Thirty Third Sunday

Deacon Blaine Barclay

Nov 17th, 2019

What does it mean to speak in the prophetic voice? To be able to read the signs of the times. To defend the poor and needy.  To announce the year of the Lord’s favour. To point out the future consequences of injustice. To speak truth to power. In the prophetic voice hope and woe are often paired together, as in Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, for example. “Blessed are you who are poor”. “Woe to you who are rich”. The prophetic  voice is also sometimes about the last things, the end of days. The prophetic voice is a voice of warning. Death, judgement, dread, fear, consequences of injustice, the inadequacy and passing away of even what seems most stable.

Our readings today and through this time leading up to Advent, are shadowed with images of end times judgement. Both the first reading from the prophet Malachi, and our gospel are very dark. As is the background story to what what St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians. This is balanced with a Psalm that is full of joy and praise for God’s activity in our midst.

From Malachi, “See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble”. Both ‘root’ and ‘Branch’ will be consumed. Top to bottom. Together with this message of woe, there is a message of hope. “But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings”.

Paul is writing to a community who have been so consumed with expectation of the Second Coming of Jesus, of his imminent return, that the end of days is already upon us, that they have been neglecting both the duty of the moment, and the responsibility of working for a living. Thinking, if Jesus is coming back tomorrow, why bother to work today? St. Paul of course thinks this is a cop out, and one of the dangers of this kind of thinking pushed too far. There is always work to be done in the cause of gospel, get busy, no excuses. For, as Jesus says elsewhere, “No one knows the hour or the day”.

And the gospel today, what causes Jesus to speak so strongly in the dark futuristic voice. People were simply awed by the majesty of the temple. 36,000 square feet, as big as 9 football fields, stones weighing up to 50 tonnes. All adorned with splendours gifts. Lots of bling bling. And what does Jesus say to their architectural astonishment? “Not one stone will be left upon another”. And what is their  big concern? They want to know ‘when’ the end is going to happen. People then and now are obsessed with predicting the end of days. Maybe so they can be prepared instead of being committed to perpetual wakefulness. Maybe because it is easier to worry about tomorrow, than to live in the present moment.

We live in very apocalyptic times today. The Holocaust, Rwanda, Myanmar, the Stalinist purges, the use and proliferation of Nuclear weapons, terrorism, Climate change. “Wars and insurrections”. The 20 and 21st century are filled with unspeakable horrors. No wonder the end of times imagination is operating at warp speed. Domesday prepping is now a booming business. While we retreat into our electronic screen culture worlds. Thinking that by doing this we will be able to take the edge off the sense that we are living in the end of days. But even this world, the electronic world of popular culture is obsessed with these themes. Just think of how many Zombie movies and series are out there. Not to mention, movies from ‘Mad Max’ and ‘The Terminator’.. One author even says that our obsession with the genre of ‘horror’ is the last gasp of the hunger for transcendence in our secular culture.

At its best thinking about the last things, Death, judgement, is a wake up call, a kind of necessary meditation on the end, so as to live more completely, more passionately in the present, with a healthy awareness of the impermanence of all human achievement. A call to be more attentive, intelligent, reasonable, and responsible. At its worst This kind of thinking becomes an obsession, plunges us into anxiety and fearfulness. Promotes addiction to static certainties rather than trust in Jesus’ dynamic living truth. We need to be grounded in our relationship with Jesus. Who tells us today to heed the call to ‘’testify’’. To know that ‘’not a hair of your head will perish’’. To trust that, “By your endurance you will gain your souls”. Summarized elsewhere in Luke’s gospel, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

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.