Fr Bob Writes – February 1, 2015

The following comes from a commentary by Fr Denny Dempsey 

In our gospel this weekend, we note that Capernaum has become the headquarters of Jesus’ public ministry. A prominent fishing village on the Sea of Galilee with a population of around 1,500, Capernaum was also the home of five of Jesus’ apostles (Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew).

According to archaeological evidence, the town had a long breakwater (waves coming off the lake during big storms could reach eight feet in height) and several piers with moorings for fishing boats. Houses were constructed of black basalt rock commonly found in the region, roughly shaped if worked at all, built into walls using pebbles for leveling the stones, and mortared over with mud. An outside wall would be built enclosing a property and individual rooms constructed inside along the wall around courtyards where they cooked, cared for animals, and planted a few grapevines. Several related families might have lived in such a compound, forming several smaller courtyards and room arrangements within the larger outer wall. The house thought to be Peter’s house, based on archaeological evidence at the site run by Franciscans, was the second such compound in from the sea and breakwater. Simon’s mother-in-law lived there and whatever other family Peter had, including Andrew, as well as families of other relatives or partners in the fishing syndicate. Jesus took up residence there during his time in Capernaum.

The synagogue, the only building in the village from that period with shaped stones, was about 150 feet further up the same street that passed by Peter’s home. In the synagogue service, an official of the synagogue invited someone, usually a guest or noted person if present, to do the reading. That person would then be given the first word in saying what he thought the reading meant. The others present would then enter into the discussion, giving their opinions  on the passage’s meaning. Jewish men were accustomed to quote various rabbis when giving their interpretations. Jesus taught with “authority,” meaning he taught both with power and as the “author” of his interpretation of the meaning of the scripture. Jesus brought that same authority to his action in casting the evil spirit out of the man. Jesus, Son of God, is “author” of all good for us as he was that day in Capernaum.”

Fr. Bob’s Having a Birthday!

And we are celebrating the occasion with a wine and cheese reception in the St. Philip Parish Hall on Saturday, February 7th after the 4:30pm Mass.

Everyone is welcome!

Please join us and help celebrate Fr. Bob’s special day!

(We won’t spoil the fun by telling you how old he will be but it ends in a zero and the first number is between 5 and 7).

Fr Bob Writes – January 25, 2015

Last Sunday we heard about the call of Peter from the gospel of John. This week we read the better-known account from Mark. Herod Antipas had been tetrarch of Galilee since shortly after the death of his father, King Herod the Great, in 4 B.C. Building the city of Tiberias, the jewel on the Sea of Galilee, and maintaining a full retinue of government officials, soldiers and construction workers required a substantial income. Herod’s government licensed fishing rights on the Sea of Galilee to fishermen who partnered together to form a syndicate large enough to make purchase of the license feasible. For the best fishing techniques, two boats were needed for stretching the nets. Such boats were expensive, but business loans could be arranged with Herod’s government (a second source of income). Each day’s catch was also taxed according to the take (a third source of income).

Fishermen would need a minimum of eight workers to help with fishing each night and hire others for during the day when the boats were used to transport cargo and passengers around the lake. By keeping the boats busy all the time, they could make ends meet. It is possible that Peter was head of the syndicate and title holder of at least one of the boats. If that were the case, leaving the nets behind was more complex than pulling a little runabout up on the shore. Peter would have had to figure out how to keep the business going, pay expenses, take care of his workers, and delegate out responsibilities while he, his brother, Andrew, and friends James and John, dedicated their lives and much of their time to becoming disciples of Jesus.

The reality of how Peter would have had to organize his responsibilities with priority to following Jesus is a good example for us today who must learn to do the same, given the various responsibilities of our lives.

St. Philip TAC Meeting Agenda for January 20, 2015

The St. Philip Temporal Affairs Council (“TAC”) will hold its January meeting on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.

In keeping with the TAC’s desire for transparency and accountability to the parish community and to inform it of the issues the TAC deals with, a copy of the meeting agenda can be obtained by clicking here.

While the TAC does not make public its meeting minutes by publishing them to the parish website, parishioners wishing more information on any of the items raised in the meeting can contact either Fr. Bob or Pat McIver, TAC Chair.

Fr Bob Writes – January 18, 2015

“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3- first reading this Sunday)

Pope Francis said in a homily before he was elected pope: “God hears us. God, our Father, hears the cry of his people…He is not like the idols that have ears, but do not hear. He is not like the powerful who hear only what they want to hear. He hears everything, including the complaints and the anger of his children. He not only hears: he loves to listen! He loves to give us his attention and to hear about everything that is happening to us…He hears even our innermost thoughts. Today we come to pray for two special graces: the grace of “feeling heard” and the grace of “being ready to listen”…With Jesus, we want to learn to listen and to help our brothers and sisters.

Our Father hears our every cry of affliction, but he especially hears the cries of affliction that are the result of injustice, the injustice that is afflicted, so to speak, by the taskmasters of the pharaohs of this world. There is affliction, and there is sorrow. Wages that are withheld and the lack of employment are pains that cry out to heaven. The affliction that is the result of injustice cries out to heaven, because this is pain that can be avoided by being fair, by…favour to the needy, by creating jobs, by not stealing, by not lying, by not overcharging, by not taking advantage of people.

The Gospel passage on the Last Judgement (Matthew 25:31-46) also speaks to us about listening. The story of the separation of the sheep and goats is Jesus’ way of telling us that God has been attentive to mankind throughout history. He has been listening every time some poor, unfortunate individual has asked him for something. He has been listening every time a beggar has begged – albeit in a low voice that could hardly be heard- and every time one of his children has asked for help. Moreover, he will be judging us as to whether we have been attentive along with him. He will want to know if we have asked him to hear with his ears in order to know what our brothers and sisters are experiencing so we can help them, or if on the contrary, we have deafened our ears by putting on earphones so as not to hear anybody. He listens, and when he finds people whose ears are as attentive as his and who respond righteously, he blesses those people and gives them the gift of the kingdom of heaven.

Listening is a tremendous grace. We have to ask for the grace to learn to hear. To help people you first of all have to listen – listen to what is happening to them and to what they need. Let them talk and explain what they want. Don’t just look at them. Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Knowing how to listen is a tremendous grace. Indeed, our Father in heaven strongly recommends one thing, which is that we “listen to know Jesus, his Son” (Matt 17:5). Moreover, Jesus tells us that when we listen to our brothers and sisters, we listen to him…

Listening is not simply hearing. Listening is being attentive. Listening is the desire to understand, to value, to respect, and to save. We must find the means to listen attentively so that each person may speak, and so that we are aware of what each person wishes to say”

Open our ears, Lord, and teach us to LISTEN!!

Fr Bob Writes – January 11, 2015

Fr Bob writes : 2015 is the year of Mark. Throughout this year, the Ordinary Sundays will take us through the gospel of Mark from start to finish. Mark is the 1st century equivalent of the best seller writer. He is all about action. He leaves the descriptive details to the other gospel writers. Jesus in Mark’s gospel is primarily a man of action. His teachings are hardly ever given in detail.
So in today’s gospel passage , we move very quickly and directly from  John the Baptist’s sudden appearance on the public scene to the description of Jesus’ coming and his baptism. John simply sees himself as the “warm up act” for the main character , Jesus. Once Jesus is baptized, we never hear from John again, except to be told of his execution by  King Herod in chapter 6. As for Jesus, Mark quickly sketches in the main details of his role and identity by means of subtle allusions. When the heavens are torn apart over Jesus at his baptism, we are meant to recall Isaiah’s cry on behalf of the nation of Israel “Oh, that you would tear open the heavens and come down” (64:1) – a desperate plea that God would once more intervene in the history of the nation to save them, as he had done so often in the past. The “tearing open of the heavens” over Jesus is God’s answer to that cry, and his pointing to Jesus as being his chosen agent to bring salvation to his people.  The coming down of the Spirit recalls Psalm 104 ,”when you sent forth your Spirit we are created, and you renew the face of the earth”– Jesus is the one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit and thus initiate a new era of spiritual  renewal for  the world. This is effected in our lives by our baptism, which gifts us with the Holy Spirit.
The Father’s declaration over Jesus,  “You are my Son” recalls Psalm 2:7 where God promises that a king from David’s line would be adopted as his “son” and his “anointed one” (in Hebrew, messiah). . So Jesus is both The Son of God and Messiah. However, the rest of the sentence “the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased” recalls at the same time the words of Isaiah 42:1, which introduce us to a mysterious agent of God, the “servant of God” who, as his destiny is unfolded in future chapters of Isaiah ,is shown to carry out God’s purposes for the world by his death , which is presented as an atoning sacrifice for sins.(cf Isaiah 53:4-7) and is followed by the servant’s exaltation.
So, in a very few words, Mark reveals that Jesus is the Son of God, and also his Messiah (Savior) who will carry out God’s plan to save the world by his sacrificial death and resurrection. What words is God speaking over your life for your destiny and role in God’s plan of salvation ?