Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 6, 2016

Deacon Blaine Barclay

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about the, ’’Culture Wars’’.  About the widening gap between the ‘Culture of Catholicism’, and the ‘Culture of the Modern World’.  Our first reading today is a story about the culture wars writ large.  The Greek armies have invaded the holy land and wherever the Greeks took over they imposed Greek culture.  This process of ‘Hellenization’ was not entirely negative as there was much to be admired in the culture of Ancient Greece.  After all, did they not give us gymnastics, Homeric poetry, music education, Plato and Aristotle?  But some of the Greek officials were over zealous in the imposition of their own world view onto the local Jewish population, and there was a growing opposition to this process of Hellenization.  For example, imposing their own puppet high priest, setting up a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, sacrificing pigs on the altar, outlawing the practice of circumcision, and forcing people to eat pork.  The story of the torture and martyrdom of the Jewish mother and her seven sons is quite graphic.  Hands are chopped off, tongues are cut out, flesh is torn off, people are fried alive in giant frying pans.  Through all of this the fidelity and courage of the seven sons and their mother to the Jewish faith is exemplary.  Again, and again, in the face of an escalating brutal torture, they profess with both word and deed their faithfulness to God’s covenant and their hope in God’s promise of the Resurrection of the Flesh. That the suffering torture and death they are now experiencing is not the last word about their lives, nor is our suffering and death the last word about our lives.

For the first 1000 years of their faith the Jewish people didn’t have a very developed view of what happens after death.  They tended to believe that we survived in our children, and that we all ended up in Sheol, the place of the dead, not really heaven, or hell, or purgatory.  More like a place of shadows, very mysterious and undetermined, more of a half-life than an after life.  Later in their next 1000 years, leading up to the time of Christ, because of their own growth in insight into the implications of faith in the living God a God who keeps promises, the Jews began to form a more developed teaching about life after death.  For example, a growing belief in the life of the world to come, in judgment, in reward and punishment for our deeds or lack of them, in praying for the dead, and in the Resurrection of the Flesh.  Our gospel today reflects of this theological development within the Jewish faith.  The Sadducees believed only in the authority of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, in the earliest layer of the Jewish tradition, and not in the later, more theologically developed writings of the Prophets or the Wisdom Literature.  They did not believe in the Resurrection of the Flesh.  The Pharisees, on the other hand, because they accepted the authority of the later writings, believed in judgment, reward and punishment, and the Resurrection of the Flesh.  So did Jesus.

The human person is a body soul unity; the word soul actually means ‘the principle of life in a living being’.  The Sadducees in our story present Jesus with what they think is a theological puzzle. A kind of trick question. ‘A woman gets married and her husband dies without them having children, according to the Jewish custom of the time she then marries his brother, who dies, then the next brother, all the way down the line until she marries the seventh brother and he too dies. All without children.  Now this is the stuff of soap operas, or perhaps a murder mystery, or definitely a country song about being unlucky in love.  But the question is a theological one. ‘In the life of the world to come, in the resurrection of the flesh, whose wife will she be?’ Jesus’ answer puts them in their place. He quotes the Torah, an authority they believe in, to prove the Resurrection. He always gives good answers to trick questions.  But the question we’re left with is, ‘What does it mean to believe in the Resurrection of the Flesh?  The question is raised in both the martyrdom story of the mother and her seven sons, and in the question the Sadducees asked Jesus.  We also profess this profound truth in the Nicene Creed, ’I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.’ This is teaching us that God doesn’t just save our souls, he saves the whole person.  We are called to salvation, to the fullness of life in God’s presence, not in the abstract, on some spiritual level, but in the concreteness of our particular flesh.  Our wounded flesh is called to conversion, to transformation, to metamorphosis, and in the Incarnation and Resurrection pf Jesus, it is taken up into the very mystery of God.  God wants to save us right down to the bottom of who we are.  You and I are called to Resurrection.

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.