Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

BOUNDLESS LOVE

By Emily VanBerkum

In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus places great demands on his audience. In fact, he outrightly asks for perfection. However, though Jesus’ words may strike the reader as an impossible task, Jesus carefully reinterprets the Mosaic Law’s understanding of retaliation and loving one’s neighbour in order to provide the key to spiritual happiness. If someone hurts us, our instinct might be to “get even.” Yet, Jesus suggests that we “turn the other cheek,” “give our cloak,” “go the second mile,” and not “refuse anyone who wants to borrow” from us. This laundry list of demands doesn’t paint the victim as a passive receptacle of unjust actions. Rather, it reveals a genuine desire to put an end to acts of retaliation for the sole purpose of being spiteful.

By unloading oneself of the immense burden of holding grudges or living in spite, Jesus reasonably argues that praying for those who persecute you rather than hating your enemies actually requires less energy. It’s easy to say that you could “love” your neighbour, but praying for them bears with it the beautiful hope of putting thought into action. Being “children of your Father in heaven” is the reward for loving without boundaries. Don’t simply love when it is convenient to do so, or even when you love the person already. Jesus isn’t easily fooled. Jesus asks an incredible rhetorical question: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”

I wonder, what does it mean to be “children of God?” In my opinion, the effort of striving for that awesome reward comes pretty darn close to any sort of earthly perfection I can conceive of or hope to achieve. I think others are in the same boat. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “an eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind.” If we don’t demand blindness as a form of justice, it’s worth giving Jesus’ instructions for spiritual happiness a try- no matter how difficult. If we ensure that our neighbour has near perfect sight, we can better navigate what it means to be “children of God”…together. There’s no “us against them” but a humble- and distinctly practical- sense of unity in the faith we profess and the life that we live.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A  CALL  TO  CLARITY 

by Lucinda M. Vardey

What is Jesus saying in the last lines of today’s Gospel when he commanded our responses to be “Yes” or “No.”?  And what is he inferring by any other response  as coming “from the evil one”?

Jesus always invites us to be clear about the truth embedded in the will of God.   How we discern that truth requires us to listen, with an open, loving heart, in the quiet and solitude of prayer.  From there we are guided by the Spirit and wisdom of God to know how to confidently respond in any situation.

There must have been occasions when we have reacted too quickly, made decisions without turning to prayer.  How many times have we regretted saying “Yes” when we desired to say “No.”?  Were decisions affected by feelings of “should” or guilt, or fear that we’d upset other’s expectations?  And when did we fall into interminable indecision, permitting a “maybe,” or succumbing to the silence of no response?

Jesus could well be emphasizing that no response, no action, no decision, is never neutral.   Everything has a cost.  Being nebulous has hurtful consequences.

In her encounter with the angel Gabriel, Mary asked a question, received an answer and responded, like the Apostles, with her affirmation.  Our readiness to trust God’s guidance, and our willingness to clearly respond,  increases not only our faith but God’s work in and through our lives.

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

ESSENTIAL LIGHT

By John Dalla Costa

With the bright stars of Christmas now a receding memory, and the new dawn of Easter still months away, the liturgical year turns to helping us live the illumination of faith in ordinary time. Light is the motif connecting all of today’s readings: from the poetic-pragmatism of Isaiah, to the terse, Tweet-like declaration by Jesus that we “are the light of the world.”

What does it mean to light up ordinary time? In a canyon of still rising condominiums, our parish church is literally ever more in shadows cast by the city. So we don’t need to go far from our bell tower to discover the gloom of hunger, illness and homelessness, which Isaiah challenges us to see and correct.

Nor, however, do we need to go very far up or down Bay Street to discover other forms of darkness. In our culture, which makes morality optional, and truth relative, it is often hope that is eclipsed, and meaning that gets obscured. And in our neighborhood, it can just as easily be that the busiest people are the loneliest, the smartest most in need of understanding, and the most successful aching most for satisfaction. Jesus does not ask us to share the light, but to be the light; not to judge, but to embody our spirituality so that the peace and purposefulness from our baptism light up the darkness for those around us.

Ever the humble servant, Paul insists that we can’t let these bright lights go to our heads. It is after all God’s power that generates this potential in us. Our job is to be July in February – to radiate the warmth, gratitude, welcome and glee that help extract the deep preciousness from ordinary time.

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

PRESENTED TO THE COMMUNITY

By Leanna Cappiello

It has only been one month since I began as your Social & Community Coordinator, and I must say, I’ve grown attached to you all already!

Your immediate response to our new initiatives has been doing wonders for this new energy at the Parish. Individually, and as a collective, you are the reason for this change. My role is merely to invite and facilitate.

For those who haven’t met me yet: I hold my B.A.[H] in Drama in Education & Community, and my B.Ed. at the Intermediate-Senior level. This means that I am both a Theatre Practitioner and a Teacher. My most notable internships vary from clowning at Fools for Health, to international politics the Holy See Mission to the United Nations. I spent most of my summers at the Shakespeare School in Stratford. I am a freelance writer, and my work has been published through CBC’s Generation Why, Salt+Light Media, Examiner.com, The Catholic Register, and Busted Halo. In addition to working with you at St Basil’s, I am currently pursuing my MTS at Regis College.

I’d love to offer a short update on how things have been going so far:

Reaching out to our Newlyweds and Engaged couples has been a great joy. The potlucks this month have been both delightful and delicious.

Couples: keep an eye out for some of our adventurous dining experiences in the future.

Our first gathering as young adults went exceptionally well. So much in fact, that we have decided to make it a weekly gathering: each Sunday following the 4:30pm mass.

Young adults: stay tuned to mailing list and on Facebook for upcoming events, gatherings, and locations.

Beginning in February, we will be starting a new initiative called “Threads of Prayer”, where we will gather each week to knit or crochet small gifts for the homebound and sick. These sessions will be held on a weekday in the late afternoon. Knitting lessons will be offered!

Elders: more information to come…

In today’s Gospel, we heard Jesus’ words, “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.” This mission He hands to us is not simply a call to ponder about change, but to act on change. You have already started. My position here is a direct result of your desire to be a more welcoming, generous, dynamic community – and this is only the beginning.