Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

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

 

August 27, 2017

Father Shawn Hughes

 

Who do you say I am??

This question that Jesus asks of his disciples – is the most important question of all questions.  The more you think about this question. Who do you say I am? …the more important you realize it is.  The answer shapes our thinking and our actions.  The answer compels all of us to a choice and then to decisive action.  

 

I have asked many people this question this past week.  Who do you say Jesus is? Some responded:  he’s my Lord. Some my savior, my friend, the one who loves me more than anyone else in the world, the one I love more than anyone else in the world, my comforter, my rock.

 

Today’s gospel provides only two answers. 

Either you think as the disciples reported people thought of Jesus that he is a good man, a doer of good deeds, a prophet, a wise teacher.  Elijah, John the Baptist, or He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of the Living God as Peter professed.  Peter declares that he is God and Man.

 

Peter’s response is so accurate that it’s at this point that Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, which is actually a name that didn’t previously exist: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).  He actually uses the same word.  Petros.  It means rock.   He is saying:  You are Rock and on this rock I will build my church. In many other languages it is the same word: In the Latin and Greek petros/petra.  Rock.  For those who have French:  Tu est Pierre et sur c’est pierre je battirai mon eglise. Pierre, pierre.  Much better translated in English as You are Rock and on this rock I will build my church.

 

It’s on the rock of Peter’s confession of Christ’s true identity that Jesus said His Church would be built. That’s why we recognize the authority of the Holy Father and, moreover, why we believe that the Pope, when he speaks authoritatively on faith and morals for the whole Church, enjoys the gift of infallibility from the Holy Spirit. That is, he is guided so that his teaching will not mislead us, because that would endanger our salvation.

 

So much of our faith comes from practices in the ancient faith of the Hebrews.  The First Reading from the prophet Isaiah highlights an office in the Ancient Kingdom of Israel.  The keeper of the keys was an official who had the power to grant admission to the King.  There was also an official in the synagogue who was responsible for pure worship who could expel those from the synagogue who were contravening faith and morals.  In today’s gospel these two powers Jesus, the Son of God bestows on Peter.

 

Who do you say I am?  We, too, must answer the question of who Jesus is as if He were addressing it directly to us. Do we really know Jesus personally, not just as an intellectual concept but as a person?

Jesus doesn’t point to a way.  He doesn’t say I found a way. He says I am the way. He doesn’t say I found the truth, I want to tell you about the truth. He says I am the truth. He didn’t say there’s this new life that I want to share with you. He said I am the life.

 

Who do we say Jesus is:  the answer compels a choice and action.  As God, we are compelled to allow everything He said and did to affect everything we say and do.  He truly is the Lord, fully man and fully God.   His teaching is the teaching of God.  His teaching is absolute truth.  The difficulty is that his teaching is demanding and calls us to change…to transformation.

 

In order to grow, we have to change.   Cardinal John Henry Newman said, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” We don’t change the essentials of our Faith, of course. But we change in the way we respond to God as we grow to know Him and ourselves better.

When Jesus says to us “Turn the other cheek.”  We must, if we are to be disciples of the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  When Jesus says “Forgive your brother, not seven times, but seventy times seven times.”  It is the Lord speaking to us.  We must, if we are to be his disciples.  When Jesus says:  “Love your enemies.” That is God who speaks.  When he says take up your cross daily and follow me.  We must, if we are to be his disciples.  When He says we are to be gentle and humble of heart.  We must, if we are to be his disciples.

 

Shortly we will Answer that question as a Church in the Nicene Creed:   “I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten So of God, born of the Father before all ages.  God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.” 

The creed as we say it was worked out in the first four centuries of the Church. In the section I just quoted, the creed says He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity…the same in nature as the Father, with the Father in His creating, but a distinct person who was sent to reveal the Father to us.  Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father. 

 

In John’s Gospel Phillip says clearly to Jesus: “Show us the Father.”  Jesus replies:  “Phillip have you been with me his long and you still don’t know that the one who sees me sees the Father. (John 14:9)

Pope Benedict wrote: The Father shows us his face in Jesus. In what Jesus does and wills, we come to know the mind and will of the Father, himself”

 

Take a moment today…and reflect…Really reflect…Who do I say Jesus is?  What is my answer?…Ponder it for a bit…That he is fully God compels us to take everything he says and strive with His grace to allow who he is to continually transform our lives to be more and more like Him…ask him to teach you and help you be more completely his faithful follower.  Complete your prayer…your reflection with Peter’s proclamation …“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and interiorly worship Him, praise Him, honour him, as the Lord God Almighty

Peter could say “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” because he had a profound experience of Jesus as the Living God.  We, too, must answer the question of who Jesus is as if He were addressing it directly to us.  Do we really know Jesus personally, not just as an intellectual concept but as a person?

 

This is why it is so important that we pray.  That is why it is so important that we celebrate our liturgical, sacramental prayer -faithfully receive the Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist regularly,… that is why our personal prayer, our study of the Scriptures, and our spiritual reading are so important.  They bring us more deeply into a personal relationship with the Son of the Living God, into a profound experience of Jesus as the Living God.

This is important if our faith is going to evangelize those around us.   Only when we walk daily with Jesus can we witness to Christ…… can we evangelize effectively.

 

Developing our personal walk with the Lord is the point of all our programs that we are offering this Fall…the Alpha program, the Catholicism 201 program, the Pivotal Players, the RCIA.   You can read about them in your bulletin …Each of them is to help us grow in our personal relationship with Jesus so that we can share the gospel more effectively by what we say and do in response to Our Lord’s deeply personal question to each of us.

 

Who do you say that I am?

 

Now we will look at the question: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

Jesus doesn’t want to know what the Apostles have heard among the crowds; He wants to know what they have come to believe about His identity.

And who speaks up? Peter, whose answer — “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” — earns the Lord’s praise: “Blessed are you, Simon [Son of John]! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:16–17).

It’s at this point that Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, which is actually a name that didn’t previously exist: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Peter, or, in Greek, Petros, is a play on the word for “rock,” petra.

It’s on the rock of Peter’s confession of Christ’s true identity that Jesus said His Church would be built. That’s why we recognize the authority of the Holy Father and, moreover, why we believe that the Pope, when he speaks authoritatively on faith and morals for the whole Church, enjoys the gift of infallibility from the Holy Spirit. That is, he is guided so that his teaching will not mislead us, because that would endanger our salvation.

We, too, must answer the question of who Jesus is as if He were addressing it directly to us. Do we really know Jesus personally, not just as an intellectual concept but as a person?

Prayer is certainly one way to get to know the Lord in this personal way — to develop the friendship the Lord wants us to have with Him. At the Last Supper Jesus said to the Apostles, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Through prayer we enter that beautiful friendship.

Do you seek to know Jesus? Sometimes we are afraid to get too close to Him. We are afraid of what He might ask of us, or what He might tell us about our lives. Sometimes, though, we need to hear the difficult truth. The truth sets us free from our confusion and self-centeredness. And then we can look at Jesus and really see the beauty and the goodness of the Lord, which brings us the happiness for which we were created.

St. Augustine said at the beginning of his Confessions, “You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.” That’s why we want to get to know Him personally and to love and follow Him faithfully. Sure, He might point out things we have to change, but we all have to change in order to grow. Cardinal Newman said, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” We don’t change the essentials of our Faith, of course. But we change in the way we respond to God as we grow to know Him and ourselves better.

And we can even see that St. Peter had to undergo a change of mind and heart. Let’s pick up right after Jesus has praised him:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men” (Matthew 16:21–23).

Peter had just identified Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. And in turn Jesus identified Peter as the rock — the foundation — of the Church. But when Jesus foretells His Passion and suffering, revealing that He’s not going to be a glorious earthly Messiah with a great kingdom on earth, Peter pushes back.

Now, for Peter and the rest of the Apostles, what Jesus was saying would have been shocking. The Messiah they expected was a glorious earthly king. He was going to establish the kingdom as it had been under King David and King Solomon — even greater than that. He would drive the Romans out and install his followers in positions of civil authority. But now Jesus is talking about being betrayed by the leaders of the people, handed over to the Romans, and put to death.

So Peter takes Jesus aside and pleads with Him, almost scolding Him for saying that He’s going to suffer and die. Jesus sees the eyes of the Apostles on them and realizes that this is a teachable moment. He says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking the thoughts of men, not of God.” In other words, “The Father may have revealed my identity to you, but now you’re not open to His plan. You’re thinking about what human beings want — earthly power and prestige.”

Remember that Satan had tempted Jesus to use His power to do great deeds so that He would become not just the center of attention, but the ruler of a vast domain. What Satan was really trying to do was to lead Jesus away from the Cross. Even though he didn’t realize it, Peter was doing the same thing.

Finding Strength in Jesus

This article is from a chapter in Answering the Questions of Jesus. Click image to preview other chapters.

All of us have to grow in our understanding of who Jesus is. We can’t try to force Him to be something more convenient for us, as St. Peter did. It’s one thing simply to say that He’s Our Lord, but we have to appreciate that fully.

Jesus is like a mirror that helps us to see who we are, a mirror that will always tell us the truth. What do we learn in this mirror before Christ? First of all, we have to recognize that we are sinners, because if we don’t recognize that we are sinners, then we fail to recognize our need for a Savior. He said that He “came to seek and to save the lost,” but we have to realize first that we are lost (Luke 19:10).

Secondly, we must remember that we all have weaknesses and that Jesus is our strength. As He told the apostles at the Last Supper, “[A]part from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We can’t practice any of the virtues of the Christian life without God’s grace assisting us. We would fail, and fail miserably.

Peter did. Not only did he try to dissuade Jesus from His mission, but remember that he also denied his friendship with Jesus three times during Our Lord’s Passion. We are all weak, and so we need Christ as our strength.

Third, we have to recognize our burdens so that we can accept Jesus’ invitation, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It’s only if we recognize the help we need from Jesus that we can accept that beautiful invitation.

And finally, we have to recognize our pride — our judgmental attitudes and our anger — so that we can learn from Jesus, who said, “[L]earn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29).

It can be very hard to accept these things about ourselves — that we are sinners, that we are weak, that we are burdened, that we can be proud and judgmental and hard on people. But when we accept our faults, Jesus doesn’t use them to oppress us; rather, He lifts us out of them. He gives us that truth that will set us free from our burdens, the truth that all of us need if we’re going to find true happiness in this world.

We must not close our hearts to Him. It is when we close Jesus out, not when we let Him in, that our burdens become unbearable.

In the end, like Peter and the other Apostles, we all have to answer that question: “Who do you say that I am?” Is Jesus number one in your life? If He’s not, you have to reshuffle your priorities, because if Jesus isn’t number one, everything is out of order. But if Jesus is number one, everything else will follow from that, because every other love we have — for our families, for our friends, for our communities, and even for ourselves — flows first from love of the Lord.



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 collection 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.