Brainstorm!

Brainstorm
By Nancy Nobrega

In the Gospel today Luke explains that if we want God’s help we should just keep asking. He will help us, and we should not get discouraged if we don’t get the help we need right away. The way He explains it makes me think that God will help us if we keep “bothering” Him – that we will stop nagging if He gives in. It does sound quite a bit like how we are with our children. We are told often that God loves us unconditionally, so we might think that we don’t need to be thankful for the wonderful things we receive from Him. Life is messy but, we get lots of help and little miracles every day if we are present to His grace. We love our children unconditionally too. If my children ask me to help them, it certainly makes me feel better if they have expressed appreciation for my help and also if the help that I give them is paid forward to siblings, friends and strangers. I bet that applies to anyone who gives anyone else a helping hand. Don’t we all feel better when we see the help and kindness spread and that there has been a realization of how important helping others is?

God sent Jesus to teach us the way. Now it’s our turn to show our children and each other the way. Be a good example…brainstorm with your kids how they might pass on kindness in their day. Are we not all so pleased when we see children who are kind and polite? They are watching and mimicking us! How can we pay forward the help that God has given us? We could be more cheerful. A smile and an encouraging word to friends and strangers goes so far! Remember when someone said something nice to you and how that just made your day? I know it makes me feel so good, and acknowledging that has made me brave enough to compliment strangers on good manners, thank wait staff who have looked after me, give a helping hand and a smile to tired young mothers with cranky children, let folks who are in a mad rush go ahead of me in line and call that acquaintance (not close friend) who has been having a hard time.

A friend of mine keeps granola bars in his glove compartment to hand out to the homeless instead of giving money or wondering how to give money in a safer or better way. Another friend has made sure that her children, who are now old enough, take the time to call elderly relatives who have cared for them over the years and who might be at home alone. Remember when Grandma used to take you to the park, well maybe now it’s time for you to take her for a walk in the park on a nice day or go have tea with her on a rainy one. And of course, before we ask God for help we can say thank you by acknowledging all the blessings that are in our lives, that we sometimes take for granted and that make our lives gentler and easier. Even in the midst of our most awful days there are helps: the perfect parking spot just before we think we will “lose it” because everything is going wrong, the letter from a friend that fills us with joy, the visit that is out of the blue and so nurturing, a kind word or compliment for a job well done, or that we saw that someone paid forward a kindness that we offered to them.

Sunday’s Readings:
Exodus 17.8-13
Psalm 121
2 Timothy 3.14 – 4.2
Luke 18.1-8

An Unfinished Miracle

An Unfinished Miracle by Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB Ten lepers come to Jesus seeking a cure. “Jesus, have mercy on us!”, they cry out. Jesus hears their prayer and tells them to go to the priests who had the authority to declare them cured. But the priests also had the power to restore them to the community from which their disease alienated them. Nine were cured and healed, one however, a Samaritan, was cured of his illness but not healed of what alienated him from others. He no longer had leprosy, but was still and would always be a Samaritan, hated and alienated because of his ethnicity and religious beliefs. I suppose that he returned to thank Jesus for the cure, but wonder if he came back to Jesus also because he had nowhere else to go, no one else to share his joy with and no one who would welcome him as a person, not a category, a disease or stereotype. He came back with gratitude but also with faith that Jesus would love and accept him as a person, as a brother, a child of God. In many ways, this is an unfinished miracle, because there needs to be healing in the hearts of those who still reject the Samaritan because he was a Samaritan. Like the healing of the 10 lepers, who recognize and own their leprosy, this healing begins by recognizing the prejudices and fears, attitudes and hatreds that cause people to be excluded and alienated from us because of their nationality or ethnicity, the colour of their skin or the language they speak, by their sexuality or gender orientation, or by what they believe or don’t believe. Today’s readings challenge us to ask along with the lepers, “Jesus, have mercy on us”. Help us, Jesus, to see others as you do, sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters to each other. Sunday’s Readings: 2 Kings 5.14-17 Psalm 98 2 Timothy 2.8-13 Luke 17.11-19

The Right Thing

The Right Thing

By Nancy Nobrega

Doing the right thing – seems like something we shouldn’t even have to think about. ‘Hey… I always do the right thing – but do I really?’ That sounds so easy before we think about it in a specific situation in our own lives. It’s also pretty easy to tell someone to do the right thing when it is not our situation at all — so easy to be wise then! Do we know what the right thing is? Of course we do… or do we? In the Gospel today we are told not to trust anyone who is not honest in a little thing because it will likely follow that they won’t be honest in anything else. I know in my life if someone lies to me, I find it hard to believe anything they say later even if I agree with them…or at least I second guess. That’s confusing! It doesn’t mean I am not friends with them but I would not make decisions based on their advice. They may not have even known that they were not telling the truth or that is how they saw the situation or perhaps they did not know all the circumstances. There are two sides to this. We should do the right thing but we should not judge someone else for doing the wrong thing. Oh my. What does one do? Well for starters a friend told me what her wise dad once told her when she was upset because a friend had behaved badly. He said, “when you meet God at the Gates of Heaven, He will not ask you what your friend did, He will only want to know about you.” In other words it’s really none of your business to judge. If you behave well, then perhaps your friend will see how you are behaving and see that it works well for you and decide that she will try to behave better too. That feels a bit arrogant, thinking that we are such good examples when we really may not be. More confusion. In the second reading today, Paul tells Timothy that he wants to be very clear that he was appointed…a teacher …in faith and truth. In the context of the letter he is saying to not listen to false teachers. He says, “I am telling the truth, I am not lying.”…He highlights how important truth is. ….” there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and the human race, the man Christ Jesus..” Knowing what the right thing is, or doing it may not always be easy, but if we ponder the life of Christ, and we place ourselves in the hands of the Holy Spirit and ask him to direct our steps…. “just show me what to do God” – if we let go and then are present to what our hearts hear (even if sometimes we are disappointed by what we hear) we will likely be closer to “dong the right thing”. How wonderful it is to know that we are in God’s embrace and that if we accept His love things might still be a challenge but not so confusing? I am working on not sighing loudly when I hear God say “choose the harder path” but a sense of humour is so helpful and is such a gift too! God thought of everything! Sunday’s Readings: Amos 8.4-7 Psalm 113 1 Timothy 2.1-7 Luke 16.1-13

Not our Own

Not our Own

By  Adam J. Lalonde, SJ

This Sunday’s Gospel reading brilliantly puts three Lukan parables side-by-side forcing us to consider the mercy of our God and reminding us that God’s ways are not our own. There are countless beautiful reflections on these parables which consider our inclination to stray from God or even our tendency to become denouncing Pharisees or unforgiving older brothers. Luke’s Gospel, however, is not primarily concerned with reminding us of these facts. Instead the emphasis is on the One who always seeks to gather us back in. Jesus teaches us that we are not simply a number to God. Each soul is important, every lost sheep will be sought, and every hidden coin will be found. But most importantly, it is God who initiates the search. Although we must always seek God’s forgiveness, repentance is fundamentally an experience of being found by God. Perhaps the invitation today is to consider our attitudes towards divine mercy. Am I truly convinced of God’s mercy? Can I accept that mercy? How else can I be a beacon of mercy to others? We must always remember that Jesus’ love infinitely surpasses our sinful deficit and He never stops searching for the lost. Sunday’s Readings: Exodus 32.7-11, 13-14 Psalm 51 1 Timothy 1.12-17 Luke 15.1-32 Adam is a Jesuit scholastic in the M.Div. program at Regis College. He is also an alumnus of St. Michael’s College (0T8).

Short but Sweet

Short but Sweet

By Fr. Norm Tanck

I am impressed by my Protestant friends who have memorized large portions of the Bible. How would you like to impress people by memorizing a whole book of the Bible? Try memorizing Paul’s Letter to Philemon, the book from which our second reading is taken today. It is only 25 verses long. St. Paul is writing this letter from prison. With him is Onesimus, a runaway slave who was about to be returned to his master. Since he ran away, he was converted and baptized a Christian. Although, under the law, he was still a slave. Paul is asking Philemon and the Christian community he leads to welcome Onesimus back as a brother in Christ. He is asking them to see the man in a new light and relate to him in a new way. Paul writes, “I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you… Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord”. The ambiguity is that when Onesimus returns he will still be a slave under the law, but he is first and foremost to be accepted and welcomed as a brother. Sadly, it would be centuries before human slavery is abolished. And there are many things today that still hold people captive. Human trafficking exists in many forms throughout the world. Our brothers and sisters of different races and languages, different cultures and faiths are still held in bondage, alienated from the human community, our society, the Church and nation because of prejudice and fear. Who will be the St. Paul in this day and age asking us and the world to welcome all as beloved brothers and sisters, as children of God? How will we respond when this is asked of us?

September 8 Readings:

Wisdom 9.13-18

Psalm 90

Philemon 9b-10, 12-17

Luke 14.25-33

Focusing on Christ

Focusing on Christ

By Fr. Morgan Rice

A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to attend the Shaw Festival’s wonderful production of Brigadoon at Niagara-on-the-Lake with some of my Basilian confrères. Before the evening performance, we walked along the Niagara River to where it empties into Lake Ontario at Queen’s Royal Park. We stopped to look at a large granite and bronze marker dedicated to those who had successfully swum the 52km crossing to Marilyn Bell Park on the north shore of the lake, not too far from Exhibition Place. On the plaque are the words “perseverance”, “courage”, “fortitude”, “spirit”, “challenge”, and “triumph”—qualities needed to perform this feat that usually takes 20+ hours. One thing that I thought might help a swimmer is to focus on something like the CN Tower, something that could be seen from the start, something that could provide some encouragement along the way. Little by little as the fatigue set in, the tower would seem to grow taller and taller as one drew closer and closer to it.

I thought about that as I reflected on today’s second reading from Hebrews 12. Recognizing that life is akin to a race, the author of the letter encourages the Christian community to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus”. Our lives are marked with challenges that might seem overwhelming at times, but with perseverance and the right focus, the goal is attainable. For a disciple of Christ, the focus is on Jesus, who himself demonstrated perseverance and endurance through the cross to his heavenly throne. He has wants us to live fulfilling lives and eventually join him there, but things like disappointments and our sins might seem to stand in the way. They might seem like a daunting chasm to cross.

So what do we do? Like the Hebrews, we are encouraged to “not grow weary or lose heart” but to train ourselves to keep going by living out our faith and fixing our eyes on our tower of strength, Jesus Christ, who forgives us, strengthens us, and leads us to share in his triumph in the heavenly kingdom.

August 18 Readings:
Jeremiah 38.2-6, 8-10
Psalm 40
Hebrews 12.1-4
Luke 12.49-53

August 25 Readings:
Isaiah 66.18-21
Psalm 117
Hebrews 12.5-7, 11-13
Luke 13.22-30

Surrounded

Surrounded

By Michael Pirri

This past Friday was the Feast of St. Macrina (sister to St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa); this monday is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, and then Friday we celebrate the Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim (Jesus’ grandparents).

How wonderful that the Church celebrates these women in such close proximity to one another, and that this weekend, our Gospel story speaks about Mary and Martha.

The interaction between Martha and Mary is familiar to us – especially those of us who grew up with siblings. I’m sure it isn’t too difficult for you to remember at least one occasion when housework didn’t seem equally split growing up, or when you would bicker with a sibling about them not pulling their own weight. This is the case with Martha and Mary, two sisters whom Jesus visits.

In some ways, Jesus’ response is puzzling. How can he not see this injustice? Martha is busy preparing everything and trying to have everything ready, and Mary is just sitting there. Christ certainly recognizes Martha’s distress, but rather than address the uneven distribution of work, he addressed her preoccupation with what Mary was doing. It would appear that Martha, in doing all of her lamentable tasks, sought the opportunity to complain to her guest about what her sister, Mary, was doing (or rather not doing).

It’s not very difficult to see this interaction is replicated today. In a time when all of our schedules are jammed, working in the relentless pursuit of productivity, we can’t help but compare ourselves to those around us – and go out of our way to complain about it. We feel pulled in different directions, always seeking out what we don’t have; for many, the grass will always be greener on the other side of the fence. Our challenge is to be a ‘little less Martha’ and a ‘little more Mary’. I’m sure this is a familiar feeling for some: spending the entire evening preparing for a guest to arrive, then being stuck in the kitchen cooking until dinner is ready, and then even when you get a chance to sit down and enjoy dinner with your guest, you’re still worried about how many minutes are left on dessert in the oven.

When we multi-task, perhaps our split attention can lead to being unintentionally neglectful. What Christ asks of us is to take some time to focus solely on the task at hand, and let go of our surroundings.

July 21 Readings:
Genesis 18.1-10a
Psalm 15
Colossians 1.24-28
Luke 10.38-42

July 28 Readings:
Genesis 18.20-32
Psalm 138
Colossians 2.12-14
Luke 11.1-13

Called and Sent

Called and Sent

By Fr. Norm Tanck

Today’s first reading from Isaiah was written to the people of Israel as they returned from years of exile in a foreign land to reclaim and restore their home in Jerusalem. Like a mother, Jerusalem will embrace her children and hold them close to her heart. Those words of comfort are joined with a promise of prosperity and success given to a people, a nation. We hear today of preachers who proclaim a gospel of success, a prosperity gospel, that emphasizes a personal empowerment the signs of which are personal wealth and a carefree living. When we look at the longer version of today’s Gospel reading, we see something different. Jesus sends out seventy of his disciples as missionaries to proclaim the Good News that the Kingdom of God is near. He sends them not alone but in pairs, companions on the journey. And he warns them that this will not be easy. They will face hardships and rejection, but they need to be focused on their message. And he tells them that their reward will not be measured by the number of those cured or converted, but that their names will be written in heaven. That same mission has been entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Church, our Holy Mother Church, who holds us close to her heart but also sends us out to proclaim the Good News in the name of Jesus Christ. When we are commissioned for a specific work by the Church our personal skills and talents become a ministry. Within the Christian community we minister to each other at Mass as readers, servers, musicians, greeters and ushers, and by bringing Holy Communion to the homebound. Through volunteering in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the RCIA, and other forms of faith formation, we exercise the Church’s mission of evangelization and education. As a community we feed the hungry, and through the St. Vincent de Paul Society we reach out to the poor and those in need. These and many other ways are how St. Basil’s Parish is called to ministry. This summer please consider how your time and talents can be used in one of our ministries.

July 7 Readings:

  • Isaiah 66.10-14
  • Psalm 66
  • Galatians 6.14-18
  • Luke 10.1-12, 17-20

July 14 Readings:

  • Deuteronomy 30.10-14
  • Psalm 69
  • Colossians 1.15-20
  • Luke 10.25-37

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

By Fr. Morgan Rice

When people find out that I am from Corpus Christi, Texas, they sometimes ask, “How many people living there actually know what the name means in English?” I wonder myself. Except for Catholics and those who studied Latin, many probably would not know that Corpus Christi means “body of Christ”. It is a name that drew attention in the early 1980s when the U.S. Navy wanted to honour my hometown, which is a significant naval centre, by naming a submarine the “USS Corpus Christi”. Catholics protested that a name that is associated with life and nonviolence would be inappropriate for a warship. As a result, the Navy named the submarine the “USS City of Corpus Christi”. “Corpus Christi” is the name that is still commonly used to refer to today’s feast day, which Pope Urban IV first decreed in the 13th century. While the papal decree called for its celebration on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday as a way to associate it with Holy Thursday and the institution of the Eucharist, some countries celebrate it on Sunday. Whichever day it is celebrated, the feast highlights the mystery of the Real Presence of Jesus in the bread and wine that become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit at Mass. While the mystery can never be fully explained in words, it does speak of God’s power to do more than we can imagine and of God’s desire to nourish and care for us so that we might experience eternal communion with God. It is beautifully described in Lauda Sion, the pre-Gospel Sequence written by St. Thomas. An excerpt follows:

Bread yourself, good Shepherd, tend us; Jesus, with your love befriend us. You refresh us and defend us; to your lasting goodness send us that the land of life we see.

May the nourishment we receive from the Eucharist remind us of the heavenly banquet for which we hope and truly make us “one body, one spirit in Christ” as we make known Jesus’ loving and true presence to all we meet.

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Genesis 14.18-20
  • Psalm 110
  • 1 Corinthians 11.23-26
  • Luke 9.11b-17

Next Sunday’s Readings:

  • 1 Kings 19.16b, 19-21
  • Psalm 16
  • Galatians 5.1, 13-18
  • Luke 9.51-62

From the Mouths of Babes

From the Mouths of Babes

By Marilena Berardinelli

One of the great gifts of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in the lives of its catechists is the reminder that the great teacher is not the catechist, but God and that the catechist listens to God alongside the child. As such, the catechist and child learn about and experience God together. The children in our atriums have revealed to my fellow catechists and I much about the love of God, Jesus and most certainly the Holy Spirit. Today I share with you three moments from our time with the children, in the hopes that the children’s openness to and perceiving of the Holy Spirit may inspire in you the same awe and wonder it did in them and us.

1—After presenting the Annunciation to the children preparing for First Communion, the catechist invited the children to ponder Jesus’ divine nature, by wondering together how it was that this unmarried young girl had come to be pregnant. An eight- year old autistic child shouted, “epiclesis”. At first instinct the catechist was tempted to correct the child, but with pause realized that the child was not mistaken. Epiclesis is the gesture in the Mass that communicates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine, transforming them into the body and blood of Jesus. This young child (who we often, mistakenly, thought wasn’t even listening) was able to reconcile the coming of the Holy Spirit to Mary some 2000 years ago as the same Spirit he had experienced at Mass in the breaking of the bread.

2—A four-year old child was working with a material recounting the story of Jesus’ birth. When the catechist looked over, the child had placed in the manger not the baby Jesus, but had gone to the Annunciation material on the nearby shelf and taken the flame (symbol the Holy Spirit) and placed it in the manger. A passing observer may have pointed to the baby Jesus that lay to the wayside, but the catechist saw in the child’s meditation what even she had often failed to recognize.

3—The parish’s ministry with JK/SK students concludes with the CGS presentation of Pentecost. Following this presentation, the catechist asked the children who they recognized in the action of the wind and fire. A child raised his hand and confidently replied, “God”. The classroom teacher (interrupting) corrected him with a quick “no”. When the catechist pointed out that the child’s response was indeed true, that God was present among the apostles that day and in that moment we call God “Holy Spirit”, the teacher stood in silent amazement and the child smiled a great (and holy) smile!

Happy Pentecost to all the children in our parish and to all our parishioners who desire “to change and be like children so that they too will enter the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 18.2)

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Acts 2.1-11
  • Psalm 104
  • 1 Corinthians 12.3b-7, 12-13
  • John 20.19-23