Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

November 12, 2017

homilywiseandfoolishbridesmaids

“Oil is found in the dwellings of the wise’; says Proverbs 21:20. Job 28:28 tells us ’the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom’, or, ’the beginning of wisdom’, according to Psalm 111:10.  ‘Fear of the Lord’ here is not a slavish fear, a fear of punishment, but a ‘WoW’ fear, wonder of wonders, filled with awe and astonishment.  A mix of awe-some and awe-full, as in ‘full of awe’.  Faced with the presence of the Holy, the presence of God, we are overwhelmed with this mystery which makes us tremble.  We are also thrown back on our own absolute nothingness, mortality, and poverty.  This is the ‘fear’ that is the beginning of wisdom, of genuine wakefulness.

Our gospel today tells the story of ‘Ten Bridesmaids’. ’Five of them were foolish, and five were wise’. All ten of them were part of the wedding party, all ten had lamps, all ten fell asleep waiting for the delayed bridegroom.  It seems that they are all insiders.  And yet there is a division, a separation.  Not between the servant leaders and the hypocrites, like last week, or between those who invested and those who hoarded their talents, the gospel for next week, or, the classic separation of the goats from the sheep, the gospel in two weeks.  The gospels in these last weeks of Ordinary Time make us ready for Advent. They are full of sifting, discerning, and separating.

What is it that separates the wise from the foolish bridesmaids?  They are all waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom, all eager to accompany him in the bridal procession, to greet the bride and celebrate the wedding feast.  But the bridegroom comes at midnight, the dark time, least expected.  The wise bridesmaids are prepared, they have oil for their lamps.  The foolish bridesmaids are not prepared.  They have lamps, but they have no oil for their lamps, no fuel, no source of energy to light their way in the late night wedding procession.

Preparation and oil are the characteristics of wisdom in this parable.  What does it mean to be prepared for the coming of the bridegroom?  What does it mean to be prepared for the coming of Christ, the anointed one, the one on whom the oil of Chrism has been poured, the one who is the oil of Chrism.?  Advent is almost upon us, we need to prepare ourselves for the arrival of the Bridegroom, Messiah Jesus.  Whether he comes to us in the Incarnation, at the end of time, at the hour of our death, in unforeseen suffering, or in the astonishment of wonder, it is foolish not to be prepared, it is wisdom to be prepared.

So, what is wisdom?  The scriptures tell us variously, that wisdom is more precious than jewels or fine gold, that those who understand wisdom ‘fear God’, ‘depart from evil’, and get wisdom without counting the cost.  The book of Wisdom tells us today that wisdom is waiting for us at the gate, in the midst of everyday life.  That wisdom is looking for us as much as we are looking for her.  So how does one get wisdom?  We know that having wisdom is not like having other things.  That the minute we think we are wise, we are furthest from it. ’Be not wise in your own eyes’, says St. Paul.  The Greek philosopher Pythagoras said, ’Only the gods are wise, the best human beings can hope for is to be ’lovers of wisdom’.  Perhaps it is because of this association with ‘philosophy’ that we tend to think of wisdom as something difficult, esoteric, and rare.  We associate it with old age and long experience, something in the distance, ahead of us, obtainable only after a long arduous journey.  We associate it with, a wisdom quest, a pilgrimage, a retreat.  And yet our reading from Wisdom tells us that wisdom, ’is easily discerned by those who love her’, is ’found by those who seek her’.  That wisdom, ’hastens to make herself known to those who desire her’.

When it comes to wisdom, when it comes to the whole life of faith.  It really is all about desire.  Look at the keywords from the book of Wisdom; ’seek her’, ’love her’, ’desire her’, be ’vigilant in on her account’.  None of us can claim wisdom for ourselves, but all of us can ’seek’ and ‘desire’, to ’love’ wisdom, and to be attentive in this regard. Also,  wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit given to each one of us in Confirmation.  Before we ever go in search of her she is already given.  Listen to some other key phrases from our first reading.  Wisdom, ’hastens to make herself known’, ’is easily discerned’, is ’seeking those worthy of her’, and ’meets them in every thought’.  The oil for our lamps is a gift, so is the fire to light our lamps, so is the Bridegroom, so is the Bride. Let us enter the wedding feast with joyful anticipation. Our Lamps burning bright in the light of His Face.

 



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 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.