Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourth Sunday of Easter – April 22, 2018

Acts of the Apostles 4: 8-12 1 John 3: 1-2 John 10: 11-18

 

There are times when we can easily overlook what might be considered subtleties in the Scriptures. An incident is recorded. It is the main point of that incident that captures our attention. What might seem to be only a passing remark is ignored. Today presents what I believe is an example of this. We heard, in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter boldly preaching. He makes the statement that there is “no salvation through anyone else.” He adds: “nor any name given to the human race by which we are saved.”

 

In the context that he is preaching, he is addressing leaders of the Jewish people. It might seem that his concern is only with them and their apparent lack of leadership. But he is also speaking in an area, a country, occupied by Roman soldiers, subject to the Roman emperor. Peter was not only making an audacious statement to the Jewish leaders, that they had failed in their in their task as leaders, he was also making a challenge to and a contradiction of the claim that it was the Roman emperor, often declared to be divine, who was the “Lord and Savior” of his subjects.

 

We need to recall that this exalted idea or attitude was not just a part of ancient Rome and its empire. History over the centuries is filled with examples of those claiming a similar authority and dignity, often coupled with force as well as death and destruction of any opposition. That same kind of thinking is still found today in many places around the world.

 

In contrast to these images, we are presented with Jesus Christ, God who became man. He is put before us as a leader, yes, but in the simplicity of the “Good Shepherd.” It is not an image of fear-inducing power, but one who us humble, one who guides, one who protects. It is not a leadership that seeks to overpower and control, but a leadership that is present, loving and embracing.

 

If there is an underlying message during this Easter season, and especially on this Sunday when we recall the“Good Shepherd,” it is this: The presence of God, the presence that overcomes death in the Resurrection, the presence that we share through baptism, the presence that allows us to be considered “children of God,” is the presence that seeks reconciliation with us and offers genuine salvation to us.

 

These are not vague ideas or pious thoughts. These are ways of describing the effective possibilities available to us as well as the possibilities to be achieved by us. Reconciliation and salvation can be understood as the manner by which creation, this world in which we live, this reality of which we are all a part, becomes what it ought to be, what God intends it to be, through our being part of a reconciling and restoring effort.

 

Achieving salvation, achieving in our lives all that builds us up and restores us, and doing so for all of creation that is affected by us is a genuine reflection of and revelation of our God and Creator. It is the ridding from ourselves and from all that is around us whatever limits or diminishes an experience of the reality of God’s presence. A question, then, that we can ask ourselves is this: do the words we speak, the actions we do, bring about reconciliation, salvation, the revelation of God? Does this take place day after day and throughout each day?

 

The image of the Good Shepherd is put before us today as a means of making evident to us how our God seeks to be united with us by loving, guiding and protecting us. It is also presented to us as a challenge to us to show that image in ourselves so that we allow ourselves and those who are a part of our lives to appreciate that the true “Lord and Savior” is not some earthly authority or power, but our truly good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Third Sunday of Easter – April 15, 2018

Acts of the Apostles 3: 13-15, 17-19 1 John 2: 1-5a Luke 24: 35-48

 

The various accounts of the experiences that the disciples had of Jesus following his resurrection differ according to the particular Gospel writer and the audience which is being addressed. That would be expected. Two of them, however, that is St. John and St. Luke -whose styles are very different, and who are addressing different audiences – want it to be known that when Jesus appeared to the disciples, he addressed them with the words “Peace be with you.”

We have heard this, time and again, over the years. As I thought about it this year, I realized that it seemed unusual that this fact is mentioned so definitely. After all, “Peace” as in the words, “shalom” or “salaam” is a rather standard term of greeting – along the lines of a simple “Hello.” The mention of this by the Gospel writers, as well as the repetition of this by them, suggested a basis for my thought that there must be some deeper meaning or purpose.

 

The Resurrection of Jesus, and his defeat of the effects of death, particularly the cruel death by execution on the cross, is a call to us, an announcement to us of the reconciliation that has been achieved. It is the means of a genuine restoration of the loving relationship that is to exist with our creator God. By extension this reconciliation is to be achieved by us with all of creation. It is, indeed, to be “peace.”

 

Listening carefully to Peter and his teaching as it is recorded and as we have heard today, we hear him recognize that the message of God that had ben given beforehand had been rejected. It was self-interest and ignorance that had led to the execution of Jesus, rather than a sincere appreciation of the efforts of God in achieving a covenant relationship with the Chosen People.

 

By being raised from the dead, by overcoming the effects of mankind’s rejection of God that resulted in death, those efforts of God had been brought to fulfillment. God’s purpose had been achieved. This is what is presented to us by true faith in the Resurrection. It is through faith in the power and the impact of the Resurrection that true peace can be achieved. It is this peace that is central to the revelation of and the reflection of God that we are to work to accomplish in our lives. If, indeed, we profess to know Christ and his Gospel, his Good News, and if we profess to live that belief in our lives, then the love of God is perfected in us.

 

The resurrection is a call to us to seek out and to work to be at peace in ourselves and with one another. It is call to do whatever we can in our interaction with one another to be at peace and to work for peace with one another. It is a call to work sincerely to overcome all obstacles to such true peace. It is a call to make efforts to reflect genuinely love and respect for one another.

 

Jesus addressed his disciples after his resurrection from the dead with “Peace be with you.” It was not just a simple greeting. It was a commission to them and to us. We are to be at peace. We are to make true peace a reality in our lives. We are to make true peace a reality in the world we experience day after day, and in the world at large. We are to recognize that whatever disrupts the efforts to achieve peace is contrary to message of the Resurrection, the message of the Gospel, the message of what we believe.

 

We declare, though our baptism, that we are one with Jesus Christ. We are one with him in his death and in his Resurrection, and in all that is meant by this. So it is that we are to announce and to live true peace in our lives. It is the experience of “peace” that works to unite rather than to divide. It is the experience of peace that reflects the presence in us and through us of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Second Sunday of Easter – April 8, 2018

Acts of the Apostles 4: 32-35  1 John 5: 1-6  John 20: 19-31

 

I must admit that I am somewhat hesitant to use the term but, as I thought about it, a way of understanding the response that Thomas made to the report of the other Apostles – as the gospel writer John records it – is to use an expression we hear all too frequently now: Fake News.

 

Over the centuries it has been the encounter between Jesus and Thomas the following week that has captured most of the attention and has received most of the commentary. The doubts that are expressed by Thomas are overcome by the invitation made by Jesus to touch the wounds. He was convinced enough to make that memorable statement of Faith: “My Lord and my God.”

 

But I believe that John had an even more significant purpose in including this account. It is a purpose that is captured in the comments made at the end of the passage, especially in the comment attributed to Jesus: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is the context of these comments as well as in the encouragement that they offer that is to be the basis of the faith and practice that guide the values of our lives.

 

Thomas, in the account that is given, is called upon to satisfy his doubts about the news he was told by physical contact with the wounds of Christ. The opportunity to do this is not going to be possible in the future. Yet how was the faith in the Resurrection, the core of the belief of Christians, going to become known? That is what is presented to us today by Luke in the reading which we heard from the Acts of the Apostles.

 

In the description that is given of the life and behavior of the early Christians an ideal situation is described. It is also a situation that is a challenge to us. If we are to understand that all that is negative and destructive in life has been defeated and overcome by the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, then it is imperative that this ideal way of living that is depicted is the goal, the ideal, for which we are to work. It is not the self that is to be the focus of our attention. Rather, all persons, everyone, has value and importance as a creature of God. Living with a genuine concern for the other, aiding and assisting the other, reflects this understanding of what we all are as images of God, as genuine children of God.

 

Followers of Jesus Christ, those who profess true faith that God has come into our world in the person of Jesus Christ and that he has overcome the vestiges of death in the Resurrection, show the depth and the reality of that belief in the manner in which they live with one another, value each other, respect all persons, and are of serve to one another. This is not only to be considered or understood, it is an ideal that is earnestly and honestly to be sought and to be lived.

 

If our faith in God enables us to acknowledge ourselves as children of God, then the words of John in his letter that we heard emphasizes the importance of living what exactly this means. “Everyone who loves the Father loves also the children of God.” It is simply not a “pick and choose” option.

 

What we proclaim as our faith is not “Fake News,” it is “Good News, the gospel of Jesus Christ, It is the good news that is to be lived out day after day. It is the good news that recognizes the value and worth of all creation. It is the good news that seeks the ideal that has been put before us today. It is the good news that radically, “at the root” affects us. It is good news that makes it known, every day and in every way, the meaning of our faith and trust in a truly good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Easter SundayApril 1, 2018

Acts of the Apostles 10: 34a, 37-43  Colossians 3: 1-4 John 20: 1-9

 

We do not need to use our imaginations too much to envision what was going through the minds of the followers of Jesus over the days of this particular weekend in their lives. On the evening of Friday, when Jesus had been executed on the cross, the minds and the hearts of those who had denied him or abandoned him out of fear had to be bewildered, puzzled, and certainly remorseful. They had to be asking themselves: Now what? What do we do? Where do we go? What happens with our lives? Given the time and the effort they had invested in associating with Jesus over the past months and years, they had to be wondering: Had they been fooled? Had they been fools?

 

Then reports started to trickle in from Mary and from the other women. They had gone to the tomb: the place that was the physical reminder of the defeat, the end, of all that they had been a part. The reports that were being heard were that the stone covering of the tomb had somehow been moved, the tomb was empty, the wrappings were there, but the body was not. The beaten, bruised, disfigured body ofJesus was gone. What had happened?

 

Slowly, gradually, it becomes apparent. Some how, in some way, it was not over. It was not defeat; it was victory.

 

If we want to get a sense of what the experience of the Resurrection began to mean for the followers of Jesus, it was this: The impossible is no longer impossible. Even death itself has been overcome. As this momentous event of the Resurrection from the dead by Jesus Christ took hold in the minds and hearts of his followers, their lives – from that moment on – experienced radical, fundamental, transformation. The defeat of death – the effect of the rejection of the Creator God – had occurred because of the Resurrection to life by Jesus, the God-man.

 

The triumph over death was – is – the ultimate revelation of the totality of God’s committed love for all of creation, for all of humanity, for all of us. This is the message, the “Good News’ that we have heard once again.

 

Perhaps this story is too familiar, perhaps the annual celebration of the event of Easter is too routine. The truth is, that as the impact of that event became evident in the lives of the followers of Jesus, so is that impact to continue to be evident in us, here and now, today.

 

Year after year we renew the faith of our baptism on this day. This is an effective response to the Good News we have once again heard. But it must be a genuine response. A response that affects every aspect of our lives. Nothing is impossible, nothing can totally defeat us. Even death has been overcome. Those who profess faith in the totality of God’s love for us demonstrated in the defeat of death and the victory of life the Resurrection proclaims, can face the world, our world, with optimism, with confidence, with an overwhelmingly positive outlook. It is with true and genuine hope that we reflect our experience and our commitment in faith to our truly good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – March 26, 2018

Isaiah 54: 4-7 Philippians 2: 6-11 Mark 14: – 15: 47

Today begins the holiest week in the liturgical calendar of the Church’s year. We listen today to the account of the betrayal, condemnation and execution of Jesus Christ as told to us by the gospel writer, St. Mark. It is an account that is rich in different ways. It tells if the preparation of Jesus for his death; of the instructions he gives to his friends at a final meal; of betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane of the trial that really cannot find a cause for condemnation; of the death by execution on a cross that ultimately leads to life.

 

Mark also presents to us many individuals who are a part of this drama. Each can attract our attention in a different way. There are those who betray Jesus: Peter, Judas and even James and John. There are those who are merely observers of what is happening: the bystanders at the cross, the revolutionaries crucified along with Jesus. There are those who supported Jesus in some way: Simon the Leper, the woman who anointed him, Simon of Cyrene, Mary of Magdala, Salome, Mary, the mother of the younger James and Simon, the women who mourned for him from a distance. Finally, there were two who had a conversion of heart: the centurion who announced his death, and Joseph of Arimathea who was a member of the Council that condemned Jesus, but who then came forward to claim his body.

 

We can hear a suggestion in Mark’s account that we ask ourselves with whom, in this list of those surrounding Jesus at these moments, might we identify ourselves. Would we be among the faithful women? Would we be among those who condemned him out of our own fear? Or would we speak out bravely like the centurion?

 

In the many representations of the human reactions to this total self-giving on the part of the Son of God for us, we can be grateful for the reminder that hearts can be changed, and action scan be taken to make amends for weaknesses and failings. The story of the Passions is truly a revelation of the depth of God’s love for us.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fifth Sunday of Lent – March 18, 2018

Jeremiah 21: 31-34 Hebrews 5: 7-9 John 12: 29-33

 

Give a thought to how quickly our patience reaches its limit. Besides our own short fuses, at times, consider these two examples. It’s three strikes and you’re out in baseball. It’s five fouls and you’re out in basketball.

 

In contrast to these brief spans, we can certainly marvel at the patience of God. After repeated rejections and abandonments by humanity, illustrated from very early on in the story of Adam and Eve, there were repeated efforts by God to establish covenant relationships with us. We heard of these accounts in the stories of Noah and Abraham and Moses earlier during this Season of Lent. Then we heard last week that God made an even further effort through the agency of a foreign king, Cyrus the Persian.

 

Today, in the midst of exile and defeat, the prophet Jeremiah speaks of the offer of yet another new covenant between God and humanity, between God and ourselves. This covenant, in Jeremiah’s poetic vision, will not be carved in stone, but written on our hearts. The depth and presence of this covenant is that which is revealed by and lived by the Word of God, Jesus Christ. Thus what we hear today is an invitation to appreciate the full meaning of that effort of God. It is the relationship between God and humanity that is established through the person of the God-man, Jesus Christ,

 

The gospel tells us of an incident in which some individuals sought to be introduced to Jesus. They wanted to know him. Jesus uses the opportunity to make it clear that it is in the totality of his giving of himself that he is to be known and understood. He must be like a seed that is buried in the ground before it is able to come to life. What Jesus states points to the very essence of God’s efforts toward us, his own self-giving by death on the cross.

 

Rather than being defeated by his betrayal and execution, these will be the source of his glorification. They are the fulfillment of his work. They would be the means by which he would draw all who would join him, as they will lead to his overcoming death in his Resurrection. Those who would follow him would then continue his work on earth by revealing and reflecting the presence of God in the world.

 

What we have heard in God’s message to us today is both a conclusion and an introduction. It is the conclusion of the reflections on the heritage and history of the development of our Faith. This history has told us of God’s constant efforts to reach out to us. It has called us to join in this partnership with God through a covenant relationship. It is a partnership we share, as Church, to acknowledge, to honor and to respect a good and loving God in our lives.

 

It is also an introduction to the account that will tell us of the totality and completeness of that effort of God on our behalf as it is embodied, incarnated, in Jesus Christ. We will hear, next week, the story of his betrayal, condemnation and execution. But it is a stony that will not end with those tragic events. The story will continue on the week following when we recall the triumph of Easter morning.

 

Hearing once again about the totality of God’s love in the crucifixion and of the glory of God’s love in the Resurrection, we will be called upon to respond, to renew our participation in the on-going, lived, relationship with our loving God that began at our baptism. Through the renewal of our baptismal promises at the celebration of Easter we do not just say words, were new our dedication and commitment to living our lives in ways that reveal to our world today what is the truth and the transforming presence in our lives of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 11, 2018

2 Chronicles 36: 14-16, 19-23 Ephesians 2: 4-10 John 3: 14-21

 

In the outline of the development of a relationship between God and mankind that I have suggested as the source of our reflections during this particular Season of Lent, we arrive today at what might be considered the most realistic part. Over the past weeks we have heard of God’s desire for a relationship to exist between God and mankind, as told in the story of Noah and the rainbow. Then we heard of what type of response to this desire of God is sought from mankind. This is found in the story of Abraham and the call to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The terms by which this relationship was to be lived out were learned in the account of Moses and the Commandments.

 

Today, in the Scripture passage from the Book of Chronicles we heard described what happened. It is an account that is, on one hand, tragic. On the other hand, however, it is also hopeful. It is tragic that mankind, as represented by the Chosen People of the Old Testament continued to distance themselves from God and a relationship with God. The result of this brought on defeat and exile. Despite the constant efforts on the part of God to reach out and call this people back lovingly, suffering and disaster resulted because of the choices that were made, choices to distance themselves from God.

 

But it is also an account that is hopeful because, despite all that had occurred, God persisted in restoring that relationship. This was done in a way that is not short of amazing. The restoration of the relationship was accomplished by an inconceivable means. As the inspired writers of the Scriptures recognized, the restoration took place through one who was completely outside of the promise of that relationship, Cyrus, the Persian king.

 

It is a powerful message that is being delivered to us. All and any means are used by our loving God to wake us up from the lethargy of our selfishness in order that we might know, live out, and reflect the goodness of God in our lives.

 

Yet God was not finished. We can only understand God as determined to maintain a relationship even though mankind – and that means us -continues to drift away, choosing to distance itself from God. It is in this context that we hear the well known verse of John 3: 16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” As familiar as this verse may be – we see reference to it displayed in many different venues – we must not stop with this particular passage. We must go on with the next verse as well: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

 

Where is that effort of the Son to be found now? It is to be found in us. We who are the Church in the world today. This is the work of the Son, whose Body, as Church, we are. This is what we are to continue in our world today. We are not to tear down but to build up. We are not judge but to love. We are not to condemn but to save.

 

This is the task of God’s Son in our midst. No less is it our task now, today, in our lives and in our world. God so loves the world, but it is in us and though us, by our lives and by our actions, that this love is to be known. It is in us and through us that the darkness so often experienced in our world is to be replaced by the light of God’s presence.

 

We look at our Faith. We recognize the love of God reaching out to us. We respond by living in a manner that reflects an acknowledgment, an honor, and a respect of our Creator God and all of God’s creation. This is the way that we carry on the work of the Son in saving and restoring the whole of the creation of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Third Sunday of Lent – March 4, 2018

Exodus 20: 1-3, 7-8, 12-17 1 Corinthians 1: 22-25 John 2: 13-25

 

I like to think that I attempt to understand many things in a rather simple way. For example, during this Season of Lent, I have suggested that we understand God’s message to us in the Scriptures we are hearing as a type of review of very basic aspects of the heritage or history of our beliefs. We have heard stories of Noah after the Great Flood and of the rainbow as the sign of God extending a relationship to humanity. Then we heard of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his only legitimate son, Isaac, despite the promise that had been made to him of innumerable descendants. They are somewhat complex stories but they contain basic, simple insights about God, our world, and our existence in it. God seeks a relationship with us and a genuine response from us.

 

Today we have heard about what we might call the “terms” of that relationship. These are what we know as the “Ten Commandments” given to another significant individual who is part of our heritage of Faith: Moses. Almost from the outset, whenever we hear about “commandments” we resist. We think of them as demands, requirements,rules, and we chafe against being told what to do. But I would like to share two thoughts regarding this.

 

The first is that I was interested to learn that the Hebrew word that was used and then translated as “commandment” was actually רָבָּד†“dâbâr,” which means “word” in the sense of ten “words” or ten “terms” ascribed to God. These represent the terms or the conditions of how the covenant, the relationship, with God is to be lived.

 

The second thought that I would like to share involves what it is like whenever we might happen to make or construct, cook or bake something. We want the result of our efforts to function perfectly, to be exactly what we pictured, how we planned for it to come out. So it is, I believe, how God, as Creator, sought for humanity, for us, to be. Humanity, as represented in the Scriptures as Adam and Eve, chose to distance itself from God. God did not create robots but human beings with free will. As a result that Source of life and existence, that source of all that is whom we acknowledge as God, now outlines for us what is involved in being the best result of creation in living out our human lives. I do not see it as all that complicated. It really is quite simple. The best manner of living our lives is summarized in simple statements: the Commandments, the “Decalogue” or “ten words. These are simple statements that we, not our God and Creator, complicate.

 

These “Words” mean this: acknowledge that God is – the being, the source of all that exists; respect God – do not seek to manipulate God for one’s own purposes; honor God – if only for one-seventh of the period of our lives, and even for just a fraction of that one-seventh.

 

Then, as a genuine testimony of the acknowledgment of God, respect and honor all of God’s creation as we encounter it day after day: do not kill or destroy in body or in spirit; be faithful in mind and in body; speak truth no matter what the cost; be satisfied with what one has.

 

The unfortunate thing is that trying to live life in this manner is counter-culture. In fact, so much around us would ridicule and devalue behavior like this. Nonetheless, to live in this way to the very best that we are able is not simply a response to some commandments or rule. Rather it is a recognition of what we are and what we can be as human beings. It is an understanding of what we are and what we can be as creations, as reflections, of a loving and merciful God.

 

Along with the Commandments, we also heard today about the Cleansing of the Temple by Jesus. The Temple was the symbol of God’s presence. What Jesus encountered were those who had used the Temple as a means for their own selfish greed. It was greed, not God that was being experienced in that sacred place. There was no acknowledgment, respect or honor of God, nor was there respect and honor for God’s creation by those who were defrauding faithful worshipers who came to the Temple, who sought to live out the covenant relationship with God

 

The Commandments are words or terms that describe how a relationship is possible between God, the Creator of all, and the highest point of that creation – humanity, that is, ourselves. They direct how human life can be lived out with the greatest dignity, value and worth. They are the genuine manner by which we can reflect the goodness of our truly gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Second Sunday of Lent – February 25, 2018

Genesis 22: 1-2, 90a, 10-13, 15-18 Romans 8: 31b-34 Mark 9: 2-10

 

My suggestion during this Season of Lent is hat we direct our thoughts and considerations to aspects of the background or heritage of our beliefs. Thus, we encounter today the second major Scriptural individual who is instrumental in the heritage of our Faith: Abraham. Abraham, as he is recounted in the Scriptures, is an individual of importance in the faith of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. He is of particular importance because he is the person identified as the first to recognize that there is truly but one God, as compared with the multiple gods of the religions of his time.

 

For our considerations today, however, I would like us to view Abraham as the embodiment of that segment of mankind, to which we belong, which responds to God’s willingness to establish an ongoing relationship, covenant, with mankind.

 

Our Creator, God, entered into a covenant, a bond, with humanity when all of creation was to be restored following that massive flood that is recollected in ancient literature as well as in the Bible. This is what we remembered last weekend. This was the effort that was made by God toward us, toward all of humanity, toward all of creation.

 

In the story of Abraham that we hear today, the significance of that relationship takes a different form. Abraham had been promised that, as a result of his union with God, he would be granted a homeland and multiple descendants. But a response from Abraham was required. As the story of Abraham is told in the Book of Genesis he faced numerous obstacles to the accomplishment of this promise. What we heard today represents the ultimate obstacle. Yet Abraham’s faith and trust in God is not shaken. It was constant and continuous throughout all of these difficulties. There really is no other way to describe Abraham’s response to God than to say that it was total, that it was without hesitation.

 

In order for the promise of innumerable descendants to be accomplished, it would have to start with Isaac, Abraham’s only legitimate heir. Yet Abraham us put to the test of sacrificing, of killing, this only legitimate son. Without doubt or reservation, Abraham placed his faith and trust in God. Isaac was his beloved son. But Abraham was willing to sacrifice his beloved son. God’s purpose and promise, he firmly believed, would be accomplished even in the face of this seemingly overwhelming obstacle. Thus it is that Abraham stands before us as a model for all of us and our response to the generous love of God

 

It is with this image in mind that we can appreciate what Saint Paul describes briefly. If God is so generous in this way, so total in generosity to us as as to sacrifice the “Beloved Son” on our behalf, what doubts – no matter what we may encounter in life – can we have of God’s love and care for us.

 

It is this “Beloved Son”who is in our midst. This “Beloved Son” is Jesus Christ. This “Beloved Son” is shown to us, as he was to Peter, James and John. This “Beloved Son” is one with the revelation of God found in their religious heritage, the Law and the Prophets, represented by Moses and Elijah. This “Beloved Son” is now experienced by us in the Eucharist which he has handed on to us.

 

The heritage of our Faith, the heritage we share through our Baptism, tells us of the generous and loving God who enters into a relationship, a partnership, with us through Baptism. It is to this generosity that we are to respond in the manner of Abraham of old: totally and without reservation.

 

This history, this heritage of our belief, as recounted to us in Noah and Abraham, is to take hold of us and to effect us in every aspect of our lives. It is a heritage that is to be reflected by our experience of the generous love of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

First Sunday of Lent – February 18, 2018

Genesis 8: 8-15 1 Peter 3: 18-22 Mark 1: 12-15

 

A little over a week ago I heard from my brother in Florida. Of course he reminded me that it was 85 degrees where he is living, while we were hovering in the 20s. He likes to do those things. He also mentioned that his daughter and granddaughter had recently spent a week visiting in Florida. During this time, they were told stories about the family background of his wife and himself. These were stories about the ancestors of their daughter and grand daughter. They told of things that had not been known or realized before.

 

These were the thoughts about heritage, background and tradition that came to mind when I first gave consideration to God’s Scriptural message to us today, and actually, through this particular season of Lent. What we will be hearing from the Old Testament of the Bible this year will be a series of accounts that will direct our attention to the heritage and background of our Faith. These are the roots that our Faith has in the early days of humanity’s existence as described in the Scriptures. They are accounts of the interaction between God and mankind, the relationship known as a covenant. Today that relationship is represented by the covenant that was made between God and Noah and all of creation that is signified by that wonder of nature – a rainbow.

 

The story of a large and devastating flood is not exclusive to the Bible Other ancient literary sources also refer to such a significant event. But the understanding of this story as it is recounted in the Bible is fundamental to an appreciation of our heritage of Faith and our relationship with God. After the massive destruction of this flood, as it is recorded in the Book of Genesis, we are also told about the relationship, the covenant, that is established between God and mankind and all of creation. From the early beginnings of mankind, as represented in theBook of  Genesis, it is understood that our God and Creator is an active partner with us in our lives. Humanity and creation are not put into existence and then abandoned. Rather, we are called upon to realize that the very height of being alive is found in such a relationship with our God and Creator..

 

A further dimension to the account of the flood is found in what took place afterwards. Once the waters had receded, new life was able to begin. Creation was restored. Creation, as promised, would not be destroyed by God its Creator.

 

It is this rich symbolism of new life after the flood that is significant now, during the Season of Lent. This is what gives particular meaning to Baptism into new life of which Peters peaks in what we have heard. It calls us to a renewed appreciation of that part of our heritage which is our own Baptism, an event that, for many of us, was the result of the family values and beliefs that were being shared with us. We are called to make more of a reality in our lives the meaning and the effect of the relationship with God that we share through our Baptism.

 

This is the central theme of this period of Lent that we have begin this past week. We adopt s simplicity and discipline of our lifestyle by the practice of some sort of fasting or denial. In addition, there are various signs and symbols that surround us at this time which seek to focus our attention on the meaning and the effect of our Baptism with the hope for a revitalization of our Faith in our lives.

 

Lent recalls the time Jesus is said to have spent in the desert before he began his ministry. For us, these forty days of Lent this year will see us urged, week after week, to recall the heritage of our gift of Faith. All of this will be directed toward the end of this time and the celebration of Easter. It is then that we will renew our baptismal commitment, not simply as a gesture, but as the result of our examination and evaluation of what is ours in our Faith. It is to be a recognition and renewal of the heritage of Faith that was handed on to us that will enable us to go forth, like Jesus, to proclaim Good News: the Good News of our good and gracious God.