Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

September 18, 2016

What is the relationship between God and money?  This is a huge question, and how we answer it cannot help but be decisive for the whole of our lives.  As people who live in this world, we cannot help but be involved with and concerned about money.  We deal with it, or the lack of it, every day of our lives.  We use it to pay our rent, or mortgage, buy our food, provide for our loved ones, plan for our future, and deal with our past, especially if we are in debt.  In short, the relationship with money is seemingly all pervasive, it touches almost every aspect of our lives. This is why Jesus taught so directly and forcefully about money and why the church today has such a clear and well developed Social Doctrine.

Both our first reading and the gospel speak about unjust wealth.  The Prophet Amos is very concerned about how people acquire wealth on the backs of the poor.  He speaks of those who, ’’trample on the needy and bring ruin to the poor of the land’’.  For the prophets, how we treat the poor is the true measure of the quality of our relationship with God.  So what does Jesus say about the relationship between God and money?  First of all, he tells a parable where an unjust slave forgives his commission, his portion of the debt owed to his master, as a way of creating good will toward himself.  Listen once again to part of the gospel from today, ’’No slave can serve two masters, for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth’’.  Another translation says, ’’ You cannot worship God and Money both’’.

The relationship with God is also all pervasive, it touches upon every aspect of our lives, our hopes for the future, how we deal with our past, our relationships with family, friends, and enemies, and yes, even our economic choices.  It is precisely this all pervasiveness of both God and money that makes our relationship with money so important from a religious perspective.  After all, the golden calf of Mount Sinai, talked about in last Sunday’s first reading, was made out of the melted down wealth of Egypt.  A decisive choice is necessary.’’ You cannot serve both God and money?’’ As Bob Dylan said on Slow Train Coming, ’’You’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but your gonna have to serve somebody’’.  Of course, Jesus wasn’t an economist, but he actually taught quite a bit about economic matters such as wealth and poverty, possessions, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, about not worrying about what you’re going to eat or wear, things like blessed are the poor, and woe to you who are rich.  St. Paul, writing to Timothy even goes so far is to say that, ’the love of money is the root of all evil’.  In the book of Acts, at least some of the early Christians held their property in common, and so understood that the gospel was meant to revolutionize their economic relationships.

During the Patristic period of the early church we find statements such as St. John Chrysostom, ’’not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and to deprive them of life.  The goods we possess are not ours but theirs’’.  Similarly, St. Augustine says, ’’that bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked; those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless’’.  The Didache, an anonymous early Christian writing says, ’’do not be one who holds his hand out to take but shuts it when it comes to giving’’.

So where does this leave all of us?  What is the relationship between God and money?  Providentially we have the Social Doctrine of the church to give us some guidance in these matters.  Over the last 150 years the Pope’s have published a series of Social Encyclicals that have outlined the teaching of the Church on issues related to social justice, peace, the relationship between labor and capital, and a just economic order.  In conclusion, I will mention only four basic principles of this Social Doctrine of the Church that directly relate to the relationship between God and money, or, if you like, ‘faith and our economic activity’.  The first principle of the Social Doctrine the Church is the dignity of the human person. The other social teaching principles flow from and are grounded in this first principle. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of a, ‘’preferential love for the poor, sick, and needy’’.  St. John Paul II wrote of ‘the priority of labor over capital’, that when it comes to the world of work, people are more important than profits.  As we have already seen from the quotes from the Church Fathers, the church also teaches that there is a ‘social mortgage on the goods of the earth’, what is called,’ the universal destination of goods’.  We might say today that the created goods of the earth are intended for everyone, not just the 1% ers.  As Pope Frances said in an interview last year,’’ the gospel message is for everyone, the gospel does not condemn the wealthy, but the idolatry of wealth, the idolatry that makes people indifferent to the call of the poor’’.

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.