More news/appointments to come, including the new pastor of the St-Front Pastoral Region. I’ll say more in the coming weeks in the parishes but thank you for all the kind words, and well-wishes so far, I’m excited for the next years and the experiences to come. I’ve loved being Pastor these past three years in the country parishes in the Wadena Deanery, and the two years at Holy Spirit and Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon: I am looking forward to celebrating/gathering together with each of you over this summer before beginning my studies. Yours in Christ, with Mary, Fr. G. Young…
Date: May 18, 2016
To: Priests, Parish Life Directors, and all the Faithful of the Diocese of Saskatoon
From: Bishop Donald Bolen
We are pleased to announce the following pastoral appointments, all of which will be effective August 1, 2016, unless otherwise indicated. Please note additional appointments will be announced in the coming weeks.
Priests Leaving the Diocese
• Fr. Augustine Ebido, OP – Fr. Augustine ministered in our diocese since December 2010, most recently as Pastor at St. Mary in Macklin, Sacred Heart in Denzil, and St. Donatus in St. Donatus. Fr. Augustine’s Prior Provincial has called him to return to the Dominican Province of St. Joseph the Worker in Nigeria, effective the end of July.
• Fr. Joseph Gyim-Austin – Fr. Joseph ministered in our diocese since December 2008 in a number of parishes, most recently as Pastor at Sacred Heart in Davidson, St. Andrew in Kenaston, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Outlook, and Holy Redeemer in Elbow. He is returning to his home Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana in mid-June.
• Fr. Modestus Ngwu, OP – Fr. Modestus’s Superior has reassigned him to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania effective June 30th. Fr. Modestus served in a number of parishes in the diocese and for the past few years has been a Chaplain at a number of High Schools in Saskatoon and also Chaplain at the Regional Psychiatric Centre.
• Fr. Eugene Nwachukwu – After a year in parish ministry, Fr. Eugene served as Chaplain at St. Ann’s Senior Citizens Village in Saskatoon. Fr. Eugene returned to his home diocese of Sokoto in Nigeria at the end of March.
• Fr. Raphael Vezhaparambil, VC – Fr. Raphael served in a number of parishes in the diocese since he arrived in July 2011, most recently at St. Mary in Wynyard, Christ the King in Foam Lake, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Wishart. He will be returning to Marymatha Province in Kerala, India, at the beginning of June.
Our profound gratitude to these priests for their faithful ministry in our diocese. We are grateful to them for their generosity in coming to serve here. Each in his own way has deeply enriched the lives of the faithful of the diocese, and we wish them well in the future.
• Fr. Joe Ackerman, OSB – After being involved in pastoral ministry since the mid 1960’s, and since 1998 as Pastor at St. Bruno in Bruno and St. Agnes in Peterson, Fr. Joe is retiring. We wish Fr. Joe well and extend our profound thanks to him for his years of dedicated service. We are incredibly grateful to Fr. Joe as he in his unique way deeply enriched the lives of the faithful of the diocese. We give thanks to Fr. Joe and to God for his generous ministry and wish him well in the days ahead.
• Judy Schmid – After four years of ministry, Judy Schmid is retiring as Parish Life Director at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Saskatoon, effective June 30th. We are profoundly grateful to Judy for her gentle presence in the parish and her faith-filled and dedicated ministry. We wish Judy God’s abundant blessings in the years ahead.
• Fr. Ephraim Mensah – Fr. Ephraim has ministered in our diocese since July 2005 in a number of parishes, most recently at St. Augustine in Humboldt, St. Scholastica in Burr, Holy Trinity in Pilger, and Assumption of Our Lady in Marysburg. Fr. Ephraim was incardinated into our diocese in May 2012. He is taking a twelve-month sabbatical for study and writing.
• Fr. Mick Fleming, CSsR – The Redemptorist community has given Fr. Mick a six-month sabbatical. Fr. Mick is currently serving as Priest Moderator at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Saskatoon.
• Fr. Geoffrey Young – Fr. Geoff will be taking a three-year program in liturgy at the University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome beginning this summer. Fr. Geoff has been ministering at St. Front in St. Front, Christ the King in Rose Valley, St. Athanasius in Perigord, St. Felix in Archerwill, St. George in Naicam and St. Lawrence in Nobleville.
Ministry in the North
• Through an arrangement with Archbishop Murray Chatlain of the Archdiocese of Keewatin-LePas, for the foreseeable future our diocese will be providing a priest to serve the parishes in La Ronge and Southend. For the coming year, Fr. Lawrence DeMong, OSB, will be serving as Pastor. Fr. Lawrence ministered most recently at Little Flower in Leader, Sacred Heart in Lancer and Sacred Heart in Liebenthal.
• Fr. Joe Jacek, OMI will be serving as Chaplain for St. Ann’s Senior Citizens Village. He began this appointment in April. Fr. Joe previously served at St. Aloysius in Allan, St. Mary in Colonsay, and St. Alphonsus in Viscount.
• St. Augustine in Humboldt, St. Scholastica in Burr, Holy Trinity in Pilger, and Assumption of Our Lady in Marysburg – Fr. Joseph Salihu will serve as Pastor with Fr. Greg Smith-Windsor serving as Associate Pastor. Fr. Joseph is from the Diocese of Kano in Nigeria, and has been serving in the Archdiocese of Edmonton for the past year. He was ordained July 2, 1994. Fr. Greg was ordained a year ago and has been serving as Associate Pastor at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
• St. Bruno in Bruno and St. Agnes in Peterson – Fr. Cosmas Epifano, OSB will serve as Pastor. Fr. Cosmas served as Associate Pastor in Humboldt this past year.
• St. Mary in Wynyard, Christ the King in Foam Lake, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Wishart – Fr. Augustine Osei-Bonsu will be serving as Pastor. Fr. Augustine served at St. Anne’s in Saskatoon and at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. Fr. Augustine is from Ghana. He was ordained August 21, 2010.
• Sacred Heart in Davidson, Holy Redeemer in Elbow, St. Andrew in Kenaston and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Outlook – Fr. Madonna-Godwin (Fr. Godwin) Aghedo, OP will serve as Pastor. Fr. Godwin is a Dominican priest from Nigeria. He was ordained December 13, 1997.
• St. Mary in Macklin, Sacred Heart in Denzil and St. Donatus in St. Donatus – Fr. Binu Rathappillil, VC, a Vincentian priest from the Marymatha Province in India, will serve as Pastor. He was ordained December 28, 2004.
• Little Flower in Leader, Sacred Heart in Lancer and Sacred Heart in Liebenthal – Fr. Joseph Thazhathemuriyil, VC, a Vincentian priest from the Marymatha Province in India, will serve as Pastor. He was ordained December 28, 1989.
• Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon – Fr. Deyre Azcuna will serve as Associate Pastor, with Fr. David Tumback continuing as Pastor. Fr. Deyre will also be a hospital chaplain. Fr. Deyre is from the Territorial Prelature of Batanes, in the Philippines. He was ordained June 23, 2012.
• Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Saskatoon – Fr. Mark Miller, Superior of the Redemptorists has assigned Graham Hill, who will be ordained to the priesthood on June 10th, to the Redemptorist community in Saskatoon. Graham will serve as Priest Moderator of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.
I wish to express my gratitude to all who will be assuming new responsibilities. They have responded to the needs of the diocese with generous spirits. I ask the people in parishes where changes are taking place to warmly welcome their new pastoral leaders into their midst.
To all the Priests and Parish Life Directors serving our diocesan Church, may God bless you abundantly as you continue your ministry with dedication, generosity and joy. A special note of thanks goes to the Redemptorists, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Benedictines of St. Peter’s Abbey who generously fill in on weekends when there is an urgent need. We are immensely grateful for their ministry.
Please note additional announcements will be made in the coming weeks. We anticipate receiving an additional three missionary priests however their appointments have not yet been finalized.
Grace and Peace in the Risen Lord,
Bishop of Saskatoon
Readings at Mass
Liturgical Colour: Red.
These readings are for the simple form Vigil Mass on the evening before the feast.
|First reading||Genesis 11:1-9 ©|
|Alternative First reading|
|Exodus 19:3-8,16-20 ©|
|Alternative First reading||Ezekiel 37:1-14 ©|
|Alternative First reading||Joel 3:1-5 ©|
|Psalm 103:1-2,24,27-30,35 ©|
|Second reading||Romans 8:22-27 ©|
|Gospel||John 7:37-39 ©|
These readings are for the day of the feast itself:
|First reading||Acts 2:1-11 ©|
|Psalm 103:1,24,29-31,34 ©|
|1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13 ©|
|Alternative Second reading||Romans 8:8-17 ©|
|Gospel||John 20:19-23 ©|
|John 14:15-16,23-26 ©|
|First reading||Acts 1:1-11 ©|
|Ephesians 1:17-23 ©|
|Alternative Second reading|
|Hebrews 9:24-28,10:19-23 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 24:46-53 ©|
These readings are for the day of the feast itself:
|First reading||Acts 1:1-11 ©|
|Ephesians 1:17-23 ©|
|Alternative Second reading|
|Hebrews 9:24-28,10:19-23 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 24:46-53 ©|
Readings at Mass
If the Ascension of the Lord is going to be celebrated next Sunday, the alternative Second Reading and Gospel shown here (which would otherwise have been read on that Sunday) may be used today.
|Acts 15:1-2,22-29 ©|
|Psalm 66:2-3,5-6,8 ©|
|Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23 ©|
|Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©|
|Gospel||John 14:23-29 ©|
Readings at Mass
Liturgical Colour: Green.
|Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8 ©|
|1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ©|
|Alternative Second reading|
|1 Corinthians 15:3-8,11 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 5:1-11 ©|
Readings at Mass
|Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19 ©|
|Psalm 70:1-6,15,17 ©|
|1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 ©|
|The supremacy of charity|
|Gospel||Luke 4:21-30 ©|
Is 40:1-5, 9-11 Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Go up on to a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by a strong arm;
here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.
When the kindness and generous love
of God our savior appeared,
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy,
He saved us through the bath of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he richly poured out on us
through Jesus Christ our savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace
and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
Alleluia cf. Mk 9:7
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered:
This is my beloved Son, listen to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Or cf. Lk 3:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
John said: One mightier than I is coming;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 3:15-16, 21-22
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”
|First reading||Isaiah 9:1-7 ©|
|Psalm 95:1-3,11-13 ©|
|Second reading||Titus 2:11-14 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 2:1-14 ©|
Readings for the Dawn Mass, celebrated at dawn on Christmas Day:
|First reading||Isaiah 62:11-12 ©|
|Psalm 96:1,6,11-12 ©|
|Second reading||Titus 3:4-7 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 2:15-20 ©|
Readings for the daytime Mass on Christmas Day:
|First reading||Isaiah 52:7-10 ©|
|Psalm||Psalm 97:1-6 ©|
|Second reading||Hebrews 1:1-6 ©|
|Gospel||John 1:1-18 ©|
Readings at Mass
|First reading||Micah 5:1-4 ©|
|Psalm 79:2-3,15-16,18-19 ©|
|Second reading||Hebrews 10:5-10 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 1:39-44 ©|
Readings at Mass
|First reading||Daniel 7:13-14 ©|
|Psalm||Psalm 92:1-2,5 ©|
|Apocalypse 1:5-8 ©|
|Gospel||John 18:33-37 ©|
Readings at Mass
|First reading||Daniel 12:1-3 ©|
|Hebrews 10:11-14,18 ©|
|Gospel Acclamation||Mt24:42 44|
|Gospel||Mark 13:24-32 ©|
Readings at Mass
|1 Kings 17:10-16 ©|
|Psalm||Psalm 145:7-10 ©|
|Second reading||Hebrews 9:24-28 ©|
|Gospel||Mark 12:38-44 ©|
Readings at Mass
|First reading||Wisdom 7:7-11 ©|
|Second reading||Hebrews 4:12-13 ©|
|Gospel||Mark 10:17-30 ©|
Readings at Mass
|Numbers 11:25-29 ©|
|Psalm 18:8,10,12-14 ©|
|Second reading||James 5:1-6 ©|
|Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48 ©|
Readings at Mass
|Wisdom 2:12,17-20 ©|
|The wicked prepare to ambush the just man|
|Second reading||James 3:16-4:3 ©|
|Gospel||Mark 9:30-37 ©|
Readings at Mass
|First reading||Isaiah 50:5-9 ©|
|Psalm 114:1-6,8-9 ©|
|Second reading||James 2:14-18 ©|
|Gospel||Mark 8:27-35 ©|
Readings at Mass
|First reading||Isaiah 35:4-7 ©|
|Psalm||Psalm 145:6-10 ©|
|Second reading||James 2:1-5 ©|
|Gospel||Mark 7:31-37 ©|
|A homily by St John Chrysostom|
|Adam and Christ, Eve and Mary|
Readings at Mass
|Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8 ©|
|Psalm||Psalm 14:2-5 ©|
|James 1:17-18,21-22,27 ©|
|Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23 ©|
TRANSCRIPT 22nd Sunday
So I want to reflect with you on this theme, okay? Because laws, for the most part, in our culture, we have a love/hate relationship with the law. Okay, let’s just put it this way. In our society, if you’re in the city or you’re in the town and we had no by-laws whatsoever, no ordinances, no laws, it’d be chaotic, okay? So if I have garbage to picked up, okay, now we hate laws, okay, because to a certain degree, they restrict our freedom, they restrict our license to do whatever we want and live our life how we want. So at first, we don’t like when it restricts our freedom. But woe to anyone, as soon as your neighbor puts his garbage on your law or crosses over your property line, also now we want the laws, we want laws for other people, we just don’t want them for ourselves, right? We want to restrict those other guys but we don’t want to restrict ourselves. So you see in the city the necessity for certain legislation, certain laws to govern human interaction because ultimately, I might only need my garbage on Wednesday picked up, the neighbor needs it on Friday, another guy needs it on Monday, so we sacrifice certain aspects of our own license, our own freedom for the greater good. And at the end of the day, we’re more free to be a good citizen, a good neighbor, because of those laws. So that’s the good place of law.
But there’s also the other side of things, too, where laws can actually restrict our freedom, can restrict us of choosing what is good. So I’m going to walk with you through this, and there’s a couple of analogies I’m going to build on, okay? One is a sports analogy and one is one of children at play, okay? So the first sports analogy I’m going to give, it’s not going to be the Riders or the football because I don’t want to leave you depressed and bemoaning walking out of here. So let’s talk about the Blue Jays, let’s talk about baseball, okay? Because it’s hot right now, the Jays are up by four, five-nothing already, they’re doing awesome, okay? We’re going to have the World Series again. Last time they were this good, I was in grade one or kindergarten, when they won the World Series. They haven’t been in the playoffs since. So it’s great news.
So baseball, there’s thousands of rules, hundreds and thousands of rules. There’s whole book that the umpires carry, that managers and players, they memorize these rules. Each one of those rules has a reason why it’s there, okay? There’s rules in Major League Baseball because of Pete Rose or because of Ty Cobb beating people up as he runs around the bases. There’s rules of what’s in and what’s out, what’s fair and foul, what’s a strike, what’s a ball and all those rules are there for a reason. And if you were take one of them out of the context or you don’t care about baseball, these laws, these rules, seem silly. But if you love baseball, you love the rules because it gives structure and discipline to the game. So, like I said, when they’re interiorized, you can be a better baseball player. You know the rules but you’re not thinking about them constantly.
Let me give an example. Josh Donaldson, great, great offensive player and the Blue Jays had good offense all year. But now they have a few guys that actually know how to play defense, they know how to field, okay? And a guy like Donaldson or Tulowitzki, okay, they’re great defensive players. As little children, they would’ve learned the basic rules and as time goes, their parents or their coaches, they would’ve trained them more and more rules, given them both the structure of the game, of how the game works, but also the discipline about how you play the game, okay? So, for example, if Donaldson’s on third and a guy’s got a left-handed or right-handed bat, he’ll stand in different place depending on who’s on base, he’ll be in a different location. If the ball’s hit, immediately he knows how to ground it, and in what way, and to throw it to what position. All the fielders, all the good players know those rules, they know those disciplines. Do you think in the fraction of a second, when that ball is hit, they’re thinking about the ten thousand rules of baseball? No. They interiorize the rules through practice, through discipline since a young age, so much so that they are actually more free now to be the best baseball player they can be.
This is true also in religious life, in spirituality. All the teachings of the Church, the teachings that come from God, the teachings that are defended by the Church and also, some of the traditions that the Church disciplines, they say this is important for Catholics to do, all those things are like all those rules that go into a game. Okay? They help us, God willing, if you’re not focused just on the rule itself, but focused on the reason why it’s there, they help us to grow in our relationship of God. So to be a good baseball player, you need to know those rules, those ordinances, those disciplines. Well, to be a saint, you also need to be disciplined, you have to understand what is right, what is wrong and the boundaries of our game, okay?
Another analogy I’ll give, because our culture, we’re very anti-authoritarian, anti-legal, unless, of course, it affects us and then we want the police to be there to protect us against the crazy guy or whatever. We don’t like law until we actually need the law and then we love it and we blame people in authority, we have a love/hate relationship there. And the reality is, we think also with children, with young people, they must be the most anti-rule, anti-law people in the world, and they’re not, they’re not. Okay? The silly parents, they say, “Well, I’m not going to discipline our kids,” or, “We don’t want to punish them,” and it has the guise, the modern mindset, the guise that somehow that’s a loving thing to do for your children. No. Having no boundaries, no rules is the opposite of love for a child. You need to give structure, not because you don’t love them, because you love them.
The loving Father, I have had good examples this summer, I’ve been up at the lake and I get to be there with my nephews, I got four nephews, six down to one years old, okay? Four nephews. And they’re great, they play, they can go for 18 hours of a day, play around on the beach or in the backyard and you’d think that they don’t like rules and structure. They make up rules and structure for themselves, for their own play. Okay? So for example, they’re playing cops and robbers, Nathan’s the oldest, he’s six, he’ll be like, “Those two trees over there, Sam,” Sam’s two. Sam’s, “Yeah, yeah.” He doesn’t know much, okay? “Those two trees, that’s the prison. Okay? If we put you there, you can’t leave those trees.” Sam knows that. Elijah knows that, Nathan, they know the rules, they all consent to it and then they’re free to enter into the play, whatever game it is. When we were kids, I played on recess, I grew up on a park and our school was right there, Lakeview Park and we used to play mini-sticks or baseball outside or soccer. We’d use the grass, we’d use the trees or the bush to be the boundaries of the game. Everyone consented to the rules and therefore, we ultimately enjoyed the game more. Okay? So that’s the point of good law, good discipline, it allows for a freer exercise of the game or, in our case, our life we live, the spiritual life. We need those rules.
Now, the other extreme…well, one more note on that, okay? Don’t you hate, if you’ve ever been over and you’re playing cards, you’re playing Kaiser, or Hearts, or whist, or one of those games and you have someone say, “Well, let’s not count points, okay? Let’s not nitpick about the rules, let’s just play.” I hate those people, I hate that, okay? I can’t stand it, let’s have tea and biscuits and talk about the weather and swathing in the fields, okay? If you’re going to play Kaiser, you play Kaiser. If you’re going to play hockey or mini-sticks or you’re going to play street hockey, play hockey. But there’s a certain structure where if you remove those rules, it’s not what it’s supposed to be and it’s not even fun, okay? You know the Mom that comes out, “Oh just play for fun, don’t have all those-” No, that’s silly, Mom, you don’t know hockey, okay? There’s a rule, if you yell, “Car!” you stop, okay? The goalie walks out and you don’t take a shot at the net. Right? You would beat that kid up, okay? There’s a written structure that if we all partake in it, we enjoy the game more, okay? And sometimes it requires great imagination.
Okay, that’s the positive side and we have a culture that wants to pretend, even in the spiritual life it’s, “Oh, just be free, worship God how you want, go worship the tree in your backyard.” No, okay? When that happens, it’s chaos and ultimately, we’re left adrift in this world. We need certain aspects of discipline and rules and it helps us to be a better Christian, okay? In the Church, we always emphasize that, we’re not obsessed about the laws but the laws point to a deeper disposition that helps us to become saints and all the saints of our church emphasize this, they’re disciplined men and women. Not perfect, but understand that there’s rituals, there’s prayers that help foster a deep relationship with Christ.
Now, that’s the good side. Rules, laws are important. The other side, the other extreme, okay? The Kaiser analogy again. We’ve all played Kaiser or if you’ve played Kaiser, you’ve all met the Kaiser Nazi, I’m going to call them, okay? The one that is the anal, retentive person that knows every rule and every trick that needs to be played and if you don’t do it, they yell at you and they have this obsession about the structure and the rules of the game. Or we could get a really, really nerdy baseball person, the statistician and almost they take the fun out of the game itself. They’re so rigid on laws that they actually destroy the purpose of the law in the first place. Those are the Pharisees, those are the people Jesus confronts today. The image I’ll give you that I heard, it’s like the Medieval Knights, we started off, we were wearing, you were just wearing cloth, okay? And then they get someone with an ax hits you and you die and you realize, “Huh, there’s this metal stuff, let’s put some chain mail on, okay?” That’s why a priest…it’s supposed to be battle armament gear, that’s why it looks like chain mail, okay? That’s what the vestments are, they’re from Roman times.
Okay, you started to put chain mail, then the guy developed, the Englishmen, longbowmen, loved these great big longbows that the arrows could pierce the armor. They started to put on thicker armor, metal plates and all that stuff, right? And they kept adding things and eventually knights got good at beating up on Saracens and people and rescuing princesses and they would hack where the joints are vulnerable in the armor. So they started to put more metal plating on, okay? So each one of those innovations was good, it was trying to help the knight to be the best knight. Okay? Each one of those pieces of protective gear. Think of them like a law, like an ordinance. They were necessary but eventually you get to the point of the High Middle Ages where you have these guys that have so much gear, you have five squires to dress them, you have so much metal that they couldn’t even move. If you’ve ever seen Robin Hood: Men in Tights when the soldiers come out and they’re like ching, ching, ching, ching and they can’t move, they can’t even more their arms to fight. And Robin Hood just comes and knocks them over and like dominoes, they all fall. Okay?
That’s sometimes what happens sometimes with laws, with religion within the Church but at the time of the Pharisees, it was excessive. You lose the mobility to achieve what the purpose of the original law was in the first place, to love God, to worship God. The knight loses the purpose to beat up the bad guys, or attack the Saracen, or rescue the princess, they can’t be a good soldier anymore, they can’t move their arms anymore, okay? And so what happens is that Jesus comes on the scene and he’s saying that these things you’ve piled on, this chain mail, this metal, it’s restricting you to the whole heart of the law. What is the heart of the law? I’d rather say who is the heart of the law? Christ Jesus. He is the Word made flesh, the Word of the logos in Greek but it’s the Torah, the law inscribed in flesh.
So as the old law, like Moses, the law was inscribed on tablets, I’ve shared that with you. Now as the prophets had longed for, they’d longed that the law of God, the promises, the words of God would be inscribed in the human heart and this happens with Christ, where the law is made flesh and dwells among us. And He comes now and points us back to the heart of the law and he purifies our hearts. He reminds us that it’s not that stuff on the outside that makes us unholy, it’s when we have a corrupt and divided heart that evil comes out from there. You asked that as we end here, what’s the way in which we keep our hearts close to the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ so that we may be faithful disciples like this.
How can we become saints? We need to draw close to that beating heart of our Savior. I just went to visit Father Collin in Cudworth, he’s out there now, and beneath the altar, they have this beautiful altarpiece of The Last Supper. And you remember the story. Saint John is reclined at the chest of Jesus, and imagine John, one of the closest disciples of Jesus and he can hear the beating heart of Christ Jesus. We need to do that, that’s how we keep our hearts in beat with our Lord. That’s how we’re made clean, that’s how we purify that innermost stony heart to be sprinkled with clean water. And at times, we really need also to go to the sacrament of confession, to sprinkle clean water, to bring us out from that rigid heart. Okay?
When we come to the Mass, that’s what we do. We come close to the beating heart of our Savior. He consoles us, he feeds us, he disciplines us in the things that matter to his heavenly father, the laws that are actually from God, not from human innovation. That’s why we come, okay? When the Church says you must come to Mass on Sundays, it’s the equivalent of me saying to my little nephew Nathan, who’s a good lead for his brothers, “Do not go past the driveway onto the street.” They can go and they can watch for cars but Sam wants to follow, he wants to go that way, too, and he runs out in the street. Imagine what my heart would feel if I’m watching those kids and Sam was hit. The laws we give, the laws God gives to us are to protect us, to keep us in his love and care. They’re not laws in and of themselves, they’re for the love of God, our father, for us.
So try to be faithful to those teachings of the Church. We are required to come to the Mass so when you go back home, be faithful to that. It’s for your own good to come to the Eucharist, it feeds you, it gives you strength for all the challenges of the day. Know that God loves you, that’s why we say this, that’s why I say this. We need to trust in the teachings about the fondness of Father and draw close to him in the Eucharist. He will stay up our hearts, he will enliven us, he’ll give us the gift of himself so that we may also love, unlevered, with our whole heart.
Pogues: The Cadillac stood by the house and the yanks they were within, and the tinker boys they hissed advice, “Hot-wire her with a pin.” When we turned and shook as we had a look in the room where the dead men lay, so big Jim Dwyer made his last trip to the shores where his father’s laid.
|St John Chrysostom on the temptations of the devil|
|The five paths of repentance|
Readings at Mass
|Joshua 24:1-2,15-18 ©|
|Psalm 33:2-3,16-23 ©|
|Ephesians 5:21-32 ©|
|Alternative Second reading|
|Ephesians 5:2,25-32 ©|
|Gospel||John 6:60-69 ©|
TRANSCRIPT “Many Did Not Follow…” – 21st Sunday OT 2015
All right. Three readings this week have tough teachings, each one of them. The first reading from the book of Joshua, after the people of God have gone through the wilderness journey and everyone except for Joshua and one other young man survived that journey. Moses and the rest of the people died in the desert. And they come to the River Jordan. God asks them a question. He says, “Today you must choose,” He was speaking through Joshua, “Are you with me or you’re against me?” And the people respond, “We’re with you, Lord. We believe you.” And we have to choose between the one true God or all these other gods of our own making and other spirits and so forth, the things that created divided hearts. And the people follow and they cross through the River Jordan into the Promised Land. It’s a line that they must cross. And it is a tough teaching, it’s a tough test, but it’s very black and white. You’re either with me or you’re against me.
The second reading too is a tough teaching. And in modern times and sometimes liberal theologians, they want to edit away this reading because it’s hard for us to hear. But just because something is hard to hear and it’s challenging doesn’t mean we ignore it or whitewash it out of the word of God. And we have to reflect upon this. And we heard how this deep mystery, St. Paul is speaking, that is marriage. What is marriage? First of all what it’s not and unfortunately and this is why many have ignored this passage, and we don’t hear it too much at the weddings although we hear that some of the couples choose this. Sometimes people use this to show some sort of domination or abuse even of spouses, of husbands towards wives. That is inspired, not from the spirit of God, but from the devil. Okay? The abuse that husbands use towards their wives in the name of some sort of interpretation that husbands are heads of wives, therefore…is false.
In fact, what Christ teaches us is that He is the model. He is the icon of which a marriage is called to be. So husbands and wives are to be subject to one another, to be obedient, to be loving, to be self-sacrificial to one another as Christ is to His church and the church loves and follows Christ Jesus. This is the call. Okay? The point of marriage, you’re not…husbands and wives, the point of marriage from a sacramental perspective, it’s not just to help each other to pay taxes. Okay? And it’s not just puppy love and friendship, that is important. That is the human element of marriage. It is the love between two, a man and a woman. Yes, but that’s the natural side. The sacramental side, what it means to be married from a Christian perspective is to help each other to get to heaven. That’s the difference. The taxes, do your taxes fine. Pay the least amount of tax legally expected of you. But the point of Christian marriage is to help each other to be saints, to get to heaven.
And the third and the final tough teaching that we have. Another line in the sand that we must be faithful too otherwise we are out of the communion with God, is the teaching on the real flesh and blood that Jesus gives to us to bring us to eternal life. Now I’ve shared with you a little bit in last week’s on this sixth chapter of John. It’s called The Bread of Life Discourse. We had the climax and now the denouement, the reaction to what Jesus says. First he says, “Very truly, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you cannot have eternal life.” You can’t go to heaven, right? And first, they balk at this. They say, “This teaching is difficult, it’s tough.” First thing to know, the crowd, the people that are balking, the people that are challenging Jesus, they’re not His enemies, they’re not the Pharisees or those who are trying to attack Jesus. They’re His closest disciples. Those that have witnessed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. They’re the ones that love Him and follow Him. And now He teaches them this line in the sand sort of teaching. Okay?
I came across this story about this explorer conquistador named Francisco Pizarro. Regardless of what happened with the conquest and so forth, it’s an interesting story where the Spaniards are following in this army and they’ve conquered what’s now Panama, Central America and they want to go into South America. And Pizarro is pretty bold, he draws a line in the sand and says, “Okay, Castilians, Spaniards. You can either be cowards and go back to poverty in Panama or you can cross this line and follow me with courage to the wealth” of what, at the time, was the Incan empire in Peru. None of them really followed, but there was, they call the thirteen. Twelve men followed him, and he went to Gods knows where, look for the lost city of gold and silver. But the story is an interesting line in the sand moment where basically you’re either with me or you fall and we disperse.
And this happens with this teaching. Jesus, after he’s challenged by the disciples and they’re disturbed by this teaching because Jewish people under the law, the Israelites, were forbidden to eat flesh and blood. Okay? Why? Because the pagans used to kill their enemies and drink their blood and then there was various other proscriptions [SP], things that…pagan sacrifices. And the Israelite people when they hear flesh and blood, they immediately say, “This is wrong. It’s cannibalism or some other sort of evil that leads us away from God.”
So rightly they questioned. They said, “This can’t be true. How is it possible?” And what does Jesus do? He intensifies His language. At first He says in the Greek in the gospel, John is [inaudible 00:06:29], “Eat my flesh, drink my blood.” Sort of how human beings eat, we sit down and we eat. I go to your house and we [inaudible 00:06:36] some perogies and cabbage rolls, okay? Well, what happens is Jesus doesn’t back down. He actually says, “Amen [SP], amen” or “very truly I tell you, which means if this is true. And he says unless you…now he uses the word [inaudible 00:06:52] and this he says, “Unless you gnaw on my flesh and drink in my blood, you cannot have eternal life.” That word [inaudible 00:07:00] is way like animals, like the coyotes like I said a couple of weeks ago, the way the coyotes devour the flesh outside behind my rectory in St. Fran [SP].
So he intensifies his language and they go crazy. They disperse because this is offensive to them and they go away. We hear in John 6:66. Okay? 666, if you look at it up, this is what happens. And he said or rather “because of this, many of his disciples turned away, turned back and no longer went about with him.” This is a divisive teaching. It has been in the beginning and through Every generation till now. It’s challenging, it’s tough. It’s been the source of division even amongst Christians of how is this true? How can Jesus give His true flesh and blood to us?
Now throughout the history of the church, when there was strength in the faith of the faithful, many Catholics, many Christians, men and women, when there was attack, some tried to say, “It’s not the flesh and blood. It’s a symbol. It’s a spiritual presence. All this is…” They were glad…they would shed their own flesh and blood and they died for this true teaching. But with time, the devil comes about and in a different way. You see the dispersing over this teaching in the beginning, but with Catholics when they’re strong, it’s like the story of how to cook a frog, which I am not French. I don’t eat frogs and I’m not going to try this. But apparently if you have a boiling pot of water and you try to throw a frog in, it’s just going to jump out, right? But the devil is creative. So instead of a boiling heat to kill the frog or the frog and this is the analogy, this hard teaching. Rather you put the frog into some lukewarm water on the pot. Okay? Like a little bath, a little spa. And then you start to ratchet up the heat a little notch at a time and eventually it’ll boil, right? That’s now the devil’s approach on wheedling down this essential teaching of the catholic and Apostolic church.
Over the last decades, last years, we changed this and aren’t in and of themselves bad things. I’ll give you a few examples. We allow now people to receive communion in their hands or standing, even though the true preference of the church is to kneel and to receive on the tongue, even since Vatican II. The church says to help people maybe they prefer to make a throne of which where Jesus can sit and we can receive him. Even things, the visibility of the alter rails, Ukrainians, you remember the iconostasis, the icons. Well, [inaudible 00:09:37] were supposed to have alter rails, never were supposed to be removed. I don’t know where that came about, but still the optics of it. The idea that when I come and I kneel to receive the Eucharist, you have to question that as a kid when you’re teaching kids about this. Why is this so special that unlike other things I take and I eat or I stand and do, why do I kneel here? Why do I receive our Lord on the tongue?
And all those things, they’re in and of themselves not necessarily wrong, but all those different things kind of wither away like the ratcheting up of the heat. That now we have a case where North America less than one out of three Roman Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. One out of three. And coincidentally, I don’t think it’s a coincidence, less than one out of three Catholics come regularly to the mass. Those things are connected. When that teaching is under a threat, when that teaching is doubted and not doubted in the sense that I question how this is possible? But doubted through our practice that I say, “It’s not important to me anymore,” we see the church disintegrate, we see it divided like in John 6.
The question is not where do we doubt this aspect of our faith or we question how because it is a mystery. It is a great mystery just like we heard about marriage, a profound mystery. The question is what we do in that? Do we make it such a priority in our faith that I come here and I say, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” Or do we disperse because it’s tough. That’s the response. First of all, when Jesus sees these all happening, this is probably the most…I would say probably the most saddening time in His heart of His whole ministry on earth because all His loved ones, His disciples, have abandoned Him. And what does He do? He looks back perhaps with even tears in His eyes and He says to His apostles, the twelve that remain, “Are you going to abandon me too?” And it’s what it’s about. It’s not about who He is or about His miracles but it’s about this teaching.
“Are you going to leave me too?” And Peter with the voice…the first pope and the voice of the apostles then till now says this. “Lord,” he said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” But he says this, “Lord, where else can we go? Whom else shall we go? You and you alone have the words of eternal life.” Jesus when he says, “You don’t believe, you doubt. But what if you see the Son of Man ascend and return to His father in heaven.” What’s he saying? He’s saying, “This is impossible if I was but a man. But if I am the God man, if I am the word that was made flesh.” When God speaks His word, spirit and truth, when He speaks His word, it is. When God said, “Let there be light and there was light” when he created the world. When He says to Lazarus, “Come out.” And he was raised from the dead and he comes out. When he says to the little girl who has died [inaudible 00:12:40], “Get up.” She gets up. And when Jesus says, “This is my body, this is my blood.” It is. Our whole faith, our whole…that line in the sand that I share with you today and these last weeks is so essential for our faith. We come and we kneel before our Lord. We come and place ourselves here that we may be fed with His flesh and blood that we may receive the gift, the promise of eternal life that we long for. And we say, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”
Readings at Mass (Saturday)
These readings are for the Vigil Mass on the evening before the feast:
|1 Chronicles 15:3-4,15-16,16:1-2 ©|
|Psalm 131:6-7,9-10,13-14 ©|
|1 Corinthians 15:54-57 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 11:27-28 ©|
These readings are for the day of the feast itself:
|Apocalypse 11:19,12:1-6,10 ©|
|Psalm 44:10-12,16 ©|
|1 Corinthians 15:20-26 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 1:39-56 ©|
Readings at Mass (Sunday)
|First reading||Proverbs 9:1-6 ©|
|Psalm 33:2-3,10-15 ©|
|Ephesians 5:15-20 ©|
|Gospel||John 6:51-58 ©|
Transcript of “Flesh of My Flesh” – Assumption & 20th Sunday OT 2015
Far from all the soot and noise of the city,
There’s a village green.
It’s been a long time
Since I last set eyes on the church with the steeple
Down by the village green.
And today is the feast day, the solemn feast, the 15th of August, of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven. And tomorrow, too, I’m going to preach on this important aspect of our faith, the role of Mary as the model of what it means to be a disciple. And she’s also the pattern of holiness that the Church must follow so we can enter into heaven.
Now, I was talking with some of my brother priests earlier this week, and they’re saying, “Oh, how are you going to tie that to the bread of life, the Eucharist?” right? We’re hearing the bread of life discourse for many months. And I shared last week about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And believe it or not, I will tie together the importance of Mary, the mother of God, and the flesh and blood we receive in the Eucharist. You’ll see some connections here.
First, what is the best image that I’ve come across to articulate the role of Mary, especially the dogma that is proclaimed and that we commemorate today, that she has been assumed, both body and soul, already to heaven? Other than Christ, she’s the only creature that has bodily already preceded us into heaven. When our loved ones have passed away, we long for the resurrection of the body. But our souls are in purgatory, then to heaven. But we wait for the bodily resurrection.
But with Mary, she’s already bodily in heaven, okay? So that’s the uniqueness there. A lot of times, people think the assumption of Mary is that we assume she’s in heaven, okay? No, I can assume or I can longingly expect to see my grandma or my grandpa in heaven, okay? That’s not what the dogma of Mary is about here.
So what’s the image that, as I said, that I like to use is the image of one of the titles she’s had. And we sing it in a lot of those Marian hymns. And it’s in Latin, it’s Stella Maris. In Latin, that means star of the sea. But it’s also a play on her name because Mary comes from Miriam in the Old Testament. Marian [inaudible 00:02:37] here too, okay? All of it comes from the same Hebrew name, Miriam, which means from the water or from the sea.
And so the Latin phrase Stella Maris had a whole bunch of connotations. But the long and short of it is this, and it’s analogy for our spiritual life here on earth, that while we’re on earth, we are pilgrims on the earth, yes, or we’re seafarers, like we’re on a journey. But we’re ultimately going to a final destination. We have our home. We have Eden where we’re from. But ultimately, our final home, our final resting place is heaven.
And so the image of a seafaring journey was used often in the tradition of the church. And so when Mary’s called the Star of the Sea, the Stella Maris, it’s reminded that in the old days, when they used to travel at sea, the only way safely to get from one side to the other of an ocean or sea was to use the stars to navigate, right? Long before there was clocks and longitude-latitude, you had to use the stars. And if you had a clear night and you could see the brightest stars, the brightest star in the sky was the Star of the Sea, the True North, right? And that was the Stella Maris. And if you keep your eyes fixed on it, you can safely get to your destination.
So that’s one of the images that I love, and our Knights of Columbus, we use that. That’s why you have the anchor on your logo, okay? This idea that the anchor represents hope, the theological virtue, but also represents the Blessed Virgin Mary, who keeps us on the right path, because we know that if we follow her example, one day, we’ll become saints too in heaven, because our mother will gently guide us there and protect us.
A few other important images, and I’ll just draw on a few scripture passages that speak to Mary’s role as the model disciple and also the model of what it means to be the Catholic church here on earth. And you can tell this is something I could speak hours about, as I have. Mary is the most tender and my most loving topic I like to share about, outside of Christ, is the role of Mary in our lives because of my own story, which I won’t get into. But I just know that she’s always been there, gently pointing me to Jesus, her son.
One of the other images we have, and I read in the gospel story, when Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, her cousin. And we have this incident where John the Baptist, the baby, is leaping in the womb, okay? So just a little bit of context, which is something that is quite profound. In the Old Testament, remember when Moses is given the laws, the Ten Commandments, the tablets? And they placed them in the Ark of the Covenant. It’s this beautiful gold carrying case. And the Israelite people believed that the Ark of the Covenant is really the word of God, it’s the law of God, was inscribed on tablets. And the people would believe that almost God was dwelling with them whenever that law, the word inscribed on tablets, was in their midst, that God was there with them.
And there’s a story with David. It’s a weird story, if you just take it out of context. But they’re bringing the Ark of the Covenant, with the stone tablets, into the city. And David strips down naked, like the day he was born. And he’s dancing with joy. And his wife gets jealous, and all this stuff happens. And they ask David, “Why are you leaping for joy?” He says, “Because our lord has come to dwell under our roof, pitched his tabernacle, pitched his tents, in our midst. Our Lord comes to the humblest little tent. And that brings joy.”
Okay, so you flash forward to the story that we just read of Elizabeth and Mary, what happens here? You have a child, the last prophet, really, just like David before, but the last prophet, John the Baptist, in his own mother’s womb, is leaping for joy. Because what? The word actually that was inscribed in flesh, God himself, has come to dwell under her house.
And the next little image you need to understand. Why is Mary so important? Why is Mary so important? Because as this beautiful creature without sin, she always says yes to God. There’s one of the stories in the gospel where . . . And if you read it wrong, people think it’s something insulting even to speak of Mary. And it’s when he goes to his hometown, and they say, “Lord, your mother and your brothers and sisters, they’re all here waiting for you.” And Jesus says something, he says, “No, my mother and my brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and obey it, listen to it.” And it’s not an insult to Mary. In fact, what he’s doing is he’s saying, “Ah, if only you were like my mother.” Why? Because, okay, we can hear God say lots of stuff to us, right? There’s a difference between hearing and listening. You can tell your grandchildren, as I’ve shared with you, you can say a lot of things to them, they can hear you, yeah, yeah, yeah. But if they listen to it, like “Go clean your room,” they say “Yes,” and they go do it, right? Okay, they obey it. In Latin, obedire means to listen, not just to hear, but obedire means to listen to, right?
So when we say Mary, not only did she hear God’s plan, God’s love story, love plan, and his promise that from you will be born the Messiah. She heard it. And not knowing completely how it’s going to work out, but trusting in faith of God, she obeyed it.
And what happened to God’s word? It wasn’t even just inscribed on tablets or wood or stone. It took flesh in her life. The word became flesh, and he pitched his tent amongst us.
So Mary, you see, her obedience, she is the greatest disciple. She’s the first disciple. She’s the greatest. So when we look to Mary, when we ask for her help to bless our families, to protect us, to guide us, we see in her the model of what it means to say yes to the word of God. And what happens when we say yes to God? Our lives are never the same. They’re changed. The word actually takes flesh in our life, and we become more like Christ.
So friends, as we continue this feast day and this beautiful weekend, we celebrate the role of Mary. May we say yes like her. May we keep our eyes fixed on her, because she’ll lead us to our heavenly homeland, where Christ himself, who took flesh and blood from Mary herself . . . Remember, I said how I’m going to tie this together. You got to think about this. Even biologically, the flesh and blood, the very genetics from the human. Jesus is divine, but he’s human. The genetics of who Jesus was was a human came from his mother, his mother. So when she looked down upon her child or Joseph looked upon the Son of God, he had the features of the blessed mother. She could look down and actually see the face of God but also see her own family, her own blood line being taken up by her son, Jesus Christ.
This is a profound mystery. That same flesh and blood that feeds us in the Eucharist every time we come, which is true food, true drink, that brings life to the world. So Mother Mary, we ask that you protect us, that you guide us, so that we, feeding on the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, will reach the safe shores of our heavenly home.
*Note – I made an error in the sequence of the Prophet Elijah’s story – he flees from Jezebel after the showdown with her Baalist priests – our first reading takes place after this event, and God ministers to him and feeds him with cakes of bread and drink. Apologies for my mistake: Please seen the Book of Kings for the whole story, it’s a good read 🙂
Transcript of “Flesh & Blood” – 19th Sunday OT 2015
And today, in our Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus continues to teach us that He is the bread that comes down from heaven. He’s flesh. He’s blood; living flesh, living blood. His body, blood, soul and divinity, feeds us, frees us and brings us into…one day, into life in heaven with our Heavenly Father. Now, this is the good news. This is the Gospel that is shared, that Christ brings freedom. Christ brings liberation from sin. Christ brings new life despite darkness and death in the world. So this is the good news, and we’ve heard this again and again. We have to also recognize that there also was some bad news, okay?
I want to contrast these two different times; the time before Christ and the time now with Christ. But also, the time before Christ, and also now, the post-Christ period we have in our culture, in our world. So I’m going to just share with you some of the history. And we heard it in the first reading, the greatest of the prophets of the Old Testament, Elijah. Just to give you a little bit of context. And it will help you understand the depth of the meaning when Christ talks about His offering of Himself, flesh and blood, to bring us to new life.
Elijah was the greatest prophet, as I mentioned. And during this time, it’s written in the book of Kings. So this is centuries before Jesus’ coming. The king has apostatized from the true faith. That means that he started to worship foreign gods and move away from the commandments of Moses and the faith of Abraham. And he leads the Israelite people away from God. He marries this princess, this Jezebel, who becomes the queen of Israel.
She is the leading reason why, along with the king, they eradicate the old faith, the traditional practices and sacrifices to Yahweh, the teachings of the commandments, and they reinstitute a new age spirituality, let’s call it, which is really an old age. And it’s the worship of this foreign god, and we would believe to be a demon or even the devil himself. His name is Bael or Baal, B-A-A-L. They started to kill off all the priests and the prophets of the old law, and they started to reinstitute this pagan practices.
Now, on first glance, and today, too, we often have this with Christians and Catholics. We say, “Well, it’s spirituality. It’s different spirituality.” Ironically even the name Baal, and the way they worshiped him, Baal was this god who was their father. And he required sacrifice and blood to be appeased. Baal was this father, protector of the people. Before even the Israelites were in the land, the people in Palestine, they would’ve worshiped him and offered different sacrifices.
And at first glance, you might say… As a Christian or a student of scripture, you might say, “That sounds an awful lot like our God, an awful lot like Yahweh, who requires sacrifice, and so forth, for communion.” And a lot of the Israelites went that way. Just like today, a lot of people say, “Well, its spirituality. We basically believe the same things. I’m not religious. I’m spiritual.” Right? Well, the problem with that is the devil is also spiritual, okay?
A lot of people that are deviling [SP], in new age spirituality, or the Israelites even 20,800 years ago, were going to a lot of old age practices, but we often get it repackaged again and again. So in the context of this, all the Israelites were apostatizing. The priests, the prophets, were killed. And Elijah, despairing almost, flees away from the evil, Jezebel, who wants to put him to death. He is at the point where he says, “I’m the last of your prophets. I just want to die. I give up.”
He goes off for 40 days. Forty days should stick out in your mind on this journey. Just like the journey, the Israelites through the desert, where God fed them with manna. And what does God do? He says, “Do not despair. I’m with you. I’ll protect you.” And He feeds him with bread. It says cake, but it’s bread, okay? Bread and water. And He sustains him. And after being replenished by bread, the bread of the angels, the bread that comes down from heaven, Elijah has the strength to go back and fight the Baal, the Baalists.
Now, this is an awesome story. I love Bible history, by the way. So I’m giving you lots of good details here. As you probably don’t hear this very often, it doesn’t come up in our Sunday, new revised lectionary, where we try to make it sound nicer and all that, but it’s part of scripture, and we hear it during the weekday readings. Elijah goes back and confronts Jezebel’s minions. Okay? Yes, they’re minions. All the priests that were formally of Yahweh were these new priests and priestesses of this new religion.
And he sort of has a priest showdown. It’s a shootout, okay? There is Elijah, the last of the priests of Yahweh, then there’s this thousands of Baalists. And the Baalists, so they have this wager, almost, where Elijah says, “Okay. You pray to your god, to this demon, Baal, and I’m going to pray to the true God of the people.” And everybody’s watching. Tens of thousands of people are gathered on this hill, and there’s this sacrifice in the middle.
So the Baalists start, and they do the practices that are emblematic. They are symptoms of most devil worship and demonic things. You might need earmuffs if the little kids can understand this. They would mutilate their flesh. They cut themselves, offer blood sacrifices, right? They would often sacrifice human beings, especially children. This is what the Baalists did to appease this god, Baal. And nothing happens. The sacrifice stays there in the center of all this silly liturgical dancers here running around.
And he says, “Well, maybe your god is sleeping. Maybe shout louder. Maybe cut off some more of your flesh.” Right? “Maybe then, he’ll wake up.” And they go dance around for all morning and nothing happens. The people see this. Then Elijah says, “Okay, it’s my turn now.” So he gets up, and he puts the 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel that had gone astray, around this sacrifice, this ox. Then he offers a prayer to God, and he takes water, representing the Red Sea and the crossing through of the Jordan into the Promised Land, and most especially, foreshadowing the baptism to come.
What he does with the water, he pours it. Not once, not twice, but three times and prays to the true God. Then fire comes and consumes the sacrifice, and the people say what? “The Lord Yahweh is the true God.” And they kill all the bad Baalist priests, and the people are liberated from this evil. Okay. That’s Bible history in a nutshell, an interesting story that you need to hear.
So we see that before the good news of Christ, who liberates us from sin and evil, we see the bad news of a world consecrated and given over to the evil one, to say that. And his accompanying signs are always this. What does the want from us and those that dabble in the spiritual works of evil? What does the devil want? He’s wanted it since the beginning. He wants us to die. He wants blood. He wants us to give up our lives, to kill our brothers, to kill the innocent.
This is what the devil wants. And often, we give it to him. And you say, “Oh, 3000 years ago? We don’t do that anymore. We don’t brutalize children. We don’t abuse children. We don’t do these things.” Yeah, we do. It’s called abortion. It’s called child abuse. It’s called pornography. All the different pernicious things that are reaping us away from our love of God, and using the people and the flesh of this world, to please no one except for Satan.
It’s a tough word, and I don’t say it every week. If you’re visiting, I don’t preach about the devil every week, but once a year. Okay? But it is a pernicious offering. As opposed to the sweet offering of Christ, it is a sweet offering to the evil one. And it’s reaping apart our culture. Its reaping apart our lives away from God. So that’s the bad news, okay? And if I left it at that, you would walk away very sad. Well, now we can read with new eyes, new lens, the good news of Christ’s liberation from the evil.
So upon the Bread of Life Discourse, He says, “Unlike the bread your ancestors ate in the desert,” like that Moses brought, that wafer-thin substance on the dew. And they had bread in the morning, they had flesh. They had quail in the evening, bread and flesh. Unlike even the bread that has fed Elijah so he could destroy the power of evil at work amongst the people of God, “I am the true bread that comes down from heaven.” And then He goes on and He says, “My bread is flesh for the world.”
So unlike the unholy sacrifices, the offerings of the old, Jesus undoes the work of the evil one, undoes the work of corrupt men and women’s hearts. He offers Himself to reconcile us to the true God and Father, our Lord. Ironically the highest point with the devil looking on, of Jesus as the son… Remember how the devil always wants the death of God’s children, God’s sons and daughters? Well, the true son of God is put to death. The devil thinking in his mind, “I’ve won.” And he is conquered. His head is destroyed by Christ’s offering.
And again and again, we are presented with the offering of Jesus as the flesh and blood, for us, in this Eucharist. Now, in the story, when Jesus is talking in the Gospel of John, this is chapter six, He talks about how, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you cannot have eternal life.” So the evil one wants death, God wants life for us. But He says, “You have to eat my flesh and drink my blood.” At first, the people grumbled. Many of them were disturbed by this image, rightly so. And they start to complain. And what happens?
At first, he says, “eat.” And the Greek word that the New Testament has written is, the Greek word is “phagein.” And it’s the way human beings eat. I come to your house, we sit down, and we “phagein” it up. We dine. Okay? And they get upset, and they say, “This must be some sort of symbol. Can you explain it?” And what does Jesus say? He says, “Amen, Amen,” or “Truly, I say to you.” He intensifies His language and now uses the word “trogein.” And “trogein” is the word that would be used to describe how animals eat.
Like the coyotes out behind my house in Saint-Front, they “trogein” the flesh of animals. They devour it. They drink in the blood, right? Now, Jesus says, “Amen, Amen, unless you devour my flesh, drink in my blood, you cannot inherit eternal life.” And they go crazy in the bad way. And in chapter 6 verse 66-, Okay, that’s somewhat of a coincidence. But 6-6-6, they all leave Jesus. Jesus was raising people from the dead. He was delivering us from demons and from the evil one. He was healing the sick. He just fed them with bread and fishes, loaves.
They wanted to make Him king. And then He teaches this teaching, the most central doctrine that has been defended and blood has been spilled over for 2000 years up until our [inaudible 00:12:31], that you have to eat my flesh and blood, and they all go away. “This is a tough teaching,” they said. “This is a harsh teaching. We cannot abide by it.” And what happens? I can only imagine, but Jesus with broken heart.
Seeing all those people, those sheep without a shepherd, He has now brought them together, and they have left Him. He turns back to His apostles. He turns back to Peter and says, “Are you going to abandon me, too, because of this?” And what does Peter say? And he’s been saying it through the church and through you since this episode. He doesn’t understand what’s going on. He doesn’t understand how the Eucharist is going to sacramentally allow this to happen. But Peter says, “Lord, where else can we go? Only you have the words of eternal life.”
Peter professed this, but we profess it every time we come to the Eucharist. The teaching that Jesus is truly, substantially body, blood, soul and divinity, present in the Eucharist. That he feeds us with not dead flesh, but living flesh and blood that sustains us, that feeds us. This is a tough teaching, but it is the truth. It is the truth that’s brought us freedom, that’s brought us deliverance from death, from evil.
And it’s also the profession of faith you make every time you come to the mass. You don’t come for the music or the homily or how awesome, wicked awesome, the priest is, right? You come for Christ, who feeds us with flesh and blood, who is present in this place.
Readings at Mass
|First reading||Jeremiah 23:1-6 ©|
|Ephesians 2:13-18 ©|
|Gospel||Mark 6:30-34 ©|
Transcript of “Without the Shepherd, I Shall Want” – 16th Sunday OT 2015
After a few centuries too, the southern kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah is now under threat, and the holy city of God, Jerusalem, Zion, is under siege by the Babylonians. Jeremiah is preaching in this context, and the message is, “Do not be afraid.” This has always been the message of God. Every angel that ever appears to us is always, “Be not afraid. Trust in me.” Jeremiah is saying that even though the greatest affliction is coming against the people right now and soon they would go into captivity in Babylon for 100 years, they’d be exiles in a foreign land, Jeremiah says, “Don’t worry. Trust in God.” He promises that from the branch of David’s tree, a stump will grow. “A stump will come and your savior, your messiah, your king, your Lord, will come among you.”
Okay, just a little bit to reflect on this. You say, “How is that applied to us today? Why does that matter to us? Yes, the messiah comes. How does that change our life?” Deep down in each one of us and every human person, because of our creation as I shared last week, our origin, we have a longing for God. Now in our lives, the more and more we become removed from this reality, we try to find leaders, we try to find satisfaction for those longings we have. This is why, and I’ll include myself and I’ll tell you a little bit about it, why we idealize or idolatrize certain people. Flawed people like you and I, we elevate them up. We expect from politicians to be above ourselves. We expect that they will solve the problems. Or the President in the States when he’s running, all the hope, all the dreams is almost pseudo-Messianic, even to the point where he says, “We’ll turn back the tides of the waters that are rising.” It sounds Messianic, and people want to believe that. However flawed that person is, they can never achieve that, right?
When I was a young guy, high school, I am 18, 19, I was studying political science. I was getting involved with these political movements and so forth. I had a very both enlightening and also kind of discouraging and enlightening conversion experience. Because I had so much hope in the idea of the political process, and there was two parties merging. I was at that conference. As a youth person, I was sponsored to go there this conference. You can figure out what political party that was. They’re merging these two parties, and there was always this hope that things would change.
That being said, and actually seeing if you will how the sausage is made and how the policies are made and being someone that . . . my faith least later, but maybe at that point was in question about my beliefs about human life or the sanctity of marriage. Those things that I know to be non-negotiable, that I’d believe in my heart of hearts I can’t compromise on, and seeing that political process, it was sort of discouraging. Also leaders that you thought would represent our beliefs compromise because we need to do that to get around in this world, so being discouraged by that. But is that their fault? No. I had this ideal from leaders. I longed for something of them that they could not satisfy. Let’s be honest.
We do this again with celebrities. We obsess about them. We have TV programs and magazines. We read all the silly little details about their life because it’s a celebrity, someone we idealize. We get fascinated with them. Then we watch the same programs that tear them apart when they fall apart. Tiger Woods is the best example of this. We love, we admire his talent, we care about him, and then we find out he’s not the husband he really should be, and we love to hear about this. That’s what we do.
Often we have that longing for leadership, affirmation from our leaders. We want someone to lead. It goes even with our good teachers, wonderful teachers for example, or parents as kids we look up to. They say something affirming to us, and we latch on it. We feel like we never felt before, that we have a purpose, we have a meaning. Then later on we find out that our mum and dad are not perfect. Our teachers are not beyond reproach. To be fair once again to them, that’s because we have an expectation of them that cannot be satisfied.
So turn back then to our message today. There is the longing, and now Jesus comes upon this hell, He looks down upon the people, and He has compassion. One translation was pity, His compassion for His people. His compassion for all of us wandering sheep looking for a true shepherd, and Christ has compassion. The apostles finally, all those tribes that were scattered, the 12 representing the tribes now, come back to Him with joy, telling the story how all people are finally coming, and this huge crowd gathers. So what happens? The challenge is . . . the message of the old testament of prophet Jeremiah says, “Look at it, from David’s line, that human family, a savior will come, a king will come, a shepherd came.” But another prophet, Ezekiel, says something different. He says, “Really don’t strive expecting perfect kings.” Saul or David, all these flawed men that we push in power, and then they fall from grace so often. He says, “Don’t trust in them as king, whether the king of Babylon or Egypt or all these kings, these men we try to make God.” He says, “Yahweh, the Lord will be your king. He will reign over you, over your hearts, over your whole life.”
So how do we balance that then? We’re supposed to have a king, but yet Jerusalem failed, and the people are carted off to captivity. We’re also supposed to have God to be our king. Well, the answer is Jesus. Here, the fulfillment of the long line of David, this true and perfect man that would become king, and also God himself sits on the throne. So you see how Christ is the message of the good news. Christ brings about the peace that we all long for. Like sheep without a shepherd, He feeds His flock. He leads us . . . that beautiful-, our favorite song, I think most of us, Psalm 23 that we hear in funerals, we hear again and again. “The Lord now is my shepherd,” and what’s the answer? I no longer want. So we see this beautiful fulfillment in Christ. Now we sometimes forget this, as Christians, as Catholics, we have our Lord, we have our king. But sometimes we go to those old wells, we try to find the perfect leader, the perfect God-man in another place. We’re reminded again and again to be humble, to come to Him, and He will give us rest.
So Christ is our fulfillment. The message of the gospel, the evangelical message that the apostles brought was not that there is some earthly kingdom, that we have . . . “Come, let’s make Him king.” Remember that Jesus after he multiplies the loaves, they want to make Him king, and He slips away. The message of the good news of Christ is not that He comes and He just teaches us to do good things, and be good things, and pay our taxes in the right way. Christ comes, and what does He offer us? God. He offers Himself for us. You say, “What is the response? This now, here and now. We start that longing, and we still strive to be satisfied in all these things. What is the answer? How do I say yes to that?” It’s here in this place. We come to the Lord our shepherd, He feeds us, He gives us His very body and blood. We say to Him in our prayer in our heart when we come to the mass faithfully, we say, “I need you. I love you. Feed me. Feed my soul. You’re my strength, my fortress. You’re my righteousness. Lord I need you.” As we continue this mass, we come close to Christ our king. He is the true shepherd. He longs for our souls and He will free us and give us rest.
Readings at Mass
|First reading||Amos 7:12-15 ©|
|Psalm||Psalm 84:9-14 ©|
|Ephesians 1:3-14 ©|
|Gospel||Mark 6:7-13 ©|
Transcript “Agere Sequitur Esse” – Homily 15th Sunday OT 2015:
A story, hopefully, that will help to illustrate this. Because sometimes in the world as Christians, we stop to put on the mind of Christ, we stop and we start to think moreso in the ways of the world, through even our ideas of what’s right and wrong, of how to live our lives. Well, there’s these two rivers in Europe. One is named the Rhône and one the Argeș. The Rhône is this beautiful, pure river with fresh, clean waters cascading down from snowcapped mountains.
The Argeș river, however, is a muddy waterway, wandering like a slimy, dirty, brown snake through the countryside. For many miles actually the rivers even run parallel, run right beside each other, and even when they finally merge, they come together but for awhile the clear, blue water on the one side and the muddy water on the other side stay apart and they run beside each other. Well, what do you think happens eventually? A little bit further down, that putrid, dark water of the Argeș consumes the pure brother and they too become dirty.
And that’s the sort of thing sometimes that happens. What do I mean? The more we move away from our source, just like that river analogy, the more we move away from that source, the more we encounter the things of the world. Sometimes we start to resemble more of the world than we do of what Christ has called us to. Even the purest, the most loving heart in any land, every, any generation can’t always stay pure very long. Working in most offices or places of work, attending most schools or going to college for the first couple of years, living in most communities, especially Nackenheim, right?
It’s hard not to just sorta get muddied with all the stuff we encounter daily. We begin just to take on the attitudes, the values of the society around us and often they are very opposing values. And the views of others and ourselves and even of God become distorted. That’s what I want to share with you today. As Christians, we of course are called to be, of course, in the world but remember our identity, our calling. For this, I want to reflect with you with. The world today needs an enlightenment of that. We need an evangelization. We need our eyes to be open again to our true calling, our mission here and now, and our final destination.
There’s a story of a young boy who had been blind from birth and he had just been operated on with a new procedure that allowed him to see for the first time. The parents were filled with joy and anticipating for the doctor to remove the patches from his eyes. And they were uncertain what his response would be, if he would be terrified or confused. The boy suddenly began to take it all in. All, everything he saw. Blinking his eyes. The colors and beauty around him. Full of excitement his parents said to him, “Why didn’t you tell me it was so beautiful?” This too is the work of the Evangelism.
In this story, we get so used to the things that are of God or of our faith that sometimes we forget to even tell the story anymore. Of who we are and this time, this period, more than anything, our young people, we need to hear an evangelism that enlightens our eyes again to our identity. We are beloved sons and daughters of God. We need this more than ever today. So what is the trouble then today if I keep saying today there’s a challenge with the way we see ourselves? The way we see truth and what is right or wrong in this world. Well, what is the cause of that? Okay, so right now your are going to put on your philosopher or philosophy thinking caps. Okay. And don’t worry, I don’t do this every week but you’re gonna get a little bit of history here of why our modern mind thinks in a particular way.
So there is this basic tenet in what’s called existential philosophy . . . which is just a fancy way of saying those that wonder about the truth of who we are, where we are going, and where we’re from . . . that’s existential philosophy. Why do I exist? Okay. You have asked that, so you’re a philosopher. Good. And there is this basic tenet that we invent ourselves. That existence precedes essence.
This is a new philosophy. For me, it’s a stupid philosophy but it’s the philosophy that’s underpinned everything that has happened in the last hundred years. Politically. Culturally. Socially. All these different moral discussions we have. This is existence precedes essence. What’s this mean? A key point for the modern mind is that our freedom is first not even freedom, just license. The ability to be able to choose whatever I want. This is the most important value for the modern philosopher, the modern mind. In other words, we choose. We decide. We decide who we will be. Who we will become. So existence, we exist but we choose and become who we want to be.
See, now you start to see why all these different moral things that come on, like where you hear the United Nations have declared there’s 32 different genders. And how do you determine what gender you are? Not male and female, but it’s what someone identifies themselves as. And 120 years ago, no one in their right mind would even thought that way. But now we just, that’s just pretty much commonplace. When we go to high school, say I mentioned last year I was at Holy Cross, or I go to my old high school, or I go to even when I was in school, just ten years ago. This is what most kids think. It’s like, “No.” It’s like, “Who am I to judge, you know? You just choose how you want to live. You identify, you can be whatever you want.” This mentality comes from bad philosophy and it’s also produced some bad fruit. But it’s important to know where this comes from. Who’s to blame? You say. Okay, who? Let’s get a lynch mob going. Who are we going to blame?
You can blame a French guy. Okay, his name is John Paul Sartre and he was in the beginning of the twentieth century. And he was, like most people who cause a lot of problems in the world, a really bad former Catholic and he became atheist. Sartre, John Paul said, “How about freedom?” Said, “If God exists, I can not be free. And I am free, therefore God cannot exist.” All wonderful. And most first year university students take one class of philosophy and they’ll get some Sartre, they get some Nietzsche. God is now dead. All that stuff, that’s not true philosophy. That’s garbage, okay?
Plato. Aristotle. Saint Thomas Aquinas. That’s philosophy, okay? This is where this comes from, unbridled freedom. I choose. I. If I am this, this, therefore I am. All this nonsense it comes and ultimately then God becomes an obstacle to my free will. My own happiness. Because God is this obstacle for me. There’s rules, there’s things that I should, I ought not to do. Right? And how frequently we begin to live our entire life with ourselves as the center of the world. It’s a ago ego drama. It’s the I world. Right? And you start to say, “Ah, yes, yes, yes.” You look, you go, “My grandkids or my teenage daughter.” Right? It’s all about them. Right? Well, guess what? You baby-boomers, you started it. Okay, so let’s not get into that. But it’s not all about us. This is not the Christian message. This is not the message from faith. So what is the response? What does God tell us about this reality? About who we are?
With this in mind, let’s look at the second reading of Saint Paul. He gives this answer. He goes to this city of Ephesus in Greece, which is still around today. It was this port city where it had all these different cultures and philosophy and intellectuals and tradesman. So it was a very educated group of people. And they would be asking these deep questions about existence. And he comes there and he doesn’t begin with saying, “You know, you’re called to blah, blah, blah.” He says first, “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. To be holy and blameless before him in love.”
So the starting point, with this in mind, the starting point is this. The first focus is not on ourselves. It’s not an ego drama. It’s a feel drama. God loves us and knows us even before we are made. Even before, as Saint Paul says, before the foundation of the world. So God first calls us. This is an important lesson for us today. Saint Paul also talks about, Christ is the Lord, the Kairos. So those first century Christians, when they hear Kairos, they would have thought only of Caesar. They used to say Kaiser Kairos Caesar is the lord. But Saint Paul is saying, “No, there is one Lord. Christ is our Lord and God.”
So the first question, the first of two I leave you with today, is this. What is the great Lord of our life? If it’s anything short of Christ, if it’s anything short of God to be the first Lord, the first love of our life, everything becomes distorted. What of the things that we place above God, do they end up being some sort of Gods of our own making? Or is it Christ?
The second, which is really an important lesson for us to remember, is that we did not choose God first. God chose us in love. The modern trend and what I was kinda critiquing in that kind of modern culture, is that I choose. I make myself. So we have a whole generation of young people, we have multi-generations now, that are lost in this world. Okay. They are questioning, “Who am I? What am I about? Where am I going?” And the answers we give, the answers we give in a secular culture, a culture that’s sort of post-Sartre, is that you are what you are. Right? What you make of yourself.
And therefore that works well for selling stuff. Especially to young people who are empty inside or lost inside. To sell a lot of cool things, because we start to identify with what we wear, how we look, or how we’re esteemed amongst our peers. All these different things begin to creep in. You wonder why there are 40 to 50-year olds are on the news trying to figure out, why are all these teenage guys, why are all these young guys flocking around the world to fight for this Islamic State? You know, they’re playing for 15 years and they wanna go. Because they have no purpose. They don’t know who their identity is. And finally there’s this anti-Christ. There’s this movement that gives them a sense of belonging. Sense of identity. That’s why gangs are so popular amongst the youth everywhere, especially today. It’s because we don’t know who we are.
So back to that image I gave you earlier with the rivers. The further we move away from our source, eventually we get diluted. And so we have to remember, as Christians. of who we were made. Where did we come from? Then what are we called here to be? Here and now. And where we are called in the end to go. And when young people hear that message, it will inflame their hearts. But if we don’t give that message, we are just going down a dark path. Where we try to fill our lives with a whole bunch of things that don’t bring any meaning. This is the challenge for us today. And the second one is to take comfort. Right? That you are chosen. It’s not something I do for myself. God chose us first. He loves us. We are just needing to accept. To capitulate to that love. To surrender to God who loves us.
Jesus says, “It’s I who chose you. You did not choose me. I chose you first,” and so we can be at peace with that. That we can trust in Him. Friends, as we continue, we are reminded by Saint Paul again, in Him, we are chosen, we are destined, created according to His purpose, according to His will. Again, again, and again. In other words, he’s simply saying, “It’s not you, not you, not you. It’s not all about you.” It’s not all about Father Jepia [SP]. It’s about Him. It’s about Christ. So we do that when we come to the mass. We tap in, if you will, that fresh water. We are reminded of who we were. The water that fed us and washed us in baptism. We’re nurtured in Christ Jesus’s body and blood. And we know that, here and now, we can fulfill our mission in this world. We know where we came from. We also know our final destination. And that is to become saints one day. Amen.