Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 26, 2017

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Deacon Blaine Barclay

Our gospel tells the story of the man born blind.  On one level, it is the story of a particular blind begger that Jesus encounters. We do not know his name. We are told the story of his encounter with Jesus who heals him of his blindness, restores his sight, leads him from darkness to light.  It also tells the story of various people’s reactions to the miracle.

The story of the man born blind can also be read as the story of us.  Each one of us is the man, or woman, born blind.  We too are invited into this encounter with Jesus, are called to journey from darkness to light.  Each one of us are invited to walk together with the blind bigger on his journey to the light of faith.  Are we not told by Jesus that, “He was born blind so that God’s work might be revealed in him.’’ Not just back then, God’s work is still a being revealed in him.

In my imagination, I entered into this story and tried to allow it to become my story. I invite you to do the same.

I was born blind, for many years I groped around in the darkness trying to make sense of things, struggling to find my way. Just like the man in our story, people gave me coins, or food, a cane to help me walk and not bump into things.  But I did bump into things, lots of things, good and bad, and sometimes, they bumped into me.  Some of the things I bumped into caused me pain, others gave me pleasure or were a source of delight.  At other times, I was a source of delight or pain for others who were also trying to find their way in the dark.  Some of those I met along the way were able to give me in-sight, but not sight.  More like a spark of light, a flash of colour.  But to restore the sight of a person born blind; this is unheard of, impossible.  Somehow, the labyrinthine ways of my wandering, the long and winding road, found me in proximity to the temple in Jerusalem.  That’s when Jesus came along.  I wasn’t really expecting him.  Anyway, how could I even recognize him, since I didn’t have eyes that could see?  But I heard him call me over.  At first, I was reluctant to leave behind the thin blanket that was keeping me warm, and the few little coins that had come my way.  But I was hungry, and thought he might have some food.  Did I not hear someone call him, ‘the Bread of Life’.  Then I heard Jesus say, “As long as I’m in the world, I Am the Light of the World.’’ What is this thing called light, will it help me not bump around in the dark?  How can I know it, how could I, a man born blind, possibly see it, and see with it, with the poverty of these eyes?  Then Jesus did something really strange, he spit into some dirt, mixed water and earth like at the dawn of creation, and rubbed it on my dead eyes.  At first, I was uncertain, confused, afraid.  Then he said, “Go, wash in the pool of those who are sent.’’ My eyes hurt, so I went and did what he told me.  Apparently, it is painful for a person born blind, to learn how to see.

The story of the man born blind teaches us about our own story, about our own encounter with Christ, and how we move from initial encounter, to growth in commitment, and finally to missionary discipleship.  When specifically, does the man born blind receive his sight?  When in response to what Jesus does, and obedient to the word of Jesus, he ’goes and washes in the pool of ‘Siloam’, the pool of those who are Sent.  Does this not represent for us the waters of our baptism?  When in response to the human touch of the hand of Christ, and in obedience to his word, we, or, with our parents on our behalf, came to be Baptized in the waters of those who are sent.  The waters that by their very nature send us out to give testimony, to bear witness, to the one who restores our sight.

The man born blind, having his sight restored, living in the light of day, was not an easy task for him, and it will not be for us either.  Sometimes what we see cannot be trusted.  Seeing isn’t believing.  Lots of people in our story don’t believe their eyes.  Even after the man born blind tells them; ‘I am he’, the same guy who was begging for alms over there.  Some of them say ‘He is not the same guy, only someone who looks like him’.  Even after his parents testified, ‘yes, this is our son, and yes, he was born blind’, there are still people that don’t want to believe in what their eyes are seeing.

So, ‘Seeing is not Believing’, but rather, ‘Believing is Seeing’.  The man born blind believes in Jesus and acts on his saving word.  And the light comes on.  As St. Paul says in our second reading, “Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light’’.  The man born blind in our story is transformed from being a timid beggar living in darkness, challenged by the incredulity, the doubt, of those who say they can see, to being a bold disciple of Jesus, eager to proclaim the good news of the one who has healed him in the living waters of those who are sent.  So where does that leave us? We who are also born blind. May our response to the gift of our Baptism be the same as the man born blind. “Lord, I believe…and he worshiped him’’.

 



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.
PROCEDURAL NORMS FOR
THE NEXT FEW WEEKS

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.
Brevity
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.