Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Fourth Sunday of the Year – September 15, 2019

Exodus 32: 7-111, 13-14 Timothy 1: 12-17 Luke 15: 1-10


Over the years of a life, whether they are long or brief, God is envisioned in different ways. God is Creator, Almighty, All-Powerful; or God is seen as demanding law giver and judge; or God is easily dismissed as a grey-haired, bearded old man. The revelation of the genuine nature of God and the nature of the relationship with God that is possible was the purpose and goal of the ministry of Jesus among us, whether in the words he spoke, the actions he performed and even in his death on the cross. In a particular way today we gains insight into God through what we have heard in the Scripture that have been read.


In the account from the Book of Exodus, we heard how Moses pleaded with God regarding the people he led, the Israelites. They had made a Golden Calf and had abandoned the God who had saved them from Egypt. Moses makes no excuses for them. He does not try to rationalize their behavior or blame someone else. He appeals directly to the understanding nature of God: You are faithful; You have promised to be true to what you have promised. Despite what this people has done, despite their weaknesses and failings, You are God, not man in the way that You act, in the way that You love. The Lord relented. We are reminded that God is faithful. God is not like us as when we are vengeful and unforgiving. God, as revealed to us in the Scriptures and in the ministry of Jesus. is neither vengeful nor unforgiving if we acknowledge our weakness and sinfulness.


We also heard Saint Paul write to his friend and disciple, Timothy. Paul expresses nothing short of amazement at what has happened in his own life. He had been a persecutor of the followers of Jesus. He had even participated in putting them to death as in the case of Saint Stephen. Now Paul finds himself, as he tells Timothy, not only a follower of Jesus but also a major proclaimer of the Gospel, the Good News, of Jesus. He proclaims this message to those who are not even a part of the Jewish tradition even though he himself had been a Pharisee, part of the strictest segment of that tradition. So great was the loving forgiveness of God as it worked in his life. So great, too, is the loving forgiveness of God that is available to all of us. It is so far beyond anything Paul or we, ourselves, could have imagined or expected.


From the Gospel of Saint Luke we heard Jesus tell two well-known parables as examples of God’s mercy, the accounts of the lost sheep and the lost coin. What more powerful imagery can be given to us to describe the relationship which God seeks with us or how we are valued by God? When we have lost or misplaced something valuable and important to us, we know the sense of relief we experience when it is found. If we give it some thought, it almost seems absurd to abandon 99 sheep to look for 1, or to minimize the value of 9 coins to hunt for 1. But the message Jesus seeks to convey to us is to have us understand the boundless extent of God’s love no matter now much any one of us may have failed or continue to fail;. Jesus reveals that forgiveness and reconciliation are always possible.


Taking up the cross of Jesus has been the object of his teaching during this journey from Galilee to Jerusalem that Saint Luke has been describing to us over these past weeks. Perhaps the stories we heard today from Jesus seem like an exaggerations. Perhaps this is purposely so. We are to be encouraged about the value, the importance which each of us possesses. It is the value and importance of seeking to be reconciled with our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Third Sunday of the Year – September 8, 2019

Wisdom 9:13-18bb Philemon 9-10, 12-17 Luke 14:25-33


The journey we are on with Jesus, as it has been described by Saint Luke over the last few weeks, started with the statement by Jesus encouraging his listeners to take up the cross and follow him. Various aspects of what that would mean have been presented to us from the Gospel passages we have hard.


Today we are presented with a specific description of what this involves. In a very radical manner we are challenged with the understanding that nothing, not even family itself, is to interfere or to hinder this response and the relationship with God that is involved. It is a difficult, even puzzling, statement that Jesus makes. To take up the cross, to be united to God through Jesus requires a commitment even more significant than a family relationship. It is a commitment that is so valuable that it involves an effort equal to that which Jesus is willing to undertake – giving of himself by his death on a cross. It is a commitment that is so thorough that what must be done is similar, in a way, to building a tower or going into battle.


Along with these words of Jesus, other insights are offered to us by St. Paul and the author of the Book of Wisdom. Paul writes an early Christian covert about returning a runaway slave, Onesimus, who had become valuable to Paul. He was willing to return him to the rightful owner, Philemon, but reminds him that their common faith in Jesus Christ had fundamentally changed the nature of the relationship that was to exist. The relationship with God through Christ superseded the requirements of the law or the expectations of the society in which they were living.


The author of the Book of Wisdom uses eloquent language to convey a similar thought. He reminds us how limited and restricted is our way of thinking as human beings when compared to God’s way of thinking. God’s ways, God’s Spirit, is not limited by human judgements, prejudices, distinctions or qualifications.


The challenge put before us by Christ, and as it is reflected in these other sources, requires some consideration and thought by us. Do we want to be whole-hearted followers of Jesus? Do we want to live out our potential as reflections of God? Do we want to be, literally, joined with Christ in carrying the cross, in abandoning everything so as to reveal the presence of God in our lives and in the world in which we live?


If so, then we must be willing to separate ourselves from anything that limits or hinders us. All of this sounds like a great demand. But we would do well to consider this also. If we were detached from prejudices or grudges that we harbor, if we were detached from so many things that cause us anxiety, if we were detached from so many objects that we think we need, if we were detached from dependencies we have created for ourselves on persons, possessions, substances and the like, the result would be an exhilarating freedom. It would gain for us a freedom of mind, heart and spirit, a freedom of truly reflecting in our lives the loving presence of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty Second Sunday of the Year – September 1, 2019

Sirach 3: 17-18, 20, 28-28  Hebrews 12: 18-19, 22-24a  Luke 14: 1, 7-14


Once again, as Jesus and his followers continue their journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, they stop to share in the hospitality offered to them. This time it is by one who is known as a “leading Pharisee.” As St. Luke tells the story, Jesus uses this situation as an opportunity to give an instruction about the need for his followers to show a genuine sense of humility in their lives. He does this by means of a parable he relates which may well have been brought on by what had been experienced.


Expanding on what Jesus says in this lesson, what are we to understanding about being humble? We may often think that we are being humble when this really is not the case. For example, avoiding responsibility and letting someone else take care of a matter is not humility. Thinking poorly of one’s self, having low self-esteem, is not humility. Being unwilling to make up one’s mind, being indecisive and allowing someone else to make a decision that is really ours, is not humility.


Humility is accepting reality for what it is. It is not making ourselves or our situations greater or more important that they are. It is not living or acting in some fantasy world. It is an openness to the active presence of God in all that surrounds us. It is an acknowledgment and thanksgiving to God from whom we have received all that we have and are. All that surrounds us, if we are honest, leads us to recognize this loving God.


A good understanding of this is pointed out in the wisdom found in the reading from the Book of Proverbs that we heard. Humility, to this author, means recognizing our particular situation in life and extending respect and dignity to everyone else. They, too, are creatures of our loving God. Being humble is being honest with ourselves. This is what finds favor with God. This is what reflects in ourselves the reality of a loving God.


Humility, then, is a genuine response that is living in such a way that makes known the love that ha been shown to us. It is in this way that we love God, we love all others, we love all of creation.


We are able to do this because of our relationship with God. It is not a relationship based on a blazing fire or gloomy darkness as the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews points out. It is a relationship founded on being able to approach our living God with the love that is shown for us by the totality of Christ’s giving of himself.

The true humility that the Lord seeks in each of us, the recognition of the importance and the role of God in our lives, the recognition that what we are and what we are to do, is found in acknowledging, praising and loving in return our truly good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-First Sunday of the Year – August 25, 2019

Isaiah 66: 18-21 Hebrews 12: 5-7, 11-13 Luke 13: 2-30


One of the words that I do not like to hear, especially from a contractor, a computer service individual, a sales person, or the like, is the word “should.” It should be here, it should be done, it should work. It is almost a joke now, but there is a certain seriousness about it.


In a sense, I understand Jesus as addressing the same idea. As he and his followers continue on their journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, teaching his followers what it means to take up the cross and follow him, he wants it to be known that no one “should” consider themselves to be followers simply because of a certain background or status. Basically, Jesus restates ideas that we also heard today from Isaiah.


All of creation is a part of God’s purpose and plan. People from all corners of the earth would be welcome to take part in God’s saving and loving plan. But these ideas were shocking to those among the Chosen People. They felt that they had it made. They would automatically be part of God’s actions. Jesus, however, says that this is not so. It is not easy, it is not automatic, to be part of his mission. The entrance into his mission is restricted.


What we also heard from theLetter to the Hebrews describes this in a different way. Pain, real effort, even suffering, will also be a part of following the Lord. This is not surprising. We need only remember that Jesus is calling us to take up the cross, the instrument of torture and death -but also the sign of the greatest love – in order to follow him.


Jesus uses an interesting image to illustrate his point: a narrow door. Envision yourselves in a crowd, going to a sporting even, a concert, or at a sale at which the first ones in the store get the best bargain. Every muscle might be strained in the effort to make it in the entrance.


This is the understanding that Jesus is looking for in those who follow him. All of our effort, all of our being, in some way, is to act in such a way that the goodness of God can be learned in what others experience from us. Anyone could look at our lives, how we live, how we speak, how we act, and perceive an insight into the reality of God. It not a matter of “should.” It is a matter of “it is.”


To be part of what Jesus presents to us, we cannot presume anything. We must act, both now and continuously. We must live with conviction a disciplined approach from day to day.


This makes clear to ourselves and to others how it is evident that we share in the loving care and presence of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twentieth Sunday of the Year – August 18, 2019

Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10 Hebrews 12: 1-4 Luke 12: 49-63


Unfortunately we know too well the harshness and incivility that is experienced in our daily lives, especially in the political world. Perhaps we are getting used to it, even expecting it at times. The ideal, the hope, is that differences in opinion, views, political philosophies, can be shared with respect for the individuals expressing them.


This is brought to mind by what was stated in the gospel passage which we have just heard. It seems harsh and uncharacteristic. In many ways the perception of Jesus is that he is a bearer of peace and understanding. Thus, what he states today, at this stage of the journey St. Luke describes him to be on, as he and his followers near Jerusalem, seems to be puzzling and so contrary to our expectations.,


The fact is that what Jesus expresses is reality. He knows what is ahead of him when he arrives in Jerusalem. He knows that what he teaches will be rejected by many. That has been experienced already. Jesus is echoing the circumstances that were described in the reading from the prophet, Jeremiah. Those who heard Jeremiah were upset by his words. The solution chosen was to eliminate him, to shut him up in a cistern where his words would go unheard. The situation of Jesus is also the source for the reflections offered by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. Jesus had to endure opposition and even death, so that we might benefit.


Jesus makes it clear that he is not here simply to make us “feel good.” His words, his teaching, must be taken to heart, and genuinely affect and change us. But what he says will not be accepted. There will be harsh opposition because of the discomfort it brings, because of the challenge it presents. Like Jeremiah, he will be opposed and persecuted. He will endure the cross but he will not be defeated by it.


It is that same presence of Christ, God who came among us as a man, that we, the Body of Christ, are to make known. It is that presence that we embody which reveals the real dignity, the worth and the value that we and all others have as creatures of God, images and likenesses of our God.


We are presented, by our Faith, with this challenge. We are to realize how much each one of us is worth, as a child of our loving God. We are to live our lives in terms that value, that dignity, that each one of us has. We must recognize and extend that value and dignity to all others and to all of creation.


Jesus, as well as Jeremiah, recognized that values they proclaimed and the dignity that they extended to all of God’s creation would be rejected because of the self-centeredness and stubborn self-interest which is the sinful rejection of God’s goodness. Our lives are to declare what our Faith affirms. Living in a manner that genuinely reflects these Gospel values is the way in which we reveal and reflect the truth of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Nineteenth Sunday of the Year- August 11, 2019

Wisdom 18: 6-9 Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-12 Luke 12: 35-40


In the outline that Saint Luke is using in his gospel to present the ministry of Jesus and to answer for us what it takes to be a follower of Christ, Jesus and his followers are on a journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. But Jerusalem represents betrayal, condemnation, and execution to Jesus. To offer an encouragement on faith to his followers at this point makes sense. They will need faith in Jesus to sustain them in the time ahead. For us, too, as followers of Jesus, a strengthening our own faith is likewise important.


But, what is faith? Faith is the ability that we, as humans, possess and which we can energize. We do so everyday in seeking ways to accomplish simple things. If we turn a faucet, we have faith that water will flow. If we turn a switch, we have faith that a light will come on. Faith is a simple fact of our lives. If it is present in so many small things, how much more is it present with respect life itself. Faith in a loving God is essential in the living out of our lives. How we act is not to be based on fear or obligation. Rather it is to be based on faith and the hope that faith gives us. It is based on an anticipation of what a rich relationship with God achieves for us.


Through the inspired word of the Scriptures we have hard today, examples of faith are given to us. From the author of the Book of Wisdom we heard how thePassover ritual was to be celebrated. It is this ritual celebration that is a recognition of the goodness of God that the Chosen People had experienced. In the midst of slavery, they were delivered because of faith in God. Firm faith and hope in a loving God allows for the anticipation of deliverance. In a relationship with, as in any genuine relationship we might experience, faith and trust gives value, dimension and depth to that relationship.


The example of Abraham is also put before us in the Letter to the Hebrews. Despite all the odds against the fulfillment of the promise he understood that God had made to him, he placed his faith in God. The promise was achieved. He was no longer a nomad but occupied a land for settlement. He became the father of many nations despite his old age and that of his wife.


Then we heard the example that is used by Jesus. The servants know their master. They know what he wants. They know what he expects. They go about their duties, not out of obligation, but out of respect, awareness, appreciation and anticipation. They know how best to fulfill their particular role in life. This is what is acknowledged by the master in his service to them.


When someone does something for us, not because of obligation, but out of genuine love and respect, faith and trust – how much more does that mean. This shows the value that is placed on the relationship to that person and to ourselves as well. We are called to realize that the relationship with our loving God is not based on fear or even obligation. Rather, it is to be based on trust, faith, hope and the anticipation that these factors reflect. It is this type of response, a loving and appreciative response, that Christ seeks to teach us. It is in this way that we are to live our daily lives and it is in this way that we reveal our relationship with our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Seventeenth Sunday of the Year – July 28, 2019

Genesis 18: 20-31 Colossians 2: 2-14 Luke 11: 1-13


We are traveling along this journey of Jesus that St. Luke uses to describe for us what it means to take up the cross and follow Jesus. Thus far we have heard that we need to be fully committed to this way of guiding our lives, that the love of God is shown by our love of neighbor, that we are actively to serve others, and that we are also to listen to God who us a source of peace and a relief from anxiety.


Now, at another point in this journey, Jesus pauses and goes off by himself to pray. As a result, his followers ask him to instruct them on how to pray. Many thoughts are offered to us today about prayer, about this dialogue with God. There is, for example, the familiarity heard in the bargaining between Abraham and God. This give an insight into the intimacy of the relationship with God. The story also tells us that the justice of God is not automatic. There are no rigid sentencing guidelines that God follows. The justice of God is tempered with mercy which is seen as possible in the search for just individuals by Abraham in the account.


The thoughts Saint Pail presented to us today remind us that through the action of one person, Jesus Christ restored, by his death and resurrection, the relationship with God that had been harmed, or even destroyed, by sin. We have been reconciled with God, the source of love.


Most central to our thoughts today is how Jesus teaches us to dialogue with God. We hear Luke’s version of what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” We are more familiar with St. Matthew’s account. What Jesus gives is an outline of what we are to seek in prayer. Christ assures us that if we truly ask in prayer what he tells us, we will receive it. This is not same as suggesting that we will get anything we want.


We need to consider what the Lord’s prayer teaches us that we are to ask., what we are willing to commit ourselves to as followers of Jesus. We pray that God’s name be holy -that it be holy in us. We pray that God’s way of life rule and guide us – that God’s kingdom be evident in us. We pray that God truly be with us – nourishing and sustaining us in ways that are far more significant than mere material and passing things. We pray that God forgive us in the manner that we forgive others – perhaps the greatest challenge of this prayer. All of our prayers, all about which we dialogue with God, is to be guided by this framework.


Prayer to God is not magic. Like human dialogue, it seeks to reveal ourselves to the other, in this, to God. It is a loving dialogue of parent and child. At times it is bold, as in the case of Abraham. It is intimate at other times, as Jesus teaches us. Our prayer is to be based on a relationship which is constantly deepening, growing, richer and fuller. It is to grow in such a way that we continually reveal our confidence and trust in our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fifteenth Sunday of the Year – July 14, 2019

Deuteronomy 30: 10-14 Colossians 1: 15-20 Luke 10: 25-37


In what we heard this morning, Saint Luke continues to tell us of Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. This is the farm work he is using in order to describe what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Today we heard of an encounter that Jesus had along the way.


The stage is set for the very clear teaching of Jesus in Moses describing the expectations of God as simple. He states that commands of God are neither remote nor mysterious. Actually, those commands are very close to us and very basic because God’s has given us the ability to love. We are to love God and we are to love our neighbor. But there is a problem. To love makes a demand on us. It is a demand that we are frequently reluctant to hear.


The love of God eventually involves a complete surrender of ourselves to God. The more and more we come to know God, the more we realize the totality of God’s love for us. We come to realize that the only fitting response is one of total love in return. It is a love that does not question God. It is love that gives itself selflessly to God. It is a love that does not attempt to control God with what we want, or how we want things to be, or what we want for ourselves. It is a love which gives itself over totally to God. It is a love that constantly seeks to reveal the goodness of God. But our instincts are to hold on to ourselves, to protect ourselves. We are hesitant to let go of ourselves so completely.


Love of neighbor, as Jesus responds to the question that is asked of him, is a sign of our love for God. Jesus told the story of the Samaritan. What makes this particularly significant is that we need to remember that, earlier in this journey, the Samaritans had rejected him. It is quite hard to miss the point of the story told by Jesus because the imagery is graphic. Like in the parable, there all sorts of excuses which each of us an use for saying that we do not need to love our neighbor. Perhaps this is became of what they may have said or done to us. Or it is because we cannot expect much of a response from them in return. Or it may be because of their origin, their color, their beliefs. We can go on and on with excuses.


The one who received the Lord’s recognition in this story is the one who did not look for excuses. He simply lived out the commands of the Lord in a concrete situation.


We, however, continue to make excuses. We want to protect ourselves. To give ourselves in love makes us vulnerable. Perhaps we will not be understood. Perhaps we will be rejected. We certainly do not want that to happen. Perhaps if we give, even more will be demanded.


To give ourselves completely to God or to another is not simple. In fact, it is difficult. Yet this is the challenge before us. This is the way in which we reveal and reflect our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year – July 7, 2019

Isaiah 66: 10-14c Galtaians 6: 14-18 Luke 10: 1-9


In any of the traveling that we do, especially traveling for pleasure such as a vacation, the focus is on the destination, whatever it might be. How often the question was asked: “Are we there yet?”


In St. Luke’s account we are following now, the destination of Jesus is Jerusalem. Unlike the pleasure and enjoyment we look forward to in our destinations, we know that for Jesus, Jerusalem meant betrayal, condemnation and execution. But it also was the culmination of his ministry of revealing God’s love for mankind. It is for this reason that today we hear the majestic words of Isaiah. As the goal of Jesus’ journey, Jerusalem also represented comfort, delight, prosperity, the overflowing torrent in the midst of drought. Like an infant in the arms of its mother, God comforts us. The passion and death of Christ in Jerusalem reaffirms the depth of God’s love through the total giving of Jesus on our behalf.


If the meaning of Jerusalem has gained greater depth because of the action of Christ, so Pail wants us to know the difference that is present in his life. As he concludes his letter to the Christians of Galatia, He wants them, as he would want us, to realize how he has been transformed by his faith in Jesus. His suffering, his marks of Jesus Christ on his body, are the evidence of the great extent to which he goes to confirm this transformation.


Primarily, today, our attention is focused on the actions ofJesus as he continues his travels. He sends out a large number of his followers to prepare the way for him.They were to lay the groundwork, facilitate the opportunities, for him to be received openly. They were to proclaim lofty ideals about the meaning of the kingdom of God being at hand, being present.


It is the total union with God and all that this entails that is now being made available. In addition to abandonment of the past and freedom for the future, to take up the cross daily along with Jesus requires an openness to the possibilities that are being offered and how these affect our lives and our values. A total commitment to Christ’s presence in the world means a commitment that shows a willing dependence on God and God’s love as it is to be shown to others no matter how we might view them. Our commitment is to be so complete, as Jesus told his followers, that it dies not require even simple everyday things.


The ideals that we declare and that we celebrate this weekend, a loft as they may be, are but a reflection, a very clear reflection, of the dignity and value that is to be extended to all persons as daughters and sons of our Creator God. In this respect, Pope Francis offers these words for our reflection: “Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good see can grow.”


In this way each of us are one with the 72 of the gospel in the living out of our daily lives. We are sent forth from this Mass to make ready, to make available, the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives and in the lives of others. Thus it is that, in and through us, by our union with Jesus Christ, our world is to learn of the abundant and enduring love of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirteenth Sunday of the Year – June 30, 2019

1 Kings 19: 16b. 19-21 Galatians 5: 1, 13-18 Luke 9: 51-62


Over the next few months, when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we will be going on a journey. Our travel guide will be St. Luke as he uses this framework of a journey by Jesus and his followers from Galilee to Jerusalem in order to give his account of the ministry of Jesus. More than just a clever technique. It is his way of responding to the challengeJesus makes to us of taking up the cross and following him – a statement which immediately preceded, in the Gospel, the passage we heard today.


If we want to travel with Jesus on this journey, we will learn what is involvedSpecifically, today, we learn that essential to doing this, taking up the cross, are both abandonment and freedom. To follow Jesus, to take up the cross, we must let go, abandon, what from the past holds us back, and be open to the freedom to take hold of what the future presents to us.


The different passage from God’s speaking to us in the Scriptures give some good examples. This is evident in the story of Elisha and Elijah. Elisha is called to take up the mantle, the role, of prophecy. He is to carry on the work of Elijah. At first he hesitates. And then he acts. He abandons what he has been doing. This is graphically illustrated for us in the cooking of oxen over the fire made from his plow. Nothing is left of what had been before.


St. Paul is writing to the Christians at Galatia. The felt that they had to follow Jewish practices in order to be true followers of Jesus. Paul tells them that they are not to subject themselves to obligations of the Old Covenant with all of its rules and regulations which was most often just a matter of formalism an show. They are to allow the Spirit to act in and through them. The key to following Jesus was to be free from the expectations of the “flesh”, the “world” so that they could be free to enjoy the love of God and free to love others. The expectations of the wold, of the “flesh,” are limiting, restrictive, demanding. Think of the examples of advertising that wells us what we need to be or to have. These are such thing as the perfect look, or entertainment, or possessions, or drugs, or alcohol or sex, or manipulation or control. There are many fantasies that are portrayed to us that really frustrate us or restrict us.


Jesus, as we are told in the Gospel passage we heard, had three encounters. Each taught a lesson. The Samaritans reject him. The world response, voiced by his follows, is to destroy. The response if Jesus was that we ought not be hindered by revenge. Simple let them be. To the one whom he says that he has no place to call home he is showing that he is not restricted by time of place. As to the one who wishes to bury his dead, he counsels to be totally unattached, noting is to hold us back, the restrictions of he past are to be abandoned.


To take up the cross daily as Jesus urges us means the abandonment of any of those things that restrict, that control us, that limit us. These can be expectations others have of us or we have of ourselves. They cam be prejudices we harbor, as well as anger, hatred or envy. But that abandonment also means true freedom. It means greater opportunities to experience God’s loving presence around us in all persons and in all of creation. It also means that we can show true freedom in the choices made and the actions performed. Following Christ and carrying the cross daily with him is the ultimate act of reflecting our faith and trust in our good and gracious God.