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.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year – July 7, 2019

Isaiah 66: 10-14c Galtaians 6: 14-18 Luke 10: 1-9

 

In any of the traveling that we do, especially traveling for pleasure such as a vacation, the focus is on the destination, whatever it might be. How often the question was asked: “Are we there yet?”

 

In St. Luke’s account we are following now, the destination of Jesus is Jerusalem. Unlike the pleasure and enjoyment we look forward to in our destinations, we know that for Jesus, Jerusalem meant betrayal, condemnation and execution. But it also was the culmination of his ministry of revealing God’s love for mankind. It is for this reason that today we hear the majestic words of Isaiah. As the goal of Jesus’ journey, Jerusalem also represented comfort, delight, prosperity, the overflowing torrent in the midst of drought. Like an infant in the arms of its mother, God comforts us. The passion and death of Christ in Jerusalem reaffirms the depth of God’s love through the total giving of Jesus on our behalf.

 

If the meaning of Jerusalem has gained greater depth because of the action of Christ, so Pail wants us to know the difference that is present in his life. As he concludes his letter to the Christians of Galatia, He wants them, as he would want us, to realize how he has been transformed by his faith in Jesus. His suffering, his marks of Jesus Christ on his body, are the evidence of the great extent to which he goes to confirm this transformation.

 

Primarily, today, our attention is focused on the actions ofJesus as he continues his travels. He sends out a large number of his followers to prepare the way for him.They were to lay the groundwork, facilitate the opportunities, for him to be received openly. They were to proclaim lofty ideals about the meaning of the kingdom of God being at hand, being present.

 

It is the total union with God and all that this entails that is now being made available. In addition to abandonment of the past and freedom for the future, to take up the cross daily along with Jesus requires an openness to the possibilities that are being offered and how these affect our lives and our values. A total commitment to Christ’s presence in the world means a commitment that shows a willing dependence on God and God’s love as it is to be shown to others no matter how we might view them. Our commitment is to be so complete, as Jesus told his followers, that it dies not require even simple everyday things.

 

The ideals that we declare and that we celebrate this weekend, a loft as they may be, are but a reflection, a very clear reflection, of the dignity and value that is to be extended to all persons as daughters and sons of our Creator God. In this respect, Pope Francis offers these words for our reflection: “Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good see can grow.”

 

In this way each of us are one with the 72 of the gospel in the living out of our daily lives. We are sent forth from this Mass to make ready, to make available, the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives and in the lives of others. Thus it is that, in and through us, by our union with Jesus Christ, our world is to learn of the abundant and enduring love of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirteenth Sunday of the Year – June 30, 2019

1 Kings 19: 16b. 19-21 Galatians 5: 1, 13-18 Luke 9: 51-62

 

Over the next few months, when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we will be going on a journey. Our travel guide will be St. Luke as he uses this framework of a journey by Jesus and his followers from Galilee to Jerusalem in order to give his account of the ministry of Jesus. More than just a clever technique. It is his way of responding to the challengeJesus makes to us of taking up the cross and following him – a statement which immediately preceded, in the Gospel, the passage we heard today.

 

If we want to travel with Jesus on this journey, we will learn what is involvedSpecifically, today, we learn that essential to doing this, taking up the cross, are both abandonment and freedom. To follow Jesus, to take up the cross, we must let go, abandon, what from the past holds us back, and be open to the freedom to take hold of what the future presents to us.

 

The different passage from God’s speaking to us in the Scriptures give some good examples. This is evident in the story of Elisha and Elijah. Elisha is called to take up the mantle, the role, of prophecy. He is to carry on the work of Elijah. At first he hesitates. And then he acts. He abandons what he has been doing. This is graphically illustrated for us in the cooking of oxen over the fire made from his plow. Nothing is left of what had been before.

 

St. Paul is writing to the Christians at Galatia. The felt that they had to follow Jewish practices in order to be true followers of Jesus. Paul tells them that they are not to subject themselves to obligations of the Old Covenant with all of its rules and regulations which was most often just a matter of formalism an show. They are to allow the Spirit to act in and through them. The key to following Jesus was to be free from the expectations of the “flesh”, the “world” so that they could be free to enjoy the love of God and free to love others. The expectations of the wold, of the “flesh,” are limiting, restrictive, demanding. Think of the examples of advertising that wells us what we need to be or to have. These are such thing as the perfect look, or entertainment, or possessions, or drugs, or alcohol or sex, or manipulation or control. There are many fantasies that are portrayed to us that really frustrate us or restrict us.

 

Jesus, as we are told in the Gospel passage we heard, had three encounters. Each taught a lesson. The Samaritans reject him. The world response, voiced by his follows, is to destroy. The response if Jesus was that we ought not be hindered by revenge. Simple let them be. To the one whom he says that he has no place to call home he is showing that he is not restricted by time of place. As to the one who wishes to bury his dead, he counsels to be totally unattached, noting is to hold us back, the restrictions of he past are to be abandoned.

 

To take up the cross daily as Jesus urges us means the abandonment of any of those things that restrict, that control us, that limit us. These can be expectations others have of us or we have of ourselves. They cam be prejudices we harbor, as well as anger, hatred or envy. But that abandonment also means true freedom. It means greater opportunities to experience God’s loving presence around us in all persons and in all of creation. It also means that we can show true freedom in the choices made and the actions performed. Following Christ and carrying the cross daily with him is the ultimate act of reflecting our faith and trust in our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Corpus Christi – June 23, 2019

Genesis 14: 18-20 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26 Luke 9: 11b-17

 

Of the various thoughts or images of the Eucharist that this annual celebration of Corpus Christ, the Feast honoring the Body and Blood of Christ, call to mind, the most significant to me is “simplicity.” We come together weekly to celebrate the Eucharist. We do not gather for entertainment or to view some grand production. Rather we gather for worship, the acknowledgment in payer and praise, of our loving God. It is worship as we understand Jesus Christ handed over to us, as we heard St. Paul tell us. It is worship of God to hear Gd speak to us and then to consume and make part of ourselves the Real Presence of our Lord.

 

To focus our thoughts today we listened to the word of God presented for our consideration. We heard first about Melchizedek, a somewhat mysterious person. His sacrifice, unlike that of other Old Testament priests, was not of an animal. His priesthood is seen as being prophetic. His actions speak of something deeper. He uses bread and wine, the food of a simple meal. Thus the Eucharist is pre-figured. It is a mystery to be celebrated by a new High Priest, Jesus Christ.

 

In the Gospel we are presented with the story of the multiplication of the loaves. It is a genuine feeding of hungry persons that arises out of compassion and concern. It is also a clear reference to the Eucharist. It is an event that is difficult to understand, like the belief that the bread and wine is the Body and Blood of Christ. But it is a very real event that is made evident by the act of collecting leftovers.

 

Along with these recollections, Paul reminds us that at the Eucharist, the sharing of the loaf and the cup, the Body and Blood of Christ, was very much a part of the life of the early Church. The Apostles had received the very clear message that they were to share this meal. It was nut just a memorial, but the way in which the Lord was made genuinely present with them.

 

As much as we are one with that tradition of the Church over the centuries in this simple act of worship, we are also one with all who share this Eucharist now, here and throughout the world. How awe-inspiring ought this to be to realize this!

 

What we possess in this time that we come together in this act of worship is the opportunity to be one with God through Jesus Christ as well as one with one another. This very act calls on us to consider this time to be the most inspiring, uplifting moments of the week.

 

When we share this mystery of the ages, we share this Lord who binds us together, We are brought into contact with the God of our Faith.

 

In the simplicity of these few moments together, our God, through the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ that we receive, is joined with us and joins us together with one another. It is in this way that the full importance of who we are and what we do in this time and place allows us to experience the full reality of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Most Holy Trinity – June 16, 2019

Proverbs 8: 212-31 Romans 5: 1-5 John 16:12-15

 

As Church, today, we pause to acknowledge a distinctive foundation of our Faith. The God in whom we profess belief exists as a relationship. God is Father, God is Son, God is Holy Spirit. God is one God. We experience God in the Three Persons God is. God is Creator, God is Redeemer, God is Sanctifier.

 

As we listened today to God speaking to us in the Scriptures, what were we told? In the passage from the Book of Proverbs, an image of the Wisdom of God as portrayed in the creation of all that is. The act of creation, as it is described, is loving, even playful. It is not some cold, mechanical placing into existence of the universe. Rather it is a creative act of love. That is the first understanding, the first image, given to us about God. The source of all that exists is a personal, loving, but complex, being; a Being who is the very essence of love as is evidenced in the action of creation.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ, as he lives among us, is much more than a teacher or a prophet. He, along with the Creator Father, and the Sanctifier Spirit, are interrelated. This same God reaches out to us, seeks a relationship with us. This is the underlying purpose of God becoming man in Jesus Christ. God who has been known before in the great acts of history and the development of mankind in the past, especially in the covenant with the Chosen People of old, is now with us. He and the Father possess the same things. He and the Father are one. What this would mean in creation and history, a loving relationship between Creator and creation, would continue to develop and grow through the abiding presence of the Spirit of Truth.

 

All of this is not simple. Indeed, it is complex. It demands, as St. Paul tells us, genuine faith. It demands absolute confidence and trust in this complex but loving Divine Reality.

 

It is a mystery, yes. It is not easy to understand or explain. Is this not always the case with love? This, however, is the revelation made to us by Jesus Christ, God who became man. Revelation tells us, we who are creatures and reflections of God, that God is a relationship. As reflections of God, we are to live in a relationship with God and with one another.

 

All of this profoundly affects the values and the outlook we have about ourselves and about others. Each person, every person, possesses a basic worth and value because all relate to God who relates to all as Father to children. All are to relate to one another as images of God, as reflections of God, as brothers and sisters.

 

The basic revelation about God made to us by Jesus Christ, complex as it may be in one sense, is also simple an direct. The best expression of what we are, the source of genuine happiness for us, is found in how we live and how we reflect the abiding and loving relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. How is that we reflect, day after day, the Trinity of Persons who are a truly good and gracious God?

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Pentecost – June 9, 2019

Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-11 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7, 12-13 John 20: 19-23

 

It may be a bit confusing to hear different accounts about the handing over of the Holy Spirit such as we did today. On the one hand there was the very descriptive, and even colorful recollection of Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles: he writes of wind and fire and being understood in different languages. On the other had, there is the Gospel account in which Jesus is said to breathe upon the Apostles and tells them to “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

 

There is no real contradiction. Rather, the different writers of Scripture emphasize different experiences which took place to assist those who read or listen to their words in understanding that the Spirit of God embraces us and is known to the world through us.

 

The desire of God to be known and to be recognized in the wold is the main purpose of the work and ministry of Jesus Christ. This is also an on-going and continuous process. God is not apart from us. God is not separated from us. God seeks to be united with us. Because through the declaration of Christ the Spirit of God is present with and in us, the revelation of the goodness of God is to be found with us. This is our task. This is our opportunity as believers who are filled with the presence of God, the Holy Spirit.It is incumbent on us that the Spirit of the Lord be made evident now just as much as in the days of the early Church.

 

In the life and the history of the Church, the greatest sign of the presence of the Spirit has been viewed as the simple survival of the Church over the centuries. It has survived despite the human frailty and sinfulness present with it from the highest leadership all the way down. It has survived, as well, despite persecution and many different efforts to destroy the Church that continue even to the present day. That survival only confirms that the Spirit of God is present.

 

The real presence of the Spirit of God in us individually and in us as the body of believers we are as Church is not simply survival in the midst of failure and opposition. That presence is also found in the manner in which each of us and all of us reflect and reveal God. So, how is this presence to be known?

 

In the tradition of the Church, as derived from the sacred writings of Scripture, the presence of the Spirit is known in a variety of ways. These ways are referred to as gifts of the Holy Spirit,. We are to exhibit the wisdom that is the deep appreciation of the complexity and beauty we are as creations of God. We are to show that understanding that is an insight into the mystery of life and love. We experience the counsel that gives direction to our choices. We are strong in the fortitude of living out our full potential. Our knowledge is a constant process of learning about God, about ourselves, about all of creation. Our piety is evident in our respect for ourselves, for others and for God. In all of this, the fear of the Lord is the awe present in our lives as we observe the wonder of all that is and all that we are.

 

Through the gift of Christ we are endowed withe these signs of the Divine Spirit with us. It is this Divine Spirit, the Holy Spirit, that leads us and guides us to reveal in every aspect of our lives a true reflection of our good and gracious God.