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Nov. 25th - sooner or later ...

today's readings are Rev. 20: 1-4, 11-15 and 21:1-2; Psalm 84 and Lk. 21: 29-33 "And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books ". Today's passage is a is a full of strong images, some daunting, some of glory, such as the final vision of this passage, the vision of the new Jerusalem.  The vision I would like to reflect on is found in verses 11-15.  The dead are judged, with their deeds already having been recorded. Those whose names are not found in the book of life are thrown into a lake of fire for eternity.   A basic truth of our faith is that we all are going to be judged by our God, on what we have done, and not done (see the parable of the talents and the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25).  Fortunately, the sacrament of reconciliation helps us greatly to make up for our sins.  But so many, sadly, never take advantage of this sacrament.  And as this vision shows, we are going to be held accountable.     Not a comfortable message today.  But a message that is true. And we need to be reminded of it every once in a while.   It is interesting how some songs capture a message - like how Johnny Cash's song God's Gonna Cut You Down relates to today's reading.  The link for the video of this song, which was recorded by Mr. Cash near the end of his life, is found below.  Fascinatingly, it features a number of musicians and Hollywood actors who willingly play a part in the video, but whose lifestyles could be the subject of the message of this song. To open the link, you may have to "right-click" the link and then click on "open link in new tab" Johnny Cash - God's Gonna Cut You Down (Official Music Video) - YouTube  

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 25, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
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Nov. 24 - Vietnamese Martyrs

our readings today are Revelation 18; Psalm 100 and Lk. 21: 20-28 On November 24th the Church celebrates the feast of the Vietnamese Martyrs, a feast that was established by the Pope St. John Paul II in 1988.  The persecution of the faithful in Vietnam is divided into two main periods: those who were killed during the 18th century when the Jesuits and Dominican orders spread the faith throughout the country: and those who were persecuted and killed in the 1820s and 30s, following the ascent to the throne of Minh Mang. The tortures endured by the Vietnamese martyrs are considered by the Church to be among the worst in the history of Christian martyrdom. The torturers hacked off limbs joint by joint, tore flesh with red hot tongs, and used drugs to derange the minds of the victims. Christians during this time were branded on the face with the words "tả đạo" literally. "Left (Sinister) religion" and many Catholic families and villages were killed and destroyed.  It is thought that at least 130,000 persons were martyred.  By the 1840s, the persecutions diminished, but often bribes had to be paid to ensure the safety of the clergy and laity.   The blood shed by the martyrs was not in vain, though, and we can witness how the faith still was passed on from one generation, so much so that in our Archdiocese we have a thriving Vietnamese parish, with many priests, and one Bishop, Bishop Vincent Nguyen, serving here.  Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, pray for us. 

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 24, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
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Nov. 23rd - Psalm 98

today's other readings are Rev. 15: 1-4 and Lk. 21: 12-19 A word of explanation about this reflection - it is much more a teaching than a reflection for one to ponder.  But that's okay, as every once in a while, it is good to learn more about the Word of God.  For such knowledge can help us to appreciate it more.  The Book of Psalms, or Psalter, is a collection of religious songs, most of which are thought to be composed in the 5th and 4th century B.C.  They truly were songs meant to be sung, sometimes by one person, and sometimes by groups of people.  Some were composed to be used in the Temple in Jerusalem, while the rest could be sung elsewhere, such as a local synagogue.   The most common type of psalm is supplication to God for His help in various spiritual and temporal needs.  But there are many of thanksgiving and praise to God, while there are a few that are meant to consider a problem or teach a lesson. Psalm 98 is a psalm of thanksgiving to God, in which God is extolled for the victory he has given to Israel (verses 1-3); which is then followed by the thought that all the nations of the earth and all of creation should welcome the just Saviour with joy.  According to Jewish teaching, Psalm 98 is the tenth and last song the Jewish people will sing after the final redemption.   This psalm, you will notice, forms the basis of the hymn that is sung in verses 3-4 of today's first reading, in which they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.  

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 23, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
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Nov. 23rd - Rev. 14: 14-19

today's other readings are Psalm 96 and Lk. 21: 5-11 The Book of Revelation is a fascinating and vividly intense sacred book.  In many ways, it is the archetype of literary thrillers.  There is the good and the bad, the holy and the evil.  There are frequent swings between triumph and disaster, hope and despair, quiet and turmoil.  And of course, it all leads to a glorious ending - the triumphant victory over all that is evil culminating with the endless reign of the Kingdom of God.   In today's passage there is an underlying message that God will right all wrongs.  In this passage, Jesus, the Son of Man, with his sickle ready for the harvest, a harvest Jesus referred to his parable of the separation of the weeds from the wheat (Matt. 13: 24-43).  In this harvest, there is much wheat - but there are weeds.  The wheat is destined for glory; the weeds destined for the fires of hell.  As Tim Gray of the Augustine Institute puts it, this vision that St. John shares with us is not meant to scare the hell out of us, but to scare about hell.  It is a vision that is powerful, a vision that speaks volumes.  A vision that should make us stop and ponder.  

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 22, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
2heart

Christ the King Homily

today's readings are 2 Sam. 5: 1-3; Psalm 122; Col. 1: 12-20; and Lk. 23: 35-43 He was the stepson of a carpenter and a teenage mother.  After His birth, He and His parents became refugees for many years before they were able to return home.  Raised in obscurity in a small town, He began His ministry when He was about 30.  For three years He taught, healed, inspired and gathered followers.  But it was a rocky road - for there were many setbacks and challenges.  His ministry ended when He was put to death for the crime of supposedly claiming to be a king.  Even though He was the greatest, historians never bestowed upon him the title “The Great”. Instead, He was given the title “the Christ”, which means the Anointed One.  And while Jesus was never formally crowned on this earth, today we celebrate Him with the title of “King”.  But for many people, it can be a real struggle to think of Jesus as a king, especially when you consider many of those who have held that title throughout human history.  As one who spoke of Himself as a servant, who gave Himself in his ministry and death as sacrifice, the title “king” seems at best a misnomer and at worst a misrepresentation of the God who took flesh, not be a ruler, but a brother and shepherd and saviour.  “King” does not express the abundance of compassion, mercy and love that Jesus pours out on us, we that would be His subjects.  Even the crucifixion scene described in today’s gospel does not evoke the traditional kingly images of one who sits on a throne with his crown of gold, with scepter in hand, wearing a purple robe, with his subjects bowing before him, addressing him with respectful words.  Instead, Jesus’ throne is a cross, the garment He wears is not even His own, His crown is one of thorns, and the soldiers and the leaders mock Him with words of disrespect.  This is no traditional king. What do we see in this scene?  One who is patient, enduring, and silent.  He breaks His silence only to make a promise, to remember and bring the good thief into His kingdom.  Later, speaking of those who are tormenting Him, he says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”.  That is the King that we celebrate today – a king of mercy, forgiveness, tenderness, compassion, service and love.  A king who humbled Himself to become one like us - to serve us, to save us, to give us the possibility of eternal life.  My dear people, as we consider this King of ours, we need to ask ourselves how we, His followers, should respond? If we consider what Jesus Christ has done for us, then our response should be one of awe and gratitude.  What did you and I do to deserve such a love?  Christ our King didn’t have to that for us.  But He did, freely and willingly.  His life, his death, his resurrection was a complete gift to us.  You can’t help but develop a sense of gratitude.  You can’t help but begin to express words of thanks, words of faith, words of worship for Christ our King.  But while we say that we believe and worship Him, our words are not enough.  It’s not enough to “talk the talk”, but we also need to “walk the walk”.  Just as He came into this world to serve us, we in turn are called to serve Him in this world.  And how do you do that? Allow me to share with you a few suggestions how you can serve our King, especially as next weekend we enter into the season of Advent in which we prepare ourselves for the 2-fold coming of Christ in our world.   To begin, here's two spiritual suggestions for you to do and in so doing to honour our King.  Starting this Wednesday, after the 7 pm mass, and for the next 3 Wednesdays, Deacon Gerry will be giving reflections about the following Sunday of Advent.  On Monday, December 12th, we will be holding our Advent reconciliation evening, with a number of priests present.  When was the last time you went to confession?   If it's been a while, don't worry, we will be happy to guide you to experience the healing forgiveness of our God.  Another way to serve Christ our King is to raise awareness of our need reach out to the disadvantaged in our midst.  Our parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society holds its annual Christmas collection next month. I realize that many of you have already made that donation.  If you have, thank you.  For those have not yet done so, please give and be generous.  Your donations provide badly needed help to disadvantaged families and individuals who live literally in our midst.    Or maybe this Advent is the time to enquire about one of our many parish organizations and ministries.  Our Caring Ministry, for example, brings Holy Communion and spiritual support to the shut ins of our community.  And they would certainly welcome new volunteers for this wonderful ministry.  You know, when we do things like that, when we generously give of our time, talent and treasure for the benefit of others, we just don’t do them because they are “feel good” things, but we do so to bring honour to Christ our King.   For just as He came into this world to give and share of Himself with us, so too we His people are called to share and give of ourselves for others.   It comes down to this: Worshipping, giving, sharing, caring - that’s how we bring honour, that’s how we serve, that’s how we show that Jesus Christ is our King.

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 20, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
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Nov. 18th - Rev. 10: 8-11

today's other readings are Psalm 119 and Lk. 19: 45-48 During the masses of these last two weeks of the Liturgical Year, we read passages from the Book of Revelation, that wonderfully mystical and symbolic book of visions of the End Times that St. John the Evangelist was blessed with, and thankfully shared with all believers.  In today's passage, John is invited by an angel to eat a scroll, which is the Word of God, the sacred scriptures.  He is told that when he does so he will find it tastes as sweet as honey in the mouth, but bitter in the stomach.  The image of the sweetness of the Word of God is then picked up in our responsorial psalm today, #119.  The Word of God can be wonderfully sweet and soothing and gentle for our minds and hearts.  Passages like, "Come to me, all you who labour and are weary, for I will get you rest" (Mt. 11:28) is a classic example of this.  How we treasure such soothing passages and images, and how we enjoy pondering and praying with them.   But then comes the not so nice part - that it will be bitter in our stomachs.  This idea is exemplified when we come across passages that are not all soothing - but are in fact bluntly challenging and even chastising.   What is happening here?  Well, the truth is be told, are we are being confronted with it.  And one thing about the truth - it can be so blunt and make one so uncomfortable.  It challenges individuals and communities to do so serious soul searching and to change one's ways.  It can lead us to those "Come to Jesus moments".  Examples of the truth being spoken is seen in the ministry of the Prophets of the Old Testament, culminating in the message of John the Baptist. The ultimate truth was truth was spoken by Jesus, as witnessed in today's gospel. Sometimes we need to be soothed - sometimes we need to be challenged.  May we be open both to the sweetness and the truth of the Word of God.   

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 18, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
2heart

Nov. 17th - A Priest's Funeral

today's readings are Rev. 5: 1-10; Psalm 149 and Lk.19: 41-44 Yesterday at the Holy Name of Mary Parish in Almonte, ON, southwest of Ottawa, the funeral for Fr. Paul Gaudet was held.   Fr. Ian Riswick and I, who were ordained with Fr. Paul on May 11, 1991, were privileged to be present for this funeral mass in the lovely, old parish church that Fr. Paul had served as Pastor for the last 6 years.  As Fr. Paul had served as a chaplain with the Canadian Armed Forces for 19 years of his priesthood, there was a great turnout of military veterans, military chaplains as well as Bishop Scott McQuaig, the Catholic Bishop for the Canadian Armed Forces.  The Presider of the funeral mass was His Grace, Marcel Damphousse, Archbishop of Ottawa, and many priests of Ottawa were also in attendance.  Not surprisingly, the largest group present were Fr. Paul's parishioners. A priest's funeral is a unique celebration of faith, hope, and thanksgiving. Thus, during yesterday's mass we thanked and praised God for the gift of Fr. Paul's life, we thanked his family for nourishing his vocation, we thanked Fr. Paul for his service to God's people. and of course, we prayed for the repose of his soul, and prayed for each other, as we mourn his passing.  What was particularly unique occurred near the conclusion of the mass, when the "Last Post" was played by a bugler who was present, followed by the congregational singing of "O Canada", and then the priests and bishops present sang "Salve Regina". It was a funeral I will never forget.  The livestream of the mass can be found at  Fr Paul Funeral Mass - YouTube      Fr. Paul, rest in peace!   

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 17, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
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Nov. 15th - St. Albert the Great

today's readings are Rev. 3; 16, 14-22; Psalm 15 and Lk. 19: 1-10 A man of great intellect and wisdom.  A great teacher.  A man of great faith.  Today the church celebrates St. Albert the Great. Born into a family of wealth in 1206 in Germany, Albert used the opportunities available to him to study at the University of Padua.  Joining the Dominicans while studying theology in Padua, his academic career led him to teach in Germany and later, at the University of Paris.   This was truly a brilliant man.  He studied and wrote extensively on natural science, logic, music, mathematics, astronomy, metaphysics, natural law, economics, and politics, as well as learning both Greek and Arabic which allowed him to study the great Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle.   It was his interest in the philosophical methods of Aristotle that would have a massive impact of the theology of the Church.  He believed that Aristotle's methodological approach to the natural sciences and philosophy was a useful philosophical support to Christians seeking to understand God's work in the world.  His teachings methods were greatly appreciated by his students, including the greatest Catholic theologian of all, St. Thomas Aquinas. Albert is the patron saint of scientists, philosophers, and students.   St. Albert, pray for us. P.S. Dear reader, there will be no reflection tomorrow as I, along with my friend Fr. Ian Riswick, will be leaving in the very early morning for the funeral of Fr. Paul Gaudet, who was part of our ordination class of 1991.  Fr. Paul's funeral will be held at Holy Name of Mary Parish in Almonte, Ontario tomorrow at 11 am.  Please pray for the repose of his soul.  

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 15, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
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Nov. 11th - Lest We Forget

today's readings are 2 John 4-9; Psalm 119 and Lk. 17: 26-37 A day to remember.  We remembered on All Sous' Day.  We will remember on Saturday the 19th for our parish's Annual Memorial Mass. Throughout November we remember our loved ones who have died with our parish's Books of Life and our All Souls' envelopes. We remember all who died.  In Canada today, and in many countries throughout the world, we remember our war dead.  Those who served our country in our Armed Forces, and especially those who paid the ultimate price.  As Canadians, we wear poppies as a sign of our remembering them.  We thank them for their service, and we pray for their eternal rest.  Every war comes with a message that should make us human beings hang our heads in shame, a message perhaps best summarized by a scene from the movie Troy, in which the King of Ithaca says the following words to Achilles: "War is old men talking and young men dying".   And not just young men dying, but the old and the young, women and men, soldiers and civilians alike, as we once again painfully witness in Ukraine.  The pain, the horror, the shame.  How is it that we are still capable, after all these centuries, of such evil? How is it that one country can think that it is free to invade another, especially on the basis of such false pretenses as Russia's invasion of Ukraine?  And sadly, one can come up with so many more instances in both recent and ancient history.  It is rather ironic that on this day the Church celebrates the feast of St. Martin of Tours, a fourth-century Roman soldier who underwent a deep conversion after an encounter with a poor beggar, with whom he shared his cloak, only to discover later that it was Jesus. Martin left the army and eventually became a bishop of Tours in France. His faith enabled him to read the signs of the times, let go of one life of war and welcome a new life of peace in Christ. On this day, when we pray another message of Remembrance Day, "Never again!", we prayerfully ask for Martin's intercessions for true and just peace in our world. 

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 11, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
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Nov. 10th - Lk. 17: 20-25

today's other readings are Philemon 7-20, Psalm 146  Today the universal church celebrates the 5th century Pope, St. Leo the Great, who amongst the many accomplishments of his papacy, became quite famous for trying to protect the City of Rome from invading forces, including convincing Attila the Hun not to sack and destroy the city.  Such courage won him much respect, even amongst his foes.  Many saints and heroes like St. Leo have stood in the breach to urge nonviolent transition rather than open conflict as the best way to advance history. Jesus announced the coming of the Kingdom of God during a dark period of human history, when conquest and oppression were the rule of much of the world of 2000 years ago. He proclaimed the mystery that the coming of the Kingdom of God began in one's heart, inspiring lives that demonstrate the power of love and truth to transform society. The resurrection of Jesus affirmed the ultimate victory of life over death, hope over fear, justice over force. The coming of the Kingdom of God and the end times that Jesus speaks of is not meant to inspire fear, but hope in the heart of every believer, for then love and truth will completely prevail. 

Fr. Michael Machacek

Nov 10, 2022 • Nativity of Our Lord
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