Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father Shawn Hughes

September 23, 2018

 

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

 

This gospel flies in the face of what our contemporary world holds dear.  A Christian leads in the same way Christ did – by serving, by taking care of those who are weak and helpless, those who are in need, like the need present in little children.

Greatness in Christ’s Kingdom is equated with humility, an attitude that puts the good of others ahead of one’s own preferences.  The contemporary mind balks with the innate human desire to excel and achieve greatness.  But by defining Christian greatness as putting the needs of others before our own does not stifle our innate desire to excel and achieve…It merely directs it correctly.  Jesus does not tell his apostles “You shouldn’t strive to be great, to achieve great things,” but he does point out where true, lasting, fulfilling greatness lies – in loving one’s neighbour as Christ has loved them.  Jesus is a Servant-Lord…He leads by serving.  His disciples follow in his demanding footsteps.

Followers of Jesus, our servant-Lord, see the need around them and strive to use their gifts: their time, talent and treasure to meet the need in the best way they possibly can.

Even Jesus’ disciples did not get this.  They still were hoping for Jesus to be King as King David was a thousand years earlier.  From a worldly viewpoint they were hoping that he would bring the power of political freedom and the wealth of economic prosperity back to the Jewish people.  So they were arguing from the worldly perspective of power, who of them would be the greatest, who would be the most prominent, the most important, the most prestigious, in their hoped for worldly Kingdom of power and wealth.

In today’s gospel Jesus strives to prepare his disciples for his impending death: The  Kingdom of Christ involves the cross. “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, they will put him to death and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.”  The gospel tells us the disciples just didn’t get it because the always focused solely on the cross and not the hope that Resurrection would bring.

Thus, Jesus presents them with a concrete example.  ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’”

Children are basically energetic balls of needs.  They can’t survive on their own; they need someone to take care of them, to watch over them, to teach them – all the time.  And they really can’t reciprocate.  By telling them that when they accept a child they are welcoming Jesus Himself, Christ is teaching who will be great in the Kingdom of God.  In Jesus’ society children had absolutely no social status.  They were very vulnerable.  By using the child Jesus is explaining that the Christian heart reaches out…selflessly, self sacrificially,…to the vulnerable to those who are in need, to those who can’t speak or act on their own behalf.  The Christian heart strives not primarily for its own advancement, but looks for ways to meet the physical or spiritual needs of others…expecting nothing in return.  In doing so the Christian heart not only welcomes Christ, but the Father who sent him. Jesus is clearly saying that when we put aside our selfish, ego driven concerns we welcome him.   The little child in the gospel represents every child, and everyone who is needy, helpless, poor or sick.  We must lose our very selves to gain the life Jesus describes.  We often think that our relationship with Christ and the Father can solely be developed in prayer.  Our prayer must be concretized in action.  As we heard so powerfully three Sundays ago from the Letter of James: “Be doers of the word. Not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”

Jesus insists on the Cross.  It is not an easy message to hear, especially for our modern, individualistic, relativistic minds.  Our contemporary societal arrogance says:  “I can define my own truth.  What I believe is right is right. You believe what you want. I’ll do what I think is right for me. Power is better.  Wealth is the best.”   Disciples of Jesus Christ don’t think like this.  We look to Christ to define our truth.  We look to Christ for His wisdom.  His wisdom is our wisdom.  And the wisdom presented in the gospel today is the mysterious wisdom of the cross.  The fullness of life and meaning is in self-forgetful love.  This is what we believe because it is what the Lord Jesus did and what he teaches.  “If any wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.” (9:35).  In Matthew’s gospel Jesus states it very plainly: ‘the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.’(Matt. 20:26)

On October 27, 1985 at the 40th anniversary observances of the founding of the United Nations, Mother Teresa (now St. Teresa of Calcutta) was invited to come from her work in the slums of Calcutta to speak in the General Assembly. After a week of princes, presidents and prime ministers’ addressing the General Assembly on this momentous anniversary, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, introduced Mother Teresa as “the most powerful woman in the world” explicitly recognizing that humility, and self-sacrificial love are the true power, the true wealth, the reality of who we are…created in the image and likeness of God.  Her life demonstrated that a life lived in service to the poorest of the poor frees us from the envy and selfish ambition depicted in  today’s first and second readings.

“The most powerful woman in the world” quite a title.  On the world’s stage why would he say such a thing?  She embodied what today’s reading from the letter of James calls “wisdom from above.”  Because of the depth of her self-sacrificial love she embodied “peacefulness, gentleness, mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.”  She  said: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies”  and “intense love does not measure.  It just gives.”

Mother Teresa lived at this level because of her absolute child-like trust in God.  The day before yesterday, I heard one of the best stories of what our child-like trust in God should be like.  You will recall the terrible wind storm that day.  Many of you would have heard that deafening clap of thunder early Friday morning.  One of the priests in the city said one of the young fathers in his parish was telling him that their four year old daughter heard the clap of thunder, let out a little yelp and within seconds was out of her room and snuggled securely in between he and his wife in their bed…And then promptly fell right back to sleep…While the two of them lay there wide awake.   It is a stunning image of us as children of God… something bad or frightening happens…We need to immediately run to Him for protection and then rest, confident in His Fatherly care.  It’s a great image. It is that level of trust that allowed Mother Teresa to bear the fruit of self-sacrificial love throughout her life.  We need to pray for that level of trust.

She had a business card which she gave to everyone she met… Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers.  You have probably heard me quote it before. It spells out from where such trust and self-sacrificial love springs and to where it develops…

The card said:

The Fruit of silence is prayer.

The Fruit of prayer is faith.

The Fruit of faith is love.

The Fruit of love is service.

The Fruit of service is peace.

It begins in silence. Standing in the truth before God…warts and all.     Out of the silence comes prayer and prayer produces faith. Out of faith comes love.  And the result of love is service to others…And that gives us peace…because that is who God has created us to be…

“Intense love does not measure.  It just gives.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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.