Second Sunday in Lent

March 17, 2019
Father Shawn Hughes


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



Imagine what Peter, James and John must have talked about among themselves the day after they witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor.

Imagine how filled with joy, trust, and confident hope they must have been as they went down the mountain that day!

Imagine what their prayer must have been like over the next few days, weeks and months!

While Jesus was praying they had seen his face change and his clothes became dazzling white. (Luke 9:30) In this way the divine nature indwelling the humanity of Jesus became fully manifest. Up to now his divinity had been veiled by his human nature.  In that moment of glory he wanted to show us three things:

Firstly appearing with him are the greatest patriarch and the greatest prophet of the Old Testament:  Moses and Elijah.  Moses representing the Torah, the Law.  And Elijah representing all prophecy.  They appear with Jesus on that mountain top to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Law of the Old Covenant and that He is the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Old Covenant.  That is why his face changed and his clothes became dazzling white.  The Glory of the Old Covenant’s Law and Prophecies are brought to fulfillment and perfected in the New Covenant, in Jesus Christ.

  1. b) Secondly Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor to show us who we have truly been created to be. Whenever I am celebrating funerals there is a prayer that is prayed as part of the Eucharistic prayer.   Each time I pray it, the awesomeness of who we are created to be leaps out at me.  What we pray is what we believe.

In that prayer we pray:

Remember your servant
whom you have called
from this world to yourself.
Grant that he/she who was united with your Son in a death like his,
may also be one with him in his Resurrection,
when from the earth
he will raise up in the flesh those who have died,
and transform our lowly body
after the pattern of his own glorious body.


Imagine!  We will be transfigured:  our lowly bodies will be transformed after the pattern of his own glorious body. As our second reading said “He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” (Philippians 3:21) Truly our citizen ship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:20)

It gets better…the prayer from the Funeral Mass goes on:

To our departed brothers and sisters, too,
and to all who were pleasing to you
at their passing from this life,
give kind admittance to your kingdom.
There we hope to enjoy for ever the fullness of your glory,
when you will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
For seeing you, our God, as you are,
we shall be like you for all the ages
and praise you without end,

Not only will we be transfigured.  Those who are pleasing to Him at the moment of death will enjoy the fullness of his glory and will be able to see God as He is and will be like him for all the ages.  Imagine!

On Mount Tabor, Jesus wanted to give us a glimpse of the target.  It is as though he were saying: you will become like this, if you take up your cross daily and follow me, if you are one of his disciples, one who is pleasing to Him, or , IF, we, as the Father from Heaven spoke in the gospel: “Listen to Him!”

When in John’s gospel “Jesus says, “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12), he does not mean it in a metaphorical way. In his person habitually resides the uncreated light of God’s glory- this is what we see in the Transfiguration —the Light that, being divine, divinizes all it touches. And this Light is so at home within Jesus’ humanity that the glory can penetrate the humanity as a most perfect instrument for the communication of the divine life, without any harm coming to Christ’s created nature. Here on Tabor we have before us the living and perfect icon of human nature divinized by being taken up into divine life.” Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis:

We receive this Light, this Life in baptism.  We were originally created in the image and likeness of God.  When our first parents originally sinned we lost the likeness to God in which we had been created.  That loss was inherited by all of us.  Jesus’ suffering, death and Resurrection restored that likeness.  He redeemed us…gave us back our original value.  That is what we receive at baptism.  We are redeemed. The original likeness to God we were originally created to have is restored. So much so, as has been taught since the beginning of the Church, if a baby died the moment after a he/she was baptised they would go straight to heaven. As the prayer from the funeral Mass stated, fully able to enjoy God’s glory; fully able to see God as He is and where we shall be like him for all the ages.  This spiritual reality is so profound that St. Francis of Assisi used to genuflect before newly-baptized babies.  He would always genuflect before the glory of God bestowed upon that child in the transfiguration of Baptism.

Imagine!  At the moment of our Baptism, our souls are so transfigured that we are fully able to enjoy God’s glory, to see God as He is and be like Him. That is why it is so essential to get a baby baptised as soon after baptism as possible.  And the point of all the other Sacraments flow from Baptism.  They either strengthen us to live at that level of Baptismal right readiness for heaven or restore that glory when it has been lost due to sin.  If we live at the transfigured level of baptism throughout our lives at the moment of death we will go straight to heaven. That is why it is so essential to receive the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession often. For strength and for reconciliation with God.

Finally Christ was transfigured on Mont Tabor because he wanted to strengthen us in our pilgrimage here on earth.  Jesus is confirming the faith of this inner nucleus of the Church, represented by Peter, James, and John, against the coming Passion. It is as though he is saying to Peter, James and John. Remember this when things are not so glorious.  Remember this when all is darkness.  Remember this when I am hanging on the Cross for you.   Remember this when you are suffering.  Remember the target; glory!

In each of our own lives we all need mountain top experiences to be able to prepare us for the difficult encounters of the scandal of the crosses.

The transfiguration takes place when Jesus and the apostles leave behind the noise, the hustle and bustle, the grinding daily routine, that often absorbs us so much that we are unable to see Christ and experience his love and mercy.  We too need to leave behind the noise, the hustle and bustle and the grind of our daily routine and enter, daily, into prayerful communion with our God, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.

Our instructions in today’s gospel are very simple. “This is my Son; my Chosen.  Listen to Him.”  If we are going to be able to see Jesus we must listen to Jesus.  The normative way we to listen to Jesus is to read the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church he established.  Especially in the gospels and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church you will hear his voice and see His glory revealed.  In Lent I would encourage you each day to spend 10 minutes of your prayer time with the sacred Scriptures and read a paragraph of the catechism, which can be easily found online if you don’t have your own copy.

Interestingly, both the Hebrew and Greek words in the Scriptures for sin would be literally translated as “missing the mark” “missing the target.”  Jesus show’s us the target today!  To hit it, we must “Listen to Him.”

Thus the key Lenten questions for reflection this week are: “Am I listening to the teachings of Jesus and His Church?” and secondly and equally importantly:  “Am I allowing myself to be transfigured by them?” “Am I becoming more and more Christ-like?”

St. Augustine would say concerning receiving the Eucharist: “Believe what you see, see what you believe and become what you are: the Body of Christ.” When we say “Amen”, we are saying “Yes! I believe this is the Body and Blood of Christ and that I will be the Body of Christ to others.

The event of the Transfiguration is essential for us to understand that life in Christ is about fullness of life now. Christianity is not a religion of the continual postponement of joy and delight. The Transfiguration is the experience of the fullness of divine Presence, divine action, divine communication, and glory now, in our very midst, in this world of passing-ness and disappointment…This is only possible with the Sacraments he has given us if we receive them regularly and worthily and when we “Listen to Him” and choose for our lives to be transfigured by what we have heard.

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.

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.
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.