Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 28, 2016

Father Shawn Hughes


Disclaimer: Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing 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.  

God bless you.

Father Shawn




Today’s Scriptures are all about the virtue of humility, the virtue that is the basis of all the others.  The first reading, the Gospel Acclamation, and the Gospel all highlight Humility.  When speaking to the disciples Jesus never misses an opportunity to explain the necessity of humility as a characteristic to be his followers.  In Matthew’s gospel he says to the disciples:  “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yolk upon you and learn from me for I gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”  (Matthew 11:28 ff)  The two qualities about Himself that the disciples are to learn are gentleness and humbleness of heart.  As we heard in the gospel the Lord was invited to a banquet in the house of one of the leading Pharisees.  Jesus notices that as the guests arrive, they take the most honourable positions at the table…so he says…“when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at table with you.”  He concludes the parable with the spiritual truth:
“For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14-7-11)


This parable reminds us that we have to know our place; so that we will avoid being blinded by ambition.  Sometimes our lives can become a frantic pursuit of greater goals, for which in many cases we are completely unqualified and which sooner or later would cause us to be humiliated.  Humility calls us to be real.  To know ourselves ….our gifts, our strengths,…and our weaknesses.  The word humility has humus as its root.  It means the earth, close to the ground, close to reality…We have that expression that is considered a great compliment: …“so and so is very down to earth…”  meaning they are very real, they know themselves, their ambition does not exceed their ability.  They are comfortable, even happy, with themselves, as they are.  They are real.


Six years ago,  during a very wonderful retreat during one of the prayer periods I had a deep, deep sense of my sins, but…what accompanied that, even more profoundly,  was a deep, deep awareness that I was a loved sinner.  That in spite of my faults, my failings, my weaknesses, my sins, God still loves me.  And to be healed there was nothing I could do to earn or produce holiness…to be healed I had to humbly open my being to the power of that love.  This was, for me, a profound experience of humility, of reality…that yes, I am a sinner, BUT, I am a loved sinner!  ever since that day when we call to mind our faults and failings at the beginning of Mass I always add….. “But always deeply aware of the depth of the Father’s love for us.”  Then we pause…that silence is very important…we do call to mind our faults, our failings, the times we have sinned…but we also call to mind the depth of God’s love for us…I actually pray interiorly:  “I am sinner, I am a loved sinner!”… That is the reality.   Living profoundly aware of that reality is humility.


The virtue of humility has nothing to do with being shy, timid or mediocre.  It causes us to be fully aware of the talents Our Lord has given us and wants to make them fruitful in our lives. Humility counteracts the tendency to show off, to boast about our achievements and of thinking we are wonderful. It is turned toward the other and not turned in on oneself.


I remember the Sisters of Providence who taught me during high school…when they were paid a compliment …being very gracious…saying thank you…and then their hand immediately going to the cross hanging around their neck…just fingering it…silently giving the glory to God, not receiving it for themselves.  In that silent gesture living the first line of Psalm 113…non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam…“not to us, Lord, not to us, but to You be all glory due.”


Humility makes us always acknowledge that our talents our virtues, both the natural ones and those of grace, come from God.  When you really think about it, those who are deeply talented, highly intelligent, maybe physically attractive even those who are highly virtuous…they did nothing to merit these graces…just as those who don’t have them did nothing to merit not having them…the glory, the merit belongs to God.   The truly humble realize that everything good comes from God and act accordingly.  Thus the response to graces received  in successes, and advancement does not produce pride…humility produces gratitude to God.  It is directed outward.  Not turned in on ourselves.


Humility is two sided.  It must stand in the truth of the gifts and talents we possess and it must be deeply aware of our weaknesses as well.  I just love the great story from history of Napoleon who once said to a Cardinal: “Eminence!  Do you not know that I if I so desired I could destroy the Catholic Church in an instant.”  The Cardinal laughed and simply replied: “We, with our sins and stupidity, haven’t been able to do it for the past 1800 years; what makes you think you can?”  A very human reply!  Deeply aware of human weakness.  Very true. Very real.


There can be no progress in the interior life without humility.  The Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, said:  “The beginning of all holiness is humbly admitting that without God we can do nothing, but that,….with, in, and through him, everything is possible.” (quoted in Priests for the Third Millennium by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, p. 53)


So to grow in humility we need; on the one hand to be absolutely real about our gifts, our talents and use them to bear much fruit as God expects…to employ these gifts and talents to the best of our ability to glorify Him…and to be deeply aware of our weaknesses.  This leads us to be continually grateful to God and to be full of the greatest spiritual daring because we base everything on God.  We know that our Lord will supply everything we are lacking. Thus humiliating circumstances are not disheartening they can be seen as opportunities to turn away from being turned in upon ourselves and more and more to the Lord in all things.


The Great medieval Italian author Dante, who wrote the Divine Comedy on Heaven, Purgatory and Hell.  Purgatory for him is a Seven layered Mountain, each layer is made by one of the seven deadly sins and at the base of the mountain, closest to Hell, are those with the worst deadly sin, Pride.  Those in Purgatory will eventually go to heaven so they are being purged of their particular sins.    In this work of literature, the proud go around with great boulders on their backs…the boulders push the proud down close to the earth…to reality.  To the truth.



We need to stop worrying about the impression we are giving and give ourselves to reality.  We need to stop thinking about what other people are thinking about us…or worrying about our reputation and give ourselves over to reality…that’s humility…that’s actually a source of joy because we can get rid of the boulders on our back…worrying about the impression we are making, worrying about our reputation, worrying about what other people are thinking…the humble dump those boulders and live in reality.


Two simple practical ways of pursing humility to practice this upcoming week.   If you struggle with pride…and we all do…it is the main capital sin…find opportunities to purposely take the lower place, the less important position, the one that won’t get attention.  And even when you think you deserve the attention:  give the attention to someone else, deliberately draw attention away from yourself to someone else.  The truly humble focus on the needs of others and respond to them.


Every one who exalts himself will be humbled,

and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

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.