Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Nineteenth Sunday of the Year – August 13, 2017

1 Kings 19: 9a, 11-13a Romans 9: 1-5 Matthew 14:22-33

The Gospel story that we just heard appears rather simple and straightforward. It is miraculous, yes, but it does not seem to be all that complex. It serves us well, however, to take the time to think this incident through. It can truly convey to us a great deal about the relationship of God with humanity as a whole, and God’s relationship with ourselves through the person of Jesus Christ. It is the whole purpose of Christ’s mission in our world to have us appreciate and deepen our relationship with our loving God and how this factors into and affects our lives and the way that we live.

Peter and the others were out doing what they had normally done as fishermen. They were living their lives in what would be considered the expected way, being in a boat, being on the sea. Experiencing a storm, even a sudden one, was really not all that unusual for them. It may have been frightening, but it was not something that was unknown.

Into the midst of this, Jesus appears. They were actually just coming to know him and were in the process of deciding whether they would truly invest their lives in him as followers. He appears to them, walking on the water. It was the water of the sea made turbulent and treacherous by the storm. But he was walking on it in what would be considered a normal fashion. He was reaching out to them, sailors frightened by the storm, yet he was not disturbed by what nature, what life, was presenting to them. He was a singular exception to everything around them, offering his presence to them as they experienced the reality of their lives as they knew them at that point.

Then we are presented with Peter, Peter the impetuous, Peter the bold one. He can do the same as Jesus. Can he really do the same? Could he overcome the forces of nature as Jesus was doing? Jesus was reaching out to him, bidding him to join with him. Peter, at first, appears to be able to contend with the treacherous sea. Then he begins to rely on himself alone. He lapses in his total faith and trust in Jesus. He begins to sink into the mire of nature, the stormy sea.

The presence of Jesus to Peter and to the others was able to sustain them no matter what nature, no matter what life, put before them. That is the clear and underlying message of this incident recorded by St. Matthew. As long as they maintained their faith, as long as they acknowledged him, he would be able to guide them through any storm. Surrounded by this storm, representative of any adversity we might face, he declared, “It is I, do not be afraid.” In their faith and trust, they declared, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Too often we make the relationship with God to be too complex, too difficult, too demanding. Like Elijah, we expect God and the relationship with God to be found in a crushing wind, or an earthquake, or in fire. The presence of God, rather, is found in the whispering wind. The presence of our God, as revealed by Jesus Christ, is to be calming, as softly whispering in our lives. That presence comes when we recognize what is good in ourselves, what is truly good in life, what is good in the creation which surrounds us. That presence comes when we realize that this same calming presence will stand with us whatever tempest might rock the boat of our life to steady it, to guide it on its course.

When we recognize what is good around us, when we recognize that this is what reveals the loving reality of God to us, then the call is made to us, to be the very best reality of the qualities of life with which we have been endowed by our God. When we allow, with patient, loving trust, the revelation of that which is good, when we allow the experience of good to be found in and through us individually and as a community believing in Jesus Christ, then is made know and then is experienced the reality of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Transfiguration of the Lord – August 6, 2017

Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14 2 Peter 1: 16-19 Matthew 12: 1-9

When our attention is wanted, something breaks into our routine to gain it. It could be a siren of an ambulance, a fire truck or a police car. Or, it could a siren warning us of an impending storm. It also could be a strange and distracting noise on a radio or television, or crawl across the bottom or top of a television screen. With the various means of communication now available to us, such a warning may take some different form. Various ways are used to alert us, to make us pause and be attentive. Something important is happening, we need to be informed or even warned.

In a way, this is what is happening this weekend in the liturgical life of the Church. In the midst of hearing different parables from Jesus about the Kingdom of Heaven, the revelation of God to mankind that he is teaching, we are told today of a particular, mystical experiences three of his followers had during the course of that ministry. It was away of encouraging them, especially after they had learned that part of following Jesus, being a part of his Kingdom, also meant sharing in “carrying the cross. It meant accepting burdens, difficulties, rejection and eve  persecution. Being a follower of Jesus was not necessarily going to be easy.

The key to understanding all of this, I believe, can be found in the words attributed to St. Peter in the second reading we heard today. First he describes to us that what he and the others have taught in their preaching was not some sort of contrived story, it was not something that was simply “made up.” Then he shares with us what he and the others truly experienced during the course of following Jesus, an event that was deep and abiding. In doing this, Peter seeks to encourage the faith of the people to whom he is writing and speaking. He holds out to us the image of the Transfiguration that we have heard. Jesus as seen by three of the Apostles with great figures of the Old Testament. His ministry was a continuation of their faith tradition. Jesus is seen assuming a rightful place in glory and majesty, despite what other ways they might see him in the time to come. Jesus is the Beloved Son in whom we are to believe, the one who lives in union with and truly reveals God to all of creation.

Peter saw this image, and the memory of this event transformed him forever. He recognized its importance, especially after the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. This is what gave him vision and hope. It may have been the Transfiguration of Jesus but, more importantly, it was the transformation of Peter.

It is precisely this hope that Daniel sought to give to the people of the Old Covenant in his vision. A prophet is a visionary, not someone who foretells the future. Through a particular poetic and spiritual way of seeing and saying things, the prophet attempts to put life and reality into perspective. He looks at the reality of life through the eyes of one filled with a genuine sense of God’s presence in his personal life. He is speaking to the Jews in exile, in defeat, and holds out to them the image of triumph and victory. Daniel wanted them to keep this vision in their minds. It was to give them hope even in the midst of persecution. It was to be their encouragement.

As for ourselves, we may not have the recollection of a vision such as did the Apostles. There is nothing so spectacular available to us. The visionary view of one like Daniel is limited to a very few. But, hopefully, in the history of our own faith experience there have been episodes which gave us insight into a certain closeness to God. It may have been a sacramental occasion like a baptism, a First Communion, a Confirmation, or a Wedding. It may have been the experience of the love of someone who is very special in our lives. It may have been some event, like the birth of a child or a magnificent experience of nature, in which we truly felt touched by God.

In the times when our faith seems dry or routine, when we might not feel particularly close to God, think back to that other time, that time of transfiguration, of transformation. The Lord appeared to us in a type of majesty – not in a figurative description as he appeared to the Apostles or Daniel, but as we experienced a touch of God’s presence in our lives.

Today our attention is sought and we take a break in the story of the ministry of Jesus we have been hearing over the past weeks. We are reminded to be like Peter and revel in a memory of a Godly experience that gives hope and encouragement. In the midst of our own lives which might be troubled or difficult, in the midst of world events that can be painful or confusing, it is faith that moves us, faith that gives hope, faith that sustains us. It is faith that is founded on a trust and confidence, a deep and abiding conviction – indeed, a vision – of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Seventeenth Sunday of the Year – July 30, 2017

1 Kings 3: 5, 7-12 Romans 1: 28-30 Matthew 13: 44-46

Some of you, perhaps many of you, are familiar with the Public Broadcast System’s program, “Antiques Roadshow.” It is a program that I enjoy watching from time to time. What is particularly fascinating is when an individual brings an object to be appraised informally, perhaps something bought inexpensively at a yard sale or at an estate sale. It may also have been something that was stashed away in a closet or an attic. The individual knows that it is old, but does not know its value. Then the shock can be seen, the surprise is evident, when it is learned that this otherwise obscure object is worth hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars. Such a contemporary experience as the “Antiques Roadshow” can give meaning and insight to these two brief parables which were told by Jesus.

In one instance we have an example of a person working in a field that belongs to someone else. Unexpectedly, he finds a container of some sort with an unknown treasure. He must own the field to claim the treasure so he uses all that he has at that point in order to buy that field. That treasure is so important to him that he is willing to sacrifice everything else he has in order to be able to possess it.

In the other instance, a businessman or merchant is walking through a bazaar, it seems, when he spots what he knows is a very valuable jewel. Perhaps this fact is not realized by the current owner of that jewel. As a result, he takes all that he has in order to buy that precious pearl. The investment he has to make is worth it to him.

With these two simple examples quoted by St. Matthew, Jesus wants his listeners, he wants us, to realize what it is that we possess in placing faith in him, by placing our faith in God whom he is revealing to us. While what Jesus is describing to his listeners is being offered to them, in our case, we who have been baptized in the faith are more like those individuals on the “Antiques Roadshow.” We may have come by this faith by it being handed down to us, by being brought this faith without much fanfare. It may well be taken for granted by us. It can often be like one of those objects hidden in a closer or an attic to easily taken for granted.

This, I believe, is the challenge we ought to hear in these brief examples today. How do we genuinely value this gift of faith, this gift of life, this gift of love, that has been passed on to us? How do we recognize the worth of what has been shared with us by a loving God along with all who are around us today?

We also heard about Solomon today. This is an example that is held out to us to emulate. In all the material things Solomon possessed – the authority, the position, the wealth – what was most important to him early in his life? He wanted the ability to use wisely the opportunity that had been given to him. He wanted to have the wisdom found in an understanding heart by which he could rule, guide and judge his people and to distinguish right from wrong. In all that we possess, in all the opportunities we have in this time and place in our lives, is it wisdom that we genuinely seek? Is it to act wisely in regard to ourselves and others that truly guides us?

We also heard Paul addressing the Roman Christian community. He reminded them of the opportunity that they possessed because the had been called through their faith. They had been given a destiny in relation to themselves and to others. He is reminding us, as well, of our own opportunities and the destiny we possess because of our faith.

This is our situation. This is the treasure, this is the magnificent pearl that we have is the faith we possess. But is its value evident in how we live and in the choices we make? Do we give evidence that we truly appreciate the perspective, the way of looking at all and everyone who are a part of our lives formed and affected by true faith in God and in Jesus Christ? Or is this faith evident only in the few moments we set aside now and again? Does living out this faith go forth from here out to there?

How fortunate we might consider those individuals on “Antiques Roadshow” who learn what could be the true value of what they might happen to have. How fortunate ought we to consider ourselves to be to live and to reveal, day after day, the worth, the value, the true treasure of our faith in our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fifteenth Sunday of the Year – July 16,2017

Isaiah 5: 10-11 Romans 8: 18-23 Matthew 13: 1-9

Perhaps it would have been wiser to wait until this weekend to use the example of the new section of lawn that was planted in front of the rectory. The matter of the receptivity of the soil to the seed that was planted would certainly fit in with the subject matter of the parable from the Gospel Saint Matthew that we have heard today. Be that as it may, this particular example used by Jesus, this parable, marks the beginning of a series of parables that Matthew includes in his presentation of the Gospel. We will recall most of these in the coming weeks.

Parables are simple stories, simple illustrations, Jesus used in his teaching as a means of opening up our minds to an understanding of his message to us. They present to us the possibilities available to us in a relationship with God, the very source of all life, the source of our lives. Jesus makes use of parables to assist us in appreciating what is fundamental to what we can know about ourselves and about our lives and how we can achieve what is best for ourselves through a relationship with God. So often there is confusion expressed about the meaning or purpose of life or loving. Jesus makes use of insights offered by simple examples to enable us to recognize that in a relationship with God, and in reflecting that relationship in the choices we make in living, we gain the best grasp of what we are and can be. Such is the case in this instance.

The starting point of the story is a sower, a farmer, sowing seeds in the ground with great hope for the success of that seed. In the insight that is suggested by Isaiah the prophet we can understand that seed as the word of God, the communication of God that is sent forth, that is addressed, to us, to all around us, to all of creation. The effectiveness of this word, this communication of the love of God, relies on the response it, the response by us. God’s message of love is not imposed upon us, it is offered to us. Seed can be cast upon soil but its reception varies, as the story makes clear. So it is that we experience the response that is made to God’s communication to mankind.

Jesus illustrated for us in the image of his parable how the message of love so often not taken seriously. At times this is because like the hard ground of the path, it is not received, or it is denied. It can be carried off by those who simply do not want the love of God to be known or realized. Being loved by God is viewed as an obstacle to their own selfishness. At other times it is because ones who are told of God’s message are so shallow, so self-absorbed, so self-indulges that this message cannot penetrate or take root. Or it can be because the ones who receive it are easily distracted by other interests, other attractions that are temporary or superficial or even silly and thus do not want to be bothered.

If the message of God’s love is heard and understood for it genuine nature, if it is recognized by those to whom it is addressed, and they are willing to accept it, and if it is allowed to mature while nourished with the sun, water and nutrients of a life open to the revelation of God’s love, then there is a result. That result is an effectiveness and meaning to a life that is lived in the context of relationships that value life, family, community and all of creation.

In this simple example of a parable lies the full dimension of the message of Jesus Christ to us. It is a message that allows any one of us who are open to it to recognize the rich and diverse possibilities of life available to us. These are possibilities that exist if we are not hardened and closed off, if we are not shallow and superficial with respect to what is important, if we are not distracted by passing distractions.

Both we, ourselves, and all the world around us continue to groan, as Saint Paul writes, for the fulfillment of God’s kingdom, God’s purpose, announced by Jesus. But this fulfillment will only come about if we are open and receptive to God’s love, the word that comes forth from God to us wanting, hoping willing to be effective in our revealing the truth of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year – July 9, 2017

Zechariah 9: 9-10 Romans 8: 9, 11-13 Matthew 11: 25-30


The last part of the Gospel passage I just read is probably quite well known and familiar to many. It presents a very likable portrayal of Jesus and what he is trying to pass on to those who believe in him. Interestingly, though, it is only St. Matthew who includes this saying in his account of the Gospel. This should not be surprising in that the Gospel writers chose different things that Jesus said and did during his ministry according to the impact and importance of what these words or actions might have on their readers or listeners. This is much like any one of us who might remember a favorite saying of a parent or grandparent because of the particular significance it might happen to have on any one of us.


Although St. Matthew is the only one who records this saying, it represents an issue Jesus often confronted as the other Gospel writers record. The issue involves how the supposed leaders of the people of that time and place, the scribes and Pharisees, often intimidated the people by their strict and, even, hypocritical interpretation of the law and its practice. The other Gospel writers record this conflict in different ways as Jesus sought to present an understanding of the relationship with God in different terms. To appreciate more fully, I believe, what Jesus sought to convey and how it can affect us today, we might benefit from asking and answering some questions suggested by what we heard in today’s Gospel reading.


What was the focus of the life and ministry of Jesus as it is portrayed for us, as we can know it from the Gospels? Time and again Jesus makes it clear that he come to diminish fear and anxiety and to bring peace. This genuine peace of mind and heart is based on knowing God’s love and mercy for us. We can know and accept this message because of the conviction that God chose to share humanity, in Jesus Christ, with openness and humility. We are to share that same openness and humility by selflessly not requiring that others and, especially, God live up to and conform to our expectations. Yet, how often do we demand this very thing, even subtly, in our day to day lives?


What can we learn from the manner in which Jesus, in his humanity, prayed and dialogued with God? In what Jesus said, and in what he taught, as we heard today, his prayer was one of gratitude and praise. His prayer was an acknowledgment and recognition of God and God’s presence in life. It is the presence of the goodness and truth of God found and experienced in creation and in all of life. Is our dialogue with God so much praise or, rather, more of an insistent demand?


What basic message permeated the efforts and the presence of Jesus in our world? He comes among us to reveal the Father, reveal God, to us. He does this so that we might have a better and truer knowledge of God in our lives. He also makes it clear that his message is being made to all who are open to it. It is not just to the learned and the wise. It is especially being made known to the “little one.” These are the one who are often thought to be insignificant, who are overlooked, neglected and even rejected. Who, indeed, are the “little ones” in our own lives, and especially in our world today? These are the ones whom Jesus, through us, addresses. But, is he heard?


If what we can so readily observe as being present and lived in the life of Christ – we who identify with Christ in faith – so ought we to be known in a similar fashion in our lives. The yoke, the burden that Christ asks us to take on ourselves does not weigh us down. It truly lifts us up in our dignity and in our humanity. It identifies us with the one who, though Divine, shared our humanity. It lifts us up in a call to simplicity of life, a humble manner of living, that recognizes the dignity and worth of all persons and of all of creation.


Like the king described by the prophet Zechariah today, our success and our value does not come from instruments of war, be they chariots, horses, bows and arrows of that era, or simply words and actions that diminish, demean and seek to defeat others as an attempt to suggest inflated, but empty and hollow self-importance. True success comes with humble, respectful peacefulness of mind and heart. Saint Paul also urges his listeners and us to free ourselves from the limited perspective of self gratification and selfishness and to open ourselves to the empowerment within us of the generosity and freedom of God’s Spirit.


Can we take to heart the message of Jesus we have heard time and again, and once more today? It is a message that calls upon us to free ourselves of so many self-imposed burdens and more clearly reveal in ourselves a genuine faith and trust in our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirteenth Sunday of the Year – July 2, 2017

2 Kings 4: 8-11, 14-16a Romans 6: 3-4, 8-11 Matthew 10: 37-42


It is obvious to anyone who passes by the parish grounds along Triskett that one of this year’s summer projects is to replace a section of lawn in front of the rectory. The seed that is being used is from a special blend formulated for athletic fields, that is, areas which are subject to full, unrelenting sun. As those of you who live in the immediate area know, there is a high clay content in the soil. This presents challenges. It was made worse a couple of years ago when there was extensive and deep excavation for gas pipeline repair.


Thus it was important for this project to prepare the soil, to make it receptive to the new seed which was being planted. One area of this section of the lawn was particularly hard because of the clay. As a result, a large amount of sand was mixed in to soften the soil. There was skepticism expressed as to how the grass would grow with so much sand. Amazingly, it was that area of the plot where the seed first germinated and started to grow. In other words, the preparation of the soil made it more receptive to the seed and to the effort that was being made. Two basic factors were present which were significant for the project: 1) the soil had to be open and receptive to the seed being planted; 2) in order to be receptive, the soil had to be loosened up and improved.


Reflecting on this ordinary, seasonal project offered me insight into the message, of Jesus today, and to the other Scripture passages we have heard. “Whoever receives, . .” Jesus says. Whoever is receptive to what Jesus teaches in his words and his actions. Whoever is receptive to his challenge to take up whatever is needed to bring those words and actions to life in our own lives. Whoever is receptive to making the effort to reveal the presence of God in and through an identification with Jesus and with his cross and resurrection. Whoever responds in this way is that soil that has been reworked and prepared, softened and made receptive, to the seed of God’s presence that is to germinate and grow lush.


The story we heard today about Elisha, the prophet, is an excellent illustration of this openness and receptivity. The woman spoken about in this story is not of the same religious tradition as Elisha. She is a foreigner, a stranger. But she and her husband are openly receptive of Elisha. She urges her husband to extend even greater hospitality to Elisha by providing a room for him when he travels in their area. They are not only openly receptive, but they also expand the possibility for Elisha to carry on his task as a holy man of God.


The situation in which St. Paul finds himself also offers considerations for us. He is addressing a problem in which some of the Christians in Rome seem to think that the simple fact of baptism is sufficient for them. They can continue to behave as they had in the past. Paul wants them to realize that what was past it dead, Baptism has transformed them. The soil of their hearts and minds must be receptive to what has indeed occurred so that a truly renewed life can take hold of them and grow in them.


Today we have hard the story of Elisha. We hear the teaching of Saint Paul. And, especially, we hear the message of Jesus. But, think about that section of lawn. For that part of the lawn to be successful in its growth and renewal, it had to be prepared. It had to be made open and receptive to the seed that was planted. So it is with us. For our lives to reflect successfully the faith that we profess, the soil of our minds and hearts must be made to be receptive. We must work so that what we hear, what is taught, what we observe, what is the seed of our faith, may germinate so fully and richly that our lives truly reflect and reveal our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twelfth Sunday of the Year – June 25, 2017

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


Telling us not to fear, encouraging us not to be afraid, is a consistent theme found in the words of Jesus that he addressed to his followers and, thus, he has addressed to us, So, what are some of the things that we might fear, that might cause us anxiety in our lives? The future: what do the weeks or months or even the years ahead hold out for us, whether we are old or young. In many respects, we just do not know. Change: often this is a big cause of fear. We like being comfortable, the way things are. Either experiencing or being made to experience something new or different is stressful. Rejection: this can be hard to face especially from someone who has been a part of our lives but, for whatever reason, decides that we are no longer important to them. Being alone: this is particularly true when it is the result of someone who has long been a part of our lives is no longer physically present. It is a difficult transition to make. Death: none of us can escape this experience, but both the “how” and the “when” are unknown through most of our lives and can cause us to be anxious and, indeed, afraid.


These are all part of being human. They are all part of our lives. They are a part of the life God chose to share with us in assuming humanity in the person of Jesus Christ.


What is it, then, in the message of God conveyed to us in the ministry of Jesus Christ we are called upon to continue that encourages us not to fear, not to be afraid? We need to recognize that the various examples mentioned are a part of the creative act of God in giving us life. This creative act of life is a dynamic gift of love in which we are free to choose and to act. It is the freedom of will, in us and around us, that is the key to understanding. We, or others around us, choose to act and are not, in some way, controlled by God. Life, in us and around us, has been  freely given to all by a loving God. Rather than be feared, it is to be embraced as part of a gift oflove.


It is with this perspective that we can look to the future and realize that there are decisions which we might make that can affect our future, but there are also other aspects in the future that will occur as part of life. Change: this often happens despite us. The greatest strength comes in recognizing what in change might enhance us and in ignoring those things that do not really affect us. Rejection: if we are true to ourselves – and here Jesus himself is an outstanding example – what might be unacceptable to others, as was his ministry to many, ought not to hinder us from being true to the best we can be. Being alone: this can often be an opportunity to realize a certain comfort with ourselves. Being alone is not the same as some self-pitying loneliness but can be a challenge to better ourselves. Death: is a genuine reality. In the context of faith it is a transition to an experience beyond what we know or imagine now, a complete union with our loving God.


Even more, what gives us strength and encourages us not to be afraid is the conviction that, in addition to all else that is a part of the creative dynamic of life, we possess true value and dignity in life and in our relationship to a loving God. This is the importance of the example that Jesus uses in singling out the sparrow. As small and as insignificant as the sparrow is, this creature adds to the life and the beauty of all that is. How much more can each of us enhance life and creation around us. We need not be afraid of anyone or anything because our greatest value and worth comes from what we are and what we do in reflecting and revealing the goodness of God.


We can derive additional insight from what else we heard today in the Scriptures. Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, was convinced that despite the opposition and ridicule he experienced, and despite even the doubts he had about himself, he must continue on in fearlessly trusting God. In the end he knew that he would be vindicated by God. Saint Paul, too, despite all that he would confront, all that he would go through, remained positive in his commitment to proclaim the love of God found in the Good News of Jesus.


Do not be afraid, fear not. Many things happen in different ways, in different circumstances in life. If we are convinced within ourselves of all the opportunities offered to us to recognize what a gift we have received in the life that is given to us, then each circumstance offers the potential to experience and to reveal the truth of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Corpus Christi – June 18, 2017

Deuteronomy 8: 2-3, 14b-16a 1 Corinthians 10: 16-17 John 6: 57-58

A number of years ago when I would visit St. Mel to attend the First Communions or Confirmations of my nephews or nieces, I was somewhat puzzled by the appearance of this church building. In particular, it was the ceiling that caught my attention. It was different. It was unusual. Unlike many other churches, it was not open, reaching to a visible peak. It was not barrel-vaulted. Nor was simply a flat-ceiling. I thought that there must be something to its unusual design, but what it was escaped me.

When I was assigned as pastor here, I was still puzzled. Enlightenment finally came to me. I realized that the architect, Rolland Johns, a parishioner, wanted to incorporate a familiar sight, a familiar feature found in many homes in the parish. Indeed, it could be found in his own home on W.137th. It came to me that the ceiling of the church building resembled what many of the storey-and-a-half houses found throughout the parish have on their second floor: pitched sides with a flat center. This was not just a convenient and economical design. It was intended and is reflected throughout the church in the windows, the Stations, the framing around various areas. It was a message being conveyed by the architect.

I became convinced that Mr. Johns cleverly wanted those of us who worship here to call to mind the familiar imagery of so many of the homes in our West Park community. These are places where families gather and are raised. These are places were many traditions develop and are practiced. These are places where the love of spouses, children and grandchildren is experienced. It was to be in a similar environment that we would gather to join in and celebrate the Eucharist.

I consider this to be a worthy thought today on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ- Corpus Christi. In his desire to convey the deep desire for union with us, Jesus Christ, the Word of God, took bread and declared it to be his body. He took wine and declared it to be his blood. It was not a merely symbolic gesture. As the one who had restored health to mind and body, who had changed water into wine, who had fed thousands with just a few loaves and fish, who had returned life to those who were dead, Jesus Christ took simple elements of food and declared their substance to be his Real Presence. So intimately does God seek to be joined with us that the God-Man, Jesus Christ, shares with us the totality of his person, his Body and his Blood.

How appropriate it is that we have the opportunity to gather in this particular home-like setting, with this family of believers that we are, to listen to God speak to us through the words of the Scriptures and then to be fed the meal of the very person, the Real Presence, of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

I know that what we do in gathering for the celebration of the Mass is formalized and ritualistic in different ways: the prayers, the posture and the like. But what we are doing in this way is spending just a few moments out of our week to acknowledge the importance of our loving God to us and to respond in gratitude to this loving God. We are also being nourished with God’s Word and with Food for the Journey (Viaticum) of our lives. It is in the environment of this homelike place that we share, here and now, the reality of our God.

I have also mentioned before another architectural feature of this church building that is unusual. It is also a constant reminder to us. The exterior doors of this building are glass. In particular the doors facing Triskett Road are glass. These doors allow us to be viewed as we gather to witness to our Faith by those who look in. But they also indicate to us that we are to carry forth what it is that we have experienced here to that world out there beyond the glass doors.

The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ has been shared with us in this place so that we can go out into that world, reaffirmed in our Faith and thus declare with our lives this week our belief and trust in our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Trinity Sunday – June 11, 2017

Exodus 34: 4b-6, 8-9 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13 John 3: 15-17

Whether it is the shamrock of Saint Patrick or a picture of interlocking rings, or even a simple triangle, any attempt at a depiction of the Holy Trinity is inadequate. Any of these falls short of giving a real understanding of it Thus, the conclusion reached after any discussion of the Trinity is that “It is a mystery.”

It should not be a surprise to us to speak of the essence or reality of the God of our faith as a mystery because the ancient, inspired writers recorded in the Scriptures understood human beings like us as being made in the image and likeness of God. Think of it we know all too well that we are mysteries in many ways. Our minds, our emotions, our thoughts, and most especially our ability to know and love are mysterious. They cannot always be fully defined or clearly understood. So it is with the God of our faith, the very source of life and existence, of all we experience in creation – in whose image and likeness we are.

To recognize God as Trinity, as mystery, does not diminish or disregard the reality or significance of God. Rather, if we look to ourselves and appreciate the depth of what we are and the potential of what we can be, even with our own limitations, so much more do we recognize the immensity, the unlimited potential and majesty of our God. Yet, at the same time, because the essence of God is not power but knowledge and love, our God reaches out to us, shares our humanity, and seeks an unending relationship with us.

The mystery of God that we declare today and whom, in our limited human terms we call Father, Son and Holy Spirit, exists for all eternity in a creative and loving relationship that is extended to us in order to be shared by us. This is the fundamental reality of God in which we can participate.

It is not a reality that is founded on power or control or manipulation, but a constant and unending relationship of knowledge and love. It is the reality into which we are made the image and likeness.

God who exists in relationship is to be reflected in us as a relationship, in our interaction with one another. God is to be reflected in the manner in which we seek genuine knowledge, understanding, respect and love with one another. This incorporates the reflection of God in our lives.

What is it that we are told of our God in the inspired words and insights of Scriptures? What are we actively to reflect as images and likenesses of our God? God is merciful, God is gracious, God is slow to anger, God is rich in kindness and fidelity. So are we to be.

In addition, the God our faith is not distant and remote, but “gave his only Son that we might have eternal life.” God does not condemn us for our weakness and failure, but saves us so that we might be united with God.

In an even more specific way we hear how the God of our faith, whom we acknowledge as an unending relationship of knowledge and love, a relationship of Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – a Trinity of Persons but a Oneness of Being – is to be reflected by us in an active way of living, not just in some pious theory. It is in the encouragement of one another, by being in accord with one another, by living at peace with one another that God’s reality can be discovered through us.

This is the reality that is to be present in our lives,. This is how the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is to be found in us. This is how, through us and realized in our world that this world can come to know our good and gracious God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Pentecost – June 6, 2017

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

A very dramatic picture is presented to us today by St. Luke in the account from the Acts of the Apostles. First, there is Jerusalem. The city is crowded with devout Jews from around the Mediterranean world. They had come to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, marking the fifty days since the celebration of Passover. This feast recalled the establishment of the Covenant, the agreement between God and the Chosen People which was marked by the giving of the Law, the Ten Commandments.

In addition to the crowds present, we are told of the blowing of the wind and the appearance of fire in the form of tongues. Sounds and sights making evident the action of the Divine presence and action. The Apostles are described as responding to all of this by speaking in various languages. What drew my attention, amidst all of this, was the comment that “each of us hear them in his native language.” The revelation of God was taking place not in what the Apostles were able to do, but in how those who heard them were able to experience something so significant. No matter where anyone came from, no matter what language, culture or background they represented, the message of Jesus being proclaimed by the Apostles through the action of the Spirit could be heard. What clearer understanding of what was taking place could be conveyed than this? Proclaiming the revelation of God that is the mission of Jesus Christ was something that could be understood and appreciated by anyone and everyone.. Those who carried on this mission, who proclaimed this message, were to do so in a way and by such means that each one could “hear. . .them in his native language.”

The power of the Spirit, conveyed in the strong imagery of wind, fire and language, is the same power of the Spirit passed on to us in Baptism and Confirmation. This power of the Spirit is given to us so that through us the revelation of God can be understood clearly and distinctly by all who experience it in and through us. Through the action of the Spirit, day after day, in words and actions, the revelation of God takes place.

What is this revelation that occurs? Here we look to Jesus as told to us by St. John. Jesus breathed the Spirit upon his followers after his Resurrection. The new life, the creative force of the life of the Spirit, was breathed into the Body of Christ that is the Church, just as life was breathed into the First Man in the image of Creation. Now life is breathed into this Body of the Church that we are.

The revelation of God in the conferral of the Spirit by Jesus is the conferral of peace and forgiveness. Peace, that is a wholeness, a restoration of mind and heart and spirit is achieved by forgiveness.

This is the message of God to our world, proclaimed and achieved by Jesus Christ. It is to be continued by us, that Body of Christ, in our world today. Although we are diverse and individual, and often divided, we are to be reconciled and united with God and with one another by peace and forgiveness. It is not a grand and sweeping process. Nor is it weak or cowering or timid. This peace and forgiveness is a true sign of strength reflective of God and God’s presence found in the efforts, each day and often in simple ways, to allow the wind and the fire of the Spirit to take form in us.

In the ancient imagery of the Bible, the divisions in the world began to take place at the Tower of Babel when an inability to understand one another was the result of different languages being spoken. The re-creation of the face of the earth which we pray that the Spirit achieve begins when genuine understanding and respect among diverse peoples happens because all hear the message of Jesus Christ “in his native language.” Peace, forgiveness, reconciliation and union begin to come about as all begin to understand, in their diversity, the one message needed in our world today, the one message made concrete and real in us, the message of genuine peace forgiveness and love found in union with our good and gracious God.