Sixth Sunday in Ordinary time

February 16th, 2020

Deacon Blaine Barclay

The readings today could be summarized with a question. What is the relationship between the Law and the Gospel? The Torah and its fulfillment in the good news of the person and mission of Jesus.

To begin with our Psalm from today. Psalm 119 is what’s called ‘a Torah Psalm, a Psalm in praise of God’s Law, of how it instructs us and lights our way. A path that would be otherwise dark and foreboding, a labyrinthine way. The role of God’s law in our life is pedagogical, it teaches us what we need to do in order to live a good and holy life. A good way into the meaning of the Law, the Torah, in our spiritual life would be to spend some time prayerfully reading the whole of some 119, all 176 verses, it is the longest Psalm in the bible. And my favourite Psalm. We could begin with a verse from the excerpt from today’s liturgy. “Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your Law”.”

St.Thomas Aquinas puts it this way. ‘The Law is a guide to Prudence’, it illuminates what is to be done, and what is to be avoided in our concrete choices. It can be summarized as ‘good is to be done, evil is to be avoided’, this is the basic principle of the moral life.

Our first reading from Ben Sira, the author of the book of Sirach, puts it this way. “Before each person are life and death, good and evil, and whichever one chooses, that shall be given”; and again, “If you choose, you can keep the commandments”. Or, as Jesus says to the young scholar of the law, “if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments”, with the addition of course, “come follow me”.

Clearly, Jesus did not come to ‘abolish’ the Law, but to fulfill it. To radicalize our relationship with the revealed moral law, to move it from mere outward formal observance, to an interior operating principle, an expression of how God has transformed us in Christ.  A goodness that flows from the heart. We know that we cannot construct our own righteousness before God, we cannot morally earn God’s love. That would be Law, without Gospel, without the good news of God’s ever prior love for us. Law without its fulfillment in Jesus.

This going beyond the Law, without abolishing it, is captured quite well in the rhythm of our gospel today. It goes back and forth, back and forth, between “You have heard that it was said”, to “But I say to you”. Again and again Jesus radically extends the depth of the conversion of heart that the Law points toward. “You shall not kill” is radicalized into, “do not be angry with your brother or sister”. “Do not commit adultery” is radicalized into  “do not look at another person with lust”. Our actions flow from our hearts, what is needed is a transformed heart, a radical conversion of heart, only then is the pedagogy of the Law fulfilled.

Repentance, the transformed heart, the call to Discipleship and our response is a gift of grace. We move from “keep the Commandments”, to “come follow me”. We move from “you have heard that it was said” to “But I say to you”, we move from “Law” to “Gospel”. Or as St. Paul tells us today, we move from what is on the surface, to “God’s wisdom, secret and hidden”. We move from a life merely under the law, to life in the Spirit, that searches the depth of the Love of God. The Holy Spirit will empower us and open us up to the infinite horizon of “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”.

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.