Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 2, 2021

Acts 9: 26-31 – 1 John 3: 18-24 – John 15: 1-8

 

During these weeks following our celebration of the Resurrection of the lord, much of the attention in God’s communication with us in the Scriptures has been directed at how God relates to us, and how we relate to God in response. An important understanding we need to have about our religion, our faith, is that God is not distant or remote or aloof from us. Rather, God seeks to be a close part of our lives. In Jesus Christ, God assumed our human nature, became a human being like each of us. In the sacrament that is the Church, and in the sacraments of the Church, God presence becomes part of our lives, our very lives.

 

It is in light of this that we can hear Jesus make use of the image of the vine and the branches. If we graft ourselves to the Lord and to his love and his teaching, as a branch can be grafted to a limb or a trunk, we will be energized by his presence in our lives. If we prune away from ourselves what is dead and stifles growth, then we can develop a bountiful result.

 

But it is not that simple as the story of Paul’s interaction with the early Christians demonstrate. The story that is told is a very human a very human account. In a way, it is almost humorous. Paul is enthused with his new found faith but he encounters those knew Jesus and they were skeptical. He then goes among his own people, the Hellenists, those who were more affected by the influence of Greek thinking, and live in other parts of the Roman empire. Even these people wanted to kill him because they did not share his enthusiasm.

 

To the ideal imagery of the union with God depicted in the vine and the branches and the account and the harsh reality encountered by Paul’s new-found faith is added the encouragement found in the letter of John. We are to realize that it is in both our words and our actions that we are to reflect our Faith. No matter what challenge or opposition we might confront, whether from others or even from ourselves in the form of questions or doubts or temptations, we need to be convinced of the truth of the relationship we seek with God.

 

In our lives, the relationship we have with God is reflected in the relationships we have with others. As we know, such relationship are not always simple but more often they are complex We must be convinced of the value of such relationships and work to make them succeed. So it is with respect to the relationship with God. The branch must be alive itself in order to receive vigor and strength from the trunk.

 

It is this bond with the loving-kindness, justice , mercy and peace that is to be revealed to the world. It is what calls us to make known in our lives our faith and trust in our good and gracious God

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourth Sunday of Easter – April 25, 2021

Acts 4: 8-12 – 1 John 3:1-2 – John 10: 11-19

 

Put in modern terms, what we heard from the brief passage of saint John’s letter might be expected to be heard from a “motivational speaker.” This is the tone that can be heard when he writes: “See what love father has bestowed on us by letting us be called children of God” The restoration and the reconciliation that has been achieved by the Resurrection of the Lord accomplishes a whole new relationship between God and humanity, between God and us. The recognition of this fact is the basis for the enthusiasm and the joy that John expresses.

 

The nature and the depth of this relationship is illustrated by Jesus in the Gospel. Jesus, as we heard, describer himself in this way: “I am the good shepherd. . .I know mine and mine know me.” The image of a shepherd is probably not all that familiar to us in our own experience.  But to his listeners at that time it had much significance. But to “know” someone, as Jesus remarks is more common to us. Jesus is not speaking of some divine knowledge but of how we might “know” someone in our human experience, we can appreciate their thinking. We can anticipate their needs. We ca readily respond to their wants. It is an intimate knowledge which comes from a true bond. This is the nature of the relationship God seeks with us.

 

Not only does the shepherd know his sheep but, as Jesus states, the sheep him and recognize him. The sheep, like the followers of Jesus, are not the noblest of animals, but they are loyal and attached to the shepherd. The bond between them is mutual.

 

How, then, are we to appreciate and respond to the relationship God seeks with us that has been achieved for us in the Resurrection of the Lord and confirmed by us in the renewal of our Baptismal promises? An insight is provided to is the life of the early church as it is described to us in what we heard today from the Acts of the Apostles. The faith of the Apostles and the early Christians empowered them and gave them courage.. We hear of the freedom they experienced in knowing that they were no longer captive by failure or sin. Convinced of the loving relationship with God, life could be lived with a true sense of justice and peace toward all persons.

 

Because of the power of Christ’s graced presence in our lives we are empowered to love without limits. We are empowered to give of ourselves trusting in God’s mercy and to grow increasingly in our potential and ability to reflect god’s loving presence in our lives.

 

Assured of this loving relationship that our God seeks with so beautifully illustrated in the image of the Good Shepherd, our lives, our actions and our words can radiate the same enthusiasm and joy expressed by John in our faith and trust in our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Third Sunday of Easter – April 18, 2021

Acts 3: 13-15 – 1 John 2: 1-5a – Luke 24: 35-48

 

Over and over again, in the encounters that Jesus had with his disciples after the Resurrection, it is made clear to us that they did not simply see him. Rather, we are told that their lives had been genuinely transformed by the experience of the Risen Lord. They went from being timid and fearful, hiding behind locked doors, to being bold proclaimers of the Gospel.  Their experience of Jesus raised from the dead was not just a matter of seeing a body which had been resuscitated but a deep awareness that the conquest of death itself in the Resurrection radically changed their understanding and appreciation of life itself. Nothing could defeat or destroy being alive in Christ.

 

So it is that Saint Luke reports in the Acts of the Apostles that Peter so boldly preached. Peter tells his listeners that they had missed the message and purpose point of Jesus’ ministry.  This is the same Peter who, a short time before, had denied even knowing Jesus. Peter’s striking and courageous proclaiming this arose from his experience of the reality of Jesus risen from the dead.  This gave him, and the other Apostles, a completely different perspective on life as well as on the nature of the relationship with God that was possible because of the Spirit of God handed on to them by Jesus.

 

Our Baptisms, which we renewed at Easter, call all of us to proclaim that same Lord. Even more, we are to appreciate the presence and action of the Lord with us through the Spirit with us.

 

In what we heard today from the letter of Saint John we are gives insight into how this is to be done. If we keep the commandments, the directives of God, we can be assured that we will genuinely know God. If we live as Jesus told us, we will truly com to know him in our lives. Even beyond that, when we repent of sin and failure we will know Jesus as the intercessor who will lead us to the loving Father. This will give us the strength to overcome our weaknesses. We will not, however, experience the presence of the Lord if we allow selfishness and self will to effectively hinder the living out of the Gospel in our lives.

 

Our own experience of the reality of the Risen Lord differs from that of the Apostles. But, like the disciples at Emmau, we will know the Lord in the breaking of the bread, that sharing of the Eucharist in which we no participate. This experience of the Eucharist permits s every one of us to know the Lord more intimately as we are together in a ways shared with one another and as we go forth from these moments and carry out Christ’s command to love in our daily lives.

 

As we know and experience the Lord in the Eucharist, as we worship here and carry the meaning of this worship into our worlds, we are to be genuinely transformed ourselves so that in and through us those who are a part of our lives come to know a truly good and gracious God

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Second Sunday of Easter – April 11, 2021

Acts 4: 32-35 – 1 John 5: 1-6 – John 20: 19-31

 

Most of us have heard over the years, sometimes to our regret, that actions have consequences. It is exactly this idea that we can consider today as we are gathered to celebrate the Eucharist.

 

Last week we recalled the Resurrection of the Lord and renewed our commitment in Faith by the renewal of our Baptismal Promises. That was the action. Today we reflect on the consequences. The life of the early Christian community was briefly described for us in what we heard from the Acts of the Apostles. That community was united in life and in its activities through by the faith they shared in Jesus Christ. The community was convinced that it could succeed and be victorious over any obstacle because of their faith in the Risen Lord. This community, however, lived in the manner it did. Not because it had a direct experience of Jesus Christ, they had not seen but they believed.

 

The portrayal of the early Christian community is one that is genuinely idealistic. It is not unlike that certain idealism that we might have when we consider what might have been or what might be. All the idealism which we may have in life is tempered by reality. Sometimes that reality is harsh; other times it is bitter; sometimes it is defeating; other times that reality can almost eliminate all idealism.

 

Likewise is this true about the Christian community that developed in the Church. In the history of the Church over the centuries the hope of that idealism was quickly dashed Petty arguments arose as did self-serving heresies. Individuals, in different ways, sought their own benefits, rather than that of the community. All too often persons used the church to pursue their own purposes rather than that of being the experience of the person of Jesus Christ. Such has been, and is, the history of the Church, this community to which we belong.

 

Our celebration of Easter is a reminder to us year after year that idealism cannot be defeated. It must be renewed. The hope of the Resurrection cannot be dimmed. It must be strengthened. It is as if each Easter we return to that joy of Thomas when he exclaimed with amazement “My Lord and my God!”

 

Easter calls us to renew the idealism of our own faith a renewed idealism that, perhaps, is especially needed. It is a renewed idealism that expresses in both word and action the depth of faith in a good and gracious god

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Easter – 2021

Acts 10: 3-4a, 37-43 – Colossians 3: 1-4 – Mark 16: 1-7

 

Perhaps more than at any other time in any of our lives can we have a very deep appreciation of what the feast of Easter celebrates than this year. Las year we were not even able to come together here in the church on this day. Gatherings of any sort were restricted, limited or even did not happen as they had in the past. Even this year there are still limitations and modifications in place.

 

But we know that we look forward with hope, with great anticipation and expectation. To when we can gather together freely, when masks on our faces will be rolled back and removed, like the stone from the tomb. What we anticipate is the restoration , once again, of daily living as we knew it. What we look forward to is the restoration and thee hope that Easter celebrates.

 

It is so much easier this year, I believe, to envision the joy of the followers of Jesus when they experienced his presence with them on the evening of the Resurrection. They had witnessed him being betrayed, condemned and executed. What next could they expect? It made sense that they locked the doors where they were out of fear. Then, into their midst he came. He was alive. He was restored. He was not a spirit or a ghost. He was not an illusion. He was a real person who could be touched, who would eat. He had overcome the frightful experience of death. He was alive and wished them “Peace.”

 

The restoration we look forward to when this pandemic is contained and we can and we can return to the world that we had known, at least in some fashion, is limited in comparison to what was achieved by the Resurrection. It was a restoration of life itself It was a genuine reconciliation between God and mankind. It was a removal of anything and anyone that could cause us to fear, to be afraid. This is what make “Peace” not just a greeting, but a reality achieved by the Resurrection.

 

Our experience of the pandemic has been painful, both individually and throughout the world. But we are confident that it can be overcome and defeated, also individually and throughout the world. It is this confidence in these circumstances that teaches us so effectively why we, as Christians, as believers in the Resurrection we celebrate today, are people of hope, of optimism and of peace as we proclaim “Alleluia” over and over again: praise to out good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – March 28, 2021

Isaiah 50: 4-7 – Philipians 2: 6-11 – Mark 14: 1 – 15:47

 

Today we begin the hoist of weeks in the weeks in the yearly calendar of the life of the Church. We do so by hearing an account of the betrayal, condemnation and death of Jesus. I have frequently mention that the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross is the story of the totality of God’s love for mankind, of God’s love for all of us. I encourage you to keep this in mind as we listen to this account by Saint Mark today.

 

Even though Saint Marks telling of this event is briefer by comparison to the other Gospels, we can have a sense of what message he is attempting to convey. In Saint Mark’s narration he focuses on various persons who were part of this tragic event. He tells of the actions, statements, reactions of different individuals: the envy of the priests as it was perceived by Pontius Pilate, Pilate himself as weak and shallow, the assistance of Simon from Cyrene who was apparently known by some of Mar’s listeners, the others who were crucifer with Jesus and taunt him, and, most importantly the centurion , the non-Jew, who makes a profound statement of faith.

 

Mark appears to suggest that we might identify with one or the other of these individuals. From that standpoint we can appreciate the actions of Christ as they are extended to us. Further, we can consider how we might respond individually as we are a part of this drama.

 

As tragic as this story of the passion and death of Jesus is, it is, over all, the story of the depth of God’s love for us. It is a call made to us to join our human experience as well as our faith to the acknowledgment of the centurion: “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

 

It is the meaning and the impact of our faith in our lives that leads us to reaffirm what we believe. In the renewal of the promises made at our Baptism next week It is faith that is expressed in response to this account of the totality of the love of out good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fifth Sunday of Lent – March 21, 2021

Jeremiah 31: 31-34 – Hebrew 5: 7-9 – John 12: 20-31

 

The theme during the Season of Lent this year has emphasized the friendship that our God seeks with mankind, seeks with us. This union with God has been signified by the covenants or agreements between God and humanity. These covenants, described in the Scriptures, relied on external signs: a rainbow in the case of Noah, innumerable descendants and land in the case of Abraham, the Commandments or Law given on Sinai in the case of Moses. A new covenant between God ad mankind was described by the prophet, Jeremiah. This new covenant would depend on the interior disposition of a person. No longer was what was on the outside sufficient, what was in the interior of the individual was even more important. In the words of Jeremiah, the relationship will be written on our hearts. It will effect the whole of us, not superficially, but to the very depths of who we are.

 

A relationship between God and ourselves is a very real possibility because Christ Jesus, when he was in the flesh. When he was one of us he was willing to accept the call of the loving Father to give of himself totally in his death on the cross. So much does God love us that Christ was crucified so that we might be reconciled with God..

 

Acknowledging the depth of God’s love that is realized by commitment Christ and reflecting that acknowledgment in our manner of living makes us like the seed that is planted in the ground. What is on the surface of us must die, must be removed, so that the potential to grow and to blossom, to bear fruit is happens.

 

As it was with Jesus, so it is with us: a demanding task that is not easily accomplished. If, in our lives, God is to be honored and praised by how we reflect God in the choices we make, then we must be totally committed . It cannot be halfway. There cannot be half measures. We must contemplate the example of Christ giving himself totally for us all.

 

What enables us and encourages us to do this is the awareness that the cross was not the end. His crucifixion did not end the mission of Christ. It was his dying on the cross that led to the Resurrection. The Cross made the Resurrection possible. Just as planting the seed makes the flower possible.

 

God, in the covenants which were made in the past, as well as in the covenant that is written on our hearts through our baptism, continues to seek a loving relationship with each of us. We have focused during this Season of Lent on a consideration of the depth of God’s love for us as demonstrated in the covenants made by God with mankind. As we prepare, in the weeks to come, to renew our Baptismal covenant, may we do so with renewed commitment to and trust in our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 15, 2021

2 Chronicles 35: 14-16, 19-23 – Ephesians 2: 4-10 – John 3: 14-21

 

During the Season of Lent this year, God’s communication to us through the Scriptures has focused our attention on the covenants or agreements made between God and mankind. We were told a few weeks ago about Noah and the rainbow as a sign of the covenant to begin creation anew. With Abraham, the covenant promise of God was of a people who would be the descendants of Abraham and who would occupy a land given to the. The covenant between God and Moses, sealed with the Commandments, established a people chosen to be in a particular relationship with God.

 

The meditation offered to us today suggests that we realize in all these instances, it is God who acts towards us. It is God who reaches out to us, calling us, urging us in this relationship. It is almost as if God pleads with us to respond to God’s generous and loving offer.

 

Saint Paul, for example, is quite blunt in his remarks. He reminds the Christians at Ephesus, and us, that it was God who first took the initiative. It was God’s favor, God’s grace, God’s love that gives life. It was God who sought to establish the covenants with Noah, Abraham and Moses. It is God’s actions that invites us now to enter into a relationship.

 

The account that we heard today from the Book of Chronicles emphasize the same idea of God acing on behalf o the Chosen People. Left to themselves, they had abandoned their relationship with God. By themselves, they could not restore this relationship. They had failed God and were suffering the consequences. But God again takes the initiative, doing it God’s way. The Israelites are restored. God’s purpose, Go’s plan, is accomplished through the actions of a pagan emperor. God’s people are restored through a way that God decides.

 

In the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus, a similar understanding is found. God acts s because God so loves the world. Time and again God has reached out and has said “I want to be with you.” We are to choose life with God. We are to live in union with God. See now, ”we are told by God, the Beloved Son is “lifted up,” gives up his life in proof of that love.

 

God is also taking the imitative with us. God seeks to enter into our lives, to enter into the very fibre of our being. God’s life is shared with us the Christ, through the Church, through the Sacraments. As Jesus spoke with Nicodemus, so the Lord seeks to speak with each of us, telling us: “See what I have done, see my love for you, can you not love me in return?”

 

Hear the Lord speaking to us today: “I have loved you and given you life. I have loved you so much that my Beloved Son has come among you and died the excruciating death on the cross.” This is the totality of the effort God has made. So it is for us to respond with lives of faith and commitment to such a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Third Sunday of Lent – March 7, 2021

Exodus 3: 1-2, 7-8, 12-17 – 1 Corinthians 1: 22-25 – John 2: 13-26

 

Although we may be familiar with the Ten Commandments which we heard today, it is a common observation that they are negative in their tone – a lot of “Thou shall not. . .” In reality, however, they are quite liberating. They present to us a simple and basic code for living. They are also the third step in the development of a covenant relationship between God and humanity. The covenant with Noah marked a new beginning to creation.. The covenant with Abraham established a new people. This covenant developed a relationship between God and a Chosen People, a people of the Law, a people of the Commandments.

 

Through Moses, God was re-affirming the covenant, the agreement, by which the Lord, God, would be the God of this People, and this People would be in a particular relationship with God. There was no mystery in this relationship between God and this People. It would not belike the relationship that existed with pagan gods whose will had to be discerned from the guts of animals, or who interacted with their followers in ways that were often mysterious and strange.

 

The relationship between God and God’s people was described in a simple and straightforward way. These commandments, these directives for living, were to be followed. God was to be acknowledged and worshiped. Others, creations of God, were to be respected in their lives and in their possessions. Be faithful to them, and God will be faithful in return. It is truly that simple.

 

But we know that we often complicate these matters. As we came to know what the words of the Commandments meant and the expectations they held out and as we grew older and left behind the innocence of out First Confessions, we realized how easily we could be tempted to put things before God in our lives. We easily disregarded God, the worship and honor of God, God’s name, God’s role in our lives. Further, we were easily tempted to lie, to ridicule, to cheat, to hurt, to hate, to lust, to want what was not ours – all the various spin-offs of these simple commandments.

 

In the midst of this Season of Lent we are reminded of these Commandments which govern the relationship between God an ourselves, as well as God’s people. Along with this reminder we heard the account of Jesus cleansing the Temple He acted to rid what profaned its sacredness and, at the same time, using this opportunity to point to the restoration achieved by his Resurrection.

 

What we heard today calls on us, as we use this Season of Lent as a time prepare to celebrate Easter, to review the terms of our relationship with God. We are to cleanse ourselves of what profanes the sacredness that is ours as children of our Heavenly Father. We are to confess our failings and be absolved. This we do so that when we renew the promises of our baptisms, we will do so with a strength and faith founded on a genuine commitment to our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Second Sunday of Lent – February 28, 2021

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

 

During the Season of Lent this year we will recall a series of covenants that God established between God and mankind as they are recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible. Last week we heard about Noah and the rainbow which was the sign of the covenant God confirmed with him. This week it is Abraham who is held before us.

 

Although Abraham was promised that he would have innumerable descendants now he was called upon to sacrifice he only son by Sarah his wife. In what was a tragic demand that was made on him, Abraham maintained his trust in God. Abraham placed his hope for the fulfillment of the promise made to him in God. The result of Abraham’s hope and trust in God was a new covenant established with God. As the covenant with Noah had brought about a new beginning of creation, so the covenant with Abraham was the beginning of a new people, a people who would be in a close relationship with God. Abraham’s’ hope and trust were thus rewarded.

 

Hope is also a them found in the other passages from Scripture that we heard today. Paul tells the Christians at Rome and us that if God is with us, and we are with God, we have made the right choice in our lives There is no reason to be afraid. Nothing can defeat us. Nothing can overwhelm us. The account of the Transfiguration of Jesus as told to us by Mark was an event that was to give hope. It was an experience to be recalled by Peter, James and John when they faced the betrayal, the condemnation and the execution of Jesus on the cross. It was to give the hope when they were confronted with apparent defeat.

 

Hope is both basic and central to being a Christian. Today we have recalled Abraham, listened to Paul, and heard of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This is to encourages us to look to ourselves, especially at times like these which so easily give rise to doubts and question, times that easily lead to pessimism and negativity. As believers in Jesus Christ, we must believe, firmly trust, firmly hope firmly that no matter what surrounds us God and God’s plan to be known and to be revealed will succeed. What could be more tragic than for man to be called on to kill his son, yet Abraham maintained his hope. What could be a more contradictory sign than the cross, yet our faith declares that the cross is to be the instrument of our salvation and victory.

 

Negativism, pessimism, and despair have no place in the life of a true Christian. No matter the tragedy, the seeming defeat, the incurable suffering, our faith, our trust, our hope, based on the Resurrection, is to be firmly placed in God.

 

Lent is the time to considered more deeply what it means to renew what was a promised at our Baptism. It is a renewal not only of the content of what we believe, but also a renewal of our commitment to living that faith. We do this despite all that we experience in life as individuals and as a society. We do this despite all that we might see around us. We do this despite how much in our world has been affected by the pandemic. We do this because our faith, our trust, our hope is in a truly good and gracious god.