Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 28th, 2018

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

What is this?  A new teaching – and with authority!!!  The first thing that amazed the crowds is that Jesus taught with authority. In First Century Israel the scribes and Pharisee’s taught by appealing to their own teachers and authorities, Rabbi Abraham says this…Rabbi Gamaliel says that…” and finally to Moses and the Torah, which to all Jews of the day was unassailable.

Not Jesus.  Jesus quotes no one except God’s Word.  By doing so He is saying there is no greater authority than Himself.  He is God’s Word…made Flesh.

But then Jesus demonstrates his authority: “Be silent and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit convulsed him with a loud cry and came out of him.” Jesus’ claim to God’s own authority is now ratified by showing power over the spiritual realm.

Jesus driving out unclean spirits is a continuous refrain throughout Mark’s gospel.   (Mk 1:26.34,39; 3:11-12,30; 5:1-20; 6:7,13; 7:25-29; 9:25-27,38; 16:17). The Word of God, Jesus, is not afraid of the unclean spirits.   The spirits and demons are beings of superior intelligence, they seem to understand Jesus’ identity better than his disciples and they are afraid of Jesus.  Upon seeing Jesus they convulse the person and cry out loudly.  The Word of God calmly commands them to be silent and come out of the person.

A moment later all is still. A former victim is now a free, restored to himself, and bystanders marvel: “He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”

In our modern minds we tend to not take the existence of the demons seriously.  We only need to read the front page of most papers for evidence to see they clearly exist. The existence of the angelic and demonic realm is and has always been part of the ordinary teaching of the Church’s Magisterium, clearly reaffirmed by all the recent Popes, Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.  We profess our faith that they exist every time we say the Nicene creed:  We believe in God creator of all things, visible and invisible.

In his very first homily as pope, Pope Francis, quoted the great French theologian, Léon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” The Holy Father added:  When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.  It’s very strong…and very clear.

So it is important to believe that such creatures exist. The first rule of warfare is to know your enemy. St. Paul tells us clearly in his letter to the Ephesians–Our battle is not against human forces but against…the evil spirits. (6:12)

Only God has complete power, complete authority over this world. Jesus does what only God can do…in commanding the demons, as later in the Gospel He commands the wind and the waves, He does what only God can do…He exerts authority over His creation.  Clearly demonstrating he is God.   Each of us is joined to Christ in our Baptism.   Christ has redeemed us and conquered the Evil One.   The enemy has no more authority or power over us. Unless, and this is a big unless…we voluntarily give it to him through sin, through our choices that are not of God.   All the grace we need to resist the devil is given to us in our Baptism, in the reception of all the Sacraments, we receive the graces of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Christ and in our prayer and spiritual life we also receive grace.   Do we believe that enough to resist the attack of the devil?  Are we with the Lord enough to resist the attack of the devil?  Have we given our lives over to him so that we can resist the attack of the devil?

If not we must…we must cling to the Lord, listen to him…we too have his authority to rebuke the temptations we experience. We have to have a spiritual plan of resistance in Place – memorized Scripture immediately called to mind… other prayer as well.

And part of that plan MUST INCLUDE, when our resistance fails…the Lord knew this would happen and loves us so much that he gave us the Great Sacrament of Reconciliation…Of Confession…so when our resistance fails…we don’t let the devil get a hold of us with discouragement…we get ourselves to confession, that beautiful experience of humility and healing that the Lord gave us so that we can Begin Again!

One of the greatest victories of the devil in our modern culture is distraction.  Be it twitter, facebook, YouTube, Read-it, television, sports, pornography…we procrastinate in the constant seeking of distraction, information and entertainment.

We live in a culture that is permanently distracted, that constantly is feeding at the surface, thus, blocked from going into the depths.  Duc in Altum was one of the perennial cries of St. John Paul the Great.  Duc in Altum…. I can still hear that sonorous Polish voice encouraging all of us…Go into the deep.  Go into the deep.   We are a culture that hungers to know more and more, to be entertained more and more, to be distracted more and more…we need to spend more time exposing ourselves to deep truths about God and pondering them…developing a relationship with him…How?

One of my favourite quotes from Scripture is Psalm 51: v. 6   King David, has been found out regarding his adulterous act with Bethsheba and has had her husband, Uriah,  killed in battle to cover up the fact that she is pregnant with his child.  In sorrow he turns to God to have mercy and cleanse him and then says to God:

The Grail translation says:

6 You desire truth in my inmost being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Often, we need to go to that in most being, in our secret heart.  There, in stillness, is truth.  There in stillness we perceive a knowing of the divine that is beyond words.

Listen to what Romano Guardini, one of the great theologians of the early 20th century says about truth in our inmost being,…about stillness.

“The inmost spirit lives by truth, by its recognition of what is and what has value.  Man expresses this truth in words….  But truth can be recognized only from silence.  The constant talker will never, or at least rarely, grasp truth…genuine truth only comes into being when the essence of an object, the significance of a relation, and what is valid and eternal in this world reveal themselves.  This requires the spaciousness, freedom, and pure receptiveness of that inner “clean-swept room” which silence alone can create.” (P. 8 of Meditations Before Mass.)

To know God we need stillness.  We need reflective silence.  Meditating upon the truths of our Faith in silence… letting them sink into our very being…feeding our silence with the reading of Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, spiritual reading or with the Rosary, or with other prayers…and then putting the reading aside and actually sitting with what you have read and let the truth of it sink in.

St. Teresa of Avila, the greatest of mystics, said in prayer, “we need to take up our book and read, and then when we feel our heart rising to God we put our book aside and dwell on what we have read.”  This is prayer.  Our prayer time should not be predominantly our chatter.  It should be our stillness.

Then we carry that stillness into our daily lives.  We carry that knowing of the divine that is beyond words in to our daily lives.  Then when distraction comes along, when procrastination or the temptation to impatience, gossip, anger, lust, the desire to be judgmental, resistance to forgive,…when these come along we have the rock solid foundation of confidence from our time spent in stillness…to  resist.  Resistance of all this is the fruit of our stillness, our prayer.

Resistance comes from the certainty at the core of our being that we have all the grace we need to resist…to overcome the assaults of the devil.   The strength of that certainty comes from our time spent in stillness.

Resistance to temptation comes in immediately when we immediately call to mind Scripture, catechetical truths, memorised prayers,…until the temptation leaves.  Continual resistance over and over is how we grow in the spiritual life.

The unclean spirit in the gospel was afraid of Jesus and fled at his command.  When we are confident of having clothed ourselves in the armour of Christ in the Sacraments and in prayer we have the same authority to command the demons to come out.  We can resist their temptations.  Faithful followers of Jesus Christ have the authority to do so.  We have to believe that…and then use that.

Another favourite Scripture:  St. James in his letter puts it about as simply and as clearly as one can.  In  chapter 4:7 he says: “Resist the devil and he will take flight.”  V. 8 “Draw close to God. And he will draw close to you.”

There is a direct correlation here that depends on our choice.  We resist by praying.  The deeper our prayer life, the greater our plan of resistance, and the stronger its implementation.

Stillness is the essential environment to grow in such certainty and strength.

 

 

 



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.