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.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Seventh Sunday of the Year – October 6, 2019

Habakkuk 1: 2-3; 2:2-4 2 Timothy 1: 6-8, 13-14 Luke 17: 5-10

 

If you are like me, we have to admit that there have been days or situations when we may have wondered whether there is a God, when it almost seems pointless to have faith in God. Perhaps this might be because of personal matters or perhaps it may arise from just reading or hearing the news. This, however, an age-old question a questions hat is raised today in the passages which we have heard from the Scriptures.

 

We heard first from Habakkuk, a prophet speaking 2700 years ago, yet sounding as if he might be speaking today. He is puzzled. Why is there violence? Why is there hatred? Why is there discord and strife? Why must others suffer? God, why do you not intervene, why do you not do something? Where are youGod? His words could easily be our own.

 

Then, in his prayer and reflection Habakkuk understands a response. Do not give up believing just because now things are difficult. He is reminded that God is loving, God is faithful, God is eternal. It is the rash one, the one who wants an immediate answer who is short-sighted, who collapses, who falls apart.The one who has faith, however, lives on, persists, continues and perseveres whatever the situation.

 

Paul offered similar considerations to his friend and disciple, Timothy. He encourages him to be strong in his work and remember the commitment he had made. He is not to waiver or be weak in the calling he has heard. He is to continue to preach the word and proclaim it with the whole of his life. This is the experience of faith that he is to have. It ought to be remembered where Paul is at this point in his life as it gives particular insight into his words. Paul is old. He is confined and facing trial because of his faith and his work. He could easily be skeptical and doubt the value of all he ha done in view of what is before him and before Timothy.

 

But he tells both himself and Timothy to listen to the words that have been proclaimed and have been experienced. Listen with faith and trust to the message of the love of God that is made clear in the teachings of Christ. What motivates Paul and what is to motivate us when doubting and questioning is a firm faith that there is, indeed, a God – a God who truly loves us. That is what the life and teaching of Jesus proclaimed. That is what his death on the cross proclaims to us: God so loved the world; God so loves us.

 

This same encouragement is found in the words of Jesus we have also heard today. True faith in God can remove any obstacle that might be before us. Nothing is so powerful that cannot be overcome by a genuine faith and trust in God. This is Christ speaking on his slow journey to death on a cross. This encouragement is offered to us who are to take up the cross with him.

 

Jesus also cautions us. This is not a a matter of bargaining with God. Love is not a bargain, it is not a deal that is made. Genuine love is unconditional. Such is God’s love for us.

 

We live out this faithful response to God as we are, as who we are, as what we are. Like the servants in the Gospel waiting on their master, doing what we are to do as we are and how we are is the way in which we respond. It is an unconditional response to our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year – September 29, 2019

Amos 6: 1a, 4-7 1 Timothy 6: 11-16 Luke 16: 19-31

 

A good understanding of the story told by Jesus about the rich man and Lazarus comes from the message of Amos the prophet that we heard today: “Woe to the complacent.” One who is “complacent” is pleased with the status quo,” is focused on self and has no regard for others. This particular story is not unique to the Gospels/ Similar contrasts of the situation of the rich and poor are found in the Old Testament and in other ancient Middle East literature.

The rich man, as the story is told, is not seen as necessarily evil man. He did not treat Lazarus badly. He simply ignored him. He was only interested in his own good fortune and taking advantage of it. Like those addressed by the Prophet Amos, he was complacent, self-indulgent and not at all concerned with someone else.

Lazarus, on the other hand, was not necessarily a contrasting good person. He was willing to take advantage of the opportunities available to him. He ate the leftovers when they were available to him. Even the dogs licking his wounds was a type of health are for him, as dogs lick their own wounds in order to heal them.

 

It is not a story about putting ups with pain and suffering now because a reward will come later. What, then can be derived from this teaching of Jesus? As a matter of fact, Jesus added his own twist to this story. It is found in the second conversation between Abraham and the rich man. The rich man asks for an extraordinary sign to be gives: that Lazarus rise from the dead and go back to the rich man’s brothers to warn them. But this is not the solution. It will not change things. The means we need to live our lives properly are available to us now. But we must be aware of them, attentive to them and respond, rather than be complacent. That response must be genuine and com from within the person, not brought on by some extraordinary occurrence.

 

Seen in another way, the true wealth or poverty of an individual is not directly related to an amount of material possessions. It depends, rather, on how one recognizes and responds to the opportunities that are presented, no matter the context of one’s life as rich or poor.

 

What is available to us can be understood in what Saint Paul writes to his disciple and friend, Timothy. “Lay hold of unending life to which we are called.” Live life in a right manner, we are told, with devotion, faith, love and patience. We are to do this whatever one’s circumstance might happen top be/ It is not any easier whether one happens to be rich or poor.

 

We would do well to reflect on Jesus Christ when he was confronted with death. It was the source of his glory, not shame. As demeaning and defeating as the crucifixion was, Jesus acted. We ought not we ought not waiver but seek to live without stain or reproach. This is what proclaims the reality in which we believe and lives. It is not just words, it is action. Whatever the status of our lives, they are the opportunity give us daily to make known, to reveal, our good and gracious God.