27th Sunday in Ordinary Time


1st reading: Genesis 2.7ab, 15, 18-24

2nd reading: Hebrews 2.9-11

Gospel: Mark 10.2-16

By: Deacon Blaine Barclay

Jesus speaks to us of the one flesh union of man and woman in marriage.

At the time of Jesus there was a great debate among Jewish Torah scholars. The followers of Rabbi Shammai were very strict on the question of divorce and remarriage. The followers of Rabbi Hillel were more lenient in their interpretation of the law on questions of divorce and remarriage. In our gospel today, on one level Jesus seems to be siding with the more strict interpretation of the followers of Rabbi Shammai, but Jesus does so, not by entering detailed arguments about how to interpret the law, by playing one text off in relationship to another, or, by citing past interpretive authorities in defence of his own position. This would have been the normal pattern of debate about how to interpret the law on this or any question.

Instead, Jesus does a very dangerous thing here; he criticizes the basis of the debate at its very root and foundation. He asks his interrogators, “What did Moses command you?” Their answer, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal, and to divorce her.” This was a given, this is Torah, this is the law of Moses on this question. The differences among the Rabbis of Jesus’ time had to do with the level of strictness or leniency with which to apply this legal loophole. Again, Jesus does a very dangerous thing here; he undercuts the authority of the Law of Moses. “But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you.” He avoids taking sides in the then current debate between rabbinical schools, he does so by calling on an authority both higher and prior to the law of Moses. “But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female”. By doing so, Jesus calls on the moral law inscribed in the very order of creation. The basis of the ‘one flesh union’ of wife and husband, what St. John Paul II called the primordial, original sacrament, the sacrament of marriage, is grounded in the prior union of man and woman in the unity or ‘original solitude’ of human nature. “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. As the other Creation story in Genesis teaches us, both man and woman are the image of God in the world. “Let us make man in our image. Male and female he created them.” Or, as our account from Genesis today tells us, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” To which we could add, ‘It is not good that the woman should be alone’.

Who among us does not know this truth at the core of our being? It is not good to be alone, nobody wants to be lonely. How did the old song go? “One is the loneliest number.” And yet we all experience loneliness, in different ways and to a different measure. It seems to be a universal part of our human experience, the residue or leftover of the ‘original solitude’ of human nature. It is precisely our solitude or loneliness that makes us long for a sense of community, for the intimacy of friendship, to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves. Even the hermit/monk longs for the other, for communion, for intimacy with God. Even God longs for the intimacy of the other, not because of any lack or need on God’s part, but because the Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and their mutual love, from all eternity is the person of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul even speaks of, ‘the whole creation waiting with eager longing for the revelation of the sons and daughters of God’. So loneliness and longing for the other is built right into both the pattern of creation and of human nature. The complementariness of the male and female difference is part of the original gift of human nature as it comes forth from the hand of God. The ‘one flesh union’ of Marriage, both the union of what the Church politely refers to as ‘the conjugal act’, and the union of the two in the one flesh of the children born of the marriage, find their basis and ultimate defence in God’s original plan for human nature. Male and female together image the fullness of God in this world. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, 2335 “Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”121 All human generations proceed from this union.2336 Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins.”

It is important to think carefully, and to believe rightly, about these matters, and to not allow our own hardness of heart to prevent us from listening to what has always been there from the beginning. Let us pray for the success of the Synod on the Family. That our Bishops, together with Pope Francis, will find the right balance in defending both the indissolubility of marriage and the primacy of mercy in the proclamation of the gospel.

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.