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Pastor's Homilies

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The story of Jesus feeding the large crowd of men, women and children is   one of the most popular and well-known stories in the Bible. The miracle, while it may be seen as the supernatural provision for the physical hunger of a large crowd, is much more than just that.

It is true that towards the end of the day, Jesus fed them and satisfied their physical hunger. But throughout the day, he was feeding them on a different level. In order to realize the deeper meaning, we need to know the reason why people followed Jesus to the desert. What brought the people to Jesus?

Some, surely, are attracted by Jesus’ miracles and healing. Some sense in this man, Jesus, who has the answer to life’s greatest problems; some came to listen to him and to be in his presence.

You could say that they longed for a deeper relationship with God. They had a hunger   for a meaningful life, for true peace, and joy.  The people’s hunger for Jesus is what we need to pay attention to here. And his feeding large crowd is a sign of the Lord’s desire to satisfy the hungers of the human heart.

Come, you who are thirsty. Come to the water. Quench your thirst. Satisfy your hunger. Isaiah spoke these words to the people of ancient Israel in the midst of their exile from their promised land. They experienced physical hunger and physical poverty. But like the people who followed Jesus, they had other types of hunger as well.  They hungered for a return to the Promised Land.  They hungered to make right their relationship with God, to connect with the divine. They hungered for peace, reconciliation, and wholeness in the midst of a broken world. 

It's our longing for the Lord that brings us around the table of the Eucharist today. The readings today invite us to see our own hunger- our hunger for love, holiness, peace, joy and so on., and to continue to seek the Lord in prayer; seek the Lord who alone can fulfil the deepest longings of our hearts.

Today we are once again assured that God is ever wiling to satisfy our hungers and our thirsts, the hunger we feel in our hearts when we’re afraid, when we’re hurt, when we are grieving and when we long for peace, comfort and hope. We are invited the seek the Lord in prayer and service.

Another point that stands out for me in today’s gospel is when Jesus invites the disciples to participate in his work. Since the Pandemic began, we have seen and heard stories of the commendable efforts of first responders, the hospital staff, essential workers and the many generous people supporting those who needed help. I came across such  a story recently on CBC website that inspired me. It was about a person by name Socall, who was a chef at a private company, but got laid off as the city shut down in the face of the novel coronavirus. The next day, she says, she decided she needed to help others. she would wake up at 6 a.m., making 12 to 18 loaves, then driving around the city dropping them off. Over the past three months, she says she's baked more than 800 loaves at home — sometimes close to 40 a day — donating them to people in need across the GTA. As someone who once lived on welfare while raising her kids as a single mom, Socall felt compelled to help feed her community and give her life purpose during the lockdown. I am sure Socall’s generous deed made a difference in the lives of those who experienced her generosity.

This also reminds me of another story.  “One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a figure in the distance. As he got closer, he realized the figure was that of a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, ‘What are you doing?’ The youth replied, ‘Throwing starfish in the ocean. The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.’ ‘Son,’ the man replied, ‘don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t possibly make a difference!’ After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, ‘I made a difference for that one.’” One does what one can, and it matters, it makes a difference.

Today we are also invited to participate in the mission of serving those in need. May the generosity of God, may the generosity we see and witness continue to inspire us to be willing to share and do what we can for the well-being of those around us.

Fr. Jinto Mathew CSC

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

As we live through the current pandemic, it compels us to examine our priorities and to take a long look at the choices that are set before us. The Scripture readings for today speak to us about priorities and choices. When in a dream God promises to grant Solomon any request he wishes to make, the young Solomon asks for an “understanding mind,”. Solomon could have easily asked for wealth, power, and long life. But he did not.  Acutely aware of his youth and inexperience, he asked only for wisdom — the ability to discern right and wrong. He wanted to rule his people wisely and justly.

The Gospel passage from Matthew also focuses on recognizing and choosing what is truly important. The three parables give us an idea of how greatly God’s kingdom should be prized, and therefore how fervently we must seek it. To drive home the point, Jesus invites his listeners to imagine the person who discovers a treasure and goes off and sells everything so that he can buy the field. And Jesus lifts up the merchant who searches near and far and then actually finds a pearl of great price. He, too, sells everything so that he can buy that pearl. 

For our prayer and reflection this week,  let us pay attention to the actions of the people in the parables. In the parable, we can see that the two individuals are determined in their search for the treasure and to attain it. Nothing came in the way of their search and attaining it. Or rather they overcame any obstacles that they may have faced. It is with joy and assurance that one sells everything else to obtain them. The idea obviously is that when one discovers Jesus and his vision of life everything else becomes secondary.

So, the focus of the parables is not the treasure, or the pearl. Its deepest meaning lies in the examples of the treasure seekers.  Their defining characteristic is not that they get lucky and become rich; it’s that they are, by definition, seekers.  Their lives are infused with a desire to seek that which they value most, and they devote themselves fully to finding it.  Today theses parables challenge us to cultivate and deepen our desire for God’s presence and activity in our present, everyday lives so that

The kingdom of God becomes a reality in us and among us.

A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him and said. “Master, I wish to become your disciple. “Why?” replied the hermit. The young man said: “Because I want to find God and live my life serving God.”  The master asked the man to hold his breath as long as he could. So, the man did as the master told him. After a minute or two the man began to struggle and had to breathe in.

So the master asked “Tell me, what you wanted most of all when you were holding your breath?” “Air!” answered the man.  “Very well,” said the master. “Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air.” The opportunity to live in God’s kingdom is offered to us in everyday and ordinary circumstances of our life.

The question for you and for me today then is how much we desire and value this kingdom that Christ is talking about, how much we see ourselves as part of that kingdom. When we pray “Thy kingdom come” can we be more aware of what part we are to play in making the kingdom of God a reality.

Let us pray during this Eucharist for grace to  deepen our desire for God’s presence and activity in our present, everyday lives and to continue to seek the Lord with sincerity of heart. 

Fr. Jinto

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Once again in this week’s Gospel passage, Jesus is using ordinary events and things from nature to compare and convey greater truths about the kingdom of God.  Jesus started his ministry proclaiming: “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But his disciples, then and now, keep on asking: “When is the Kingdom coming? How will we recognize it?”

Jesus revealed the Kingdom in two ways. Through His miracles which revealed the triumph of good over evil; and through the parables which contained messages of what the Kingdom could and should be like. The Kingdom that Jesus envisions is a place free from evil, sin, strife, anxiety and fear.

We all long for a life without sin, without the seeds of negativity in our lives. We also desire for a world free from the weeds of injustice, war and violence. While we live in a world that is truly blessed, beautiful and is full of promise, it’s also a world where there is disorder. We don’t need to be watching the news for very long without coming to the recognition that evil exists. We cannot escape this fundamental paradox at the heart of our existence. This is the paradox that Jesus presents to us in the gospel today.

Jesus’ parable of the wheat and weeds reminds us that, the wheat and the weeds dwell within us. We have virtues but also flaws, saintliness but also sinfulness.  St. Paul about this reality, this paradox when he said of himself, “the good that I would   that I do not, and the evil that I would not do, that I do.”

I remember seeing a picture of an untidy boy with a caption and the caption read, ‘Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet.’ Each one of us has our share of wheat and weeds. We struggle with the reality that St. Paul talks about “the good that I would   that I do not, and the evil that I would not do, that I do.”

This is the lifetime struggle we are all faced with. That does not mean that there is no way out of it. There is a message of hope for each of us as we are given to understand that our God is a very patient and compassionate God who is hopeful that the so-called “weeds” among us will be converted.

Weeds can spoil and even kill a good harvest if they are not separated and destroyed at the proper time. Uprooting them too early, though, can destroy the good plants in the process. Just as nature teaches us patience, God is patient with each of us giving us opportunity to grow.

We ourselves are certainly weak (a tiny seed; a bit of yeast; a field of weeds and wheat) but God is with us, interceding for us and empowering us in our weakness. As Paul, will end this section of his letter: “For nothing can separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus”

George Bernard Shaw once told this interesting story. He said, “A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: ‘Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.’ When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, ‘The one I feed the most.

When we are influenced by sinful tendencies we can choose to wither from their influence or we can thrive in the face of their presence. In order to thrive in the face of evil we must be careful of how we feed ourselves spiritually. And we need to ask do we feed ourselves with the wheat of forgiveness, love, and devoted service to God? Or do we feed ourselves with anger, indifference and instant gratification?

Do our weeds of indifference suppress the wheat of our sense of responsibility to the poor?  Do our weeds of busyness choke the wheat of our need to spend time in quiet and in communion with God? Do our weeds of consumerism and waste choke our wheat of respect and reverence for God’s creation?

We pray that with God’s grace may we foster our wheat and rid ourselves of our weeds. Remember God is not finished with any of us.

Jinto Mathew CSC

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Of all the parables that Jesus tells in the four gospels, this is the only one you can kind of figure out what it means without having to have an explanation by Jesus and this is the only one He explains. As we hear the parable, we immediately turn to ourselves wondering…am I the rocky ground or am I the thorny bush.  Or we might even think…thank God, I’m the good soil for sure.

Today let us move around to the other side of the story and see what might be a deeper meaning of this parable?  Let us see the parable not simply as a reflection on our heart’s condition but as a story telling of God’s Generosity. So, before we look at the soil, let us first look at the sower.  
As a farmer, the sower totally knew the ground. So, you would think that he would not throw seeds where he knew it would not take roots. But the farmer in the parable lavishly throws seeds everywhere not seeming to care at all where the seeds fall. He sows the seeds hoping that somewhere, someway somehow it will take root. And even if it takes roots and dies, it has taken some root and it might take root again and then again. 

Similarly, God is lavish, abundant, generous and patient. So, when God works in our lives, he plants the seed in our lives even where it might not take great root, but it will take some root. And then may be a deeper root another time. And if it dies again, God will keep throwing seeds in our lives. That is to say God will keep working in our lives.  

For us, there is both a challenge and a consolation in that. The challenge, of course, is to respond to the infinite number of invitations that God scatters on our path. The consolation is that, no matter how many of God’s invitations we ignore, there will always be an infinite number of others.

As I look back on my life, I have to admit that of all the invitations that God has sent me, I have probably accepted and acted on a fraction of them. But God constantly scatters the seeds of love, hope, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion and invites us to allow them to take root in our lives.

God knows that you and I will certainly be in one of those 4 areas throughout our lives.   It’s precisely why he throws the seeds everywhere continuously.  And that’s the Good News for today. He’ll never stop trying to reach out to us. He also knows that at some point we get to the good soil and his seeds take root and grow and we will return his generosity with a rich harvest. As prophet Isiah says, the word of God will not return until it has produced the desired result.

Our hearts are the soil upon which God’s Word is falling today. What are the seeds that God is scattering generously in our hearts today? What do we need to do so that those seeds will take root in our hearts and produce the desired result? 

A story is told about a Rabbi. One day as he was taking a walk, he noticed a tiny stream trickling down a hillside. Below was a massive rock. Surprisingly, the rock bore a deep impression which was the result of the dripping of water over the years. Rabbi realized that it was the slow and steady impact of each small drop, year after year, that resulted in the deep impression. 

Rabbi thought to himself, “If mere water can do this to hard rock, how much more can God's Word carve a way into my heart?”  Listening to God's word and following God's Word day by day year after year will impact our lives and will transform us into who God wants us to be. 

Fr. Jinto