Second Second in Ordinary Time

January 19th, 2020
Deacon Blaine Barclay

Today is the 2nd Sunday of ‘Ordinary Time’. Ordinary Time’ is not ordinary in our regular way of using the term. Over half the liturgical year is made up of the 34 numbered Sundays of ordinary time, so it is important that we get it right. It is a time focused on the public life, teaching and ministry of Jesus. It’s Liturgical colour is green which represents hope and growth. It calls us to ongoing conversion, and maturity in the life of being a disciple of Jesus. To live in our own time and place, the ongoing mission of Jesus. Following in the footsteps of Jesus’ public ministry, to live our lives ordered towards missionary discipleship. To measure all time according to the mission of Jesus Christ. Ordinary time turns out to be quite extra-ordinary.

This of course means that we are all called to holiness, to be holy in the midst of our ordinary everyday lives. St. Paul in our second reading today puts it this way. Addressing “the Church of God that is in Corinth”, he says, “to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to saints”. Paul assumes that they are all called to be Saints. The Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2013 puts it this way, “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” All are called to holiness”…. And again at # 2014, “Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ.”

So holiness finds its source in cultivating a relationship of ‘intimacy and friendship with Jesus’. Holiness is not something we can earn or achieve by our own efforts. Pulling up our moral or spiritual boot straps, finally getting our trip together, getting back in the game, so to speak. Straightening out our all too crooked halos. Only G-d is Holy. ‘Holy, Holy, Holy… we sing. Human Holiness is always only a participation in God’s Holiness. Everything is grace, everything is God’s self communication in Christ. Holiness is intimacy with God. Being set apart for God in the ordinariness of our everyday lives, including our struggles. Jesus is God’s Intimacy with our humanity right down to the bottom. Jesus is “the Way”, to God. Participation in his Human Nature is the path to participation in his Divine Nature. Jesus is our holiness. Ordinary time points us toward this participation in the person and mission of Christ.

Concretely, how does this work? Our first reading from Isaiah gives us a hidden clue. The prophet Isaiah knows himself to be, ‘formed in the womb to be God’s servant’. Why? Isaiah tells that his mission is, “To bring ‘Jacob’ back to him, and that ‘Israel’ might be gathered to him.” What is the significance of this ‘Jacob coming back to God’, and ‘Israel being gathered’? Historically, Jacob and Israel are the same person. Jacob struggles, he fights with his brother, he deceives his father, steals the inheritance. Jacob wanders in the desert of his own alienation and finally encounters the living God. He meets an angel, wrestles with the angel all night, and is forever changed by the experience. To name the change, the conversion, the transformation, Jacob is given a new name. After this experience, Jacob will be called Israel, a name which means ‘to wrestle with God’, to contend or struggle with God.

To be Israel is to be one who wrestles with God. To be the Church, grafted on to the vine that is Israel, the new Israel, sanctified, set apart for God, called to be holy, is to also embrace a life of wrestling with God. A kind of ‘athletics of the soul’. One author, Leon Bloy, says, “ there is only one tragedy in life, not to be a Saint”. The tragedy of being so self satisfied, so absorbed in our average everydayness, that we chose not to wrestle with God, in our prayer, in our practice of the faith, in our struggle to make sense of our lives. In a way, each one of us is a Jacob, ‘called back’ to God, called to conversion; and each one of us is Israel, called and gathered by our baptism, given a new name and a new identity. Called to Holiness, “called to be Saints”. The question we are left with is, how will we wrestle with this call?

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.