Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Times

August 7th, 2016

Father Stéphane Pouliot

What is faith?  And how do we get ready for the final judgement?  Those are the two questions that God answers today through what He revealed of his heart for us in the Bible.


The 11th chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, our second reading this Sunday, is known as the “Hall of Faith”.  In this excerpt, we encounter again and again what other people did by faith: most especially Abraham.


Let us therefore answer our first question: “What is faith?”  Is faith simply believing?  It certainly includes assenting intellectually to a list of statements, as in I believe that God created the world.  I believe God became man.  I believe that Jesus rose from the dead. But it is more than a checklist of things I agree with.


Faith, if it is alive, means action based on your belief that God is faithful, trustworthy and good.  By faith, Abraham walked to a land he knew not, and dared to offer up Isaac his beloved son, because he believed God to be faithful to His promises to him.


Recapping them what we just said, we know that faith is divided into two things:

First, faith is an intellectual assent, whereupon I believe the promise of God and what God reveals to me about who He is.

Secondly, this assent turns into doing something about what I assented to believe.  I am therefore invited to entrust myself without conditions to God, an entrusting that can only be aimed at God, because it is so unconditional and total that only God deserves this kind of trust.  Only God will not disappoint this kind of trust.


Our faithfulness is built upon his faithfulness.  The reason that Abraham entrusted himself to God is that he knew God to be trustworthy.  God is declaring that our contribution to this Hall of Faith is awaiting us after death.  By faith, what will we do with our lives?[1]  We must respond in action to what Jesus did for us.  In dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead, Jesus is the bridge over the raging waters of sin, which separated us from God.  Jesus is coming back at the end of history, but also at the moment of our death.


Therefore, the second question God answers for us this week is: “How do we get ready for the final judgement?”  Jesus gives three practical answers to this question.  First, we get ready for the final judgement by storing up treasures in heaven, Jesus said.


How do we build up heavenly treasures in order to get ready?  Proverbs chapter 19 verse 17 states the following: “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.”  In giving money to the poor, we are not giving money away, but we are giving our money to God who will one day repay us in full, hence the treasure in heaven.


The second answer Jesus gives to the question: “How do we get ready for the final judgement?” is to be dressed for action and have our lamps lit, so that when He returns to judge the living and the dead, we are ready to welcome Him.

If we are ready when Jesus comes, he, our Master will gird himself, and serve us.  Jesus is no ordinary Master, and we are no ordinary servants, since we are destined to reign with Him in His kingdom.  Let us therefore be ready, always vigilant, and always lovingly prepared for His return.


Finally, the third and final answer Jesus gives to the question: “How do we get ready for the final judgement?” is contained in the parable of the wise and faithful steward.  In this parable, we find that different outcomes apply if the servant is ready or not to welcome His Master the King when He returns.


The first outcome applies to the steward who knew what to do to get ready, and did it.  He will enter into salvation, and therefore Heaven.


The second outcome applies to the unfaithful steward who is not only unprepared to welcome His Master back, but while waiting abuses his fellow servants, and misuses His Master’s things.  The images here are violent, and signify the death of the steward.  In other words, the unfaithful and abusive steward will be cast into Hell.


The third and fourth outcomes have two things in common: the steward is negligent and therefore will suffer as a result of his or her negligence, but will neither enter Heaven nor be cast into Hell.  The negligent servant who knew what to do to get ready, but did not do it by deliberate neglect will be punished severely, while the servant who was negligent out of ignorance, will not be punished so severely.

The third and fourth outcomes are an image of the necessary purification of the sinners, who are neither ready for Heaven, nor hell-bound, and therefore enter after death into what the Church calls “Purgatory”.


Our first reading from the book of Wisdom gave a summary statement of what happened at the first Passover and draws a clear lesson from it: the people of God were ready in Egypt for the coming judgement of the Passover night by sacrificing the lamb.  In the same way, Jesus is calling us, his people, to be ready for the coming judgement by sacrificing our money in almsgiving to the poor.


As the psalmist proclaimed: at the end of the day, it is the Lord who is delivering us.  Our faith and hope is to be placed in Jesus.  Our faith can only be alive if in addition to agreeing intellectually to what God says and accepting who God is, we surrender to Jesus. This surrender compels us to act on our belief that God keeps His promises and will return.  Therefore, we must be ready for the final judgement by giving our money to the poor, awaiting vigilantly the return of Jesus our Master, and committing ourselves to love God ever more and our neighbours by showing His mercy to them as us on the Cross.[2]

[1] To answer the first question, I am drawing here from the teaching given by Jeff Cavins in this week’s «Encountering the Word » video, in view of the biblical readings the Church gives us to meditate upon for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C.  It can be found within the Great Adventure Blog.

[2] I am also greatly indebted to Dr. Brant Pitre, whose video ‘Be Ready !  The Master is coming back.  – The Lectionary Readings Explained’ for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, was a goldmine of insight.  It can be found at his Catholic productions blog.

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.