3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay
January 24, 2016

We have just heard from the book of Nehemiah, “So the Levites read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense so the people understood the reading”. (Neh. 8:8-10). One thing this first reading tells us is that people have been listening to homilies for a long time, and this same pattern continues. Reading the scriptures in the midst of the assembly of the people of God, with someone interpreting or trying to make sense of what has been read. This is what Jesus is doing in the gospel today. It tells us that in his home town of Nazareth, “He went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom”; which is to say, that he was devout, and that he studied Torah, the Law, on a regular basis. The Synagogue is as much a house of study as it is a place of worship. We also know he had been “teaching’ in the other synagogues in the area. And that the pattern of reading from the law and the prophets, followed by commentary would have also been the standard. So on one level Jesus wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary pattern of Synagogue practice.

But, when he opens his mouth and reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and interprets and makes sense of what he has read, we know that this is no ordinary Rabbi commenting on the scriptures of the liturgical day. What he has to say is really quite disconcerting to his audience. What is the first line of Jesus’ homily? “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”. If we knew nothing other than this first line, it still speaks volumes. Everything hinges on the text he has just read. What does the gospel say? “He stood up to read and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written.” What Jesus reads should sound familiar to us, especially this year. The text from the prophet Isaiah is the proclamation of the year of Jubilee. In the Jewish tradition every seventh year was a Sabbath or Sabbatical year, where even the land and the harvest had a chance to rest. Now, in addition to this, every seventh Sabbath year, which is every fifty years, was a Jubilee year. The year of Jubilee was announced with great liturgical fanfare on the high holy day of Yom Kippur, with the sound of trumpets announcing the great liberating yearlong festival of Jubilee. The word jubilee actually comes from the Hebrew word for trumpet, or rather a ram’s horn, sounding out the good news of Jubilee. The year of jubilee was a festival that turned the world upside down. Ever fifty years all debts were forgiven, slaves who had sold themselves into servitude were set free, land was returned to its original owner, their family or clan, neither planting nor harvesting was allowed. It was a year of immense trust in the providential care of God. It was a year of Justice and Mercy.

Listen again to our gospel from today. Imagine Jesus reading these words. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” It reads like an instruction manual for how to live the year of Jubilee, then and now.

It seem so me that we have made a good beginning here at St. Mary’s, to this our year of Jubilee. What we did for our Burundian family; was it not ‘good new to the poor, release to the captive, let[ting] the oppressed go free?’ So we are invited to continue on this path, especially during this Jubilee of Mercy. Jesus himself is the definitive arrival of Jubilee. Jesus is the face of God’s tender mercy for each human being.

Pope Francis, in his official proclamation of this Jubilee year of mercy, comments on this same text of Isaiah that Jesus has read for us today. He says, “In the gospel of Luke we find another important element that will help us to live the Jubilee with faith…. The Holy Year will bring to the fore the richness of Jesus’ mission, echoed in the words of the prophet: to bring a word and gesture of consolation to the fore, to proclaim liberty to those bound by new forms of slavery in modern society, to restore sight to those who can see no more because they are caught up in themselves, to restore dignity to all those from whom it has been robbed. The preaching of Jesus has been made visible once more in the response of faith which Christians are called to offer by their witness.” In a word, let us use the text of today’s gospel as a starting point for entering more fully into this Jubilee Year of Mercy. For as Pope Francis also says in this same proclamation, “The mercy of God [is] the beating heart of the Gospel”. “Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of Mercy”. “’Merciful like the Father’ is the motto of this Holy Year.”

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.