Third Sunday in Easter

May 5th,  2019

Deacon Blaine Barclay


There are a couple of related themes in our readings today. From the Acts of the Apostles, the joyful boldness of the testimony and witness of the apostles in the face of opposition. From the Book of Revelation, our collective participation in a symphonic hymn of joyful praise. From the gospel of John, the gift of the resurrected Jesus in the midst of the apostolic community, and the animating joy that comes in the moment of recognition, and communion with the Risen Jesus. In short, joy, joy, joy, all pointing toward the transforming power of the Resurrection. Culminating in the invitation to love, and feed the sheep.

The Disciples have been given ‘strict orders not to preach’ in the name of Jesus, but to keep their faith under a bushel, so to speak. Yet, with self forgetful boldness they have ‘filled Jerusalem’ with their teaching, their bold proclamation that Jesus is Risen, that Jesus is the Christ. They are caught in the tension between a holy obedience to God, and  a holy disobedience to a merely human ordinance. ‘We must obey God rather than human beings’, they say. The more the power of the grave tries to hold them back, the more the power of the resurrection turns them into bold witnesses to the good news of forgiveness and repentance. We can ask ourselves. How are we told by our culture and by the people in our lives, ‘not to speak in the name of Jesus’? And what will give us this same apostolic boldness?

What is the animating principle of this boldness to speak in the name of Jesus? To the gospel of John.  First of all, we notice what slow learners the disciples were. They have encountered the Risen Lord on numerous occasions, and yet they still feel the pull of their old lives, and they still don’t recognize Jesus. ‘Let’s go fishing’, says Peter, and the rest eagerly join in. They fish all night and catch nothing. The work of evangelization is always a night filled with nothing if Jesus isn’t the one filling our nets. One author notes that, ‘never in the gospels do the disciples catch fish without Jesus’ help’. A stranger on the shore tells them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They still don’t recognize the Risen Lord. Not until their nets are bursting with fish do they realize the stranger is Jesus. ‘That disciple whom Jesus loved’ is the first to recognize him, for only in knowing how much we are loved will we have the eyes to see Jesus. But it is Peter who jumps in the water and swims ashore. Notice the hospitality of Jesus. Jesus feeds them and us with the bread and the fish, the Eucharistic bread of his body, and the flesh of his fish catching Word. We are called to invite others into this liturgical shore meal, where we eat from the table of his Word and his Body.

And finally, back to our second reading, we come to the cosmic vision that animates our boldness to speak. The post resurrection, great liturgy of heaven and earth. ‘Myriads of myriads (myriad = 10,000 x 10,000) and thousands of thousands’, of angels, living creatures, elders, ‘singing with full voice’. Every creature in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, and all that is in them singing. Praise, worship, the cosmic liturgy is symphonic. The vast chorus of living beings singing praise to the Risen Lamb upon the throne. The whole creation animated with the resurrection power that burst upon the cosmos on that first day of the new creation, the Lord’s Day, Sunday, the 8th Day. The First of Days, that dawns again this day in the fishing nets filled to bursting, in the shore breakfast with the Risen Jesus. ‘Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish’.

And so we come to Peter, and by extension to his successors, the Bishop of Rome. Jesus asks Peter three times, ‘do you love me’, and each time Peter answers, ‘Lord, you know that I love you’.  And so the Risen Jesus continues to feed us with the Bread of his Body, and the fish of his Word. ‘Feed my Sheep’.

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.