32nd Thursday in Ordinary Time: Live for Your Faith

We are cautioned by today’s Gospel not to take for granted what was given to us – that could include many gifts from God but today we focus on one of the greatest gifts; that is, our faith. What has brought each of us together here this morning is something which may be profoundly personal and which you may never have revealed to another person; that is, God has revealed Himself to you! We don’t get up for Holy Mass, many of you having travelled further than I did to get here today without God having revealed Himself to you. That can never be something small or insignificant.  Since God’s not small and insignificant, neither then can His personal revelation of Himself to you be small and insignificant. Nonetheless, as we know it’s easy to begin taking that for granted or overlooking it. We can get caught up in the outer trappings of life, and when we do we also begin to minimize the revelation of God, we lose perspective. You might wonder how I can say all these things, as though I speak from authority on it?  Well, I’m no exception. The Lord revealed Himself powerfully to me, so that I entered the baptism at 31 and was in seminary formation three years later, a priest ten years after my conversion. Nonetheless, I find myself often distracted from the glory of God revealed and focussed on the pessimism of the world. I find myself easy to criticize, to find fault, to be of fault, to lessen the kingdom sometimes by my actions. Where I’m leading with this is that if we don’t get ourselves back on track in our faith, we will find that we don’t recognize the Lord in His majesty, mystery and awesome wonder if we don’t keep our faith fresh and ignited. This is a caution for us, but it’s also an opportunity for us to turn things around again. Let God reveal Himself to you now! Let Him forgive you of your transgressions in the Sacrament of Penance. Let Him speak to you through the Word and His Greatest Action of His Most Holy Body and Blood. Know that filled with the Eucharistic Presence, ignited by His word and ready for action – that the Lord our God reveals Himself to each one of you now, to go out into the world making disciples for Jesus Christ. My friends, we are not in danger of missing God if we are ready at this very moment and hereafter to receive Him.  May God bless you.

32nd Wednesday in Ordinary Time: God’s Given a Lot; Are We Aware?

In the Gospel today, we see something which mirrors faith activity which takes place in our world today. The Lord makes Himself known in many different ways, gives grace and gift to us all, and yet there is only a small percentage of us responding to that gift and mystery.

I choose this term “gift and mystery” for a reason. If you’ll recall, that’s what St. John Paul II entitled his own vocational account, recognition that his life, every talent and grace he had received which led to his vocational response was both gift and mystery.  There was part of what God had given that was apparent and known; there was a greater part that was unknown to him.  For our late pope and now saint and for you and I.  Even when he wrote his own autobiography; could John Paul II have had a total awareness of what God would do with the gifts He had given to him?  Could he have known what was in store for him as he began his vocational discernment?  He couldn’t have, nor can we – hence, mystery.  But we can make the glory of God present here and now, God gives us all that power.  We have to accept that He can and He will – and if we do we will be truly amazed at how He manifests Himself in this world through our humble response.

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Not Just a “church”

When it seems that we can’t move the liturgy around and always give priority to Christ and the Resurrection on Sundays; why are we celebrating what seems at best to be a blessing or a sacramental?

First of all, for those who don’t know this already – this feast celebrates the dedication of the pope’s Cathedral Church in Rome and in this day and age in our faith, a lot more needs to be reflected upon of what our connection to the Bishop of Rome, the Chief Shepherd appointed by Jesus with the Cardinals as His instruments and the Holy Spirit guiding and empowering. He, like us is human – His Office is Divine!  The Catholic Church entrusted to people, even though sincere followers and disciples may have our imperfections, but the Holy Father, Supreme Pontiff, Chief Shepherd and Successor of St. Peter is who unites us.  But not just in a functional way, in a real and pastoral way.  He is not on a pedestal, but is pastor of a community!  Just as your pastor is, just as Cardinal Collins is of all of us here in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

We celebrate this feast as it’s symbolic of our own communities and how we are united to each other as a community of faith. Parish Churches just don’t happen.  They are built upon faith, with love; they are built because people love God and want a place to worship Him.  We are not about bricks and mortar, we are about Jesus Christ and we are about each other.  As we celebrate this wonderful feast today; think of those around you in your parish.  If you don’t know them or some of them – get to know them.  There was a lot of love for God and for the people in the pope’s parish that brought about the building of St. John Lateran – but there was that same love and dedication that brought about your local parish church too.  And your parish and you (all of us) are united to something greater than ourselves; we are united to a community of believers who are united to the Lord our God.  May God bless you.

31st Tuesday in Ordinary Time Nov 4: Do we make excuses for not living our vocation?

When I was considering the priesthood, I was a new and zealous Catholic, living my faith, going to daily Mass, enjoying my life, the sports I was playing, hanging out and enjoying my friends and many good and healthy relationships. My heart was being drawn towards the priesthood (I see that now) but I was also very caught up with my life and the easier thing to do was to dismiss or ignore the very quiet call assuming that this too was a sign.  I said “maybe later” and “maybe when I retire”.  I was a city bus driver before becoming a priest and having started young, I could retire when I was 52 – a great time to decide to become a priest.  But that’s not how the Lord calls us.  We are called to live our life with faith; to live it fully and completely, to live it joyfully.  When we do that we can be assured that the Lord will move our heart to discover our calling, our meaning and purpose in life.  We can be assured that He urges us on to this, because this is what every human being (whether they accept God or not) desires.  It’s hard, virtually impossible to figure this out completely without God but with Him, He will lead us to it!  We can be assured that while we pray for it, asking our God for it, that it’s the Lord desire “…who begins the good work in us, will bring it to fulfilment”.  It’s His desire but He needs us to desire it too.  Today’s Gospel reminds us that this “good work” is disrupted when we make excuses, when we find other things to do, when we don’t give back to God from the gifts he gives to us.  It reminds us too, who are living our vocation never to take things for granted, never to become complacent, not to undervalue what we’ve been chosen to do.  We are invited into a great life through our vocation – I see that in my own vocation to priesthood. Despite the challenges and difficulties and obstacles to faith in the world, I find different ways to evangelize through actions and through priesthood every single day.  My friends, I offer today’s Gospel as words of encouragement for all of us.  As hard as it might be, there is one less place in the world made better when we make an excuse not to live and give witness to Jesus Christ by our vocation.  The world we live in really can’t afford or be without that.  May God bless you.

31st Week in Ordinary Time – Monday: Is it for us or is it for God?

It’s easy even in the midst of a genuine life of faith, one given in service to be compelled to start doing for others to serve our own needs, if even it’s the need to be needed. Our Gospel today is a reminder that all of us need to really reflect and reflect again each and every day to assess just what is motivating our actions.  When men come to discuss their own calling with me, what makes a calling blessed, and the thread I listen for is the call to service.  If a vocation is not founded and doesn’t develop a spirit or desire of service; of genuine service it might be something else, but it’s not God’s vocational calling for you.  To love God so greatly that we desire to do His will is of course the essence of our calling, but if it’s authentic, God reveals Himself and compels us to serve.  We know at a critical time; Jesus serves by washing the feet.  In fact, Jesus’ whole life was about service.  But amid the great joy of discovering and living out our vocation, in our own spiritual lives, we can sometimes find ourselves with the wrong motivations in our actions no matter how well we are progressing in the spiritual life.  We all long for love, and sometimes we are motivated to do for others for the love and affection we will get in return.  Unfortunately, that’s the temptation we must resist because it skews true service, and it isn’t the true living out of our vocation.  Friends, this is not a Gospel that should leave us feeling dejected or without hope.  If we reflect and try our best to always have the right motivation in mind, to serve the glory of God and love of our brothers and sisters, we can be assured that our lives will be better and more joy-filled and we will bask in the love of God, which is the greatest love we can be given.  We will recognize that love if we give ourselves to Him.  Especially as a diocesan priest, I think of the greater glory of reaching out to those whom I haven’t reached and it gives me the joyful mission and motivation for the day!  I think of a hero of mine; St. Francis of Assisi who in prayer heard the Lord say “rebuild my church”.  These words are recorded not as some kind of legacy for St. Francis – they are there for you and I.  We are the ones!  We are the ones who through our vocations are rebuilding the church today and into the future.  May God bless you.