Palm Sunday, March 25th, Deacon Blaine Barclay

Deacon Blaine Barclay

Palm Sunday March 25, 2018

Today is at the same time both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.  A kind of prelude to the Easter Tridium, only in reverse.  Crowds joyfully shouting loud ‘Hosannas’, and a short time later shouting all the more, ‘Crucify Him’.  A rare Sunday of two gospels, one of joyful expectation, the other of self-emptying God-forsaken-ness; and Jesus at the center of both dramas.  The shifting shouting crowd showing to us the duplicity of the human heart.

Palm Sunday, the buildup to the great feast of Passover; Jerusalem filled to overflowing with Jewish pilgrims from throughout the empire, an oppressive empire that was crushing them under its boot.  Into this situation of political helplessness, and disempowerment, comes Jesus’, so called, ‘triumphant entry into Jerusalem’, riding on a colt, a small donkey.  The crowd wild with joy, and hope, and expectation.  Making a highway of their cloaks and palm branches, rolling out of the royal red carpet, so to speak. ‘Hosanna’, they shouted, as they sang their Messianic hymn; ‘Help us’, ‘Save us’, ‘Rescue us’, ‘Hosanna’, an anguished cry for liberation.

But there is a kind of irony in the text.  Yes, they identify Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah.  But they want him to be a military messiah, Son of David, the general, the king, riding on a warhorse, with a sword in his hand, leading their armies, victorious against the dreaded Roman rulers.  Instead, here comes Jesus messiah, Son of David the shepherd, on a small donkey, teaching non-violent love of enemies, taking a stand against the Roman Goliath, armed only with a radical self-emptying love. ’’He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave… [to the point of] death on a cross’’, says Paul to the Philippians today.  Such is the Lordship of Christ, a self-emptying sovereignty, the one, ’’with the tongue of a teacher, able to sustain the weary with a word’’, as our first reading tells us.

And what is his word for us today?  His wooded word of the Cross, his passion which takes upon itself, embraces, all of our struggles, our fear of death, our experience of violence, rejection, betrayal, deserted even by our closest friends, being left alone, with spittle and blood on our face, staring into the abyss of dusty death.  Jesus knows us, from the inside, right down to the bottom of our humanity. ’’If anyone wants to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’’, says Jesus. (Matt. 16:24).  He knows even our experience of God-forsaken-ness. ’’My God my God, why have you forsaken me’’?

Today, with our outward ears we have following the story of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.  How are we to follow him with the ear of our heart?  Not just to listen to the passion narrative, going in one ear and coming out the other, so to speak, but to live our lives under the imperative of the Cross?

I got a book just the other day, which I am excited about reading.  The title is “God’s Gamble”.  The subtitle, “The Gravitational Power of Crucified Love’’.  Even without reading it, isn’t that a great title?  I repeat, ’’God’s Gamble: The Gravitational Power of Crucified Love’’.

Have I even begun to let myself be drawn, pulled in, attracted by, the power of this self-emptying love?  What could it mean to experience the Cross of Christ as a thing of Beauty?  What happens to the whole category of the Beautiful, when the shattered, broken body of Jesus, becomes for us a theme of contemplation?  How to live our lives under the gaze of the Cross, of the broken Jesus?  We bring to him our brokenness, our wounded, scarred, half lived lives, and he makes of them a thing of Beauty, and part of the gravitational power of crucified lo

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.