Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

January 21, 2018

The basic pattern of the life of faith is ’Call and Response’.  Each one of us is called, both at the deepest level of our humanity, but also within the living stream of scripture and tradition.  We heard this call last week in the story of the prophet Samuel, who has a young person struggles to discern the call of God in the midst of all the other voices in their life.  We heard it also in the invitation of Jesus to, ’come and see’.  To be where he is, to live where he lives, to share his way of life, to allow our lives to be displaced by the priorities of Jesus.

We hear this same pattern of ’call and response’ in todays readings.  Jesus begins his public ministry with the urgent proclamation; ’’the kingdom of God has come near’’, the Reign of God is even now breaking in upon you, bursting in on the horizon, shattering ’the present form of this world’, as our second reading says.  The whole of Mark’s gospel is saturated with a sense of urgency, with the sudden immediacy of the dynamite that is the person and message of Jesus. The word ’immediately’ is found 40 times in the short gospel of Mark.  For Mark, the time of salvation is now, the future is now, pressing in upon our lives, not as dreaded judgment, but as ’good news’, ’gospel’, ’glad tidings’, salvation.

According to Jesus, what should our response be to this immediate in-breaking of the kingdom? ’’Repent and believe in the good news’’. ’Believing in’ is not just assent to a theoretical construct, a worldview with a certain way of framing things.  It is also commitment to the practice of conversion of lifestyle.  This is why Jesus says, ’’Repent and believe in the good news’’, of the kingdom of God.  If I don’t repent then do I really believe the good news?  Perhaps I haven’t really experience the person and message of Jesus as good news for me.

Sometimes we actually associate the practice of religion with ’bad news’, a bunch of obligations and restrictions that fence us in, not liberation. Jesus says it is ’good news’.  Jesus is good news.  The Catholic faith is good news. Repentance and believing in are the way to enter into this good news.  Repentance is not just sackcloth and ashes, it is the path to a joy filled life.  Would any of us repent if it was only a path of sadness and ’woe is me’, and consciousness of our sin?  Repentance is our response to the ’good news’, that we have been healed, restored, forgiven in Christ.  That we are always already loved without measure.  We don’t earn this love with our repentance we repent as response to the call of this love.

How do these first disciples respond to the call to repentance, to believing in the good news?  So radical is their conviction that the call of Jesus is good news, that they leave their old life behind.  All things have become new, the old way of doing things has passed away.  The absolute future that is the kingdom has already arrived in the person of Jesus.  From now on the human adventure is the following of Christ, being apprenticed to him, the tasks and disciplines of discipleship.  ’’Immediately they left their nets and followed him,’’ it says of Peter and Andrew. ’’Immediately they left their father Zebedee and followed him’, it says of John and James.  Previous relationships and livelihood are transfigured in the following of Christ.

St. Paul in our second reading outlines for us the radicalness of the transformation that is called for in our lives.  With the same urgency of the gospel of Mark, St. Paul says, ’’the appointed time has grown short’.  There is no putting off the immediacy, the urgency of the call of God to repentance.  According to Paul I cannot use my spouse, my time of mourning, rejoicing, the consumerist pursuit of possessions, or the business and distractions of our engagement with the world as an excuse.  All these things are good of course, each has their place in our priorities.  But they are all as nothing in comparison to the supreme value of the following of Christ, of living into the reign of God.  In summary, Paul says, ’’the present form of this world is passing away’’.  The form of this world, it’s patterns, priorities, way of doing things, is as ephemeral as mist, dust on the scales, dust in the wind.  Jesus has come into the world and into our lives to trans-form the form of this world and the form of our lives. This is the good news of our call and our response.

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.