Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany of the Lord January 6th, 2019

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

 

There is one thing that every human heart is absolutely starving for: someone to trust. Someone who not only will promise to never let us down, never judge us, never abandon us, but someone with enough goodness and enough power…to keep that promise. Every one of us needs someone we can lean on no matter what, through the sufferings and sorrows and the joys…someone we can go to no matter what, someone who will be glad to see us no matter what – someone who is utterly, totally, unhesitatingly, faithful. Often, for those of you who are married, that someone becomes your spouse.  However, it is too much to even expect spouses to fulfill that foundational desire at the core of our being. Only God is can satisfy that desire at the core of every heart.  Only God is that faithful.

The coming of the Wise Men to adore the baby Jesus is one of the Bible’s most beautiful proofs of God’s faithfulness. More than 500 years before Christ’s birth, as we heard in our first reading today, God had promised, through his prophet Isaiah, that he was going to lead “all the nations” to Jerusalem (Isaiah 60:3) to share in the light of salvation. He even promised that they would bring gold and incense. (Isaiah 60:6)  In Psalm 72, that we just heard,  he had made the same promise in different words “the kings of Tarshish and the coasts will pay him tribute; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts”. (Psalm 72:10)  In spite of 500 years of wars, migrations, and historical turbulence that re-wrote the map of the civilized world three different times, God did what he said he was going to do.  The Wise Men came from the non-Jewish world; they represent the nations. The Wise men come to Christ, they enter into the light of salvation bringing gifts. This shows us the goodness of God – he kept his promise. It also shows us that God is all-powerful – the ups and downs of history are under his control. The God who keeps his promises, who is all powerful, and all humble in his taking on human form…this is our God – the same one, like the Wise Men, we come to worship and adore today, who will give himself to us today in the Eucharist.

All of God’s goodness and power are ours, because we belong to Christ, and Christ is the human icon of God’s faithfulness. Emmanuel:  God with us.

Knowing that God is faithful is the foundation of our whole spiritual life and has enormous consequences for our whole life.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines the implications of belief in God’s Faithful.  It says such belief 223  means coming to know God’s greatness and majesty:  and therefore we must “serve God first”.47 (St. Joan of Arc)

224 Such belief means living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we are and have comes from him: 225 It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men and women: everyone is made in the image and likeness of God.50 (Genesis 1:26)

226 Such belief means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:

The Prayer of St. Nicholas of Flue…… states this beautifully:

My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you

227 Such belief means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. The prayer on the front of your bulletins, next to the image of the Three Wisemen in Adoration of the Infant Jesus, is St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer that expresses this level of trust:

 

Let nothing trouble you

Let nothing frighten you

Everything passes

God never changes

Patience, obtains all

Whoever has God wants for nothing

God alone is enough!

On this Solemnity of the Epiphany, where God revealed Himself, not only to the Hebrew Nation, but that He has come for all nations…the Church is reminding us that we can count on him, that God is ever faithful and therefore we can  trust him, and thus follow him just as the Wise Men followed the star. The Gospel says the Wise Men were “overwhelmed with joy” (Matthew 2:10) when the star stopped and they realized they had reached their goal.  And if we trust that God is ever faithful, even if at times we can’t see it, we, like the Wise Men, will “be overwhelmed with joy”…filled with true Christian joy.

There is a wonderful story of true Christian Joy told about Pope St. John Paul II about a year before he died.  He was already in seriously declining health.  He couldn’t move himself around, he couldn’t speak clearly – he was an icon of pain and suffering. Everyone knew he wouldn’t be with us much longer. A bishop from the United States had a meeting with him, and at the end  of their meeting, the bishop, with a sad look in his eyes, said to the Pope: “Holy Father, it saddens me to think that this is probably the last time I will see you. “John Paul II looked at him and said with a smile, “O really, Your Excellency? I didn’t know you were having health troubles.”  Joy in suffering.  Joy in absolute trust of God’s faithfulness. This is the kind of joy God gives us; a deep, strong, meaningful joy that can put our sufferings in their proper perspective.

Because God is faithful, we know that whatever happens, he will continue to guide our lives to their fulfillment, even during those times when, for short periods or long ones, we can’t see the star as clearly…. times of suffering and sorrow.

The Wise Men left their homelands far behind in order to follow the star, but right when they seemed to be arriving at their destination, the Scriptures tell us the star disappeared. That’s why St Matthew tells us that they were so overjoyed when they saw the star again after their meeting with King Herod. At some point in their journey, for some reason, they had lost sight of the star. If they had turned back at that point, they would never have found what they longed for.

Often we are in the same situation. We know God is faithful, and we want to trust him, but we lose sight of the star. That’s when we have to exercise our faith in God – to keep following Christ, to keep obeying the commandments and Church teaching, no matter how hard it may be.

Each of us knows someone (maybe it is ourselves) who has lost sight of the star.

  • Maybe they are finding it hard to accept one of the Church’s teachings.
  • Maybe they are facing suffering and loss.
  • Maybe they are stuck in sin and are drifting further away from the light.
  • Whatever their specific situation, they need to be reminded that God is faithful, that only by following him can our life journey be successful.

We have been reminded in today’s Scriptures that we can count on God. He is true to His promises…ever faithful…Even in adversity.

The Wise Men returned to their own country.  Back to the trials and tribulations of their ordinary everyday lives. Yet changed.  Totally Confident in God’s Faithfulness…I’m sure for their rest of their earthly lives expressing at the core of their being, no matter what…despite the suffering and sorrow of life,  the foundational joy and trust, that is so beautifully summarised in that prayer of St. Teresa of Avila.

Let nothing trouble you

Let nothing frighten you

Everything passes

God never changes

Patience  obtains all

Whoever has God

wants for nothing

God alone is enough.

There is one thing that every human heart is absolutely starving for: someone to trust. That is what we celebrate on this Solemnity of the Epiphany!  God is ever Faithful.  Be Not Afraid!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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 collection 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.