“Which Works of Mercy Are You Performing?” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, November 26, 2023

Our gospel today gives us a description of what are called, in Catholic tradition, the corporal works of mercy. These are a list of good works, especially to the poor and needy, which Catholics are called on to practice in their lives. As I said in my last two homilies, acts of mercy and kindness form part of the “oil” that we should have plenty of always in our “lamps”. In the gospel parable from two weeks ago, the five wise bridesmaids had plenty of this type of oil, the foolish ones didn’t. As a result, these latter were denied, in the parable, entrance into the marriage feast, which I said represented life in heaven.

In the gospel parable, from last week, Jesus warns that those who have gifts or talents are required to exercise them for others’ sake, and not hide them away. Again, Jesus does not mince words and says that those who bury their gifts, will be dispatched to hell for all eternity, whereas those who are regularly exercising their talents on behalf of others, will get to enter into the kingdom of heaven, described in the gospel last week, as “the joy of the master”.

Now we come, in our gospel today, with the coup de resistance, the crowning glory of all Jesus’ moral teaching. To put these lessons into parables, as Jesus is so wont to do, rather than strict doctrinal teachings, allows us to explore what Jesus is getting at, and allows our sanctified imagination to look at what Jesus is saying more freely and deeply. To begin with, is this teaching just for Jesus’ disciples, and doesn’t concern anyone else? Although the parable in our text is directed to the disciples, this is an added “gloss” and is not found in the Bible text per se.… Read more...

Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, November 19, 2023

In the announcements at the beginning of Mass, you would have heard information about a “Marketplace of Opportunity” which will be taking place in the parish after the 10.30am Mass on December 3rd. This is a fancy way of saying that we will be looking for volunteers to undertake various ministries in the parish. The announcement began by asking: “Are you feeling called to offer your talents to the service of the church?”. The word “talents” echoes the theme of our gospel today. In Jesus’ time, a “talent” was a sum of silver or gold, amounting to the equivalent of about $28,000 US today. You can see how valuable even one talent would be, let along two or five talents. So don’t feel sorry for the guy in the gospel parable who is given only one talent. It doesn’t seem, on the surface to be very much money to invest, compared with the other servants. But in fact, it is still a substantial sum to do business with. The servant with the one talent isn’t being careful or thrifty. He is being selfish and lazy.

 In time, the talent went from being just a unit of currency to becoming the term applied to a person’s gifts.  So, we talk about a talent for music, or for administration, or for art, and so on. At the Marketplace of Opportunity, we are looking to you, our parishioners, to consider using your talents or gifts to help our parish community realize its mission in the Church to evangelize the world.  Now, when it comes to a discussion of putting our gifts or talents at the service of the parish, there are a few common misconceptions that many Catholics fall into. One is to believe that they don’t have any spiritual gifts, another is to say that, even if they have one or two such gifts, they are not important in the general scheme of things, compared to others’ much more valuable talents, and the third is to say that it doesn’t matter if they don’t exercise their gifts anyway, because the Church’s mission will get done anyway, without them.… Read more...

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, September 24, 2024

What a friend we have in Jesus, brothers and sisters. As our psalm tells us today, he is good to all and has compassion over all his creatures, he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, he is near to all who call on him.”  Listen, brothers and sisters, if we  have a different picture of God, then we will have to make a choice, either go with our own picture of God, or go with the one given to us by God’s own word. I have heard it said so often “the God of the Old Testament is an angry God, the God of the New Testament is a loving God.” But that is to make God schizophrenic or to suggest that between the Old and the New Testament, he somehow had a personality transplant. No, it is the same God in both Testaments, one who is both just and kind. 

This comes across in our gospel parable today. 

You know, a great spiritual teacher and author, once wrote that the parables of Jesus often contrast the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless, the one on top, and the one who is the underdog. If we want to step into God’s shoes and see the world as God does, then we have to put ourselves in the position of the underdog and see it through their eyes. And so, in today’s parable, we must put ourselves in the place of the workers who have been standing around all day, waiting for someone to come along and give them some work, so they can feed themselves and their families. In one town to the north of London, England, which had a very Irish population, I have seen men lined up in the town square, waiting for some construction manager to come along and hire them for a day’s work on some building site.… Read more...

“Who Do You Say I Am?” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, August 27, 2023

Our gospel today represents a huge moment in the life and ministry of Jesus on the earth. 

It is huge for Peter and the other apostles also – and also for you and me, brothers and sisters. It is a game-changing moment for everyone, a line drawn in the sand, a now-or –never event.

To understand why this is so, we have to understand what is going on here. Jesus has brought his disciples here to ask him the 64,000-dollar question: “Who do you say I am?” It is crucial for Jesus’ understanding of his mission on earth that they get the answer right. To begin with, this place where they are, on the northern most part of Israel, Caesarea Philippi, was a place where, in ages past, pagan gods were worshipped, especially the god Pan, half-goat, half-man. Besides that, it is named after the Roman emperor, Caesar, who regarded himself as a god and insisted on being so worshipped. So here in this place with its association with pagan idols, false gods, Jesus is asking his disciples: “Where do I fit in here? Do you see me as just another false god, or a wanna-be deity?”

 This puts the apostles on the spot. They have travelled around with Jesus for the better part of two years by now and have witnessed him doing many incredible things that only God could do: calming storms with just a word, walking on water, feeding multitudes with a few loaves of bread and some fish, healing the sick, raising the dead. But to declare that Jesus is God goes clean against what the Jews have been taught for centuries, and what their own Ten Commandments declare: There is only one true God, Yahweh, and you shall not put any other gods before him.  So,… Read more...

No Livestream from St Philips the Weekend of September 2-3

We regret that there will be no livestream from St Philips on Labour Day weekend (September 2-3). We invite you to watch the livestream from Holy Redeemer Parish: Click here to watch livestream through FACEBOOK  or watch livestream through YOUTUBE. You can also watch the ‘Sunday TV Mass’ at: dailytvmass.com

St. Philip Parish’s Livestream Ministry will continue to livestream the Saturday evening Masses. These Masses will remain up for viewing until the end of the day Sunday. Click the link above to view.

“Open the Eyes of My Heart” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, April 30, 2023

Reading through our first reading, I stopped at the words that said the people listening to Peter’s Pentecost sermon were “cut to the heart”. Because this coming Wednesday, that will happen to me as well. I will be literally, physically, “cut to the heart”. The sternum bone in my chest will be cut open and my whole heart muscle will be exposed to view so that the surgeon can carry out the necessary repairs to my aorta and aortic valve, as well as fix a hole in my heart. 

It is so often the case that what God does in the supernatural, he first does in the natural. Which is why we are told by Jesus in the gospels to pay attention to the “signs of the times” in nature, which give a clue to what God is wanting to do in us supernaturally. The Book of Hebrews, chapter 4:12 -13 vividly describes the process of God “cutting us to the heart” spiritually. It tells us that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account”.

Just as my heart surgeon will be able to lay bare my heart physically to his examination, to see where there has been damage and deterioration, and go to work to fix all that, so God, our spiritual heart surgeon, is able to do the same. God tells the prophet Samuel in 1 Kings 16; 7 that “Human beings look on the outward appearance of someone, but God looks on the heart”.… Read more...