today's other readings are Heb. 4: 1-5, 11 and Psalm 78 Today's gospel is a favourite of mine. One particular joy of this story is that it is a perfect example of the benefits of using the Ignatian method of prayer, in which you place yourself into the story. Using your God-given imagination and 5 senses you are blessed with, you are there, watching, listening, being attentive as the story unfolds. So you picture the crowded house, jammed with people, straining to see and hear what Jesus is doing and saying. You notice the commotion outside of others who can't get in. And then, continue to let the story unfold. Allow me to share 2 of the many things that strike me as I enter into this story. When the 4 men get up to the roof with the paralyzed man, I notice the homeowner getting irate and yelling - he asks Jesus to get them to stop. Jesus just waives him away. He's curious about what is going on. The second: when Jesus initially forgives the man of his sins, I can just the four others saying to themselves, "That's great. But for all that we went through to get him here, can you do something about his paralysis?" Which of course, He soon does. After I finish with the story, now I step back out of the scene. One thing that occurs to me is that Jesus first forgives the man's sins, and then He heals him. Think about that for a moment. What is He telling us? That the forgiveness of sins is first and foremost the greatest form of healing we can ever get. And while healing miracles certainly do get our attention, it is the forgiveness of sins that seems to be most important to our God. As a priest, then, it is only natural for me to ask, and long before the pandemic started, "So why are so wanting to receive the greatest healing of all? Why are so few coming to confession?"
Sign up to attend one of our Communion Services on the weekend to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. Sign up here During this time of pandemic and lockdown, dispensation from your Sunday obligation remains. Those who are symptomatic, have a compromised immune system or are at a greater risk of infection, should remain home. Please only register for ONE time slot per weekend. Registration for the following weekend will be made available every Monday at 10:00 AM and conclude on the Friday at noon. Please note the following: Arrive 5 minutes before your scheduled time-slot at the West Side Entrance- double doors to the Parish Hall. We will not be able to accommodate latecomers. Bring your printed ticket or have the ticket available on your cell phone to present upon arrival. Adherence to all Covid-19 protocols is mandatory, including wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing and sanitizing your hands. If you are no longer able to attend, please cancel your registration through Eventbrite.
today's other readings are Heb. 3: 7-14 and Psalm 95 Cleansing and healing. Those words come to my mind as I reflect upon our gospel for today. A leper comes to Jesus and asks to be made clean, to be healed. Moved with pity, Jesus responds to the man's heart-felt request. And the man is now healed. Where do we encounter healing in our own lives? it could be through any form of medical intervention. It could be through the cleansing we received with our baptism, when we went to confession, when we received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. Healing can happen in a poignant, heart to conversation with a spouse or sibling or close friend when an important matter is discussed and forgiveness is given and received. There is even the natural healing that takes place in our bodies when a cut turns into a scab and eventually disappears. Healing takes place in so many circumstances of our lives. A question that comes to my mind is, what happens after the healing? For our leper, he goes and shares the fact that he has been cleansed and subsequently can take back his place in the community. But we never hear about him after that. Did he become a follower of Jesus? Did he reconnect with his family? What kind of work did he take up? Did he maintain that sense of gratitude in the way he lived the rest of his life? Think of the many times that you were healed. Were you any different afterwards? If yes, how were you different? If no, why not? Did you thank the one who healed you, and especially, did you thank God?
Today's other readings are Heb. 2: 14-18 and Psalm 105 In today's gospel, after a busy day of healing, including Peter's mother-in-law, we read that the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus went off to a deserted place, and there He prayed. He prayed. I have always wondered, why did He pray? After all, He was the Son of God. But in His earthly life, He was man - flesh and blood like you and me, like us in all things but sin. To that question then, maybe the answer is He prayed for the strength and courage for what would unfold for Him that coming day. Or maybe He prayed for all those He had just healed - that they would now live lives of gratitude and faith in thanksgiving to God for what he had done for them. Or maybe He prayed for the first disciples that He had just recruited, people like Peter and Andrew and James and John, that their hearts and minds would remain open and true to the presence of the Holy One in their midst. Or maybe He prayed for all those things I have mentioned, and for other things as well. In any case, He prayed. So if He prayed, what about us? What is our prayer life like - do we take to time to pray? As one priest said in a homily I heard many years ago, if He prayed, then how could we not do the same?
today's readings are Hebrews 2: 5-12; Psalm 8; Mk. 1: 21-28 St. Marguerite's life is one of persistence and faith. Born in Troyes, France, she grew up in a middle class family, the seventh of 13 children. At the age of 20, Marguerite felt the call to serve the Lord during a procession of Our Lady of the Rosary. Working with the sodality of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, in the year 1653 Marguerite accepted the invitation of the Governor of Ville-Marie (now Montreal) to come to New France to found a school in Ville-Marie. Once there, Marguerite quickly got to work. She founded the first church of Montreal, The chapel of Our Lady of Good Hope (Bonsecours) as well as its first school. With the arrival of the Filles du Roi, beginning in 1663, the Marguerite and her fellow sisters built a residence for these young women who had been recruited to come to New France to marry and through their children expand the population of New France. The Bishop of New France was not happy with the idea of a group of uncloistered nuns, who lived with and amongst the people, and he tried to ensure that they were cloistered. Marguerite travelled back to France were she obtained letters patent from King Louis XIV to ensure that the congregation could be a group of secular nuns. In her final years Marguerite ceded leadership of the sisters in Montreal, and died on this day in 1700. The day after her death, a priest wrote, "If saints were canonized as in the past by the voice of the people and of the clergy, tomorrow we would be saying the Mass of Saint Marguerite of Canada." In 1982, Marguerite was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II. Her legacy of caring for and educating people continues on in the work of the sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame which has had such a presence in Canada. St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, pray for us!
the other readings for today are Psalm 97 and Mk. 1: 14-20 As we enter into the Season of Ordinary Time - the first part of which goes from the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord until Ash Wednesday, and the 2nd part going from the day after Pentecost until the 1st Sunday of Advent - our first reading today features the opening verses of the Letter to the Hebrews. The author of this letter is unknown, and scripture scholars still debate whether it was written for Gentile Christians or Christians of Jewish origin. In any case, this letter's literary style is quite distinguished, with author switching back and forth between doctrinal teaching and moral exhortation as the letter unfolds. In the first 4 verses of the letter, the author opens with a reflection on the climax of God's revelation to us in His Son. In the past, God communicated to us through the prophets and the patriarchs such as Abraham and Moses. But now, God fully communicates Himself to us in the Son, Jesus Christ. For Christ is the perfect and exact representation of the Father - including the creative Divine power - who enters our world to destroy the power of sin. After doing so, He returns to heaven and takes His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Finally, He is far greater than the angels who also had a role in communicating the will of God to us. The Letter to the Hebrews can be quite complex at times, but I urge you, dear reader, to persist in reading it. For it gives us further insights into the role of Jesus Christ, and God's never-ending desire for our salvation.
Baptism of the Lord B Mk 1: 7-11 Throughout the world this Sunday, the universal church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This feast marks the conclusion of the Season of Christmas, which also explains, in case you were wondering, why our Christmas decorations are still up this weekend. The Christmas season is the shortest season of the church calendar, with almost all of the celebrations focused on the birth of Jesus and His first few weeks after – but today we fast forward 30 years when He is baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. So, why does the Church make this event the end of the Christmas season? How does this fit in? The coming of Christ into this world, which we call the Incarnation, was a blessed event. It gave us the ultimate assurance that God is truly with us. But that story did not happen in an instant – rather, it was a slow process. It wasn’t as though Jesus was born and before anyone knew it, He was out there healing and teaching and preaching. No. A lot of things had to happen beforehand, a lot of years had to pass. We know from the gospels that after His birth Jesus was presented in the Temple in Jerusalem. Under the care of His mother and stepfather, the family had to flee to Egypt for a few years to escape the clutches of the evil King Herod. The Holy Family were then able to return to Israel and they settled in Nazareth. At the age of ten He and His family went to Jerusalem for a celebration and there He was separated from His parents until He was found in the Temple in Jerusalem. Finally, when He is 30, He is baptized – and now He is, so to speak, formally presented to the world by God the Father. It’s kind of like the quinceanera celebration in Mexico for 15 year old girls, or the “debut” celebration for girls from the Philippines who turn 18. But Jesus’ baptism wasn’t just His formal introduction to the world, it was also the beginning of His getting involved in the world. Up until then Jesus had led a quiet life, growing up under the care of His mother, and learning the carpentry trade from His stepfather. He worked, He played, He hung out with His friends – it must have been a lovely, quiet, uncomplicated life. But His life changed dramatically with His baptism. Until that moment, Jesus was just some guy from Nazareth, hardly anyone knew anything about Him. But now the game was up. As soon as He climbed out of the Jordan River, God the Father got so excited, He shouted through all the heavens: “You see Him? That’s my boy! Isn’t He great? Just watch and see what my Son is going to do!” With His cover blown by the Father, Jesus realizes that it was time to get to work. And that is exactly what He does. He preaches, teaches, heals, and recruits followers – for 3 years. His work culminates with His saving Passion, death and resurrection. All that happened once he was baptized. You and I were baptized too. And when we were baptized, as our lit baptism candle was held in front of us by our godparents, we were told by the priest or Deacon who baptized us that we were called to be a child of the light. How do you be a child of the light? By being someone who gets very involved in life – your own life, and the life of all the other people God places in your life. What does the child of light do? The child of light lives out their faith and shares their faith, day after day. God doesn’t need any more baptized bystanders and spectators. Sadly, He’s got plenty of those already. Before the pandemic sports arenas and stadiums would be filled with spectators. While those spectators are there to cheer on their team, in the end, what do they really do? They watch. No, what He needs are players. He needs us to us be players who are children of the light – people who love the faith, live the faith and share the faith. Have you been a child of light? If yes, thank you. Keep doing so. If the answer is not really, well, there still is time to get with the programme. Again, God doesn’t need any more baptized spectators. What God needs is for you and me to be children of the light.
Many of you may have heard that Marie, who was our longtime secretary at Nativity until her retirement 4 years ago, passed away on Sunday, January 3rd, 2021. Please join us on January 13 at 10:30am for her Funeral Service at Nativity of Our Lord Parish via Livestream: https://youtu.be/RyqMKUi_ZJY For so many years Marie was the first face people encountered when they came here. Her love and devotion to our faith, our parish, and her family was exemplary. When I spoke with her husband Sito, I shared with him that I firmly believe that she will hear that wonderful phrase from Matthew 25 when she gets to the Pearly Gates of Heaven - "Well done, good and faithful servant." Marie, well done. May you rest in peace. - Fr. Michael
Today's other readings are 1 John 5: 5-13; and Psalm 147 In his reflection on today's gospel from FaithND, Adam Whittaker shares a saying of St. Augustine that I had not heard before: “God provides the wind, man must raise the sail.” This phrase is particularly appropriate for this story. Leprosy, more properly known as Hansen's disease, has been a disease that has plagued humanity for a very long time. While is extremely rare in Canada (fewer than 100 cases per year), it can last several years or be lifelong, and quite dangerous if left untreated. It is transmitted through airborne exposure. This disease was quite prevalent in the Holy Land. So much so that in both the Book of Leviticus and the Book of Numbers we read the various laws of exclusion that prevented lepers from being in any contact with healthy people. Any leper was sentenced to a permanent exclusion from family, friends and any settlement. if somehow they were healed, they would first have to go the priests who would examine them and then lift the exclusion sanctions they had faced. With this background, we can see that there a few things about this gospel that quite shocking. First, that this leper has entered a city. It was a tremendous risk, as people would see him and possibly even stone him. And then he comes up to Jesus. Lepers could only address people from afar. But he comes up close to Jesus, and he places his request: Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean. He does so not knowing how Jesus will react to his presence, and in his request, he places himself a position of great humility - he puts all his reliance on someone he has never met before. The miracle happens, and the man is then instructed to go to the priests for the lifting of the sanctions against him. Somehow, this man realized that Jesus, the Son of God, was the source of healing. Jesus is the one who provides the wind, in this case, the wind of healing of St. Augustine's saying above. But the leper also had to raise the sail - in this case, risk stoning and or acts of violence by the townspeople present to come to Jesus and place his request. A question for you and I to consider - how far will we go, what are willing to risk to place ourselves before the feet of our God?
Today's readings are 1 John 4: 19- 5: 4; Psalm 72; and Luke 4: 14-22a A man who loved God and loved others. A man whose original name was Alfred. Born in a village in Quebec in 1845. Sickly, small, he was orphaned at the age of 12. Eventually he tried gaining employment in New England, but soon returned to Quebec. Back in his hometown, his village priest noticed Alfred's great faith, and sent him to the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Montreal with an introductory letter simply stating, "I am sending you a saint". It was there that he was given his religious name, Andre. This tiny man, virtually illiterate upon arrival in Montreal, soon became a spiritual giant. Assigned to be a porter at the College Notre-Dame, he not only answered the door, but welcomed the sick and the afflicted, praying with them and anointing them with oil that had been placed in front of a statue of St. Joseph. Word soon spread. The poor, the rich, the famous, the afflicted all came his way - for prayer, for counselling and for healing. Many miracles occurred, but Brother Andre always gave credit to the intercession of St. Joseph for these miracles. Under his guidance a small chapel in honour of St. Joseph was built on the northwest side of Mount Royal, and soon work began on a giant basilica that we now call St. Joseph's Oratory began. When Brother Andre died on January 6, 1937, a million people came to view his body before his funeral. St. Andre is the patron saint of family caregivers, and the story of his life and faith have inspired tens of millions of Canadians and Americans. And I am one of the many who has a deep devotion to him. St. Andre, pray for us! I would be reticent if I did not share my horror and dismay at what happened yesterday in Washington. My dear readers, our neighbours to the south need our prayers - for healing, for peace, and for civility. In our prayers for the United States, let us also call upon the intercessions of St. Andre, that great healer of soul and body, as well as the intercessions of such great American saints as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Mother Cabrini, and St. John Neumann. Lord, hear our prayers!