today's other readings are Ezekiel 17: 22-24; Psalm 92; 2 Corinthians 5: 6-10 On one pilgrimage to the Holy Land, our group was privileged to visit the Mount of Precipice, which is located at the south end of Nazareth. At the edge of the Precipice is a tiny chapel which commemorates the story of how the people of Nazareth, enraged by Jesus’ claims as to who He was, tried to throw Him off the cliff of the mountain, but thankfully Jesus escaped their clutches. After we gathered to listen to St. Luke’s account of this story (4:29-30), our guide, Gideon, walked up to me with his hand outstretched. In his palm I could see a very tiny, but very bright yellow speck. He told me it was a mustard seed. Then he led me to a mustard shrub that grew nearby. It had to well over 8 feet tall, with its stem being at least 4 inches in circumference. The difference between its tiny beginning and its final result was startling. When Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed that grows into a mighty shrub, I a visual that I will never forget. Many of Jesus’ parables often starts them with the phrase, “The Kingdom of God is like …”, and then Jesus uses simple examples from the world of nature or ordinary, everyday events to illustrate it. Today, He uses the image of a farmer sewing, and then that of the mustard seed. Both examples start with something small and simple, but finishes with something that becomes very big. From these two parables we can deduce that the Kingdom of God is big. Very big. But where is it? Any ideas? Most would immediately say up there, up in heaven. Which is true. Heaven definitely is a big part of the Kingdom of God. There, God truly reigns. But where else? How about here? Here among us, here on earth. Do you ever think that here is also the Kingdom of God? It can be – and it is. Interestingly, all of Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom of God are not about what it’s like in heaven, but rather what it can be like here on earth. This happens whenever people acknowledge God’s kingship in their lives – and then when they respond to the offer of divine grace and live out their faith in their actions, words and thoughts. Now the thought of you and me helping make the Kingdom of God on earth a reality should make us pause and think. Me? I can be someone that helps to make the Kingdom of God grow and happen here on earth? That’s right. You can. By living your faith day after day. The little acts of kindness you do, praying, caring, loving, sharing. And you won’t be doing so alone. Others will as well. And all the while the Holy Spirit will be prodding you, nudging you along. Let me give you an example. Our parish youth ministry and the kids that have been part of it. Many started at Bible camp in their younger years. Then they got involved in our EDGE and Lifeteen programmes, and after that they become faith leaders for kids younger than them. It all started small, the kids for starters, and with the help of people who cared, giving of their time and talents and their faith in our youth ministry. And as the years passed, all the while the Holy Spirit was sprinkling them with some heavenly seasoning that we call grace. 9 years later I look at them and say, “Wow. Look what happened”. A little seed of a child has grown into something beautiful. And the Kingdom of God keeps growing. Where has the Kingdom of God been unfolding in your life? It’s often easier to notice it in others. But where is the Kingdom of God been growing in you? Are you a better person now than compared to 10 years ago? I hope so. Maybe you haven’t noticed the change, but hopefully others in your life have. With prayers and kind actions of faith, chances are you have grown as a person of God, and so has the Kingdom of God. Starting small – if the Kingdom of God can start with a mustard seed, or the simple act of a farmer sewing seeds, then the Kingdom of God can certainly grow within you. For you are far greater and far more complex and have far more potential than a mustard seed. So, start, and don’t worry, God will help with the growing.
today's readings are Hosea 11; Isaiah 12; Ephesians 3; and John 19: 31-37 Today the Universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and this day is also the World Day of Prayer for Priests. Today we also celebrate the opportunity to reopen for public masses, which we are doing with today's 9:30 am mass. On the website of the Archdiocese of Toronto you will find some helpful resources, including Cardinal Collins' Pastoral Letter to the people of the Archdiocese entitled Heart Speaks to Heart. Please go to Archdiocese of Toronto - Sacred Heart Jesus (archtoronto.org) to see the letter, videos, and prayers. As we celebrate our Saviour's Sacred Heart, I invite you to pray the traditional litany: Litany of the Sacred Heart "The Litany of the Sacred Heart was put in its present form by Leo XIII in 1899. At first sight, it can seem a bit strange, with a few unfamiliar images, such as 'Heart of Jesus, desire of the eternal hills, have mercy on us.' But we can truly be blessed if we pray this wondrous litany, a true treasure of Christian prayer, and discover the rich biblical meaning of its individual invocations... Like the Rosary, the litany is a repetitive prayer, and the repetition of 'Have mercy on us' after each line is, in fact, like our regularly repeating heartbeat, very calming: once we meditate on the references, it gives us insight into the love of God for us in Jesus, and it gives us serenity through the heartbeat of its repetitive pattern." - Cardinal Thomas Collins Lord, have mercy Lord, have mercyChrist, have mercy Christ, have mercyLord, have mercy Lord, have mercyGod our Father in heaven Have mercy on usGod the Son, Redeemer of the world Have mercy on usGod the Holy Spirit Have mercy on usHoly Trinity, one God Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, one with the eternal Word Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, infinite in majesty Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, holy temple of God Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, aflame with love for us Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, source of justice and love Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, full of goodness and love Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, wellspring of all virtue Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, worthy of all praise Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, treasure house of wisdom and knowledge Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, in whom there dwells the fullness of God Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, from whose fullness we have all received Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, desire of the eternal hills Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, patient and full of mercy Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, generous to all who turn to you Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, atonement for our sins Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, overwhelmed with insults Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, broken for our sins Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, obedient even to death Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, pierced by a lance Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, source of all consolation Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, our life and resurrection Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, victim for our sins Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, salvation of all who trust in you Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, hope of all who die in you Have mercy on usHeart of Jesus, delight of all the saints Have mercy on usLamb of God, you take away the sins of the world Have mercy on usLamb of God, you take away the sins of the world Have mercy on usLamb of God, you take away the sins of the world Have mercy on usJesus gentle and humble of heart,Touch our hearts and make them like your own. Let us pray:Father, we rejoice in the gifts of love we have received from the heart of Jesus, your Son. Open our hearts to share his life and continue to bless us with his love. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
today’s other readings are 2 Corinthians 3:15 – 4:6 and Psalm 85 One of my biggest fears as a priest is that I find myself in a position in which I am no longer in touch with the reality of the lives of the people I am called to serve, my parishioners, and hence my ministry becomes irrelevant. As we hear in our gospel, Jesus frequently criticized the scribes and Pharisees for their external conformity to keeping all the laws of the Jewish faith but at the same time lacking an internal conversion. Their righteous appearance and ritual perfection covered hearts stiff with pride and judgment, always on the lookout to point fingers at those who failed to do so. They would never murder, but they angrily dismissed people as ignorant fools; they did not commit adultery, but they lusted in their hearts. Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees for not admitting they needed God’s mercy as much as anyone. For refusing to acknowledge their human weaknesses and their need for God’s forgiveness, they had become hypocrites and ineffective leaders cut off from ordinary experience and the needs of their people. In many ways, they had become irrelevant. We all need to be truly honest with ourselves. We all need God’s never-ending forgiveness. You do. And just as importantly, I do. And may I never forget that.
today's other readings are 2 Corinthians 3: 4-11 and Psalm 99 Today's gospel passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount, which takes up chapters 5-7 of Matthew's gospel. Ff Jesus said all of this in one sitting, His listeners must have been quite attentive and patient. Now in this particular passage He speaks of not abolishing the law but fulfilling it. And He tells us not to break any of them. But hold on - Jesus was a master of breaking the laws - such as touching lepers before they were declared clean, frequently breaking the law to rest on the sabbath by performing countless miracles, and on and on. But He did so by carrying out the spirit of the law - to do so out of love. For in doing, He was imitating the example of His and Our Father, whose actions all flow from love. There are many laws in our Catholic faith that we are told to follow, such as refraining from meat particularly on the Fridays of Lent. But when I hear stories of people having an extravagant type of seafood on such Fridays, I question their priorities. For these Fridays are meant to be a day of fasting, not feasting. And we fast to remind ourselves of our reliance on God, of what we truly need in our lives, and to do so in solidarity with the poor. Most of all, we fast not because we are told to, but because went want to, and love provides the motivation to do so. Let us pray then that love be the motivations of all of our actions. And when we do so, we fulfill the law.
June 8, 2021. Dear parishioners: Yesterday, the Province of Ontario announced that we will move into Step 1 of the reopening roadmap this Friday, June 11th. The Step 1 process allows for places of worship to reopen to a maximum of 15% of capacity. Hence, this Friday, Nativity of Our Lord will be able to resume public masses with a maximum of 150 persons per mass. For our weekend masses of Saturday 5pm, Sunday 9am and Sunday 11:30am Masses, you will again need to register using the Eventbrite registration system (June 12/13 Weekend Mass Sign Up: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/nativity-weekend-masses-tickets-110003238648 ). For the following weekends you can register each Monday beginning at 10 am, by using the link for mass registration that will be on the homepage of the parish website. Please remember that registration closes 4 hours before each weekend mass. If you are attending a weekend mass, you will enter the church using the EAST entrance (facing the schoolyard). As before, all those attending must wear facial masks and sanitize their hands upon entry, and that you will be seated with the help of our welcoming ushers. The entrance will open 30 minutes before the start of mass. For our weekday masses, we will resume our regular weekday mass schedule starting this Friday the 11th. You will not need to register to attend any of the weekday masses. As before, all attending will use the WEST entrance (facing the grass field). As per the weekend masses, all attending will need to wear facial masks, sanitize their hands and be seated with the help of our welcoming ushers. The entrance will open 30 minutes before the start of mass. We will continue to livestream a Sunday Mass alternating between the 9am and 11:30am Mass, but please note that we will no longer livestream our weekday masses starting Monday, June 14th. Together with our parish staff, I thank and bless all of you for your prayers and support of our parish. I look forward to seeing you in these coming weeks! Peace and prayers, Fr. Michael Machacek.
Nativity Summer Day Camp is for kids currently in grade 1 to 5. This year, we will be maintaining smaller cohorts with our half day programming, primarily outside. It's "not just a summer camp"; we're incorporating our Catholic faith safely with fun sports, games, crafts, and more! Please see our website for our COVID protocols, details and registration link. Spaces are very limited so be sure to register early! To Register: https://www.nativityym.com/summer-camp Camp Sessions Week 1: July 12-16, 2021 AM: 9am-12pm PM: 1:30pm-4:30pm Week 2: July 19-23, 2021 AM: 9am-12pm PM: 1:30pm-4:30pm Cost for 2021: $60/Week (Tshirt and activity supplies included) If you have any questions, contact Courtney: firstname.lastname@example.org
today's readings are Exodus 24: 3-8; Psalm 116; Hebrews 9: 11-15; Mk. 14: 12-16, 22-26 When I was studying at St. Augustine’s Seminary in Scarborough, a highlight of each year took place on a Wednesday evening in the fall term. On that evening each seminarian who had spent the previous year on their pastoral placement would give a brief verbal report on his year living and working in a parish of his particular diocese. As much as I enjoyed hearing these various reports, undoubtedly the one report I will always remember was given by Ralph McRae, who had spent his year in a parish in his home Diocese of Saint John, New Brunswick. That year one of Ralph’s duties was to prepare 25 Grade 2 children for their 1st Reconciliation and 1st Communion. At one class, Ralph was trying to explain to the kids the concept that we Catholics believe and celebrate on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, that the bread and wine used at mass, will, through the power of the Holy Spirit, become the body and blood of Christ. In his presentation, Ralph held up an unconsecrated host to the children and said, “When Father asks the Holy Spirit to come down on the bread and wine, we believe that this host becomes Jesus’ body”. Just then a girl held up her hand, looked Ralph straight in the eye and asked, “Do you believe that?” Ralph was stunned by the question. He stood there for about 10 seconds before he said, “Yes, I do.” The little girl looked at him and said, “Okay”. Ralph told us that when the girl asked her question, for the first time in his life he was really forced to examine his belief in the eucharist. Yes, he had always believed that the consecrated host was the body of Christ – but that girl’s question forced him to go to a deeper level of belief – and as a result his love and devotion for the eucharist became stronger. My people, that girl’s question on this Corpus Christi can be directed at you and me – do you today truly believe that at mass we receive the Body of Christ? I can tell you that we do, your parents and teachers taught you that we do, the Church has taught for 2000 years that we do, and Jesus Himself in the gospels tells us that we do – but do you truly believe it? Let’s take a look at an unconsecrated host. What do you see? Well, it is pretty non-descript. It’s flat, it’s thin, it has an off-white colour, there’s a cross imprinted in the middle, and as for its taste, well it has little taste. But this is what God chooses to become Jesus’ body – and consider this – if God can take something as simple as this and then change it into the Body of Christ, just imagine what would happen to us if we truly let God act within us. What changes would happen to you and me! And trust me, God does try to act within us – the problem is, a lot of times we don’t cooperate. One way that God definitely acts within us is through our receiving communion. After all, we are receiving Jesus. And not “sort of” Jesus, not “kind of” Jesus, not symbolically Jesus, but Jesus Himself. And if we are receiving it with faith and reverence, then something should happen within us when we receive it. Like getting a little stronger in our faith, a little more sincere in the practice of our faith. For receiving it should make a difference within us. That’s why we are called to receive it again and again, wo we can become better persons, and live out our faith day after day. By the way, do you realize that each time you receive holy communion you make a statement of faith? You do. And you do so with just one word – Amen. Amen is a Hebrew word that literally translated means, “Yes, I believe, it is true”. When I hold up the host in front of you and say, “The Body of Christ”, I am making my statement of faith. You in turn make your statement of faith when you say, “Amen” – yes I believe, it is true. So the next time you receive holy communion keep that in mind. Say that Amen with conviction. Mean it. And believe it. I’d like to share another story that happened to a priest I know named Fr. Jerome Machar. This story nicely sums up what we believe and are celebrating this Corpus Christi. One Sunday, while Fr. Jerome was distributing holy communion, a young Mom and her 4 year old daughter came forward. Fr. Jerome first blessed the girl and then held up the host to the mother, saying, “The Body of Christ”. Just then the girl burst into a big smile, pointed at the host and said, “Jesus”. And to that story we say, “Amen”.
Statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto re Discovery of Children’s Remains at the former Kamloops Residential School June 3, 2021 “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.” (1 Cor 12:26) In recent days, the country has been shocked, saddened and angered by the discovery of the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves who attended a residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. We pray for the children who died in Kamloops and in residential schools throughout the country – they must not be forgotten. We must also recognize the betrayal of trust by many Catholic leaders who were responsible for operating residential schools, abandoning their obligation to care for young and innocent children. We all seek the truth and this tragic discovery provides yet another opportunity for us to learn more about this dark chapter in our history and the painful journey experienced by so many of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. There is much more work to be done. Since the 1990’s, many of the Catholic entities responsible for the operation of residential schools have apologized publicly for their actions and have journeyed together with victims on the path to truth and reconciliation. This includes the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the religious order that operated the residential school in Kamloops, which over the weekend again apologized for its role in the residential school system. Pope Benedict XVI also had the chance to meet with Indigenous leaders in 2009 to personally express his sorrow and anguish. These actions do not erase our history; they acknowledge our past, force us to face the consequences of our behaviour and compel us to ensure that our sins are not repeated. While the Archdiocese of Toronto did not operate residential schools, we join with the Indigenous peoples, the Catholic community and Canadians from coast to coast to coast in a period of collective grief for those who are physically, emotionally and spiritually wounded. This Sunday, I will offer Mass for those who died or were abused at residential schools and for all those who deal with the intergenerational trauma caused by this system. We must also continue to build on the tangible initiatives present throughout the country, like the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle, where bishops and priests, women religious, laity and Indigenous peoples are committed to walking together on a path to reconciliation. As I have stated previously when speaking of abuse in the Church, the real scandal is when evil festers in the darkness. Once in the open, evil can be rooted out. That must happen. Then new life can begin. Let us journey together to find light through the darkness once again. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us. Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto. For further resources, please go the the link below, and then scroll down to find the links to the statements of apologies made by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as resources from the CCCB. You will also find an informative FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. Archdiocese of Toronto - Statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto re Discovery of Children’s Remains at former Kamloops Residential School (archtoronto.org)
today's other readings are from Tobit and Psalm 128 What prompts our decision to follow the Lord and practice our Catholic faith? It may be the a deep seated sense that this is the right thing to do and what I need to do. It may be because this was how I was raised. And you can add your own reasons. And once you have committed yourself to doing so, what is it you need to do? Well, every faith provides basic rules and guidelines to follow. In our gospel, we hear of the ultimate rules or laws that form the basis of all other laws: To love your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love your neighbour as yourself. The question that is asked today, what is the greatest of the commandments, is asked within a Jewish context. But as Catholic Christians, who have our own multitude of laws and duties to follow and fulfil, the two laws outlined by Jesus are also the foundation of all of our laws. If you ever find yourself in a spiritual slump, the greatest advice one could get is to return back to the fundamentals - Love God completely, and love your neighbour as yourself. Doing so will help to get you back on track.
today's other readings are Tobit 3 and Psalm 25 It is not hard to see the link between the second half of our 1st reading and our gospel. We first hear of the story of Sarah, who has been married 7 times but each time, on her wedding night, the demon Asmodeus kills her new husband. In our gospel we hear of the Sadducees approaching Jesus with a similiar story, trying to trip Him up to recognize that there can be no resurrection of the dead. Jesus counters this story by showing the Sadducees that the very sources of the Law that they cherish so much - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and for that matter, Moses-- are alive because God, Yahweh, claims them as their God (see Exodus 3: 1-6). He is the God not of the dead but of the living. The Sadducees, who assume they know God and the Law better than anyone else, have failed to understand that Scriptural passage from Exodus. Jesus' words to them is a warning that when each one of them would die, they would encounter a living God. This story reminds of me of the many people I havve encountered who have no time for organized religion or for that matter, for the notion of any sort of Deity. I like to ask them, so what do you think will happen to you when you die? The common answer I get is nothing - nothing will happen. Which then leads to a discussion, sometimes a bit heated. In the end, my final comment is "Well, be prepared for a shock when your time comes". For we believe in a God, and we know that our God, is the God of the living.