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.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

28th Sunday of the Year – October 11, 2020

Isaiah 25: 6-1a – Philippians 4: 12-14 – Matthew 12: 1-10

 

What better way to describe how God seeks to be united with us than to speak of a banquet, an image that is familiar to us. A banquet usually celebrates some type of special occasion or event. . In addition to the sharing of food in a bountiful way, there is the expression of gratitude and esteem that is conveyed to those who are invited. It is a truly fitting way to describe the “Kingdom,” the abiding presence of God with us.

 

Much is involved in putting on a banquet. In addition to the preparation of the food, there are the invitations, the responses of the guests, the setting and decorations, s well as the entertainment or program presented. These things are all apparent in both of the passages of Scripture that we have heard, from Isaiah and Matthew. Yet, in the Gospel account, despite all that has been done and the importance of the occasion being celebrate, the invitations are refused. The rationalizations given for this refusal are twofold. On the one hand there is the failure to recognize the values of what is being offered. On the other hand, the invited guests allow their own selfishness to overrule the effort to take part in the event.

 

The story of God’s relationship with mankind, with us, is the story of the generosity of god. In addition to giving the gift of life, God has given us this world, this universe, indeed, all of creation. Even more God has entered this world in the person of Jesus Christ, shared our life, and gave of that life on our behalf.

 

Often, particularly in past times, we have refused the generosity of these gifts of god to us. Perhaps we have taken them for granted. Or we have fallen victim to a common trait in our society and culture of seeking some type of self-directed, self gratification. Perhaps our experience now with the limitations we have experiences during these last few months as well as the inconveniences we have had to endure out of consideration of others, we have recognized, or have had the opportunity to recognize, what is genuinely important, what is genuinely valuable.

 

We need, however, to be open to hearing the invitation made to us by God. It calls for a genuine desire to dialogue with God in prayer. It calls for a removing of what might distract us and take us away from the Lord. It calls for doings away with selfishness – something that can be difficult.

 

Once again, it is Saint Paul who gives us an important lesson. The Christians at Philippi to whom he was writing, had generously supported him. For this he was grateful. But he also points out that whether he has all he needs, or he is deprived of even the essentials for living made no difference to him. What is important to him was proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

What we have heard today is a description of how God, in many different and bountiful ways, seeks to be joined with us. More than anything else, this is what the banquet prepared for us, the banquet to which we have been invited, represents to us. This Banquet, the Kingdom of

 

God, is a reality made known to us in the ministry of Jesus Christ. The invitation made to us is to continue that ministry, that mission, in our daily lives through the way we make known our faith and trust in goo and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Seventh Sunday of the Year – October 4, 2020

Isaiah 5: 1-7 – Philippians 4: 6-9 – Matthew 21: 33-43

 

As St. Matthew recorded the parable of Jesus that we heard today, it was addressed in a very direct way, to the leaders of the Jewish society of that time. But we also understand that God speaks to us here and now through these inspired writings of the Scriptures. Thus we can ask ourselves, how do we find meaning for ourselves from what is being said, particularly along with the beautiful poetry of Isaiah which we also heard.

 

One consideration is that in the imagery of both passages we are told of the relationship God seeks with us. The deep love, the concern, the cultivation of all of us describes how God desires to relate to us. How is it, then, that we are to react and to respond? I have mention on numerous occasions that in this gift of life we have received, there are man “opportunities” presented to us. These are many opportunities to grow and to develop and thus to yield a rich and bountiful harvest in our lives.

 

Isaiah describes the Israelites of old as well as us, as a vineyard. All of us and each of us is like a grapevine that needs constant care and attention. It needs proper weather as well a careful cultivation in order to yield a good harvest. Like the owner of the vineyard, God’s effort is constant and continuous. All that can be done has been done. But, for some reason, the vine failed. It did not respond. The owner of the vineyard, however, God in this imagery, will try once again.

 

In the story told by Jesus, the owner does what he can in order to gain back what is due to him.. But the workers constantly reject the owner’s efforts. The workers, in the enthusiasm of their rebellion, foolishly perceive themselves as entitled to take over ownership of the vineyard. Their response was contrary to the owner’s efforts, as can often reject God’s love for us in the choices we make. They do not succeed and bring on their own destruction.

 

In our human experience of relationships, in order to succeed, the efforts must be mutual. There are man opportunities for the relationship to deepen and to grow. But the effort cannot be made only by one party. One cannot be active while the other is passive. There must be co-operation, a working together that is present and active in both. So it is in our relationship with God.

 

It is in the words of Saint Paul that we have also heard today that we are given insight into how we are to respond to God. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent, praiseworthy – these are the qualities that are to mark our lives. Choosing thee are the opportunities given to us to gain a bountiful harvest in how we live. Lives that are lived in this way are lives that truly reflect and reveal a deep commitment to and a response to our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year – September 27, 2020

Isaiah 5: 1-7 – Philippians 4: 6-9 – Matthew 21: 33-43

 

I believe we have to give some credit to Saint Luke as he put together his account of the ministry of Jesus and composed his presentation of the Gospel. He did not hesitate to include some very shocking statements of Jesus such as telling the self-righteous leaders such as the Pharisees, that tax-collectors and prostitutes would be saved. Why? These persons were willing to listen to his word and repent of their lives.

 

This can be shocking to us as well. Jesus was looking to what could be considered the “low-life” of society and finding there a spirit of repentance and a humble recognition of failure rather than self-righteous smugness. To be honest, we may well be like the leaders, and wonder why he was wasting his time with these people. After all, what do they know by comparison with the learned leaders? It may well be that we, like them, are made uncomfortable by being so caught up in the conviction of how God ought to deal with us that we do not truly listen to what Jesus says and act upon it.

 

An appropriate response to God speaking to us today is found in the writing of Saint Paul. Our own smugness, the thinking that leads us to rejecting the blunt statements of Jesus, comes from the idea that before God we are better than others, that there are some others who are less than us.

 

But we might react and say that this is not true. Give it some thought. Every time we allow prejudice to exist in our mind, we think that we are better that the victim of that prejudice.

 

Every time we are envious or jealous of someone else, we actually feel that what they are or have ought to be ours. Every time we think revengeful or hateful thoughts about another, we are actually thinking that it is right to act against them because I am better than they are.. So very much of what might trouble us, whether as a spouse or family or neighbor or co-worker, or what troubles us with our country or between nations, stems from just these very attitudes and ideas.

 

It is precisely to this that Saint Pail states that our attitude is to be that of Christ. Let everyone think that the other is superior. Then there is no one who is lowly. There are no “dregs” of society unworthy of consideration. Treat everyone as being better then there is no one who is worse or less than oneself. Have the attitude of Christ, the one who though equal to God was willing to humble himself and take on our flesh. Christ was willing obediently to accept death, even death on the cross. Christ was willing to associate with repentant tax collectors, prostitutes, and the like.

 

Difficult as this may seem, as shocking as it may even be, it will be in assuming the attitude of Christ, and in no other way, that we continue the ministry of Jesus told to us in the Gospels, the ministry of making known our good and gracious god