Fifteenth 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

God’s Mission.  The Mission of the Church.  Our Mission.   These are the focus of today’s readings.   Upon close examination it is important to realize that the Church doesn’t just have a Mission, the Church is mission…Going out…Being sent…is the very essence of who we are.

The mission Jesus gave his apostles in today’s Gospel was to reach out to others with the good news of salvation.  Apostle literally means “to be sent.”  Because of our baptism each and every one of us has a similar “apostolate,”  a similar mission.  We are sent to bear witness to Christ…To bring his wisdom and healing presence into every aspect of our lives…into our homes, our families, our friends, our colleagues at work, into our times of leisure.  A very simple but good question to ask at the end of each day was:  Did I bring Christ, was I Christ-like, in my home today, with my family, my friends, at work or in my times of leisure?

The missionary instructions that Christ gives to his first disciples in the gospel today apply to us as well.  These instructions can be summed up in three words: Go, trust and persevere.

Go, actually intentionally be aware that our lives as followers of Christ are missions…to make Christ present wherever we are.  We need a profound sense and trust of God as the absolute center of our lives, a deep sense that nothing is more important to us than God, that everything in our lives takes second place to our love for God.   That is trust…and never giving up.  Persevering.  Even in face of opposition, persevering…we should expect persecution,…we should expect a cold welcome and not to be deterred.

If trust and perseverance are the key virtues for our lives as followers of Christ then we must realize we cannot fulfill our mission without them……  Throughout the ages all the spiritual writers and all the saints agree that the one sure way to strengthen our trust and persevere in our friendship with Christ is to make prayer the priority in our lives.

This is something that Pope Francis and each of the popes have never tired of reminding us. Our Catholic faith is a relationship, a friendship with the real and living person of Jesus Christ…Time must be spent each day for such a relationship, such a friendship to grow.  Reading Scripture, especially the gospels is the normative way God has given us in which he speaks to us. Daily reading of the Scriptures is a must for all followers of Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI was in New York City in 2008 speaking to young people said:   “What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God’s path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33).”  Pope Benedict continued:  “As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.”

We are mission.  Christ’s message must be offered. We only have the courage to offer it when we have built up our strength by raising our hearts and minds to Him in our daily prayer.

If Christ’s message is welcomed when offered then we continue in the example and teaching.  If a house does not welcome us, Scripture says, shake off the dust on your feet and move on.  Shaking the dust off the feet was a ritual that every Jew that had travelled beyond Israel would do when they returned to Israel.  Symbolically they would shake off the ritual uncleanness they had incurred by coming into contact with non-believers.

All believers have an obligation to offer Christ’s message…to seize opportunities to speak about the Lord…we must do that…however, we cannot control how the message is received.  If it is not…we move on.  Indifference, Opposition, Persecution must be expected.  It should not throw us or make us angry…it should not be feared.  As Mother Teresa said:  “God has not called me to be successful.  He has called me to be faithful.”

The main enemy of trust and perseverance is fear.  Fear prevents us from being Christ’s witnesses to the world.  Simple fears…the Grace we all pray before meals in the privacy of our homes…often is omitted when out at a restaurant or at another gathering…such a simple thing…why?  Fear.  Not wanting to be seen as a Catholic in public.  Afraid of what others will think?  Not wanting to bring Christ into a situation where he might be less than welcome.  Such a very basic, simple form of witness.  Sometimes omitted because of fear.

Fears…not intervening at work or at home when someone is being spoken about uncharitably…Not speaking up in their defence or at the very least changing the conversation…not intervening at work or at home when someone is being treated unjustly!

We are most afraid of what others will think of us…True apostles…embody the Mission of Christ wherever they are…In whatever circumstance… knowing at times they will make others uncomfortable…knowing at times they themselves will be uncomfortable.  True apostles know that they will be persecuted for Christ.

Such fear…Can only be overcome by trusting in God’s grace…In our First Reading, Amos, God’s chosen prophet was rejected by the very people to whom God sent him.  Amos was a true prophet, beloved and chosen by God.  His people did not listen to him, they insulted him and drove him away. Yet he trusted. He persevered.

Jesus knows his followers will be treated the same way and actually tells them how to behave when they are rejected.

Knowing that Christians will not always receive a warm welcome in this fallen world God calls us to be faithful any way,…to trust and persevere in what is right and good even when it is not popular, because, as today’s Psalm reminds us, trust and perseverance are  how we will “see God’s kindness and experience his salvation.”

In light of the constant presence of persecution and the need to overcome fear …to trust and to persevere  and be Christ-like no matter what and no matter where we find ourselves…Mother Teresa, St. Teresa of Calcutta,  once wrote the following sayings on the wall of her home for children in Calcutta, India.  She was someone who could only do what she did because she prayed often; her daily life was steeped in prayer.  Pope Benedict would have said of her:  “Christ was her constant companion, with whom she conversed at every step of her journey for others.”

This is Mother’s manifesto in how we are to be Christ-light in light of persecution in our fallen world:

 

She wrote:
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the best you have anyway.

 

You see,
in the final analysis it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.

 

We are mission.  Bringing God into all aspects of life. Trusting Him and persevering in that Trust in spite of any opposition.

 

 



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.