Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

All Saints – November 1, 2020

Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14 – 1 John 3: 1-3 – Matthew 5: 1-12a


I have often heard concerns expressed to me about the difficulty of being alone. Especially I have heard of this from those who are mellowing with age, or who have lost a spouse, but also from others of different ages. Strangely, too, it seems, being lonely does not necessarily mean being by one’s self. Rather, being lonely is felt because of not being understood or appreciated.


Fundamental to the message of Jesus Christ is the revelation of God’s love for us as well as the importance of each of us to our loving God, no matter who we are, no matter our particular circumstances we are in. We are not alone. God is with us


Consider the way that Jesus made this known in his ministry. His was not a solo mission. He gathered followers around himself and sent them out too announce his presence and his task of announcing Good News. Jesus reminded his followers that when they gathered together, He was with them. In fact, he told them that when they gathered in his name, he with them and would share his very Body and Blood with them. His presence with them would be a Real Presence.


We are also assured by our faith in Jesus Christ that, even when we are apart from others, by ourselves, we are not alone. Rather, we are joined with all the others who believe in God and in Jesus Christ.. We are part of those who profess faith as followers of Christ. We are part of what is called the Body of Christ, the Church. We are part of what we profess as a “Communion of Saints.”


It is this faith that we recall in the celebration of the Feast of All Saints. The source of the strength of our faith is, in fact, that we share this belief with millions of others including those who are living now and, especially today, with those who have lived in the past. Each one of us can recognize that we are not alone. Others have gone through life as we are doing now. They have done so with belief and trust in God and. Often, with even more difficulties than those which face us now..


These are the Saints, these are the Holy Ones we remember today. These are the ones whom Jesus called “blessed.” They were ordinary people. They were people who went through the things we do. They are those who mourned, who hungered for what is right, who were kind and merciful, who were often rejected and even persecuted. Christ called them to be one with him and with others in God’s love. They are like ourselves, described by John as children of God now who can even endure rejection and suffering and continue to sign sing praise and blessing to God.


We who believe in God and share in the Body of Christ are part of all of this. We are not alone. We are united with and in union with the Communion of All the Saints – both ordinary and extraordinary people – who know or who knew God’s love and reflected that love in their lives. Ir is as this Communion of Saints of which we are a part, blessed as we are in so many way, that we honor and praise our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirtieth Sunday of the Year – October 25, 2020


Exodus 22: 20-26 – Thesalonians 1: 5c-10 – Matthew 22: 34-20

An individual who is described as an “expert of the law” approached Jesus and wanted to know what was the most important law. Perhaps this was a trick question meant to trip up Jesus in his response. That reply was both direct and simple. In fact, what Jesus states is that all of the Revelation that is known can be boiled down to this: Love God, love neighbors as one loves oneself. This is a familiar saying. We know it well. But it is often requires a great effort to understand it and to live it out.


At various times and in various conversations, the question is brought up: what does love of self mean. It might seem strange to say “love of self,” almost prideful. But if it is given some thought, this is not the case at all.


Love of self does not mean being self-centered or narcissistic. It is not a selfish disregard for everyone else, that no one else counts but the self – me. A healthy love of self consists in being comfortable with who and what I am. It is a healthy acceptance of who and what I am as a creation of God. The lack of being comfortable with one’s self, a lack of self-respect, often leads to the effort to escape.. This can lead, for example, to a variety of addictions: alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, pornography, control. There are other ways that this discomfort with oneself can be evident: envy, jealousy, ridicule, judgement, bigotry, prejudice. All of these suggest not being at ease with just what I am. It is in what I am that I can give honor and glory to God in my life.


If one can love one’s self properly then the next step of loving one’s neighbor can be ta taken. Such love is reflected in what we heard from the Book of Exodus. No one is a foreigner any more than any one of us. All of us were once foreigners, alienated from God. But we were treated with compassion by our loving God. All of us, in some time and in some way have experienced this compassionate and loving God through Jesus Christ, often shown to us through the actions of another person.


Properly understanding the love of oneself freely allows us to love our neighbor. Love of neighbor shows concern for those who are immediately around us. It also shows concern and respect for fellow human being as well as concern for our common planet. One cannot love a neighbor too much. Nor can a line be drawn that limits the concern and respect shown to any particular person.


A genuine love of God flows naturally from the first two. If there is healthy love of self, a love of the life that has been given by God, and if there is a love of the neighbor with whom we have been placed in this world by a loving God, then the genuine love of God will result. One cannot say that God is loved, if the self made by God is not loved. Nor can one say that God is loved, if one’s neighbor, a fellow creation of God, is not loved as well.


The response Jesus made to the question which challenged him was straightforward. It is the living out of the whole of that response, starting with ourselves, that proclaims the genuine faith and trust we have in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of the Year – October 18, 2020

Isaiah 45: 4-6 – 1 Thessalonians 1: 1-5b – Matthew 22: 15-21


The reminder that is placed before us today is that God acts through human instruments. Our Faith declares the importance of human actions as a way in which God and God’s presence in our world is revealed. The ultimate sign of this, of course, is that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, became a human in order to reveal the total love of our God for us.


What Isaiah describes to us is that Cyrus, the king of Persia, a pagan king, was also the instrument of the restoration of God’s Chosen People. In allowing for the rebuilding of the Temple, Cyrus acted in a manner that helped to restore the Jewish nation. What is emphasized in this account is that while Cyrus is mighty in doing this, it is by God’s investiture of him with authority that he is able to accomplish this. Cyrus may have been the king of an earthly kingdom, God was still the Lord of Lords over all of creation.


There is, then, a good connection with the familiar passage from the Gospel of Saint Matthew. Jesus offers us the reminder that while we are to take care of our civil duties by “rendering to Cesar, the ultimate, the final, rendering is to be made to God. God and Caesar are not co-equals. God is the final source of authority, the final object of honor.


What Jesus says is actually even more significant in our times than in his. The issues in our world are more complex than then and we are much more aware of them. We have a much greater voice in determining what government does. We can affect what Caesar does and who Caesar is. We have a greater duty to insure that government acts in line with God’s purpose for humanity.


In the expression of the Catholic Faith there are values which we are to uphold. These values included that of life itself, from beginning to end. These values likewise concern matters of the migration of people, of truth and of honesty, of peace and of justice, and most especially, of the dignity of and the respect for all persons. These are all very much a part of the fabric of our beliefs. However, we can often allow ourselves to be swayed by those whose values are so wrapped up in themselves and their own selfishness.


This is not just a matter of politics. There are issues which go beyond politics. Often too much is being rendered to the Caesars of the world and not enough to the purposes of God. Too much of our thinking can be influenced and formulated by the Caesar of this world rather than by the Gospel message.


As citizens of our society and members of Christ’s Body, the Church, we must continue the work of God in bringing into the world God’s purpose and God’s goals: the revelation of God’s love for mankind and for all of creation. As Cyrus was once God’s instrument, so we are to be instruments now in revealing the values we possess because of our faith in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

28th Sunday of the Year – October 11, 2020

Isaiah 25: 6-1a – Philippians 4: 12-14 – Matthew 12: 1-10


What better way to describe how God seeks to be united with us than to speak of a banquet, an image that is familiar to us. A banquet usually celebrates some type of special occasion or event. . In addition to the sharing of food in a bountiful way, there is the expression of gratitude and esteem that is conveyed to those who are invited. It is a truly fitting way to describe the “Kingdom,” the abiding presence of God with us.


Much is involved in putting on a banquet. In addition to the preparation of the food, there are the invitations, the responses of the guests, the setting and decorations, s well as the entertainment or program presented. These things are all apparent in both of the passages of Scripture that we have heard, from Isaiah and Matthew. Yet, in the Gospel account, despite all that has been done and the importance of the occasion being celebrate, the invitations are refused. The rationalizations given for this refusal are twofold. On the one hand there is the failure to recognize the values of what is being offered. On the other hand, the invited guests allow their own selfishness to overrule the effort to take part in the event.


The story of God’s relationship with mankind, with us, is the story of the generosity of god. In addition to giving the gift of life, God has given us this world, this universe, indeed, all of creation. Even more God has entered this world in the person of Jesus Christ, shared our life, and gave of that life on our behalf.


Often, particularly in past times, we have refused the generosity of these gifts of god to us. Perhaps we have taken them for granted. Or we have fallen victim to a common trait in our society and culture of seeking some type of self-directed, self gratification. Perhaps our experience now with the limitations we have experiences during these last few months as well as the inconveniences we have had to endure out of consideration of others, we have recognized, or have had the opportunity to recognize, what is genuinely important, what is genuinely valuable.


We need, however, to be open to hearing the invitation made to us by God. It calls for a genuine desire to dialogue with God in prayer. It calls for a removing of what might distract us and take us away from the Lord. It calls for doings away with selfishness – something that can be difficult.


Once again, it is Saint Paul who gives us an important lesson. The Christians at Philippi to whom he was writing, had generously supported him. For this he was grateful. But he also points out that whether he has all he needs, or he is deprived of even the essentials for living made no difference to him. What is important to him was proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


What we have heard today is a description of how God, in many different and bountiful ways, seeks to be joined with us. More than anything else, this is what the banquet prepared for us, the banquet to which we have been invited, represents to us. This Banquet, the Kingdom of


God, is a reality made known to us in the ministry of Jesus Christ. The invitation made to us is to continue that ministry, that mission, in our daily lives through the way we make known our faith and trust in goo and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Seventh Sunday of the Year – October 4, 2020

Isaiah 5: 1-7 – Philippians 4: 6-9 – Matthew 21: 33-43


As St. Matthew recorded the parable of Jesus that we heard today, it was addressed in a very direct way, to the leaders of the Jewish society of that time. But we also understand that God speaks to us here and now through these inspired writings of the Scriptures. Thus we can ask ourselves, how do we find meaning for ourselves from what is being said, particularly along with the beautiful poetry of Isaiah which we also heard.


One consideration is that in the imagery of both passages we are told of the relationship God seeks with us. The deep love, the concern, the cultivation of all of us describes how God desires to relate to us. How is it, then, that we are to react and to respond? I have mention on numerous occasions that in this gift of life we have received, there are man “opportunities” presented to us. These are many opportunities to grow and to develop and thus to yield a rich and bountiful harvest in our lives.


Isaiah describes the Israelites of old as well as us, as a vineyard. All of us and each of us is like a grapevine that needs constant care and attention. It needs proper weather as well a careful cultivation in order to yield a good harvest. Like the owner of the vineyard, God’s effort is constant and continuous. All that can be done has been done. But, for some reason, the vine failed. It did not respond. The owner of the vineyard, however, God in this imagery, will try once again.


In the story told by Jesus, the owner does what he can in order to gain back what is due to him.. But the workers constantly reject the owner’s efforts. The workers, in the enthusiasm of their rebellion, foolishly perceive themselves as entitled to take over ownership of the vineyard. Their response was contrary to the owner’s efforts, as can often reject God’s love for us in the choices we make. They do not succeed and bring on their own destruction.


In our human experience of relationships, in order to succeed, the efforts must be mutual. There are man opportunities for the relationship to deepen and to grow. But the effort cannot be made only by one party. One cannot be active while the other is passive. There must be co-operation, a working together that is present and active in both. So it is in our relationship with God.


It is in the words of Saint Paul that we have also heard today that we are given insight into how we are to respond to God. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent, praiseworthy – these are the qualities that are to mark our lives. Choosing thee are the opportunities given to us to gain a bountiful harvest in how we live. Lives that are lived in this way are lives that truly reflect and reveal a deep commitment to and a response to our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year – September 27, 2020

Isaiah 5: 1-7 – Philippians 4: 6-9 – Matthew 21: 33-43


I believe we have to give some credit to Saint Luke as he put together his account of the ministry of Jesus and composed his presentation of the Gospel. He did not hesitate to include some very shocking statements of Jesus such as telling the self-righteous leaders such as the Pharisees, that tax-collectors and prostitutes would be saved. Why? These persons were willing to listen to his word and repent of their lives.


This can be shocking to us as well. Jesus was looking to what could be considered the “low-life” of society and finding there a spirit of repentance and a humble recognition of failure rather than self-righteous smugness. To be honest, we may well be like the leaders, and wonder why he was wasting his time with these people. After all, what do they know by comparison with the learned leaders? It may well be that we, like them, are made uncomfortable by being so caught up in the conviction of how God ought to deal with us that we do not truly listen to what Jesus says and act upon it.


An appropriate response to God speaking to us today is found in the writing of Saint Paul. Our own smugness, the thinking that leads us to rejecting the blunt statements of Jesus, comes from the idea that before God we are better than others, that there are some others who are less than us.


But we might react and say that this is not true. Give it some thought. Every time we allow prejudice to exist in our mind, we think that we are better that the victim of that prejudice.


Every time we are envious or jealous of someone else, we actually feel that what they are or have ought to be ours. Every time we think revengeful or hateful thoughts about another, we are actually thinking that it is right to act against them because I am better than they are.. So very much of what might trouble us, whether as a spouse or family or neighbor or co-worker, or what troubles us with our country or between nations, stems from just these very attitudes and ideas.


It is precisely to this that Saint Pail states that our attitude is to be that of Christ. Let everyone think that the other is superior. Then there is no one who is lowly. There are no “dregs” of society unworthy of consideration. Treat everyone as being better then there is no one who is worse or less than oneself. Have the attitude of Christ, the one who though equal to God was willing to humble himself and take on our flesh. Christ was willing obediently to accept death, even death on the cross. Christ was willing to associate with repentant tax collectors, prostitutes, and the like.


Difficult as this may seem, as shocking as it may even be, it will be in assuming the attitude of Christ, and in no other way, that we continue the ministry of Jesus told to us in the Gospels, the ministry of making known our good and gracious god

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year September 22, 2020

Isaiah 55: 6-9 – Philippians 1: 20c-24, 27 – 1 Matthew 20: 1-16a


For many of us, the year 2020, will be one that we would, most likely, want to forget. I believe this to be true regardless of whatever way we might have been affected by the coronavirus: death, hospitalization, illness or the inconveniences and disruptions which have been caused in so many different ways. However we might have been dealing with the virus and its effect, I am certain that the questions has often been asked: “Why?” So many times, however, the simple raising of this question, “Why?” implies that if I had been in charge rather than God, things would have been different.


We can understand God’s speaking to us in the Scriptures we heard today as addressing this very point. In the parable which Jesus used this is especially evident. The owner in the story is presenting as acting contrary to the way in which a normal employer would work. Yet the object of the story is clear. God is the employer. He freely and generously gives according to Divine standards and purposes. In essence, it is a story that illustrates the line we heard from Isaiah in the first reading. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways. ”God’s thoughts and ways are elevated far above our limited human ways.


Those “ways” are exactly what are questioned when we ask “Why.” This is especially true when we ask “Why?” about things that involve pain or suffering, to a pandemic such as we are experiencing.


Perhaps the “Why?” we ask ought to be viewed from another perspective. Why am I alive? Why have I been given this gift of life? Why am I here? Why can I see, or hear, or taste? Why can I appreciate all the good and beautiful things that surround me? Why can I experience the joy of loving and being loved, the joy of friends and people who are a part of my life and genuinely care for me?


The answer to all of these question also reflects that God’s ways are not our ways. The answer is found in knowing what God is: God is love. God wished to share love with creation. God wished other beings to experience simply being, and being loved. Because of God’s love, we have all that belongs to us. All of this is the result of God’s generosity, of the Divine giving of self. But having created all of this, having give all of this to us, what happened? It was rejected through a sinful, selfish choice by mankind. Even then, however, God did not give up. God sent the Son to win us back. The unending, enduring love of God for us – that is the answer to “Why?”


We van ask the question “Why?” about those things that are tragic. But we must also as the question “Why?” about those that are joyous. The only answer which can be found for both is God’s love. This may be more evident in those things which are good. But no less is the love for God found, if we sincerely search for it, in those things that appear painful to us..


If we would absorb the depth of God’s love for us, the we can assume the attitude of Saint Paul as he faced imprisonment and even death. What was most important to him was the reality of God’s saving love for him that was seen by him in Jesus Christ..


So often we may not know the answer to give to those who question “Why?” But we are to show our response by lives and actions that express a true conviction and trust in a god and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

24th Sunday of the Year – September 13, 2020

Sirach 27: 30 – 28:77 – Romans 14: 7-9 – Matthew 18: 21-35


Like many of you, I suspect, I have been troubled over the years with coming to a good understanding of forgiveness. It is easy to identify with Peter in the Gospel passage we heard as he raises the question of how often we must forgive. Imagine having our own dialogue with God about that neighbor who is a real pest, or a spouse who drives us up a wall, or a boss who just will not let up, or that kid, whether our own or a neighbor’s, who tries one’s patience to the limit. How often do I have to forgive? There must be a limit. The response: there is no limit. This is to be the case whether or not the person is contrite and asks for forgiveness. The attitude that we must have is not to be revenge in some form, but forgiveness.


In God’s speaking to us through the Scripture, we are give three reasons for such an attitude to be considered.


In the Gospel parable that Jesus tells, the reason we are to forgive others comes from our recognition that we all need forgiveness. The failure of the first servant mentioned is that he refused to extend the same forgiveness he had received. Both of the servants had failed to repay what they owed. But the one forgiven was unwilling to show this same attitude toward his fellow servant who owed him a debt. Each of us is to recognize that we are to forgive because we ourselves often are in need of forgives from God and from others.


The wise man Sirach offers a second reason for forgiveness. Does one harbor anger against another but expect healing from God? We are to forgive others because the Lord is constantly willing to forgive us. God’s mercy and love for us is unquestioned and unlimited. As followers of Jesus Christ, we profess to make his life our own. If this is genuine on our part, then we must show this forgiveness in our lives. Jesus taught us to pray, and we say so often: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.


From Saint Paul we receive a third reason for the attitude of forgiveness. None of us is master of our own life. The Lord is. Each of us is equal before God, equal in our need for God’s mercy and forgiveness. We are all servants of the Lord. We are all to appear before God to render an account of our lives. None of us is in the position to judge or condemn another. All of us are to forgive as we trust we will be forgiven.


Clearly, then, fogginess is to be present and is to be limitless for us as followers of Christ.


The insight into forgiveness that I gained during the past year is that the first step to forgiveness is not to allow ourselves to be controlled by whatever may have happened to us. We may not be able to forget a hurt or a slight or whatever another may have done. But we can begin to forgive if we do not allow whatever it might happen to be to affect and to control how we choose to live and to act, even toward that particular individual.


In calling us to forgive in this way, Jesus calls on us to reflect genuinely and completely the mercy, the loving-kindness, the forgiveness of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Third Sunday of the Year – September 6, 2020

Ezechiel 33: 7-9 – Romans 13: 8-10 – Matthew 18: 15-20


Over the past months during which we have been struggling with the coronavirus, we have often heard from various sources that “we are in this together.” We may have thought that this encouragement was politically or governmentally or commercially based in some fashion. The reality is, however, that this way of thinking has its roots in Christian tradition or, better, in Judeo-Christian tradition. God’s communication with us, in the words of Scripture we heard today, brings this out.


Ezechiel, the Old Testament prophet, was told to be a watchman over others. He was to speak out and correct others or he would fail in his responsibility. Saint Paul summarizes all of the admonitions he had just give on about how to be a follower of Christ with the counsel to love our neighbor, to respect all and everyone who is a part of our lives.


Recognizing that we are in this “together,” in life itself “together”is central to the Gospel message we heard today, and central to being followers of Christ. It is what is essential to denial of self and embracing the cross. Why is this so? It is the fundamental way that we show our understanding that we live in a relationship with God and not as individuals alone, one-on-one. It is a relationship as a people, as a community of believers. We rely on one another. We are, as we profess in the Apostles’ Creed, a “Communion of Saints” – persons striving together for holiness. This is how we are to understanding the revelation of God’s love for us as well as understanding how best we are to live out the effect of that love.


When we fail to live out this relationship, this commitment of our Faith, it is in the dynamic of the community of believers, the Church, that healing and reconciliation take place. If such a relationship cannot be achieved with one another, then it cannot be expected that it will truly happen with God.


In many ways this may seem to go against that so-called “individualism” we often cherish. But if we truly understand how our God, our loving Creator and Source of life, is revealed and is to be known and loved, or how a true relationship with God, with all of the benefits it has for us, is to be experienced, we will realize that it is in the context of others, of the community of believers that we are. We come to know and appreciate God, not alone, but with others. It takes others, gathered together, living and expressing Faith, to make the full depth and full richness of God known to us. No one of us reveals the totality of the love of our God. Thus, in this body of believers that we are, this Church that we are, that we have the opportunity to experience our God.


In and through the community of believers, the Church, the presence and the love of our God is revealed to us. In and through the community of believers, the Church, we encounter, we are touched, we are nourished by our God. In and through the community of believers, the Church, with its strengths and with its weaknesses, in our common human condition as well as our Faith, that God is known.


As Church we are to be the ideal of how the world as a whole is to live. As a community of believers we are to be an example to one another and to the world. It is as the community of Faith-filled persons, joined together, and united as one, as we so often pray, that we reveal to the world a truly good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Second Sunday of the Year -August 30, 2020

Jeremiah 20: 7-9 – Romans 12: 1-2 – Matthew 6: 21-27


We have to give credit to the writers of the Gospels that they do not hesitate to remind us that we share with the Apostles Jesus chose the fact of being genuine human beings, with all the faults and failings that may be involved.. Today St. Matthew presents us with the example of St. Peter. Simon Peter had just declared Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Immediately afterward, he is rebuked for the reaction he made to Jesus when it is described what would be involved. Peter is reminded that he is responding in a typically human fashion rather than in accord with God’s will and saving plan. Jesus then tells the Apostles, and us, that in order to follow him, we must deny ourselves and take up the cross. These are familiar phrases. We have heard them often. Perhaps, however, they are too familiar and too easily simplified. How can we grow in our understanding of them?


To “deny ourselves” is not simply the idea of giving something up of whatever sort. To deny ourselves is to experience a complete sense of conversion. It means doing away, as best we can, with typically human ways of acting. To deny ourselves entails, as Jesus states, changing ourselves rather than thinking we can change God to fit our own purposes. In essence, it includes recognizing our own nothingness before God and abandoning our selfish and self-serving desires.


To “take up the cross” is often simplified when we think of it in terms of certain realities of life such as illness, injuries, our lot in life, as “crosse” we need to bear. Taking up the cross, rather, ought to be understood as “embracing the cross” and joining in the saving action of Christ. On the cross is seen the totality of God’s love for all of humanity and all of creation. It is that same love that is to be evident in our lives. The experience of God will be through us when we are united with the total self-giving on the cross.


What, then, does it mean fully to “follow” Christ? It involves, more than anything else, bringing the presence of Christ into every aspect of our lives. To follow Christ is to identify completely with Christ’s thinking and actions that reveal the Father, God. All of this demands a risk on our part. Thus we have also presented to us today the example of Jeremiah the prophet. He was being called upon to act in a way that was almost completely opposite of what he wanted. The cost of discipleship is so great that it even demands the giving up of life. This is not necessarily meant in a literal sense of physically dying for Christ although, as we know and have heard, in parts of the world even today this is true. Giving up our lives,, giving up the way we might want to live, does mean letting go of self-satisfying demands and judgements. If I am sincere in reflecting Christ in the midst of people, the decisions I make, the actions I perform, the words I speak, the attitude I show are all directed at making our loving God to be known, as was the whole direction of the ministry of Jesus Christ. It is in doing this that we incorporate in ourselves St. Pail’s admonitions: do not conform to the world, but conform to Christ; do not be afraid to bee transformed, to be changed, to be different; recognized what has genuine value and importance rather than what is superficial and transitory.


To deny ourselves, to take up the cross, to follow in ministry of Jesus, is what will reveal to ourselves and to our world the reality and the effect in us of our relationship with our good and gracious God.