The Manger reminds us that God will come to us no matter what our situations. To these situations, He will bring real hope. There is only one sign that speaks more powerfully of God’s love for us, and the extent to which He will go to show us that love, and that is the sign of the Cross, which in the context of the pandemic announces that God will even bring life to where we have encountered earthly death.Continue Reading The Manger—A Sign of Hope for Troubled Times