4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 and 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.
Father Shawn

Our second reading today has to be one of the most beautiful pieces of Scripture in the entire Bible. It is St. Paul at his lyrical best. It is on the front of your bulletins this weekend. I’d encourage you to take it home with you and read it over and over again this upcoming week. This so called Hymn to Love is the best summary of St. Paul’s spiritual and theological thought. St. Paul is writing to the Church of Corinth, who had become more captivated by the spectacular manifestations of the spiritual life: speaking in tongues, trading in words of knowledge, engaging in prophecy. This first letter’s purpose was to bring the people of Corinth back to the fundamentals. St. Paul strongly insists on the superiority of love. He asserts that all the spiritual gifts are great but they are nothing if they are not accompanied by love or if they do not give rise to love. Love is the supreme gift.

It is important to note that in the Greek of the New Testament there are four separate words that are all translated into the English as love. Philia, which is the love characterized by friendship. Storge, the love that springs from dutiful relationships, like parents for children and children for their parents. Eros, the intimate physical love between a man and a woman. And finally Agape, the love that God has for us and the love that we are to have for our neighbour out of love for God. It is this final love, Agape, that is the word used in 1 Corinthians chapter 13…the love that God has for us and that we are to have for our neighbours out of love for God.

Love is not primarily a feeling or emotion; though love can be accompanied by feelings and emotions; Love is a choice, love is the willing the good of the other and then doing something concrete about it…When we love, we cannot focus in on ourselves. Love, by its very nature, is for the good of someone else.

“Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Many of us are good to someone else so that he or she, in turn, might be good to us. This is not true love, but rather it is a kind of twisted love of self…the focus is actually on ourselves. When we are caught in the rhythm of that sort of reciprocal exchange,…I’ll be patient or kind to you only if you are patient or kind to me…we get very impatient with any negative response to what we perceive of ourselves as loving…however since it is focussed on ourselves…it is not love.

If someone responds to our kindness with hostility or even indifference, we quickly withdraw whatever good we think we have done. True love is not interested in reciprocation but simply in the good of the other, and therefore, is willing to wait out any resistance.

Love is patient. It never gives up on anyone. Impatience inserts ourselves into the situation…It says…haven’t I done enough…Impatience says to the other…you’ll never get it right…do it in my time not in yours…think like me…Impatience is self-focussed…It is not focussed on the good of the other.

Love is willing to suffer for the sake of the other. It is not jealous. Jealousy is always born of a twisted self-love. I’ll bring them down. But, Love wants the good of the other. It is what love is. It rejoices in the good of the other. It is not arrogant or inflated. It does not think it is better than the other. It doesn’t seek its own interest. That is the definition of love. Love does not brood over an injury. It is not quick-tempered.

Impatience, Jealousy, quick temper, conceitedness comes from being preoccupied with ourselves. Someone is not doing it my way so I lose my peace. We focus on the way we’ve been injured…What they have done to me. This is all ego, twisted self-love.

True love has nothing to do with resentment, for it wants the success of the other. And the person who loves is not conceited, because he/she feels no need to raise themselves above the other…to compare themselves to the other…Just the contrary: they want the other to be elevated, and hence takes the lower place with joy. Once we understand the nature of true love, we know why “it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
Love does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. How often we do rejoice over wrongdoing. We take a twisted pleasure in the misfortune of someone else; when someone else experiences a failure or has done something wrong. Love is not interested in that…Love rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things. It puts up with all things because it wants to go to the other. It is willing to bear the burden of the other however that burden is manifested. Love hopes all things. When everything is going wrong the person of love is interested in what is possible…What can be. Love endures all things. Love never fails. Love is who God is. God never fails.

The one who loves is not focused on himself but on the object or person of his love. He is not preoccupied with his own weariness or disappointment or frustration. Instead he looks ahead, hoping against hope, attending to the needs of the one he loves.

St. Therese of Lisieux discovered her vocation in her reading of chapter 13 of First Corinthians. It profoundly struck her and she realised that her, and our, vocation was to love. This became the heart of her spiritual teaching. It is called her Little Way and it is very, very, challenging. Easy to say, hard to live. The Little Way can be summarised in the following question…What is the quality of my love? Every moment wherever I am; whatever I am doing…what is the demand of love in that moment? What is right in front of me right now …what is the demand of love? So simple and beautiful to say…one of the most difficult to live.

Often people, in frustration, will say to me: That all sounds well and good but Father Shawn…I’m so impatient, I have such a temper, I am so jealous, arrogant, vain…I can’t change…but we are not these things…. they are often habitual ways of reacting to particular situations…relational ruts in which we have fallen…So let’s be very pragmatic…how do we become more patient, less full of anger, less jealous or vain?
None of these are sinful in and of themselves…they appear on our hearts as temptations and are not sinful until we act upon them. Temptations are part of who we are as fallen human beings. When we give in to them they can become sinful and we let the person have it…at least in our minds and sometimes even lash out with our tongues

However, these exact same temptations can become the source of our holiness…when we feel impatient or anger well up in our heart…if we resist it…quickly utter a « Come Holy Spirit » or perhaps a full Our Father in our heart before acting or speaking…we resist it, we grow in strength, we grow in holiness…the same temptation that could cause us to sin…when resisted becomes a source of holiness and when we do it over and over and over…a true source of peace…sure we will have impatience, anger, jealousy, pride…they are part of who we are as fallen human beings…BUT when resisted…they become opportunities…opportunities to grow in holiness, to grow in love and peace.

“Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Heaven is all about Love… not wealth, power, pleasure or honour… but Love…In heaven, when we are sharing the divine life…There…even faith will end, for we will see and no longer merely believe; hope will end, for our deepest longing will have been realised. But love will endure, because God IS love.

This passage could very easily read:
God is patient; God is kind; God is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. God does not insist on His own way; God is not irritable or resentful; God does not rejoice in wrongdoing, God rejoices in the truth. 7 God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
God never ends.

The reading exhorts us to “strive for the greater things.” As Christians, followers of a God who loves us in this way, we too are called to imitate God. We are called to be patient. We are called to be kind; We are called not to be envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. We are called not to insist on our own way. We are called not to be irritable. We are called not to be resentful. We are called to rejoice in the truth and not others’ faults

Heaven is the state of being in which everything that is not love has been burned away. And that is why “faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul has named here, not just the essence of his own theology, but also of Christian life itself.

Love transcends egotism…Love is willing the good of the other and then doing something concrete about it…When we love, we cannot focus in on ourselves. Love, by its very nature, is for the good of someone else.

St. John of the Cross, the great master of the spiritual life gives this advice:

“Where there is no love, put love – love draws forth love.”

The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.