Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twenty Third 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. 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


“Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27

“Whoever of you does not give up all their possessions cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:33

Tough, tough readings today.

The Gospel is simply saying: God must come first in our lives.

One of my favourite prayers is by St. Nicholas of Fluë.  I think I have mentioned this to you before:

Almighty God and Father take all things from me which keep me from you.

Almighty God and Father grant all things to me which lead me to you.

Almighty God and Father take me from myself and give all of me to you.  Amen.

Almighty God and Father take all things from me which keep me from you.  Whoever of you does not give up all their possessions cannot be my disciple.

Often that includes things we don’t want to let go of.

We must ask God to take everything from us that keeps us from him.  The question is…what of our possessions keeps me from God?  What or who am I so attached to that you could say it possesses me…its or their presence in my life takes priority over God’s presence in my life?

Almighty God and Father grant all things to me which lead me to you.

We must ask God to give us everything that will lead us from him.  That can be a very challenging prayer.  What God gives us to lead us to him are sometimes crosses that on a natural level we would rather not have: hardship, illness, suffering of any kind.  God does not cause them.  But he can permit them so that we rely more and more on him and realize that ultimately, He is the only certain thing we really have in our lives.

Almighty God and Father take me from myself and give all of me to you.  Amen.

Sometimes we are the one who gets in the way.  Things we think we cannot live without sometimes block or even break our relationship with God.

The two examples in the gospels…they are both about planning…We would never go on a trip without planning…We would never build a building without first having blueprints drawn up and planning every inch of the space.  We would never set out to win a battle without a strategic plan.   Then why do we think we can have a deep relationship with God without a plan firmly in place?

The success of building a good solid building is the planning and the foundation.  

I was chatting with a dear friend of mine, a retired Methodist minister.   As we were speaking, she asked:  “When you were a kid, as you stood in the doorway, didn’t your mother and father often say: “Shut the door.  Come in or stay out.  But, Shut the door!”  that has stuck with me this week.  In the spiritual life…We often like to keep the door open.  Like to have one foot inside with the Lord and one foot outside in the world. We need to fully come in and Shut the door.

How do we go about SHUTTING THE DOOR in the spiritual life? 

I would like to suggest one very simple spiritual exercise, praying a Daily Examen, as one of the key ways to successfully lay the foundation  of our relationship with God and actually growing in the spiritual life.  

St. Ignatius of Loyola provides a simple five-step routine for praying our daily Examen.  It should only take from five to ten minutes at the end of your day.  At the suggestion of St. Ignatius, many religious, especially the Jesuits which he founded, pray this twice a day: at noon and at the end of the day, 

The first step is Give thanksgiving:  I begin by giving God thanks for all the things I’m grateful for today. I allow my mind to wander as I reflect on the ways God has blessed me on this particular day. I allow big things and small things to arise—everything from the gift of my faith, to the gift of my marriage, to the easy commute to work today. 

Ask for the Spirit:  Next, I want to look at the moments in my day when I did not act so well. However, before doing so, I ask God to fill me with his Spirit so that the Spirit can lead me through this difficult soul-searching. Otherwise, I’m liable to hide in denial, wallow in self-pity, or seethe in self-loathing. 

Review and recognize failures:  I look back at my day and ask the Lord to point out to me the moments when I have failed in big ways or small. I take a sobering look at the mistakes I’ve made this day. 

Ask for forgiveness and healing:  If I have sinned, I ask God to forgive me and set me straight again. If I have not sinned but simply made a mistake, I ask for healing of any harm that might have been done. I ask for help to get over it and move on. I also ask for wisdom to discern how l might better handle such tricky moments in the future. 

Pray about the next day:  I ask God to show me how tomorrow might go. I imagine the things I’ll be doing, the people I’ll see, and the decisions I’ll be mulling over. I ask for help with any moments I foresee that might be difficult. I especially ask for help in moments when I might be tempted to fail in the way I did today. 

To help me remember the five steps, I like to use a 5-Rs mnemonic:

          Relish the moments that went well and all of the gifts I have today.

                   Request the Spirit to lead me through my review of the day.

                             Review the day.

                                      Repent of any mistakes or failures.

                                                Resolve, in concrete ways, to live tomorrow

Shut the door. May not take place all at once.  Our spiritual life is life long spiritual pilgrimage to God.   But day after day, the examen, gives us a plan to conquer those areas of our lives that are still outside.