Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Sixth Sunday of the Year – February 16, 2020

Sirach 15: 15-20 1 Corinthians 2: 6-10 Matthew 5: 20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a

 

However we might happen to appreciate it, we all possess the freedom to make choices. This ability is based on the “free will” that has been given to us by our Creator God. It is among the greatest gifts we receive in life.

 

A central thought found in the communication God makes to us today is this matter of making choices. Which way do we want to go? How do we want to act? What do we want to be? What do we want to become as we go through our daily lives? These are some of the significant choices we can make.

 

In this communication from our God, we heard first from the wise man, Sirach. Trusting God, he tells us, is a choice that we can make in guiding our lives. We can choose what will enhance life or what will brings death. We can choose what will be for our good, or what will lead to evil for ourselves and for others. God did not give us life so that we can act unjustly and harm the relationships we experience. At the same time, however, it is our decision how we make this choice to make even if it is not what God wants for us. A relationship with God can guide us but God does not force us in the choiceS we might make.

 

We then heard Saint Paul speak of the result of making a choice that is based on a relationship with God. It is the beginning of true wisdom. Wisdom is not just knowledge or understanding, rather, it is insight and perception and appreciation of the whole of God’s loving plan. Paul calls it a mystery, but not in the sense of something that is hidden. It is a mystery such as love is a mystery that cannot be fully explained but is both experienced by us and appreciated.

 

In the Gospel passage we heard from St. Matthew, Jesus talks about the ways of behaving that his listeners have been taught. In doing so he also offers a challenge to us to strengthen the relationship between God and ourselves. What he is seeking for us to understand is that we can choose to be, we can choose to do, more in our lives because we are loved by God. We can do more because we have been given capabilities by God that are part of our very nature as human being.

 

We can choose to abuse and manipulate others for our own purposes or choose to respect and to honor one another because in different way each of us can reflect the goodness of God. We can choose to use others for our own pleasure, whether sexual or otherwise, or choose to respect and honor the qualities that each of us possess in being images of the goodness of God. We can choose to deceive and to lie to others for our own gains, or choose to honor and to respect others with truthfulness and honesty because of the dignity we all possess as creatures of God and shared in humanity with the God-man, Jesus Christ.

 

These are choices that we can make because of the way we have been created by our loving God. These are choices we can make day after day in the way we live based on a faith we have been give, a faith that has been handed on to us.

 

It is this faith that allows us to speak and to live the true wisdom described by Saint Paul. It is a wisdom that reflects a knowledge and understanding of God and of God’s presence in our lives. It is a wisdom that appreciates the depth of God’s love for us. It is a wisdom made known to us by Jesus Christ and lived by us in response to our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Third Sunday of the Year – January 26, 2020

Isaiah 8:23- 9:3 1 Corinthians 1: 10-13, 17 Matthew 4: 12-23

 

Being able to communicate is one of the essentials of life. In speaking, listening, signing, absorbing what is being communicated and reaching out in response – all of these are so much a part of life. This is not only the case among humans. Those who study various species of animals tell us that, in various different ways, they communicate as well.

 

We have been called upon this weekend by Pope Francis, to spend these moments of worship today with a sense of gratitude as well as reflection and prayer for the fact that our loving God is not distant and remote, but truly intimate in relationship to us. Our loving God seeks to communicate with us. Communication, indeed, was basic to the effort of Jesus as he sought to reveal our God to us. That revelation of God is found in the Scriptures, what is known as the Word of God.”

 

It is through the “Word of God”, God speaking to us, that we hear, at least weekly, that we learn of God acting on behalf of the “Chosen People” of old. We hear, as well, the call of “God-with-us”, Jesus Christ, to join with him and, in a particular way, to follow him. We also listen as early members of this Body of Christ, the Church, that we also are, struggle and succeed in the effort to achieve what is called for in being followers of Christ, true images of our God.

 

What we heard in the Gospel passage which was read today provides a good example. In St. Matthew’s account Jesus is undertaking his ministry of revealing God. He does this, not in the center of Jewish tradition and practice, Jerusalem, but in Galilee, the land of the Gentile and foreigners, a land of darkness. This is a reminder to us that in whatever the circumstances or darkness, he is the source of light, he enlightens our lives. Then he gathers his followers – ordinary people – who will share his efforts so that we might know that all of us are called to be part of his work. He does not work in isolation, but with and through and in all of us.

 

What we heard today, as we do each week, or each time we read the Scriptures, is a communication of God to us that addresses us and challenges us today. No matter who or what any one of us might be today, we can be touched, we can be affected, we can be enlightened by God’s word to us now. Through the routine of daily life what we are, as the Body of Christ today, is to continue to be a means that seeks to reveal the light of God’s presence with us each day, the light of God’s willingness to lift us up so that we can realize our potential, a light of God’s effort to join us and nourish us when we are here, gathered in worship.

 

If we open ourselves To the full effect of God’s communication with us, to the Word of God spoken to us in the Scriptures and especially in the teachings of Christ, then we learn that the greatest desires of what we want in life are found in our relationship with God our Creator. We learn that the means to achieve the very best of what we want in life is found in our relationship with God who is with us and who speaks to us. We learn that what is requires to achieve this very best is found in our relationship with God and with living from day to day what we are as reflections of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Baptism of the Lord – January 12, 2020

Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-17 Acts 10: 34-38 Matthew 3: 13-17

 

As a Church, we officially close our celebration of the Christmas Season, when were called that God came into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, by hearing an account of what took place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. In the life of the Church, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the culmination of what Christmas celebrates because it is the initiation of Jesus’ public work to reveal God to the world.

 

In reality, Christmas and its surrounding events is a preparation for this liturgical feast. In the story of Christmas, the Lord is revealed in different ways. He is proclaimed by angels. He is seen by the faithful poor of Israel, represented by the shepherds. He is revealed to the Gentiles, the non-Jews, in the person of the Magi. The Baptism of the Lord, as Jesus stands before John to be baptized and as he is called “the Beloved Son” by his Heavenly Father, is the beginning of the ministry of Jesus to the world. It is the beginning too of a new adventure in the history of the world. Now all the world is to know that he is the Chosen One, the beloved one of the Father who has come into our world to renew it.

 

What is the ministry of Jesus, then, to be? He is to reveal the Father’s love and to lead us to the Father. In addition, he is calling on us to join in his work, to be part of his ministry. As we listened to the words of Isaiah today, we can easily apply them to Jesus. But what is described, the servant, is also to be us. Jesus began his public work and teaching to lead us to be servants with him.

 

Each of us has been chosen by God. We are beloved sons and daughters of God. Each of us is called to establish the justice that is light to the blind. Each of us is called to free prisoners from the darkness of mind and heart. Each of us is to do this as the servants are described: not shouting out, but in the quiet of our daily lives.

 

The Baptism of the Lord is the beginning of the ministry of Jesus but it is also a call to us to renew our ministry as part of the Body of Christ. Where is his ministry revealed today, but in us? Where is the servant found who brings forth justice, the saving, loving will of the Father, but in us?

 

How is this be carried out? Not by shouting and display, but in the manner in which we live day to day. It is to be found in our prayer, in our example, in our words, in our actions. All of these are to make known, to reveal and reflect the Lord.

 

All of the celebrations of the Christmas Season are directed at showing forth the Lord. What point would there be to these celebrations if this central message is not conveyed? All of us have been given the task of carrying on the mission of Christ that was begun at his baptism and is to be continued through our own baptisms. All of us are called upon to reflect in our lives a living faith and trust in our good and gracious God,

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Epiphany of the Lord January 5, 2020

Isaiah 60: 1-6 Ephesians 3: 2-3a, 5-6 Matthew 2: 1-12

 

Another name which might be given to this Feast of the Epiphany, or Feast of the Three Kings, or Feast of the Magi, is the “Feast of Inclusion.” “Drawing in” or “Including” is a clear lesson that is conveyed by what we, as Church, recall today. It is a lesson that there are no restrictions or limits or borders to the extent of God’s love for humanity demonstrated by the birth of the God-made-man, Jesus Christ.

 

Consider what we have heard from Isaiah as he spoke to the Chosen People of old. They had suffered exile from their homeland, the Promised Land. In exile they had experienced and influenced other peoples, so that the return from exile would affect not only the Chosen People but also a large part of the whole world. From near and far people were going to participate in this new era, this new beginning that would take place.

 

Then we heard that Saint Paul, who had been a Pharisee, a strict observer of the Law, was not just ‘including the Gentiles, the non Jews, the foreigner sas recipients of his preaching and of baptism, he was actively going out to bring them in, to include them.. Paul declares that the Gentiles are co-heirs with the Jews. This was an opinion that clearly was not held by all the Apostles at the beginning. Thus there was a struggle between Peter and Paul until the Apostles realized that this God’s intentions were for all the world to be included.

 

It is then from Matthew, who addressed his account of the Gospel primarily to persons of Jewish origin and tradition, that the story of the Kings or Magi is heard. It is Matthew who emphasizes that from all over the world people would come to see what had happened. They were not only to see, they were to be affected. Having seen the newborn King, the Magi changed direction and return by another way. The Lord had come into the world, God was in our midst. All the world would come to see him. All the world is to be changed, transformed..

 

The Feast of the Epiphany not only recalls that the Lord was revealed to the world in history, but it also reminds us and urges us to show him forth, to reveal him, to the world now. The light of the Lord which lit up the darkness then is to shine brightly now in us as we lead others, by our lives, to that light.

 

In coming into our world in Jesus Christ, the Lord God called all of us, included all of us, in Divine Love. It is for us truly to reveal the Lord to all we meet, to live lives that do not

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Holy Family – December 29, 2019

Sirach 3:2-16, 12-14 Colossians 3: 12-17 Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23

 

A family I know has developed a tradition over the last years of going as a group, a couple of weeks before Christmas, to a Christmas tree farm. There they select and cut down trees for their respective homes. This year, a grandson in the group, picked a tree that was not attractive. Some might call it ugly. It appeared to have two trunks. He chose that tree to take to his family home because his father, who was not with the group that day, had once said that “Every tree has a home.” Hearing about this suggested reflections to me for this Feast of the Holy Family.

 

In many respects, families are different now than they are often remembered to be. Very little about family life can be taken for granted. Mobility has allowed families to be separated by miles and even states. Multiple marriages have led to a variety of roles and even a confusion of roles within a family. Single-parent families are far more frequent than many of us might remember. Illnesses, dependencies, and the demands made by employment and support offer challenges to the manner in which family life can be lived. The images often portrayed in the media or reported in the news can further add to the confusion. All of this can be lamented and bemoaned.

 

If we give it some thought, however, we realize that the Holy Family we recall today was certainly not picture-perfect. There was a pregnancy outside of marriage that posed a dilemma which made divorce a possibility. Foster parenting was a reality of this family. Then, they were refugees when the child was an infant followed by a long trek to their home. And when the son who had been born was an adolescent, he caused his parents anxiety.

 

Whether in contemporary society or in the Holy Family described to us in the Scriptures, things were not perfect, like that tree that appeared to have two trunks. It is not the appearance that is significant, however, but the environment, the setting, the “home” that can give beauty. No matter the circumstances, it is the family unit in whatever form that is the first place where one learns to live this gift of life. It is in the family unit that one is able to learn and experience love and care and respect.

 

With these thoughts in mind we can recall what our loving God said to us through inspired writers. In the wisdom of Sirach we have an ideal presented to us. The honor and respect that is to be shown to a parent can be expanded to include love and respect shown to all persons who are a part of our lives. Through Saint Paul we are reminded that no matter the circumstances of our natural family, we are also a part of a much greater family and are united to one another through a common bond with God our Father. We are to reflect that union by living as persons of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and most especially, love.

 

However family life might be experienced by any one of us, whether that be in our memories or in an ideal image portrayed for us in the Holy Family, there is a home for that misshapen tree which each one of us is. It is the home we share. It is the home that is found in the faith and trust we have in union with our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 22, 2019

Isaiah 7: 10-14 Romans 1: 1-7 Matthew 1: 18-24

 

As we move ever closer to the celebration of Christmas day, we are presented at this Eucharist with a significant but silent person who is an important part of the Christmas account that tells of God entering our world in the person of Jesus Christ. Joseph, who was engaged to Mary, has found himself in a very human situation and is confronted with a very serious dilemma.

 

A reflection of what is reported to us by Saint Matthew allows us to arrive at some insights. Joseph is aware of Mary’s own spiritual experience and what, in some fashion, she had come to know about her pregnancy. Joseph is aware of the teaching and expectations of his own religious tradition of the relationship between God and the Chosen People and the manner in which God had been understood as part of history of Jews. Joseph is fundamentally a man of faith, a just man, a righteous man, who knew the law and practice of his people. Joseph was genuinely troubled about circumstances which had arisen. He had a love and commitment to Mary. She was now pregnant so he weighs the consequences which have arisen, trying to resolve for himself this dilemma he faced.

 

What we can also recognize and appreciate is that Saint Matthew is not simply repeating some sort of pious story or legend. Rather, he is providing a sound lesson to us about the response that is given by a person of faith to a serious challenge that is faced in life.

 

In the earlier account we heard about Ahaz in the story from Isaiah, Ahaz faced the dilemma presented by an attack from his enemies. Isaiah tells him that he can be assured of God’s presence with him in this situation by the sign being offered: the conception of a son. But he was not willing to place firm faith or trust in God. On thr other hand, Joseph reflects the thoughts we heard today from Saint Paul. Paul acknowledges that all of the experiences in his life, coupled with his faith and trust in God made sense. God’s actions, his own faith and the response of those to whom he preached about the mystery and the realty of Jesus Christ revealed to him the depth and meaning of God’s loving plan for mankind. This, too, was the conclusion of Joseph as he accepted what was being asked of him.

 

God is with us, God will save us. This is the central truth that we recall in the example of firm faith and trust in this truth that is presented to us today. When we choose to be affected by this truth, to be affected by the depth and meaning of the Christmas event, God becoming man in Jesus Christ, we then give evidence of a willingness to follow the example given By Joseph. We then allow all aspects of our lives both those that are fortunate and those that are puzzling or challenging to reveal and reflect our own faith a trust in our good and gracious God.

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 and 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

Second Sunday of Advent – December 8, 2019

Isaiah 11: 1-10 Romans 15: 4-9 Matthew 3: 1-12

 

When we came into this church building today, it may have been evident how stark it is in contrast to what is experienced nearly everywhere else. Here it is simple and plain. There are no decorations other than the Advent Wreath and the Giving Tree. Other places we go might have elaborate lighting, decorations and incessant Christmas music.

 

Such a sharp contrast is also found in the words God speaks to us in the Scriptures we heard today. We have heard the calming, pastoral tones in the words of Isaiah, the prophet. There is the hope of the restoration which will come when the Lord will be with the people. The obvious enemies of nature will lie peacefully with one another. The effect of sin which brought disorder, hatred, and murder into the world will be eliminated when sin is eliminated. This passage carries with it many of the hopeful and happy elements which are part of the Advent and Christmas celebration.

 

In contrast, however, we heard the strong and demanding voice of the Baptizer. He calls to repentance, to a change of heart, to a baptism signifying a commitment to a new way of life. John is not afraid to call the leaders, who may have fulfilled the law and had been perfect in their Jewish practice, vipers, snakes, despicable characters, who needed more than others the experience of conversion.

 

Although the contrast in the tone is evident, there is a connection between these messages. In Isaiah, the vision, hope and possibility of what faithful belief in God can bring about is not just a wish or a thought. It is active, lived out and reflected in our lives and in our world. And it is the call of John the Baptizer that reminds us that change, reform, repentance is necessary for all of us, no matter one’s status, if this vision and hope of Isaiah is to happen.

 

The coming of the Lord, the accomplishment of the beautifully poetical image of Isaiah, takes place only after hard work by all of us, all of the Church, in recognizing the need in all of us for constant and continuous change, reform and growth. None of us can rest on our laurels. All of us must work, must examine ourselves and change what needs to be changed. We are to work so as to convince all who are around us that a better world is possible if the effort is made.

 

Having heard the words of John the Baptizer today, and the hoping for the vision of Isaiah, we can ask ourselves some questions. How are we to be like John and prepare the way for the Lord in our lives and in our world? How are we to make straight the paths of our lives for ourselves and for others? How do we bring to a more complete experience, in all aspects of our lives, the message of the Seasons of Advent and Christmas: the coming among us, the living with us, the full presence with us in Jesus Christ, of our good and gracious God?

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