Saturday, 30 September 2017
Sunday, 24 September 2017
Today I will focus on the 2nd Reading in the Liturgy of the Word for the Twenty-fifth Sunday. St. Paul is writing to the Church in Philippi. Paul is now in prison, facing possible death, but he is not living in fear of death; indeed, for him that would mean eternity with the Lord. What matters most for Paul is that his life gives glory to God, by what he does in faith, ministry and good works, no matter what his circumstances. He proclaims:
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.
Even though Paul is now in prison, he continues to evangelize and guide the Churches. Paul demonstrates that no life is waisted, no matter what our condition – we may be out and about in service, advancing God’s Kingdom by a life of faith, or like Paul, we may be imprisoned, be it by illness – by injury – by handicap – by old age, and we can loose heart under such conditions, especially as we see ourselves living in a world that places highest value the productivity of the able-bodied.
When I came to St. Augustine’s Parish in Dundas, I met a man who personified the message of St. Paul – "every life is valuable". His name is Patrick “Sonny” Burke. He lived in Lynden at the time, a parishioner of St. A’s. Sonny had A.L.S. and was confined to his home. One of my Communion calls, I would bring
Sonny Communion, then enjoy an engaging visit.
When I first met Sonny, he was in a wheelchair, but still able to use his upper body. A former steel worker, now he worked every day on a computer, running an extensive website, compiling information on the Burke family tree. But gradually, Sonny lost use of his arms and hands. But in spite of that, he was still able to use a head wand to act as a mouse-controller for the computer. Eventually all movement was lost. Now unable to even speak, Sonny could only move his eyes and for a while was unable to use his computer.
Then the A.L.S. folks gave Sonny an experimental computer system by which he was able to control the mouse features of his computer by movement of his eyes. With that, Sonny was able to communicate through the computer and continue to work on his website.
After living the longest of any A.L.S. person in Ontario at that time, the Lord brought Sonny home. Sonny’s body never stopped “magnifying the Lord”, as St. Paul proclaims in today’s reading. Last Sunday, Paul reminded us:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord;
These bodies we live in are only on loan; not ours to waist, not ours to destroy. And when life is completed, we give them back and account for how we used them during the time we were given. One can only imagine the merits Sonny earned for his time in the confines of an A.L.S. body.
Sonny, thanks for teaching me how to value the life God has given me, life that is revealed in the gospel and taught to us by St. Paul in today's liturgy.
Pray for us, Sonny.
Saturday, 23 September 2017
Sunday, 17 September 2017
Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Rom 14:7-9
Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Which sail are you?
Psychology is able to help us understand which type of sail we are on the good ship Human Being, and how we will normally respond when the wind blows. But it is the captain who deterimes the destineation for this sail, and it is the steersman who keeps the ship on course. The Captain is God the Father, the Wind is the Spirit, the Steersman is Jesus. The sextant given us for navigation is the grace of Discernment of Spirits.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Mtt. 14:22
The Christian encounters Jesus on the stormy seas of this age in which we live. There is no storm greater than He who is able to come to us walking the sea.
“Lord, if it is You,” Peter replied, “command me to come to You on the water.” “Come,” said Jesus. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” And when they had climbed back into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God!” Mtt. 14:28
"Is it you,Lord?" Essential to the Christian Life of prayer is the ability to recognize the Voice of Jesus. The answer to "... is it you Lord" is through the prayerful practice of Dicernment. This is at the heart of Ignatius Spirituality.
For more visit the Page PRAYING ON A PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE - link.
Sunday, 10 September 2017
This year the gospel readings are taken from Matthew’s gospel. It was first addressed to Jewish people who had become converts to Christianity. But they were still shaped by many of the traditions found in Jewish law. Earlier in Matthew we hear Jesus say;
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Mtt. 5:17
As Christian communities grew, forming the early churches, how members were expected to conduct their lives began to take shape, and especially how the church was to deal with one who sinned in a way that harmed or scandalized the Church members and yet remained within the community. The basic formula for establishing these laws of discipline we find laid out by Jesus in today’s gospel text.
First there is to be private correction (Mt 18:15); if this is unsuccessful, further correction before two or three witnesses (Mt 18:16); if this fails, the matter is to be brought before the assembled community (the church), and if the sinner refuses to attend to the correction of the church, he is to be expelled [18:15–20]
Of special note is the third one – tell the church and if he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector – in Jewish practice that was to have no dealings whatever with that person. This gave shape to the church’s practice of excommunication.
Throughout the Church’s history, the practice of excommunication continued to develop. Basically, to be excommunicated is to be excluded from participation in the sacramental life of the church. The purpose for imposing such disciplines is to encourage the sinner to repent and return right living. Over the years, laws of excommunication took many forms and covered many different sinful practices. But in resent times, it was felt that Code Canon Law had become too encumbered with an excessive number of laws and needed to be updated and simplified.
In the 1983 a revised Code of Canon Law was issued. In it there were simply nine sins carrying the penalty of automatic excommunication: abortion, apostasy, heresy, schism, violating the sacred species, physically attacking the pope, sacramentally absolving an accomplice in a sexual sin, consecrating a bishop without authorization, and directly violating the seal of confession.
In the case of abortion, priests needed to be specially authorized to absolve, but Pope Francis, for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, extended to all priest this jurisdiction, and now has made it permanent.
We live in a pluralistic, liberal society that has a broad tolerance for all manner of human behavior. But the church continues to hold many, many things as sinful which society considers amoral and a matter of personal choice. Some things the Church considered so serious and intolerable as to require excommunication.
We are called to a higher standard then our society promulgates. We must form our conscience and structure our lives on the wisdom and truth taught to us through the gospel and the magisterium of the Church. Therefore, it is essential that we structure a plan of personal Christian formation whereby we maintain that vital connection with God’s Word of life – that we continue to be attentive to the VOICE of God.
Monday, 4 September 2017
If someone were to ask what meaning Good Friday has for you, how would you answer? Well, you might rightly say, “The day Jesus died on the Cross for my sins.” But why the Cross? Could God not say from heaven: “Your sins are for given; come now and enter heaven and eternal life”? The problem with that is it fails to understand the nature of our intellect and free will, and the nature of sin; the power it holds over our souls. People in the bondage of sin are so by choice, and can no longer hear God’s voice from heaven.
"Son of Man, you live in a rebellious house that has eyes to see, but they can't see, and ears to hear, but they can't hear, since they're a rebellious house. Jerimiah 12:2.
. . . so that, "'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'" Mk 4:12
Let me offer an analogy. A person goes partying one night … becomes intoxicated … gets into a car and drives away at high speed … fails to negotiate a turn in the road … roles the car and ends up in the ditch, injured and hopelessly pinned in the over-turned car. Then the car becomes engulfed in flames. That person cannot save themselves, they are going to die a horrible death – and it is totally their fault.
Now a stranger comes on the scene … climbs into the burning vehicle … releases the trapped person … pushes them out of the car to safety … but can only do this in a way that makes the rescuer unable to get out himself … therefore, he must die in place of the trapped person. It’s the only way to save the one hopelessly trapped do to the choices they made.
Sin entraps our souls and binds us to its deadly way, traps us in the state of eternal separation from God, from God’s truth, from eternal life. (Trapped like the person in the flaming car.) God must come to where the sinner is; first to break Satan’s hold over us by incarnating, making himself visible and recognizable on our terms. Then, one-on-one, offering us mercy, convincing us to reject sin and to accept forgiveness. Then God must lead us out of our hell of ignorance into the light of truth. Jesus, the Son of God is the only one who can do this. He must become one of us, to be with us where we are. That is the only way we can hear God’s voice.
Satan tries to drive Jesus away from rescuing us by the threat of the Cross. He fails. Jesus’ love for us is greater than any fear Satan can employ, even death itself. Satan’s hold is broken, it remains for us to listen to the Voice of forgiveness and follow him out. We say Jesus died for my sins on Good Friday. Perhaps we more accurately should say, Jesus died BECAUSE of my sins. Because by my free choice I willing followed Satan into the hell of separation from God’s truth, it is only by Jesus entering into my death situation, to meet me there and convincing me of his love, can Jesus save me. Only from the Cross can we hear;
“This day you will be with me in Paradise."
Saturday, 2 September 2017