Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nov. 10, 2019


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 Sunday readings. 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


I’m sure many of you have seen the famous bumper sticker: “The one who dies with the most toys, wins!”

Many years ago, I was in Times Square in Manhattan,  New York City and there was a several stories high billboard, all in black, with large white lettering…It spoofed this popular bumper sticker curtly proclaiming:  “The one who dies with the most toys,…is dead.”  Dark? Yes!   True?… most definitely…and really puts things in perspective.  Just as do our readings today.

For many Christians today, the acquisition of material things and the pursuit of pleasure are the driving forces, the measuring rods for living a successful life.  Our readings today urge us to re-focus.  This world is a preparation for the next.  The priorities we pursue in this life,…how we live in this life…will directly determine how we will live in the next.  In a few moments and at every Sunday Mass we pray in the creed:  “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”  (Nicene Creed) This line of the creed and the readings of the end of the Liturgical year, today and the next two Sundays, challenge us to reflect on the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come…what we have in traditionally referred to as the Four Last Things:  death, judgment and heaven and hell.

Our first reading is from the second book of Maccabees: One of the last books of the Old Testament.  First and Second Maccabees are two of the most exciting books of the Bible to read.  They recount the story of the Maccabee family who lived in the first half of the second century before Christ.  At the time, Israel was ruled by a foreign king who tried to wipe out the Jewish religion and culture.  They desecrated the temple, the most sacred place on earth for Jews of the time.  They set up pagan idols in the Holy of Holies.  They tried to force the Jewish people to break their religious laws and betray their faith.  Some buckled at the pressure and gave in to the foreign tyrant.  But The Maccabees fled to the hills and led a rebellion. This small group of vigilantes managed to retake the temple and cleanse it. They were horrified by the pagan idols that had been placed in the temple. They purified the temple and re-dedicated it to God.

This is the setting of  the mother and her seven sons in the first reading.  They were arrested, tortured and were being compelled to eat pork and break other religious laws against their conscience. When they refused, the sons, one by one, were executed in front of their mother.  It is an awful, terrible, heart-wrenching event.

The brothers were willing to die because they believed that there is life after death, and that life after death is a greater good than life itself.   They knew that if they gave up the faith to save their bodies, their souls would not be saved.  In death, life is changed, not ended.  Death is a powerful beginning.  The fourth brother recognizes this and after being tortured, and near death he boldly proclaims.  “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him but, for you,” meaning those who had killed his brothers and were about to kill him, he said:  for them:  “… there will be no resurrection of life.”

Even though this happened almost 2200 years ago this is very much an event in history that resonates throughout the centuries.  For the first three centuries of the Church, every pope and practically every bishop was challenged by the Romans to renounce their faith in God.  Each and every one of them were executed, martyred, because they would not deny the Faith.   There have been many martyrs throughout history; those who were put to death when they refused to deny their faith.

This happens in our own day as well.  You’ll remember just a couple of years ago in 2015.  The 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya who were arrested by ISIS, the Muslim terrorist group. They were held captive for many days. They were ordered to renounce their Christian faith. They all refused. As they forced the captives to kneel before them each was invited one last time to renounce their faith in Christ. When they refused, one by one, they cut off their heads. It is reported that many of them spoke the name of Jesus as they were about to die.  Their bravery is amazing. But the story doesn’t end there. There were 20 Christians. But 21 men were killed. The 21st was a man from Chad…a co-worker of the other 20.  He was not a Christian…but he was so inspired by the courage and conviction of the other 20 men that when he was asked as to which God he believed in,…gesturing toward those lying dead around him he immediately said:  “Their God is my God.” And immediately he too was be-headed.
The martyrs most vividly witness to the reality of life after death.

There is an ancient Catholic saying: Momento Mori.  It is Latin meaning ‘remember that you must die.’  Throughout the ages moment mori is an artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death; that we should be ever mindful of Heaven and Hell and our judgment.  It goes so strongly against our modern world that tries to avoid the thought of death or the inevitability of death so much so that often to say someone has died requires a euphemism.  They passed or something like that.  Many of the saints would have a skull on their desk to continuously remind them that they would die and to live this day as though it was their last.  It is a common practice in religious life to put a crucifix on one’s bed after you have made it so that you are reminded each morning of your death in order to live the day as though it might be your last.

As I have mentioned to you before that in 2003, I was in Calcutta, India with a group of university students from Newman House, here at Queen’s. We were working with the dying who had been brought in from the streets.  I had the great privilege of celebrating Mass in the Motherhouse of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, every day for three full weeks.  In the sacristy of their chapel, on the wall, there was a plaque that exhorted the priest…and can be applied to all of us..:   “… pray each Mass as though it was your first Mass, your only Mass, your last Mass!”

Imagine how our days would change if we intentionally lived each day as though it was our first day, our only day, our last day!

As the Catechism teaches us this life is the time open to accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ (2 Timothy 1:9-10) (which he gives us in the Sacraments).  The New Testament…affirms that each of us will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with our works and faith.  The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, and many other texts speak of the final destiny of the soul.  Some remind us that we will not all end up in heaven. (CCC 1021) (Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23)

The Catechism continues that each one receives his/her eternal retribution in their immortal soul at the very moment of their death, in a particular judgment that refers all the choices and events of one’s life to Christ.  How Christ-like has our life been?  Has it displayed the self-sacrificial love that He modelled for us?    Have we used the Sacraments of the Church to keep us strong, so that our life is as Christ like as possible?  Have we especially frequented confession so that at the moment of our death all grave sin has been confessed?

The result of the judgment of our soul at the very moment of death is either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-.)  immediately, (Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000-1001; John XXII, Ne super his (1334):DS 990.)  or entrance into the blessedness of heaven through a purification in Purgatory,   (Council of Lyons II (1274):DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439):DS 1304- 1306; Council of Trent (1563):DS 1820— If we have lived a life away from God and in serious, unconfessed sin at the moment of our death then there is the possibility that at our judgment of we will immediately find ourselves eternally separated from God in Hell. (Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1002. ) (CCC 1022)

At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.  (St. John of the Cross) .  Have we loved the Lord completely enough to receive all His Sacraments and the grace he gives us in them?  Have we loved him enough that when we grievously sever our relationship with him in serious sin that we use the great Sacrament of Confession to be reunited with Him?

Our Liturgies in the month of November cause us to take a good, honest look at this life and ask the question: “Am I living this life in such a way that should I die today, I would spend eternity with the Lord?”

From this perspective: the one who dies with the most toys most certainly does not win.


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.