Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 11th, 2018

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.

Father Shawn

“If you choose.  You can make me clean.”  It is a cry of the heart, with which we all turn to the Lord, especially as we begin Lent this Wednesday.  “If you choose.  You can make me clean.”

It is the same cry of King David in Psalm 51 “Have mercy on me Lord in your steadfast love.”  (Psalm 51:1)

Jesus immediately responds to the leper…and to each one of us:  “I do choose.  Be made clean!”  Immediately the leprosy was gone.

God waits for us…As I have said many times…the Lord proposes, he never imposes.  He waits for us.

We could rename the season of Lent, The Season of God’s Proposing…The Season of God’s Waiting for our Response…The Season of Great Spiritual Opportunity…Opportunity to refocus our spiritual lives and to deepen them.  Those who take Lent seriously tend to live Lent the way we should live our entire spiritual lives throughout the rest of the year…Be that as it may…it is so important to not let Lent slip you by…I encourage you to take it very seriously.

It is a season for us to sit back and ask ourselves:  “What and who is our God to us?

We have restless and searching hearts?  We search and search for things to fill that restlessness.  We go about our daily lives with a restlessness that sometimes feels like an emptiness, an existential longing…It is part of who we are as fallen human beings…our hearts are restless.

St. Augustine searched and searched in countless worldly pursuits,… power, position, pleasure, entertainment…he, and all of us, eventually come to a point of knowing that our hearts will always be restless until they rest in God.

Lent is a time to ask ourselves:  “What is my emptiness being filled with?”…“Is my emptiness being filled with distractions or discernment…is my emptiness being filled with material things or spiritual graces…blessings?  Is there something or someone other than God that I think will fill that restlessness?  Is my emptiness self- focussed, …inward on myself or do I see the restlessness around me and respond to their need.  Is my emptiness being filled with things of the world or things of God.”

Lent begins this Wednesday. It is a time for us to stop and remember.  Remember all that God has done for us.  We remember that the Father has given us his Son Jesus.  We focus more deeply on our Saviour who has shown us the way to His Father and who was crucified for our sins.

In our restlessness it is important for us to focus on the fact that we are never alone.  That we have the Holy Spirit with us…who enables us, gives us the grace, the spiritual strength, to fill that restlessness with holy things …with God Himself.

Lent is responding to God’s gentle invitation to make more room for Him in our lives.  Lent is about growing from being closed in on ourselves to being true disciples, giving true witness and growing in love for others.

I encourage you to take Lent seriously.  No matter what your age, no matter what your state in your spiritual life:  “Don’t let the opportunity of this wonderful season slip by!”

Traditionally there are three classical spiritual practices that we undertake more vigorously in Lent:  Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving.

Prayer: Deepening our relationship with the Lord,  raising our minds and hearts to God more regularly…Fasting:  Making room in our lives for God…especially by removing what is not of Him…in Fasting we suppress certain desires so that the deeper ones, those of God, can come to the surface… Almsgiving:  giving of our time, our talent and our treasure.

There are over 70 suggestions in the Bulletin… it’s a 12 pager this week…take one home with you, reflect on it, and between now and this Wednesday prayerfully map out your Lenten program.  I would strongly suggest at least two or more practices from each of the three practices: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving.

The Bulletin also contains the Holy Father’s Lenten Message.  Make it part of your spiritual reading this Lent.  He says Lent is a time we are called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of false prophets; to see if our hearts are being confounded by the “father of lies” (John 8:44), the devil himself…not only peer but to do something about it.

Whatever it is you do for Lent I encourage you to attach an intention to what you are offering and it becomes a prayer of its own. E.g. You might offer your Lenten sacrifice in the following way:   I am not eating between meals on Monday for the good of my spouse. On Tuesday I am not eating between meals for the good of my children…the grace is commuted to them.  Your prayer is not only self-sacrificial but the grace you would receive is given to another.

At the doors of the Church there are copies of the “The Word Among Us” …They have all the Lenten daily Mass readings, with a daily meditation, and other great spiritual reading as well.

Also at the doors of the Cathedral is the usual Examination of Conscience for you to prepare for your Lenten Confession.  I would strongly encourage you to begin and end Lent with Confession. As you know there is a priest in the confessional before every Mass that takes place here in the cathedral.  On Ash Wednesday; there will be a priest in the Confessional before every Mass and additionally from 1 pm to 7 pm.  There is no excuse for not getting to confession this Lent.

We begin this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday.  Start your Lent right. Get out to the 7:45 am, 12:10 pm or 7 pm Mass and receive the blessed Ashes.  We repent during Lent.  You will hear either the traditional formula…remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return…Reminding us how short and fleeting this life is.  Or you will hear the very challenging “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

It is a great season, an exciting season …a season of self- examination, prayer, fasting and giving.  Don’t let this Lent just pass you by.  Don’t miss this opportunity!!!

The leper in the gospel to Jesus:  “If you choose you can make me clean.”  He does choose us.  He waits for us to choose Him.

The Opening prayer to the Father summarises the goal of the Season of Lent:  “that we may be so fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.”