Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 1st, 2019

Deacon Blaine Barclay

I begin with a quote from the opening page of a beautiful book, ‘The Bread of God’,written by my godfather, Brother Anthony Opisso.

“We are the dough.

Humility rests in knowing we are dust:

Flour which the waters of Baptism through the Holy Spirit forms into dough. Meekness is letting ourselves be handled by Him.

By His hands that kneed and press the mass to be shaped into the mold He desires: Jesus Christ….”

 

I think it captures quite well the theme of our readings today. Beginning with the poet of the Book of Sirach telling us, “To the humble the Lord reveals his secrets”. To Jesus in the gospel today  teaching us about Messianic table manners, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”. And hidden between these two slices of humble pie is embedded in the book of Hebrews, a teaching about boldness and confidence in approaching the throne of grace. Something which at first glance might seem to be contrary to humility, but is not.

 

We sometimes think of humility as a kind of groveling, putting ourselves down, beating ourselves up, because of our extreme unworthiness. Pushed to its extremes this can slip into self hatred and a refusal to acknowledge just how much we are loved by God. Rejection of the gift of our humanity is a rejection of the goodness of the Creator. There is also the trap of a false display of humility which can be a subtle mask for pride. Look at how humble I am. Or, as the old country song goes, “O, Lord it’s so hard to be humble, when your perfect in every way.”

 

True humility is a form of self knowledge. ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.’ The biblical words for humility can also be translated as gentleness, kindness, mildness, gracious, poor, and meek. One of the Beatitudes can be translated as, “Blessed are the humble, they will inherit the earth”.The humble person is the the one without power or status, standing with docile openness in the presence of God. Availability. Again,“To the humble the Lord reveals his secrets”. Humility is a virtue, a form of human excellence. The practice of humility is the medicinal cure for the sin of pride. Only the humble person can act without self promotion and assertion. Putting God and the other before self. “I am third”.

 

Throughout the gospels Jesus is forever scandalizing and instructing us with his own practice of table fellowship. His willingness to eat with tax collectors and sinners. Cooking bread and fish for his disciples. Washing their feet in the middle of a meal. Himself modeling, “taking the lowest place”, the place of the servant, the slave. Turning the social world upside down, transgressing and disrupting its established norms of etiquette. Again, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”.

 

Extending to all a place at the table. Or, as my favourite Mennonite cookbook says in its title, ‘Extending the table’. Jesus says, “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”. By boldly practicing such social generosity, that breaks down barriers, we anticipate what the letter to the Hebrews today calls, ‘Mount Zion, ‘the city of the living God’, ‘the heavenly Jerusalem’, in the company of ‘the Angels in festal gathering’, ‘the firstborn’, ‘the righteous made perfect’. This is the Messianic banquet, the wedding feast of the Kingdom of God.

 

So humility and bold confidence in God’s overflowing generosity are not incompatible. In fact they flow out of each other. We are bold because we are confident in God’s bottomless compassion. We invite others to the feast because we ourselves have been invited and transformed by the feast. Because we also are “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”, and know ourselves to be such, we can act in solidarity with all those who share our human condition. Surprised by Grace. Not because we are worthy. It is all gift, not something we have merited or earned. Only the humble are available to accept and to extend such an invitation. We have been called out of nothingness, to be a people set apart to do God’s will. To Extend the table of mercy.

 

 

 



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.
PROCEDURAL NORMS FOR
THE NEXT FEW WEEKS

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.
Brevity
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.