Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Disclaimer:

My homilies are never solely my own creative act.  In giving you a copy of this homily 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 or issue 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

 

The Readings cover a lot of ground today…Faith, Duty, Humility, Gratitude.

 

In the first reading the prophet Habbakuk is saying, the people are suffering, why are you not listening God?

He says:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,  and you will not listen?  I would hazard to guess we have all been there…We have all said this at one time or another when nothing seems to be going as we plan or when we have had to face something that is more than we think we can handle.  I remember my dear brother, God bless him, six and a half years ago, the night his 21 year old son was killed in an accident, saying:  “How can I go on?”  I remember sitting with my arms around him saying, we’ll get through this, God will get us through this.”…In what was the most tragic experience of his life, assuring  him, what the prophet Habbakuk tells us in our reading today:  the Righteous live by Faith.

 

In various ways we all have faced times that seem more than we can handle:  our living situations, discord in families, loss of a loved one, loss of financial security, some form of health crisis…“How can I go on?” has come to many of us.

 

What is God’s response to Habbakuk?    “Have Faith.”  The just person lives by Faith.

 

This section from the prophet Habakkuk reminds me of a song that topped the Christian Music charts a few years ago called…Strong Enough by Matthew West.

 

Very similar to Habakkuk, addressing God it says:

You must think I’m strong
To give me what I’m going through
Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I’m wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

[Chorus]  I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough

 

Then like Habbukuk , in Faith the chorus goes on crying out to the Father:

Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us

Then in the song Matthew West quotes, what he says is his favourite piece of Scripture, and I must admit mine also:  Philippians 4:13
“I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength”

Matthew West wrote this song after receiving letters from so many people who just felt they couldn’t handle what they were going through.

 

In light of all this the message of today’s gospel seems very harsh.

 

Isn’t Jesus being harsh with the servant in this parable?  The servant works hard and humbly submits to his boss, day after day. Dutifully fulfilling every task given to him

Then Jesus says he should look for nothing in return, no rest, no reward or recognition, no special treatment: after all,  he is just doing his duty.

 

It strikes us as rather cold.  We immediately feel sorry for the servant.

 

And yet, we shouldn’t.   Christ’s point is that his love for us doesn’t depend on our “performance“.

 

God’s love for each of us is already so total, personal, unconditional, and untiring that nothing we do can increase or decrease it.  We have to remember this in the good times and the bad.  We cannot do anything to merit God’s love.  We can’t do anything to lose God’s love.  God’s love is always constant.

 

The meaning of our lives doesn’t come from anything we have or have not done.   The meaning of life comes from how deeply we realize the fact that God created us out of love, redeemed us out of love, and guides us towards heaven purely out of unconditional, overflowing love.

 

This puts a whole new light on the servant in the Gospel.   The servant in God’s Kingdom in response to God’s love for him wants to work energetically, joyfully, and peacefully…Why…This is the servant’s  response to God’s totally gratuitous love for him…a response of  gratitude for God’s gifts – only considering what he’s going to get in return is to spend eternity with God.

 

God’s love doesn’t depend on our achievements; what we have or have not done…our achievements flow from knowing the depth of God’s love for us and from wanting to thank him.

 

This is true humility.   This is true freedom.

 

The Lord is saying: instead of letting our achievements go to our heads, Jesus wants to teach us how to make them flow from our hearts.

Not hearts that are self-satisfied  but hearts that are dutiful out of a deep humility before God…

 

…hearts that are dutiful out of a deep gratitude before God’s promised love.

 

The Letter to the Hebrews gives us the Scriptural  Meaning of Faith

Chapter 11 says:  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

The phrase “things hoped for” in Heb. 11:1 is not about our personal desires – it is about the eternal promises of God.  Faith is the assurance of the eternal promises of God.

 

Faith is constantly having the goal of Eternal Life in mind and living accordingly.

 

The Just person who lives by Faith will live forever.

 

We don’t have to be strong enough on our own.  In every overwhelming event of life, we can say with St. Paul :  “ I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”.  Philippians 4:13

 

This is the heart of a servant who fully knows the depths of God’s love for him.

 

 



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 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.