Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  Thus, in posting this homily 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


We have just heard what is commonly known as the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, the Parable of the Lost Younger Brother, and the Parable of the Lost Older Brother.


Much Lost!


But much celebrating as well…these four parables could just as easily be called The Parable of the Found Sheep, the Found Coin, the Found Younger Brother, and the Parable of the Merciful Father.


There is so much joy at the end of these parables.


When the Sheep is found:

 “7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  (Luke 15:7).  Imagine!  ‘more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents!’


When the coin is found:

“10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)  Imagine!  The courts of heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents.


When the Lost Younger Brother returns:

“23 Get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to celebrate.’ (Luke 15:23)


These parables place before us the limitless mercy of God.


The Parable of the Lost Younger Son both provides us with a parable of the limitless mercy of God and a parable of  repentance.  The Father says “Let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”


Repentance brings life! Repentance brings joy! JOY in the heart of the sinner and Joy in the heart of God.


What is the common element in all four of these parables:  The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, The Lost Younger Son and the Lost Older Son?


The common element is that the Lost are sought out and found.  The sheep is valued so much that the shepherd knows it is lost, searches for the sheep until it is found.  The woman values the coin so much that she knows it is lost, and searches for it until it is found.  And more poignantly: the father values his sons so much that despite their despicable behaviour toward Him He seeks them out.  God seeks out the lost, because no matter what they have done he does not stop loving them.


The Gospel says as the younger son was returning:  “…while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion;  he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)


His Father saw him while he was still far off.  His love for His Son, despite the terrible way his son had treated him, had Him watching, waiting, hoping  for his return…and the minute he saw him he was filled with compassion, ran, put his arms around him and kissed him.


Three parables that end very happily, very joyfully.  God values the Lost…He seeks them out…Repentance causes the courts of heaven to rejoice.


Given the prospect of such heavenly delight,  let us make the most of the great Sacrament of repentance, of Confession. Only there can we fully recover our true value.  Only there can our inner peace be restored, our joy.  Only there is our transcendent dignity restored.  Only there.


But what about the fourth parable?  The parable of the Older Son.  Many of us would say…What about it?  He has done nothing wrong? He has stayed home.  He has done his duty.  Done everything the Father has asked of him.  All true.  But, sadly, he has done all of this without love.

His resentment of the Father’s forgiveness of his younger brother is very strong:  He spits out: “ ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ He is so eaten up with envy and jealousy that he can’t even say my brother… “when this Son of yours.”  He fails in charity.  He fails in love.  He is so self-focussed, so consumed with envy and jealousy,  that he can’t love his brother; so self-focussed he can’t see his Father’s love for him.  He works expecting to be compensated.  He is stiff-necked like the Israelite’s in the first reading from Exodus.  He has created a false God.  That false God is that he deserves something in return.  Thus, he is self-righteous.  Demanding  justice.  Yes, he has done his duty…but without love.


Remember the formal definition of love from St. Thomas Aquinas…. Love is seeking the good of the other as other…meaning loving expecting nothing in return.  We see this in the Shepherd who risks everything to seek out the Lost sheep. We see this in the woman who searches so carefully for the lost coin.  We see this in the Merciful Father who waits and watches and hopes… Longing for the return of the Lost Younger Son.


Sadly,  the older son is with his Father and fails to recognize that he has his Father’s love.  Because He does not love his Father in return, he expects to be compensated.  He expects Justice.  And Justice is exactly what he receives.


In the Spiritual life how often do we expect something in return for our prayers…how often do we want to be compensated for our practice of the Faith? How often do we doubt when we perceive we have not been compensated?


God is love.  When we repent of our sins we experience that love as compassion and mercy.  When we fail to repent we experience God’s love as Justice.  The Father loves both sons equally.  The younger son repents of his sins.  He expects nothing and he receives the Father’s Love in mercy and compassion.   The older one does not repent.  In fact he is so blind he doesn’t even see his sins.  He expects justice.  And that is exactly what he gets.


This parable ends with the Father pleading with the older son,


31b Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”


The parable ends on this sad note…the Father pleading with the Older Son. We presume the Older Son obstinately stays in his stiff-neckedness; in his self-righteousness.


St. Bernard of Clarvaux, that great giant of the spiritual life, says that “the whole of the spiritual  life consists on two elements:  When we think of ourselves, we are perturbed and filled with a healthy sadness.  And when we think of the Lord, we are revived to find consolation in the joy of the Holy Spirit.  From the first we derive fear and humility, from the second, hope and love.” (Saint Bernard, abbot, Liturgy of the Hours, vol. IV, p. 236)


The Prodigal son, reflecting on himself was disturbed and filled with a healthy sadness.  He stood in the truth and recognized his wrong.   When he thought of the Father, he found consolation and joy.  Thus in humility, he returns, repents and finds hope and love in the Father.


“10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)


In His Great Love the Father has compassion and mercy for us.  All that is required is that we repent when we our thoughts, words and actions fail to love Him in return.  Before we manage to stretch out our hand for help, God’s own outstretched hand is already extended towards us.  All that is required of us is that we reach out and grab it.






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.