today's other readings are Psalm 66 and John 6: 44-51 In our parish pilgrimages to the Holy Land, every once in a while one would see some Israeli soldiers of East African origin. They are Jewish, but either they or their parents came from Ethiopia, and had been airlifted by the Israeli government in the last 2 decades of the 20th century to come and live in Israel. These Ethiopian Jews are known as Falashas, and trace their roots back to King Melenik I, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of the Old Testament. Memories of the Falashas we would encounter comes to my mind when we read today's first reading of the encounter between the deacon Philip and the Ethiopian court official who had come to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple. In this reading the court official is riding back home in a chariot after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Dear readers, please do consider how long a journey it would have been. We are not talking about a few days, but at least a month. Obviously this official is a man of faith. In fact, when Philip encounters him, he is reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. Now Philip begins to teach him. And he must have done a great job for the man now wishes to be baptized. But I admire Philip's methodology of teaching. He takes something that the official is familiar with and then uses it to evangelize. This methodology has been widely imitated over the centuries by Christian missionaries. For those who are missionaries, let us pray for them as they, just like Philip, share the good news of Jesus Christ with all they encounter.
today's other readings are Acts 8: 1-8 and Psalm 66 Wanting. Needing. Doing. Those 3 words come to mind as I reflect on the last half of today's gospel. Jesus tells us that He came down from heaven, not to do His will, but the will the Father. One thought that comes to my mind is why would He ever think of not doing what was in line with the Father's will? Maybe this statement is made for His listeners - that He is fully in line with the Father, and as he frequently will state in John's gospel, that He and the Father is One. But the people need to hear this. The people need to know that He is the living presence of God on earth. What He wants to do, what He needs to do, and what He does do is in perfect alignment with the will of the Father. And the will of the Father is that we should be saved. Another happy truth for us to ponder this Easter season.
today's other readings are Acts 7: 51-8:1a and Psalm 31 At this point in the season of Easter the gospel passages are being taken from John 6, the famous "Bread of Life discourse". in today's passage has echoes of the frequent number of times in the Exodus experience of the Israelites that they asked for signs from Moses of the presence of God in their midst, and these signs focus on their need to be fed. Jesus reminds them that the manna that they received did not come from Moses but from God. And now they are being offered the true bread from heaven, Jesus Himself. For He is the bread of life, and as He assures us, those who come to Him will no hunger or thirst. Now that we are in another shutdown, and we cannot celebrate public masses, we can we do to ensure that the faithful have the opportunity to receive the Bread of Life? Cardinal Collins has provided parishes of a creative way to do so, through his permission for parishes to hold breif Communion Services on Saturday afternoons and Sunday. We did so during the last shutdown and I was gratified how many of you came for these services, which would last only 8-9 minutes and would include prayers, the Sunday gospel, and the opportunity to receive Holy Communion from the tabernacle. I recognize that in no way are these services meant to be a replacement for the mass. For Mass can never be replaced. But in these challenging times, you have the opportunity to come to the church, with a maximum of 9 people per service, with safe distancing, and to hear the Sunday gospel proclaimed and be fed with this precious gift of our Lord. I encourage you to do so by registering by Friday at 2 pm at the latest. Please click on the post Communion Services on the homepage of this website or click here Nativity of Our Lord (myparish.org)
today's readings are Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 2: 1-5; Luke 24: 35-48 There is a common element in each of our 3 readings that brings back memories of the second parish I served in, Epiphany of Our Lord in Scarborough. At that time in the mid 1990s the parish was at least 50% Italian - Canadian. For me, my time there proved to be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the culture and language of Italy, where my maternal grandparents had come to Canada from over 90 years ago. Upon my arrival I was quickly exposed to a very unique part of the Italian culture, the Italian mother. The role of the mama in an Italian family has a multitude of responsibilities, many of which I was already aware of. But there was another I only learned about by sitting in the confessional box. For it was in the confessional that that not all, but more than a few felt it was their responsibility to confess not only their sins, but also the sins of their children, particularly their sons. When it was time to confess the sins of their sons, I noticed a pattern. They would start by telling me what a good boy he was and how much he loved his mama. However, these warm and loving thoughts would inevitably end with a very important word - “but”. I soon realized that the “but” and what followed would give me a complete l picture of the son. For as they would list their son’s sins, I would see that as they say, there was much room for improvement. In our 3 readings today, while the word “but” may not always appear, it is very much present, for each reading makes a rather important statement followed by a kind of “but” clarification, a clarification that gives a fuller understanding of the point being made. In our first reading, Peter tells the people they acted out of ignorance in their choice to kill the Author of Life. Well, that’s kind of comforting. It seems to soften the blame a little. However, then comes the “but” – Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out. In other words, you need to change – you need to turn to God. Okay. In our second reading John tells us that if anyone sins, good news, you have an advocate, an intercessor, Jesus, who will make things right. Perfect – Jesus is our “get out of jail” card. Then comes the “but” – But if we claim to be a Christian but do not follow the commandments, we are liars. Oops. In the gospel, Jesus reassures the disciples that He is truly risen from the dead. Praise God for that. Then comes the “but” – so it’s time for you to get to work - to go out and preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all the nations. Oh. St. John wrote that Jesus came into this world to save us (3:16). And Jesus did exactly that, through His death and resurrection. And as icing on the cake, He also gave us the sacrament of baptism to further ensure that you are saved. This sounds sweet – we’ve got it made. However, here’s the “but” to all of that – So don’t screw it up!! What can you do ensure that you don’t screw it up? St. Peter says do the right things, like repenting and turning to God when needed. Or as St. John says, for God’s sake, and your sake, obey those commandments! And while the Risen Jesus freely offers us eternal life, He reminds us, “But I need you to do you part – be that person of faith that I want you to be, be that model of faith to inspire others.” Do those things, and you’ll be fine. My friends, during the 50 days of the season of Easter we celebrate the reality of the resurrection of Christ and all that it means to us, and then we finish this season with that last great gift from our God, the Gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. God has been so good to us. And Jesus Christ has saved us. And then to help you along in this life we get the Holy Spirit to guide us. Think about all that – no wonder we need 50 days for the Easter season. A central message of Easter is that Jesus saved us. BUT – we have our part to play – like being true to the commandments, by seeking forgiveness when needed, by changing our ways as needed, and living out the faith day after day. Don’t say that you’ve been saved. Live like you’ve been saved.
April 17, 2021 My dear parishioners: Yesterday the provincial government announced further restrictions during this time of pandemic. The new measures directly impact places of worship as part of this extended stay-at-home order, and will be in place until at least May 20, 2021. As Cardinal Collins wrote in yesterday's letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto: Starting this Monday, April 19th, for all parishes, including Nativity, public Masses must be temporarily cancelled. Due to these measures, Priests are asked to celebrate private Mass daily for the intentions of parishioners and for those suffering from COVID. Parishes may also proceed with Holy Communion services on Saturday afternoon/evening or Sunday as in the past, if desired. Communion Services, weddings, funerals and baptisms are restricted to 10 persons, including those who are involved in ministry (priest, cantor, etc.). First Holy Communion, First Reconciliation and Confirmations should be postponed at this time. In light of these restrictions, I wish to share with all of you the following items for our parish community: 1) Starting next weekend, April 24/25, and for the following weekends of the shutdown, we will be holding brief Communion Services at 15 minute intervals on Saturdays beginning at 3 pm, through 5:15 pm. On Sundays, Communion Services will start at 11:15 am, through 12:45 pm. Registration for these services will take place through Eventbrite and will be posted each preceding Monday at 10 am, with registration closing on Friday at 2 pm. The Eventbrite registration link will be posted on our parish website this coming Monday. 2) Starting Sunday the 25th, we will livestream the Sunday mass at 10 am, with the link found on the homepage of our website. 3) Starting Tuesday the 20th, we will livestream weekday mass Tuesday through Friday each week at 9:30 am during the shutdown. The link for the each weekday's livestream will be found on the website homepage. 4) Further information, including news about our Confirmation and 1st Communion/Reconciliation programs, will be shared in the near future. Along with Cardinal Collins and my brother priests, I recognize the significant stress and anxiety that many people are feeling, as well as the frustration and spiritual pain inflicted by these restrictions over the past year. Our parish staff and I will do our best to continue to serve you during the shutdown. In the meantime, be assured of my prayers, and please continue to pray for all those who are sick and those caring for them. In Christ, Fr. Michael Machacek, Pastor, Nativity of Our Lord Parish.
Living the Gospel by providing for those in need Give a helping hand to those who need it most, right here at home. By donating to Sharelife, you help support over 40 agencies to serve the most vulnerable people in our community – regardless of their faith, age, or background. This weekend is the first of the 3 Sharelife Sundays, the other two being on the weekends of June 19/20, and October 2/3, 2021. By this point many of you would have received a mailing from Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, which contains an envelope for your donations as well as some basic information. To learn more about this year's campaign and the various agencies and people it supports, go to Homepage - ShareLife In the Sharelife website you can find the various ways you can donate online, by Pre Authorized Giving, Securities, and Bequests. You can also drop off your donations to the parish in an envelope marked "Sharelife" or use the one found in your mailing from the Cardinal. Any cheques should be marked "Sharelife - Nativity of Our Lord". I thank you and bless you for your support of this year's Sharelife campaign. Fr. Michael Machacek
today's other readings are Psalm 34 and John 3: 31-36 Truth engenders a variety of reactions. Upon hearing the truth, one may say, "Oh. I did not know that!" Or it may get one to pause and think and reconsider what they are doing. Or hearing the truth may cause one to ignore it because it seems insignificant or irrelevant to that person. The Council that hears the truth that the apostles preach in our first reading have another reaction. Anger. Anger that they apostles are continuing to preach when they have been told not to. But more than anything, anger about the content of the truth of the message that they share. The truth of Jesus' message also got a variety of reactions, many of which are described above. When you hear the truth of the message of Jesus Christ, what is your reaction?
today's other readings are Acts 5: 17-26 and Psalm 34 One of the most famous passages in the Gospels is featured in verse 16. So much so that sadly, it has been appropriated to publicize persons or events, including the retired professional wrestler, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who would wear a t-shirt to the ring stating "Austin 3:16". This verse is seemingly straight forward but at the same time, is profound. Yes, God did, and does, and will to continue to love the word He created. But this world had gone astray. So He sent His only Son, Jesus, into the world. But His task wasn't to condemn the world (although he certainly challenged it in countless ways) but to save it. Which He did through His saving Passion, death and resurrection. And for the 50 days of the season of Easter, we celebrate that reality. How great is our God.
Today’s other readings are Psalm 93 and John 3: 7b-15 Today’ reading from Acts presents to us an ideal vision of the early Christian community, where all that one possesses is given over so as to be shared with the community for the good of all. This model of community living became the forerunner and guiding example of the countless female and male religious communities of the Church, such as the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Jesuits. In the reading we are then introduced to another member of the community, a man named Joseph. He is from Cyprus and is a member of the tribe of Levi, the priestly clan of the Jewish faith at that time. He too has shared what he has, in this case, a piece of land, and placed the money at the feet of the apostles. But what is most interesting is that is that Joseph is now given a new name – Barnabas – which means “son of encouragement”. Very quickly the newly named Barnabas becomes a fundamental figure in the early church and become partners with Paul in the mission to the Gentiles. Tradition has it that Barnabas returned to his native island where eventually he gained a martyrs’ crown. The apostles obviously saw something in this man to give him such a name. For a person of encouragement is one who takes an upbeat attitude, always looking for the best in every situation, no matter how difficult, and is willing to help others along the way who may be struggling with weariness or discouragement. Have you had a daughter or son of encouragement be part of your life? If so, I would like you to say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for them. For they too are doing the work of God. They too have been an essential part of your development as a child of God.
today's other readings are Psalm 2 and John 3: 1-8 Today's 1st reading ends with a closing that brings a smile to my face. That when after the apostles and disciples prayed together, the place that they had gathered began to shake, "and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word with boldness". it is that very last phrase that I particularly smile about - it reminds me of Fr. Reg Whelan, the Pastor of Nativity from 1990-99, and the very Pastor I had the privilege of serving under after my ordination in 1991. Fr. Fr. Reg had no problems speaking the word with boldness. Fr. Reg was a powerful preacher, and he took this responsibility quite seriously. if it was his weekend to preach, he would spend hours in his room, praying, reflecting and writing. By the time the weekend arrived, he was ready to go. and how many times did I see him go! Pacing back and forth behind the pulpit, like a caged lion, arms waving, fingers pointing, and his voice so powerfully preaching the word of God. It was a treat - but it was most importantly and inspiration - and it inspired me then, and still does, to this day. Dear readers, please pray that all those entrusted by the Church with the crucial ministry of preaching. may we be as on fire with the Word of God as were the early leaders of the church, and as was Fr. Reg