Who is my neighbour?
Faith Formation Day

Songhees Wellness Centre
February 3, 2017

~ Download this homily


"We're never too old, or too tired, or too busy, to set out on a new path, to follow the example of Jesus who left the heavenly realm and came to us. He crossed the great road between heaven and earth to walk with us and show us a new way."

~ Bishop Gary Gordon


Well it’s always good to come to a place where you’re assured that it’s a fairly Catholic crowd. The front seats are empty, so I’ll start at the back where most of the people are!

I don’t know about you—but I know about me. Every day I have to repent for the fact that every day, I fail to keep the great command to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Every day I have to repent for not living perfectly this beautiful command that would make a huge difference not only in our lives, but in the world, if we all honoured this command fully.

Repentance. It’s an important step towards taking a new step. It means changing direction. Repentance: changing direction. 

The first thing that is important for us to do, to change direction, is in the first Reading: love God, love your neighbour. And then the author gives a little list of things that are not so good. We know that list really well. He says, “Do not covet.” That’s a big one, you know. Do not covet.

As Bishop, I spend a lot of time repenting the fact that I, and almost everybody here, has coveted this land. We need to repent. To my Sister Gwen. To an Elder who is travelling with Bern. To Butch. We need to repent for the sin of coveting what is not ours. 

And then, we have to figure out how to take a new step forward. The beautiful thing about having the snow coming down this morning, this amazing grace that occasionally falls upon Victoria and makes my heart and the heart of Merlin just absolutely full of joy, is that it covers up the old tracks. It covers up the old paths, and it’s an opportunity to set new tracks on a fresh blanket. It’s a beautiful image. Of course, you don’t want to be setting new tracks in a snow storm, because they’ll just get buried. You always have to wait until the snow stops. Then you set new tracks, new trail.

Today, as we celebrate in prayer to begin our day, we’re going to share some stories about the possibilities of putting a new path in that freshly fallen snow. We’re going to repent of those old paths, and put our mind to a new path, so that those words of the Gospel, Who is my neighbour, can be answered by each and every one of us in a personal way, in a personal relationship. 

We’re never too old, or too tired, or too busy, to set out on a new path, to follow the example of Jesus who left the heavenly realm and came to us. He crossed the great road between heaven and earth to walk with us and show us a new way. He’s given us the Parable of the Samaritan—and Samaritans were considered the enemy; they had a different religion. They worshiped the same God, but had a different religion, and people didn’t like that. That’s why Jesus used the Samaritan as a teacher for all of us.

Who is my neighbour?

As we begin the journey, I’ll leave you with a good lesson I learned from my father. My dad came to live with me in Chilliwack when he was about 78 years old, and of course, being an energetic son, I dragged him around everywhere I went! He travelled with me—to Gwen and Steve’s house, to all the big houses—he travelled with me. After about a year of this, we were coming home from a ceremony, and as we were driving he revealed a huge ‘aha’ moment he’d had. He said, “Gary, how come we don’t know these people?”

I said, “What do you mean, Dad?”

He said, “I grew up in Saskatchewan. I worked in downtown Vancouver. I saw Native people all the time, every day. I worked with some in the railroad. How come I never knew these people?”

I said, “Well, what difference does it make?”

He said, “I wish I had known these people a long time ago. I’ve never heard so much common sense!” He’d never experienced the beautiful words that he heard at the ceremonies we attended. He went on, “Yesterday, somebody came up to me and asked me to join the Indian bowling league in Chilliwack!” Then he paused, and said again, “I wish I had known these people a long time ago.”

This left me a really important question, and as we change direction, take new steps, and carve out fresh paths, I’ll leave that question with all of you:

How come we don’t know these people? 

 

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Jun 8, 2017

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