A children’s homily.

Once upon a time, there was a baker who made bread, muffins and fresh cookies every single morning before anyone else in town even woke up.  He was always busy mixing eggs, milk, flour and sugar together into delicious treats which he sold in his small bakery shop on Main Street.

On one particular morning, he realized that he had run out of eggs.  He was quite concerned, so he decided to walk all the way to Farmer Pete’s place to try to get some fresh eggs.  As we walked along the path, he decided to take a shortcut there.  He went off the road and into the woods, but that was a bad mistake because he did not notice that there was a very big hole in the ground… and he fell into it.  It was deep and quite dark inside the hole and so he could not climb out on his own.  Not knowing what else to do, he began to scream: “Help, help… I have fallen into a hole in the ground!”

Eventually, there was someone who was walking by and who heard the cries for help.  It was Mr. Turner.  Mr. Turner was very busy and in a great big hurry… but he decided to find out what all the fuss was about.  As he approached the side of the hole, he looked down inside and saw the baker.  “Hello down there, good sir.  What seems to be your problem?”

The baker said: “Oh, thank goodness I have been found.  Can you please help me?”

Mr. Turner stated: “Well what a terrible predicament you have found yourself in.  This is a bad spot of luck indeed.  I am very sorry for your troubles and would most certainly do anything at all I can for you.  I shall help you.”  And with that, Mr. Turner walked away.  He left, leaving the baker all alone and still stuck in the big hole in the ground.

After some time, Mrs. Finch happened to be passing by and she heard the baker’s screams for assistance.  Looking into the hole, she said: “What seems to be the problem?”

Discouraged, the baker replied: “I have taken a very bad fall and could use some help.”

Mr. Finch noted: “Well that is bad indeed.  I will help you!”

No sooner had she stated this than Mr. Finch ran as quickly as she could to Farmer Pete’s place and asked if he would bring some rope to help a man who had fallen into a deep hole in the ground.  Farmer Peter and Mrs. Finch threw the rope into the hole and the baker tied it around his waist.  He was immediately pulled up and out.

Mr. Turner expressed his sorrow that the baker had fallen into the hole.

Mrs. Finch actually did something about it.

Mr. Turner used words only.  Mrs. Finch, along with Farmer Pete, did something too.  They used actions.

You see, there are words – the things we say – and there are actions – the things we actually do.  They go together and both are important.  But all the words in the world without any actions don’t actually mean all that much.


Words and actions go together and both are important.  When we all come to Mass, we experience together both words and actions.  And they are both important.  But all the words in the world without any actions don’t actually mean all that much.  That why our Mass has both.

The first part of the Mass is called the Liturgy of the Word and this is the part that is filled with a lot of words.  There are four different readings: the first is a story about God and his special people, the second is a prayer we usually sing, the third is a lesson about Jesus and the fourth, called the Gospel, is an actual story about Jesus himself.  These words are important because this is how we learn about our faith.

If this first part of the Mass was all there was, then it would be too bad.  We would be missing out on quite a bit.

The second part of the Mass is called the Liturgy of the Eucharist and this is about actions.  Here are some of the actions that take place in this part of the Mass:

  1. Some people bring gifts up to the altar; these include ordinary bread and wine.
  2. The priest says some special prayers and the Holy Spirit turns that bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus.
  3. Everyone who has received their First Communion walks up to the front of the Church and receives Communion.

In our Mass, we have both words and actions.  And then based on what we all learn from the words we have heard and prayed and the gifts we receive from Communion, we are all sent out to live as children and disciples of Jesus.

So, we could all go out and be like Mr. Turner… and talk, talk, talk… but do absolutely nothing… or we could use words and actions like Mrs. Finch and Farmer Pete and actually help others and live the way Jesus taught us.  There are words and actions.  Both are important.  Just like in our Mass.


Decreasing for Good Reason

In scripture, the man referred to as “the Baptist” was considered a wild one… who lived on the outskirts, dressed in camel hair and with a leather belt around his waist.  He ate locusts and honey.  Somehow, it’s easy to consider him something of a mad man, a person from the fringes, one whom only the most perceptive could learn to follow.

But we also know that he was popular, that he drew great crowds to him… crowds who had to travel in from cities and villages.  They listened to his words, were baptised by him.  By the John the Baptist, who was a man of some stature and influence.  And they were readied for something greater, for someone who would come next.

And when that moment did arrive, when Jesus appeared upon the scene, John needed to step aside.  Needed to surrender his position of influence and authority… over to another.  In what is perhaps the greatest six word prayer, John stated: “He must increase, I must decrease (John 3:30).”  John fully understood his own place relative to the one whom he had proclaimed, knowing that he was, in fact, unfit to even untie the laces of his sandal (John 1:27).

It’s a prayer because they are words we can repeat and a sentiment, a way of life, that we can embrace. To lessen ourselves so that we can allow Jesus to increase in our own lives is a worthy pursuit.  To empty ourselves of our desires, our failings, our hopes, our preferences, our aspirations, our trappings… all so that we can make available more room for Christ within us is really the point.

It is decreasing… for good reason.

Decreasing for Good Reason