Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Disclaimer:

 

Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  Thus, in posting these homilies on St. Mary’s Cathedral’s website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be little 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 and/or the Spiritual Life.

 

God bless you.

Father Shawn

 

We have a very complex set of Scriptures today.  You will have notice that St. Paul is asking the Corinthians to be very generous out their abundance to the Church in Jerusalem that was very much in need.  So I was tempted to preach on the collection … but I have resisted……

They first reading from the book of Wisdom and the Gospel deal  with many facets of our physical and  spiritual lives.  Life and Death, Faith, Healing, …..the Nature of who Our Lord Jesus Christ is

That opening line of the first reading is a real attention grabber…….  It says:  “God did not make death…..”   God is the author of Life…. When he created us in his image and likeness he created us for Life not death…… it’s helpful to hear the line that comes just before the first line of the First reading from chapter one of the Book of Wisdom we are instructed:  “Do not invite death by the error of your life,”  …. so sin brings death……  here we are talking about spiritual death…………. separation from God……..  it goes on….. “Do not invite death by the error of your life or bring on destruction by the works of your hands; 13 because God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.”  It continues:  “14 For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. 15 For righteousness is immortal.”   (Wisdom 1:12-15) Everything God has created is good.  …. wholesome……   A good life is rewarded with eternal life.  This Scripture is saying choose righteousness, choose the ways of God, choose goodness and you shall live forever.

 

At first glance the healing miracles of today’s gospel are about Faith.  Jesus says to the woman with the Hemorrhage…. “Daughter, your faith has made you well!”   He says to Jairus….. “Do not fear, only believe.”    But there is more here.  The twelve year old girl, sick unto death, had no idea what was happening at all.  So it is not her faith.  It is her father’s.  The woman with the hemorrhage had faith before she was healed…. Probably the same amount throughout her twelve years of illness….. and yet it is only in this encounter with Jesus that she is healed.  We have to ask why did God not cure her without her having to touch him?  Why the twelve years of ritual uncleanness, the twelve years of isolation, suffering and expense looking for a cure that left her impoverished?…..  Why did Jesus not heal Jairus’ daughter immediately….. from a distance?  Why does he allow the woman to delay him …. To the point that Jairus’ daughter dies during the delay….. “Your daughter is dead.  Why trouble the Teacher further?”   Imagine how he was feeling while Jesus delayed to ask…. “Who touched my clothes?”  Why did Jesus go all the way to Jairus’s house and take the little girl by the hand in order to bring her back to life?  He could have simply performed the miracle from a distance?

 

What does happen?   The woman reaches out to touch God…….  God takes the twelve year old girl by the hand……. Our God wants to be close to us.  He wants to live in friendship with us…. Near us.   And since we are human beings, made up of both body and soul, that closeness, that friendship requires not only spiritual contact, but physical contact as well. This is, at its very core, the Church’s sacramental vision of faith.  God doesn’t have to operate through material elements like, water, bread, wine and oil…… but he chooses to do so…. because it better fits our spiritual and physical human nature.  The sacraments, the church building we gather in, the liturgy, the Scriptures, the music…. These are all places of encounter with God……. where we reach out and touch Him and He reaches out to touch us …. These places are all instruments through which he enters the very flesh and blood of our daily lives.  Our God doesn’t keep his distance; he walks by our side…  in the sacraments  he dwells within us.   The last line of the gospel of Matthew , Jesus states, “I will be with until the end of the age.”
God dwells with us in the Church.

 

The woman with the hemorrhage is a model for approaching Jesus.  While crowds of people were bumping into him as he walked along, she touched him.  Her faith brought her into living contact with Jesus, and as a result she experienced a dramatic healing.  The difference between the crowds and this woman prompts the question:  Why weren’t others healed? It begs the reflection: “How often do I merely bump up against Jesus when he is present?”  …… for example…. When we receive Him in Holy Communion?  Am I like the crowds that surrounded Jesus that day?……Do I half-consciously bump against him, allow the other preoccupations of my day jostle with Jesus’ reaching out to me?….am I kind of present but not entirely… or do I receive Him determined to touch him personally, and allow him to touch me personally…. Do I receive him fully aware that He has come to me, body, mind, soul and divinity…. In His entirety when I receive Him in Holy Communion….  Do I receive him with a lively awareness of the grace and power that can flow forth from him into my life?  That is the power of Faith.

 

Only fully believing can that grace and power flow forth into my life.  It is a very sobering reflection that in the Gospel, those who ridiculed Jesus, those who did not believe, who laughed at him when he said: “The child is not dead. She is only asleep.”  He put them outside.  He removed them from his presence.  It is a very sobering reflection for all of us….. are there parts of our Faith that have been taught from the very beginning that I laugh at, that I ridicule, in which I refuse to participate ?  In doing so, I risk being removed from the gift of the Lord’s presence.

 

We all know that we have prayed for loved ones who have died……they have not gotten better.  We have all asked, in our great faith, for healings to take place …. For death to be delayed…. And it is not.  A good thing for all of us to ponder is…. Every single person that was healed by Jesus or that Jesus raised from the dead….. death was only delayed……..eventually all of them died.  The twelve year old girl in today’s gospel actually died twice.  Death will come to all of us.  It is righteousness, that is immortal. ….. doing the will of God and fulfilling his commands… allowing the grace of God to transform us interiorly so that in the events of our daily lives we are Christ-like……. Life giving, loving, healing……..we think, speak and act in authentic obedience (1John 3:7)  as true children of God. (Matt 5:45) .   Our faithful choosing to put ourselves in His presence in daily prayer and allowing him to touch us with his presence by faithfully receiving him in the Sacraments He has given us,  especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession……..  these are the righteousness which go before us into Eternity…….

Those who die not only hearers of the word, but doers of the word (James 1) will  be raised to eternal life,….. immortal forever. (Matthew 31:3)  This is the faith and certain hope of the disciple of Jesus Christ.  We will shortly say in the creed. “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”  As our Faith and our Hope grow stronger we are able to look upon our own death and that of others from this Christian viewpoint as our birth into eternal life, our decisive meeting with God.

 

So often I hear people say: “Where would we be without our faith?”  Personally, I can still vividly hear, just over five years ago now, my brother, whose 21 year old son had just been killed in an accident, saying:  “How will I go on?”  “How can I get through this?”  Wrapping my arms around him….. I said: “We will get through this.  The Lord will get us through this.”  Faith.  The power of faith…… if we choose it, if we practice it….. more and more reaching out to the Lord in prayer…… “If I but touch His clothes, I will be made well”  …….  Allowing Him to touch us …. To heal us… to strengthen us….. in the Eucharist and Confession…… like Jairus saying to the Lord….. “Come and lay your hands on me and I will be made well.”

 

Many of you knew Lidwien Gräfe.  Those of you who did not know her have heard us praying for her in the prayers of the sick for many months and the last two weekends for the repose of her soul.  Lidwien had an extremely powerful faith… as one of her sons said her moral compass never wavered….. she had certain hope in the power of prayer….. she spent hours in St. James’ chapel in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament …. She had certain hope in the power of the sacraments…….  The Sunday before she died she received the Sacraments of Confession, and the Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion. As she said I’m not getting out of this world without doing it right.  We said good bye that day.  At the end of her last confession, a sacrament she never found easy, but received regularly……. She said with a huge smile… “There!  I’m all ready”  .. There was such a radiant hope, an expectant joy, in that room….. it was the palpable result of  her life time of deep, strong Faith and her certain hope in that Faith….. it was something  truly beautiful to behold.

 

A final important thought……  Jesus says to the woman with the hemorrhage….. “Daughter, your faith has made you well.”  The Greek word, sozo, translated here as ‘to be made well’, also has the meaning of being saved.  Stretching the meaning well beyond this life, Jesus, very powerfully, is also saying to her and to us  …. “Daughter, your faith has saved you.”

 

Heavenly Father, grace us with such Faith!



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.