Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine

July 28, 2019

‘Lord, Teach us to Pray’. This prayer is the key to prayer. This alone will unlock for us the doorway to prayer.


In terms of our readings today, Luke’s version of the ‘Our Father’ is situated between two stories that teach us about persistence in prayer. The story of Abraham prayerfully arguing with God, struggling to make sense of the suffering of the innocent. And the parable of the persistent friend knocking at your door at midnight asking for a loaf of bread.


I love this very human story of Abraham who does not yet seem to understand the merciful tenderness of God’s love. Trying to bargain with God to spare the whole city for the sake of first 50, then 45, 30, 20, and finally 10 righteous people. God of course agrees. Later Jewish tradition whittles it down to 1 righteous person.  Jeremiah 5:1 says,  ‘Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look around and take note! Search its squares and see if you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth—so that I may pardon Jerusalem.’


Many years ago I read a novel, ‘The Last of the Just’ that shook me to my core. (by André Schwarz-Bart). It follows the multi generational history of a Jewish family. It is based on the idea that God spares the world at any given moment because there is at least one righteous person living in the world. The novel concludes with a young Jewish boy, Ernie Levy, who is ‘the last of the just’. The heart of the drama is that he lives in the Jewish Warsaw ghetto during the Holocaust. I won’t tell you how it ends.


Isaiah(53) speaks of the one righteous person, the suffering servant, who takes upon himself the sins of humanity. Jesus is both ‘the last of the just’ and the first of the many who are saved by his death and resurrection. The record of our sins being nailed to the Cross in Baptism, as St. Paul tells us today.


We are disciples, learners, apprentices to the prayer of Jesus. Jesus’ regular, disciplined practice of prayer is our model. With the disciples in our gospel today we wish to enter into his prayer, his relationship of intimacy with the Father. Throughout the gospels we find Jesus frequently going off to a lonely place to pray, seeking solitude, a time apart. Life is full of distractions, dissipations, cluttered with the duties of the moment. It is easy to feel lost among the many, to live in a kind of perpetual forgetfulness, a spiral of eventual indifference to ‘the one thing necessary’. St. Paul says ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought.’ The disciples witness the prayer of Jesus, it wakes them up to the fact that they really don’t know how to pray.


Over and over again they see Jesus seeking solitude, they have prayed with him the Liturgical prayers  of the Jewish people, the daily recitation of the Shema, ‘Hear O Israel…, the Berekoth, the prayer of blessing over bread broken together, Shabbat or Sabbath prayers, the regular discipline of praying the psalms together, the study of scripture and commentary. All of these would have been a regular part of the prayer of Jesus and his disciples. But in his solitary intimacy with the Father, in their mutual indwelling, there is something more, and the disciples hunger for this more. Hunger for this more is at the heart of Christian prayer. ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ And what is Jesus’ response to this request, this hunger? ‘When you pray say, ‘Father’, Abba, Papa, Daddy. What stands at the beginning of prayer is a relationship. It is significant that Jesus addresses G_d,  not with the sacred name, nor any of the replacement names for G_d that were part of the Jewish tradition of prayer. He invites us to sanctify the name, to hallow it, to reverence, to hold it with the holiness that it deserves, and to pray that others will do the same. ‘May your name be held Holy’. What stands at the beginning of prayer is a relationship of radical intimacy, of foundational closeness, self-communication, and sheltering tenderness.


In a way, everything else in the ‘Our Father’, flows from, is an elaboration of, this opening phrase. ‘Father, Abba,May your name be held holy, sanctified, set apart, honoured’. The rest of the prayer tells us how to do this. By praying for the coming of the kingdom of G-d, by living into the lifestyle of the Reign of G-d. Radical trust in God’s providential care. Praying for our ‘daily bread’, the bread of subsistence, ‘Manna’ to sustain us in our journey through the wilderness, the desert, our Eucharistic bread. Living a life of forgiveness, sustained by our own experience of the tender mercy, the bottomless compassion of God. Asking God to strengthen and sustain us in our time of trial, and temptation.

With persistence let us ask, search, and knock, with the ‘Our Father’ as our guide. The given will be given to us, we will find what we’re searching for, and the door will be opened.


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.