Parish Mission

Making Disciples

with Megan McKenna

Theologian, Story Teller, Spiritual Writer and Lecturer

Megan McKenna 1Internationally recognized story teller Megan McKenna will lead St. Mary’s Parish in a series of workshops on making disciples.

Megan will be preaching at all of the weekend Masses on March 25/26.  She will be preaching on the Gospel reading for the weekend.

The mission will start on March 24 and run through March 29.  The mission schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 24 – 7:00pm Megan will meet with the youth group in the upper meeting room of St. Mary’s Parish Hall

Saturday, March 25 – Megan will preach at the 7:00pm Mass

Sunday, March 26 – Megan will preach at the 9:00am, 11:00am, and 4:00pm Masses at St. Mary’s Parish

Monday, March 27 – Wednesday, March 29 – Megan will present a short message each morning at 8:30am before Mass

Monday, March 27 – 7:00pm The Mission begins, in the church, with Megan’s presentation on the Woman at the Well

Tuesday, March 28 – 7:00pm The Mission continues in the church, with a presentation on “The Man Born Blind”

Wednesday, March 29 – 7:00pm The Mission concludes in the church, with Megan discussing “The Raising of Lazarus as Levels of Faith and Practice in the Community of Beloved Disciples”

Wednesday, March 29 – 8:30pm Mother of Perpetual Help Devotions

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4th Sunday in Lent

By Fr. Tim Uniac, C.R.

Today in Samuel we see the beginnings (the roots) of David’s rise to power following his anointing as the future king, while the power of the current king, Saul, would begin to weaken. The anointing of David signals that a period of transition will begin, a transition from the tribal days of Joshua, ultimately leading to a centralized state under David. Yet there are undertones of fear in the passage today. While Samuel appears to be a confident and strong messenger of the Lord, he is in fact fearful that Saul will hear of the anointing of David and there will be repercussions. The undertones of fear are further reinforced when immediately following the anointing, David himself will flee in order to avoid Saul. While in hiding, the power of David would grow while he stayed in the deserts of Judah offering protection to the southern tribes. Not until the death of Saul, in the battle of Mount Gilboa, would the succession of David begin.

Today’s passage from Ephesians is from a section of the letter dealing with living the Christian life in the world (4:1-6:20). In particular the section today looks at the old life of darkness (pre-Christ) and contrasts it with the new life as “children of light”. The message is clear and straightforward: “Live as children of light … and Christ will shine on you.” We are called to have nothing to do with “the unfruitful works of darkness”. Our call is one of “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead!”

The gospel passage is from a section of John known as the “Book of Signs”. In this section the true identity of Jesus is being both disputed and revealed through the works/signs Jesus is carrying out. Here in this section we see the healing of the cripple (5:1-47), the feeding of the five thousand (6:1-70), the raising of Lazarus (11:1-44), and today’s passage where the blind man is healed (9:1-41). There are four things of importance in today’s passage worth noting (there are others but these four points are key). One, the notion that the man was being punished with blindness because of sin is totally refuted by Jesus. Two, the giving of sight happens on the Sabbath day, a fact that so “blinded” the Pharisees it was all they could see. Three, blindness and fear resulted in the man being driven away. And four, perhaps the most important point of the entire gospel, all of the events in the gospel today lead to the powerful proclamation by the man: “Lord, I believe.”

“‘Celebrating the Word’ is an apostolate of the Congregation of the Resurrection [Resurrectionists], which makes this faith-sharing resource available without cost. To read the full issue, or some of our recent back issues, please visit:

http://resurrectionists.ca/celebrating-the-word

03 – March 26, 2017

3rd Sunday in Lent

By Fr. James M Donohue, C.R.

 

First Reading: One word that describes the Israelites after God’s mighty deeds had freed them from slavery in Egypt and from death at the Red Sea is “grumblers.” Granted, they are in the desert, but they seem to have quickly forgotten all that God had done for them. Also, they do not seem to be able to grasp that the God who had saved them and freed them is a faithful God who will never abandon them, for they are God’s people. Here, they are complaining about a lack of water, and later they will complain about a lack of food. In both cases God provides for the people with water from the rock at Meribah and manna in the desert. Still, however, the continuation of these mighty deeds does not quench the grumbling of the Israelites. Eventually their grumbling turns into rebelliousness. While Moses communes with God at Mount Sinai, they fashion a calf out of precious metal. Psalm 106 depicts this act most starkly when it summarizes the grumbling and rebelliousness of Israel in these words: “They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass” (Ps 106:20).

 

Second Reading: We might think about this reading as Paul’s testimony about the type of love that God has for God’s people. It is a steadfast and faithful love that is made manifest in the willingness of Jesus to die, not just for His friends, but for sinners. This is the ultimate and convincing proof that God loves us. This steadfast love is something that all Christians can continue to trust in, for this hope will never disappoint.

 

Gospel Reading: The richness of the gospel reading cannot be contained in this short commentary. One place of focus in the gospel is the way it resonates with the human yearning for something that fulfills and endures. One might think of St. Augustine’s claim that “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” This Samaritan woman has attempted to fill the emptiness in her life with many relationships that have not been satisfying. She has become alienated, not only from these men, but from the other women of her village—after all, she is at the well by herself in the heat of the noon day sun when she sees Jesus. But, through her encounter with Jesus, she gradually shifts her focus from the demands of material necessities to a longing for a deeper satisfaction in her spiritual and eternal life. Another place of focus is at the end of the passage when Jesus stays with the Samaritans for two days. We are told that “many more believed because of His word.” What they say to the woman at that point is quite remarkable: “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.” This statement makes me think of my friend whom I mentioned in the Introduction to the Word. Part of what led him to a renewal of his relationship with Jesus was how he saw Christ manifested in the lives of others. These Samaritans actually came to believe because of the testimony of this woman. Their encounter with Jesus was a confirmation of what they had already encountered through her. This is the same pattern that my friend experienced. He encountered Jesus through others which led him to a renewal in which he re-established his relationship with Jesus Himself.

 

“‘Celebrating the Word’ is an apostolate of the Congregation of the Resurrection [Resurrectionists], which makes this faith-sharing resource available without cost. To read the full issue, or some of our recent back issues, please visit:

http://resurrectionists.ca/celebrating-the-word

03 – March 19, 2017

2nd Sunday in Lent

By Fr. Paul S Voisin, C.R.

Our First Reading presents us with Abram, still young in his life with God. God overwhelms Abram with his promises and blessings. These words must have surprised Abram, as God was asking him to leave behind the known and familiar and journey forth to where He would send him. Abram had no idea how God would work in and through him, and bring about these promises of a “great nation”, and that “all the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you”. How could this happen? He was a simple shepherd. His future seemed so limited, as he and his wife, Sarah, had no children, which was looked upon as a curse in their culture. Yet, despite any hesitancy, Abram walked in faith and did as God directed. God was with him, and He would be faithful in his promises and blessings.

 How encouraging the words of St. Paul to Timothy! Indeed, our God is a God of blessing, which St. Paul experienced abundantly in his own life. His ministry was bearing witness to that new life of the Risen Lord. As God is holy, we have been called to a holy life. We are holy in Christ Jesus. St. Paul talks about God’s “own design and the grace bestowed”. God is at work (God-incidence?), and we have what we need to respond to His grace and to share in His life, and to share that life with others. We are truly blessed!

How marvelous and awesome this gospel! We can only imagine that moment of the Transfiguration, and how this completely transformed their understanding and belief in who Jesus was. Lucky Peter, James and John! The other disciples had to wait for such a manifestation of His glory in the resurrection. The presence of Moses and Elijah are significant—Moses representing the Law of Judaism, and Elijah representing the Prophetic Tradition of Judaism. The company of Jesus with them proclaims that His revelation is in harmony with the Law and the Prophets. Jesus told us that He came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it. Peter’s words about putting up the three tents reflect the solemnity of this manifestation in terms of their religious tradition.

When I hear this gospel, I can imagine that Cecil B. De Mille, the great director, would have been disappointed in the words of the Father. At the Baptism in the River Jordan, the heavens opened and the voice of God said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, in Whom I am well pleased”. You would have thought—God being God—that He would have had something more to say at this particular moment, rather than just adding, “listen to Him”. I am sure Cecil B. De Mille would have instructed a script-writer to be far more eloquent. However simple we may see these words of the Father to be, they are profound, as once again He acknowledges His Son. Equally important is His message to us, to listen to the teachings of Jesus, His Son. In our human condition, we sometimes prefer to jump ahead and ‘do,’ rather than to take time and ‘be,’ the ‘being’ that comes from sitting at the feet of the Master and listening to His words. This is the heart of the life of a disciple, seated at the feet of the Master and (like a sponge) taking in every word that comes from the mouth of the Master, and to take on a discipline (=disciple) to be like the Master. This is our chance, to listen. Let us not walk away from the Transfiguration unchanged!

“‘Celebrating the Word’ is an apostolate of the Congregation of the Resurrection [Resurrectionists], which makes this faith-sharing resource available without cost. To read the full issue, or some of our recent back issues, please visit:

http://resurrectionists.ca/celebrating-the-word

03 – March 12, 2017

 

1st Sunday in Lent

By Br. John Cline, C.R.

The Genesis authors (first reading) did not name the man or woman in the story of creation (the word “Adam,” related to the Hebrew word for the soil, is probably meant to suggest “everyone.”). Without a name, blame for the evils of the world cannot be assigned to a long-ago and far-away Adam or Eve. Rather each one of us, on reading this account, has to answer for himself/herself. Adam’s story is our story. Nor should we press the role of Eve too much by making her more responsible than man for the entry of sin into the world: “Man and woman are jointly responsible for sin” insists Scripture commentator Patricia Sánchez (Celebration). Happily, we are not left alone in our loss and alienation. The God who creates and cares for humankind’s every need is also a God who forgives and redeems; the God who created humankind good and pure and in the divine image, is also a God who loves sinners, seeks them out and desires reconciliation.

Paul, in our second reading, describes how sin entered the world through one act: the lie of self-sufficiency (pride). That was the offence. And it would be righted by one act as well—a life of utter truth. That was the gift. Temptation is essentially an enticement to put our own desires and needs first. Resisting temptation, then, is really resisting self-centeredness. Like Jesus, we must choose instead to surrender ourselves to God who alone should be the center of our lives. To make any other choice is to choose a false god. This First Sunday of Lent poses this question: Do we serve god or God? The temptations the devil fed to Jesus were nothing other than delusions that we all dream of, in our longing for total independence. “Become your own food,” the devil says. Be self-sufficient. Display your power. But Jesus refuses. God alone will be his food. Our temptations are much the same as Jesus’ own. Hopefully so will be our responses.

Referring to the Gospel message, C. S. Lewis, literary historian, critic and novelist, suggests that good people know a great deal about temptation whereas bad people know very little. Only the good who try to resist temptation know its strength. “After all,” said Lewis, in his classic work Mere Christianity, “you find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down!” In yielding too quickly to temptation we never get the strength to deal with it because we don’t fight it. And because Jesus is the only one who never yielded to temptation, He is the only one who fully knows its meaning—the temptation to take care of His own needs … the temptation to test God’s love and care … and finally, the temptation to worldly power. We all face similar temptations in our lives, certainly not to the extent and intensity that Jesus did. Jesus has shown us, though, that God’s grace is sufficient to resist these temptations. The scene of the temptation, which opens the public life of Jesus, declares in the Gospels in a very forceful manner the great change in our lives that He introduces into the world by His work of redemption. Where the first man and woman fell, Christ, the new Head of humanity, triumphs over the power of Satan. The Gospel of the temptation heralds Christ’s victory in advance.

By appointing this Gospel for the beginning of Lent, the Church proclaims that this victory should be ours also. In us, as all around us, it is Christ’s temptation, Christ’s struggle, Christ’s victory which is prolonged; our effort is His and so is our strength; His will be our victory at Easter.

“‘Celebrating the Word’ is an apostolate of the Congregation of the Resurrection [Resurrectionists], which makes this faith-sharing resource available without cost. To read the full issue, or some of our recent back issues, please visit:

http://resurrectionists.ca/celebrating-the-word

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8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Fr. Frank X Reitzel, C.R.

Isaiah and Matthew marvellously affirm for us in graphic imagery God’s loving care for each one of us: “I will not forget you.” We are not “forgotten”. This profound image that God reveals through Isaiah – the love between a mother and her child – speaks volumes from our own experience as mothers, and as children. We know we are loved; there is an unconditional bond that exists between mother and child. So it is with God! But God goes one step further to say that even if the mother forgets (an impossibility!), “I will never forget you”. Of course, the frightening aspect of Satan stands in contrast with the gentle, loving Christ who brings peace and quiet and confidence. The Evil One would like to win us over to his side by instilling the fear in us that we are forgotten and unloved. This is his deceptive tool to separate us from God and His grace, by convincing us that we are not good enough. But God continues to say: “I will never forget you.”

The Second Reading, from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (4:1-5), speaks to us of our relationship with Christ. Paul tells us, as he told the Corinthians, that we are “servants of God … stewards of the mysteries of God”. This reality is acquired through God’s grace. To be His servant and steward implies that we acknowledge Him as our LEADER. The image of a “steward” is indeed deeply biblical, and rich in meaning. In the Church today, with the development of the theology of Stewardship, this takes on greater significance. We have been blessed. We have been gifted. God calls us to use well and wisely our time, talents, and treasure in the building up of the Kingdom. Thus with confidence we will be “found trustworthy” through our obedience and discipline. An army requires obedience and discipline. If we recognize Jesus as our Leader, we will be obedient to Him and willing to follow His discipline, in order to be truly His disciples: [discipline and disciple come from the root word in Latin, discipulus.] Our faithful service and stewardship give us the confidence reflected in Paul’s letter, that God is with us. We have nothing to fear.

In our gospel, Matthew (6:24-34), offers several possible themes. Jesus wants ALL that we have and are. He will not share us with the Evil One. We belong to Jesus through the grace of Baptism, and His grace is sufficient each and every day to live that life fully. St. Paul described so well the battle of good and evil when he wrote, “Put on God’s armour so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics.” (Ephesians 6:10-13). Our readings for this Sunday leave us secure that God is with us and that He WILL NOT FORGET US. It is fitting and truly reflects the battle between good and evil, the army of Jesus against that of Lucifer. We should be encouraged and strengthened by these inspired words of Scripture, assuring us of our victory over evil. We confidently profess in one of the responses at the Eucharist: “Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.”

This confidence is reflected throughout the gospel. Jesus knows our human needs: what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear”. He tells us to look at the birds of the sky, the wild flowers, and the grass of the field. His examples almost embarrass us to acknowledge that we indeed have nothing to worry about. He repeats, “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” Jesus asks us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” If we seek to do the Father’s will, as Jesus did, we will be blessed and saved. In our own personal lives grace and goodness will triumph.

“‘Celebrating the Word’ is an apostolate of the Congregation of the Resurrection [Resurrectionists], which makes this faith-sharing resource available without cost. To read the full issue, or some of our recent back issues, please visit:

http://resurrectionists.ca/celebrating-the-word

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7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Fr. Ray Reitzel, C.R.

The first reading from Leviticus reminds the children of Israel, “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God am holy!” They are holy because they have been set apart from other nations, “I am your God, and you are My people.” They are to give witness to the world of what happens when a people freely responds to the love of God. If the Israelites can refrain from having hate in their hearts, if they can renounce vengeance and grudges in relationships, if they can love their neighbours as themselves, then they will be like God, in all God’s holiness. They will be a living witness to the world of the blessings and life that come from the ways of forgiveness. In living this way, they will become more fully the image of God, who is described in the Responsorial Psalm 103 as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love”. All this is addressed in today’s Gospel.

Our second reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians reminds us, “You are God’s holy temple.” We are God’s holy temple, first because we have been created by God, made to His own image. Secondly, by Baptism we have “put on Jesus Christ,” a perfect image of the Father. But this image often becomes tarnished because we are too distracted by the wisdom, and “foolishness” of this world, and too often lose sight of the Wisdom of God, and God’s world.

Matthew’s Gospel today sounds foolish when Jesus teaches us “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other. Love your enemies and pray for them.”

‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ is an Old Testament teaching which has some merit in it.

Often when people seek revenge, they go overboard and do double the damage, and it keeps expanding. So the law allowed only equal retribution, and this was settled usually by a court of law.

Mahatma Gandhi retorted that if a society applied such a law literally; you would “end up with a toothless, blind society”.

He also is a perfect example of “turning the other cheek” rather than submitting to violence. This was well portrayed in the classic movie “Gandhi” when India was under the occupation of England. Gandhi always insisted on non-violence. There was the scene of the people lined up for many blocks, about 50 men wide, facing the British soldiers on horses with their batons. The front row of this huge line up was bludgeoned to the ground. These were carried off, and the next row was bludgeoned to the ground and they were dragged off. This went on for several days until the British finally relented. This was the beginning of their freedom in India. The people refused to meet violence with violence.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, in a homily on forgiveness (“Loving Your Enemies,” Alabama, November 17, 1957), insisted that forgiveness alone can stop the cycle of hurt and violence. King wrote, “Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, and toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. That is why we should love our enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. That’s why Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies,’ because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love, is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people, and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. So love your enemies.”

In loving and forgiving our enemies, we become more “God-like” or more “holy,” as God is holy. Why? The answer is because this is the essence of God, who continues to love and forgive us, no matter what our response. God cannot do otherwise. God continues to love and forgive, just as God continues to make the sun rise and shine on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

To love our enemies does not mean to like them, but to wish them well and pray for their conversion. We listen to the angels as they sang to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people of good will (God’s will)”. Many of our “enemies” are of “good will”.

Jesus, in asking us to give away our coat, and our cloak as well, reminds us of St. Francis of Assisi stripping off all his clothes in the public square and handing them to his father. He refused to be controlled by the riches of his family, and identified himself with the poor.

“‘Celebrating the Word’ is an apostolate of the Congregation of the Resurrection [Resurrectionists], which makes this faith-sharing resource available without cost. To read the full issue, or some of our recent back issues, please visit:

http://resurrectionists.ca/celebrating-the-word

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