Homily 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Deacon Blaine Barclay

Isaiah sets the stage for today’s gospel. The Prophet looks ahead to a time when the pagan nations will call God’s temple a house of prayer. Foreigners, outsiders, the excluded come joyfully to the holy mountain. The prophets and Jesus proclaim a great reversal, the first are last, the last are first, outsiders become insiders. As our Psalm says, ‘let the nations be glad and shout for joy’.

The ancient Jew’s were an insular group, after all they were God’s chosen people. Sure, prophetic vision looked forward to a Messianic age that would reach out beyond the boundaries of Israel. There was accommodation for foreigners, non- Jews, who ‘joined themselves to the Lord’, even formal rituals of conversion for such people. For example, Ruth, from the book of Ruth. But this was the exception rather than the rule. Jewish religion was ethnic rather than evangelistic. As a rule, they did not look for converts.

Not so the Christian Faith. Christianity is not an ethnic religion. At its heart there is proclamation, message, a mission universal in its scope. ‘Go into all the world, proclaim the Gospel, make disciples, shout it from the rooftops. People of every tongue and nation. No longer, Jew or Greek, Slave or Free, Male or Female. The old boundaries don’t apply. The world is turned upside down in Jesus.

Of course, the Christian revolution had to start somewhere. Even Jesus started with ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’. The first major crisis in the Early Church was how to welcome non-Jews into the new covenant.

So now our gospel for today.

Jesus deliberately led his Jewish disciples into a notoriously Pagan area, enemy territory. He must have anticipated unsettling confrontation, the question of insiders, outsiders. He had just been arguing with Pharisees about their interpretation of Jewish purity laws. Where to touch an outsider made you religiously unclean.

Then Jesus meets the anguish of a mother, shouting over the insiders for her suffering daughter. ‘Lord, Son of David, (a messianic title) have mercy on my daughter’. Jesus seems to ignore her, but doesn’t send her away, in spite of his disciples saying that she is ‘driving them crazy’. He even gives theological reasons for not responding. ‘My mission is first of all to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’. ‘The bread of the children should not be given to the little dog, the puppy’. You think she would have been put off by this, but something about the way he looked at her encouraged her to continue. ‘Even the puppy gets to eat the crumbs that fall from the masters table.’ Jesus is blown away by the confidence of her faith. We should learn from this woman, her humility, and her boldness, to not hold back in our approach to Jesus. To pay attention when people we think of as outsiders are trying to get inside.

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.