Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father Shawn Hughes

November 14, 2016

 

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

 

You will be hated by all because of my name,

but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.

By your endurance you will gain your souls.

 

Endurance in times of trial, we call it perseverance, is considered one of the key virtues in the Scriptures.  St. Paul mentions it over and over again.  He lists “patient endurance” as one of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Galatians

 

One of the pieces of Scripture that virtually summarises the entire message of the bible is Revelations 2:10   “ Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. ..Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of Life.”

 

Another way of stating “By your endurance you will gain your souls.”  Is “If you do not endure, you will lose your souls.” Notice how reversing the sentence highlights two important things: first, the need to endure, to persevere; secondly, the salvation of the soul. The first is absolutely necessary in order to obtain the second.

Why is it absolutely necessary to endure in order to be saved?

 

Today’s readings answer that question by teaching us the importance of endurance. During the First Reading, we heard of the necessity to endure in righteousness. In the Second Reading, we heard of the necessity to endure in imitation of the saints. And in the Gospel Reading, we heard of the necessity to endure in our living faith. A good summary statement of these three are:

 

We must persevere in our living faith through righteousness and the imitation of the holy ones who have gone ahead of us.

 

In the New Testament righteousness is how we are to be with others…not just what we think but more actually what we do with others…imitating God’s commands in our relationship with others:  being humble, generous, self-sacrificial, loving, gentle, merciful, forgiving, peaceful, standing up for those who are wronged, standing up for injustice.

In today’s First Reading from the Book of Malachi, [Mal. 4:1-2] we hear the Lord say, evil will not triumph and those who revere the name of the Lord, that the Lord shall heal and sanctify them. It promises goodness will triumph.

 

It is a very basic rule in the spiritual life.   Where there is great good, the devil will attack.  When something is producing great grace evil will try to undermine and draw you down.  But always remember that!  Recognize it!!  And don’t give in to it!  As our first reading promises…Goodness will triumph.

 

In today’s Gospel Reading, [Luke 21:5-19] we hear Jesus discourse about the end times and the arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth.

While waiting for these great moments to come, we must adjust to a long period of waiting; that in this time those who follow the faith will be betrayed and persecuted.  We are to expect it and not be surprised by it … even when it comes from family and friends…those we care about. We must persevere in our living faith by taking our crosses and carrying them as Jesus did so that we too may arrive to our eternal glory.

 

Put simply, the gospel today encourages us that day in day out the daily crosses, the daily struggles to live our faith will be rewarded if we persevere.

When Jesus said, “By your endurance you will gain your souls” [Lk. 21:19] He was referring to the suffering that members of the early Church had to undergo following the crucifixion and death of Christ and His glorious Resurrection. He was warning His followers that some families would be divided because some would accept Christ as their Saviour while others would not. Consequently, those who believed in Jesus, could expect they would endure the death of martyrs.  Others, fearing death, would betray their family members, relatives, friends,  and renounce their faith and disown the Lord.

Today’s Gospel applies to us today. We are still called to persevere in our living faith. This teaching of Jesus has never changed. It is echoed over and over throughout the New Testament. “To those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life.” [Rom. 2:7, 5:3-5, 8:25, 14:4]  St. Paul says it many, many times in his letter to the Romans alone.  You have heard me quote Chapter 5 over and over again…… because it is so true:  “Suffering produces endurance, endurance, produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.”  (Romans 5:3-5)

 

There is an empty tomb over in Jerusalem.  He is Risen.  He is alive.  And so are we in Him.  There lies the hope that endurance in suffering produces.
Some of us do not have very heavy crosses to bear when it comes to persecution.  Some do…

 

The gospel offers the spiritual resources for us to cope with adversity and hardship. In times of distress it says  “do not be afraid”.  Following Jesus always exposes the faithful to opposition from the authorities.  Living the values of our faith often put us in direct conflict with the values of our society…often puts us in conflict with family members, with coworkers…. often with the ones you would least expect it from…however, we should expect it…opposition, persecution, betrayal…these crosses have existed from the beginning.

 

Truth is tested and faith is confirmed not in idle speculation but in the crucible of adversity.

 

Those who wish to find a more vibrant religious experience, therefore should not look to be free of trials, suffering and persecution but they should look for the means of enduring through the suffering persecution and trials.  A vibrant life of prayer, both privately every day and sacramentally, Mass and regular Confession, are essential to have endurance.

 

Tomorrow, Archbishop O’Brien will be closing our Holy Door here in the cathedral and the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy will come to an end next Sunday.   Throughout this year Pope Francis has focussed our living our faith more intensely, by living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  One of the spiritual works of mercy is “to bear wrongs patiently”…to endure through trials and persecution.

 

Pope Francis has emphasized over and over again…it is the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we must do to live out our perseverance…they are the acts of righteousness we are to live out towards our brothers and sisters in need

 

At the end of this Jubilee of Mercy it is good to review them:

They are actions we can do that extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need. The Corporal Works of Mercy are those acts of kindness by which we help our neighbours with their material and physical needs:  feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned and burying the dead.

 

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion, by which we help our neighbours with their emotional and spiritual needs:

They are:  instructing  those who don’t know, advising those who doubt, consoling the afflicted,  admonishing those who have done wrong, forgiving offences willingly,  bearing  wrongs patiently,  praying for both the living and the dead.

 

Nov. 4th and 5th, many of the members of the ALPHA course travelled for a retreat to Cornwall for what is called the Holy Spirit Weekend.  There was a very powerful experience of the Holy Spirit there.  One of the DVD teachings used a phrase that really caught my attention:  It said:  “We need soft hearts and hard feet. Not hard hearts and soft feet.”  Meaning we need to see the need around us AND respond to it…Hard hearts have soft feet because they see the need but do not act!!!!!!!

 

Pope Francis, right from the beginning of his pontificate, has referred to the Church as a field hospital on the battle field of our lives.

 

If the Church is like a field hospital, soft hearts and hard feet, call us not to be standing on the sidelines but to be first responders.

 

Perseverance… Endurance comes in our living faith through works of righteousness.    Pope Francis is calling us off the sidelines onto the battle field of battle by instructing those who don’t know, advising those who doubt, consoling the afflicted,   admonishing those who have done wrong, forgiving offences willingly, bearing wrongs patiently, praying for the living and the dead and feeding the hungry, giving drink to those who thirst, clothing the naked and providing shelter for the strange, visiting those who are sick and imprisoned.

 

In doing any of these we are doing them to Christ Himself.  Christ Himself assures us:  “When you did this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”

 

 



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.