Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Ascension of the Lord – May 24, 2020

Acts 1: 1-11 – Ephesians 1: 17-23 – Matthew 28: 16-20

 

As we draw near to the time when we will be able to come together again as a parish and as a believing community to worship and to share in Eucharist; as we have begun to open up our society, hoping to experience again, though in ways that are different, the things we enjoy dong that are a part of a more normal way of living; as we hopefully are able to renew relationships that have been affected in different ways over these past few months; it may not be all that difficult to appreciate some of the dynamics present in the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. Especially is this the case in the lives of the Apostles and other followers of Jesus as they had now to cope with the physical separation from Jesus that the Ascension recalls.

 

We have come to know all too well recently that separation from persons and from activities that have been a part of our lives is not easy. It is, indeed, difficult. It is painful. Yet departing and separation, change of any sort, are a part of living. Some of these occurrences have been planned and anticipated. Others simply happen suddenly an unexpectedly. Often times, however, these occurrences are the only way that persons can grow and mature. We cannot just cling to what was before, or how we think things were before, as life and reality are not like this.

 

In the case of the Ascension, not only was this event necessary within the ministry of Jesus, it was also a triumphant moment. It marked for Jesus the final stage of his victory. The part of his work on earth was complete. Now he was able to return to the Father. It is also a moment of triumph for those who follow him – then and now. Now the task is theirs. Now the task is ours. Now is the time for them and for us to proclaim the Good News Jesus announced: the Good News of how we can be the very best that we are as creations of a loving God.

 

We heard or read Saint Paul’s prayer for the Christians at Ephesus. It is a prayer for us as well. May we have the insight to recognize the power of the Spirit within us to change and to be transformed, to do away with sinfulness and its effects, to baptize and to renew our world and so teach it not only the words of Christ’s command to love but show the reality of how that love is to be lived.

 

Even at this time, even as we continue through these wrenching difficulties that affect our daily lives whether personally or as a community, a State or a country, simply hanging on to the past, to gaze longingly into the clouds of the past, does little.

 

The challenge that is before us is to look ahead, to recognize what we are experiencing as assistance to our faith, particularly our faith in the Resurrection. We are to believe that we have the power within us to improve and to enhance the world.

 

To me, at least, this is one of the messages of this Feast of the Ascension, especially at this time. We must move on from now and look ahead for greater opportunities and means to reveal a truly good and gracious God.

St Mel Parish

Resumption of Public Masses

Public, scheduled celebration of Mass will begin on Tuesday May 26, 2020. Daily Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week at 6:45 AM. The regular weekend schedule of Masses will resume on the weekend of May 30/31: Saturday Vigil, 4:30 PM; Sunday, 7 AM, 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM.

The wearing of facial masks is requested. Social distancing is to be maintained in the pews and in coming forward for the reception of Communion. Hand Sanitizer is available at the entrances of the Church.

The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect. Anyone who does not feel well or is especially at risk because of age or health condition is encouraged to remain at home and join in mind and in spirit with those who gather for the Eucharist in a genuine sense of Christian Community. Confessions will resume, Saturday May 30, 3 PM.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 17, 2020

Acts 2: 5-8, 14-17 – 1 Peter 3: 15-18 – John 14: 15-21

 

How fitting are the words which we have hard from St. Peter today: “Be willing to give an explanation. . .for a reason for hope.” If there is anything that is to identify a believer in Jesus Christ, a Christian who celebrates the Resurrection of the Lord, especially in these trying and confusing times that we are experiencing, it is hope. To say this in another way: To be a Christian is to be a person of hope in any circumstance.

 

The reason for this hope is, I believe, is twofold. On the one hand this hope is based on what we recall in this season of the Church’s year. We are currently taking part in the Easter Season, focusing attention on the effect of the rising from the dead by Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that he had experienced betrayal, abandonment, condemnation and execution, Jesus Christ was not defeated, he was not conquered. Nothing, as believers in the Resurrection, can defeat us. Despite whatever way we might be presently affected, we know, in faith, that we cannot be overcome.

 

On the other hand, the basis of our hope is our conviction, as we heard in a particular way in God’s word to us today, that Christ did not abandon us, but promised to us an abiding presence of God with us in the Holy Spirit. It is this active presence of the Holy Spirit that affects us and gives us hope as well.. What potential, then, does that presence of the Spirit have in our lives? Again, the Word of God provides us insight.

 

It is the action of the Holy Spirit that brings about reconciliation of enemies. In what we heard today, Philip went to preach to the Samaritans, those who were constantly at odd with the Jews. But he wins converts so that Peter and John go to be with them It is the action of the Holy Spirit that allows all of us to be, as was the author of the Psalmist, those who recognize and experience the tremendous deeds of God with a graced vision that sees God’s presence in everything and everyone around us. It is the action of the holy Spirit, the Paraclete, that encourages all believers to live on despite suffering rejection, persecution, loneliness – doing so in a way that expresses and returns love and kindness

 

These actions of the Spirit, whose presence we receive in Baptism, are to be a fundamental part of what we are in our lives, whether ass Church, as a parish community, or as believing individuals.

 

It is through Spirit, sent by Jesus, that the faith we profess has a moving, transforming, invigorating effect on us. It is this faith that gives hope. It is because of this faith that we can face the world we know today in a way that seeks to make that world to be better, that seeks to make the lives we live to be better.

 

What we recall today is that our faith and the confidence and hope that faith instills in us, enables us to do what we can, and do what we must, to reflect and make known in us and in our actions the presence of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 10, 2020

Acts 6: 1-7 – 1 Peter 2: 4-9 – John 14: 1-12

 

Over these months of a challenging and disorienting way of living brought about by a world-wide pandemic, there has been an expression that has been heard and printed in various places and forms: “We’re in this together.” All of us, in some way or another, whether we like it or not, are affected by this virus and its repercussion. “We are all in this together.”

 

As we know, there are objections and complaints about various steps that have been taken, various behavior modifications we have been called upon to adopt. But, nothing is new. This is evident if we consider, in particular, the passage from the Acts of the Apostles read today. As much as the early Christians adopted a way of living in which they sought to support one another, still there were complaints about how this lifestyle was carried out. Thus, the Apostles and other leaders of the community had to address the issue and come up with a solution.

 

It is a very basic, ver fundamental understanding that developed within the life of the early Church that the loving action of God was on behalf of all mankind and was to be extended to everyone without distinction. In becoming man in Jesus Christ, God took on human flesh, human nature, in its totality, with the exception of sin. In dying on the cross, Jesus Christ reconciled all of mankind to God, not just a few, not just one people or another – all peoples. In overcoming death in the Resurrection, Christ the Lord invite all of humanity to share in the defeat of sin that his rising from the dead had accomplished..

 

If God, in the person of Jesus Christ, did this on behalf of all persons, then the response is to be made by all, together, one with Christ as his Body now present in the world. This can be understood from the dialogue heard in the Gospel read for today. Thomas asked: “Show us the way.” It is, as if he has not yet understood. Jesus replies: “I am the way.” He is showing that basic truths about life and living is found in his ministry and teaching: a way of living that reflects restoration and reconciliation. To Philip’s question Jesus gives a response that suggest that it still has not registered that what God is, who God is, how God can be known, is through a true uniting of our lives in and with Jesus Christ.

 

It is that way, that truth, that life, that Jesus, in his life and ministry, declared. It is this way, this truth and this life, that is to be found in us, all together as, as the Body of Christ in our world today. Especially is this true as we confront this calamity of the pandemic.

 

That we are all together is illustrated for us today by Peter in his letter as illustrated by him in a quite graphic way. We are like a building, a structure that is visible and functional. Christ is the cornerstone, the essential building block that allows the structure to exist. We are visible parts, visible components, of this building. As part of this structure our faith can be experienced in us as: priests – the intermediaries, the go-betweens, in service to one another; as holy – reflecting the goodness of God to one another; as set apart – clearly visible, recognizable and effective with one another.

 

Indeed, we are in this together. We do not live our faith only as individuals. It is basic to our Christian faith that we live it in relationship to the faith of others, that we affect others and others affect us. We live out our faith as a genuine Communion of Saints, relying on one another, respecting one another, supporting one another. We recognize that it is in this building, this visible Body of Christ we are today, that our world comes to know and experience our truly good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 3, 2020

Acts 2: 14a, 36-41 – 1 Peter 2: 20b-25 – John 10: 1-10

 

Virtually all my life, since the time when I learned to read, I have greatly enjoyed doing so. I have found that reading often takes me to far distant places, involving far different people and their lives. Reading calls upon the use o the imagination in order to expand and appreciate the context of the narrative that is being told. Not surprisingly, then, reading books has been suggested as one way to occupy our time in this new way of living we currently are experiencing.

 

As it happens, I have just begun reading a book entitles “The Alchemist,” in which the central character of the story is introduced as a shepherd caring for his flock of sheep in southern Spain. By a very fortunate coincidence, the author of the book has this individual reflect on numerous occasions on his life as a shepherd. The character speaks many times about the relationship between himself and his flock and how that flock looks to his presence with them and attends carefully to his voice. This account gave me a richer understand of the words and imagery Jesus used today in the passage from the Gospel of Saint John.

 

In this passage Jesus describes himself using an image taken from the pastoral setting of his time. Shepherds call their sheep and the familiarity of their voices lets the sheep know that they are protected. It is that same voice that calls us. It is a voice to be heard and to which a response is to be made. It is a sound that is comforting and that promises protection. It is a sound we want to hear in the midst of challengers and difficulties such as those which confront us in the se says. It is a voice that we are to seek out because of the effect that it can have on us as well as the loving protection it declares.

 

But it is also a voice, a sound, which we must distinguish from so many sounds, so many noises, that surround us – sounds that so often distract us, disturb us, or entice us. They are sounds and noises that so easily disrupt and overwhelm us. In all the sounds that we hear day after day, are they mot sounds that come from those who are boastful or critical or manipulative or untruthful? Ought it not be a voice, a sound, that calls us to recognize that we are loved, a voice that tells us of our dignity and value as persons, a voice that call us to love and to be loved, to care and to be cared for to which we respond?

 

A true shepherd of the sheep, as I have learned in my reading, identifies himself closely with the sheep, as did Jesus with w in God becoming man in him. In return we are to be like him, the gate, the door.

 

Consider the words of Saint Peter that were also read today. We are to be the same gateway as Jesus. We are to be a gateway, a doorway, that is open and welcoming.. We are to live in such a way that expresses forgiveness and speaks of truth in love. We are not to be defensive or vengeful, but truly welcoming in all respects. We are to voice within ourselves that same call that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, makes: a voice, a call, that puts forth, day after ay, a true and committed revelation to the our world, of a vibrant, living, relationship with our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Third Sunday of Easter – April 26, 2020

Acts 2, 14-23 – 1 Peter 1: 17-21 – Luke 24: 13-35

 

I have come to describe these past few weeks as our “Babylonian Exile. ”1 We are properly “exiled” from being able to gather as Church, in our church to celebrate the Eucharist. During this time I have made what efforts I could, with very limited technological abilities, , to maintain a degree of contact through social media. As a result of even these meager efforts, there was a great response to a post of a photo of the church altar as it has been decorated for Easter. The number of acknowledgments and comments made suggested strongly to me that the opportunity to gather as a parish and to celebrate Eucharist is sincerely missed.

 

This awareness makes even more poignant the story recorded by Saint Luke in today’s Gospel selection. The Lord is recognized by the disciples who had traveled to Emmaus, not in the Scriptures that had been discussed, nor even in his physical presence with them. The Lord was recognized in the breaking of bread, a clear allusion to sharing of Eucharist.

 

More than in any other way, the sharing of Eucharist is how we express our faith in the Risen Lord. It is the sharing in Eucharist, the breaking of bread, that distinguishes us in our sacramental Catholic faith. What we do when we gather to celebrate Eucharist is more than a simple ritual that is performed. It is more than a casual recalling of what Jesus once did. It is the presence of the Risen Lord in the mysterious ways that he has chosen, in the bread and the wine which, in faith, we profess to be the Real Presence of the Lord.

 

As the disciples walked along it was the same Jesus who joined with them. As they heard the Scriptures recounted for them, it was the same Jesus. But it was only in the breaking of bread, only in the experience of that particular event, that the disciples were able to realize what was happening to them, who it was that was with them.

 

Saint Luke, in recoding of the details of this event, wants to make it clear to the early Christians and to us that it is in the breaking of bread, the Eucharist, that the Real Presence of the Risen Lord is to be recognized and to be known.

 

We most certainly hear God speak to us in the Scriptures that are read when we gather, but the Lord seeks to be so intimately bound to us that he has chosen this means to give himself entirely to us. How extraordinary are these moments to be! It is only appropriate that we long for the opportunity to gather once again. Perhaps it is our absence from these moments now that will encourage us all the more to recognize the great gift of the Eucharist offered to us by our good and gracious God.

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Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in ancient Babylon.