Homily for the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
It is now September, and most of our rituals have begun to change. Soon, many schedules will become busier. For most holidays are finished and have become but a memory. Even our weather has begun it’s ritual of change with leaves turning colour; cooler temperatures and shorter days. After this long weekend we will experiencea major ritual withthe beginning of school.
In the Gospel for today, Jesus is teaching his followers once again. This time is the topic is about healing relationships. Regardless, Jesus is giving a format to follow to bring about healing. And yet this healing needs to begin with ourselves in prayer with Jesus and through positive constructive conversation with others. This is how we sustain and nourish rituals in our lives and community
And yet there is another ritual that takes place every year, but unfortunately, it is hardly mentioned in homilies or church families. The Season of Creation is an annual ritual, which began on September 1, and ends on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis. The suggested theme for this year is “the web of life.” One million species are threatened by our lifestyle. The Season of Creation is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through rituals of celebration, conversion, and commitment together. During the Season of Creation, we join our sisters and brothers in the greater ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home.
If you remember Pope Francis brought this to the forefront in his encyclical Laudato Si, May, 2015 which spoke about the importance of caring for our common home, our planet. He encouraged us into swift and unified action against climate change and global warming. From May 2020 to May 2021, we will be celebrating the 5th Anniversary of this document. To celebrate, we will go back to that document and do our part for mother earth.
Time, seasons and rituals always bring about change. I believe in my heart that we are in the midst of a great transition. Somehow, many positive rituals will continue to emerge. Look what has happened over the past 30 years: the decline of our youth from church… hockey rinks and other sports now take the place of Sunday worship. I bury 40 to 50 people every year and many of our youth are no longer here. Many faith communities of different faiths are shrinking… including our own. Across the street from St. Rose Worship Site sits Lancaster Baptist Church. The community has decided to move into a smaller, more economical space next door. The old church will be torn down.
Some of you may be thinking, ‘wow, Fr. David is really gloomy today’ and I am sure that some will see this as bad news. It’s not.I see it as opportunity. As a Church we are constantly evolving, renewing and growing. We are a church that sees a need in our community and we address it. Year after year, look at the schools supplies that you donate, placed around our altars, or donations to the food bank, Avenue B and so on.
The evangelization that we have been promoting for the last number of years, is calling all of us to think outside the box or our comfort zone while still keeping our focus on Jesus. Our youth is teaching that to us. For example, young people see the importance of respecting, protecting and building up creation. A couple of years ago, I was visiting with a First Reconciliation class. We were talking about “forgiveness” and “sin” and so I asked them to give me an example of sin and boy did I get them! All the hands went up!! “Lying” “Hitting others” “not listening to parents” and the list went on. Then one little one said, “pollution”! I thought… ‘wow… great!’ Then another quickly added that “her father sinned!!” Before I could intercept, another asked, “what did he do?” She replied, “he pollutes by littering…. when he eats an apple and then throwing the core out the window while he was driving!!” Well, that may not be an actual ‘sin’ but at that young age, these kids knew the importance of not littering. Our children are telling us that we need to be part of this. Our planet is holy, created and consecrated by God. We are its stewards called to protect and nourish it… not destroy it.
In the Second Reading, Paul is writing to the Romans, and states, the commandments, but as well he says, “and any other commandment…summed up in love” No doubt this includes respect and care for our universal home, our world. Healing relationships with one another is not easy. Neither is healing our relationship with our planet. And we can do it by adopting active rituals to support our causes. Remembering that Jesus is always with us, “where 2 or 3 are gathered… I am there among you.”