St Mary Star of the Sea

Roman Catholic Church, Mississauga, Ontario

Like Jeremiah, Jesus was on fire for the things of God. He was so fired up with doing what his heavenly Father had sent him to do that he was unwilling to be deterred by any cost, even if it meant great suffering or even death. This explains why Jesus was so harsh with Peter when he tried to dissuade him from taking such a path. Jesus will not tolerate that kind of thinking even for a single moment. That is what Satan does. Satan tries to turn us away from the path that God calls us to walk.

Do you have a desire to think as God thinks? If you do, that is wonderful. The best way is to come to know the mind of Christ. To know the mind of Christ, we need to spend time with him. We need to listen to him. As we listen to him, he will open our minds. He will show us what God has in mind for each of us and how we can attain it. In a living relationship with Jesus we begin to think more and more as God thinks. This relationship with Jesus is one that transforms and changes how we think and live our lives.

As Christians, we all are called to live prophetically. The Apostle puts it this way: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord.” What we do with our bodies is important. You are stewards of your bodies, not owners who can do whatever you like. Your body is a sacred vessel. The world does not recognize anything sacred. You do not belong to the world. You belong to Christ. “Do not be conformed to this world”. This world is passing away. “But be transformed by the renewing of your minds.

How can we renew our minds? First of all, it is important to realize that the time allotted to us is a precious gift. Don’t squander it in trivial pursuits, chasing fleeting pleasures and playing mind destroying games. Take care of your mind. Don’t fill your mind with garbage. Ask the Holy Spirit to purify your mind, to enlighten your mind, to direct your thoughts and actions. Nourish your spiritual life. Read good stuff. Read the Gospels. Think. Pray. “This is how we discern the will of God, what is acceptable and good and perfect.” This is how we become modern day prophets.

There are many people today, unsung heroes, who in the ordinariness of their daily lives are a prophetic presence in our world: the journalist who seeks the truth and writes with fairness and balance, the teacher who remains faithful to the vision in a sea of cynicism, the leader who acts with integrity and justice, the parent who teaches by example, the student who befriends another child being bullied. Everyday life offers us plenty of opportunities to live prophetically.

The Christian life is a life lived in the imitation of Christ, who lived not for himself, but gave himself out of love for you and for me. Those who think only of themselves and are interested only in saving their own skin actually run the risk of losing their lives: “What will it profit anyone to gain the whole world, but forfeit their life?”[Mt. 16, 26]. Actually, there is a lot more at stake here than meets the eye. An older translation put it this way: “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” [KJV].

Losing your life is bad enough, but losing your soul… that is a disaster! If you lose your life in this world it can be recovered in the resurrection of the body. But if you lose your soul, your soul is lost and gone forever.

There is a cross of some kind for each of us. Fidelity to God will surely cost us something. But we will clearly be winners in the long run. Fidelity to God will be rewarded by none other than God himself.

Jesus was on fire for the things of God and he wants us to be on fire for the things of God too. As we prepare to celebrate the Eucharistic mystery today, let us pray that the Holy Spirit will fan into a great flame of love the fire that is burning in our hearts so that we may live lives pleasing to God and care deeply for the good of one another.

Father Neil
Homily - September 3 2017

Long ago Moses expressed the longing for all God’s people to be prophets [Num.11, 29]. God himself desires this.

In the first reading we meet the prophet Jeremiah. We sometimes think of prophets as forecasters of the future, but Biblical prophets played a different role. Jeremiah’s role was to communicate to the people of his time what God directed him to speak. Jeremiah did not want to be a prophet. He knew what happens to prophets. They suffer. Now he laments that he even consented to it. Jeremiah tells God, You overpowered me, Lord. Now look at the mess I am in. I have become a laughingstock, an object of scorn. I loved you, Lord, but you led me on. And I let myself be led on.

No other prophet speaks like this, even accusing God of misleading him. Jeremiah feels like giving up his ministry. But he just cannot walk away. It has been said that for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good people to remain silent. Jeremiah just cannot remain silent. He sees impending destruction if things don’t change. He tells people, Listen, you cannot continue to act unjustly as you have been doing. Can’t you see that? When you let evil lose in the world it will come back on you. Seeing the great danger they are in, Jeremiah refuses to walk away. He cares deeply for them. Stronger than his loathing of suffering is his love for God and his burning desire to win people back to God. He cannot contain the burning fire within him.

Biblical prophets like Jeremiah were true visionaries and men of great courage. They stood outside the mainstream of popular thinking and often said things that people did not want to hear. And when they persisted in saying such things, they often incurred great hostility, persecution and, sometimes death.

L’Innocence by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Madonna di Loreto by Caravaggio