Homily, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Deacon Blaine Barclay

The common theme for today’s readings is the temptation to flee from suffering. Making sense out of suffering, unpacking the meaning of suffering, and especially the suffering of our loved ones, is one of life’s most difficult struggles. Sometimes, there is no making sense of it, it remains one of life’s bottomless experiences. It has a built-in opacity, there can be no explaining it away. And yet suffering is inescapable, to be born is to suffer. So perhaps it has something to teach us. We look to our readings for a clue.


I love the opening line from the Prophet Jeremiah today. It provides the context for all of our struggles. “O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed”. The Jerusalem Bible says, ‘‘you have seduced me, and I was seduced; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed”. There is a certain way that God’s self-communication in grace is irresistible. Such is God’s Beauty and attraction, the delight of the invitation into intimacy with the Lord.


But the call to speak the prophetic word has a consequent cost. Jeremiah has become a ‘laughingstock’, ‘everyone mocks’ him because he is not afraid to speak the word of God.  In an attempt to escape this suffering he decides to keep his mouth shut. “I will not mention him, or speak anymore in his name”, he says. This Word that burns like a fire in his heart, like a fire in his belly, smouldering in his bones”. But there is so much infidelity and injustice in the land, the suffering of others cries out, and he cannot keep his mouth shut. “I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot”. So, he says yes to the suffering that comes with speaking the word of God.


In the Gospel we have something similar. Jesus lays out the cost of his mission, his suffering, death, the cross. Peter wants to leap right over these to the victory, the Resurrection. He is not yet able to see the connection between the Cross and the empty Tomb. Peter is only able to see suffering as a stumbling block. Something to trip over on the way to victory. Peter’s refusal of the cross is however, the stumbling block for Jesus and us.


And the cure, “If anyone wants to become my follower, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”.  You gotta lose yourself in order to find yourself. Try to save yourself and you will lose yourself. Here again is Jesus’ upside-down kingdom. His reversal of the values of this world.


We live in a culture that seeks to avoid suffering at all cost. From avoidance entertainment, distractions, to pain killers, from Doctor assisted Suicide, to an overly anxious fear of CoVid. It is not that should seek out suffering. It is a good thing to feel, and to seek to heal, the pain of the world. But if suffering comes our way, let us embrace the cross. God will provide a way for us to grow with what life sends us. If we unite our suffering with the cross of Christ, our suffering can also be redemptive. Let it be so.


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.