Sixth Sunday in Easter

Sixth Sunday in Easter

Deacon Blaine Barclay

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments”.  What is the relationship between love and law, between a self-donating love, and keeping the commandments; between love and obedience to the moral law?  I am afraid, that sometimes we see love and obedience as opposites.  This is because we see obedience as doing what we are told, as conformity to an external rule.  In this view of things, the moral law, and religion itself, become a matter of coloring between the lines, so to speak, having more to do with strategic conformity to external rules than to authentic conversion of heart and lifestyle.

So how are we to really hear what Jesus is saying to us today? ’’If you love me you will keep my commandments?’’.  Other translations say, “obey my commandments”. The word translated here as ‘obey’ or ‘keep’ has a rich range of meaning.  It means variously, to watch over, to guard, holds fast, properly maintain, held or kept in custody, to attend to carefully, take care of, stand firm in.  The Greek word invites us into a docility, an openness to be measured by the Word of God.  This kind of ‘keeping’ is very Marian.  Our Lady was so radically open to the demands of the Word that the Word became flesh in her. ’’Let it be done to me according to your word’’, says Mary in her radical availability, not just to hear this word from God, but to do it.  Mary is for us the prime example, the Prototype, of what it means to be a disciple, to love Jesus; to enter into right relationship with the Lord.

This same theme of ‘loving and keeping’ is found elsewhere in scripture.  St. Paul, for example, says, ’’Love is the fulfillment of the law’’. ’’The whole law is fulfilled in one word…Love’’. ’’The one who loves their neighbor has fulfilled the law’’.  Again, to paraphrase a longer passage by St. Paul, ’’Against love there is no law’’.  Saint Augustine of Hippo famously echoes St. Paul when he writes,  “Love and do what you will”.

Jesus himself elsewhere teaches; ’’if a person loves me they will keep my word’’. ’’If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love’’.  Jesus also tells us that, his “commandments are not burdensome’’, that his “Yoke is be easy and his burden is light’’.  There is a great simplicity  here when he adds, ’’This is my commandment, that to love one another as I have love you’’.  Here lies the infinite measure, ’the love he has for us’.  As St. John’s first letter says, ’’We love God because God first loved us”.  Our ‘love’, our ‘keeping’, our ‘obedience’ to his word’ is always ‘response’ to a love already given, already, ’poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit’.  As such it is not a matter of ’if I am obedient, follow the rules, do what I am told, learn how to color between the lines, then God will love me.  Each one of us is always already loved, right down to the bottom of who we are.  Loved into existence, loved into being called, loved into loves keeping.  ‘Kept by love, in loves safe keeping, still we abide’.

Are we thereby tempted by despair?  How can I measure up to this measureless love?  How can I love with a love that takes the form of the cross?  In short, I cannot.  This is why he promises us the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the cheer leader, the one who encourages, urges us on and provides us with the courage and power to live the Christian life, the disciplines of discipleship.

On this our pilgrim journey we will sometimes experience the absence of God, but we live by his promises. ’’I will not leave you orphaned’’.  ‘In our hearts the spirit of adoption cries out, ’Abba Father’.  Ours is the obedience, the keeping, the loving fidelity of the adopted children of a loving Father.  Standing in the obedience of the Son, empowered by the Holy Spirit, this is our yes to God. ’’If you love me you will keep my commandments’’.  “Let it be done to me according to your word’’.

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.