What does it mean for us to be light?

What does it mean for us to be light?

By Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB

Last weekend we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. As we blessed the candles that we use in Church and at home we were reminded that Jesus is the light of the World. This weekend Jesus speaking to his disciples and to the Church, the Body of Christ, “You are the light of the world, …let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” What does it mean for us to be light?

Isaiah tells us, “…to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up quickly… If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday”.

The light of compassion and mercy that may be as source of healing, hope and liberation for some, may also be a challenge and judgment on others. For the light may also reveal what causes the darkness. Dom Hélder Câmara (1909-1999), Archbishop of Olinda and Recife in Brazil, an advocate for the poor and oppressed said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist”.

Over the centuries many individual Christians and the Church, herself, have been worthy witnesses to Christ’s care and concern for those who suffer and they are models of God’s love and mercy as they feed the hungry, care for the sick, shelter the homeless and educate men and women so that they can live happy and productive lives. Others at times have spoken out against the injustices, suffering and hurt caused by prejudice, economic systems, governments.

As we reflect on this week’s readings let us consider how we have been light to others and how others have been light to us. Let us pray that we be sensitive to the needs of others and work together to find the causes and cures for injustice in our society and the world in which we live.

Sunday’s Readings:
Isaiah 58.6-10
Psalm 112
1 Corinthians 2.1-5
Matthew 5.13-16

Church Unity

Church Unity

By Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB

John the Baptist in today’s Gospel reading, points to Jesus Christ saying, “…He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” It is through Baptism that we put on Christ and become members of the Body of Christ, the Church. St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians writes, “To the church of God, … to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. St. Paul prays for unity and peace among Christians. All those who are baptized in Christ, Catholic and non-Catholic, are united to each other in Christ. St. Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). But since the beginning of Christianity there have been misunderstandings and arguing, divisions and schisms. Sometimes those divisions have been reconciled, but at other times they have remained, even at times becoming deeper and more painful. These divisions are what prompted St. Paul to write to the Ephesians, “… lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). This admonition is still appropriate today as we encounter disharmony among Christians, even discord within the Catholic Church. From Saturday, 18 January (the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter) until 25 January (the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul) we invite you to pray with Christians around the world to pray for harmony and peace among all the baptized. Here is a prayer you might want to pray daily during the Church Unity Octave. God, giver of life, we thank you for the gift of your compassionate love which soothes and strengthens us. We pray that our churches may be always open to receive your gifts from one another. Grant us a spirit of generosity to all as we journey together in the path of Christian unity. We ask this in the name of your Son who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday’s Readings:

Isaiah 49.3, 5-6

Psalm 40

1 Corinthians 1.1-3

John 1.29-34

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

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

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

It’s Time to Say Goodbye

It’s Time to Say Goodbye By Fr. Norm Tanck It is difficult to say goodbye, especially to someone you love. For the last few weeks, the Gospel readings at Mass have been from Jesus’ farewell discourse in the Gospel of John. Jesus’ goodbye isn’t a quick, “so long, its been good to know you”. It takes all of Chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17 (116 verses). It is really a beautiful, intimate insight into Jesus’ love for his Father, his deep love for his disciples. You can sense the human vulnerability of one who has to say goodbye to those he loves, and yet there is a sense of strength and purpose because the pain of separation will be replaced with the joy of being reunited in a deeper and lasting bond. He tells them it is time for him to leave them now, but promises to send the Spirit, to comfort them. He talks about the unity and peace that can only come from love and being obedient to the will of the Father. Jesus speaks of his hopes and dreams for his disciples, his friends and for the whole world, “That all would be one” and all would be at peace, He prays for them and for us. Next Sunday we will be celebrating the Feast of the Ascension when we will commemorate the Lord Jesus’ return to the Father in heaven and the Great Commission given to the Apostles to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News that the reign of God as begun. But we can already feel the anxiety of separation and loss in today’s Gospel, along with a promise of accompaniment and hope. But to address that “separation anxiety” Jesus tells his disciples and us, ”Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe”. Whenever we feel the pain of separation and loss, whenever we fear for the future, these words can be a solace and hope for us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid”. Sunday’s Readings: Acts 15.1-2, 22-29 Psalm 67 Revelation 21.10-14, 22-23 John 14.23-29

Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

A note from Fr. Norm, Associate Pastor

Today we take a break from our usual reflection on the Sunday readings to reflect on the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick which will be celebrated at a Mass on Saturday, 27 October at 11:00am. Throughout his public ministry the sick came to Jesus to be healed. People brought their loved ones to him so that he could touch them and give them comfort and hope. Sometimes that healing was physical, at other times the sick were restored to their family and community where they could receive the love, acceptance, and care they needed. St. James tells us (James 5:14-15) , “Is anyone among you sick? They should summon the priests of the church, and they should pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord and the prayer of faith will save those who are sick, and the Lord will raise them up…”. When we celebrate the Sacrament of Anointing, we come asking Jesus for mercy and help. Through the ministry of the Church He is present and by His touch and the anointing of the Holy Spirit he offers us what we need. We may come seeking a cure, but Jesus may offer us peace of mind, and inner calm. We may come seeking relief from the stress or anxiety or depression caused by the pressure of our lives and the Holy Spirit gives us strength to fight against the darkness. We may come because our illness or state of mind separates us from others and we are given a welcoming community that tells us that we are loved and not alone. We invite all who would like the healing and comfort of this Sacrament. A light lunch will be served following the Mass. All are welcome and please invite those you think may need to experience the loving touch of Jesus.

Sunday’s Readings:

Wisdom 7.7-11

Psalm 90

Hebrews 4.12-13

Mark 10.17-30

Time Away

Time Away

By Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB

In today’s Gospel we see that Jesus and the disciples were so overwhelmed with the needs and demands of others that they need time to get away, to think and pray, to plan and dream, and to rest and regroup. The Gospel of Mark tells us that they were so busy that they couldn’t even find time to eat. So Jesus says to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” There are times when we need to get away and tend to ourselves. If we don’t take time for ourselves, our bodies will take it for us. How often have you found yourself trying to fight off a yawn or stay awake at a meeting? We know that more serious things that can happen if we don’t take the time to rest or exercise, to slow down and calm down. We can also find ourselves lonely if we do not make quality time to be with friends and family. And we need time for prayer; personal time, for private prayer and time to pray in community. Psalm 23 reminds us that, “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose; Near restful waters he leads me; to revive my drooping spirit.” But that doesn’t excuse us from being aware of the world around us. Today’s Gospel points us back to the world we leave behind as we tend to our personal or communal needs. From their private place Jesus looks and sees all those who were still seeking healing and comfort from him. The Gospel tells us that later Jesus, “saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things”.

Sunday’s Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6 Psalm 23 Ephesians 2.13-18 Mark 6.30-34

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

by Fr. Norm Tanck

“… acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Keep his statutes and his commandments…” (Dt 4:32-34, 39-40). One of the familiar images of the Holy Trinity is the 15th century Rublev icon. Three angels representing the Trinity are seated around a square table. The fourth side is left open as an invitation for others to join them in the communion they are sharing. The fourth place at the Trinitarian table is ours. We come to know the life of the Trinity through entering into the mystery itself by loving as God loves. Jesus gave us the great commandment to love one another as he loved us (John 15:12-15). That love is the same love with which Jesus loves the Father and the Father love him, “As the Father loves me, so I love you” (John 15:9). That love is the power of the Holy Spirit to change hearts and renew the earth. But, just as we are invited into this loving communion of persons, Jesus charges us to invite others into the table fellowship depicted in the Rublev Trinity icon. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:16-20).

Sunday’s Readings:

Deuteronomy 4.32-34, 39-40

Psalm 33

Romans 8.14-17

Matthew 28.16-20

Vine and Branches

Vine and Branches

by Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB

“I am” statements are characteristic of the way Jesus presents himself to us in John’s Gospel: I am the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd. Today he says he is the Vine and we are the branches. These “I am” statements help us to see ourselves and our relationships more clearly, how we relate to Jesus and to others. We are the flock that hears his voice and the branches that are pruned to bear much fruit. When Jesus says that “I am the vine, you are the branches” he is presenting an image of believers who know who they are in and through their relationship to Jesus. The vine and its branches give us an image of a community of believers whose members share in the same divine life. The Church is a mystery that thrives on the resurrected life of Jesus which surges through all its members. We live in Christ and Christ lives in us. As Jesus says, “Abide in me as I abide in you…” Although Jesus looks after us, being a community of believers united in mind and heart with him takes work and commitment. It takes faith and trust, hope and courage. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit, the community must work together to make sure that there is continued growth. St. Paul tells us, “… let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth…”

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Acts 9.26-31
  • Psalm 22
  • 1 John 3.18-24
  • John 15.1-8