Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time



     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.  This week a good deal of the inspiration came from Father John Bartunek the author of The Better Part.


   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



The gospel we have just heard forces us to ask ourselves the question:  “Is my relationship with God a sector of my life or is it the source of my life?

If it’s a sector.. that’s good. God’s in our lives. But if it’s the source of all of that we think and do in this world that is much much better .  That is Christ’s message in this famous passage of the better apart from Luke’s gospel, chapter 10. Martha and Mary are having a dinner party for Jesus and his 12 apostles. Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet, following his words, conversing with him. Martha is in the kitchen working hard, fussing, sweating away. And she is getting a little ticked off that her sister is not helping. She finally is fed up with it, ….storms in to the living room and says…. all right Jesus tell my sister to get up and give me a hand

Jesus turns towards her and says…And we all should hear our own names in place of Martha’s…“Martha, Martha you are worried and distracted about many things but only one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

This passage summarizes the entire Christian journey that each one of us is called to make.


This journey has three main phases.


The first phase of our Christian life is everything that happens before God becomes a real person for us. At some point in our lives even though we may be going to Mass, maybe even studying the Scriptures and the catechism God is not fully real to us but at some point, God became a real person for us or you wouldn’t be sitting here at Mass today.  He no longer is an abstract idea, not just a historical figure but a real person. When that happens this great adventure of faith…that we are all on with the Lord…began.


In that first stage God is working in our lives in hidden ways.  Even though we don’t know him yet, our search for meaning, our search for  purpose, our search for the deeper thing …is real and God is at work planting seeds. Then when He invades our lives, when He becomes a real person for us the seeds start to grow and our experiences start to bear fruit.


The second phase is when God is in the house.  Like in the Gospel today.    When God becomes real, and we begin a personal relationship with him, he gets in our house/our heart we start to organize our life around him. Martha is already in the second phase of the journey. God is a sector of her life. God is in the house. Jesus is there. She’s working for him. She’s doing things for him. She wants to help build his kingdom. She wants to be with him. But she is still worried and anxious… distracted.


Then there is the third stage where God is no longer a sector of our life.  In the third stage our relationship with the Lord becomes the centre and source of our lives. That is where Mary is. She’s at the feet of Jesus. Living from his Word. Not just doing things for the Lord but living from the word of the Lord. And that is where we all want to go. That is where Jesus wants to lead all of us. Why????  Because he knows that that is where we find the true joy that we yearn for and can’t find anywhere else. Not joy and happiness that depends on circumstances…which is truly only pleasure…it comes and it goes…but the joy that doesn’t go away because it is anchored in eternity.

We are on this earth because we are meant to have an impact. We are meant to bear the fruit of the gospel in our lives. We are meant to make a difference with God’s grace…to change our environment that we find ourselves in.  To bring those we encounter a little closer to the Lord.


And we can’t do that without God’s grace. We can make a lot of noise but we can’t make anything that lasts forever. So, when we live from God; when he is the source of all we do…then we really become fruitful. We make a difference.

Many of you will have seen the movie The Passion of the Christ. The actor who played Jesus, Jim Caviezel, is a man of real faith.  Before this movie began shooting, he made a promise to God that he would never go before the cameras without receiving Holy Communion.   His prayer was that he wanted everyone who saw the film not to see him but to see Jesus. So, the day when they were filming the Last Supper scene, he wasn’t able to go to Mass so he asked one of the priests who was on the set to bring him Holy Communion. So, Father Bill brought the Blessed Sacrament in the small pyx and gave Jim Caviezel Holy Communion.

So, they started working on the Last Supper scene. It was a very difficult scene to film because Jesus had to be gentle but he also had to be firm and strong because the apostles were scared. And they had to convey that Jesus was also suffering because he knew what was coming but he had to be strong at the same time as being gentle. So, they kept shooting it. Over and over again.  And they couldn’t seem to get it right. So, after many shots…people were getting  impatient and more and more frustrated.


So finally, Jim Caviezel, knowing that Father Bill was still there on the set, and knowing that he still had our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with him:  He yelled out,  “I want Father Bill to come and stand right in front of me.”  Mel Gibson, the director, who also was getting quite frustrated and impatient said to do whatever he wanted.  So, Father Bill came and stood in front of him, just out of the shot.


Jim Caviezel wanted him there because he wanted the Eucharist close… he wanted God to be close. Because he wasn’t getting it right. So, they started to film again. And they got it right. And everything started to click…That’s what happens when we live from God.


…when he is so close to us that he is the source of all we do. Things start to click.  Our potential. Our gifts. Our talents. Start to flourish in ways we never thought or imagined.


We only develop that intimacy with the Lord in our prayer, in our time spent with him…when we invite him into our house.


A prayer I would like to suggest that is very effective in placing us in the third stage of the Christian Journey is what is called the Examen.

At the end of our day, it only takes five minutes or so, review the entire day in your mind…Let it roll like a movie….allow the Holy Spirit to place on your heart the events of the day. Those which were experienced as good, are blessings, give thanks for them. Those which were experienced as struggles ask for help with and those which may have been sinful ask for forgiveness.  If we do this on a regular basis, day in day out, we become very aware that 95% of our day are blessings, that God is very present in our days.  If we don’t do it …Fallen human nature being what it is…We will focus on the 5%.. the negative…And it will take over and we will think our day was all struggle and sin.


God is very much present to us in our everyday blessings.  Our gratitude acknowledges that and we have an abiding peace.


Jesus says to me in this gospel…and I would hazard to say he says it to many of us…so, I would encourage you to put your own name in…To me he says:  “Shawn, Shawn  you are worried and distracted about many things but only one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

“Is my relationship with God a sector of my life or is it the source of my life?