Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirteenth Sunday of the Year – June 28, 2020

2 Kings 4: 8-11, 14-16a – Acts6: 3-4, 8-11 – Matthew 10: 37-42

 

Last week, the message of God in Scripture was clear: “Fear nothing.” This week, however, seeking that message had me scratching my head in an effort to understand the what was being said.. Jesus, as we heard, makes a rather strong statement, one that is even “strange” as he is speaking to his apostles. He tell them that he is to be more important to them than their own families. Often, in search of that message, it is beneficial to consider the other Scripture passage that accompany the Gospel reading, to discover what insight the may provide.

 

For example, we heard the story about Elisha, the prophet, an his encounters with the a woman of “influence.” Her interest was to have the prophet’s presence in her home to be permanent. He was, in her view, more than another guest of her hospitality. She recognized the holiness that was experienced with this prophet. He was truly representative of the holiness of God. This was the holiness she wanted in her home and in her life.

 

We then heard from the writing of Saint Paul. We are reminded of the close bond that is to exist between Christ and ourselves through baptism. Paul understands that we have been joined with Christ in his death. But we also share in his Resurrection, the restoration of life. What is part of the past is dead. Now we are to live a new, restored life. Baptism, to Paul, is not simply a ritual. It is to be a genuine transformation.

 

As Elisha represents the holiness of God, and as Paul teaches of the basic change that is to take place in us through Baptism, we get a clue, a better insight, into the point that Jesus seeks to make. In receiving Jesus, in accepting him, we accept and receive who has sent him, our God and Father. It is not just a matter of who he is, but who Christ makes present to us. Jesus’ call to us is what the Creator of Life, the One who gave us life intends for us to be and how we are to live. It is not not simply the idea that we are to be nice or kind, but it is essentially how how we have been made to be. We are to live in unity and peace, honoring God and respecting and loving our neighbor.

 

Jesus then takes it a step further. He tells his followers that when others receive them, the receive him as well. The message of Christ in this is that they not only bring themselves, they bring Christ as well. Those who genuinely bring Christ thus reveal the presence of God.

 

A clear understanding of the message of God to us today is that the call made to us is that we are to be aware that a relationship with Christ, with God, is to impact us and be more effectively present in us than even the relationship in a family. Being committed to Christ in our lives gives us a new life, a new dignity, a new respect, a new loving concern that is beyond that which may exist in a family.

 

In the possibly puzzling words that we have heard today, Christ challenges us to live the hope and the potential that the freedom of this new life in him will bring about in each of us: a dramatic reveal our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twelfth Sunday of the Year – June 21, 2020

Jeremiah 20: 10-13 – Romans 5: 12-15 – Matthew 10: 26-33

 

I find it amazing how appropriately God is speaking to us today in what we have heard from the Scriptures which are the manner that God communicate with us.

 

First, there are the thoughts of Jeremiah, the prophet. In his role as prophet he is calling the Chosen People to reform and to return to the covenant relationship between God and themselves. But he is rejected and even persecuted. In his words he gives testimony that he has found the source of hope in his life in God. No matter what would happen to him, his trust is in God. Jeremiah is motivated by a deep and abiding faith in God. What was essential to him was not that he was accepted in his preaching or even that he would survive, but that he maintains his faith and trust in God no matter what.

 

What we hear from St. Paul today is likewise fitting. He is writing toward the end of his life and ministry. He states that in the time before Christ, sin and death prevailed. With Christ, however, everything was different. Salvation and life were possible. Despite all that Paul had gone though, much like Jeremiah, his faith in Jesus Christ, his trust in God, did not waiver. He was firm in his commitment to God and to his mission.

 

Jesus affirmed this understanding in the passage we heard from the Gospel of St. Matthew. If we have true faith in God, we need not fear anything or anyone. This does not mean that we do not need to show both prudence and charity because these virtues, too, show our ultimate belief in the presence of God in our lives.

 

How well the thoughts found in these Scripture passages today fit with the experience we have in our lives at present. The reality of Covid-19 has disrupted so many things we commonly did. Unlike most other tragedies and disasters, the lives of every one of us has been affected in some way. Perhaps, and hopefully, it has not involved illness or death. But there are many other ways in which its presences has impacted us. It has been, indeed, a challenge to the depth of our own faith and trust in God. As frightening and as sobering as the pandemic is, does it not also teach us a great deal about ourselves and about the ability to care about others and not just about ourselves? Have we not benefitted from the thoughtfulness, the generosity and the sacrifice of so many? Heroes, they have been called, whether in hospitals or in grocery stores.

 

At times it may be asked whether this whole experience we are having with Covid-19 and it effects means what God loves us any less. No! What I understand the word of God communicating to us today is that in all things, no matter the challenge before us, our fundamental faith and trust in God is to be maintained. Ultimately we will get through this and we can grow in so many ways as a result. Our God has given us life and our God’s love for us continues.

 

What Jesus tells us and what Paul and Jeremiah demonstrate, is that no matter what we may confront in life, God’s love for us can be discovered and it is this that confirms in us our faith and trust in or good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Corpus Christi – June 14, 2020

Deuteronomy 8: 2-3, 14b-16a – 1 Cor 10: 16-17 – John 6: 51-58

 

I am a firm believer that every day, every situation, offers lessons that can be learned. I find this to be true particularly with the presence of the virus, Covid-19. The greatest effect for us as a parish was, of course, the suspension of the public celebration of Mass. We have not experienced such a thing here during our lifetime. Something which we pretty much took for granted, Sunday Mass, was gone. Perhaps the absence of the availability of Sunday Mass, however, has allowed us to appreciate it all the more. It is the Eucharist that we share with one another and, more importantly, it in the Eucharist that the intimate union with God is also shared.

 

It is that relationship of God with us, with all creation and all humankind, that the Scriptures seek to reveal us and make known to us, time and again. This is abundantly clear, for example, in the account we hear from the Book of Deuteronomy today. We are reminded of what God has done for the chosen People It is a reminder of how God has nourished and sustained them as they wandered in the desert, as God does now in the Eucharist.

 

Jesus takes this nourishment and sustenance to a new and greater dimension. He gives not just a product of the earth which will spoil. Rather, he gives his very essence, his Body and Blood. He gives the whole of what he, the life that flows from him, to us. He gives us these things to us to nourish and sustain us in our lives.

 

Like those who hear him then, so is it even now. What he says is easily rejected. Any number of excuses are made for this. This loving gift that is offered to us is even scoffed at.

 

The Eucharist we share, the Body and Blood of Christ that we recall today, is that love of God offered to us today – day after day and week after week. These are not just words or just some recollection of an event in the past but, in a very substantial way, the Body and Blood, the whole of the person of Jesus Christ. Even if rejected, this gift of love is still offered freely and unconditionally.

 

In our human experience, when we eat, what we consume becomes part of us. Food is a necessity for us as a means to nourish and sustain life in us. It is the message of Jesus Christ that God is not only to be known and worshiped but God desires to be a very part of our lives. The Eucharist is not a gesture. It is a reality by which God joins us to nourish and to sustain us. It is the sharing of the very essence of Jesus Christ in his Body and his Blood.

 

This is the mystery of the Eucharist. A mystery that, perhaps, we appreciate even more now, having experienced its absence. God’s love is extended to us, not in words but in the very being of God-made-man. This is the gift of God’s love that is made so freely available to us. It is for this gift of love that we give thanks today to our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Trinity Sunday – June 7, 2020

Exodus 34: 4b-6, 8-9 – 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13 – John 3: 16-18

 

When praying the Liturgy of the Hours, which has been known in the past as “The Office” or “The Breviary,” I occasionally repeat the words found in Psalm 14: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The denial of God is not a recent phenomenon. As may as 2600 years ago the author of the Psalms laments it.

 

Our attention today, as we celebrate God as Trinity, as Father, Son, Holy Spirit, is directed to the Nature of God. How is God known by us who do not deny God, but profess faith in God? Going beyond what wonders of nature, what the marvels of creation, tell us about God, we are willing to accept how God has been revealed to us. We consider how others, through the centuries, through millennia, have known God. In reality, we are willing to accept what is a very simple and direct idea. As magnificently as human beings are capable of so many great things, still we are but creatures, we are not the origin of what we are, there is a source that is beyond us. Some understand this as a “higher power.” Simply stated, our faith is that there is an origin, a source, a power beyond us that we know as a creative and loving God. That is what we profess as believers.

 

What we understand of this creative and loving God is echoed in the words of Scripture that we have heard today: “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity” “God (who) so loved the world that he gave his only Son so everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.”

 

As often as these same words have been repeated throughout history, they have not been fully grasped, nor understood, nor believed, nor lived. In our weakness, our self-centeredness, our sinfulness, we have refused to accept the simple notion that God loves us and loves creation. God loves all of us. We have refused because the acceptance of this understanding of God demands a true sense of humility – a humility that is genuinely reflected in our lives. If this is how the God who made us, who made all of creation, is, then this is how we ought to be: merciful, gracious, slow to anger and of great kindness. We, too, ought to reflect a deep-seated love for the world and for all of creation. This is what Jesus Christ sought to teach us. We, however, still struggle to live in this way.

 

If we would seek to live in this manner, then the grace and peach of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit would be with us.

 

God who creates, God who redeems, God who inspire, is present to us. Our response is to like that of Moses who acknowledges that we are a stubborn, stiff-necked people in need of pardon, Our response is to humbly acknowledge God and how we have distanced ourselves from God by our selfish choices. Having done this, continually doing this, we can willingly, openly and freely reflect in all aspects and attitudes of our lives a true and vibrant faith in a genuinely good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Pentecost – May 31, 2020

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

 

It seems appropriate, at least to me, now that we are able to gather again, to share the Eucharist and to be with others who are familiar to us, that this takes place on Pentecost, which has traditionally been called the “birthday” of the Church. There is, indeed, a sense of rebirth, a sense of starting over again, after two long months. In a way, perhaps more so than previously, we can appreciate that Pentecost celebrates the reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit with us.

 

Our Faith declares to us, and by us, that we enjoy a relationship with God. It is a relationship that is vibrant. It is a relationship that is genuine. It is at the core of our Faith that God is with us, that God is part of our lives. God is not aloof from us. God has not abandoned us. God is present in every aspect of our lives. Pentecost celebrates the very intimacy which we share with our God through the Holy Spirit dwelling with us. It is an intimacy that affects us. It is an intimacy that transforms us in the way we live and how we truly value life itself.

 

Think of our human experience because it provides us an insight into the effect of this bond with our loving God. When we know that we are loved by another person, when we sense a close bond with the one who loves us, it makes a significance difference to us. It affects us in a profound manner. All the more is this to be true for us because of God’s love for us.

 

It is this aware ness that helps to explain the different images of the presence of the Holy Spirit that are given in the Scriptures Each image presents an insight into the love of God found in the presence of the Spirit. But each images is also inadequate in fully describing God’s presence with us in the Spirit.

 

In the Gospel of Saint John, for example, heard ta the Vigil Mass for Pentecost, the emphasis is on the presence of the Spirit as being “refreshing” like water is for one who is thirsty. This is only one of the familiar images from the Scriptures used to describe the presence of the Holy Spirit. Other illustrations used are: wind, which can be both refreshing and powerful; fire, which both gives light and also burns; a dove that is envisioned as both beautiful and peaceful.

 

The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the presence of God with us, if we are truly active in our response, affects in all these ways. The Spirit’s power enables us to changer our lives, to make us truly come alive. The Spirit presence can be refreshing in the literal sense of the word, in rooting out the old and in making us new, in the same way that the earth is renewed and made fresh again. The presence of the Spirit enlightens us with new knowledge, new perception in realizing God’s plan in our word. The presence of the Spirit also inflames us with desire and passion for proclaiming the Good News, the Gospel of our Lord. And it is the present of the Spirit with us that can bring us profound peace of mind, heart, and spirit.

 

Perhaps now, more than at any other time in our lives, when we have experienced the confusion of the past two months that continues, we need to be reminded of the presence of the Spirit of God in all these ways. It is the Holy Spirit, the abiding and graced presence of God that we celebrate today, who seeks to affect every aspect of our lives. Let us pray that we can show forth now and in the days, the weeks, the months top come, a genuine sense of hope, renewal and trust in our good and gracious God.

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.