32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

By: Deacon Blaine Barclay

November 8th, 2015


A Tale of Two Widows


What we have set before us in the readings is, “A Tale of Two Widows”, two stories of trust in the generosity of God’s providential care, and a generosity of heart born of this trust. But let me first say something about the fate of widows in the time of Elijah and in the time of Jesus. These ancient biblical times were way before there was any kind of social safety net in society. To be sure, the Law of Moses made special provisions for the care of widows and orphans, but this care often took the form of the right of the poor to glean for and gather food in the fields of the wealthy. The law required that people leave ten percent of their harvest in the fields for the poor to gather food for their own sustenance, a kind of workfare if you like. In fact, if you harvested these crops for yourself you were stealing from the poor. Upon the death of her husband a woman had no right of inheritance so widows were among the poorest of the poor. But, “God hears the cry of the poor”. God is even referred to in Psalm 68 as, “defender of the Widow”.


The widow in in our first story would of course have the right to glean for food in the fields of others. The trouble was that they were in the middle of a three year drought, even the streams were dried up, there was a famine in the land, so there was no harvest to glean from. The widow and her son had hit rock bottom. The cupboard was bare, there was nothing left for them but to eat their last morsel of food and then to lie down and die. The situation of this widow and her son is way beyond a song of lamentation, sadder than the saddest country song, on the other side of singing the blues. Theirs is an abject, debilitating poverty; it has the smell of death about it. Into the midst of this poverty and despair comes the person of the Prophet Elijah who is also hungry and asks her for food. Her response is a lesson for all of us. Having almost nothing, with the nothingness of death knocking on her family’s door, how does she respond? She does not cling even to the little that she has. This hero widow of ours chooses to practice hospitality of the heart. She chooses to walk in the path of generosity. Elijah speaks to her God’s word of promise. “Do not be afraid…” Trust in the generosity of God. “The jar of meal will not be emptied, and the jug of oil will not fail”.


Generosity is an act of trust in God’s prior generosity. The generous heart recognizes the gift of creation and the gift of grace. Because of this recognition, generosity is also able to welcome the other person as a gift, especially the poor and needy. Jesus also teaches us with the example of a generous widow. He watches her, he sees the generosity of her heart. “Then he called his disciples”. Look at her, she gives so little but she gives so much. Follow her example, imitate her generosity. Generosity is not a matter of the quantity of the gift, but it is a matter of the quality of the gift. Does it come from the heart? Is it born out of trust in the prior generosity of God?


God’s very nature is generosity. The interior life of the Trinity is a mutual giving and receiving of the coeternal gift of the other persons of the Trinity. And the whole of creation is an icon of the overflowing generosity of God. Creation is a gift; creaturely existence is in its every moment a gift. God creates freely, out of nothing, to exist is pure gift. God becoming flesh in Jesus of Nazareth in order to bring us back to God is also a pure unmerited gift, as is the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is a threefold generosity, Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The generosity of our hearts, our hospitality of the heart towards others, needs to be rooted and grounded in this prior threefold generosity of God. Such generosity, like the generosity of the hero widows in our stories, is an act of trust in the providence of God.

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.