Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

October 14, 2018


The poet T.S. Eliot says that we are searching for ‘a condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything.’ This quote captures quite well the heart of our readings today.

The first reading begins with the phrase. “I prayed, and understanding was given me;… and the spirit of wisdom came to me.” It asks us to desire wisdom above all things. But what is wisdom, and what is understanding? Job 28:28 says, “The fear of the Lord (reverence and awe for God) is the beginning of wisdom. To depart from evil, that is understanding.” Wisdom is both an interior disposition, a capacity to discern the inter-connectedness of things, including to know that we don’t know; and a matter of prudence, of practical wisdom, what is to be done and what is to be avoided. Finding within ourselves with Gods grace, the capacity to act in accordance with wisdom. Let us pray and call upon God to turn our lives into a wisdom quest. Not to be among those who think themselves to be wise, but simply to love and desire wisdom.

How do we go about doing this? Especially if we are not really awake to this dimension of life. We need to take a good honest look at our lives, to make a beginning. A line from our Psalm points the way. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” “Help me to know the shortness of my life.” It may be uncomfortable, but meditation on the mystery of death, has always been connected with wisdom. Not just death in general, death in the abstract, death as a condition of our common humanity; but my own particular death. Do we not ask Our Lady, ‘pray for us, now, and at the hour of our death’.

Perhaps it is because I have been present at the death bed of both of my parents in the last 3 years, or that 5 good friends of mine have died since I turned 50, or that I am now collecting the ‘old age pension’. For whatever reason, it is getting easier to discern the connection between wisdom and meditation on the mystery of death. We all need a wakeup call in these matters, something that shocks us into wakefulness with regard to the spiritual life.

Our second reading today nails it on the head, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword… able to discern the interior matters of the heart.” As a ‘living and active’ word, it is as present to us as much as it was to its original hearers. This word of wisdom works like a leaven in the loaf of our hearts. A growing familiarity with scripture is a great way of kneading the yeast of this ‘imperishable word’ into our way of life, of learning how to walk in this way of wisdom. Christ himself is Wisdom Incarnate. St. Jerome tells us, “Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ.” So, it is important for all of us to find even little ways to cultivate a greater familiarity with scripture, especially the New Testament, the gospels in particular, for it is in the gospels that we will meet the person of Jesus in all his attractive radiance.

In conclusion, our gospel opens for us another path. Where both wisdom and understanding, encounter the loving gaze of Christ. Where the rich man asks for all of us the decisive question, “What must I do to  inherit eternal life”? To which Jesus gives a classic Jewish answer, in short, keep the commandments. ‘If you wish to enter into life keep the commandments. To which this no doubt cultivated man who has studied the Torah his whole life answers with respect, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth”. Jesus’ response to this is decisive for all of us. First, and this is foundational, “Jesus looked at him, and loved him”. This is true for each one of us, under the gaze of Christ we encounter the look of love. Jesus’ next word is also a word for us. “You lack one thing”, ‘the one thing necessary’. Jesus looks straight into the rich man’s heart and calls him to the one thing necessary, to give up the one thing he is not willing to surrender. “Sell what you own and give the money to the poor”. Jesus knows the idols of our hearts. The one thing necessary that he asks of each one of us. Beyond keeping the commandments. Like the rich man in our story it may be our love of money, or it may be power, status, fame, recognition, the constant need to be distracted or entertained, an addictive behaviour pattern. Whatever the idols that keeps us from getting through the eye of the needle. Jesus wants the allegiance and affection of our heart. With him all things are possible, even our salvation.

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.