Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 26, 2018

Deacon Blaine Barclay

‘’Choose this day who you will serve…the gods your ancestors served, [the gods of Egypt]…or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.  As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’’.

The people of Israel are given a clear choice.  Serve idols, and false gods, or serve the Lord.  You can’t have it both ways, although sometimes we try to have it both ways.

What does it mean to turn away from idols, from the worship of false gods?  The we tend to think of this in terms of religious practices, of how we picture or don’t picture God. I think it has more to do with how we treat one another, with the quality of our face to face encounter with the other.  The only real alternative to idols and false gods is the liberating God of the Exodus.  As our psalms says, ’’The Lord is near to the broken hearted, and saves the crashed in spirit’’.

We believe in a God who shatters the gods of Egypt that keep us in bondage, who defeats the gods of the people and culture through which we are passing.  Like the Israelites, only the overturning of our idols and the defeat of our false gods will open the path before us.  Only the living God can deliver from idolatry.

It is easy to think of the reading from Joshua as simply a story from our ancient past and not our own story.  Let’s try to hear it as our own story, our own journey into the promises of God.  I need to ask myself, what are the idols, the false gods, in my life? The need for recognition, the pleasures of food, addiction to screen culture, etc.  Each of us can examine our own lives and learn to discern the difference between idol and icon, between the false gods, lies perpetrated by contemporary culture, and the living God who sets us free, liberates us so that we can enter into the promised land, flowing with milk and honey.  Not just way back when, or pie in the sky bye and bye, but here and now, in our everyday lives, relationships, friendships, marriage, which brings us to our second reading.

St. Paul begins with the phrase; ’’Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another….Live in love’’.  Authentic encounter with the face of the other person is the royal road to authentic encounter with the non-idolatrous Face of God, the Wholly Other.  This is what makes marriage an iconic image of the relationship, the love, between Christ and the Church.

Lots of perplexed attention has been paid to the verse, ’’Wives be subject to your husband’s’’.  As a married man, you would think that I would love this verse.  Doesn’t it make the husband the boss of the wife?  Not so, the Greek word translated as ’be subject to’ is not even found in this verse, but in the previous verse which reads, ’’Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ’’.  So, what ever the next phrase means, it has to be rooted and grounded in what has been called ’mutual submission’.  An unfortunate turn of phrase given our egalitarian ideals about the sacrament of marriage.

We know that historically the Christian view of the human person and marriage was a giant leap forward for women in comparison to the mentality and practice of both Judaism and Greco-Roman world of antiquity.  But how are we to understand, in our own time and place, the phrase; ’’Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ’’? ’Being subject’ here, does not mean slavish submission, but genuine willingness to be present to the other person, to see in their face the face of Christ.  Attentiveness to, readiness to be responsive, to the call of the other, the need of the other to be loved, for their own sake, to always be treated as a subject and never as an object.

‘’Be subject to one another’ then, has the same meaning as the later verse, ’’Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church’’.  Just as there is a ’mutual indwelling’ of the persons of the Trinity, of the humanity and divinity of Christ, of our humanity with the humanity of Christ, of Christ in the Church, so there is a mutual indwelling of wife and husband, the one flesh of marriage.  This is why St. Paul calls it, ’’A great mystery’’, in Greek, ’mysterion’, in Latin ’sacramentum’.  The ‘sacrament’ of marriage, a living iconic image of the love between Christ and the Church.’ Husbands love your wives…  Wives love your husbands….as Christ loves the Church…  Be subject to one another’.

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.