04 Mar Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
March 4th, 2019
Father Shawn J. Hughes
Homilies are never the creative act of one person. Thus, in posting these homilies on St. Mary’s Cathedral’s website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be little original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it: ‘tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time. If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures and/or the Spiritual Life.
God bless you.
Lent begins this Wednesday. It is time to think about our Lenten practices. Some type of fasting, a way to deepen our prayer life and works of charity that we will take on. It is helpful to remember the purpose of Lent. During this time the church prepares people for baptism and prepares us…those already baptized…to renew our commitment to Christ.
Such a project, renewing our commitment to Christ, necessarily involves conversion. So Lent has a penitential character. We do things in order to place ourselves more completely before God who gives us the grace to change our hearts. And changing hearts is what our first reading and Gospel today are about. The wise sage, Sirach, gives everyday examples to explain how our speech reveals who we really are…Our speech reveals what is truly in our hearts? Pottery is only as good as how it is fired. The fruit of a tree shows how well the tree was cared for. The gospel echoes the same example. A good tree does not bear rotten fruit. A good tree is known by its good fruit. Jesus explains what this simple parable is about. He says a good person …out of the store of goodness in his heart…produces good. But a person who is evil produces out of the stores that are evil. As the gospel points out: “For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Jesus commands us to stop judging others. He asks, “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” We are exceptionally good at seeing the fault in others, but we are exceptionally adept at ignoring it in ourselves.
That final phrase of the gospel might be a good Lenten refrain for us. “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.” Is our heart full of Christ? If it is we will speak Christ.
No matter what external Lenten practises we adopt we would do well to make sure that somehow that practice leads us within to discover the fullness of the heart. Don’t let this wonderful season pass by. Don’t let this wonderful opportunity to draw closer to the Lord pass by.
We take on acts of Fasting, Penance and Almsgiving as an outward expression of our interior repentance, as an outward expression of our desire to radically re-orient our perspective. On Wednesday as the Ashes are placed on your forehead you will be exhorted to “Turn away from sin, and follow the gospel.”
Our prayer, fasting and almsgiving are a prayer of sacrifice offered to the Lord so that we grow closer to him, make more room for him, and we offer it for those we know, especially our family so that they will grow closer to him. Someone once asked me what possible good could prayer, fasting and almsgiving do in conquering their habitual sin. Our Lenten practices put Christ at the very centre of all we do. By removing, fasting, from certain things, we are much more focused on him throughout our day.
Our prayer, fasting and almsgiving are each acts of worship. Acts of self-discipline, acts of humility, acts of growing in accepting small sacrifices that we choose so that we will be strengthened for the big sufferings that we do not choose.
Confession – start with confession
Word Among us
Lent is all about conversion. Andre Regnier, the founder of Catholic Christian Outreach, CCO in his book Clear & Simple claims “if parishioners and community members are not able to give a clear and simple “yes” to the invitation of the Gospel, then we must ask ourselves if conversion is really taking place.” He goes on to say that as those who spread the gospel “need to look beyond creating positive experiences and commit to a clear intention: to call forth true consent, instead of mere theoretical approval and sentimentality.”
Lent is about committing…committing very clearly to the Lord. Very simply the Question this Lent is: “Can I give a clear, simple, total “yes” to Christ in every aspect of my life?”
To make that “yes” clear, simple and total we need to take our Lenten spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving very seriously.
You have ‘til Wed. before Lent begins. Look over the possible book clubs, online meditations and suggested fasting and almsgiving practices…don’t choose just one…just a few…the more you undertake … the more you are placing the Lord at the centre of your lives: “As I quoted last week from the Letter of James, 4:8… “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”