Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 12, 2017

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

“You have heard that it was said…But I say to you…”

This basic structure or pattern repeats itself over and over again in this section of ‘The Sermon On the Mount’.  We find it three or four times in our gospel today.  Jesus quotes the Torah, a passage from the Law of Moses, then he offers his own commentary or interpretation of this Law.  So again, “You have heard that it was said…  then there is a ‘Torah passage’, followed by, ‘but I say to you’, then there is ‘Jesus teaching’ on the same question.”

In each case the teaching of Jesus goes beyond the requirements of the law.  The teaching of Jesus stands as a ‘fulfillment’ of the Law, it goes to the heart of the law and unveils and unfolds its true meaning or intent.  As today’s Gospel also says,  “Do not think that I’ve come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.’’ This has long been a difficult question for Christians to unravel.  What is the relationship between law and gospel?  Between the core teaching of the first covenant with the Jewish people, as distilled and summarized in the precepts of the law of Moses, and the teaching of Jesus, the good news the unmerited gift of salvation in Christ?  A salvation which is achieved, as St. Paul says, “Apart from the works of the law” Rom. 3:28

Clearly, the gospel of Matthew in the Sermon On the Mount is presenting Jesus as the New Moses, teacher of the New Law. Not an exterior Law, written on tablets of stone, but a Law written on our hearts. Just like Moses, Jesus delivers this teaching on a Mountain. Jesus is the one who teaches with authority, not like they are used to from the scribes and the Pharisees.  Jesus is not like the other teachers, he speaks from the heart, not just citing other rabbis to give weight to his own particular interpretation of the Law.  Jesus speaks from the heart, in the first person,  “But I say to you’’.  Over and over again in his teaching Jesus. cuts in the quick, pulls no punches, goes right to the heart of the Law, teaches the fulfillment of the core teaching of Torah.  Listen to Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” Listen again to Jesus,  “Do to others as you would have them do you; for this is the Law and the Prophets’’. Mat. 7:12

For as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.’’ Rom. 13:10. And again, in his letter to the Galatians, when it comes to things like love, joy, peace, and patience, St. Paul tells us, “Against such things there is no Law.’’ Gal. 5:23. Or, as St. John of the Cross puts it, “In the evening of this life we will be judged on love.’’

Does this mean that Jesus’ interpretation of the law is soft and mushy?  So filled with tenderness, compassion, mercy, and love, that it no longer has any bite, any moral weight or thickness?  Makes no demands on our moral lives? Slips easily into a soft moral relativism? On the contrary, as today’s gospel also tells us, “For truly I’d tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished’’.

The Law of Love, the priority of mercy, does not abolish the law, but fulfills it.  We are still called to a radical conversion of life style, an increasingly counter cultural way of life.  “Neither do I condemn you’, says Jesus, but he also says, ‘Go and sin no more.’’ We are called to enter into the,  “But I say to you’’.  Called to do away with anger and slander, the lustful heart, the temporary marriage, the moral life lived simply of our own resolution and effort.  We are called to a great simplicity, costing not less than everything, as the poet says, where our yes is yes and our no is no. With the simplicity, but not the naivete of the child. As the book of James says, being “Doers of the Word, and not hearers only”, not out of a slavish, legalistic obedience, as if we could justify ourselves by our own merits, but with a love that is always ready with its Marian Yes, “Let it be done to me according to your word”.

“You have heard that it was said… But I say to you”.

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.