today's readings are Isaiah 55: 6-9; Psalm 145; Phil. 1:20-24, 27 and Mt. 20: 1-16 That’s not fair!! How many times I have heard that said about today’s parable. But to understand it fully, we’ve got to appreciate who’s who and what’s what in this parable. To start - the vineyard owner – who does he represent - God. What is the vineyard – the world. Who are the vineyard workers – all of us. Of those workers, they are divided up into two groups: the early workers, the ones who started first thing in the morning; and the latecomers, the ones who worked the last few hours. Now the latecomers represent the sinners and outcasts in Jesus’ time. And while they had managed to live some sordid lives, many of them took Jesus’ message very seriously and then changed their lives for the better. They were the ones like the good thief on the cross, who repented at the last minute and was saved. They were the ones like the prodigal son, who repented after leaving home and was welcomed back by his father. The early workers represent people like the Pharisees, who were upset when sinners repented and entered God’s kingdom at the last minute. They were people like the elder brother of the prodigal son who was angry that his father forgave his younger brother. I’ve got to admit, when you read this parable it’s kind of hard not to sympathize with those early vineyard workers. Yes, they did receive the agreed upon daily wage. But they were the ones who had been sweating it out all day. They were the ones who did most of the work. So common sense says that they deserved a greater reward, a higher wage than the latecomers did. But if the only thing we notice in this parable is the wages the vineyard workers received, then we’re missing the basic point of the parable. For this is not a parable about wages and rewards – rather, it’s a parable about the generosity of our God and our equality in the eyes of God. God made each one of us – and God never stops desiring each person’s salvation – no matter who we are or what we have been doing. Today’s parable reminds us that it is never too late to turn our lives around – and for those of us who do, God will welcome us just as much into His Kingdom as those who have tried to be good Christians all their lives. But when we try to live a good life, filled with faith and good works, there can be a dangerous temptation to shake our heads at the lives of some other people. When I was in my mid -20s I lived downtown across the street from Allen Gardens. Back then, as it is today, Allen Gardens was filled with homeless people who have fallen through the cracks of society, who at first glance had made a mess of their lives due to their abuse of alcohol and drugs. When I passed by them, I would feel sorry for them – what a shame, what a way to waste your life! But one thing for sure - even though 40 years later I’m a priest and they may still be on skid-row does not mean that God loves me any more than them. NO! He loves us all the same amount. And even though I’ve dedicated my life to do God’s work and they haven’t, God desires their salvation just as much as He desires my salvation. And if we all end up in heaven together, I’m not going to get a better place in heaven than they will – nor am I going to receive any more heaven than they will. No, it’s going to be the same heaven – in the same amount. Dear reader please not that I will be away until the morning of Wed. October 4th. God bless you!
today's other readings are Psalm 49 and Lk. 8: 1-3 It is fascinating how many biblical sayings have made it into our lexicon. Today the we hear how money is the root of all evil, and fight the good fight (in this case, the good fight of faith). Money in itself is not evil. But St. Paul warns against the pursuit of money, which he says "in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains." So what to do? Focus on what brings life: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. This brings a smile to my face this morning, a smile of realization - these are the things that truly are helpful in my life and yours. That is the way we too can fight the good fight of faith. God bless your day!
today's readings are Ephesians 4: 1-7, 11-13; Psalm 19 and Mt. 9: 9-13 St. Matthew, apostle of Jesus and author of the gospel named after him, had an opportunity to do something unique, yet in many ways, something we should all do: He outlines how he was called by the Lord, as we read in today's passage. There he was, minding his own business, so to speak, making sure that the taxes of the people are being collected. His position makes him persona non grata amongst his fellow Jews, but he doesn't care - it's a good living. The famous Jesus shows up, and calls him. Most spiritual writers and painters, such as Michelangelo Carravagio, picture him responding with, "Who, me?" "Yes, you", says the Lord. (FYI, Carravagio's painting is above). Matthew was called by Jesus. And he followed. Jesus has called each one of us to follow. And probably more than a few times. When did it happen to you? And most importantly, how did you respond?
Most. Rev. Francis Leo, Archbishop of Toronto, is inviting the Catholic community throughout the Archdiocese to join in offering a novena to Saint Michael the Archangel (Patron Saint of the Archdiocese of Toronto), leading up to the Solemnity of Saint Michael on September 29, 2023. In a letter to the faithful released on September 12, 2023, His Grace offered the following reflection, which is followed by the text of the novena: 12 September 2023Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I am reaching out to you all in preparation for the celebration of the Solemnity of Saint Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Toronto, which will be held on 29 September 2023. As one of the three angels who are named with specific importance within Sacred Scripture, Saint Michael, whose name is Hebrew for "Who is like God?”, is called “one of the chief princes” (Dan 10:13), or “the great prince, guardian of your people” (Dan 12:1). He is likewise depicted in the Book of Revelation (12:7) as leading the good angels in battle against Satan. In a special way, as the patron of our archdiocese, we continue to ask this mighty protector to safeguard us from the wickedness and snares of the Devil. As guardian of the Church, we invoke his powerful intercession that, as God’s Holy People, we may always walk in justice and “lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10). In prayerful consideration, I encourage and invite all the faithful of our archdiocese – clergy, consecrated and laity, and all communities of faith, to join the entire Archdiocesan family in a Novena to Saint Michael the Archangel in preparation for the liturgical celebration. You will find the prayer in the attachment. We will begin this Novena on Wednesday 20 September 2023 until Thursday 28 September. Please keep in mind and heart the Mass for the Conferral of the Pallium in your prayer intentions as well, that this event may prove to be a strong, spiritual and joyful ecclesial encounter with the Lord, all united as members of his Body. Through the loving intercession of Mother Mary and Saint Michael the Archangel, may Jesus our Saviour bestow His abundant grace on you and your loved ones, your families and friends, as we strive to live in holiness, building up His everlasting Kingdom. Yours Sincerely in Jesus with Mary, Most Rev. Francis LeoArchbishop of Toronto The text of the Novena is as follows: Novena to St. Michael the Archangel. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Heavenly and Almighty Father, God of mercy and compassion, we give you thanks and praise for all your kindness and blessings which you bestow upon us, your beloved children, and for the opportunities of spiritual renewal which you provide out of the abundance of your unfailing love and graciousness. As we honour the glorious Archangel St. Michael, whose zeal for your almighty power obtains for us your own loving protection, in the name of Christ our Saviour and Brother and through your Holy Spirit, guide our steps along the path of holiness of life, and guard our thoughts as we journey through this life to our heavenly homeland. Confident of the powerful intercession of our patron saint St. Michael, we now ask for this grace (say your intention). Inspire in us the same humility and thirst for justice and holiness which animated your great servant and angelic messenger. May our lives give glory to you, our families bear witness to your love and our communities of faith be filled with the grace and joys of your Kingdom. Amen. Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be… St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. St. Michael, filled with the wisdom of God, pray for us. St. Michael, perfect adorer of the Incarnate Word, pray for us. St. Michael, crowned with honour and glory, pray for us. St. Michael, our help in all adversities, pray for us. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Come one, come all! As we begin the new school & ministry year, we invite all Edgers (gr. 6-8), all LifeTeens (gr. 9-12), and their parents to join us for a snack potluck social to learn about all of what we - the nativity youth ministry team, have to offer! Bring a nut-free snack to share & a friend! Can't wait to see you! September 29th, 7-9pm in the parish hall!
today's other readings are 1 Timothy 3: 1-13 and Psalm 101 Mercy - mercy has many aspects. Mercy was what Sirach and Jesus spoke of in our 1st reading and gospel, respectively (see my post of Sept. 17). Mercy is given in today's gospel. Considering that St. Luke's gospel is often referred to as the "gospel of mercy", it seems fitting that today's passage is one filled with mercy and compassion. The story is a heart-rending one. A widow has lot her only son. Not only does she grieve the loss of her son, but she is also grieving the loss of her future. For according to social norms, now she is completely on her own. There is no one to take care of her. Jesus sees the situation. He speaks to the widow, and then acts, with compassion and mercy. And the son is restored to his mother. He saw and He acted. The question is, how often do we do so? We also need to face another question - an uncomfortable one - How often do we see and not act?
Today's readings are Sirach 27:30 - 28:7; Psalm 103; Romans 14: 7-9 and Matt. 18: 21-35 Forgiving. Forgiving can be so hard to. Especially if you have been terribly wronged or betrayed by someone. When that happens, how do your respond? Harbouring thoughts of anger, resentment, and revenge? Focusing on getting even – and never forgiving or forgetting? If so, then allow me to share what Fr. Scott Lewis wrote in a column provocatively titled “Forgiveness is not an option: Just do it”. (The Catholic Register, Sept. 10/17). Fr. Lewis begins by stating a basic fact: anger, wrath, and resentment poisons the mind, body, and soul. Such feelings make people miserable and unhappy and can even affect their physical health. Allowed to fester, these feelings can damage your relationships with family and friends and colleagues. Since the start of Covid there has been a dramatic increase in anger at people or institutions. As people continue to focus on what is upsetting them, their sense of perspective is thrown out of kilt. And more than few think that the option to forgive another person or an institution is a sign of weakness or that it excuses and condones the perpetrator’s behaviour. But as Fr. Lewis says, nothing could be farther from the truth — the ability to let go and to forgive is a sign of strength and spiritual maturity. Yes, forgiveness can be very difficult to give – but it must be given. Let me tell you a true story of forgiveness. 25 years ago, I had a horribly tragic funeral for a young woman named Amy, who had been murdered by her husband, who subsequently committed suicide. There was a huge turnout for the funeral, with many attending still in shock. Following the funeral, we proceeded to the cemetery for Amy’s burial. While waiting for everyone to arrive, I approached Amy’s mother. I asked how she was holding up. She said, “Better, after yesterday. I went to the funeral of my son-in- law, and I spent time afterwards with his parents.” I was amazed by this and commended her for doing so. Her response: “Father, I was there because I had to be there. I need to forgive him. If I don’t, this will destroy me.” Our readings today speak of forgiveness. The first one from the Book of Sirach reminds us of the sad reality of a person who has held on to their anger and bitterness to the end of their life. Sirach is very clear – woe to those who do so. Even if the hurt and anger was justifiable, that anger needs to be properly channeled towards positive means and let go. For its effects are destructive. Secondly, forgiveness breaks the chain of sin. When you pursue revenge, or when you choose an unwillingness to forgive, the sinfulness keeps growing. But the love, mercy and compassion of forgiveness breaks that chain. Thirdly, Sirach points out that we cannot expect God to be merciful and forgiving to us if we are unwilling to grant forgiveness to those who have offended us, an insight reinforced in today’s Gospel. Just as the response to our psalm (103) was “The Lord is merciful and gracious,” so we too need to be merciful and gracious to others. In our gospel, Peter asks Jesus a question, how many times must I forgive someone — seven? Jesus’ response – “No, seventy times seven” — in other words - endlessly. Jesus then illustrates this with the parable of the master and the slave. We can understand the fear of the slave, who was indebted to his master, and his immense relief when the master writes off and forgives the entire debt. One would assume that the mercy he received would have made the slave sensitive and merciful towards others in similar situations, but no. Encountering a fellow slave who owes him a small amount, he demands payment. He ignores the man’s pleas for patience and mercy and has him and his family tossed into the debtors’ prison. When word gets back to the master, he calls in that slave and rebukes him for his lack of mercy. The master reinstates the cancelled debt and hands him over to be tortured. Jesus ends this parable with an ominous warning — God will do likewise to you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. Consider what we pray in the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Think of how much mercy we have received from God, how much we have been forgiven by God. In response to that goodness of God, the proper response n turn is to forgive others. Jesus is clear - forgiveness is not an option – just do it. But let’s be honest, you’re not Jesus, nor am I. Forgiveness is not easy to do. And when the hurt is great, forgiveness may be done in small steps. If you are finding it hard to forgive, then please pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to be open to forgiving. And if you ever think that forgiveness is impossible – then think of the story of Amy’s mom. Sirach and Jesus are quite loud and clear. Forgiveness is not an option – just do it.
today's readings are Hebrews 5: 7-9; Psalm 31; Lk. 2: 33-35 or John 19: 25-27 Our sufferings are to be joined to the sufferings of Our Lady's Son. Her sufferings were intimately linked with those of her Son. These facts are fundamental to today's feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, and are underlined in our readings today. This feast was formally instituted in the Church in 1814, and they echo to the prophecy of Simeon in Luke's gospel account (see the reference in the first line). This feast, in fact, speaks of 7 sorrows of our Blessed Mother. 1) The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2: 34-35): Simeon told Mary that her son would be the rise and fall of many people and that a sword would pierce her heart..2) The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13): Joseph responds to a dream to take Mary and Jesus into Egypt to keep them safe. Today, we pray for the safety and security of all refugees.3) The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:43-45): Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was in the caravan after leaving Jerusalem. After three days, they found Jesus listening and teaching in the Temple of Jerusalem. Mary said to Jesus, “Why have you done this to us?”4) Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary (Luke 23: 26-32): Jesus, carrying His cross told the women of Jerusalem not to weep for Him, but for themselves and their children.5) Jesus dies on the cross (John 19:25): Mary and John are bonded by the words of Jesus. The relationship with all members of the Church and Mary is firmly established in this moment of intense suffering. 6) Mary receives the body of Jesus in her arms (Matthew 27:57-59) - a scene memorably depicted in Michelangelo's Pieta, which is in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican..7) And lastly, the body of her Son is placed in the tomb (John 19:40-42). Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners
today's readings are Numbers 21: 4-9; Psalm 78 and John 3: 13-17 This is a feast which is rich in imagery. In our readings from Numbers, we learn that the people have sinned greatly. A a result, serpents appear in their midst, biting the people, and many died. The people realize what they have done, and turn to Moses to ask God for mercy. Moses prays, and God tells him what to do - put a serpent on a pole, get the people to look on it, and they shall be saved. Who do the serpents represent? The original serpent, the Evil One, Satan. When we sin, who do we make happy? Definitely not God, but Satan. About 1200 years later Jesus took upon Himself all our sins. And He did so on a special type of pole - a cross. He did so that we too would be saved. Today, when you look at Jesus on the cross, remember, He did for us - so we might be saved. That is His triumph, that is the Triumph we celebrate today.
today's other readings are Psalm 145 and Lk. 6: 20-26 Paul has been reminding the Colossians of a basic reality. Jesus' saving death and resurrection was done for them, and for all. What should be their response to that? Seeking the things that are above. So what does that mean? Paul tells them. Focus on what matters - the things that are above, and not of this world. He then gives them a "to do list" to help them. It's quite the list, isn't it? But we need to remember, it's one thing to look at it, it is another thing to do it. Time to get working on that list ...