Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph-December 30th 2018

homilyholyfamilylostjesus2018 Deacon Blaine Barclay

The Opening prayer at the beginning of mass asks us to imitate the Holy Family, practising the virtues of family life, especially ‘the bonds of charity’. Love is the glue that holds family together.

The story of Jesus getting lost when he was 12 concretely illustrates some of these virtues of family life. Jesus’ family went to the Passover feast in Jerusalem every year. Jesus turning 12 was a special year. Jesus became a ‘Son of the Law’, celebrating his Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish doorway between childhood and adult life.

The story continues with Mary and Joseph leaving for the return journey to Nazareth, each thinking that Jesus was with the other parent. The women often left earlier than the men because the men could usually walk faster. When they camped for the night, they realized that Jesus was not with the group. This teaches us something about the virtues of family life. Family life is not just about the nuclear family, about mom and dad and the child or children. Family life is also about extended family and friends. My own grown children still call two of my oldest and best friends, Uncle Andy and Uncle Frank. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. It would’ve been easy for Mary and Joseph to assume that Jesus was travelling with some of their extended family or friends.

When they realized that Jesus was not with them, they hurried back to Jerusalem. Imagine their anxiety when they discovered Jesus was missing. Imagine their relief when they found him. ‘After three days they found him in the temple among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.

Here we have Jesus the student, for every teacher must first be a student. The story is filled with the humanity of Jesus. He is not in the temple lecturing and teaching the Torah scholars about the correct meaning and interpretation of the law. Instead we have Jesus discovering and waking up to his own identity and mission. This is Jesus’ coming-of-age, Rite of Passage story. So absorbed in the back and forth of the learning experience that he hardly noticed that he had lost contact with his family.

What is the response of Mary and Joseph? ‘When his parents saw him, they were astonished; and Mary said to him, ‘child why are you treating us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety ‘. This is the only story we have about Jesus getting in trouble with his mother. So absorbed with the adventure of learning, he seems to have no idea of the anxiety that he has caused. In complete innocence he responds, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Fathers house’? Jesus is beginning to recognize his own identity and mission and how it is grounded in his relationship of family intimacy with the Father.

Jesus also recognizes that in order to cultivate this relationship of intimacy with God, he needs to be a student of Scripture. What is the response of Mary and Joseph to this shift in their Sons’ sense of himself? ‘But they did not understand what he said to them ‘. It often takes parents longer to recognize the growing maturity of their children, and their attempt to discover their own shifting identity. A typical story of family life. Jesus is of course not a typical teenager, as we would understand that term today. In the ancient world people moved rather quickly from childhood to adulthood.

Jesus did not suddenly become an independent adult away from his formation in the circle of family and friends. The story continues, Jesus goes back to Nazareth, ‘and was obedient’ to his parents. Of his life in Nazareth it tells us, ‘Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in favour with God and human beings ‘. A familiar virtue of family life. What all of us wish for our children. That they grow mature and flourish into their full stature as human beings.

How do we know this tiny story from Jesus’ Bar Mitzvah year? ‘His Mother treasured all these things in her heart ‘. Mary was worried and upset when they lost track of Jesus. But she was wise enough and full of grace, to recognize the treasure she had in her Son, and to rejoice that he was beginning to discover his own identity and mission.

Each one of us can be a little bit like this 12-year-old Jesus. Standing at the doorway of our own discovery of our identity and mission as disciples of Jesus. Called to be apprentices, learners, disciples of this 12-year-old boy and his parents. From them we can learn the virtues that we should bring to our lives as families. What are some of these virtues that we can take away from this story? The virtues of studying, of learning, of taking responsibility for those given to our care, of obedience to our parents. The virtue of recognizing the gifts of the other people in our lives. The virtue of treasuring memories and storing them in our heart. Even worrying and having anxiety about those we love is a normal part of family life.

All this teaches us about the virtue of staying close to Jesus, of cultivating a relationship of intimacy with him, of participating in his own identity and mission. This is the core of being a missionary disciple, participation in the mission of Jesus. Together with him sorting out our relationship with our earthly parents, a lifelong task. Together with him learning how to cultivate a growing relationship of intimacy with God. A relationship that Jesus himself makes possible in his own journey to missionary maturity.

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.