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Sunday Missals & 2023 Donation Boxes- Now available to Pick up

If you ordered a Sunday Missal, it is now available for pick up at the back of both St Philips and St Clares. 2023 donation boxes are also available for pickup. If you still wish to order a missal, it is not too late! Order your Sunday Missals now – $5 each. Download the order form using this link. Please fill out this form, including payment, put it in an envelope ‘Attn:  Office’ and drop it in the weekend collection basket OR send it to the office by mail (127 Burke St., PO Box 59, Richmond, K0A 2Z0).  Please note that we are unable to provide tax receipts for this purchase.  Missals must be paid for in advance and will be available for pickup the weekend after we receive your order.

“Blessed Are You” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, January 29, 2023

Here’s what you might call a modern “beatitude”: “Blessed are the meek, for the shall inherit the earth – if that’s ok with everyone else”. 

Here’s another: ”Blessed are you when you have little stumbles, for they prevent big falls”. 

When Jesus presents the classic beatitudes to us in our gospel today, I wonder what reaction we have to them? For sure, they don’t fit our modern understanding of how the world works today – not many meek, gentle, merciful, pure-hearted peacemakers seem to make it to the top of their profession, or attain to the halls of power and wealth. I also wonder what the disciples of Jesus made of it, when they heard it? They were a diverse group of fishermen, tax collectors and what we would call today “terrorists”. I imagine them as a tough, rough no-nonsense group of men who did not suffer fools gladly, who understood their world, who knew what it took to survive and thrive in their world. I can see them shaking their heads at Jesus’ words and saying amongst themselves, “This  guy has no idea at all. No one can live like that and get very far in life.”

But in fact, we know that they did not react like that at all.

They sat spell-bound as Jesus , their teacher, spoke about God’s vision of the kingdom of heaven, and what He looks for in those who would enter that kingdom. And Jesus is telling them that they had a fair shot of getting into heaven, that God’s kingdom was not at all about front seats for the rich and the powerful and the privileged, with the rest nowhere, especially the poor, the broken, the disabled and despised.  That may have been the assumptions that their leaders, the scribes and Pharisees and chief priests operated from. … Read more...

“Jesus – The Light of the World” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, January 22, 2023

When the formidable US prison, Alcatraz, was closed down, the cleaners found, in one of the cells, a table with a note on it.

The note said: “If you meet me, and forget me, you lose nothing. But if you meet Jesus, and forget him, you lose everything.”  I sense that this is the year, brothers and sisters, when many of us will encounter Jesus in a whole new way, and it will be life-changing for us. Pope Francis has been writing throughout his pontificate of the absolutely vital need for each one of us to have a personal encounter, a personal relationship with the Person of Jesus Christ. He cannot remain just as some person from history to us, who we know about, but don’t really know

In our gospel today, we see that Peter and Andrew, James and John, have just such a personal encounter with Jesus, and it is electrifying. Such is his charisma, such his authority, that at his invitation, they leave their families and their work, and begin a whole new way of life. They are about to enter into the most exciting, dramatic, life-changing season of their lives. And nothing will ever be the same again for them, or for the world. They will be  part of the “Gang of Twelve” chosen by Jesus to be his apostles, and through them the message of Christ, the good news of divine breakthrough into the world will bring the light of salvation to a people who, in the words of our first reading, “lived and walked in deep darkness”. 

It is entirely because of God’s breakthrough into the world in the person of his only Son, Jesus, that you and I have hope for salvation through forgiveness of sins. If Christ had not come to earth, if he had not lived a fully human life and died a human death, and been raised from the dead, if the good news of his death and resurrection had not been preached throughout the world by his apostles and those who came after them, you and I, right now, would be on our way to “hell in a handbasket”.… Read more...

“Sinners, Called to be Saints” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, January 15, 2023

Every year, at the beginning of Ordinary Time, the Church gives us in our Mass readings, passages from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. You might think that this is because the Church of God in Corinth was a model Christian community, full of holiness and peace and love. But, in fact, this was far from the case. As we will see when we continue to read these passages over the next several Sundays, the Corinthians exhibited all kinds of unchristian behavior: quarrelling, divisiveness, jealousy, pride, even a case of incest that Paul singles out for instant excommunication (cf 1 Corinthians 5: 1-5).

Why, then, does the Church, in her wisdom, decide to give us such readings right at the beginning of the year? Because she wants to present to us a mirror, in which we can see our own shortcomings and failings, both individually as Catholic Christians and corporately as a Catholic Christian community. We are all, like the Corinthian Christians,” called to be saints “as Paul says in our second reading today. But all of us fall far, far short of this ideal. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” he says in his letter to the Romans. Even Paul himself has to admit that he is a sinner,” for I do not do the good that I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7: 19). This is not to lead us to despair, as if we were all hopeless cases, for we are all, nonetheless, “called to be saints”. But we have to face up to the fact that we are not yet fully saints, we are not yet made perfect. It is a grim truth we have all got to face about ourselves, and about our parish and, indeed, the whole Church of God.  We… Read more...

“Wise Men Still Seek Him” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, January 8, 2022

I can never hear this gospel story without shaking my head with wonder and disbelief. Here we have on the one hand, these pagan wise men visiting Christ in Jerusalem, having probably travelled for many months from as far away as Persia, which is what we call Iran today, and yet within a mere few miles of Jesus’ birthplace, the Jewish leaders can’t be bothered to even get off their backsides to go see for themselves the one they have been waiting for so long. They have the head-knowledge to be able to pinpoint for King Herod where the Messiah, the Savior of the people, was to be born, and yet they are willing to allow pagans to go instead of them to seek him out. Why?  They would have believed that the Messiah, was their Messiah, their savior, not the foreigners, and yet, and yet, they show no interest in getting ahead of these pagans to get to Jesus first. In fact, they seem to be perfectly willing to allow King Herod to send soldiers to kill this Savior of theirs, and massacre hundreds of other Jewish babies as well. True shepherds, as Jesus himself says in John’s gospel, are willing “to lay down their life for their sheep” (John 10:15). These shepherds, spiritual and pastoral leaders of the people of Israel, won’t lift a finger to save these poor lambs, these children, from destruction.

(By the way, we should not be swayed by those modern souls who want to claim that the whole “Massacre of the Innocents” by King Herod is too fantastic a tale to believe. King Herod ruled as King of Judah from 37 B.C. to his death in 4 B.C. Tyrannical and suspicious to the point of paranoia, he had all actual and presumed opposition eliminated, including his wife and several other members of his own family.… Read more...

“Mary, Did You Know?” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, January 2, 2022

When I visited England back at the end of October, I had the great opportunity to see my great-nephew, Alfie, who had just been born. It was interesting to see the deep bond forming between him and his mother, and his father. She held him close to her, and seemed to regard him as totally fragile, afraid to hand him over to anyone else, unless they were to drop him. I suspect every new mother feels that about their first-born, probably even Mary felt that about her child, Jesus. 

I had the chance to Zoom my family over the last week and wish them a happy Christmas. My great-nephew was amongst them, and it seemed that his mother no longer worried quite so much about him being dropped. She had begun to relax and settle into motherhood and enjoyed seeing her son bounced amongst different pairs of arms. Of course, when Alfie got upset for some reason and started to cry, back he went into his mother’s arms and she was miraculously able to calm him down in an instant. I got some fascinating insights into the bond between Mary and Jesus as I watched Alfie and his mother, and I imagine I will have many more rewarding moments like those. At least I hope so.

Of course, so many authors and composers have written and sung about this sacred bond between mother and child. We have been told stories about the fierce instinct that will lead a mother to lay down her life and take incredible risks to safeguard and protect the life of their child. I have shared a few times how, since I first came to Canada, in 1992-93, for a sabbatical year, then returned to England, then came back to Canada to live a few years after that, that every parish I have worked in has been dedicated to Mary.… Read more...