Third Sunday in Advent

Deacon Blaine Barclay


The readings today are filled with anguish, longing, and joyful expectation. Just like our lives. In the middle of our struggles and suffering, we long for the fulfillment of the promise that only God can keep. In the midst of our experience of darkness, our weakness and incapacities, we cry out, How long O Lord? When will you fulfill your promise to your people, and liberate us from the bondage of our sin? How long O Lord?

Advent Joy is proportionate to and exceeds the darkness that we experience. How do our readings characterize the human condition? From Isaiah, weak hands, feeble knees, fearful hearts, blind, deaf, lame, without a voice. From the Psalm, oppressed, hungry, imprisoned, strangers in exile., orphans, widows sunk in their poverty and grief. From James, grumbling against one another, suffering. From the Gospel, echoing Isaiah, blind, lame, lepers, dead, and poor. How long, O Lord? Then and now, the world is an abyss of woundedness, suffering, struggle. The world as a whole, and for each of us, in our own little world. The all too familiar struggles of daily life. The loneliness of the shut in, the single, the divorced, the widow(er), the orphan. The struggles of parenting, unemployment, underemployment, inadequate housing. The way our fears keep us locked up in our own hearts. The confusion caused by an all pervasive culture of entertainment and consumerism, while we totter on the brink of climate breakdown. Our daily struggles and sense of estrangement are all too familiar to us.


And so is our longing, for justice and peace, for the promise of the Reign of God, for some kind of resolution to our own struggles, healing for our families, for the pain of the world, and all the victims of history, then and now.


But Advent is also a time of hope and joyful expectation.  God is coming to rescue us, lift up your hearts. The future is even now already among us. God is breaking in, kicking down the doors of our hearts and lives. Calling us to act like an Advent people. Announcing the good news that is even now invading our hearts and our world. God is coming to save us. Beginning with the vulnerability of the little child of Bethlehem.


Our readings today are bursting with Hope and Joyful expectation. From Isaiah, the desert shall rejoice and blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing, weak hands strengthened, feeble knees made firm, be strong and do not fear, blind eyes opened, deaf ears unstopped, the lame leaping like deer, the voiceless singing for joy, and gladness, sorrow and sighing fleeing away. From our Psalm, justice for the oppressed, food for the hungry, prisoners set free, lifting up the heavy burdened, watching over the stranger, upholding the orphan and the widow. From James, the call to be patient and to strengthen our hearts, taking the Prophets as our example of suffering and patience, as we ourselves live out the prophetic call of Advent waiting, of heightened joyful expectation.


And finally, from our gospel today. John the Baptist, about whom Jesus says, ‘A Prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a Prophet.’ John is in prison and suffering because of his prophetic word, because he refused to compromise and back down from Herod. John is struggling with despair, wondering if his mission of repentance and being a messianic forerunner has been a failure. Even in prison, John hears good news about the mission of Jesus, and even though he has already pointed him out as the Lamb of God, and actively encouraged some of his disciples to join the Jesus movement, perhaps in anticipation of his own execution, he is looking for reassurance and so he gets word out to Jesus. A question,  which each of us must re-ask this advent season, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” To which Jesus answers, echoing both Isaiah and our Psalm. “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear…and the poor have good news brought to them.” The Messianic promise, the hope for a world set right, where every tear will be wiped away, is not just a distant hope, pie in the sky by and by, it is happening in the here and now in the person and mission of Jesus Christ.


As Advent Christians we are called to be heralds of this in-breaking good news. God is coming to us, indeed, is even now acting in our midst, has already arrived, in the person and work of Jesus, and in our struggle to embody his saving mission.







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.