Father’s Sunday Homily

“Love and Marriage” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, January 16, 2022

I said earlier that God regards the marriage relationship as so special that, of all other relationships on earth, he chooses it to symbolize the love He has for us, His people. Christian married love is meant to be unconditional, undying and totally committed to the other, and that is exactly how God loves us. The breakdown of the marriage relationship is therefore a tragedy for society and for the Church. Figures show that divorce between Christians is just as common as with the rest of society, though I understand that it is less for Christians who are regular practitioners of their faith commitment. But any marriage breakdown is a wound in the heart of Church and society and also in the heart of God, because it mars the significance of marriage as symbolic of God’s love for us. For this reason, the Church has, while recognizing the sad reality of divorce, worked to reduce its possibility by requiring engaged couples to go through a marriage preparation course, to help prepare them for the realities of a married life together, by providing counselling for marriages that are in trouble, and by providing courses like Marriage Encounter, to help renew marriage relationships ..

Because God highly honours marriage, he has bestowed on it the blessing of sexual love, which he also honours highly. Because of its power to bring healing, strengthening and sustaining of the marriage relationship, and also to bring forth children, God has reserved sexual love to the stability and exclusivity of the marriage bond as the safest place for it to be exercised. We are  sadly familiar these days, with the reality that many, if not most Catholics ,at least in the West, choose to move in and live with their partners, ahead of the wedding ceremony. But this has never been the way God intended it, or wanted it ,though he chooses to work with it, as does the Church, recognizing that we humans are weak, sinful creatures, and yet God loves us nonetheless. … Read more...

“God at Work” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Baptism of Jesus is God’s supreme and wholly marvelous work. Although we are told about John the Baptist at the beginning of our gospel passage today, he is nowhere around when St Luke actually describes Jesus’ baptism. John is described as pointing towards Jesus and the baptism he will bring, but he is completely removed from the picture thereafter. This is deliberate on the part of St Luke. He wants to tell us that the baptism Jesus receives is not the one John the Baptism gives, which is just a superficial cleansing by water. It shows a desire on the part of the one baptized to be cleansed from their sins, but it cannot make that happen. The baptism Jesus receives is a baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire, that actually does cleanse from sin, and it is this kind of baptism that you and I receive also. The baptism Jesus receives is not a human thing, it is wholly God’s work. And so it is with us, with our baptism. It is wholly God’s work. 

This cannot be emphasized enough, brothers and sisters. The baptism you and I receive, and the baptism our children receive, may be done through the hands of the priest or deacon ,but it is not a human thing. It is wholly God’s thing. It is about God coming down on us and transforming us into sons and daughters of God. It is Christ who baptizes, not the priest or the deacon. They are just the human instruments. I say this, because there are still so many Catholics who regard baptism as merely a human activity, a kind of rite of passage, something they are supposed to have done for their children, so their children can go to Catholic school, or receive the other sacraments, but, other than that, it is just like the kind of baptism John the Baptist performed, a matter of pouring water over someone, with no more effect than that. … Read more...

“Journeying Together” – Fr. Bob’s Homily for Sunday, January 2, 2022

By now, you should be aware that the Catholic Church throughout the world is engaged in what is called a “synodal” process, in preparation for the Assembly or Synod of Bishops, due to meet in Rome in 2023. Pope Francis has summoned parishes around the world to meet in small groups to discuss two fundamental questions. Given the theme of the Synod, which is “journeying together as we announce the Gospel”, those two fundamental questions are the following: ”How is this “journeying together” happening today in our local Church?” and “What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together?” These questions we will be discussing over the course of the next four months, and then forwarding  our answers to the diocesan for the next stage of the process. 

I’ve been speaking about this synodal process on occasion,  since it was officially launched in our diocese last October 17th. But now, as it were, I want to formally introduce it on this feast of the Epiphany. For what is this feast day all about, if not the story of a group of wise men “journeying together” towards an encounter with Jesus Christ, and announcing as they go that the long-awaited King and Savior had come to earth? This is essentially what evangelization is all about, which is the essential calling of us as Church. As Pope Paul VI once wrote: ”The Church exists to evangelize”. Or as it has also been said: ”The Church is the only organization that exists for the benefit of those who do not yet belong to it“. In other words, the Church is essentially missionary in its whole approach. It is sent out by Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.… Read more...