Second Sunday in Lent

March 12, 2017

Deacon Blaine Barclay

Second Sunday in Lent


In the middle of things, in the middle of the pilgrimage of Lent, walking in the way of the cross toward Easter, the Church gives to us for our meditation the mystery of the Transfiguration.

In each of the different gospels the Transfiguration story takes place between Jesus teaching about his passion and cross.  Between the book ends of the cross, so to speak, we are given an anticipation, a taste of the glory of Easter.  The transfiguration is like a really good movie trailer of the great drama of the metamorphosis of the flesh that will take place in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

The disciples, however, don’t want to hear any of this talk of death and the cross.  It doesn’t correspond to their agenda, their vision of what the Messiah, the Christ, is about.  Perhaps they are still dreaming of political sovereignty and freedom from Roman rule.  In the Transfiguration event God is about to shatter their Messianic dreams. “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him”, we are told, even when you don’t like what he is saying.

Peter, James, and John go on a retreat with Jesus. ’’He led them up a high mountain by themselves”, it says.  Tradition tells us that it was Mount Tabor.  Scripture is filled with stories of God being revealed in extraordinary ways on a mountain.  Moses and the burning bush; Moses and the 10 commandments; Moses just before the people enter into the promised land; Elijah in the mountain cave with the still small voice; the mountain of Jesus’ last temptation in the desert; Jesus and the sermon on the mount; now, the mountain of the Transfiguration, mount Tabor. I for one can understand this association of mountains with the presence of God.  Mountains are what the Irish call ’Thin places’; places where it is easier to sense and experience the presence of God.

What happened on this mountain?  Nothing short of the metamorphosis of the face, flesh, and even the garments of Jesus. ’’And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white”; the gospel tells us.  This is a transformation so totally other that it can only be described with the same word we use to describe the difference between a caterpillar and a butterfly.  ’’His face shone like the sun’’, it says.  Think about it for a moment, could we even gaze upon such a face, shining like the sun, except with our peripheral vision, with a sideways glance, with adverted humble heart.  The veil is torn aside for this brief moment of encounter. ’’This is my son…  The light of the world…  Listen to him.’’ Even his clothes become dazzling white, something unheard of at the time.  What ever the metamorphized flesh of Christ touches is itself totally transformed. How much more so, we who are his body in the world.

But Jesus is not alone, who he is and what he is about is in radical continuity with the law and the prophets, represented by the fact that Moses and Elijah appear with him on the mountain.  Luke’s gospel even has Jesus entering into a conversation with Moses and Elijah.  Christian faith is still an intimate conversation with the law and the prophets.  Of course, Jesus is more than the law and the prophets.  He is the Son, the Beloved, whose face is shining like the sun.

Up until now we are not told that the disciples were afraid. Perhaps they were too bedazzled by the excess of light, to engaged by the presence and conversation of Jesus with Moses and Elijah.  Peter James and John only become afraid, the gospel tells us, when, ’’A bright cloud overshadowed them’’, and when they heard the Voice.  Our gospel says, ’’When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.’’ What is this bright, shining, radiant cloud that overshadowed them?  Is this the luminous darkness that the mystics speak of?  An excess of light so saturated with God’s presence that it can only appear as darkness to us, a cloud that shields and protects at the same time that it shimmers with the presence of the holy. No ordinary fear does this voice and cloud inspire.  It literally blows them away, reduces them to ground zero. They fall on the ground in fear. Un-concealing, overwhelming, is the presence of God in Christ.  Veiled in the flesh, but an overflowing plenitude to the eyes of faith.

And in this moment of their own transfiguration in faith, overcome by fear because of what they have seen and heard; What happens next?  We are told that, ’’Jesus came and ‘touched them’, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid’.  No longer with the metamorphized, transfigured flesh, shining like the sun, he touches them with the flesh of ordinary human flesh.  A touch that says to them and to us, ’’Do not be afraid…Listen to him…Do not be afraid’’.  Get up, th

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.