Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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.


You will remember last week’s Gospel was the eight Beatitudes from the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, chapter 5 of Matthew’s gospel.  It is one of the most beautiful and one of the most important teachings in the New Testament.  What could be more compelling? Jesus, the Son of God, giving each of us the formula of how to be happy…actually of how to get to heaven.

At the heart of Jesus’ entire teaching are these beatitudes:  Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the gentle, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers and blessed are the pure of heart.  If we want to be happy we need to strive for these because they are the way we most directly participate in the divine life.

Today’s gospel is the next few lines after Jesus pronounced the beatitudes.  You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.  Just before these two lines Jesus pronounced the final beatitude:  “Blessed are you when people persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ”

This final beatitude reminds us that   Christian witness to Jesus is not always easy and today’s gospel reminds each of us that witnessing to Jesus is the task of each and every one of us.  Jesus does not say “I am the salt of the earth” In this text he does not say “I am the light of the world.”  He says to each one of us:  “You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world” Christ, our King, has made each one of us his ambassadors and sends us out to announce His Kingship everywhere.  Christ has entrusted us to carry forward his mission of salvation.  The Sermon on the Mount presents the life of discipleship as a life within a community, but not a community that keeps only to itself BUT a community that is charged with a mission to the world.  Jesus lived his life for the sake of the world that persecuted him.  As his disciples we too are to live our lives for the sake of the world, as a witness to the world.  We are not to hoard the treasures he has given us of Himself, nor are we to let them go to waste.

You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.  Each of these two familiar examples suggests ways as to how we may exercise our witness to the world of the presence of Christ in our lives.

You are the salt of the earth denotes a subtle kind of discipleship. If food is seasoned correctly you don’t notice the seasoning. Just the great taste of the particular dish. On the other hand most of us can tell after one taste of something whether it needs salt.  Salt does not exist for itself.  Nor do disciples, our life is meant to be turned outward to the world.  Our presence in the world might be just that subtle, enriching human life without calling attention to ourselves. In a worried world the Christian should be the one who remains peaceful.  In a depressed world the Christian should be the one who remains full of the joy of life. In a world of need the Christian should be the first in line to reach out a hand in care.


You are the light of the world Jesus tells his disciples. This is a more dramatic form of witness. Jesus said elsewhere:  “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5)  When he commanded us, his disciples to be the lights of the world, he demanded nothing less than that we should be like him.  There are circumstances when we are called to pierce the darkness with the bold proclamation of the Gospel. So many circumstances in our present-day world cry out for light. Our witness does not necessarily have to be verbal. Jesus concludes today’s gospel with the simple prayer:  That people may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.


These two sayings picture, mission, going out to others, as inherent to discipleship.  Missionary disciples, called to be witnesses of light into the darkness that is the world.  The mission is, by our presence, by people striving to live the beatitudes, to literally glorify God out in the world. It is our actions and our words to our family, to our coworkers, among those with whom we study or recreate that truly glorify God or not.  A good question for examination this upcoming week is: “Do my actions…Does what I say…give glory to God?


How often I hear people say: “Religion is a private affair.  My faith is a matter between God and me.”  That is the exact opposite of what Jesus is saying in the gospel today.  You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.  Often I hear parents say to me that they never raise the subject of the faith with their adult children…it is too contentious.  My response to that is:  “If you don’t, who will?”  In the circumstance of your family you are the salt of the earth and when dramatic circumstances call for it You are to be the Light to your family. Gently, lovingly…but courageously…


Jesus was not telling his disciples that by doing good works, by living the beatitudes, they would earn salvation.  He was saying that the works they did would be a proclamation of the faith in their hearts.  Just as it is the very nature of salt to flavour and preserve, so it is the very nature of light to shine and illuminate what is around it.  Similarly, it must be the nature of us, Jesus’ disciples, to reflect his light to a darkened world, so that people will see, know, and glorify the Father in Heaven.  The Alpha course and Catholicism 201 are just that… disciples shining the light for those who do not yet know so they will  come to see, know and glorify the Father in Heaven.


Many of us find this part of our faith intimidating.  One of the key reasons it intimidates us is that we think that because of our own faults, failings and sinfulness that we are not worthy witnesses to give glory to the Father.


As you know I am just back from a wonderful eight days of silent retreat.  I was at a retreat house run by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in Boston.  The founder of this order, the Venerable Bruno Lanteri, would often counsel people who felt they had fallen too many times, to repeat these words to themselves:

“I will not allow myself to be discouraged however often I may fall. If God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31) Though I fall a thousand times, each time, even the thousandth, I will rise again as peaceful as if it were the first, knowing my weakness and knowing , Lord your great mercy. And so even if I should fall a thousand times a day, a thousand times, with peaceful repentance. I will say immediately, my God, my God, Nunc Coepi (Now I begin).”


Discouragement and fear are the work of the devil.  We must stand firmly in the truth of our weaknesses and turn to the Lord for mercy.  Beginning again.  Venerable Bruno Lanteri would say that over and over…Now I begin.


To a woman who had become deeply discouraged he wrote:  “Holiness does not consist in never falling, but in rising immediately, recognizing our weakness and asking God’s forgiveness, and in doing this with peace of heart, without letting ourselves be troubled…It is very important to understand deeply how good God is, and not to measure him by our own limitations or think that he tires of our wavering, weakness, and negligence; that because of our sins he withdraws his help and denies his grace…Our God is not such…Let us think of him as he truly is, filled with goodness, mercy, and compassion, and let us know him as the loving Father that he is, who raises us when we have fallen, who never tires of forgiving us, and to whom we give great joy and honour when we seek forgiveness. And so let your heart be joyful, give yourself as completely as you can to God, banish any doubts, and tell God that you never wish consciously to do anything that would displease him.  For the rest, do not be troubled.  God is with you and will help you and will not let you fall.”


How reassuring!!!


In light of such a reflection I need to ask myself:  Do I really understand HOW good God is?  Do I think of the depth of His goodness? The depth of His mercy? The depth of His compassion?  Do we truly know Him as the loving Father he is?…who never tires of forgiving us?…to whom we give great joy and honour when we seek forgiveness?  Do we really understand how intimately he is with us?


This is what a person of the beatitudes is: those who understand the goodness of God, the depth His mercy and compassion and know Him as a loving, merciful, forgiving Father…This is what being poor in spirit really means…being humble…and from that level of humility…standing in the truth of our own weaknesses flows  the other beatitudes: loving and caring about the needs of others, gentle, hungering for what is right, forgiving, peace-filled, focussed on the one thing and staying strong in suffering.  This is how we give glory to God.


Neither salt nor light exist for themselves.  Nor does the disciple.  Our whole reason for being is turned outward to the world: to our families, our work, our places of study, our friends, whomever we meet.  The Lord reaches out to those who need Him through us and to us.


By living the Beatitudes we are ambassadors of Christ…missionary disciples…to the world.


YOU are the salt of the earth.  YOU are the light of the world.

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.