Sunday, September 10, 2006

23rd Sunday, Ordinary - Homily

I have to confess that, while I don’t watch much television, I’ve gotten hooked on a couple of the “reality” shows, from time to time. They say reality shows, and they are real people and real experiences, but they are definitely “made for television”. I used to watch “Fear Factor”, where contestants would do all kinds of stuff for money. It is amazing what people will do for money! On this show, they would eat gross stuff (like animal parts!), and do all kinds of crazy challenges and dares for a big prize of money. The show did give the lesson of overcoming fear, and would say to each winner, “fear is not a factor for you”.

One of the slogans of our culture is “no fear”. We see it on bumper stickers, cars, t-shirts, etc. But, God said it first! We hear in our first reading from Isaiah 35, “be strong, fear not”. God does not want us to live in fear. Fear is doubt or a lack of trust in ourselves, others, and God. Fear is the opposite of faith. With fear, we doubt God and his power; maybe we even doubt if He is there. We might hear this story from the Gospel where Jesus shows his healing power with the man who is deaf and mute, and still doubt that he can do the same for us, even though we are all in need of healing.

Let’s take the example of going to Confession. Many, many people are afraid to go to Confession. Now, I understand it is hard to go to the priest who is representing God, and admit all that we have done wrong. It is very humbling to say, ‘I’m sorry, God, please forgive me’. It is very hard to reveal our deepest, darkest faults. But, it is a sacrament of mercy! It is one of the main reasons I became a priest: to be a minister of mercy.

On the back of my ordination card (which are available in the rear of Church), it says that I’m “open for Confessions 24/7”. (Some of my friends have threatened to call at 3 am!) What that means is that I am always available to offer you God’s mercy in this sacrament…not condemnation…not judgement…not anger. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been or what the sins are, if you are truly sorry, you will receive Mercy.

But, we come up with excuses for not going because of our fear. “I don’t need to go to Confession; I just go to God directly for forgiveness”. For venial sin, yes, but not for mortal sins. We need the Grace of Confession to be absolved of mortal sins, if we have any. “I am afraid that the priest will tell my sins to others”. If a priest reveals anything from Confession, he is automatically excommunicated and kicked out of the priesthood. “I’m a good person, it’s not like I’ve killed anybody. As long as my sin doesn’t hurt anyone else”. From the very beginning, we have understood that sin affects all of us (St. Paul taught this). It’s like my little pinky finger. When I injure it, I think, ‘oh, this won’t bother me at all.’ But, then I go to use my hand, and the whole hand is affected. All sin, no matter how big or small, affects all of us.

Whenever we go to Confession, we show great faith. We show faith that:
A) Jesus has the power to forgive sins. Not everyone has believed that, especially many people back in his day.
B) He gives this power to his priests. He does this in John 20 (v. 20-23). He gave the power to the first priests, and they passed it on…to where now Fr. Mike and I have the power to forgive sins.
C) It is really Christ in the Confessional. Every time a priest celebrates a sacrament, he acts in the person of Christ. It is Christ who celebrates the Eucharist, saying “this is my body”. It is really Christ in the Confessional, hearing our sins and giving us absolution. We see and hear the priest, but it is really Christ.

Whenever we go to Confession, then, we show faith.

Having said all of this, there is fear that is good: fear of the Lord. Fear of the Lord is awe or respect for God. We show this when we come to Mass – dressed well, on time (!), staying to the end (!), and bowing humbly before the Eucharist. We show our belief in and respect for this Eucharist. It takes great faith to believe in the Real Presence! It looks like bread and wine, but we believe that it is the Body and Blood of Christ. Once we approach this with faith, it changes everything. Faith in the Eucharist changes lives…changes marriages…changes families. It is really Him! It is His life, His peace, His joy that we receive. It is His love - the great love that He has for each and every one of us.

8 Comments:

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Five Years ago (In Memory Sept 11, 2001)

A Canadians Point of View

Five years ago Saddness came to the world.
It was not of our choosing,
Terriosts was the cause.

We watched and listened to news broadcasts,
We were in shock!
We watched as the New York Twin Towers fell,
We watched as the Plane hit the Pentegon,
We watched as the Plane Flight 93 hit the fields in PA,
Yet we picked ourselves up and tried to help those who had lost so much.

Canada opened it's doors to the many planes still in the air,
We opened our homes, community centres, churches to those,
Who found themselfs stranded in a country that was not their home.

The Volunteers came out of no where to help comfort the strantded passengers,
They came with food, blankets, and lended a ear to those who needed to talk,
We treated them like family instead of lost strangers.
Hand in Hand Canadians, Americans, and others watched the events of Sept 11, unfold.

Some asked where the strength came from, God was our number 1 strength through it all.
No matter what religion the stranded passengers or those who helped out were,
We stood togther on that dreadful day.

We will rember those who lost family members.
They are always in our prayers,
We felt the grief, and we pray for those who still grieve.

 
At 8:02 PM, Anonymous Abortion.... said...

Thanks anony #1 it is hard to believe that it has been five years.
I have a question about confession for Father Greg. What does mortal sin (from not going to Mass to having an abortion) do to a person's soul? It seems that this creates a HUGE seperation from God so Satan must kick in and the sould MUST be affected some how. I am asking this because someone very close to me had an abortion and she will not confess it to a priest. She is tormented over it. I told her that I would ask you on this site if it is a sin which can be forgiven. She does not believe it can be forgiven. Thank you.

 
At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father was a firefighter, retiring as a chief. He only said of 9/11, we run in to save as all the others run out to save their own lives. He has since had throat cancer and survived. Firefighters form a brotherhood...pray for them today. They think about their fallen friends and comrades every day. I know that my dad does. He has said only by the power of prayer has he survived.

 
At 1:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless your father the firefighter. They were so selfless in their actions and the horrors they saw! I will definately pray for your dad, the firefighters and for all who were affected.

 
At 2:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I WAS THERE...
You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news
On September 11, 2001. Neither will I. I was on the 110th floor in a smoke
filled room with a man who called his wife to say "Good-Bye." I held his
fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, "Honey, I am
not going to make it, but it is OK...I am ready to go."

I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children.
I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he
wasn't coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for
help. "I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!" I
said. "Of course I will show you the way home - only believe in Me now."

I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured
and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven.
He heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was with
the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers
there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them.

I was in Texas, Kansas, London. I was standing next to you when you heard
the terrible news. Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name - though not all
know Me. Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor.

Some sought Me with their last breath.

Some couldn't hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames;
"Come to Me...... this way... take my hand." Some chose, for the final time,
to ignore Me.

But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You may not know why, but I do.
However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you
have reached for Me?

September 11, 2001 was not the end of the journey for you.... But someday
your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well. Seek Me now
while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are "ready
to go."

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.
God
(author unknown)

 
At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I flunked! I wanted to be an Eucharistic Minister but I don't because I don't go to Mass every week.


Feeling Sad

 
At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry. The last message should have been posted on a different day.

 

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