Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twentieth Sunday of the Year – August 18, 2019

Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10 Hebrews 12: 1-4 Luke 12: 49-63

 

Unfortunately we know too well the harshness and incivility that is experienced in our daily lives, especially in the political world. Perhaps we are getting used to it, even expecting it at times. The ideal, the hope, is that differences in opinion, views, political philosophies, can be shared with respect for the individuals expressing them.

 

This is brought to mind by what was stated in the gospel passage which we have just heard. It seems harsh and uncharacteristic. In many ways the perception of Jesus is that he is a bearer of peace and understanding. Thus, what he states today, at this stage of the journey St. Luke describes him to be on, as he and his followers near Jerusalem, seems to be puzzling and so contrary to our expectations.,

 

The fact is that what Jesus expresses is reality. He knows what is ahead of him when he arrives in Jerusalem. He knows that what he teaches will be rejected by many. That has been experienced already. Jesus is echoing the circumstances that were described in the reading from the prophet, Jeremiah. Those who heard Jeremiah were upset by his words. The solution chosen was to eliminate him, to shut him up in a cistern where his words would go unheard. The situation of Jesus is also the source for the reflections offered by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. Jesus had to endure opposition and even death, so that we might benefit.

 

Jesus makes it clear that he is not here simply to make us “feel good.” His words, his teaching, must be taken to heart, and genuinely affect and change us. But what he says will not be accepted. There will be harsh opposition because of the discomfort it brings, because of the challenge it presents. Like Jeremiah, he will be opposed and persecuted. He will endure the cross but he will not be defeated by it.

 

It is that same presence of Christ, God who came among us as a man, that we, the Body of Christ, are to make known. It is that presence that we embody which reveals the real dignity, the worth and the value that we and all others have as creatures of God, images and likenesses of our God.

 

We are presented, by our Faith, with this challenge. We are to realize how much each one of us is worth, as a child of our loving God. We are to live our lives in terms that value, that dignity, that each one of us has. We must recognize and extend that value and dignity to all others and to all of creation.

 

Jesus, as well as Jeremiah, recognized that values they proclaimed and the dignity that they extended to all of God’s creation would be rejected because of the self-centeredness and stubborn self-interest which is the sinful rejection of God’s goodness. Our lives are to declare what our Faith affirms. Living in a manner that genuinely reflects these Gospel values is the way in which we reveal and reflect the truth of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Nineteenth Sunday of the Year- August 11, 2019

Wisdom 18: 6-9 Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-12 Luke 12: 35-40

 

In the outline that Saint Luke is using in his gospel to present the ministry of Jesus and to answer for us what it takes to be a follower of Christ, Jesus and his followers are on a journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. But Jerusalem represents betrayal, condemnation, and execution to Jesus. To offer an encouragement on faith to his followers at this point makes sense. They will need faith in Jesus to sustain them in the time ahead. For us, too, as followers of Jesus, a strengthening our own faith is likewise important.

 

But, what is faith? Faith is the ability that we, as humans, possess and which we can energize. We do so everyday in seeking ways to accomplish simple things. If we turn a faucet, we have faith that water will flow. If we turn a switch, we have faith that a light will come on. Faith is a simple fact of our lives. If it is present in so many small things, how much more is it present with respect life itself. Faith in a loving God is essential in the living out of our lives. How we act is not to be based on fear or obligation. Rather it is to be based on faith and the hope that faith gives us. It is based on an anticipation of what a rich relationship with God achieves for us.

 

Through the inspired word of the Scriptures we have hard today, examples of faith are given to us. From the author of the Book of Wisdom we heard how thePassover ritual was to be celebrated. It is this ritual celebration that is a recognition of the goodness of God that the Chosen People had experienced. In the midst of slavery, they were delivered because of faith in God. Firm faith and hope in a loving God allows for the anticipation of deliverance. In a relationship with, as in any genuine relationship we might experience, faith and trust gives value, dimension and depth to that relationship.

 

The example of Abraham is also put before us in the Letter to the Hebrews. Despite all the odds against the fulfillment of the promise he understood that God had made to him, he placed his faith in God. The promise was achieved. He was no longer a nomad but occupied a land for settlement. He became the father of many nations despite his old age and that of his wife.

 

Then we heard the example that is used by Jesus. The servants know their master. They know what he wants. They know what he expects. They go about their duties, not out of obligation, but out of respect, awareness, appreciation and anticipation. They know how best to fulfill their particular role in life. This is what is acknowledged by the master in his service to them.

 

When someone does something for us, not because of obligation, but out of genuine love and respect, faith and trust – how much more does that mean. This shows the value that is placed on the relationship to that person and to ourselves as well. We are called to realize that the relationship with our loving God is not based on fear or even obligation. Rather, it is to be based on trust, faith, hope and the anticipation that these factors reflect. It is this type of response, a loving and appreciative response, that Christ seeks to teach us. It is in this way that we are to live our daily lives and it is in this way that we reveal our relationship with our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Seventeenth Sunday of the Year – July 28, 2019

Genesis 18: 20-31 Colossians 2: 2-14 Luke 11: 1-13

 

We are traveling along this journey of Jesus that St. Luke uses to describe for us what it means to take up the cross and follow Jesus. Thus far we have heard that we need to be fully committed to this way of guiding our lives, that the love of God is shown by our love of neighbor, that we are actively to serve others, and that we are also to listen to God who us a source of peace and a relief from anxiety.

 

Now, at another point in this journey, Jesus pauses and goes off by himself to pray. As a result, his followers ask him to instruct them on how to pray. Many thoughts are offered to us today about prayer, about this dialogue with God. There is, for example, the familiarity heard in the bargaining between Abraham and God. This give an insight into the intimacy of the relationship with God. The story also tells us that the justice of God is not automatic. There are no rigid sentencing guidelines that God follows. The justice of God is tempered with mercy which is seen as possible in the search for just individuals by Abraham in the account.

 

The thoughts Saint Pail presented to us today remind us that through the action of one person, Jesus Christ restored, by his death and resurrection, the relationship with God that had been harmed, or even destroyed, by sin. We have been reconciled with God, the source of love.

 

Most central to our thoughts today is how Jesus teaches us to dialogue with God. We hear Luke’s version of what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” We are more familiar with St. Matthew’s account. What Jesus gives is an outline of what we are to seek in prayer. Christ assures us that if we truly ask in prayer what he tells us, we will receive it. This is not same as suggesting that we will get anything we want.

 

We need to consider what the Lord’s prayer teaches us that we are to ask., what we are willing to commit ourselves to as followers of Jesus. We pray that God’s name be holy -that it be holy in us. We pray that God’s way of life rule and guide us – that God’s kingdom be evident in us. We pray that God truly be with us – nourishing and sustaining us in ways that are far more significant than mere material and passing things. We pray that God forgive us in the manner that we forgive others – perhaps the greatest challenge of this prayer. All of our prayers, all about which we dialogue with God, is to be guided by this framework.

 

Prayer to God is not magic. Like human dialogue, it seeks to reveal ourselves to the other, in this, to God. It is a loving dialogue of parent and child. At times it is bold, as in the case of Abraham. It is intimate at other times, as Jesus teaches us. Our prayer is to be based on a relationship which is constantly deepening, growing, richer and fuller. It is to grow in such a way that we continually reveal our confidence and trust in our good and gracious God.

Weekly Bulletin

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year – July 21, 2019

Genesis 18: 1-10a Colossians 1: 24-28 Luke 10: 38-42

 

It often diminishes, I believe, the potential meaning of a given Gospel account, if it is taken out of context. What we heard today serves as a good example. Jesus, as was told, is at the home of two women, Martha and Mary. He and his followers share in their hospitality.

 

We need to recall that in St. Luke’s account, this is part of the journey Jesus is making between Galilee and Jerusalem. This is the basic outline that Luke is using in order to describe for us what is involved in being a follower of Jesus. So, like what we experience in our own travels, Jesus and his followers have come to a rest stop.

 

In considering the context of this event, it helps to recall that just previously Jesus had responded to a question made to him by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. It is a strong and direct explanation of the action required in loving one’s neighbor. This is a very important element in following Jesus and taking up the cross.

 

That being the case, it almost seems that what is said in this account is a contradiction. On the one hand, Jesus has said “Go and do likewise,” indicating a lesson in action. Yet here the actions of Martha, in busying herself with the duties of hospitality, appear to be criticized in contrast to Mary’s apparent inaction in simply listening to Jesus.

 

Should what Jesus says here be understood as a criticism? Or is there more o what he was saying? He tells Martha: “You are anxious and worried about many things.” Indeed, there are many duties to hospitality as there are many sources of anxiety in life. The reality of the ministry of Christ, the message of the Gospel, is to communicate that God is with us and thus we should be at peace rather than anxious or worried. In a loving relationship with God, as well as in the activities of daily life, we can live with the knowledge, the confidence, and the trust, that God, the source of life and love, is with us. This does not take away the cares and anxieties of life. This does not lessen the need to address the demands of daily living. This does not suggest that a life lived in a relationship with God is some sort of escape from the concerns that are part of a household, a family, a job, school or the community.

 

But we can appreciate the comments of Jesus as being directed to an understanding of putting things in perspective, keeping things in balance. Mary has chosen the better part. She recognizes the opportunity that is present in listening to and giving attention to the presence of Jesus with them. This is the perspective that is to be kept in mind. The Lord is with us.

 

Following Jesus embraces the whole of our lives. It is to be shown in the manner in which we love and respect whoever might be our neighbor as a sign of the genuineness of our love of God. It is to be shown in the welcome that we offer to whomever seeks our hospitality and acceptance. It is also to be shown in the reflective appreciation which was evidenced by Mary, no matter whatever else might occupy a particular moment and no matter how distracted we might happen to be. The love of our God is present and available to us.

 

Whether in active moments of our lives, or in reflective mementos, the presence of Christ with us can be known and appreciated. It is with this outlook on life, this perspective realized day after day, that we can reflect the reality of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fifteenth Sunday of the Year – July 14, 2019

Deuteronomy 30: 10-14 Colossians 1: 15-20 Luke 10: 25-37

 

In what we heard this morning, Saint Luke continues to tell us of Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. This is the farm work he is using in order to describe what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Today we heard of an encounter that Jesus had along the way.

 

The stage is set for the very clear teaching of Jesus in Moses describing the expectations of God as simple. He states that commands of God are neither remote nor mysterious. Actually, those commands are very close to us and very basic because God’s has given us the ability to love. We are to love God and we are to love our neighbor. But there is a problem. To love makes a demand on us. It is a demand that we are frequently reluctant to hear.

 

The love of God eventually involves a complete surrender of ourselves to God. The more and more we come to know God, the more we realize the totality of God’s love for us. We come to realize that the only fitting response is one of total love in return. It is a love that does not question God. It is love that gives itself selflessly to God. It is a love that does not attempt to control God with what we want, or how we want things to be, or what we want for ourselves. It is a love which gives itself over totally to God. It is a love that constantly seeks to reveal the goodness of God. But our instincts are to hold on to ourselves, to protect ourselves. We are hesitant to let go of ourselves so completely.

 

Love of neighbor, as Jesus responds to the question that is asked of him, is a sign of our love for God. Jesus told the story of the Samaritan. What makes this particularly significant is that we need to remember that, earlier in this journey, the Samaritans had rejected him. It is quite hard to miss the point of the story told by Jesus because the imagery is graphic. Like in the parable, there all sorts of excuses which each of us an use for saying that we do not need to love our neighbor. Perhaps this is became of what they may have said or done to us. Or it is because we cannot expect much of a response from them in return. Or it may be because of their origin, their color, their beliefs. We can go on and on with excuses.

 

The one who received the Lord’s recognition in this story is the one who did not look for excuses. He simply lived out the commands of the Lord in a concrete situation.

 

We, however, continue to make excuses. We want to protect ourselves. To give ourselves in love makes us vulnerable. Perhaps we will not be understood. Perhaps we will be rejected. We certainly do not want that to happen. Perhaps if we give, even more will be demanded.

 

To give ourselves completely to God or to another is not simple. In fact, it is difficult. Yet this is the challenge before us. This is the way in which we reveal and reflect our good and gracious God.