July 2nd, 2017

Homily by Archbishop Brendan O’Brien

St. Mary’s Cathedral

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Chapter 10 of Matthew’s gospel, part of which we have just heard, contains what is known as the ‘missionary discourse’.  It contains advice and perspective for those whom Jesus is sending out to share the Good News.  The disciples are to act as envoys of Jesus, extending his ministry, proclaiming the same good news and performing the same works of healing that he is doing.  Jesus’s further instructions make clear that the disciples are also to share in his poverty and homelessness, taking with them no money or extra clothing, and depending solely on the hospitality of others for shelter and sustenance.


Jesus makes it clear that they will not be welcomed everywhere, and that they can expect to experience the same hostility that Jesus often does, for he is sending them out “like sheep into the midst of wolves”.  They can expect to encounter persecution and trials, for “a disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master”.  They need also to be prepared for painful division within families, and to be willing to put Jesus’s mission above family loyalties.  For all of this risk and suffering, Jesus promises, “those who lose their life for my sake will find it”.


Matthew, of course, is not only recalling Jesus’s instructions to his first disciples; he is also speaking to his own community of disciples a few generations later.  There is still need to send out labourers into the harvest, to send missionaries out beyond the community into a perilous world.  And those sent will still need to depend on the hospitality of others.  Jesus says of those who enact such hospitality, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me”.


Two words help us to grasp the overall theme of today’s Scripture readings, and they are the words ‘send’ and ‘receive’.  Both of these can apply to us .


The first is the word ‘send’. Pope Francis refers to members of the Church today as ‘missionary disciples’, not just parishioners or members.  There is a certain growing awareness in the Church that the Church is not just meant to be, but exists to go out, to reach out to others.


One author asks:

“What would happen if we stopped expecting people to come on their own initiative through our church doors, and instead took seriously our calling to bring the gospel to them?  What would happen if we truly believed that we bear the presence of Christ to every person we encounter, in every home, workplace, or neighbourhood we enter?  What would happen if we saw every conversation as an opportunity to speak words of grace, every interaction as an opportunity to embody Christ’s love for the neighbour?”


The other word which helps us to grasp the overall meaning of today’s Scripture is the word ‘receive’.  We need to be open and ready to receive those who bring us God’s word.  Just as the woman in the first reading recognized Elisha as a holy man of God and welcomed him, provided for him, and was rewarded, so we need to be open and welcoming to those who, through their words and actions, reveal God’s call to us – and, when we do so, even in the smallest way, we too will be rewarded.


In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us that we have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, and, so, we should see ourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ.  However, we must constantly strive to become that real self that baptism has made us.


There are many ways in which each of us, according to our gifts and position in life, are being asked to consider these words ‘send’ and ‘receive’.  We don’t all have to be full-time missionaries undergoing great hardships to spread the gospel, but we all are being asked to have a sense of mission and responsibility for seeing that the Good News can touch people’s lives by our word and example.  There are also ways in which we can ‘receive’ –  that is, facilitate the efforts of those who are taking a more active role in sharing the faith. We do this by our encouragement and our material support, so that they can devote their time to this ministry.


More and more, we realize that the Church is called to be more active in reaching out to people.  We need to let the message of faith get out there, not just to missionary lands, but here at home where the message needs to be heard again in a new way, and the experience of God’s presence and help can change lives.  We should expect that, like Jesus and like his early disciples, our efforts may be met sometimes with misunderstanding, hostility, or apathy.  However, we have something to offer that many people are in need of today.  May this inspire us to persevere.


Explanation of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Our second reading today spoke of baptism, in which God consecrates us.  He makes us his adoptive children and confers on us a share in the divine life.  In response, we consecrate ourselves to God.  We do so each Easter when we renew our baptismal promises.


When we speak of consecrating ourselves or our country to the Blessed Mother, it means that we are entrusting ourselves to her maternal care and protection, that we may benefit from her intercession and join our efforts to her powerful prayers and closeness to Jesus.  The mother of Jesus always leads us to him, so that the more that we are trustingly and lovingly devoted to her, the more we are conformed to and united with her Son and the Spirit.  Since God the Father willed that the Saviour would come to us through the loving consent and active faith of the Mother of God, so we return to him with the aid and accompaniment of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Canada, we ask Mary to watch over us and our country as we begin a new era in our history.  We ask that our country may be protected, that our people may be more disposed to the Good News of salvation, and that we will recognize our responsibility to build a just society among the many social changes that will come our way in the future.


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.