Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Third Sunday of Easter – May 5, 2019

Acts 5: 27-32, 40b-41 Revelation 5: 11-14 John 21: 1-14

 

What I just read from the Gospel of Saint John is not simply a retelling of another of the experiences that the Apostles of Jesus had of his rising from the dead. Rather, it is truly an account that is rich in both information and insight into what we are, as a body of believers, as Church. John wants us, and all who hear or read his Gospel, to understand this. Our Faith is not something that is only individual. Our Faith is to be lived and shared as Church. This has been true beginning with the Resurrection and has continued through the early years of the Church, during the centuries since, and certainly now.

 

Consider what is told to us in these brief words. Peter takes the initiative to go out and fish, to return to the trade that he and others had pursue. Recall, however, that early in Jesus’s ministry they were told that they were to be “fishers of men.” Peter, in this instance, takes the lead to begin this task and calls upon the others to follow.

 

But the Lord still needs to be part of this work. The Apostles catch nothing until he directs them. T\But they do not recognize him until they put their faith in him. It is only after that act of faith that they take in a great haul. Peter recognizes that he is stripped, nearly naked and thus dependent. Again, he take the lead in bringing the others to shore. This small community of believers then join in a meal that Jesus provides. There are clear overtones oft he story of the multiplication of the loaves. More importantly, there are overtones of the sharing of the Eucharist as they join in this meal. Clearly Jesus envisions his followers to continues as a community, as an assembly, as church. Peter acts as and is confirmed by Jesus as a leader. This is simply because when there is a group, there is also a need for a leader. This is what is shown to us today by St. John.

 

As we celebrate the Resurrection, we also celebrate the renewal of life in ourselves as individuals, but likewise in ourselves as a community of faith. Our Faith, as followers of Jesus Christ finds its strength and its renewal not just in an individual relationship with Christ but, more importantly, in the relationship that exists with us as a community of faith. That is why it is so essential that we come together in prayer and praise. It is this that emphasizes the importance of joining together in worship week after week. Genuine Christian, Catholic faith is expressed as a community of worship in the celebration of the Sacraments. The early Church community, about which we also heard today, serves as a model. It found its strength in the shared faith of one another. They came together as a community of believers.

 

We renew our faith as we come together and share in the Eucharist today. It is the faith we each declare individually, but it is, and must continue to be, a faith that is nurtured, strengthened and firmly declared by us as a church, as a community of believers.

 

It is in this manner that the close followers of Jesus and the early Church, as well as believers throughout the centuries up to and including ourselves, profess trust and conviction in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Second Sunday of Easter – April 26, 2019

Acts 5:12-16 Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 John 20:19-31

 

Often, as part of a routine greeting we make, the questions is asked, “How are you?” It really is a rhetorical question. It is not looking for a genuine answer. So the response given is something like “OK” or “Doing fine” or simply “Alive.” This is so no matter what might the case of how one is really feeling. But, being “Alive,” especially for a person of faith, means a great deal more. The Easter Season celebrates the central mystery of our faith, that Jesus Christ has overcome death. He has risen fro the dead. He is “Alive.”

 

What about us, however? We declare ourselves to be believers in the Resurrection. When, in a general sense, we speak about a person who is “alive” we often mean that the person is “lively.” That person exudes, effervesces, even “bubbles” in some way. That person is said to have “life.” Indeed,, this is the sort of life which we are to have because of our faith. This may not be so much what we show or how we act externally. But it is “life” shown in the confidence, the courage that marks the way we live.

 

Much like the early Church about which we heard today. They would meet together despite opposition. They would tolerate and rise above persecution because of their faith. At the same time, the movement was growing. There was something to their belief. That something was the Spirit of the Lord that allowed them to add to their numbers. The Spirit of the Lord moved the people in their conviction that the Lord had truly overcome death. Because of this, there was a new vision, a new perspective on life, a new perspective on the world as a whole.

 

John, too, was alive in his faith, even though he was in exile because of persecution. In the midst of persecution he had a vision of the Lord.. This led him to write of the triumph of the Church over persecution. His vision is of the Risen Lord who says imply: There is nothing to fear. I am the beginning and the end of all things. I am the alpha and the omega. Nothing comes before me, nothing comes after me. Put faith in me and all will be well.

 

We also heard the familiar story about the Apostles after the Resurrection and, in particular, about Thomas. Thomas doubts the news that he hears. Then, a week later, he declares his belief. There is a little twist in what is added by the words of Jesus. Thomas believed because he saw. We are to believe even though we do not see. This is an affirmation by our Lord of the faith that is to be alive in us.

 

While this may be the way we should be, we could look at ourselves and often recognize that we are the Thomas of Easter Sunday rather than the Thomas of a week later. We see in ourselves what reflects doubt and skepticism rather that the enthusiasm of “My Lord and my God.”

 

So, then, we are to examine ourselves. We proclaim the same faith as Thomas. We proclaim the same faith as John and the other followers of Jesus. We proclaim the same faith as the early Church. We proclaim that Jesus Christ is risen, that he is alive. Thus, are we “alive” in way that truly proclaim our faith in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord – April 21, 2019

Acts of the Apostles 10: 34a, 37-43 Colossians 3: 1-4 Luke 24: 1-12

 

The celebration of Easter, for the Church, is steeped in history. At the Easter Vigil there are multiple readings from Scripture which recount the story and the effects of God’s loving action on behalf of mankind. Easter day takes us back to that shocking experience when the women who came to the tomb of Jesus, expecting to find the body of the one who had been betrayed, condemned and crucified, not there. The tomb was empty. What this discovery meant only slowly become clear.

 

Celebrating Easter can also direct our minds and our faith to the future. It is our faith that human death does not end life. United with the God-man, Jesus Christ, through baptism, we will eventually share in the fulness of a glorified life with God. This is demonstrated to us by the Resurrection of the Lord that we recall.

 

Yet, what does the celebration of Easter mean to us today? It is not just looking back or looking to the future. It is not just this particular day on a calendar. What does it mean today, in our lives, in our world, at this time and place in which we live?

 

We who, at Easter, joyously express faith in Jesus Christ as risen also realize and understand that in our lives and in our world whatever is death can be overcome by resurrection. As Jesus Christ was not defeated by death on a cross, we ,too, can be filled with hope, we can be confident that we will not be defeated, we will rise as well.

 

The impact of Easter that we celebrate is to resonate within us. It is the restoration of every hope, every ideal, every vision which we have for ourselves and for our world. It is a call to recognize deep within ourselves what the Resurrection truly means. Nothing and no one has any control over us. It is to say, to believe, to declare, that death has no more power over us. As persons of faith, what motivates and directs us and our lives is a full awareness of God’s triumphant love for us

 

Easter powerfully reminds us to go within ourselves and recognize that we can overcome anything which might try to defeat us. Is it a lack of love or understanding? It can be overcome. Is it an addiction or a dependency? It can be overcome. It is fear, or sorrow, or pain that is deep within our hearts? It can be overcome.

 

Our world, and every part of it, our lives and every part of them, look for and need the promise, the hope, and the triumph, that Easter proclaims. So it is that we, in our lives, in our words, and in our actions, both today at Easter and throughout the year, declare with deep conviction that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the triumph of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – April 14, 2019

Isaiah 50: 4-7 Philippians 2: 6-11 Luke 22: 14 – 23: 56

 

Most of us, at one time or another, have felt overwhelmed by our lives and the challenges we may face. We may experience pain or suffering, rejection or loss. This is not a lament about these things. Rather, it is a recognition of reality.

 

With that in mind, we heard today the account of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ as told by Saint Luke. The facts are familiar to us. What they represent, in the manner that Saint Luke tell us about them, is the tragic manner in which Christ is united with us in the reality of this life.

 

Consider this: the whole life and ministry of Jesus is upended, thrown into disarray. Peter, at first, was ready to defend Jesus with a sword, and then denies him. Even Jesus, we confronted with suffering and death experiences in his human nature a very personal crisis as well as indecision.

 

Then there are the unexpected contradictions that abound in this account. For example, those who are supposedly learned in the law mock and condemn Jesus. A pagan Pilate declares that there is no case against Jesus. A foreign Roman governor, Pilate, becomes a friend of a native-born, traitor and ruler, Herod, who is greedy for power and wealth. A bandit proclaims Jesus as king and a Roman soldier says that he is innocent. Many of us, too, experience contradictions in our own lives.

 

In other words, as we hear the account as told to us by Saint Luke we can consider the challenges that we all face and recognize that Jesus Christ, the God-man, encountered so much. Despite this, despite even death on the cross, it was not a tragic end but a gateway to triumph. What Jesus experienced, what he suffered, would lead to the Resurrection, to new life.

 

A message that we can hear today is that in all challenges and difficulties we may encounter in life, we can be joined with Jesus in confidently trusting in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fifth Sunday of Lent – April 7, 2019

Isaiah 43: 16-21 Philippians 3: 8-14 John 8: 1-11

 

If the story of the Prodigal Son, which we heard last week, is the most powerful Gospel story on forgiveness, and I believe that it is, then what I just read is the account of the most powerful incident during the ministry of Jesus about forgiveness. It is powerful because it addresses the important matter of infidelity to the marriage covenant. It is powerful because of the response that Jesus made: simply scribbling in the sand. It is powerful because of the reminder that is made to the accusers that only one who is free of any guilt could condemn.

 

In hearing this account it is important to remember that the action of being unfaithful to the covenant of marriage is the sign in the Scriptures of how God’s Chosen People treated the relationship with God. Despite God’s goodness to them, they had been unfaithful They had turned to their neighbors, to other religions, to paganism, and abandoned God. They were unfaithful to the commitment of a loving God to them, to God who had acted on their behalf.

 

The question made to Jesus was what did he have to say about such infidelity. It was not a question, as we can understand John’s Gospel, about the infidelity of the woman in question, but about the infidelity in humanity’s response to God. In essence, Jesus’ response is directed at our unfaithfulness to God’s love. The real beauty of this story is that Jesus said nothing to the woman at this point. He only scribbled in the sand. When te accusers were gone, he tells her simply not to do this again. She was to change her way of life. She was to eliminate this infidelity from her life.

 

This incident and the response of Jesus sums up the whole direction of Christ’s teaching and ministry which is to reconcile us to God. Christ seeks to have all of us realize the depth of God’s desire that we be reunited with God, that we be one with God. It is in this way that we gain an understanding of the purpose of our lives and the manner in which we are to live our lives. We are constantly and continuously to reflect in our lives the image of God that we are. We are to realize that the possibility of renewing that relationship with God is always open to us.

 

God’s love, God’s forgiveness, persists. We need only to respond to it. Like the woman in the account, no matter what we have done, God will not act to end the relationship between us. Only we can do this, Only we can end the relationship with God if we cut ourselves off from God, if we are unwilling to change, if we are unwilling to repent, if we are unwilling to work to restore the loving relationship with God.

 

We heard Isaiah the prophet remind us today that whatever has been part of the past in our lives, God is doing something new with us. This is the renewal we prepare to celebrate at Easter, the renewal of the relationship between God and ourselves. St. Paul spoke with confidence as he acknowledged in himself the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus and the change that this has made in his life. Everything of the past that might hold him back was just so much rubbish.

 

Jesus simply scribbled in the sand when he heard the very human and vengeful judgement made about the woman. More than anything else this reveals the truth of the loving forgiveness available to us from our good and gracious God.