Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 29th, 2017

Deacon Blaine Barclay


‘’The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching.’’ CCC #1716

Once we have responded to the basic proclamation, the ‘kerygma’, of the good news of the Kingdom, by repentance and trust in the person and mission of Jesus, we are left with a question; how am I then to live?  How can I respond wholeheartedly to the demands of a gospel lifestyle?  There are many ways of framing this question they all come down to; “I believe in you Jesus, so what now, what’s next, what difference does it make?

The Sermon on the Mount found in chapters five, six, and seven of Matthew’s gospel, is a summary of the teaching of Jesus.  It has been referred to as the charter of the Christian life. If someone ever asks you to summarize the teaching of Jesus, just tell them to read ‘The Sermon on the Mount’. The Beatitudes are found at the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.  They set the tone, and are a kind of summary of the summary, so to speak. The whole of the Christian life is contained in a distilled form in the Beatitudes, or, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says. ’’The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching.’’

Every one of the Beatitudes begins with the same Greek word, ’makarios’, translated in our gospel today ‘Blessed’, perhaps better translated as happy, happiness, fortunate, bliss, spiritually prosperous.  As one author puts it,  ’’The Beatitudes in effect say, ‘O the bliss of being a Christian!  O the joy of following Christ!  O the sheer happiness of knowing Jesus Christ as Master, Saviour and Lord! The very form of the Beatitudes is a statement of the joyous thrill and the radiant gladness of the Christian life.  In the face of the Beatitudes a gloom encompassed Christianity is unthinkable.” (William Barclay)

As the Catechism says, ’’The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness’’.  #1718.  The Catechism goes on to explain, quoting Saint Augustine,  ’’We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated’’ #1718.  The happiness that the Beatitudes hold out for us is no mere human happiness however, but, again quoting the Catechism;  ’’the coming of the kingdom of God’’, ’’the vision of God’’, ’’entering into the joy of the Lord”, and ’’entering into God’s rest.’’  #1720.  But the Catechism does not stop with these Biblical characteristics of Beatitude, it invites us further into the happiness that the Gospel holds out for us even now this life. ’’Beatitude makes us ’partakers of the divine nature’ and of eternal life.  With Beatitude, the human being enters into the Glory of Christ and into the joy of the Trinitarian Life.’’

Brevity demands that I cannot comment in detail about each of the Beatitudes. I can only try to summarize the way of life that they invite us into. How can we enter into the joy and happiness of a Beatitude lifestyle?  The door, the threshold, the only way of entering into this joy of the Lord is to acknowledge our own spiritual poverty, that we cannot be happy simply by our own efforts, under our own steam.  It is only by grace, by God’s own self-communication, that we can be lifted up to participation in God’s own happiness.  This awareness of our own absolute poverty will open our hearts in empathy towards the poverty of others and give us the capacity to mourn, to feel the pain of others, the pain of the world.  This in turn will give rise to a meekness born of solidarity, the courage to act in the face of the pain of the other.  Not a wimpy meekness, but the gentleness of a life lived in the presence of God.  A life infused with a deep hunger and thirst for justice and peace, to set things right.  Right with God, and rightly ordered between human beings.  For this, we need to be pure of heart, the heart undivided in its attentiveness to see God in all things.  Only will the undivided heart, at home with its own poverty, awake to the pain of the other, a heart full of mercy because of its own experience of mercy, have the capacity to experience joy in the face of opposition.  A heart tenderized by the Cross, made ready by the power of the Resurrection.  A joyful, happy heart, capable of tenderness even towards the persecutor, the slanderer, the violent one.  A heart like the heart of God, beating in the flesh of Jesus.  In conclusion, as the Catechism says,  ’’The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity.’’ Our task, to be the loving face of Christ in the world.

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.