Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 19, 2017

Deacon Blaine Barclay

We see the same pattern in this week’s gospel as we saw last week.  Jesus quotes the Torah, the Law of Moses, ’You have heard that it was said’, and then offers his own ‘first person’ interpretation of the law of Moses; ’’But I say to you’’.  Again, we find that Jesus’ teaching radicalizes, goes beyond and fulfills the teaching of Torah.  He goes right to the heart of the law.

The Torah teaches the law of proportional retaliation; “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.  Jesus teaches, “turn the other cheek”, and “go the second mile”.  The Torah teaches, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy”.  The neighbour being your follow Israelite, the enemy been pretty much anybody else.  Jesus teaches, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.  So, Jesus takes a firm stand against proportional revenge, and teaches us to love even our enemies.  What a radical love this is, a love not based simply on the bonds of friendship or family. Everybody understands this latter kind of love, the love of friendship and family, it is rooted in the natural bonds of affection, mutual feeling and reciprocity, even when it is wounded and fragmented.  It is, as our gospel today says, ’’Loving those who love you,’’ whether friends or family or members of the same group. According to Jesus, as foundational as it is, this kind of love is really nothing special or unique, even though you could say that it is the glue that holds civil society together. ’’Do not even tax collectors do the same.’’ ‘’Do not even the gentiles do the same?’’ says Jesus. Jesus asks us to walk with him the second mile love, invites us into a love that operates on a whole new level.  Again, a love that, ’Turns the other cheek’, ’Goes the second mile,’ that loves even the ’enemy’, and the ’persecutor’.  Think for a moment of the closest thing you have to an enemy or persecutor.  How easy is it or would it be for you to love them? And remember, it doesn’t say that we have to ‘like’ them, only love them. But still, is this not an impossible love?  A love without measure, without restraint or limit.

No mere human love, this love, but an invasive love that shatters and disrupts our normal forms of human interaction; In the Greek of the New Testament it is called, ‘Agape’, in Latin, ‘Caritas’, a love that expects nothing in return, refuses the measure of reciprocity.  A love that is an unconditional affirmation of the good of the other.  Benevolence, a love that wills the good of the other.  In short, God’s love, the kind of love that only God can love with, but a love into which we are invited to share. A love which both exceeds our capacity, and yet, by participation, is really ours to give, which comes from the heart. As St. Paul says in his letter to the Romans, ’’because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’’(Rom.5:5). To love with the kind of love that God has for each one of us.  Only grace, only God’s self communication in grace can make my narrow heart capable of such a love toward the other.

And if loving with God’s love was not enough to exceed our expectations, expand our hopes, and shatter the narrowness of our vision; Jesus hits us with another whammy. He says, ’’Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’’ We may find ourselves reacting something like the following. ‘So, now Jesus expects us to be perfect?  Sounds like an invitation to a whole lot of Catholic guilt to me.  Who needs it, right?’  But, let us not be in a hurry to dismiss what Jesus wants to teach us here, what kind of life he is inviting us into.  The word translated here as ’perfect’ means ‘whole’ or ‘complete’.  Jesus is inviting us into nothing less than the fullness of life.  As St. Irenaeus puts it, ’The glory of God is a human being fully alive’.  God wants for each one of us nothing less than human wholeness, that each one of us grow into our full stature as a human being, complete, whole, fully alive.  This is what holiness is.  Human wholeness, entering into our shared, restored, elevated humanity. Healed of the wound that has made us less than what we are. Holiness is wholeness; a participation in God’s overflowing plenitude. As our first reading today says; ’’You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy’’. (Lev.19:2).  In conclusion, as The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, ’’All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. All are called to holiness: ’Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’’’. (CCC # 2013).

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.