Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

‘’Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple’’.  The Christian life is ’Cruciform’, discipleship is life lived under the form of the cross.  So what is the cross, and what does it mean to take up our cross and follow Jesus?

Crucifixion is one of the cruelest forms of public execution ever invented by human beings.  A stake or vertical log of wood was driven into the ground, the condemned criminal would carry the horizontal crossbar to the place of execution, their wrists were nailed to this horizontal bar, the wrists in order to hold the weight of the body which was lifted up and secured to the vertical stake, their feet nailed to this bar.  A person could live up to two or three days hanging on a cross.  More often than not, they died of a combination of dehydration and suffocation.  The fact that Jesus died so quickly is a sign of how much he was beaten and tortured prior to his crucifixion.

So, given this stark and graphic picture of crucifixion, how is it that this most ignoble of deaths becomes a means of our salvation and the sign of what it means to be a follower of Christ, a Christian disciple?  Could salvation really come to the world through broken crushed human flesh?  Could the dead body of the Messiah, the suffering servant, really morph into transfigured Glory?  I think we can sometimes become so accustomed, so comfortable with the cross as a religious symbol that we can lose sight of just how much of a shock and disruption it would have been for the first Christians to think of God in this way.  St. Paul tells us that the cross of Christ was, ’’a scandal or stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the pagans’’.  In his letter to the Philippians Paul tells us about the ’kenosis’, the self emptying nature of God in Christ, both in the Incarnation, God becoming a human being, and in his death on the cross. The wisdom of the cross is foolishness to the world.  The wisdom of the cross is scandalous to our ordinary everyday way of making sense of our lives.  The cross is the great reversal of human history, it is the hinge of salvation. Here are a few examples of the logic of the cross; the first shall be last, the last shall be first, in weakness strength, happy are the poor, unless you become like a little child, the lowly lifted up, the rich sent empty away, the blind will see, the lame will walk, the deaf will hear, find yourself by losing yourself, self emptying, self donation is the path to the fullness of life.  The cross, if we could see it for what it is, is shimmering with Glory, oozing already with the promise of the resurrection, but not without first traveling the royal road of the cross.  There is no resurrection except on the other side of the cross.  The door of heaven is Cruciform.

Carrying our cross is not just a matter of enduring the suffering and death that life will inescapably send our way, not even embracing all this in the light of faith.  This is all well and good, even ordinary human suffering, grief, or loss, with patient trust can before redemptive.  As Leonard Cohen says, ’’wounds are /sometimes/ the way the light gets into the world’’.  But taking up our cross and following Jesus is something more.  You and I, disciples in training, student apprentices to the Lord Jesus, are meant to embrace the cross.  The disciple is meant to die to self, St. Paul says, ’the old human nature is crucified’ (Rom. 6:6).  We are justified before God, made righteous, not by works of the law but by faith in the crucified one.  To trust in our own capacities in this regard, St. Paul tells us, is to make ourselves, ’an enemy of the cross’. (Phil.3:18).  We look to Jesus, we gaze upon the cross, or, is it that the crucified God-man gazes upon us, inviting us into the way of the cross. ’’Come follow me”, says Jesus.  Take up with me the path of self-emptying self-donation.  Do not be afraid of love, of stretching out your arms with Jesus on your cross.

‘’ Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple.’’

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.