Father’s Sunday Homily

“Gods Ways Are Not Our Ways” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, October 1, 2023

Already we are in the month of October, and the Fall is racing along. My heart was racing along for a while, out of control, hence necessitating surgery, which I had recently, as you are all aware of. I have just been wearing a heart monitor for a couple of days this week, to make sure everything is ok now. You know, it is no bad thing to check on our spiritual hearts, what we call our conscience, from time to time to check that everything is ok in our spiritual lives. If we detect some area of sinful irregularity in our lives, we need to apply the appropriate remedy- confession of our sins and asking for God’s mercy. 

When our responsorial psalm today tells us that God “instructs sinners in the way” it is clearly referring to our conscience, which can be called as the voice of God speaking into our hearts and guiding us to say and do the right things and avoid the bad things. So, the psalm today asks God: “Make me to know YOUR ways, O Lord; teach me YOUR paths. Lead me in YOUR truth and teach me”. Note the emphasis in my words: it is God’s ways, God’s paths, God’s truth that we should be following, not our own.  I would suggest that the reason why this world of ours is in such a confused mess is because most people are choosing to do the opposite- insisting that they, and their feelings, are the only guide to what is right and what is wrong. God, if he exists, should just butt out of humanity’s path, or he should come down to our level and approve our choices, not the other way round.

But, in our first reading last week, from the prophet Isaiah, we are told in no uncertain terms that: “my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.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...

Memento Mori – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, September 17, 2023

On my way to the priesthood, I spent several years of my life as part of a religious order called the “Montfortians”, founded by St Louis Marie de Montfort, a great priest and evangelizer from the 16th century in France. St Louis Marie stood out from his fellow clergy by the stark asceticism of his life, his utter dedication to his ministry and his uncompromising preaching. His fellow priests lived a rather more comfortable lifestyle and ridiculed his poverty and ragged clothes, but they never accomplished the miracles he did, nor won anywhere near as many converts to Christ as did St Louis Marie. They are all forgotten but this poor, humble priest’s name is honored around the world, and he is a canonized saint. 

One of St Louis Marie’s rather bizarre practices, as a seminarian,  was to go down to a local undertaker’s and ask to spend the night, sleeping  in one of their empty coffins. He did it to keep before him the reality that one day he, and every one he would ever preach to, would die and face God’s judgement on  their lives… Memento Mori: a Latin phrase meaning “Remember that you shall die”, used to be a common Catholic expression, and we find its origins right in our first reading today from the book of Sirach: “Remember the end of your life, and set enmity aside; remember corruption and death, and be true to the commandments.”  Uncomfortable words to be sure, but unfortunately very true – as the American statesman Benjamin Franklin  once wrote: ”nothing is certain in our world, but these two things :  death and taxes.”

We usually think that the sins we have committed against God are somewhat less than the offences we have received from others. But that is to forget that the true measure of an offence is the stature of the person we have sinned against .… 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...

Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, August 20, 2023

Many people have asked “How do you feel after your heart surgery and rehab?” 

The answer is that I feel “blessed”. I feel blessed that the leaking heart valve was diagnosed in the first place, or I might have continued to be unaware of it until I had a stroke or heart attack out of the blue, as happened to my mother. I feel blessed to be under the excellent care of the doctors, nurses and surgeons of the Heart Institute, for whom my surgery, though a massive event for me, was just a routine everyday thing. I feel blessed to not have had any pain or infection throughout my recovery. I feel blessed to have had the warm loving care of my dear friends, Janet and Louis Seward who graciously opened their home to me for the duration of my rehabilitation. I feel blessed to have the love, encouragement, and prayer support of all of you before, during and after this time. I am blessed to have had the help of Fathers Francis, Michael, Tavis, and Adolphus to supply for me during my absence, and to know that deacon Louis, with the sacristans, readers, Eucharistic ministers, ushers, prayer groups and office staff, was taking care of business during my time away.  

We are told to “count our blessings”, aren’t we? And those are mine, brothers and sisters. 

Note I say “I am blessed”. I used to say “I am lucky”. Not anymore.  These good things that I have experienced over the last few months are indeed blessings, not chance happenings. Because we are in relationship with a God of “blessing”, whose one desire is to bless us, who turns even the bad things in our lives into good things, in accordance with St Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans, that “God turns all things  too good for those who love him, and are called according  to his purpose “ (Romans 8: 28). Read more...

“The Advocates” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, May 14, 2023

This will be Fr. Bob’s last homily posted onto the website until August. Please keep Fr. Bob in your prayers.

I am an avid fan of any book or show that deals with the law. Perhaps because I studied Law at University way back when in England, but I am fascinated by stories about legal investigations and court cases. That is why my favorite gospel is that of St John, of which we have so many passages during the Easter season. John’s gospel reads like s court trial, but with a twist. To begin with, it appears as if Jesus is the one who is on trial. He is charged with claiming to be God, which amounts to blasphemy, if he is not God. We read in John chapter 5, verse 18 :” For this reason , the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.” It is up to Jesus to prove that he is “equal to God “, that he is in fact divine. So the first few chapters of John’s gospel have Jesus providing such evidence, or “signs” as they are called in the gospel, because they “point to “ the truth that Jesus is God. There are seven such “signs” or proofs in John’s gospel , including healing people on the point  of death (chapter 2) or from chronic sickness (chapter 5) , healing a blind man, (chapter 9) walking on water (chapter 6), feeding a multitude of 5000 people with just a few loaves and fishes (chapter 6) and finally raising a man, Lazarus, to life, after he had been dead four days (chapter 11). And, of course, his own resurrection from the dead (chapter 20).

 Along the way, Jesus also provides character witnesses to the fact that he is telling the truth, including God himself, the great patriarchs of the Jewish faith, Abraham and Moses, the Jewish Scriptures, the great revered prophet, John the Baptist.… Read more...

“Chosen” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, May 7, 2023

The opening verses of our gospel today are a favourite for funerals. You can see why. There is great comfort to think about Jesus coming personally to take the hand of a loved one who has died and lead them into a mansion or dwelling place in heaven created by Jesus himself for them. And we can take additional comfort for ourselves in knowing that when our time comes to depart this earth, we can look forward to Jesus doing the same for us.

Sort of a heavenly B&B perhaps?

Actually, there is an interesting image being used by Jesus here, drawn from the Jewish culture, to do with marriage. What would happen in such a case is that the bride and groom would  cometogether in the  synagogue to exchange vows, after which they would be considered to be officially married. But before going off to live together, the bride would return to her parents and wait for her husband, who would have to go back to his father’s house and build an extension there for them both to live in. Only when the groom’s father was satisfied that the new building was satisfactory, would he give permission to his son to go back and collect his bride, celebrate the wedding feast and then go back to his father’s house to consummate their marriage and begin their new life together. You can see why condemnation would fall on Mary, when she fell pregnant during this period when her new husband, Joseph, was away building the extension on his father’s house. 

When Jesus talks in the gospel about his going back to his Father’s house and preparing a place for us, then coming to take us back with him, he is clearly talking about what happens when we die, but he is using the wedding imagery to describe it. … Read more...

“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...