Easter Sunday

April 16, 2016

Deacon Blaine Barclay


Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Early in the morning, while it is still dark, a very distraught Mary Magdalen goes to the tomb of Jesus to complete the preparation of the body for burial.  What does she find?  The stone rolled away, an empty tomb. She must have looked inside the tomb, since she knows the body of Jesus is not there.  In her grief and perplexity Mary runs to Simon Peter and John and tells them; ’’They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid him’’. As yet, she is only a witness to the empty tomb, and not yet a witness to the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  No doubt the questions have been asked; Where is Jesus?  Why is the tomb empty?  What is the meaning of what has taken place?  How  to make sense of it?  Perhaps Peter the ‘rocky Rock’, or, John the ‘beloved disciple’ will help me to make sense of this traumatic event. So, Mary Magdalen runs and tell them, so that they too can run to the empty tomb to and see for themselves the absent body, the empty space where the presence of death should be.

I was struck by the eyewitness attention to detail in the story.  The fact that the younger John outruns the older Peter to the tomb.  The fact that John looks in but does an enter the empty tomb, he leaves that to Peter; the placement of the linen burial cloths, the fact that the cloth over the face was rolled up in a different location.  Notice also that Peter and John are not much of a help to Mary at this point.  Like Mary they see the empty tomb but they do not yet understand what has taken place; the mystery and power of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  So, what do they do in response to the empty tomb?  The gospel tells us; ’’Then the disciples returned to their homes”.  The place where they are staying, the upper room, their home base in Jerusalem.  At any rate, they do not stick around at the empty tomb, don’t send out a search party looking for the dead body of Jesus. They retreat, perhaps just to tell the other disciples about what they have seen, but more likely, to hide, out of fear of the authorities, so that they too will not go missing.

Only Mary Magdalene has the courage to remain at the tomb, weeping, overcome with grief, lost in the experience of loss. ’’Mary Magdalen stood weeping outside the tomb.  As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb’’.  With the eyes of her flesh she ‘still’ looks for the ‘still’ body of her dead hope.  With the eyes of faith she begins to see the dawn of a new transformed reality. ’’She saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head, the other at the feet’’. Notice the eyewitness attention to detail again.  The two messengers of God ask her why she is weeping.

Still focused on the absence of what is missing, embraced by her loss, sunk in lonely despair; ’’She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.”  Looking only with her eyes, she does not see him, does not know him, mistakes him for the gardener.  In one way he is the Gardener, the new Adam, planting the primal seed in the garden of a new creation.  It is no longer the first day of the week, the eighth day has dawned.  In the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead the whole of reality has been transfigured, transformed, metamorphisized.  The question really is, how do we, and how does Mary finally wakeup to the transformed and transforming presence of the Risen Jesus in her life?

‘’Mary’’, Jesus says to her, “Mary”; and in the invocation of her name, in being personally addressed, called by name, the eyes of faith are opened, she sees him for who he is, in all his glory.  “Rabbonni”, beloved teacher.  Mary Magdalen, a lay woman, becomes the first witness, the first one to give testimony to the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  This is why the early church referred to her as, the “apostle to the apostles’’.  Jesus sends her, as he sends us now. ’’Go tell my brothers and sisters’’. From the beginning, we are all called to be missionary disciples. Listen to him, even now he calls your name.  Listen to him in your heart of hearts.  Hear the Easter wakeup call.  This is where the personal life of faith really begins and is cultivated?  Each one of us in some way hears the living Jesus speak our name.  And our response?  To go with Mary Magdalen to our brothers and sisters, to announce, ’’I have seen the Lord’’.  In his calling out of our name, we receive the resurrection boldness to proclaim, ’’I have seen the Lord’’.

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.