Thirty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 20, 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

 

As we come to the final few hours of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy it is good for us to reflect on What Mercy is. Throughout this Jubilee of Mercy we have been reading from the Gospel of Luke and we have a particularly tender image of God’s mercy in today’s gospel.

In Luke’s Gospel we see that:

Mercy is when the Glory of God meets our suffering.  When we choose to unite our suffering to the Cross, our suffering meets the Glory of God. We call this kind of mercy HEALING.  Physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual healing

Mercy is when the Glory of God meets our struggles.  When we choose to unite our struggles, our daily crosses, to the Glory of God, we call this kind of mercy, STRENGTH, PERSEVERANCE, ENDURANCE.

Mercy is when the Glory of God meets our sins.  When we choose to unite our sins to the Glory of God, we call this kind of mercy, Forgiveness, Reconciliation.

God does not force us.  He waits for us to choose to unite our suffering, our struggles, our sins to his Glory.  We call this kind of patience, this kind of mercy: LOVE.

When the Glory of God meets our humanity, we call this…… Jesus.

We have one of the tenderest examples of God’s glory meeting sin in today’s Gospel.

Imagine, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, the gospel presents us with a king who hangs on a cross with two common thieves on either side.   Jesus Christ our true King, is a king unlike any earthly rulers.

In today’s Gospel [23:35-43] the repentant sinner receives salvation through the crucified Jesus.

Jesus had repeatedly taught his disciples not to respond to violence with more violence and to be forgiving, so he forgives the very men who had condemned him and who drive the stakes into his body [23:34].  He forgives the criminal, hanging at his side, who confesses his sin and asks for mercy [23:39-43].  Here we see Luke’s prescription for authentic conversion, as we also saw exemplified in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector [18:9-14] “God, have mercy on me a sinner.”  Authentic conversion, authentic following of Jesus Christ confesses sin and asks for mercy.

One of the criminals derided Jesus:  “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”  The other rebuked him, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  And then received the reply we all hope one day to hear: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

However, the image of the dying Jesus is hardly a thing of kingship…listen to words used by Luke…words of abuse and humiliation:  criminals, condemnation, crucifixion, nakedness, scoffing, mocking, taunting, deriding, reviling, sneering…hardly the stuff of kingship, and no crowns here except one of thorns.  We are face to face with agony and grief, and a cacophony of insults instead of the songs and praise we would expect for a king.

Kingship, when God is involved, does not ask people to ignore the failures but embraces those experiences and redeems them.

When the Glory of God touches our faults, our failures, our struggles, our sins…we experience mercy.

Throughout Salvation History, God’s promise to the people was a king who is righteous, deals wisely, executes justice and righteousness in the land, and enables the people to live securely.  In Jesus, God has fulfilled that promise.

In the story of Jesus, kingship is redefined.  God shares the potential hopelessness of the human situation, but does so as king, as the source of our hope and life.  That is what the criminal on the cross with Jesus in today’s Gospel scene [23:35-43] partly grasped.  He asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom.  He was looking to a future reign, but Jesus handed out the royal pardon immediately.

Jesus’ kingdom is built on love, service, justice, reconciliation and peace.

As we contemplate Christ crucified, we understand something of why Christ has remained a king even up to modern times: he didn’t bow down.  He never responded to violence with more violence.  He forgave until the end.

The Church is the necessary vehicle, and privileged instrument for us to encounter Jesus Christ, to receive his life through the Sacraments, to hear his Word mediated through preaching and the interpretation of the Church, and to journey toward the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven, which lies ahead of us.

Jesus Christ is the only full Revelation of God and he is the Lord and Savior of all men and women.

On this great feast, let us remember that Jesus took his wounds to heaven, and there is a place in heaven for our wounds because our king bears his in glory.  Often in the murkiness or darkness of our particular situations we need to cry out:  “Where are you, God?”  And today we are given the answer: God is hanging on a tree, in the broken body of Jesus- arms outstretched to embrace us, and gently asking us to climb up onto the cross with him, and look at the world from an entirely new perspective.

Or perhaps we need to cry out for mercy, asking that he not forget us in the New Jerusalem: “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”

And from the depth of our own darkness and shadows, or maybe in the midst of our despair, we recognize the source of our hope and echo the words of Jesus, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

What a strange form of kingship Christ offers us today!  May today’s feast force us to remember the appalling fact of our salvation.  When all around us seems to be darkness, destruction, night, and even death, let us never forget that we are not alone.  In our midst hangs the Crucified One, arms outstretched in loving mercy and welcome.  May we have the courage to ask our benevolent king to remember us in his kingdom, and the peace to know that paradise is already in our midst even when every external sign indicates darkness and death.  This is abundant life on the Royal Road of the Cross.

When we touch our faults, our failures, our struggles, our sins to the Glory of God…we experience His never ending loving mercy.

 



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.