Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 25, 2016

Father Shawn Hughes



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

Last week we heard clearly that disciples of Jesus cannot worship both God and money.  This week our readings give very clear examples of those who failed to be disciples; those who failed to worship God and worship money in His place.

You could entitle our first reading today from the prophet Amos as “Woe to the complacent…” or “Woe to the indifferent…”  It warns us not to be too satisfied with ourselves about our place in the world – especially if we forget to notice other people around us.  He describes people living in luxury, eating and drinking the best of everything, thinking only of themselves.  Not noticing those in need around them.  Amos concludes, “They shall be the first to go into exile.”  In the spiritual life, the opposite of love is not hatred.  The opposite of love is indifference, complacency…the true disciple is never indifferent to the plight of those around them.  Never complacent with unjust situations.

We are given a very concrete example of indifference and complacency in Luke’s Gospel of the Rich Man and Lazarus.   Jesus tells of a nameless Rich Man who lived a life of excess. He didn’t just eat well, he “dined sumptuously each day.”  Yet literally at his doorstep was Lazarus, a starving man who longed for the scraps that fell from the Rich Man’s table.  But as the Rich Man walked past him every day coming and going to his house, it never occurred to him to help his fellow human sprawled in front of him.

The Rich Man failed to have mercy on his brother…to have compassion on him.   In fact the Rich Man failed to see Lazarus as his brother.  He failed to see any dignity in Lazarus whatsoever.  Later he finds himself in Hell because of his indifference, his complacency, his lack of compassion.

This gospel underscores the absolute imperative that we must be merciful here and now, so that we receive mercy later.  St. Augustine said of this text: “The reason the rich man does not receive mercy in eternity is because he did not show mercy in his life.” St. Ephrem said of this text: “We cannot hope for pardon in the end, unless the fruits of pardon can be seen in us.”

The Scriptures are full of this imperative that we must be merciful here in this life, if we are to receive mercy in the next life.

The prophet Isaiah clearly states how disciples of God are to relate to one another. In chapter 58 God speaks to us his disciples and instructs us “to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke,  to let the oppressed go free,…? to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and to never turn your back on your own.” (Isaiah 58:6-7)

The sermon on the Mount begins with how we shall achieve beatitude, one of which is:  “Blessed are the merciful.  For they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) The sermon comes to an end with Jesus saying:  “The measure you give will be the measure you get.” Matthew 7:2  And later in Matthew’s gospel Jesus states:  “ Whoever gives one of my little ones a cup of cold water simply in the name of a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will not lose his reward.”  Matthew 10:42.

Most radically in Matthew 25, the gospel of the judgement of the nations, Jesus identifies His very self with the poor.  Listen to it:  “31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of my brothers and sisters you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Jesus radically identifies Himself with those in need.  The hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned…When we show them mercy Jesus says 2e do it to Him…You…did…it…to ….me!”  Mother Teresa’s, St. Teresa of Calcutta’s, five finger catechism.  “The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus illustrates specifically one to whom it will be said: “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

I think we sometimes lull ourselves into thinking that it doesn’t really matter how I act towards others.  I don’t have to me merciful.  I don’t have to forgive.  I don’t have to overlook others differences.  I can ignore the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, the imprisoned.

Today’s readings clearly highlight there will be no special dispensation for those who refuse the needs of the wretched at their gate.  If they will not hear the Scriptures and be merciful, they show that they have placed themselves beyond the reach of God’s mercy.  Ultimately we are to radically identify with the five brothers in the parable.  True disciples of Jesus Christ listen to Moses and the Prophets and all the Scriptures and allow them to change their heart to their brothers and sisters in need.

Pope Francis provides the example for us to follow in his name sake St. Francis of Assisi.  The Holy Father highlights that Francis abandoned riches and comfort in order to become a poor man among the poor. He understood that true joy and riches do not come from the idols of this world –material things and the possession of them –but are to be found only in following Christ and serving others. Less well known, perhaps, is the moment when this understanding took concrete form in St. Francis of Assisi’s own life. It was when he embraced a leper. This suffering brother was the “mediator of light…for Saint Francis of Assisi” (Lumen Fidei, 57), because in every suffering brother and sister that we embrace, we embrace the suffering Body of Christ. (7/24/13, Providence)

Who is sick in your life and requires compassion and caring? Who in your life would benefit from a visit?   Who is imprisoned…perhaps not jail but imprisoned in prejudice, lack of forgiveness, by your judgment or criticism …. Who in your life is hungry or who thirsts…for food, for love, for recognition…who is naked… stripped…and needs being clothed with dignity…or Jesus also says to you and to me, his disciples,…when we respond to those in need in our own parish, our family or throughout our daily life Jesus also says: “Whenever you did this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray so often:  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  “Give us this day our daily bread” reminds us that Christians who pray sincerely must exercise responsibility toward their brothers and sisters, both in the personal behaviour and in their solidarity with the human family.  This petition of the Lord’s Prayer cannot be isolated from the parables of the poor man Lazarus or of the Last Judgement.   (CCC para 2831)

The rich, the powerful, and the ‘just’ find it very difficult to be humbly open to God; they are full of confidence in their own treasures and securities. The only real security is the one based on friendship with God and service of God: to be a servant of human beings and of God after the example of Jesus of Nazareth. Exalting oneself is a form of self-reliance as opposed to reliance on God. This makes clear why being rich, prosperous, satisfied almost naturally imply being arrogant, proud, godless. As human beings, we are radically weak and constantly try to cover up our weakness by finding security in power, wealth and status. This deception will ultimately be unmasked by God’s act of judgment. The only way to salvation is to recognize one’s weakness before God and to find one’s security in God alone.



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.