Fifth Sunday in Easter

April 24, 2016

Father Shawn Hughes

 

Disclaimer:

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 herein which 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

 

I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” For many of us, the commandment of love has become so familiar that we may fail to recognize its shocking ‘newness.’

The commandment to love found in the Gospel of John is very different from the commandment to love found in the other gospels. In the gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke, the gospel writers have Jesus repeat the core teaching of the Old Testament covenant that is to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. The standard or comparison made there is that our love for neighbor must correspond to our love for ourselves.

I’d like to direct your attention to this beautiful crucifixion scene in the cathedral.

But in the gospel of John, we are commanded by Jesus to love one another as he, Jesus, has loved us. Self-love no longer becomes the criteria but the criteria now is Jesus’ love for us. In the first letter of St. John, where he speaks so much of love and where he names God as Love, we find these beautiful words “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 Jn 4:10) Our weak, limited, imperfect and inadequate ‘love’ for ourselves no longer becomes the standard by which we should love others but rather Jesus’ love for us becomes the standard for how we are to love one another.

And–

  • This is the love of God that he is prepared to become man, suffer and die for us.
  • This is the love of God, that he is prepared to become one of us, to share our pains and sorrows, to experience our sufferings and give us hope and encouragement in the midst of all our trials and sufferings.
  • This is the love of God – that he will “wipe away all tears from (our) eyes”, destroy death and sadness.
  • This is the love of God – that he will make all things new.

Love must therefore be the mark of our discipleship.  As Jesus says in today’s gospel:  “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Today’s Psalm, # 145 describes the Love of God and therefore the Love that we are to have for one another.

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 

The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all He has made.

Gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.  Good to all. Compassionate to all.

This is a huge standard.   A standard of which we realize that we will always fall short. We will never reach this perfect standard precisely because we are not God. And that is why we must continue to support, encourage and pray for each other.

I was discussing this with a parishioner this week and she said how overwhelming this was…. His love for us was sooooo big, tooo big she said….. how can we ever love like he did.

“Behold I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)  Even me.  Even you.  He makes us new in the Eucharist.  We can grow in this Love.

The Eucharist educates us to this love in a deep way; it shows us, in fact, what value each person, our brother, our sister has in God’s eyes, if Christ offers himself equally to each one, under the species of bread and wine. If our Eucharistic worship is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each brother or sister sitting beside you.

Thus practically speaking,

When we sit down beside someone… here…or anywhere…this commandment of love demands of us to think…“Imagine God loved this person next to you so much, that He gave His life for them” …

to think…..  “Imagine Christ offers Himself equally to this person and to me in the consecrated bread and wine.”   If our Eucharistic worship, our Mass, is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each brother or sister sitting beside me.”

“I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.”

This is how he loved us. (indicate the crucifix) Completely, self- sacrificially, totally selflessly, pouring Himself out to the end……. surrendering in obedience to the Father’s will.

We must strive to do likewise…….. “By this everyone will know you are my disciples.”

Without loving as he loved,

  • no matter how well we may know the faith
  • no matter how good we may be at winning arguments,
  • no matter how many prayers we say…….. without choosing to enter into the transformation of our hearts that we receive from the Lord and loving as He has loved, we simply cannot consider ourselves his friends.
  • This is a key reason why it is important that we know each other here at Mass. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
  • This is the key reason we have such a highly developed program to visit the sick, to take Holy Communion to those who can’t get out. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
  • This is the key reason why it is so important we have patience with each other, especially the mentally ill even when they are somewhat disruptive. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
  • This is the key reason why we are developing respite, and parish palliative care and attending to the needs of those who are severely ill and dying. …… sitting with them overnight, giving their loved ones a break, doing their shopping for them…… assisting them with our love.  The response to suffering is not to kill the person.  The response to suffering, is to care for them medically and spiritually, as best as we are able, actually caring for the person until God chooses to take them.  Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
  • This gospel is the reason we have a program in our parish for older women to assist young mothers with the caring for their newborns and young children. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
  • This gospel is the reason we have catechetical programs and St. Andrew’s School of Evangelisation courses ……… to lovingly share the gospel, the good news….. to know Jesus Christ more intimately. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.

Just as Jesus has loved us, so we must also love one another.

 



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.
PROCEDURAL NORMS FOR
THE NEXT FEW WEEKS

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.
Brevity
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.