Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

First Sunday of Advent – December 1, 2019

Isaiah 2: 1-5 Romans 13: 11-14 Matthew 24: 37-44


Events can occur in our lives, as well as in our world, that are greatly upsetting. For any one of us it can be something like a catastrophic illness, an unexpected death, or even the simple demands of everyday life. In our world, it can be a natural disaster or man-made terror and war.


Yet, no matter what tragedy or difficulty we might encounter, for people of faith, those who believe in God and in Jesus Christ, there is one constant, an anchor, a solid foundation, on which we rest. Put in another way, through all of the challenges of simply being alive, there is a common and constant strength that we possess. It is the trust and the hope that we profess in God, and in the love of God for us. As a result, the purpose of the creation of which we are a part, and the purpose of our lives, accompanied by the love of God that they reflect, will be accomplished. It will be achieved. It will be fulfilled.


This is the vision and the hope which the Season of Advent proclaims. This is the vision and the hope that is found in the beautiful words of Isaiah the prophet that we heard today. This is the vision and the hope that encourages us as we begin again the annual cycle of reflections and celebrations that are a part of our preparation for the recalling of the coming of God into the world in the person of Jesus Christ at Christmas.


We are to hear the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew that was read today not as something which brings on fear. Certainly, it is not a threat It is a simple counsel given to us that advise us and give us encouragement. We are to be alert, attentive, to everything around us. In ways that might be totally unexpected, the presence of God is revealed.


We are to live, as St. Paul tells us, not just for the moment, but also with the view of what will be. The love of God and the purpose of God will be accomplished. It will be fulfilled. We are to live so as to be part of this. Even in the darkest moments of our lives and of our own human history, the light of God, the light of Christ can and will break forth. It is firm faith ad trust in this that motivates us as believers in Jesus Christ.


Of the many gifts that we might present to others at this time of the year, let it be the faith and trust in God that we can share. Let it be the faith and trust in God that, most of all, we are to celebrate.


In the belief and the practice we proclaim, even as simply as by our presence her today, what is to guide us in the choices we make and in the lives we live is the faith, the hope, the trust that this Season recalls. It is the faith, the hope, the trust in the presence with us, then, now, and in he future of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year – November 17, 2019

Malachi 3:19-20 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 Luke 21:5-19


The framework of Saint Luke’s Gospel which we have been following through the last months has, as its destination, Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the focus and center of the followers of Jesus as devout Hews. It was the Temple, located in Jerusalem, that was the central symbol of their distinct faith in God. Having now reached this important destination, Jesus tells his listeners that all of this, Jerusalem and the Temple, will pass away, not a stone will be left on another. This statement could be nothing but shocking to all of them.


What we need to keep in mind, as believers, as we hear this, is that the message that Is being conveyed by Jesus, is a message of hope, not fear. No matter what might be experienced, no matter how often it might appear that it is evil which succeeds, no matter what adversity seems to have the upper hand in life, do not give up, do not lose faith.


God does not meddle in our history God invites us God came into our history in the person of Jesus Christ to tell us that we have been created in love. Indeed, we are loved. But we also can choose. With the ability and the potential we have been given we can choose to make real, in our lives, what we are to be, a reflections of our Maker. We are to be reflections of the goodness and love of God who gave us existence. Christ also came to tell us that the freedom we have to choose how to act is the way that the purpose of God in creation can be accomplished. All of us are a part of this. All of us can accomplish this.


What Jesus’s words to us today tell us is that faith in God and lives lived in terms of this faith and trust will ultimately triumph. Perhaps this will not be in ways that the world and society measure victory, but in ways that Jesus tries, again and again, to remind us. The key to success in life, being that person each of us is created to be, comes by faith and trust in the teachings of Jesus. This is not always easy. It is not free of stress and anxiety. It is not free of misunderstanding or rejection by others. But if we remain true to his words and teaching, our ultimate experience will be victory, triumph, success. We will come to a true realization of what is valuable, what is important, what has true worth.


Saint Paul tells the followers of Jesus of his time, and tells us as well, that the approach to daily living involves doing what we can in caring for others as well as for ourselves. This maybe simple or even routine, but this is what is needed to be a good person, one who truly reflects the goodness of God. This is to be done despite ridicule, at times, or even the rejection of being said to be foolish. Living in this way will bring true peace of mind and heart.


As persons of faith and trust in God, it is no longer the Temple, but the Body of Christ that we are, which is to be the visible sign and symbol revealing God. Remember that in our world today it is in and through us that is found an experience of the presence of our good and gracious God

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirty-Second Sunday of the Year – November 10, 2019

Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14 2 Thessalonians, 2:16; 3:5 Luke 20:27-38


In the cycle of nature we experience here in the upper part of the northern hemisphere, fall arrives and the spring and summer flowers wither and fade. The leaves on the trees first show color and then are replaced by absence and thus stand bare. These are familiar reminders of death and dying.


Our faith, however, declares something different. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, assumed all the aspects of human nature. This action reached its culmination in accepting death on the cross. Rather than an end, however, his death was the gateway to theResurrection, It was the conquest of human death by the rising to new and unending life. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to our faith.


As we may lament the disappearance of flowers and leaves on the trees, we definitely look forward to their restoration next Spring. So it is in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that we celebrate in faith. We do not need to consider the Resurrection only in terms of some future time, but also in terms of the present and how faith in the Resurrection affects us now. In whatever way we might experience a certain sense of dying such as in pain or suffering or illness or even old age, we can do so with a confidence and with a hope that is based on faith in the Resurrection. Indeed, the faith we profess tells us that in whatever way we experience death, it is not an end but an opportunity for transformation.


God speaking to us today in the Scriptures focuses on the meaning of Resurrection. The seven brothers are asked to do a simple things: eat pork. But to do so would go against their tradition and law. Thus they endure torture, punishment and ridicule from those who would eventually kill them. They did this because they know and believe that they will be restored to life. This would not happen in some magical way, in a return to life they had known, but in a deeper and richer sense of what life is, a restoration to life in union with the very Creator of life.


Jesus points out that the petty concerns of the Sadducees are really meaningless. They are the skeptics, the secularists of their day in Jewish society. They are not concerned with the real understanding of life that Jesus offered to those who believed in him and his message. Jesus seeks for us to understand that the petty concerns of this life have little meaning in comparison to the life and hope that is realized in the Resurrection.


We need to keep things in perspective. What we are to do now is to live our lives in ways that proclaim the Resurrection with the same confidence that we have that flowers will grow and the life of trees will be restored. We are to show the transformation in our lives that faith in the Resurrection reveals even now the constant presence with us of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirty-First Sunday of the Year – November 3, 2019

Wisdom 11: 22 -12: 22 Thessalonias 1: 11 – 2: 2 Luke 19: 1-10


One of the qualities of the Gospel account presented by Saint Luke is that it includes what might be considered colorful incidents about different individuals. Such is the casein the story of Zaccheus which we just heard. It is an incident that is, in a way, somewhat humorous. But it is also rich in meaning.


The encounter with Zaccheus takes place in Jericho. Jesus is still on his journey to Jerusalem and, ultimately, to execution on a cross. He has shown and taught what it means to take up the cross and follow him. Now he has come to Jericho, an ancient city that physically the lowest city in the land. There he will meet Zaccheus, a tax collector. As a tax collector. Zaccheus is following a profession that qualifies him as among the lowest of the low persons in his society. He had heard of Jesus and wanted to see him. But he was even low in stature and had to lift himself into a tree. He is called by name, converts and reforms. He thereby shares in the saving love of God in the words of Jesus.


The message is clear. If Zaccheus can be saved, all can be saved. If he can be seen as a person of faith, then faith is possible for all persons. If he can radically change his life, all can change their lives as well.


No one is excluded from the loving mercy of God, the loving mercy that Jesus proclaims. It is that loving mercy that finds it ultimate expressed upon the cross. It is that cross that we are all called upon to take up as we follow Jesus.


Any doubt or question that we might have is answered in the vision offered by the writer of the Book of Wisdom. Before the power of our creative God, even the most powerful forces of nature are like small seeds or drops of dew. Before the merciful love of God, nothing is loathed or rejected or hated. Before the forgiving presence of God, even the worst sinner, the lowliest of the low who rejects God can be welcomed back, forgiven, reconciled.


All of us, as St. Paul reminds the Christians of Thessalonika, can share in God’s purpose and calling. All of us can look forward to the fulfillment of every good purpose and effort of faith. All of us can look forward to the “Day of the Lord” without fear or alarm.


It is with this vision of faith in Jesus Christ than even death itself is no longer to be feared. Those who have distanced themselves from God because of selfishness and sin can be assured of the opportunity to celebrate because conversion and reconciliation is possible. That is the lesson to be learned from the story of Zaccheus.


Mindful that this past week we honored All Saints and we prayed for All Souls, we did so because we are convinced in our faith – like Zaccheus – of the all-powerful love and mercy of our good and gracious God.

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.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year – September 22, 2019

Amos 8: 4-7 1 Timothy 2: 1-8 Luke 16: 1-13


Of the variety of examples or stories that Jesus uses to describe the response he wishes to receive to his message, perhaps the one we heard today is more familiar or easy to understand. Rather than speaking of sheep and vineyards, he describes an incident of price manipulation.


In the Gospel story he speaks of a steward, a property manager, who is accused of abusing his position and being dishonest. What did he do to protect himself? He did not cut out the proceeds that were owed to the owner. Rather, he cut his commission. The prices that were owed had been jacked up to increase what he would make. He was willing to take a loss now in order to provide for himself later on.


It might seem strange to hear the steward being commended. What was being admired? The steward was finally showing some common sense by looking ahead. He was getting away from a concern only for the immediate gratification he had grown used to. He was recognizing that there were more important things in life that he had to consider and for which he needed to plan.


Part of what is described in this story is familiar. We encounter it often and are enticed by it – price manipulation. Consider the variety of ways in which discounts are offer on so many things, and we are enticed by them. Profits are still being made. The hope is for a greater amount of sales. Or consider all the hype that surrounds “Black Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving. Bargains are offered to draw customers in, that they might spend even more. Much of this is the same as we heard today- manipulation in order to achieve a beneficial goal.


Jesus’ message is that a clear effort is made in order to achieve a superficial end. This ought to be surpassed by the effort we make to achieve what is truly important. Living and making choices in life are to reflect a faith and trust in a loving God. We are to recognize what is truly important, what is genuinely valuable to us. At times this may seem to be too demanding, too difficult, too unattractive and inconvenient. But the lesson offered to us today is that we are too look long-term, with perspective on life and on living that reflects what is important and has value for us. Being trustworthy in small things will lead to being trustworthy in larger things.


A similar way of thinking is found in the reflections offered in the other messages we have heard today. Amos, the Old Testament prophet, condemns strongly the false worship and concern for the needy he observes. What is interfered with is instant gratification, cheating, selfish benefit. This can be present with us even now as we consider worship and an experience of God interfering with what is considered to be important or enjoyed momentarily.


Paul also says that we are to put things into perspective. Even though those he addresses are persecuted by authorities, they are to keep them in their prayers because this will encourage peace and order in society and all for the spread of the Gospel.


What the property manager demonstrated was good common sense, a good business sense. He made the decision now about what would affect his future. What we do now will have an outcome in the time to come. Jesus is calling on us to keep our faith in God and to keep what is important in life in proper perspective by acknowledging – as prayed earlier – that God is true source of peace, dignity, worth for all of creation. It is in this way that we live out the very best we are: reflections, images of our good & gracious god