Tag Archives: community

Homily Sunday OT 27 B – It Is Not Good that Man Should Be Alone

Instead of preaching on Marriage this Sunday, I spoke about something else, something tearing away at my heart in my current ministry, something of a rather urgent character in our world and in our Parish community. (For a Homily on Marriage, see below.)

It’s almost 30 minutes, but I encourage you to listen, because it speaks to one of the reasons why renewal in our Parish –– indeed in the whole Church –– is so deeply needed today.

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Homily Sunday OT 12 C – Altar Crucifix


Zech 12:10-11
Ps 63         R/. My soul thirsts for you, O Lord my God.
Gal 3:26-29
Lk 9:18-24


No. 308 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which provides the rules for Mass, states that,

“…either on the altar or near it, there is to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, a cross clearly visible to the assembled people. It is desirable that such a cross should remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations…”

 

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Sanctuary, Holy Name Church, Christmas 2016

That’s why, whenever you enter a Catholic church, a crucifix is the focus of your field of vision (or at least it should be).

 

So why an image of this cruel day, of this moment of torture, pain and death? Why not just an empty cross, clean and elegant? Well to put it simply: it’s not the Cross that saves us; it’s Christ! So then, why not an image of the risen Christ? Because it’s by His Death on the Cross that Jesus saves us, a Death He freely accepted. The Cross is His throne of glory! And so a Crucifix is a statement of faith, a proclamation of the divinity of Christ Jesus.

This is made clear in today’s Gospel reading, for as soon as Peter makes the confession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God, Jesus begin to talk about His upcoming Passion and Death. And not just any kind of death: but specifically the Cross. The man who never sinned, the man who didn’t deserve to die, was to die a most horrible and humiliating death. And Jesus knew this was to happen; He knew this was His mission.

And it’s this very Passion and Death, along with His Resurrection, that we celebrate on the Altar at every Mass. And the Crucifix is there to remind us of that one sacrifice and of our participation in it. That’s why we gather and celebrate Mass facing the Crucifix; ideally I, too, would be facing it with you, when celebrating, offering with Christ His sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving and worship.

But it’s not just for this reason. In today’s Gospel, as He predicts His own Passion, Jesus also tells us that we, His disciples, must also share in His Passion, because, as St. Paul tells us in the second reading today, as many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Gal 3:27). We’ve been joined to Him by this wonderful Sacrament; therefore we, too, must take up our cross (Lk 9:23).

We must follow in the footsteps of our Lord, offering ourselves to the Father, growing in discipline and virtue through self-denial, bearing patiently with suffering and persecutions, all the while remaining faithful to the Father’s love for us. This is the only way to Heaven: the way of the Cross.

And no one said this would be easy! That’s why elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus refers to it as the narrow gate (Mt 7:13). But that’s why Jesus spent so much time in prayer, to show us how to do it, and that we cannot do it without Him. So we, too, must spend much time in prayer —everyday —, asking the Father to give us the grace to persevere; asking Jesus to forgive us our sins and strengthen us with His grace; asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom; and asking blessed Mary to comfort us along the way.

But it’s also why we journey as a community, because we’re not alone in carrying our cross. Just as Jesus had the help of Simon of Cyrene, so, too, we have each other to help us along the way. So it’s okay to ask each other for prayers and for help; it’s okay to offer someone a shoulder to cry one; it’s okay to speak of our struggles and ask for advice. In fact, it’s necessary for us to do these things!

This isn’t always easy, and it makes us very vulnerable, but this is how we grow closer to Christ and to each other; this is how we become a community in the true sense of the word: a group of people united to each other in truth, in faith, and in love. This is the way of the Cross; this is the way to Christ.

Jesus isn’t some mere prophet, teacher or leader; He is the Son of God, our Lord and our Saviour. He gave His life for us while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8), and He invites us to give Him our lives in return. Through His grace, may we have the courage and the faith to embrace the Cross He shares with us for our salvation. Amen.

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Homily – Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity


Prov 8:22-31
Ps 8     R/. O Lord, our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth.
Rom 5:1-5
Jn 16:12-15


Audio: soundcloud.com/pereroger

When we examine Scripture and the history of salvation, one of the things that stands out very clearly is God’s desire for us to be in relationship with Him. From the Fall of Adam and Eve to the gathering of the people of Israel to the Death and Resurrection of Jesus until this very day, God is searching out for us, calling us to come to Him so that we might be in relationship with Him.

But not just any kind of relationship. God doesn’t just want to be friends: He wants us to be in communion with Him, to be one with Him. This is the heart of the Gospel message we’ve been hearing for several weeks now, and which, in a sense, culminated in the celebration of Pentecost last Sunday. God want’s us to be one with Him; that’s why He sent His Son Jesus to teach us about Him and His love for us, and to show us how to respond to His invitation; and that why He sent us the Holy Spirit, to make that union possible and to deepen our knowledge and experience of His love and mercy.

Trinity_StainedGlass.jpgAnd this is why now we celebrate this Sunday the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity,
because God is not isolated or alone, but is in His very being a relationship of love. Last year I described to you the notion of the Trinity as a communion of love: the Father is the One who loves; Jesus, the Son, is the One who is loved and who loves in return; and the Holy Spirit is the One who is the mutual love.

In celebrating this great mystery the Sunday after Pentecost, we also celebrate the reality that God wants us to be participants in that relationship of mutual love, in this communion of divine Persons. God created us not to be independent and solitary beings, but to be one with Him. That’s why He created us in His image and likeness: so that we, too, can love as He loves. In fact, loving is at the very core of what it means to be human.

But our capacity to love isn’t to be focussed on ourselves, on being loved. To love means to reach out to the other for the sake of the other, to desire for the other what is good for the other. And this is what Jesus teaches us most perfectly by reaching out to us in our sinfulness and bringing us mercy so that we might truly live.

As disciples this is key for us, because we’re called to imitate our Master. Jesus brought us into communion with the Trinity through Baptism, and He continues to sustain and nourish our union with Him through the other Sacraments. But He does this not just for our individual sake: we’re not united to Jesus just for ourselves alone. Precisely because we’ve been called to share in the life and love of the Trinity, we’re also called to share in Jesus’ mission to bring that same communion to the world.

Love, precisely because it always looks to the other, also always seeks to expand itself toward another. That’s why Mother Teresa wasn’t satisfied to just embrace one dying person, or why missionaries don’t stop after just one conversion. Jesus thirsts for everyone to share in His Trinitarian life, and so must we.

If we’ve truly experienced the love and mercy that Jesus has come to bring, then we need to share it with others; like Him, we need to desire that others may come to know and experience His love for them. This is our mission as disciples.

But we also need to love one another; we need to seek communion with each other as well. As a children’s book once put it, “If Jesus loves me and He loves you, too, then I ought to love you, too”. We need to reach out to each other to build communion, and not just as a closed-off group of mutual affection and appreciation, but as a community that is constantly reaching out to others to invite them in also. This is particularly the mission of the family and of the Parish, because it’s through us that the world will come to know and experience the love of Jesus. By the way that we greet others; by the way that we welcome them and include them, others will come to know that God loves them and wants them in communion with Him. But if we ignore them, give them the cold shoulder or push them away, then that becomes the experience of God we give them. This is why Jesus said, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (Jn 13:35).

When we ponder on this reality of being called to communion with God and with each other, we can begin to get a glimpse into what it means for the Trinity to be a communion of love.

As we celebrate today this great mystery of the God who reveals Himself as a communion of love, may we open our hearts to His invitation, allowing Him to draw us into this communion with Him, so that in turn, we might work to bring others in as well. Amen.

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