Second Sunday of Easter

April 23, 2017

Deacon Blaine Barclay

Divine Mercy Sunday is also Doubting Thomas Sunday. We live in a world of doubting Thomas’ who trust only their senses; think that Religion is only for the feeble minded who replace concrete experience with visionary illusions.

Seeing is not believing.  Vision is not enough for Thomas, he seeks concreteness. Only touching the crucified wounds of the Risen Jesus will convince him that this is indeed his Resurrected Master; the same Jesus who just days ago hung up on the tree, nailed to the wood of the cross, his heart pierced for all of us, blood and water flowing, a river of mercy. Think for a moment, how significant it is that Jesus did not just assume human nature in the abstract, but a concrete, particular human nature with its deepest wounds, pierced heart, executed flesh.  In Jesus, God has embraced the human condition right down to the bottom.  This self emptying God meets Thomas in the upper room, invites him to put his hand in the wound in his side. He does not scold Thomas for his hunger for concreteness, for a love and mercy that he can touch and feel, not just with his hands, but with his heart; wounded flesh touching wounded flesh.

We can read this story and think only of the wounds of Christ.  The ones that Thomas longs to touch, to dissipate his doubts.  It is easy to miss the wounds of Thomas reaching out to be touched by the wounded flesh of the Risen Jesus.  Jesus meets us just as concretely as he met the doubts of Thomas.  He does not mind our woundedness, our scars, our need for Mercy.  He meets us with his own wounds, open not only to our gaze, but to our human touch.

Here is the connection between Doubting Thomas and Divine Mercy.  Wounded flesh touching wounded flesh. Mercy flowing from the wounds of Christ, wellspring of mercy, flowing like a river.  Jesus appearing inside the locked doors of our hearts and fears, inviting us to touch his wounded flesh with the hands and fingers of our own weakness, with the frailty of our lack of trust, our incapacities, our disordered lives.

But how are we, how are the doubting Thomas’ of our day, to touch the wounds of Christ?  We live in a world so full wounds, scarred hands, pierced hearts, executed corpses, discarded flesh; Syria, Iraq, Sudan.  The hungry, the thirsty, the naked; and ‘those who have made shipwreck of their lives’.  Let us not ask. ’’who is my neighbor?’’ The person in need is my neighbour. “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me.”  What Jesus said to the disciples in the upper room he says to us now.’’ Peace be upon you’. By way of emphasis, he says it three times. ’’Shalom aleichem, peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, so I send you “.

As missionary disciples, we are sent out into the world, in the power of the Resurrection, with the message of Shalom, peace, wholeness, completeness.  We are sent with the healing touch of the wounded Christ, and our own wounded humanity.  As Peters first letter tells us today; ’’By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead’’.  This message of Shalom, Peace be upon you, is animated by joy. Peter tells us, ’’You believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy’’. But how is the boldness of this proclamation, this indescribable joy, to be sustained over the long haul?  Our first reading from the Book of Acts gives us the road map for our journey, a cartography of the life of discipleship.  Of the Early Church it says; ’’They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers’’.  These are referred to as the Four Pillars of our faith. We build our lives around them to this day. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is organized around these Four Pillars.  Catholics are called to be devoted ‘to the Apostles teaching’ as found in scripture and tradition, summarized in the Creeds.  To sustain an apostolic lifestyle, we need to cultivate good moral lives and build bridges of solidarity and friendship with one another, especially the weak and wounded. This is the pillar of ‘fellowship’.  The ‘breaking of bread’ is of course the Eucharist and the other sacraments that flow from it, but it also points to the need to eat together, as families do, and to share our bread with the hungry poor. ’The prayers’, refers to praying the Psalms, what today we call the Liturgy of the Hours, a prayer form we are all invited to enter into; but also other forms and disciplines of cultivating prayer and spirituality.  Sustained by this our common life, built up by the various practices associated with these Four Pillars we are sent out into our wounded world as emissaries of the Divine Mercy, missionaries of the tenderness of God.

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.