Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

First Sunday of Advent – November 29, 2020

Isaiah 63: 16b-17,19b; 64:2-7 – 1 Corinthian 17:3-9 – Mark 13: 33-37

 

As Church, or when we assemble, as we do now, as Church, we have a significantly different approach to this time before Christmas than we experience around us. Obviously things may not be the same as in past years, but, nonetheless, our approach to this particular time reflects a distinct understanding.

 

In the life of the Church, the Season of Advent is a time of longing and anticipation. It is not the same excitement associated with the days leading up to Christmas. However, I consider the Season of Advent to be the richest and most intense times in the Church year. It is more than just a historical recollection of the centuries the Chosen People of old awaited the coming of the Messiah in the same way that Christmas is not simply a reenactment of a past event. Advent calls us to prepare for Christ to come again. It is a powerful reminder to us of how we must prepare ourselves and our world for Christ’s return.

 

This preparation for the Lord to come is not done with fear. Rather, it is to be accomplished with a positive sense of expectation. More than anything else, this is the true sense of Advent. We await the Lord’s coming again to right what is wrong, to do away with what is hurtful and to fill us with joy. Advent is a time of expectation that we can be joined with our loving God in the full restoration of all of creation.

 

Listen to the words of Isaiah. Behold, you are angry and we are sinful. We have become like an unclean people, our deeds are like polluted rags. What Isaiah states is an honest admission of what we are, a sinful, ungrateful people. But he also cries out with hope and repentance. He looks for God to come into our world in order to lead us to what is good and right.

 

Isaiah looks for God to come and transform the world. Do we not want this as well? Where nations would truly live at peace with one another; where all people can share in peace and the abundance of created goods; where feuds and factions give way to a common kinship with our Father, whether we call him God, Yahweh or Allah; are these not to be our hopes? Is this not the life we want? A life that is rid of that sinfulness which brings ill-will and hatred; a life rid of fear and anxiety and filled with peace and tranquility; a life rid of selfishness and experiencing God’s loving presence in its fullness. How much more ought Advent be a rime for us to cry out as well and call upon God to restore the world as a whole, to rend the heavens and come and be among us.

 

Amidst all that the commercial world puts before us during this time before Christmas, let the Season of Advent also be fore us a time of prayer and reflection, a time for eager longing as well resolve to be transformed, a time for a genuine restoration in peace for our lives and for our world. It is in this way that the celebration of Christmas will truly be a declaration of our faith in a good and gracious god.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Christ the King – November 22, 2020

Ezechiel 34: 11-12 – 1 Corinthians 15: 20-26 – Matthew 25: 31-46

 

Week after week day after day, perhaps multiple times during the day, we pray that what this feast day of the Church recalls and celebrates might be accomplished. How often do we say, maybe even absent-mindedly, “Thy Kingdom come.” How much what we proclaim today – Jesus Christ as King – do we wish for or do we work for in our world as well as in our daily lives?

 

The Feast of Christ the King, in one way, looks forward to the future, the culmination of God’s creation, when God will be: ”all in all.” So we hear from St. Matthew the description of a final judgement. But, even now, at this time, we can ask ourselves as individuals, whether we measure up to the standards of the Gospel, such as we heard. More importantly, however, in all that we hope for in our world, is the reign of God, the Kingship of Christ, what we truly desire?

 

Where there is hatred and injustice, do we not long for love and understanding? Where there is despair, do we long for hope? Where there is destruction, do we not long for renewal. Where there is violence, terror and war, do we not long for peace? This is striving for the Kingdom of Christ, the fulfillment of God’s plane, that we pray might be experienced even here and now.

 

We proclaim Christ as King, with the confident hope and trust that this will come about. This celebration today prays that the message of Christ’s Gospel, Good News, will be heard – and will be lived out not only by ourselves but throughout our world.

 

There is no doubt that seeking to live out the Gospel is a challenge. Christ did not say that it would be easy. At times his message is rejected and even persecuted. But even in such circumstances, Jesus had declared that we are blessed.

 

In our world and in our lives we must persist in proclaiming Christ as King. We must proclaim that the message of his ministry, his death and his overcoming of even death in his resurrection, will be accomplished. We must live and act in such a way that Christ, and no one else, and noting else, will triumph.

 

May the prayer we repeat over and over again: “Thy Kingdom come” be for us a genuine commitment in faith; may we pray these words with confidence and conviction for these words express the hope and the trust we place in our truly good and gracious god

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year – November 15, 2020

Proverbs: : 1-13, 19-20 – 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6 – Matthew 25: 14-15, 19-21

 

I suspect that in contemporary society there would be many frowns over the words from the Book of Proverbs describing a “worthy wife.” What is important to keep in mind, however, is just what is being praised about the woman. It is not that she is performing domestic tasks. Rather, it is that what she is doing, she is doing well in ways that bring credit to others as well as to herself.

 

Doing things well is also the lesson of the Gospel account to which we listened. Three were given sums of money for their safekeeping. Two of these invested that money and were able to gain a return.. It is the good judgement and prudence of those who invested the funds that is praised. The praise was for doing well with what they had been given. What might be understood in this is that just “getting by” is not enough. There must be effort made with what has been given. All of us have been given the gift of life as well as gifts with our lives. The question that is posed to us is: How well does each one of us do with what has been given to us? Presence.

 

What we also heard today from what Saint Paul wrote to the Christians at Thessalonika fits into this theme. The Thessalonians were quite concerned about the Second Coming of Christ. Paul emphasizes to them that they must go on with their lives. Their focus is to be on the here and now and how they were presently living their lives in light of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. If they would do this well, if they would do the best that could be done, then they were prepared for the Second Coming. This is what is praiseworthy.

 

We can understand this as God’s message to us today. What God in our world in the person of Jesus Christ seeks is a commitment in life to living out the Gospel message. He is not seeking those who are content simply to be Christens, but those who act and live as Christians. He seeks those who strive to make the best choices for themselves, choices that reflect a commitment to reveal the presence of God, the dignity of all persons, and the value of creation around us; choices are a constant effort to be better and to do better.

 

Incorporating this message of Christ is an attitude and approach to life that affects every type of life, every type of individual. It is how we value ourselves, how we value all others, and how we value creation for what all of these are as gifts of our loving Creator and God. If we are what we profess to be, images and likenesses of god, then that is what is to be evident in our lives and how we life.

 

Striving to live and to act in this way is simply a response to our loving God It is a thanksgiving made to God for what has been entrusted to us. It shows to God an appreciation for creating us and giving us life. It allows us to experience all persons and all things that are important to us and have meaning for us. This is an effort on our pat to be like the admirable wife and like the good and faithful servant. It is in our lives and in the best way that we live them that we give praise and thanksgiving to our good and gracious god.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

All Saints – November 1, 2020

Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14 – 1 John 3: 1-3 – Matthew 5: 1-12a

 

I have often heard concerns expressed to me about the difficulty of being alone. Especially I have heard of this from those who are mellowing with age, or who have lost a spouse, but also from others of different ages. Strangely, too, it seems, being lonely does not necessarily mean being by one’s self. Rather, being lonely is felt because of not being understood or appreciated.

 

Fundamental to the message of Jesus Christ is the revelation of God’s love for us as well as the importance of each of us to our loving God, no matter who we are, no matter our particular circumstances we are in. We are not alone. God is with us

 

Consider the way that Jesus made this known in his ministry. His was not a solo mission. He gathered followers around himself and sent them out too announce his presence and his task of announcing Good News. Jesus reminded his followers that when they gathered together, He was with them. In fact, he told them that when they gathered in his name, he with them and would share his very Body and Blood with them. His presence with them would be a Real Presence.

 

We are also assured by our faith in Jesus Christ that, even when we are apart from others, by ourselves, we are not alone. Rather, we are joined with all the others who believe in God and in Jesus Christ.. We are part of those who profess faith as followers of Christ. We are part of what is called the Body of Christ, the Church. We are part of what we profess as a “Communion of Saints.”

 

It is this faith that we recall in the celebration of the Feast of All Saints. The source of the strength of our faith is, in fact, that we share this belief with millions of others including those who are living now and, especially today, with those who have lived in the past. Each one of us can recognize that we are not alone. Others have gone through life as we are doing now. They have done so with belief and trust in God and. Often, with even more difficulties than those which face us now..

 

These are the Saints, these are the Holy Ones we remember today. These are the ones whom Jesus called “blessed.” They were ordinary people. They were people who went through the things we do. They are those who mourned, who hungered for what is right, who were kind and merciful, who were often rejected and even persecuted. Christ called them to be one with him and with others in God’s love. They are like ourselves, described by John as children of God now who can even endure rejection and suffering and continue to sign sing praise and blessing to God.

 

We who believe in God and share in the Body of Christ are part of all of this. We are not alone. We are united with and in union with the Communion of All the Saints – both ordinary and extraordinary people – who know or who knew God’s love and reflected that love in their lives. Ir is as this Communion of Saints of which we are a part, blessed as we are in so many way, that we honor and praise our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirtieth Sunday of the Year – October 25, 2020

 

Exodus 22: 20-26 – Thesalonians 1: 5c-10 – Matthew 22: 34-20

An individual who is described as an “expert of the law” approached Jesus and wanted to know what was the most important law. Perhaps this was a trick question meant to trip up Jesus in his response. That reply was both direct and simple. In fact, what Jesus states is that all of the Revelation that is known can be boiled down to this: Love God, love neighbors as one loves oneself. This is a familiar saying. We know it well. But it is often requires a great effort to understand it and to live it out.

 

At various times and in various conversations, the question is brought up: what does love of self mean. It might seem strange to say “love of self,” almost prideful. But if it is given some thought, this is not the case at all.

 

Love of self does not mean being self-centered or narcissistic. It is not a selfish disregard for everyone else, that no one else counts but the self – me. A healthy love of self consists in being comfortable with who and what I am. It is a healthy acceptance of who and what I am as a creation of God. The lack of being comfortable with one’s self, a lack of self-respect, often leads to the effort to escape.. This can lead, for example, to a variety of addictions: alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, pornography, control. There are other ways that this discomfort with oneself can be evident: envy, jealousy, ridicule, judgement, bigotry, prejudice. All of these suggest not being at ease with just what I am. It is in what I am that I can give honor and glory to God in my life.

 

If one can love one’s self properly then the next step of loving one’s neighbor can be ta taken. Such love is reflected in what we heard from the Book of Exodus. No one is a foreigner any more than any one of us. All of us were once foreigners, alienated from God. But we were treated with compassion by our loving God. All of us, in some time and in some way have experienced this compassionate and loving God through Jesus Christ, often shown to us through the actions of another person.

 

Properly understanding the love of oneself freely allows us to love our neighbor. Love of neighbor shows concern for those who are immediately around us. It also shows concern and respect for fellow human being as well as concern for our common planet. One cannot love a neighbor too much. Nor can a line be drawn that limits the concern and respect shown to any particular person.

 

A genuine love of God flows naturally from the first two. If there is healthy love of self, a love of the life that has been given by God, and if there is a love of the neighbor with whom we have been placed in this world by a loving God, then the genuine love of God will result. One cannot say that God is loved, if the self made by God is not loved. Nor can one say that God is loved, if one’s neighbor, a fellow creation of God, is not loved as well.

 

The response Jesus made to the question which challenged him was straightforward. It is the living out of the whole of that response, starting with ourselves, that proclaims the genuine faith and trust we have in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of the Year – October 18, 2020

Isaiah 45: 4-6 – 1 Thessalonians 1: 1-5b – Matthew 22: 15-21

 

The reminder that is placed before us today is that God acts through human instruments. Our Faith declares the importance of human actions as a way in which God and God’s presence in our world is revealed. The ultimate sign of this, of course, is that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, became a human in order to reveal the total love of our God for us.

 

What Isaiah describes to us is that Cyrus, the king of Persia, a pagan king, was also the instrument of the restoration of God’s Chosen People. In allowing for the rebuilding of the Temple, Cyrus acted in a manner that helped to restore the Jewish nation. What is emphasized in this account is that while Cyrus is mighty in doing this, it is by God’s investiture of him with authority that he is able to accomplish this. Cyrus may have been the king of an earthly kingdom, God was still the Lord of Lords over all of creation.

 

There is, then, a good connection with the familiar passage from the Gospel of Saint Matthew. Jesus offers us the reminder that while we are to take care of our civil duties by “rendering to Cesar, the ultimate, the final, rendering is to be made to God. God and Caesar are not co-equals. God is the final source of authority, the final object of honor.

 

What Jesus says is actually even more significant in our times than in his. The issues in our world are more complex than then and we are much more aware of them. We have a much greater voice in determining what government does. We can affect what Caesar does and who Caesar is. We have a greater duty to insure that government acts in line with God’s purpose for humanity.

 

In the expression of the Catholic Faith there are values which we are to uphold. These values included that of life itself, from beginning to end. These values likewise concern matters of the migration of people, of truth and of honesty, of peace and of justice, and most especially, of the dignity of and the respect for all persons. These are all very much a part of the fabric of our beliefs. However, we can often allow ourselves to be swayed by those whose values are so wrapped up in themselves and their own selfishness.

 

This is not just a matter of politics. There are issues which go beyond politics. Often too much is being rendered to the Caesars of the world and not enough to the purposes of God. Too much of our thinking can be influenced and formulated by the Caesar of this world rather than by the Gospel message.

 

As citizens of our society and members of Christ’s Body, the Church, we must continue the work of God in bringing into the world God’s purpose and God’s goals: the revelation of God’s love for mankind and for all of creation. As Cyrus was once God’s instrument, so we are to be instruments now in revealing the values we possess because of our faith in a good and gracious God.