Father’s Weekly Message

Fr. Bob Writes – August 2, 2020

The story of the feeding of the 5000 appears in each of the four gospels, each of the evangelists “tweaking” the story a bit to suit their own theological concerns. Matthew, whose version we follow this weekend, emphasizes the ministerial role of the apostles in the eucharist. Matthew always shows considerable concern for church structure and the role of the apostles in the direction of the church. 

In the Mass today, there is a variety of ministerial roles. We have the priest, deacons, lectors, eucharistic ministers, gift bearers, choir and servers. The sanctuary which was once the sole domain of the priest celebrant is now the locus where various functions surrounding the eucharist come into play. This all came about over a few years’ time, and now we are hardly conscious of the difference. But there is an important difference. The Mass now conveys a much more communal sense. It is the one Lord, the one Spirit, and many gifts. It is so important that these ministries be exercised well, all of them in convergence around the altar. They point to the one Christ who ultimately “blesses, breaks, and distributes”. 

This all carries into life where education and new structures illustrate everyone’s participation in the life of the church, blending together as the one voice of Christ. People of every ethnic or national strain, female and male, priest and lay person, work together in building up the one body of Christ. Although we get discouraged at times, when things don’t always work that way, it is still a great time to be alive. 

Fr. Bob Writes – July 5, 2020

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden light ” – from Jesus’ words in our gospel passage this weekend.

The art of making a good yoke was to fashion it so as to fit the neck of each ox just right…not too loose that it moved around and chafed the animal…not so tight that it pinched and made the animal sore. From his carpenter days, Jesus knew how to make a yoke for a team of oxen. He would have measured the animal and tried the yoke several times as he fashioned it. A young ox was often joined in the yoke with an older, more-experienced animal. In this way, the younger one learned the right pace and manner of working. 

When Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon our shoulders, he wants to get work out of us…the particular mission given to each Christian. He wants to fashion the yoke that will be just right for each person. He doesn’t leave us alone to do the work. He is the other experienced “ox” who will accompany us, do the major share of the work , and teach us how  to do our part. On our part, it takes humility to accept being yoked with Jesus. The “wise and the learned” may tend to trust too much in their own wisdom and intelligence and, thus, not seek the Lords’ guidance. 

Fr. Bob Writes – June 28, 2020

Fr Bob writes: The first reading and gospel for this weekend’s Mass both reflect on the blessings of hospitality. The human person, unlike many other lower forms of life, cannot live long without food and shelter. Biblical hospitality is rooted in these basic needs. To wish another well in the most fundamental fashion is to offer food and lodging. Neither is a superfluity; without either the guest would not long survive. We certainly practice these acts of hospitality, but one often wonders if we capture the significance. To invite someone to spend the night or to come to dinner carries a sense of the sacred, a very basic wishing well of which the one inviting and the one invited should be conscious. Awareness enriches what we do. 

Moreover, to extend this spirit to a disciple of Christ is to facilitate the spread of the gospel, to be consciously missionary, to be a partner in the guest’s work. We might well meditate a bit on the next invitation we receive – and the next one we extend. St John, in his third letter, speaks about the sacred responsibility of the Christian, to welcome another disciple, especially a missionary, and “send them on in a manner worthy of God; for they began their journey for the sake of Christ, accepting no support from non-believers. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth “ (3 John 6-8) Indeed, the letter to the Hebrews goes even further, stating :”Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it ” (Hebrews 13: 1-2) 

Fr. Bob Writes – June 21, 2020

So this weekend, we will be opening up the churches of St Philip’s and St Clare’s for Sunday Mass, but restricting attendance for each Mass to 30% of the capacity of each church , in accordance with the requirements of the Ontario government emergency regulations, to which are added guidelines from our archdiocese.

Certainly, the extent of the coronavirus has caused much fear, anxiety and uncertainty in our midst. So, it is a great consolation to hear Jesus speaking to us ,his disciples,  in our gospel this weekend, and telling us :“Do not be afraid”  In fact, so much is he wanting to reassure us at this time, that he repeats the words “Do not fear” , no less than three times in our short gospel passage. On what should we base our assurance that we need not fear anything ? According to Jesus in our gospel, it is based on the value we have in our heavenly Father’s eyes. When Jesus compares us to the value of a sparrow sold in the market for a pittance, and says that we are worth more than many sparrows, it doesn’t exactly give us a value equivalent to priceless treasures. The point is that God pays attention to the lowly sparrow, and God pays attention to all who acknowledge Jesus Christ in their contacts with other people.

When our true value is found in relation to Jesus Christ and not in what we are worth in terms of dollars, we need not fear the rich and powerful of the world. It may seem, considering the scant regard that our political leaders have given to us as practising Christians during the last three months of the virus, that they do not consider us as being of much importance. But their view does not matter in terms of the lasting things of this world.… Read more...