Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 8th, 2018

Deacon Blaine Barclay


St. John of the Cross, one of our great mystics, says about the Lord; ‘My Beloved is the mountains… strange islands… silent music.’.  How evocative these powerful images are, ’mountains’…’strange islands’…’silent music’…. Contrast this with the response of the people in the synagogue in today’s gospel.  They meet Jesus, listen to his words, are even ‘astounded’ by his teaching, ’bump up against him’, so to speak, like the crowds in last week’s gospel, and yet they do not really encounter him.  Not because he is like a ’strange island’, a surprising unexplored territory.  How do the police, the temple guards, in John’s gospel, put it? ’No man ever spoke like this man’.  No, the people in the synagogue do not hear him, do not see him, precisely because he was ’familiar’ to them. They thought they knew him, were in the habit of recognizing him, assumed he was just another part of their everyday experience and horizons. The Jesus they knew was a ‘domesticated’ Jesus, tamed by their pigeonholing assumptions

In contrast, the God of the Jews, the one Jesus scandalously called Abba, Father, Papa, is a God of the wilderness, who speaks from burning bushes, liberates hopeless slaves, raises up prophets to take a stand in the middle of a rebel nation.  How can you tame the whirlwind?  Except with attentive stillness that hears the still small voice that speaks in the middle of the storm.  But I digress.  Back to our Gospel and what it has to say to us today. Do I think I know God?  Do I think I know Jesus?  So did the people in our gospel.  Am I really any different from any of them?  Or, am I still able to be surprised by Jesus?  Or, am I like the apostle Nathanael, who in John’s gospel says, ’Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’

Like the crowds in our gospel, says, ‘Isn’t this the carpenter, don’t we know his mother, his family, all his cousins? Perhaps they were thinking; Who does he think he is?  This young whippersnapper who grew up next door?  He didn’t even study at one of the better Rabbinical schools, isn’t even old enough to be called a Rabbi, what can he teach us about the Torah, the law and the prophets?

And yet, here he is teaching in their synagogue, and across the years, speaking to us today in this beautiful Cathedral.  Kicking down the door of our hearts. ‘Shattering our deafness’, as St. Augustine says. How does the old 1976 hit country song put it? ’Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life’. Yes, I know, Jesus is gentle and his invitation is often whispered close to the ear of our heart. We have to be very quiet in order to hear it. And, I know, the door of our heart only opens from the inside.  But let’s not tame Jesus too much. After all, he is the Lion of Judah. And, as C.S. Lewis says in the Narnia tales of the Lion Aslan who represents Christ, ‘You can’t keep him, its not as if he were a tame Lion’. He is wild in love with each one of us.  Like in the story of the short tax collector Zaccheus, Jesus is bold, presumptions even, invites himself, without being asked, to sit with Zaccheus and with us, to break bread with us, at the table of our hearts.  Revelations 3:20 says, ’Listen!  I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me’.

Do I let myself be surprised by Jesus?  Am I not just a little bit scandalized by the Incarnation and the Cross?  The scared hands, the wounded flesh, that cries out, ’I love you this much’.  As St. Paul says to the Corinthians, ’We preach Christ crucified, which is a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles’.  Is my life is not overturned by the person and teaching of Jesus, like the tables of the money changers in the temple?  Does the Sermon on the Mount no longer make me uncomfortable?  Do the parables of Jesus no longer disturb me, overthrow the petty little kingdom or queendom that I have builtup to protect my fragile ego? Jesus teaches ‘the upside-down kingdom’, the great reversal, the turning around of our hearts and lives. Repentance, the conversion of lifestyle that our times so desperately need.  Now is the time of decision, now is the day of salvation. The time for turning weakness into strength. Can I hear him, can I see him, or, am I hiding behind what I think I know about him?

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.