Christmas Eve 5pm, 7:30 pm

Father Shawn Hughes

December 24th, 2017

5 pm, 7:30 pm

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

The birth of Jesus Christ, reveals to us the heart of God.  A particular couple of verses of Scripture has stuck with me over the past four weeks of Advent…chapter 9 of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans St. Paul gives us the most human cry of the heart:  He exclaims “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people.”  How many of us, how many of you, have expressed what exactly St. Paul is expressing here when one of your loved ones, a spouse…a child…a parent…were very sick, in trouble…suffering in some way…”  How many of us have said:  “I would give anything to take their place.”  “I wish it were me not them who was suffering.”  We want to take their suffering onto ourselves…I was talking with a young father just this week and he was saying how sick his 14 month old son was and it was so hard to see him so sick…that he would give anything to suffer in his place.  This is the human heart at its most loving.  Totally self-sacrificial…willing…To put the need of another ahead of our own…Willing…to take another’s suffering upon ourselves so that they would not have to suffer.

This too is the heart of God in whose image we are made…that is what we are celebrating today…not only does God desire to take our suffering upon Himself so that we would not have to suffer in our sin…not only did he desire to take our place…He did.  That is the heart of God.  He deeply desired to bear the suffering of each one of us, His loved ones.  So strongly does He feel that…that is exactly what He does.  He becomes one of us.  He takes our place before the Father.

This is summed up in what is probably the most quoted verse in the entire Bible…John Chapter 3

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned.” (3:16 – 18a)

This is the depth of God’s compassion.

This is the key aspect of the Kingdom of God.  Compassion for those in need.   We were in need…so he came to us that first Christmas…and then suffered, died and rose for us…the wood of the manger is not far from the wood of the cross …we continue to be in need…He desired to be with us ’til the end of the ages so he stayed with us in the sacraments of the Church…especially  Baptism and the Eucharist.

As his followers we too are called to that level of compassion…to see the need around us…not only to see the need but to respond to it. To respond to it always. We “fully discover ourselves by making a sincere gift of ourselves.” Not to be turned in on ourselves, but to be focussed on the need of those around us.  They may be sitting next to you this evening.  They may live in your home.  They are all around us.  The Kingdom of God comes close when we respond to those in need. God came close in Jesus by responding to our need.

Just imagine the depth of God’s love for us.  It is always very interesting to try to see ourselves as another sees us.  From time to time someone will come to confession and say “Father, I don’t have any sins.”  I usually simply ask:  “What would your husband say your sins are?  What would your children say your sins are?”  After laughing …they usually quite readily come up with a list.

On a night such as tonight it is good to look at ourselves as God looks at us.   On the back page of each of your programs is a collection of quotes from the Scriptures in the form of a letter from God which reveal exactly who we are in our heavenly Father’s eyes.

I would invite you to follow along with me or just listen as God the Father speaks to each of us personally from His Word.

My daughter, My son

 

My Child,

You may not know me, but I know everything about you…………………………………       Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. ………………………………………….. Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with your ways ………………………………………………………………………. Psalm 139

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered …………………………………………….. Matthew 10:29

For you were made in my image …………………………………………………………………. Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being ………………………………………………. Acts of the Apostles 17:28

For you are my offspring ……………………………………………………………………………. Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived ………………………………………………… Jeremiah 1:4

I chose you when I planned Creation …………………………………………………………… Ephesians 1:11

You were not a mistake ……………………………………………………………………………… Psalm 139:15

For all your days are written in my book ……………………………………………………… Psalm 139:15

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live …………………Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made ……………………………………………………….Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb ………………………………………………….. Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born …………………………………………..Psalm 71:6

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love …………………1 John 4:16

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could ………………………………………Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father …………………………………………………………………………..Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand ……………………………………James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs ………………………………………….. Matthew 6:33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope ………………………………. Jeremiah 19:11

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore ………………….. Psalm 139:17

And I rejoice over you with singing …………………………………………………………….. Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you ……………………………………………………………… Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession ……………………………………………………………..Exodus 19:5

And I want to show you great and marvellous things ……………………………………… Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me ………………………………………..Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart ……………………………….Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires …………………………………………………………….Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine ………………………….Ephesians 3:20

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles ……………………………… 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are broken-hearted, I am close to you ……………………………………………. Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart …………………… Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes ………………………………………. Revelation 21:3

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed ………………………………………………………. John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being ……………………………………………………. Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you ……………………………… Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins …………………………………………….. 2 Corinthians 5:18

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled …………………………………………….. 2 Corinthians 5:18

His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you ……………………………….. 1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love …………………………………….. Romans 8:31

If you receive the gift of my son, Jesus, you receive me …………………………………….. 1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again …………………………………….. Romans 8:38

I have always been Father and will always be Father …………………………………………. Ephesians 3:14

My question is… Will you be my child? …………………………………………………………… John 1:12

I am waiting for you ………………………………………………………………………………………. Luke 15:11

Love Abba (Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15)

Your loving Father,  Almighty God.

Every quote from God’s Word in the Scriptures.

It is God’s love for us in Jesus that we celebrate this night.   Love by its nature seeks union.  God’s love seeks union with us…first he unites his divinity to our humanity in Jesus Christ.   He seeks union with each one of us.  Just as he makes his home in our humanity he desires us to make our home in him.  The great founder of L’Arche, Jean Vanier, said this union ‘is not reserved for those who are well-known mystics or for those who do wonderful things for the poor…[It is for} those poor enough to welcome Jesus.  It is for people living ordinary lives.”  (Jean Vanier)…those poor enough to welcome Jesus.

 

How can we, fallen, sinful human beings respond to such love? We have nothing that we could possibly give in return.  There is only one response… and that is gratitude.  Thanksgiving is the key step in the beginning of our relationship with God.  Thanksgiving is the foundation of responding to his Love for us in Jesus.  Without thanksgiving we can have no relationship with God.  We come here to celebrate the Eucharist… Eucharistein is the Greek word for thanksgiving.

We come here this night to celebrate our Faith that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  (3:16)

Such profound love requires our profound response.

 

 

 

 



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.