Opening of the 125th Anniversary Year at St. Andrew's Cathedral

October 29, 2016

~ Download this Homily


“Jesus gives us the way of being his temple in the world. Jesus gives us the way of being St. Andrew’s Cathedral in downtown Victoria. It is to seek out and to save the lost. That’s our life as Christians. That’s our life as the temple of the Holy Spirit. That’s the call of Christ and of the Church down through the centuries.”

~ Bishop Gary Gordon


My dear family,

We begin a year of wonderful joy. Our home has been open for 125 years. In the big scheme of things, that’s pretty tiny, but in our scheme of things, it is great. For in this home, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the Word of God has been proclaimed for 125 years. As the prophet Ezra reads the Word, the people are not only thrilled, but filled with joy, and make a clear decision to follow the Lord. And that, too, has happened here in this Cathedral. People have heard the Word, the Good News of the Gospel, and have made a decision to follow the Lord as missionary disciples.

For 125 years, this home has been where God’s people are nourished to become the living temple of the Holy Spirit through the grace of the Sacramental mysteries that we celebrate, in particular, the Holy Eucharist. We become what we receive. We become the body of Christ, his holy temple. The Gospel today gives us the reason for the proclamation of the Good News. It also gives us the way, or the plan of action. By hearing the Good News, we are able to act in the world as temples of God’s Holy Spirit 

Zacchaeus, short in stature, the Gospel tells us, has climbed a sycamore tree so that he might see, he might be able to catch a glimpse, of the one he has heard about. Zacchaeus would much rather have stayed up the tree! It is a good vantage point. It’s like staying on top of a hill, or up the bell tower of St. Andrew’s Cathedral. It’s a good vantage point; you can see . . . but you’re not connected.

He took a great risk in coming down that tree. He was a tax collector. In this particular time, as a tax collector he would have been an ally of the Roman government, which was occupying the Holy Land. He would have been an accomplice with the enemy, and as a tax collector in those days, the best analogy is that he would be like your local biker gang: extortion and thuggery to get what was needed by the Roman authorities. For him to come down from the tree, to be on the ground, meant that he could well have been beaten by the crowd. He could have been roughed up by the crowd.

But he has responded to Jesus’ imperative: Zacchaeus, come down, I’m having dinner at your house. And it is that invitation that puts Zacchaeus in a whole new world. For in that meeting with Christ, Zacchaeus sees Christ not only from a distance, but now he sees the Christ that is penetrating his own heart. He sees his own life, and as the Gospel tell us, his first words to the Lord are: I will give half my property to the poor and if I have defrauded anyone, I will pay them back. He has come to a place of profound conversion—a conversion to now see as God sees.

This is the invitation in this particular Year of Mercy, and it is the invitation always of our Cathedral, of our Church: to be able to see as God sees, and then to seek as God seeks. We have it in the last line of the Gospel: Jesus came to seek out and save the lost.

Jesus gives us the way of being his temple in the world. Jesus gives us the way of being St. Andrew’s Cathedral in downtown Victoria. It is to seek out and to save the lost. That’s our life as Christians. That’s our life as the temple of the Holy Spirit. That’s the call of Christ and of the Church down through the centuries.

It is good that we are here. It is good that many people show up in our home. But what good is a home, a Christian home, unless its modus operandi is to seek out and to save the lost. All of the beauty, and the grace, and the music, and the fine homilies that are delivered here week in and week out are for nought unless God’s people are engaged in the very reason for Christian existence: to seek out and to save the lost.

Brothers and sisters, we have work to do. We will not be unemployed as followers of Christ, until the day of his return in glory. This is a big city. And for this anniversary year, my invitation to our whole Diocese is to seek out and to save the lost. To see as Christ sees, and to be the hands and the heart of tender accompaniment so that everyone has a home. So that everyone is at home. So that everyone can experience this joy of the Gospel, experience this mercy of Jesus Christ, experience this love to eternal life of our God.

Yes, it is good that we are here in this home, and it is good that the homes of our Diocese have many people in them, but what your Bishop truly needs is missionary disciples on the sidewalks, on the streets, in the back alleys, in the care homes, in the places in our Diocese where there are so many lost, suffering, wounded, broken people. My prayer as we begin this beautiful anniversary year of our Cathedral is that we can see as Christ sees, and that in our encounter with the merciful face of Christ, we will become his face, his heart, his hands to the broken, the wounded, and the lost.

We’ve got a lot of seeking to do, so I will stop, so our liturgy can end, so that we can get going, out those doors—out those doors of mercy is where the rubber hits the road for Christian discipleship.

Are you with me?

Amen!


A banner commemorating St. Andrew’s Cathedral is a photo of the Cathedral as it existed from 1882 – 1905, just before the North Tower was destroyed in a wind storm. The banner is made out of cloth from historical vestments that are in the Diocesan Archives, and is one of the projects undertaken as part of the Vestment Repurposing Project (background photo, above, and right, with Vestment Repurposing sewing volunteers Shelsey Slipetz and Thea Wapola, L to R).

During the 125th Anniversary year, the banner will hang in the Cathedral near the 4th Station of the Cross.

Vestement Repurposing Sewers Shelsey Slipetz (L) and Thea Wapola (R) with the 125th Anniversary Banner depicting St. Andrew's Cathedral as it appeared from 1892 – 1905


The back of the banner with its commerative notation. The border is from historical vestments stored in the Diocesan Archives


Showing the banner to a parishioner at St. Andrew's Cathedral

Photos courtesy Connie Dunwoody

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