Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

I wrote this homily sitting in my dad’s favorite chair.  A chair he spent a lot of time in the last number of years as his health declined.  As an aside, let me say how much I appreciate your prayers for my father during his long struggle with cancer and blindness, and for your continued prayers for the repose of his soul.

Today’s homily however, is unusual not only because of where I sat when it was written, but because I felt compelled to preach on the second reading rather than on the gospel. Because most Catholic preaching tends to focus on the gospel, particularly in the Sunday homily, we sometimes miss out on some buried treasure hidden in the margins of the first or second reading, or in the psalm.

Today’s second reading is taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.  In the 4th century, St. John Chrysostom referred to the letter to the Romans as St. Paul’s ’spiritual trumpet’.  What we have before us today are too short verses taken from the later section of this trumpet song (Rom.12: 1-2).

St. Paul begins,’’ I appeal to you…  by the mercies of God’’. The appeal is one of both solicitude and authority.  The first century Roman Christians were struggling with the incorporation of gentiles, pagan, non-Jewish, Greco-Roman Christians into the, until now, primarily Jewish Christian community. At the time of Paul’s writing, the majority of Christians living in Rome were non-Jews, and the Hebrew-Jewish Christian minority were having a hard time with this demographic shift. For St. Paul, all of us, Jew or Gentile, are on equal standing before God, for as he says elsewhere in Romans, ’’all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’’.  He has been arguing throughout this letter for the priority of mercy and grace in salvation.  We are saved by grace, not by the works of the Law.  Our works, our deeds, our actions, our ethical or moral lives, are a liturgical response to the ever prior mercy of God. He says, ’’Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship’’.  Notice how ’spiritual worship’ is identified with the presentation of our bodies.  Christian faith is an Incarnational, an embodied faith.  The worship of God cannot be bracketed off from the whole of our lives. It is not just a theory, a worldview, a meaning construct.  ’’Is this not the fast that I choose, says the Lord”, through the Prophet Isaiah; ’’to undo the heavy yoke, to let the oppressed go free’’.  In Jesus, the Word has become Flesh, the invisible as become visible, the spiritual has become embodied, the universal has become particular, the abstract, concrete.  St. Paul tells us that this Incarnational concreteness is foolishness to the Jew and a scandal to the Greco-Roman mind, for whom the body was a prison house from who’s tyranny we need to escape.

We, on the other hand, are told by St. Paul to present our bodies, our concrete everyday lives, as a liturgical act, a ‘living sacrifice’, an act of thanksgiving which is ’holy and acceptable to God’; at the same time both ’embodied’ and ’worship’, a way of life set apart for God, a transformed way of life.

How do we do this?  Saint Paul first states it negatively, ’’Do not be conformed to this world’’.  Some translations speak of  ’’the form of this world’’.  Just as the Prophet Jeremiah in our first reading was seduced by the word of God which then burned like a fire in his belly until he let it out; so, it is easy for us to be ’seduced’ by ’the form of this world’; it’s prevailing cultural patterns, pop culture, advertising, twitter feeds, the news and entertainment cycle with its toxic mix of fear and distraction.

We, on the other hand, are called to cultural resistance, to live counter cultural lives.  To, ’’be transformed by the renewing of your mind’’. Literally, the turning around of your mind, repentance and conversion of lifestyle.  The Greek word translated here as ’transformed’ is the same a word used to describe what happened to Jesus in the transfiguration, ’metamorphosis’.  Rather than being conformed to the spirit of the present age, the ‘zeitgeist’, with our minds colonized by prevailing cultural forms, we are to cultivate a converted mind, a changed life, formed in the image of Jesus Christ.  Only then will we be able to rightly discern, and put into practice, ’what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’.

 



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 collection 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.