Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

August 5, 2018


Jesus is our ‘Manna’. In the words of our Psalm today, ‘the bread of heaven’, ‘the bread of angels’. Just as God sustained the people of Israel during their sojourn in the desert with Manna, God sustains us with Jesus who says, ‘I Am the Bread of Life’.


What we have set before us today on the table of God’s word, is a small portion of what is called ‘the Bread of Life Discourse’, found in the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John. A chapter that the Church has always understood as being about the Eucharist. It is instructive that as a way of helping us to unpack the meaning of Jesus’ Bread of Life teaching we are given the story of the giving of the Manna found in the book of Exodus.

The Book of Exodus, the story of the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, is like an interpretive key for unlocking, for understanding, the person, teaching, and mission of Jesus. The Exodus story is like a pair of reading glasses through which we can rightly interpret the subsequent history of the Jewish people, as well as the mission of Jesus and the Church. Without first putting on these ‘Exodus’ reading glasses there is a lot that we won’t understand about the rest of the Bible, of salvation history, the history of God’s on-going intervention and out-reach to save us. For example, all of the following New Testament ideas are taken directly out of themes found in the book of Exodus. Jesus is the new Moses, the giver of the New Law. Jesus is in the desert for 40 days just like Israel is in the desert for 40 years. Jesus is the Passover lamb that was sacrificed. Jesus is lifted up on the Cross just as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the wilderness. The Sacrament of Baptism was prefigured in the crossing of the Red Sea, Jesus is the Manna that appears new every morning, ‘like the dew fall’,  that sustains us on our journey through the wilderness of life.


We may ask ourselves, how can our lives be compared to the 40 years the people of God wandered in the desert, the wilderness of Sinai? Just like the Israelites, we sometimes worry and complain, I know I do, about the hardships and difficulties that we experience on our journey to enter into God‘s promises. Listen to the people of Israel complain. ‘’If only we had died… in Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

We worry and complain about different things than the liberated slaves, a cancer, a sick child or grandchild, difficulties in a marriage, a growing plethora of aches and pains, acute loneliness, depression, worrying about our children, the future, etc., you can fill-in the blank. Let’s face it, life is a struggle, there are perhaps moments of ecstatic delight, of joy. To each of us a portion of happiness, perceived through a glass darkly. But we don’t need a pop song to remind us that ‘everybody hurts‘, or listen to lots of country ‘hurtin’ music, to know that the human condition has its share of anguish. Even our crucified saviour, is the Suffering Servant who experienced to the bottom the depth of human anguish.

So, what is the lesson of the story of the Manna in the desert, and of Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse? That God is there for us, that in the person and work of Jesus, ‘the Bread of Life‘, God will sustain us even in the middle of our experience of desert, of wilderness, even precisely in this experience and not without it. For how else could we wake up in the middle of things, to our own poverty, our littleness, our hunger for God? How does St. Augustine put it? ‘You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you‘. We are still a pilgrim people of the Exodus, with nomadic hearts, sustained in our wilderness by the Bread of God, Word and Sacrament, the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of Angels, the Bread of Life, Jesus our Manna in the desert.

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.