Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Times

July 10th, 2016

Deacon Blaine Barclay


The gospel today continues with the theme of discipleship, of what it means to be a follower, a student of Jesus. In a few brief brush strokes, it gets at the core of what it means to be apprenticed to Jesus of Nazareth, to be in this relationship of intimacy with him. Both the relationship and its core demands can be summarised by the word ‘love’, love God and love your neighbour. So, the Beatles were right after all, ‘all you need is love’. But wait, it’s not quite that simple. This is not the touchy feely hipster love the fab four were no doubt singing about, but something much deeper and demanding in its implications. Deep simple, not shallow simple. So let’s unpack this gospel a bit, so that we can uncover what Jesus is inviting us into.

We are told that a lawyer, that is to say a teacher and interpreter of the Jewish law, the Torah, interrogates Jesus, he asks, and a certain hostility is implied, ‘’What am I to do to inherit eternal life? Jesus, in turn answers with a question designed to deflect the hostility of the confrontation and to open up its teachable moment. He asks, ‘What is written in the Torah? How do you read or interpret it?’ The ‘lawyer’, who we can assume is someone learned in the Law of God, doesn’t hesitate. He quotes the book of Deuteronomy, the Shema to be precise, the closest thing the Jews have to a creed. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might, and with all your mind’’. So here we have it, the heart of the Law, the heart of the Torah, and a teaching that Jesus embraces as his own, Love God. Simple, right? Not so fast. We must love God with ‘all’ our heart, ‘all’ our soul, ‘all’ our might, ‘all’ our mind, not just with the head but not the heart, not just with part of our heart, soul, might, or, mind, but with all of each, and all of them together. In short, we are called to love God with the whole of our human nature, with all of our capacity for thinking, feeling, understanding, affections, appetites, memories, hopes and dreams, with everything that animates who we are as embodied persons. We are meant to offer God nothing less that the whole of who me are. This of course is a lifelong process. Conversion, transformation, and growth in virtue happen over time. Virtues are forms of human excellence, they correspond to the various capacities and potencies of the whole of human nature, particular excellent ways of acting, for example, showing kindness or wisdom or patience. For the Disciple, virtues are both acquired and infused, so we get to rely on grace in our struggle to grow in the various disciplines of discipleship. As an aside, notice that the words for disciple and discipline have the same root.

The letter of James says that ‘if you say you love God and don’t love your neighbour, then you are a liar’, so we know that the call to discipleship is not fulfilled only by loving God. Being apprenticed to Jesus is to walk in the path of mercy. Yes, “We love God because God first loved us”, but we are to love others with this same love that God has poured out into our hearts. Prayer, acts of devotion, good resolutions, liturgical acts, are not enough to pay the cost of discipleship. So we come to the second tablet of the Torah scholars answer, also a quotation from the Torah, ‘’and you must love your neighbour as yourself’’. What does Jesus say to all of this? “Jesus then said to him, ‘you have answered correctly; do this and you shall live.” We know from elsewhere that Jesus teaches that to love God and to love neighbour, summarizes all the law and the prophets., that this twofold love is both the heart of the law and the heart of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Discipleship is an apprenticeship in love.

Now, back to our lawyer friend, you think he would have been satisfied, Jesus totally agrees with his interpretation of the Jewish law. But, no, he wants to push the issue further and asks, “But who is my neighbour?” The lawyer, the Rabbis of Jesus’ day, indeed the Torah itself, taught that the neighbour we are here commanded to love was the fellow Israelite, the Jewish neighbour. This teaching, to be sure was often extended to the stranger or sojourner in the land to whom the faithful Jew was called to extend hospitality. In contrast, the teaching of Jesus radicalizes the definition of neighbour. Jesus expands the hospitality of the love of neighbour to include everyone in need of mercy, and he does so by telling a parable where a ‘non-neighbour’, a Samaritan, is the hero of the story. The parable of the Good Samaritan is a story that would have scandalised it first hearers, a  shock wave that would have destabilized the ground beneath their feet. God’s mercy, and so subsequently our mercy is meant to be transgressive, it ignores boundaries, crosses over the abyss between the self and the other, changes distance into proximity. The neighbour is anyone who is in need of mercy. The good neighbour/disciple is the one who is willing to risk the genuine encounter with the other, the one who shows mercy. So again, our gospel turns out to be a further invitation into the path of discipleship. Are we willing to risk our lives being dislocated by this call?

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.