Monthly Archives: August 2013

Homily — Sunday OT 21 C

Here is my homily from this past Sunday.  Sorry it’s taken me a few days to put it up: after my last Mass I ran off to the lake with some Priest friends for a couple of days.

Isaiah 66:18-21
Psalm 117: 1, 2  R/.  Go into the world and proclaim the good news.
Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
Luke 13:22-30

Many, I tell you, will try to enter [the narrow door] and will not be able (Lk 13:24).  That doesn’t sound like a very hope-filled message, now does it?  Many will try, but fail.  But don’t worry: appearances can be deceiving!  Actually, that’s sort what Jesus is saying in today’s Gospel: appearances can be deceiving.

Jesus is on His final journey to Jerusalem, where He’ll be crucified.  Along the way, He’s healing, teaching, and telling many parables about the Kingdom and about discipleship, increasing the strength and tone of His message the closer He gets.  It’s in this context that someone asks: Lord, will only a few be saved? (Lk 13:23)  What a loaded question!

But instead of answering how few will be saved, Jesus tells us who won’t be saved.  (Don’t worry, He doesn’t give names…)  But He does give us something rather profound, and which is, at second glance, rather quite hopeful.  Three key phrases in this parable of the Narrow Door help us to see that.

First, there is but one door, and it’s indeed narrow.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, I am the door for the sheep (Jn 10:7), and No one comes to the Father except through me (Jn 14:6).  Salvation is only available through Jesus Christ; only He atoned for our sins and opened for us the way into heaven: He is the narrow door.  We must seek Him out, then.

Second, those who are turned away are rejected because they’re not recognised: I do not know where you come from, says Jesus (Lk 13:25, 27).  Even though they call Him Lord, and insist they ate and drank with Him and listened to His teachings, Jesus doesn’t know them because they don’t know Him.  This is where Jesus gets firm with His disciples: ‘It’s insufficient to simply go through the motions and say you’re a disciple; if you don’t know me, I won’t know you.’  Jesus won’t recognise those who knock because He knows their works and their thoughts (Is 66:18); He knows that, though they ate and drank with Him, their hearts were not with Him.

This was a wake-up call for the disciples, and it’s meant to be one for us today, too.  Jesus is challenging us to examine our relationship with Him.  Where do we really stand?  Do we really know Jesus?  Do we really stand with Him?  Are we living according to His teachings?  Or are we just faking it?  Now Jesus isn’t accusing anyone; He’s calling us to conversion, to a deeper relationship with Him.

Third, those refused entry are refused because they’re too late; the door’s already been closed.  We don’t have an eternity for this conversion; we have but a limited time, and no one but the Father knows when that hour is coming (cf. Mt 24:36; Mk 13:32).  Our duty, then as serious Christians, is to not delay opening our hearts to God, and to strive everyday to imitate Christ.  We have to work with God’s grace.

You’re not going to lose weight while sitting on the couch eating chips and watching TV.  That’s not going to do it!  Want to lose weight?  Change your diet and workout.  You can’t get fit without that!

It’s the same for us when it comes to faith.  We can’t expect to become saints if we’re not actively working toward that goal.  Well, it’s not so much our work as it is His grace, but we must seek Jesus out, always!, treating prayer, Scripture and works of charity as our diet and exercise for this holiness training. divine-mercy

You see, that’s because Jesus doesn’t want to reject anyone.  A few weeks ago, we heard Jesus telling us that it’s the Father’s good pleasure to give [us] the kingdom (Lk 12:32).  Jesus wants each of us to be in union with Him: that we may be one with Him, as He is with the Father (cf. Jn 17:20-21).  And this oneness with God, this is what it means to be in holy.  To be in Heaven is to be in complete union with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

But we’re not there yet, and we don’t get there by magic or by accident!  That’s why we need conversion; we need to be evermore conformed to Christ in this life, so that we might be united to Him in the next.  But conversion can only happen if we’re honest with ourselves about our relationship with God.  And we can only grow if we open our hearts to God’s grace and work at our relationship with Him, that’s why Jesus begins His answer by encouraging us to strive to enter through the narrow door (Lk 13:24).  Jesus, too, wants us to be serious about our relationship with Him.  It’s a matter of life and death!, and Jesus wants us to choose life (Dt 30:19), that’s why He’s given us the Church and the Sacraments to help us along the way: the Church to help us understand how to follow Jesus, and the Sacraments to give us the grace and strength to live as true disciples.

And so, you see, today’s Gospel isn’t a message of condemnation and gloom, but one of hope and encouragement.  We’re called to be Christians not merely in appearance, but in fact; in the depths of the heart and of the mind; in our whole being.  The externals of the faith are merely outward expressions of an interior faith that can’t be contained, but seeks to spill out.  Practicing the faith is meaningless if our hearts aren’t with Christ.

But if we realise that our hearts aren’t all there, we mustn’t fear nor give up: we simply need to turn to the Lord while it’s not too late, and ask for His help; for though the door is narrow, His grace and mercy are very wide.  Amen.

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First Sunday

Well, there we have it: I’ve just completed my first weekend of ministry at in Vermilion and area.  I arrived Wednesday afternoon, just in time for the Assumption, and was well greeted by everyone, even though I set off the alarm at one of the mission churches!

I’ve already met a lot of new people, and I look forward to getting to know them better over the years.  I’ll post some pictures of the various churches soon.

In the meantime, here is my homily for this weekend.  It’s not my best, but hey, it is what it is.  Enjoy!!

Homily – Sunday OT 18 C

Jer 38:4-6, 8-10
Ps 40   R/.  Lord, come to my aid.
Heb 12:1-4
Lk 12:49-53

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division! (Lk 12:51).

In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus kind of stuns us!  Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?  Well, yes, we do, don’t we?!  I mean, after all during the Christmas season we refer to Him as the ‘Prince of Peace’ (Is 9:6), and at other times the ‘Good Shepherd’ (Jn 10:11); He even calls Himself ‘meek and humble of heart’ (Mt 11:29)!  So what does He now mean, I have come to bring … division (Lk 12:51)?  Does He mean that we should have a holy war?  Does He mean that we should rise up like some are doing in Egypt?  Absolutely not!!  Jesus came that we might have life, not death! (Jn 10:10).

The first verse of this Gospel passage and the first reading give us the clues to properly interpret what Jesus is saying.  Today’s Gospel start with the phrase, I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! (Lk 12:49).  Now there are a few ways to interpret this passage, but one of the ways that makes the most sense in this context is that Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit.  Earlier in Luke’s Gospel, John the Baptist tells us that Jesus will baptize … with the Holy Spirit and fire (Lk 3:16), and the author of Hebrews says that our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29).

Jesus came to set us ablaze with the Holy Spirit and with faith, and this is the fire He desires to kindle in us: a burning faith that seeks to grow and be shared — it’s the very nature of fire to grow and spread.  And so, by opening our hearts to the Spirit through prayer and the Sacraments, Jesus will make us alive with this faith, and fervent in living it out.  And it’s by this fervent living out of faith in Jesus, in living according to His love that we’ll become sowers of division.

Now I know you know what I’m talking about here, because we’re seeing it more and more in our day.  By speaking out for life, for family, and for Marriage, we create divisions.  Well, it’s not so much that we create them, but rather that truth demands a response; truth compels people to choose, either to agree with truth or to oppose it; there’s no other option.  And so, by living according to Christ and His love for us — which makes certain demands on us —, then we choose our position according to Him, and that has consequences.

And this is where we find that the first reading sheds light on today’s Gospel.  Just as Jeremiah suffered because of His fidelity to God and his speaking the truth, so too, we might find that we’re called to suffer for faith in Christ.  This is the other meaning that Jesus ties to the word ‘fire’.  Like the prophets and many saints before us, we might be called to undergo trials by fire, and that’s never easy.  But that’s why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to animate us; because He knew we need His grace to persevere.  And this is why we must spend time in prayer, time in intimate union with God, so that we might grow in our knowledge and love of Him, and, through His grace, grow in the capacity to follow Him with fidelity and joy.  In this way, the fire of the Spirit will purify us from our sinfulness, and consume our hearts with love for God and neighbour.

And so, as we continue with the Eucharist, may our desire be joined to Christ’s, as we, too, ask the Father to set our hearts on fire, and to always make our faith stronger and more alive.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.  And you shall renew the face of the earth.  Amen.

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Inaugural Post

Greetings to all in the blogosphere!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

My name is Fr. Roger Rouleau.  I am a Priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton.  A few months ago Archbishop Richard Smith named me Pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish and its associated missions of St. Joseph (Derwent) and St. Columba (Clandonald).  This appointment officially took effect this past week on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I’m starting this blog to chronicle my journey as a newly appointed Pastor and the experiences and adventures this will bring, to post my homilies, and to allow past-parishioners to keep up-to-date.

I’ve called this blog In Domino Spera, which means Hope in the Lord, because I’ve made this my motto.  I hope you will join me in this journey of hope!

Consider this blog launched!


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