Fr Bob Writes – September 3 and 10, 2017

Fr Denny Dempsey comments on today’s Gospel:

In last week’s Gospel, Peter proclaims Jesus as the Messiah, not as the result of his mental acuity, but as a result of his seeking God’s guidance. That was what Jesus wanted most in the person to whom, more than anyone else, he would entrust his mission. Yet Peter had his moments when he neglected to seek God’s plan and trusted in his own human logic. Such was the case in this scene  as Peter tries to tell Jesus how his mission should unfold.

Jesus, sharing our human nature, would have liked the easier way out. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, he will pray that the cup be taken away if possible. Being the Messiah without the suffering and death was truly a temptation for him at this moment as it had been back in the days in the desert following his baptism. Satan had spoken directly with him at that time. Now the voice was that of his friend. Imagine the strength of the temptation for Jesus to call his friend a Satan and the pain in well-intentioned Peter on hearing these words directed at him. Yet such are we for one another when we give advice based on mere human logic rather than on discernment of God’s will.


On Saturday October 21 at 7 pm, St. Philip will present a Fall Concert featuring Graceote with their special guest Peter Dawson.  Gracenote is well-known in our area for their lively performances and never disappoint. Peter Dawson is a champion fiddler who will get your toes tapping as he shows off his award-winning fiddling. This will be a fabulous evening of music and song and all proceeds go towards our     Canopy Fund. Light refreshments will be served. In the parish hall. Tickets $15 per person in advance. Tickets & info: please email or call Peter at 613-762-5060.

Fr Bob Writes – August 27, 2017

“Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” 

In this sentence, quoted from our gospel this weekend, Peter expresses the full Christian understanding of the nature of Jesus.  It is important that it is Peter who states it, on behalf of the other apostles, because Peter will then be declared by Jesus to be “the Rock on which I will build my church.”  Jesus thereby declares what will be the fundamental role of every successor of Peter, whom we call the Pope, until the end of time.  We don’t necessarily look for great revelations from our popes, or great teachings, not even that they be models of extreme holiness. But what we require them to be is firm upholders of the Church’s belief that Jesus is indeed “the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.

So Peter is not commended for his intelligence or acute perception but, rather, his attention to God the Father.  This indicates that Peter sought the guidance of God in prayer, the most important quality which Jesus wanted in the person to whom he would entrust the leadership of his church.  A short while later, however, (Matthew 16:22), Peter will take Jesus aside and try to convince him that suffering and death are not necessary to complete his mission.  Jesus knows otherwise and calls Peter a “satan” or adversary.  Peter was capable of discerning the will of God in prayer, but had plenty of times when he neglected to pray and listened more to human reasoning.  Which side of Peter do we most often show in our own lives?

Fr Bob Writes – August 20, 2017

The story of the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman in this Sunday’s gospel at first looks as if Jesus is being misogynistic and racist.  But a closer look reveals that Jesus is being anything but.

Jesus has come to this place on the northernmost borders of Israel for some quiet retreat time with his apostles.  The woman crashes in uninvited into his personal space, and is shouting and demanding that Jesus responds to her need immediately.  She is being rude, albeit obviously desperate.  Jesus knows that he cannot respond to any and every demand on his time.  He is human, after all, and needs downtime, like all of us.  He has to set personal boundaries, again like all of us, to make sure he is not totally worn out all the time.  He also believes that the first step in evangelizing the world is to evangelize his own people, the Jews, who have been prepared for millenia to receive the Messiah.  Thus Jesus says, in answer to the disciples request to send the woman away, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.”  It is for his disciples after his ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to go out and evangelize the world (cf Acts 1:8).

The disciples want Jesus to give the woman what she wants and send her away; she is being a nuisance.  But Jesus will not be dismissive.  He wants to take the measure of this woman.  So he gives her audience, and meets her in a personal, face-to-face way, and allows her to stretch his boundaries in this particular case.  He is touched by her reverence when she comes into his presence, kneeling before him and simply pleading “Lord help me.”

Modern history indicates all too well the animosities which exist among people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds.  It was no difference in Jesus’ time.  Jews and Canaanites didn’t get along any better than Jews and Samaritans.  “Dogs!” they would call them.  Jesus makes reference to the derogatory term in his dealings with the woman.  Here we must go beyond the mere written word to imagine the way in which Jesus spoke the word.  The woman must have sensed from Jesus’ tone that he was not putting her down but inviting her to a bit of verbal sparring.  She understood and gave Jesus a great comeback statement.  Jesus, who in earlier conversations quoted in the gospels enjoyed such verbal interaction, applauded the woman’s persistence, wit and faith by healing her daughter.