Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Sixth Sunday of the Year – February 14, 2021

Leviticus 13: 1-2, 44-46 – 1 Corinthians 10: 31 – 11:1 – Mark 1: 40-45

 

Jesus told the man with leprosy to do what Moses prescribed. What that was we heard from the first reading from the Book of Leviticus. Restriction on an individual afflicted with leprosy were demanding. A distancing from other persons and, in fact, from the whole community, was required. It is easy to understand these restrictions because of the very nature of the disease. Leprosy was considered to be a very visible sign of sinfulness. It was identified with the plagues of Egypt which included boils which appeared o the skins of the Egyptians. The boils were viewed as a sign of the rejection of God’s call to allow the Chosen People to leave their slavery. Thus leprosy was considered a very evident sign of an individual’s sinfulness and rejection of God. It signified not only a physical affliction but also a spiritual one as well.

 

The inclusion of this incident in the Gospel of Mark is somewhat unusual. In the beginning parts of his gospel, he emphasizes that Jesus was being surrounded by many followers, or even crowds of people. In contrast, in this instance, Jesus encounters the man with leprosy on a one-on-one basis. Jesus is not only present to this person, he actually touches him, a gesture that was strictly forbidden. In a merciful way, Jesus looks with pity on the man and, In touching him, Jesus goes beyond what he had done in previous miracles.

 

This story suggests asking ourselves two questions. Where and how is Christ encountered? What ought we keep in mind about living out and practicing what we believe?

 

We encounter Christ in the midst of our own lives, day-to-day, even in the ugly rather than in the world where everything is right and beautiful and attractive. We encounter Christ in weakness, sinfulness, failure – as in the man afflicted with leprosy. We encounter Christ not simply in success such as the wonder or miracles displayed but also as learned from the gospels, in the ugliness of betrayal, condemnation and execution on a cross. We encounter Christ in a direct way, even in physical contact, such as in the sacramental way in which we touch, we see, we hear when we come together as a community at worship.

 

The encounter of Jesus with the man with leprosy and his restoration by Jesus not only to his physical health but also to the community as a whole encourages us, once again, to go forth from this time of reflection, prayer and worship of God restored and renewed in our faith so that we can announce in our lives a confident love and trust in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourth Sunday of the Year – January 31, 2021

Deuteronomy 18: 15-20 – 1 Corinthians 7: 32-35 –  Mark 1: 21-28

 

According to the account that is presented to us in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus received a favorable response, at least from most in attendance at the synagogue where he spoke. We are told that they were “amazed” because his approach was different from what they had experienced from those who had been teaching them all their lives

 

What was different? Those who were present at the synagogue had heard, time and again, what they were required to do. Apparently, though, those who constantly repeated this to them did not reflect what they taught in the way that they lived. Other Gospel writers report that Jesus readily called them hypocrites. On the other hand, Jesus would not only teach, he would also act as well. In this particular instance, the man who was possessed, who was mentally disturbed, was restored to health by the presence and action of Jesus.

 

That was then. What about now, in our world today? The presence of Jesus Christ in the world is to be found in us. The Body of Christ in the world today is us, the Church We are not only to speak the words, but we are also to act in accordance with these words. In fact, how we live out our Faith is to be “amazing.”

 

Both word and action are essential to what we are and what we are to be as believing Christians. It all begin here and now in what we are doing as we gather for the Eucharist. We hear our God speak to us in the Scriptures. Then God acts for us in the sharing of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. For these moments, then, we experience the amazing love of our God in both word and action. But it does not end there. We are to go forth from here to act in response to our belief, nourished by the loving word of our God as well as nourished by the Real Presence of our God we receive.

 

We go forth into our world to carry out the ministry of Christ. As the Body of Christ in our world today, we are to show in our lives sentiments such as those we heard expressed from Moses. The presence of God is to be experienced in our own daily lives not in thunder and lightening, not in fire and smoke, but in the healing and reconciling lives of the Gospel being lived.

 

How that presence of God is to be shown in our lives can also be learned from the counsels of Paul that we have heard. We are to be free from anxieties about immediate concerns because our values about what is truly important are are derived from a conviction of God’s love demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on our behalf. It is this overall conviction of faith and trust in God that guides us in knowing that there is nothing in this world that is to distract us from our God.

 

People were amazed to hear Jesus teach. They were amazed that he did matched what he said by the healing of one who was so painfully disturbed. So it is to be with us, the Body of Christ in the world today as We are to speak and to act in our live in what might be considered amazing ways in reflecting the reality of a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Third Sunday of the Year – January 24, 2021

Jonah 3: 1-5, 10 – 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31 – Mark 1: 14-20

 

Often an association is made between the books that are part of the Old testament in the Bible with accounts of an angry God, or bloody battles or stern prophet. Today, however, we hear but a brief passage from a different book from the Old Testament which can almost be called entertaining, the Book of Jonah. It is short in length, probably fictional in intent, and tells a story that might be called shocking. Jonah has been called to preach repentance to the foreign city of Nineveh which was located in modern-day Iraq.

 

Jonah wanted nothing to do with this task. He argues with God about it and does what he can to avoid carrying it out. Eventually, as we heard, he relents and does what he was told. As a result, he was shocked. Nineveh listened to him and repented. Yet Jonah still was not happy. In his mind, an enemy needed to be punished. Repentance, God’s mercy, was not enough. His thinking was limited to his way of thinking, not God’s way.

 

The lesson to be gained from this story applies now as much as it did then. An open and true understanding of the relationship that is to exist between God and mankind is to recognize that God’s mercy is extended to all persons who are willing to acknowledge God. This is not always an easy lesson to learn and to accept. It is an attitude that we need to develop if we are to reflect a loving God in our own lives.

 

Saint Paul, in what we heard, also suggests a development of our way of thinking not only in our relations with God but also with regard to the world around us. In this respect we are to ask ourselves what is really important to us in life. A limited vision suggests – eat, drink an be merry for tomorrow we may die. Paul counters by saying that this kind of world is fleeting and will quickly pass away. The instant gratification approach which he describes, however, is presented to us in many different ways today. But if we truly understand ourselves and what we are as part of God’s creation and what value all of humanity possess because of the redeeming actions of Jesus Christ, then we would realize how the acknowledgment of God and a relationship is to affect our way of living. By comparison, fleeting pleasure are virtually meaningless.

 

Another insight is given by the manner which Saint Mark records the call made to the followers of Jesus. They were to transform their way of life as fishermen in a way that would have deep significance. This offers us the encouragement to go beyond the limited vision of “our ways” and incorporate the possibilities of  “God’s ways.” How can God’s plan of being known in our lives be revealed in in what we might consider the ordinariness of our respective lives. So much of the Gospel message urges this thinking on us.

 

Often, like Jonah, we like to fit God into the box of our categories, of our own limits. We can limit the relationship with God to fulfilling obligations or having our needs met. We fail to realize that what God seeks with us is a deep, rich relationship which can transforms every aspect of our lives. Do we have the courage exhibited by those who followed Jesus who left behind the limitations of what had been before to allow ourselves to be transformed in such ways that those who know us and experience us come into contact with a truly good and gracious God?

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Second Sunday of the Year – January 17, 2021

1 Samuel 3: 3b-10, 19 – 1 Corinthians 6: 13c-15a – John 1: 35-42

 

We were reminded last week, as we recalled the Baptism of the Lord, that, like Samuel and the Apostles, we have been called by God at the time of our respective baptisms. Being called by God in this fashion points out that in the relationship between God and ourselves, it is God who takes the initiative. God who seeks us out. God who pursues us.

 

This understanding o the relationship between God and mankind is evident in the very. earliest Scripture accounts In the book of Genesis and the story of the Garden of Eden, after the failure of Adam and Eve in their sinful rejection of God’s command, it is God who seeks out Adam who attempted to hide. This same call by God is found is true in the accounts of the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament. The story we heard of Samuel today is only one example. We also heard, from the Gospel of John, how Jesus, God-with-us, called on the Apostles to follow him.

 

To appreciate what this means even more, it may be helpful to consider the dynamic that exists in our human relationships. When we seek to grow closer to another person, it is because we view that individual as being attractive to us in some way, for whom a loving relationship develops. One seeks out this relationship because of the conviction that in sharing ourselves we can better the life of that person.

 

God call us and seeks a relationship with us based on God’s love for us. We are creations of God. We are products of the very essence of God which is love. We are made in the image and likeness of God and, thus, God is to be recognized through us.

 

In this union, this solidarity with God that is sealed by baptism, we are called to recognize the possibilities our lives offer to us to make our loving God to be known. This call does not come, however, in words spoken to us as in the case of Samuel or the Apostles. But this call can be heard in the depths and silence of our hearts and can be realized in the better choices that we make in going about our lives from day to day.

 

In a very practical way this very idea concerns Saint Paul as he wrote to the Christians at Corinth. This community was confronted with a disturbing and disruptive issuer. Paul was not as concerned about the matter itself as he was with reminding his readers that the correct way of acting comes from recognizing that their dignity and values they have as persons comes from a genuine appreciation of what it means to be creatures of God. So it is to be with us The powers and the abilities we have in our relationship with God are always to be directed at bettering our lives. This gives honor to the God who created us and redeemed us. The dignity of every human person has been raised up through Jesus Christ who shared our humanity. Our loving God continues to abide with us through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

God’s call is made to all of us. All of us are to recognize God’s love that is present in our lives. All of us are to join Samuel in saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” All of us are to reveal in our lives the commitment of faith and trust in our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Epiphany – January 3, 2021

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

 

The accumulation of years in life gives way to considerations of what has been learned as well as what has been experienced. My own faith and the effort to live out that faith have led me to a conclusions. What we are called to do in our lives is best summarized as continuing to do what we have learned from the Scriptures: what God sought in a relationship withe the people of the Old Covenant and what the whole of the ministry and teaching of Jesus was aimed at accomplishing. Pit into simple terms: to reveal God, to make God known, as a loving and merciful God.

 

This can be put another way. In our Faith we declare that we are images and likenesses of our God. So it is that, inspired by the Scriptures, God is to be revealed, to be known, in and through us. In our words and our actions, in how and what we are and what we do, day after day are to reflect the goodness of God.

 

We can appreciate this Feast of the Epiphany that we celebrate today as a particular way of recalling what we are to be in living out that Faith. “Epiphany” is the “showing forth,” the revelation, the making known, of our God in the person of the newborn Jesus Christ.

 

The account of the Magi is both a worthwhile and a thoughtful reminder to us. We are part of the whole world to which the Lord is revealed as the account of the Magi clearly illustrates. The Magi saw a star. It was a natural wonder that moved them to respond. In doing so, they started the journey that led them to the object of that sign, the newborn Savior, God-made-man. The journey was not without difficulties. They lost the vision of that star and sought help from those of no faith in God. They were temporarily deceived by the selfish plotting of others. But the star re-appeared when hey returned to their original vision and hope. Once they were at the object of their journey, they gave of themselves in ways that declared an awareness of the importance of what they had sought and found.

 

We are the Magi of today. We have seen and celebrated the Lord who has come into our midst. In baptism the Lord became directly a part of our lives. We are called to do what the Magi did, lead others to the Lord. We are to share what we are and what we have been given in our Faith.

 

The Feast of the Epiphany is not only a recalling that the Lord was made known to the world in the past. It is to be a showing forth now. The light of the star that lit up the darkness and led to the Lord is to shine brightly now in us.

 

What this new year will bring, we do not know any more than what we knew last January what 2020 would bring. May we have, however, even greater resolve to reveal the Lord in every possible way to all whom we might encounter not hindering but encouraging our revelation of a truly good and gracious God

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Holy Family – December 27, 2020

Genesis 15: 1-6; 21: 1-3  -Hebrews: 8: 11-12, 17-19 – Luke 2: 22, 39-40-40

 

It is the tradition of the Church that on the Sunday following Christmas we hold before us the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – the Holy Family. They are central to the Christmas story. At the same time, in the celebration of Christmas, family events and gatherings are so much an important par

 

But this year, as we know so well, is different. This is the case not only during these days, but it has been so for months. The stay-at-home directives as well as the efforts to reduce contact whether at schools, senior facilities, hospitals and the like, families, in whatever form they may happen to take, have had to live concentrated lives or have stayed apart entirely. Perhaps this situation has brought about much greater “family time.” Then, again, it may also have led to greater stress. Whatever be the case, family life has taken on greater prominence during these days and, thus the image of the Holy Family put before us may have even more meaning. This suggests, I believe, prayer and reflection on what these months may have taught us about what is experienced and what is missed in this situation.

 

The message of God to us found in the Scripture passages we have heard offer two particular considerations: faith and trust in Go as well as the growth in wisdom and favor that is totted in the family environment of whatever form.

 

The promise that was made to Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations, that he would have innumerable descendants. The natural circumstances of age and the child- bearing ability of his wife appeared to cause this to be a problem. Faith and trust in God led Abraham and Sarah through these difficulties so that the promise could be fulfilled. Certainly this can be a lesson for us at this time. Being apart, for example, while difficult, may well have reinforced the value and enjoyment of being together. The greater time together may have provided opportunities that have been overlooked when there had been a preoccupation with multiple activities. Like Abraham of old, developing faith and trust in God and one another can provide a way o overcoming any number of challenges and difficulties.

 

St. Luke’s inclusion of the comment on the early years in the life of Jesus suggests that it was the environment of the family home, the experience with Mary and Joseph and the extended family, led to a positive growth in Jesus of the wise appreciation of others and the significance of God’s presence and factor in his home life.

 

In a way, I feel somewhat inadequate in speaking of family life with my own siblings either deceased or scattered around the country. Each of us, however, are part of a family. Each of us, as well, have been affected in some way during these past months We can take these moments when emphasis is focused on the Holy Family to recognize that true strength comes to us in showing the wisdom and favor of faith and trust in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Christmas 2020

In many different ways the celebration of Christmas is memorable. Memories can include those who were part of those celebrations in the past who are still with us now, or those who are no longer with us. They can include special meals at which special foods are served. They can include customs and traditions that have deep and lasting meanings. Christmas this year is memorable as well. For the most part, unfortunately, this is for all the wrong reason. We might lament this, but to no avail other than realizing that the best Christmas gift this year is a vaccine.

 

Whatever our memories are, whether of past years or of this year, they ought not to allow them to distract us from the impact of what Christmas celebrates: God becoming man in the person of Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promise. It is the high point of God’s unrelenting effort to draw close to us and to all of creation. No longer will God rely on messengers and intermediaries. In Jesus Christ, God is now one with humanity, one with us.

 

God, the Alight, the All-knowing, unites with us in the person of Jesus Christ. God assumes the same human condition we possess. God becomes flesh to dwell among us, to live our lives in our world, with all its wonder and beauty as well as with it pains and troubles.

 

By doing this, God raises the dignity and the value of every human person. Because every human individual now shares the same human nature with God. All humanity shares this new dignity, this new worth, because God is now with us m acting with us and for us – not from afar, but in our midst.

 

The traditional greetings we express at this time of the year, wishing peace, joy and happiness to others take on greater significance this year. But these are more than just wishes. They are realities that are possible because they arise from the hope and the promise of God being one with us in Jesus Christ. Peace is that inner tranquility we have because of the dignity of sharing our human nature with God. We can be at peace with ourselves and with others because all of us share our human nature with God. Joy is that deep inner serenity at knowing the love which our God has demonstrated for all of us. Happiness comes from the knowledge of the potential we possess because of this loving union with God and with all people.

 

It is this Peace, this Joy and this Happiness that is brought to us because God has assumed our human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ at his birth in Bethlehem that we recall today. Whatever memories we might have of Christmases in the past, whatever form of celebration of Christmas takes place this year, Christmas is, as always, a celebration of our good And gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 20, 2020

2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8b-12 – Romans 16: 25-27 – Luke 1: 26-38

 

As we draw near to the celebration of Christmas Day later this week, the Church presents us with an array, a tapestry, of images. These include different event which were a part of Christ’s first coming. Different stories are recounted, different persons are introduced: angels, shepherd, magi. Today’s account of the Annunciation focuses our attention on one of the central figures of this blessed event: Mary, the mother of Jesus.

 

When we think of Mary we often tend to romanticize the story too much. When we think of Mary as the Mother of God, we see her as glorified with her Son. We see her almost as some sort of supernatural being. We also see her as an adult.

 

But Mary who dominates the first Christmas was hardly this at all. She was a young girl, perhaps 14 or 15 years of age. (Look at someone that age: a daughter or granddaughter, sister, niece or neighbor.) How young, how fragile perhaps, with so much yet to experience, to learn. This was the Mary of that first Christmas.

 

What did we hear as proposed to Mary? She was to have a child. How could that be, she wondered as she was not yet married. Mary had no supernatural knowledge beforehand. An angel had come to announce this to her. So she was puzzled. This young girl, this humble maiden, was to be the instrument through which the whole course of history would be changed. God’s plan would be made known as God would assume human existence through her by the birth of her son.

 

What was her reaction? She was inquisitive as to how this was to take place. She was told that it was to happen through power of the Holy Spirit. She did not fully comprehend what was going on. She had to trust in the Lord despite all that was unknown. She expressed her acceptance of what she was told no matter what might come as a result.

 

What then follows in her life? She reaches out to another, to her cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting a child. God had touched her, so she acts to touch another. She gives praise and thanks to God for all that is happening. Then she has to travel a long and difficult distance in the last month of her pregnancy. When she gives birth to her son, it takes place in a crude animal shelter. As the story is told in the Gospel, it is an amazing story. Mary is an amazing young woman.

 

Christmas has so many images that are put before us. This year is not like other years. Adjustments have to be made in so many different ways. But in the midst of all of this, keep in mind the image of the teenage girl, Mary. See her strength, her ability to contend with the odds which were against her. Recognize that it was her faith, her courage, and her trust that made possible the incarnation of Jesus Christ, of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Third Sunday of Advent – December 13, 2020

Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11 – 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24 – John 1: 6-819-28

 

Like many things that happen at this time of the year, whether out of tradition or routine, what we hear in the Scripture passage that are an important part of our worship, does not take into account what is happening in our world at the present time. So, in the middle of what we are experiencing from the world-wide pandemic – illness and even death, economic hardship, limitations, inconveniences – we hear Isaiah and St. Paul speak of joy and tell us to rejoice. Can we feel joy? Can we rejoice?

 

It is helpful to understand what is meant by “joy.” particularly in this context. Joy is not a superficial or external happiness or giddiness. Rather, it is a deep, inner sense of peace and contentment with self, with the world that is around us, and with God. Such joy requires a genuine honesty as well as gratitude.

 

Even in what we longingly recall as “normal” times, such joy often escaped us. For the most part this is because we allow ourselves to be anxious too much, to worry too much, about ourselves and about others. Such a reason is now all the more amplified. At times there are choices that we can make to change or lessen what causes this anxiety. More often, however, this is not the case. We have no ability to change or remove what brings on our anxiety.

 

As persons of faith in God, faith in Jesus Christ, we ought to be different. We are able to hear “rejoice” even in the midst of everything that surrounds us because of the genuine conviction of that faith and trust in a loving God. After al, it is the conviction of that faith that has gathered us here today.

 

We are presented with a fitting example today in the person of John the Baptist. He is an individual convinced of his faith and his mission. We heard how John was interrogated about who he was and what he was doing. He is quite clear and direct in his responses. He is not someone else, Elijah or one of the other prophets. He is not the Messiah. He cannot even untie the strap of the Messiah’s sandal. He is himself, the one preparing the way by preaching conversion, change of heart and baptism. The conviction of his faith, the peace and contentment of joy on his life, was apparent even to the point of losing that life.

 

We can rejoice as St. Paul exhorts us, as well as the Thessalonians. We can pray without ceasing. We can always give thanks. We can do so because this expresses the conviction of our faith. Like the light o the Advent wreath, like the lights illuminating the parish grounds, the light of the presence of Christ is gradually increasing. In the midst of the darkness of this world and of our lives the light of Christ is gradually being made more evident. This is our conviction. This is our faith. This is what we celebrate at this time of the year.

 

We are called upon to rejoice in the hope and in the promise that is founded on the confidence of our faith in a good and gracious God

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Second Sunday of Advent – December 6, 2020

Isaiah 4: 1-5, 9-11 – 2 Peter 3: 9-14 – Mark 12: 1-8

 

It takes an individual of with a deep reservoir of faith and trust in God to speak, as Isaiah does, to a defeated and demoralized people, and tell them about comfort and tenderness. These were a Chosen People, convinced that they were a people protected by God. But now they were suffering the consequences of their infidelity in the relationship with God. They were a Chosen People yet they were without country, Temple, or any real power. What hope could be theirs? What vision could they have?

 

Yet a voice cries out to them. The glory of God the Lord will be known. Fear not, they are told, Here is your God – the God who will lead them; the God who will rule them; the God who will love them with the tenderness of a shepherd carrying a lamb in his arms.

 

The imagery is magnificent. The God whom Isaiah proclaims is the God of our faith. Isaiah announces this message not knowing the fullness of God’s plan, not knowing how God would come to us.. God would come to us in the person of Jesus Christ. God would abide with us in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ given to us in the Eucharist.

 

The fulfillment of that hope and that trust is what we celebrate at this time of the year. It is what calls on us to prepare the way of the lord. It is by our lives lived with faith that every valley will be filled: every valley of failure, of loneliness, of despair. It is by our lives lived with faith that every mountain and hill is brought low: every mountain of prided and envy, every hill of judgement and insecurity. When we determine to make this happen, then the glory of the Lord will be revealed. All the world will see it. All the world will recognize the source and the end of all that is. All the world will recognize that the true meaning of life, the true object of our living is union with our loving God. All our lives will be directed at making God revealed and known.

 

This is no longer just a hope or a vision. It is a reality which is present to us and with us. It is in Christ in whom we believe. It is in Christ whom we share in Eucharist. But the magnificent message of comfort and peace is still unheeded. We, ourselves, fail to fully grasp it. We allow anxiety, tension, misunderstanding and hurt to rule us. We seek escapes in chemical sand false love. We choose fleeting pleasures that leave us empty. This we do rather than finding true peace of mind and heart and spirit in an ever-growing relationship with our loving God.

 

Prepare the way of the Lord we are told. If the God in whom we have faith is to be known in our world and is to be reflected in our lives, we must open our minds, our hearts and our spirits to the value, the dignity, the worth every person and all creation possess because we are so tenderly loved by our good and gracious God.