Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirty-Second Sunday of the Year – November 10, 2019

Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14 2 Thessalonians, 2:16; 3:5 Luke 20:27-38

 

In the cycle of nature we experience here in the upper part of the northern hemisphere, fall arrives and the spring and summer flowers wither and fade. The leaves on the trees first show color and then are replaced by absence and thus stand bare. These are familiar reminders of death and dying.

 

Our faith, however, declares something different. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, assumed all the aspects of human nature. This action reached its culmination in accepting death on the cross. Rather than an end, however, his death was the gateway to theResurrection, It was the conquest of human death by the rising to new and unending life. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to our faith.

 

As we may lament the disappearance of flowers and leaves on the trees, we definitely look forward to their restoration next Spring. So it is in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that we celebrate in faith. We do not need to consider the Resurrection only in terms of some future time, but also in terms of the present and how faith in the Resurrection affects us now. In whatever way we might experience a certain sense of dying such as in pain or suffering or illness or even old age, we can do so with a confidence and with a hope that is based on faith in the Resurrection. Indeed, the faith we profess tells us that in whatever way we experience death, it is not an end but an opportunity for transformation.

 

God speaking to us today in the Scriptures focuses on the meaning of Resurrection. The seven brothers are asked to do a simple things: eat pork. But to do so would go against their tradition and law. Thus they endure torture, punishment and ridicule from those who would eventually kill them. They did this because they know and believe that they will be restored to life. This would not happen in some magical way, in a return to life they had known, but in a deeper and richer sense of what life is, a restoration to life in union with the very Creator of life.

 

Jesus points out that the petty concerns of the Sadducees are really meaningless. They are the skeptics, the secularists of their day in Jewish society. They are not concerned with the real understanding of life that Jesus offered to those who believed in him and his message. Jesus seeks for us to understand that the petty concerns of this life have little meaning in comparison to the life and hope that is realized in the Resurrection.

 

We need to keep things in perspective. What we are to do now is to live our lives in ways that proclaim the Resurrection with the same confidence that we have that flowers will grow and the life of trees will be restored. We are to show the transformation in our lives that faith in the Resurrection reveals even now the constant presence with us of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirty-First Sunday of the Year – November 3, 2019

Wisdom 11: 22 -12: 22 Thessalonias 1: 11 – 2: 2 Luke 19: 1-10

 

One of the qualities of the Gospel account presented by Saint Luke is that it includes what might be considered colorful incidents about different individuals. Such is the casein the story of Zaccheus which we just heard. It is an incident that is, in a way, somewhat humorous. But it is also rich in meaning.

 

The encounter with Zaccheus takes place in Jericho. Jesus is still on his journey to Jerusalem and, ultimately, to execution on a cross. He has shown and taught what it means to take up the cross and follow him. Now he has come to Jericho, an ancient city that physically the lowest city in the land. There he will meet Zaccheus, a tax collector. As a tax collector. Zaccheus is following a profession that qualifies him as among the lowest of the low persons in his society. He had heard of Jesus and wanted to see him. But he was even low in stature and had to lift himself into a tree. He is called by name, converts and reforms. He thereby shares in the saving love of God in the words of Jesus.

 

The message is clear. If Zaccheus can be saved, all can be saved. If he can be seen as a person of faith, then faith is possible for all persons. If he can radically change his life, all can change their lives as well.

 

No one is excluded from the loving mercy of God, the loving mercy that Jesus proclaims. It is that loving mercy that finds it ultimate expressed upon the cross. It is that cross that we are all called upon to take up as we follow Jesus.

 

Any doubt or question that we might have is answered in the vision offered by the writer of the Book of Wisdom. Before the power of our creative God, even the most powerful forces of nature are like small seeds or drops of dew. Before the merciful love of God, nothing is loathed or rejected or hated. Before the forgiving presence of God, even the worst sinner, the lowliest of the low who rejects God can be welcomed back, forgiven, reconciled.

 

All of us, as St. Paul reminds the Christians of Thessalonika, can share in God’s purpose and calling. All of us can look forward to the fulfillment of every good purpose and effort of faith. All of us can look forward to the “Day of the Lord” without fear or alarm.

 

It is with this vision of faith in Jesus Christ than even death itself is no longer to be feared. Those who have distanced themselves from God because of selfishness and sin can be assured of the opportunity to celebrate because conversion and reconciliation is possible. That is the lesson to be learned from the story of Zaccheus.

 

Mindful that this past week we honored All Saints and we prayed for All Souls, we did so because we are convinced in our faith – like Zaccheus – of the all-powerful love and mercy of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirtieth Sunday of the Year – October 27, 2019

Sirach 35: 12-14, 16-18 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18 Luke 18: 9-14

 

Each week when we hear passage from the Scriptures read to us when we gather for the celebration of the Eucharist, we can understand that God is speaking to us through the inspired writers. In a particular way today, however, we can hear Jesus speaking directly to us. He is challenging our thoughts about who each of us is and how each of us stands in our relationship with God.

 

In some respects we can be like the Pharisee. Often the name “Pharisee” has had a negative sense. But in the story that is told, he is not really a bad individual. What he says about himself is true. He fulfills the expectations that God has of him. He tried to do the best that he can in life. What are his weaknesses or failings? He thought of himself worthy of better judgement or consideration by God because he was not like what he considered the other person to be. He measured himself in his own terms rather than recognizing the fundamental truth that all of us, no matter who we are, are in need of God’s mercy and love. What may bring us to that need may be different, but none of us is entitled to the generous gift of God to us.

 

In other respects, we might consider ourselves more like th tax-collector. We recognize our faults, our failings, our sins. We know that even if we might be considered to be good persons, there is so much more each one of us can do in our relationship with God and in our relationship too the world we live in. In fact, the more we do, if done with genuine humility and acknowledgment of God, the more we understand how much we are in need of God’s love and how much we value the reality of God’s presence in our lives. It makes no matter who we are, priest/penitent, saint/sinner – in the relationship with God we are as described by Sirach in the reading we heard: we are like an orphan or widow or a lowly one or a servant, as we stand in our nothingness in comparison with God’s everything.

 

We also heard how St. Paul understood his encounter with God in his life. He recognized how truly blessed he was, as each one of us ought to do. He recognized that he had done all that he could have done in his life, as we might hope that we have done as well. He recognized that it was faith and confidence in God that sustained him in the trial and the end of his life that was before him. So are we also to do.

 

So, then who is God in relationship to us? This is what the tax collector and St. Paul knew and realized for themselves. God is the source of life. God is the source of all the potential we possess. God who regards each of us with a merciful and kind love, looks on each of us with a love equally available to all. Whether the tax collector or St. Paul who had persecuted the followers of Jesus were denied the presence of God’s love that there acknowledgment of the need for God’s love gained for them.

 

No matter who we are or what we are in our daily live, we are to show forth and give evidence in our lives that mercy and loving kindness is available to us from our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of the Year – October 20, 2019

Exodus 17:8-13 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2 Luke 18:1-8

 

At the conclusion of the account the healing of the ten individuals who had been afflicted with leprosy, Jesus tells the only one who had returned to thank him that it was his faith that saved him. This suggests that there was much more to be understood about this incident than the restoration to heal of these persons. Today we have hard Jesus say, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth.”

 

In a way, it is a question that is as modern as today, give the skepticism, and even the ridicule, that is often directed at those who profess that they have faith. Yet there is a type of faith that is often expressed: faith that a computer will function, that a television will turn on, that a light switch will work. The faith about which Jesus speaks is much more. It is that faith that is a basic ability we possess as humans that affects us daily. It is a faith that leads to trust. It is a faith the leads to hope. It is a faith that is open to all the possibilities in life. It is a faith that is the basis of love.

 

Often, however, we experience the opposite of faith in so many ways. A lack of faith leads to cynicism. Nothing is possible. Nothing or no one is good. There is no trust, no hope, no love.

 

This is difficult for me to understand. The quality of faith, the ability to believe, is essential for what we areas humans. We rely on faith to be present and active in our lives in so many ways. Yet to deny faith means the denial of faith in others, a denial of faith in ourselves, and ultimately denial of faith in God, the source of all goodness.

 

Faith that lead to trust and hope and love begins with ourselves. We must have faith in ourselves. It is faith in ourselves that opens up for us the possibilities in our lives. Faith in ourselves leads to faith in others, to relationships that are essential for life. Faith gives meaning to friendships. Faith gives strength to marriages. Faith is needed for peace in our neighborhoods and peace in our world. Faith gives hope for our children and for those who are important to us.

 

The faith that we have in ourselves and the faith that we place in others finds its roots and foundation in the faith that we have in God. It is the goodness of God, Creator of all that is, that is the source of the ability to hope, to trust, to love.

 

Today we heard of examples of faith. Moses had faith, as he prayed, in the presence and guidance of God with the Israelites as they struggled with an opponent. Paul encourage Timothy to be strong in faith, faithful what he heard and believed and to live this out in his life and leadership of early Christians. The widow of the Gospel had faith that her persistence would win over the decision of the judge she approached.

 

We have been challenged by Jesus to be persons of faith ourselves. We are to have faith in ourselves, yo have faith in one another, and to have faith in God. Faith is the means by which to be truly enlightened and truly free. Faith reveals the very best that we are for it is our lives of faith that reflect and reveal our trust in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

28th Sunday of the Year –  October 13, 2019

2 Kings 5: 14-17 2 Timothy 2: 8-13 Luke 17: 13-19

It often occurs to me that the richness o god speaking to us in the Scriptures becomes more evident when reading through a passage which has often been read before. For some reason, a particular word or phrase or sentence happens to stand out. Such was the case this week in Paul’s letter to his friend and disciple Timothy that was just read, in the comment made by Paul: “The word of God is not chained.”

 

What made this statement notable, I believe, was giving thought to Paul’s situation at the time that I mentioned last week. Paul himself was chained. He was restricted in some way as he awaited trial. While he was limited, he proclaimed that God’s communication with is was not..

As a way for all of us to understand this more effectively, we also heard part of the story of Naaman the Syrian and about a Samaritan, a foreigner, who were both restored from the restraints of leprosy. As a disease itself, leprosy can be horrible to see. Those afflicted by it were often ostracized from society. The disease disfigures and corrupts the physical appearance of the individual. It offers a clear representation of how the selfishness of sin corrupts a person.

 

It is particularly significant in these accounts that both of these individuals are foreigners. They do not have the benefit, in their background, of the covenant God has established with the Chosen People. Both of them suffered from the physical corruption of leprosy. Both, however, responded to the unchained word of God that was addressed to them. Both showed evident reaction to the love of God that touched them. In the case of Naaman, he declared: “I will not sacrifice to any other god than the Lord.” In the case of the one who returned to Jesus, he was one of ten who had been restored to health and well-being. He was the only one who returned to express gratitude ye, as Jesus notes “no one but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God. The word of God is not restricted but, in these cases, reached out to the “foreign” persons who responded to God’s loving communication.

 

What is asked of each one of us, what is sought from each one of us is evident. In the midst of our daily live the communication of our loving God is made to us. It is found in the faith that we declare It is found in the opportunities presented daily to live that faith. It is a faith, a belief, that is not just words. It is faith that is to be a commitment that affects all aspects of our living. It is a faith that is to be guided by the awareness that “if we die with him, we will live with him. We join even the difficult parts of living with Christ in order to share in his resurrection to new life. “If we persevere, we will reign. Nothing can defeat or overcome us if we are united with Christ. Even if we fail, even if we are unfaithful to this union with Christ, God, through Christ, continues to be faithful to us.

 

This is, in my understanding, the message of God that is communicated to us today. God’s love restores even the most repulsive and disfiguring of any one of us. God’s love is not chained. It is not restricted. God’s love reaches out to the estranged, to the foreigner in us. It is for us to reply with conviction and gratitude, declaring in all aspects of our lives and living, our faith and trust in a truly good and gracious God.