Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time


Deacon Blaine Barclay

November 5th, 2017

In our gospel today, when Jesus is teaching the disciples and the crowd.  He says something unusual about the scribes and Pharisees.  He says, ’do what they teach and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach’. So, here he is again, talking about hypocrisy.  Jesus just doesn’t let up on this subject, does he?  He must have thought it was important, and that we should take it to heart.  And, we recognize of course, that his teaching on these matters is addressed to the early Church and to us as much as it was the scribes and Pharisees of his day.  Jesus starts off by paying the Pharisees a complement, something he doesn’t do very often.  He recognizes that, they ‘sit in Moses chair’, namely, that their interpretation of the Torah, of the law, has authority and weight. In Jewish circles, the Rabbi or Teacher always sits down when they are going to teach something important.  The ‘chair’ in the synagogue therefore represents the authoritative place of proclamation and commentary on the law and the prophets.  In our own time we still have echoes of this when we speak of someone chairing a meeting.  So, Jesus says, ‘do what they teach and follow it’. As an aside, we would do well in our own time to listen to those who likewise, ’sit in the chair of the Apostles’, both in the teaching ’chair’ of Peter, and the ‘chair’ of our own Bishop Brendan O’Brian.  The Bishops, in union with the Pope, teach with legitimate authority.  Here is another example, on those rare occasions when the Pope makes an ‘infallible’ teaching statement, we say that he speaks ’ex cathedra’, literally, ’from his chair’. In our own Cathedral, only the Bishop of Kingston sits in that Chair, nobody else. Every Catholic knows this, but do we do everything we can to adequately inform ourselves about the authentic teaching of the Church, of its teaching Magisterium, and not just what we read in some discontents web blog?

At the heart of Jesus’ critique of hypocrisy is his own counter model of leadership. ’I have come among you as one who serves’, says the Lord.  He concretely models this ’servant leadership’ when at the last supper in John’s gospel, he wraps a towel around his waist, and washes the feet of the disciples.  Jesus’ model of leadership’ in the Church, and by extension, in our families and our workplaces, is one of availability and tenderness. By the way, another example of this is that one of the official titles for the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is ’the Servant of the Servants of God’.  Listen to how St. Paul describes his ministry to the Thessalonians in our second reading today. ’We were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for own children’.  How different this is from a leadership model that seeks recognition, honour, and status.  That wants to be seen by others.  What does St Paul say in first Corinthians 13? ’Love does not insist on its own way, it is not arrogant or proud’.

Of course, there is a time and a place for official titles.  They can be, and are, a sign of respect and heartfelt recognition.  I would never have dreamed, for example, of addressing my Father as ‘Allen’, or my Mother as ‘Helen’.  To do so would have been disrespectful.  So’ is it wrong to call someone ’rabbi’, or, ’father’, or, ’instructor’, as Jesus seems to be saying? Or, is this a typical example of Jewish teaching by way of hyperbole, exaggeration in order to make a point, to emphasize its importance.

So, what is the point?  Not to be the kind of person who hides behind our social role or status, in the Church, in the family, or, in society at large.  But to live life from the heart, in radical self-emptying, self-donation.  As St. Paul continues in our second reading; ’so deeply do we care for you that we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us’.  Leadership in our communities and families needs to follow the logic of Encounter.  Or, as one author, recommended by St. John Paul II puts it, an ’Ethics of the Face’.  As St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, ’Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God… emptied himself, taking the form of slave’.  In conclusion, in the words of our gospel today. ’The greatest among you will be your servant, whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted’.  Jesus really does teach an Upside Down Kingdom.  Are we ready to be turned around?

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.