Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 8th, 2017

Deacon Blaine Barclay

The first reading, the psalm, and the gospel today all speak of ‘the Vineyard of the Lord’.  It was quite common for the Hebrew scriptures and for the Rabbis to speak of the people of Israel, God’s covenant people, as a Vineyard, as our psalms says, “The Vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.” In Jewish thinking the Torah itself, the written law of Moses, is also referred to as a Vineyard, and the oral law or commentary of the Rabbis was seen as a protective interpretive hedge around the law, guarding it from possible misinterpretations. As an aside, this is not unlike the way Catholics think of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. Likewise, those who are cultivated by the law, by the word of God, are also God’s Vineyard.

Jesus himself teaches us in the gospel of John, “I am the Vine and you are the branches. Think for a moment on all that is involved in the cultivation and upkeep of a vineyard; all the things that have to be done in order to yield a fruitful crop. ’Fruit of the vine, work of human hands’; planting, grafting, fertilizing, pruning, watering, protecting with a hedge or wall, nets to keep the birds away.  All of the many ways that the word of God cultivates us, tends and tills us, so that we will yield much fruit.

In the first reading, because the vineyard of Israel has borne bitter wild grapes, rather than the choice fruit of those who have been cultivated by the discipline of the law, the Word of God; the Vineyards protective hedge, it is defending wall, are removed and broken down.  No longer cultivated by the medicinal discipline of the Word of God, in the words of our text today, ‘bearing neither the fruit of justice nor of righteousness’, the vineyard is trample down, laid waste, deprived of the living water that it needs for its proper growth.

In Jesus’ parable of the Vineyard everything has been given by the Landowner, its ‘pleasant planting’, its wine press, protective hedge, even a watchtower to guard it from thieves and predators.  Everything it needs to bear much fruit, fruit that will last.  But those who have been given the care of the vineyard, the tenants, have come to think of it as their own, as if the vineyard was something at their own disposal, to do with what they will.

Likewise, ’the vineyard of the Lord’, the Church, the Vine itself, the grace that flows into all its branches, is not something at our disposal, that we can appropriate to ourselves as if it was our own private possession.  Unlike the tenants in our story, when God sends us prophets let us not reject their word of warning, or the warning of this parable of Jesus, spoken by the very Son who the tenants reject and kill. ’’The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the Kingdom’.  Why do we always think that scriptural warnings such as this one are addressed to someone other than ourselves?  Should we not ask ourselves, are we, am I, producing the fruits of the kingdom in my life?  Or, like the people of God in our first reading, am I only producing wild bitter grapes, injustice, bloodshed, unrighteousness? Do my actions reflect the faith I proclaim? And what are the ’fruits of the kingdom’ that Jesus is talking about?

The second reading from today gives us a clue about these fruits. ’’Whatever it is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, any excellence, anything worthy of praise.’’.  St. Paul urges us ’to think about these things’ and to follow his example.  He says, ’’keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me’’.  Following the example of the Apostle Paul, and other Saints and heroic practitioners of the faith, let us not hold back from the practice of the virtues, from the pursuit of every excellence.  Not just by our own efforts, as if this was simply ours to do under our own power.  But let us ask the Lord of the Vineyard to plough, to prune, to tend and till the ground of our hearts, so as to produce in us the Fruits of the Kingdom; fruits like patience, kindness, fortitude, prudence, justice, peace, gentleness, strength of character, self-control, and of course the greatest of all the gifts, the juiciest of all the fruits of the Kingdom, Charity, for ’’God is Love’’.

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.