Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

parable-of-the-workers-in-the-vineyard.jpg

‘My friend, I am not cheating you.  Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?  Take what is yours and go”

OPENING PRAYER

I am the Vine; you are the branches.

Remain in me and you will bear abundant fruit.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower.

He trims away every barren branch,

but the faithful ones he trims to increase their yield.

I am the Vine; you are the branches.

Remain in me and you will bear abundant fruit.

Live on in me, as I do in you.

No more than a branch can bear fruit alone,

can you bear fruit apart from me.

I am the Vine; you are the branches.

Remain in me and you will bear abundant fruit.

If you live in me, and my words live on in you,

ask what you will, it will be done for you.

Through your work, God is glorified!

I am the Vine; you are the branches.

Remain in me and you will bear abundant fruit.

I Am The Vine by The University of Notre Dame Folk Choir

COLLECT

O God, who founded all the commands of your

sacred Law

upon love of you and of our neighbor,

grant that, by keeping your precepts,

we may merit to attain eternal life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Prophet_Isaiah__85640.1413570020.jpg

Is 55:6-9

Seek the LORD while he may be found,

call him while he is near.

Let the scoundrel forsake his way,

and the wicked his thoughts;

let him turn to the LORD for mercy;

to our God, who is generous in forgiving.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.

As high as the heavens are above the earth,

so high are my ways above your ways

and my thoughts above your thoughts.

APPLICATION

There are (and there always have been) intelligent people in our world who, because of the transcendence and infinity of God, cannot imagine him as a true friend of mortal man, a Father who takes a personal interest in man’s spiritual and temporal concerns. For them, therefore, the idea of man praying to God is utter folly. The trouble with such people is that because of their preconceived idea of God’s infinity and transcendence they cannot admit that he has revealed himself to us.

Through the revelation he gave to the Patriarchs and prophets God has told us many things we need to know about himself and about our purpose in life. He has also sent his divine Son as man to prove to us the interest, love and mercy he has in abundance for us all. Yes, God is infinite, supreme and away beyond any idea we can form of him. The important concept of himself which revelation and the Incarnation impress on our minds is that he is at the same time a loving Father who wants to share his eternal happiness with his adopted children, all mankind.

He is transcendent and infinite in his nature, but in his relations with us he is a father and the truest friend we could ever have. If the Jews knew this before the Incarnation (today’s exhortation of the prophet shows that they did) how much more clearly and more convincingly is it not known to us, after Christ’s coming on earth. “He did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all” (Rom. 8: 32). Can any Christian have the slightest doubt of God’s personal interest in him? We may not always understand God’s ways of acting and be tempted to ask: “Why should the innocent suffer, why should cruel tyrants live and prosper, why should the father or mother of a young family die? and so on. Our faith and our conviction that as a loving Father God is ever acting for our good, should allay these doubts.

God is ever near us then in this life, and if we remain near to him while on this earth we can trust in his love and goodness to keep us near him forever in heaven.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

Every day will I bless you,

and I will praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;

his greatness is unsearchable.

The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is good to all

and compassionate toward all his works.

The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

The LORD is just in all his ways

and holy in all his works.

The LORD is near to all who call upon him,

to all who call upon him in truth.

The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

READING II

St. Paul III.jpg

Phil 1:20c-24, 27a

Brothers and sisters:

Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.

If I go on living in the flesh,

that means fruitful labor for me.

And I do not know which I shall choose.

I am caught between the two.

I long to depart this life and be with Christ,

for that is far better.

Yet that I remain in the flesh

is more necessary for your benefit.

Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

CCC 1005 To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must “be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”1 In that “departure” which is death the soul is separated from the body.2 It will be reunited with the body on the day of resurrection of the dead.3

CCC 1010 Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”4 “The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him.”5 What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already “died with Christ” sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ’s grace, physical death completes this “dying with Christ” and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act:
It is better for me to die in (
eis) Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek – who died for us. Him it is I desire – who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth. .. Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man.6

CCC 1011 In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul’s: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ. ”7 He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ:8
My earthly desire has been crucified;. .. there is living water in me, water that murmurs and says within me: Come to the Father.
9
I want to see God and, in order to see him, I must die.
10
I am not dying; I am entering life.
11

CCC 1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.12 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul–a destiny which can be different for some and for others.13

CCC 1025 To live in heaven is “to be with Christ.” The elect live “in Christ,”14 but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name.15
For life is to be with Christ; where Christ is, there is life, there is the kingdom.
16

CCC 1692 The Symbol of the faith confesses the greatness of God’s gifts to man in his work of creation, and even more in redemption and sanctification. What faith confesses, the sacraments communicate: by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians have become “children of God,”17 “partakers of the divine nature.”18 Coming to see in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.”19 They are made capable of doing so by the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit, which they receive through the sacraments and through prayer.

CCC 1698 The first and last point of reference of this catechesis will always be Jesus Christ himself, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”20 It is by looking to him in faith that Christ’s faithful can hope that he himself fulfills his promises in them, and that, by loving him with the same love with which he has loved them, they may perform works in keeping with their dignity:
I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head, and that you are one of his members. He belongs to you as the head belongs to its members; all that is his is yours: his spirit, his heart, his body and soul, and all his faculties. You must make use of all these as of your own, to serve, praise, love, and glorify God. You belong to him, as members belong to their head. And so he longs for you to use all that is in you, as if it were his own, for the service and glory of the Father.
21
For to me, to live is Christ.
22

1 2 Cor 5:8.
2 Cf. Phil 1:23.
3 Cf. Paul VI, CPG § 28.
4 Phil 1:21.
5 2 Tim 2:11.
6 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom.,6,1-2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,217-220.
7 Phil 1:23.
8 Cf. Lk 23:46.
9 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom.,6,1-2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,223-224.
10 St. Teresa of Avila, Life, chap. 1.
11 St. Therese of Lisieux, The Last Conversations.
12 Cf. 2 Tim 1:9-10.
13 Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.
14 Phil 1:23; cf. Jn 14:3; 1 Thess 4:17.
15 Cf. Rev 2:17.
16 St. Ambrose, In Luc., 10, 121: PL 15, 1834A.
17 Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 3:1.
18 2 Pet 1:4.
19 Phil 1:27.
20 Jn 14:6.
21 St. John Eudes, Tract. de admirabili corde Jesu, 1, 5.
22 Phil 1:21.

APPLICATION

The Church has chosen these verses of St. Paul to remind us that as Christians our whole life and our very death must be for Christ and in Christ. St. Paul’s life, which was so completely dedicated to Christ, is set before us as a model–a model, however, which most of us ran only imitate from afar. While we are not asked to give up home and family and go among the pagans to bring Christ to them, we are expected to live our Christian lives daily in the love and grace of God and Christ.

This, of course, is not as easy as it sounds. This world and its attractions are very close to us. We are hemmed in by worldly interests and cares. We seem to have little time for thinking and planning for the world to come, or for the things of God. Yet, Paul’s life was a very busy one too. He had to eat and sleep and by the work of his hands provide for his bodily upkeep. He had worries in plenty–worries and cares for his newly-converted, worries caused by enemies who tried hard to impede the spread of the gospel. He had trials and sufferings, including scourgings and stonings and two or three jail-terms.

This surely was no life of leisure. From 39 A.D., the year of his conversion, to 69 A.D.–thirty years, Paul labored incessantly to make Christ and his message known to all men. He established Christian communities in most of the principal centers of Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece. He did much to spread and build up the Church in Rome, and, between his release from his Roman imprisonment (620 A.D.) and his death in 69, probably went as far as Spain. He was especially successful among the pagan peoples and has been called the Apostle of the Gentiles because of this.

St. Paul is, therefore, our model in a special way. It was through him that the faith reached our Gentile ancestors and eventually came to us. The best way we could thank him, the way that would give him greatest joy, would be to try to love Christ and to live every day of our lives for Christ. This will not mean that we must spend all day long on our knees or in Church; it will mean faithfully fulfilling the duties of our vocation in life out of love for God and Christ.

Paul’s vocation in life was to preach the gospel, the good news of salvation, to as many as possible. Our duty is to live according to that gospel and thus earn the eternal salvation put within our reach by the Incarnation. If we do this faithfully by living in peace and charity, loving God and neighbor, we too are missionaries, for our good example will move many to imitate us. “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,” St. Paul said to the Philippians. This exhortation is repeated to us in today’s reading. It is by our daily manner of living we prove that we appreciate what Christianity means to us; it is by carrying out our daily tasks for the honor and glory of God, that we can show we are worthy of the divine gift of the faith which Christ has given to us through his great apostle St. Paul.

GOSPEL

True Vine.jpg

Mt 20:1-16a

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner

who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.

After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,

he sent them into his vineyard.

Going out about nine o’clock,

the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,

and I will give you what is just.’

So they went off.

And he went out again around noon,

and around three o’clock, and did likewise.

Going out about five o’clock,

the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,

‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’

They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’

He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’

When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,

‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,

beginning with the last and ending with the first.’

When those who had started about five o’clock came,

each received the usual daily wage.

So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,

but each of them also got the usual wage.

And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,

‘These last ones worked only one hour,

and you have made them equal to us,

who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’

He said to one of them in reply,

‘My friend, I am not cheating you.

Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?

Take what is yours and go.

What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?

Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?

Are you envious because I am generous?’

Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/092417.cfm

APPLICATION

The call to the vineyard (to the Church), through God’s gift of faith and the sacrament of baptism, is a gift for which we can never sufficiently thank God. If we remain in the vineyard and labor honestly, that is, if we cooperate with the actual graces God is continually giving us, we are assured of reaching heaven when our earthly days are ended. The work we have to do in God’s vineyard is the fulfilling of the duties of our state in life. By carrying out these duties faithfully and honestly we are doing the will of God and earning heaven. The greater part of our day and indeed of our life, will be taken up with tasks of themselves worldly, but these tasks when done in the state of grace and with the intention of honoring God, have a supernatural value. For this we have to thank God for his goodness and generosity.

He could have made the attainment of heaven so much more difficult. He could have demanded extraordinary mortifications and renunciations and the reward (heaven) would still be exceedingly great. Instead he allows us to live our everyday life, to enjoy the love and friendship of our family and friends, to satisfy the natural desires of our bodies, within the commandments, and yet to merit a supernatural reward while so doing. As he tells us through St. Paul: “whether you eat or drink or whatever else you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor.10:31).

Looking back on our past life, how many years have we really given to God since we came to the use of reason? Those school years, the time spent learning a trade or profession, the weeks, months, years working in an office or factory or farm, the hours among the pots and pans in the kitchen–have we earned some credit in heaven for all of this, or is it all crossed off our pay-sheet through lack of right intention or through sin?

If so, those years are lost to us. We were “idle” all that time. Today’s parable, however, should give us new hope and courage. It may be the sixth or the ninth or even the eleventh hour of our life but we can still earn heaven if we listen to God’s call and set to work diligently in his vineyard. If we put our conscience right with God today and resolve to be loyal to him from now on he will be as generous to us, as the parable promises.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

God Descends

God loves his creature, man; he even loves him in his fall and does not leave him to himself. He loves him to the end. He is impelled with his love to the very end, to the extreme: he came down from his divine glory. He came down to the extreme lowliness of our fall. He kneels before us and carries out for us the service of a slave: he washes our dirty feet so that we might be admitted to God’s banquet and be made worthy to take our place at his. God is not a remote God, too distant or too great to be bothered with our trifles. Since God is great, he can also be concerned with small things. Since he is great, the soul of man, the same man, created through eternal love, is not a small thing but great, and worthy of God’s love. God’s holiness is not merely an incandescent power before which we are obliged to withdraw, terrified. It is a power of love and therefore a purifying and healing power. God descends and becomes a slave. In this, the entire mystery of Jesus Christ is expressed. In this, what redemption means becomes visible. The basin in which he washes us is his love, ready to face death. Only love has that purifying power which washes the grime from us and elevates us to God’s heights. The basin that purifies us is God himself, who gives himself to us without reserve – to the very depths of his suffering and his death. He is continually on his knees at our feet and carries out for us the service of a slave, the service of purification, making us capable of God. His love is inexhaustible, it truly goes to the very end.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of Thanksgiving

God of all blessings,

source of all life,

giver of all grace:

We thank you for the gift of life:

for the breath

that sustains life,

for the food of this earth

that nurtures life,

for the love of family and friends

without which there would be no life.

We thank you for the mystery of creation:

for the beauty

that the eye can see,

for the joy

that the ear may hear,

for the unknown

that we cannot behold filling the universe with wonder,

for the expanse of space

that draws us beyond the definitions of our selves.

We thank you for setting us in communities:

for families

who nurture our becoming,

for friends

who love us by choice,

for companions at work,

who share our burdens and daily tasks,

for strangers

who welcome us into their midst,

for people from other lands

who call us to grow in understanding,

for children

who lighten our moments with delight,

for the unborn,

who offer us hope for the future.

We thank you for this day:

for life

and one more day to love,

for opportunity

and one more day to work for justice and peace,

for neighbors

and one more person to love

and by whom be loved,

for your grace

and one more experience of your presence,

for your promise:

to be with us,

to be our God,

and to give salvation.

For these, and all blessings,

we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,

through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen!

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Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross | BENEDICAMUS DOMINO

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” OPENING PRAYER Heavenly Father, our lives are in your hands. You work to bring good out of evil, healing out of pain and grace out of sinfulness. As…
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Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

benedicamusdominoblog.com/2020/09/09/twenty-fourth-sunday-in-ordinary-time-a/

Posted in Catholic

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Forgive Your Brother 77 Times.jpg

“Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

Opening Prayer of the Week
Lord Jesus, Savior of this world, I long to have a heart that is humble and that is able to repent even for small mistakes. Send upon me the Spirit of Truth, so that I may truly know who I am before you. Give me Lord, a broken heart. Take away from my heart all self-righteousness and self-centeredness. Give Me Lord, a heart of flesh and remove the heart where there is pride, jealousy, envy, anger, hatred, revenge, lack of mercy and kindness; which thinks and speaks evil of others, which rejoices in the pain of others, which depends on human beings and on the things of the world and not on you, Lord. Lord change my heart. Lord give me a heart like Yours.

Collect

Almighty God, our creator and guide, may we serve you with all our heart and know your forgiveness in our lives. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever.

Reading I 

Sirach.jpg

Sir 27:30-28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

Application

Is there one among us here who does not need and cannot profit by the advice of this saintly author? He lived about two hundred years before Christ came on earth. He had not the advantage of the example of God’s infinite love and mercy which was manifested in the Incarnation and practiced to a sublime degree by the Incarnate Son of God. But he can put all of us to shame by his deep understanding of the law of charity and mercy which he placed before his fellow-Jews.

We have seen God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness in sending his Son to raise us up to the dignity of adopted sonship, when we were sunk in sin. We have seen with what superhuman patience Christ put up with the offenses and insults of the leaders of those he had come to save. We cannot forget his prayer for forgiveness, offered to his Father as he slowly and painfully died on the cross. This was a prayer for the very ones who had so unjustly and cruelly condemned him to that death.

We Christians, who claim to follow and to imitate Christ, are absolutely dependent on the mercy and forgiveness of God to obtain salvation. Yet we can forget our leader and our faith when a fellow sinner offends us. We turn on our unfortunate fellowman and use every means in our power to “get our own back,” to wreak vengeance upon him. We forget the command and the example Christ has given us, and we think only of our own offended pride. By so doing we are gravely offending the infinite God because we are violating one of his basic commandments.

While we expect mercy and forgiveness from the infinite God whom we have offended, we often refuse a brother even a small measure of mercy and forgiveness. This is unchristian, unreasonable, and it is fatal for us, if we persevere in this state of mind. St. John says: “To hate your brother is to be a murderer, and murderers as you know do not have eternal life in them (1 Jn. 3: 15). While we are heaping just punishment, as we think, on our fellowman who offended us, it is on ourselves that we are heaping the more serious punishment: we are excluding ourselves from God’s mercy and God’s eternal kingdom.

“Forgive your neighbor…and your sins will be pardoned when you pray,” the saintly Sirach tells us today. Our divine Lord repeated this divine counsel when he told his disciples, and us, to say: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Let the Christian who continues to refuse forgiveness to those who offended him never say that prayer, because what he is saying is, ” God do not forgive me as I don’t forgive my neighbor.” This is calling God’s curse down on his own head. God forbid that any one of us could be so foolish as to let our offended pride prevent us from obtaining God’s forgiveness. Our own offenses against God should make us humble enough to be ready to forgive any offense committed by a neighbor against us. We should not only forgive, but should also be ready to follow our Savior’s example and to pray to our heavenly Father saying, “God, please forgive all those who have offended and injured us, they did not know what they were doing.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.

R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.

R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Reading II

paul-icon.jpg

Rom 14:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Catechism of the Catholic Church” (CCC)

CCC 668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”1 Christ’s Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God’s power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”, for the Father “has put all things under his feet.”2 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.3

CCC 953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.”4 “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”5 “Charity does not insist on its own way.”6 In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion.

CCC 1971 To the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount it is fitting to add the moral catechesis of the apostolic teachings, such as Romans 12-15, 1 Corinthians 12-13, Colossians 3-4, Ephesians 4-5, etc. This doctrine hands on the Lord’s teaching with the authority of the apostles, particularly in the presentation of the virtues that flow from faith in Christ and are animated by charity, the principal gift of the Holy Spirit. “Let charity be genuine. .. Love one another with brotherly affection. .. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.”7 This catechesis also teaches us to deal with cases of conscience in the light of our relationship to Christ and to the Church.8

1 Rom 14:9.
2 Eph 1:20-22.
3 Eph 1:10; cf. 4:10; 1 Cor 15:24, 27-28.
4 Rom 14:7.
5 1 Cor 12:26-27.
6 1 Cor 13:5; cf. 10:24.
7 Rom 12:9-13.
8 Cf. Rom 14; 1 Cor 5-10.

Application

In these short verses St. Paul reminds the Romans, and us too, of the fundamental privilege which the Incarnation has conferred on us. Too often, perhaps, the Incarnation has been equated with the redemption in the restricted sense of making atonement for our sins. By his life and death Christ did atone for all the sins of the world. But he did something much more basic for our welfare: he fulfilled God’s plan for our elevation to adopted sonship. When the Son of God took our human nature that human nature was united with the Godhead and we became brothers of Christ. We were given a share with God’s real Son in the Father’s kingdom. We ceased to be creatures only; we became intimately associated with Christ and therefore with God. Our earthly death (which would have been the end for us if God in his infinite generosity had not decreed otherwise) cannot now separate us from Christ and God. By his victory over death; his resurrection, Christ has obtained a resurrection for all men.

Today, St. Paul’s words recall this joyful truth to our minds. We are no longer individual creatures with a few years to live on earth: we have an eternity of life and of happiness awaiting us when we die. Death has no longer any terrors for a true Christian. As the preface of the requiem mass says: “by death life is not taken away but is changed.” Our earthly death is the door through which we enter into eternal life. Therefore, instead of being an occasion for grief and tears it should be an occasion for rejoicing. It means not that someone has left this earth and lost this temporal life but that one of Christ’s brothers has reached heaven and gained heaven and gained eternal life and happiness.

If we meditate more often on the basic effect which the Incarnation has had on us, raising us up to son-ship with God and the possibility of an eternal life in God’s kingdom, we will be able to face the trials of life with greater courage; we will resist temptations to sin more strongly, for sin alone can prevent us from gaining possession of our eternal heritage and we will see in our earthly death not a disaster but the welcome call of God to become a chosen member of his heavenly household.

If we live a truly Christian life, we live to the Lord and if we die in God’s grace, as we shall if we have lived a truly Christian life, we die in the Lord. What more could the infinite love of God do for us? The little he asks us to do in return is a trifling wage to pay for such an eternal reward.

 

Gospel

Unmerciful Servant.jpeg

Mt 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church” (CCC)

CCC 982 There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. “There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest.”1 Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.2

CCC 2227 Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents.3 Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.4

CCC 2843 Thus the Lord’s words on forgiveness, the love that loves to the end,5 become a living reality. The parable of the merciless servant, which crowns the Lord’s teaching on ecclesial communion, ends with these words: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”6 It is there, in fact, “in the depths of the heart,” that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession.

CCC 2845 There is no limit or measure to this essentially divine forgiveness,7 whether one speaks of “sins” as in Luke (11:4), “debts” as in Matthew (6:12). We are always debtors: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.”8 The communion of the Holy Trinity is the source and criterion of truth in every relation ship. It is lived out in prayer, above all in the Eucharist.9
God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother. For God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord, and a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.10

1 Roman Catechism I, 11, 5.
2 Cf. Mt 18:21-22.
3 Cf. GS 48 # 4.
4 Cf. Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:4.
5 Cf. Jn 13:1.
6 Cf. Mt 18:23-35.
7 Cf. Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:3-4.
8 Rom 13:8.
9 Cf. Mt 5:23-24; 1 Jn 3:19-24.
10 St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat. 23: PL 4, 535-536; cf. Mt 5:24.

Application

On reading or hearing this story of the merciless servant, each one of us would rightly judge him a mean, low type of man, a heartless man, who puts himself outside the pale of mercy. He throttled his fellow servant for a paltry debt of ten dollars, and would not listen to the poor man’s plea for mercy. When we hear what the king did to this heartless servant we heartily approve and say; “It served him right, he got what he richly deserved.”

We had better stop and think for a moment today and reflect that we ourselves may be that merciless servant described in the parable. Every time we have sinned mortally we have incurred an unpayable debt to God. Each time we have received absolution we have come out of God’s courtroom as free men. A weight greater than a million dollar debt has been lifted from our shoulders. A fate worse than generations of earthly imprisonment; that is, eternal slavery, has been spared us because of God’s loving, infinite mercy. How then can it happen that we could be so heartless, mean, and foolish as to refuse to forgive a neighbor for some offense he has committed against us?

Yet it happens, and it may be that there are some among us here today who continue to have enmity in their hearts against neighbors who offended them. In their hard-heartedness they cannot get themselves to forgive and forget. Are these not following in the footsteps of the merciless servant? Will they not receive the punishment of the merciless servant, a punishment richly deserved? This will be the fate of all unforgiving Christians; they will meet an unforgiving God when they are called to settle their accounts.

That day has not yet come for us. We still have time to put our affairs in order. We still can forgive all our enemies from our heart. If we do not, we are cutting ourselves off from the possibility of having our own sins and offenses forgiven by God. We have the solemn word of our divine Lord for this in the lesson he draws from the parable: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you (that is, deliver us up to eternal slavery) if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

 

FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness does not mean that God says to me: Your evil deed shall be undone. It was done and remains done. Nor does it mean that he says: It was not so bad. It was bad – I know it and God knows it. And again it does not mean that God is willing to cover up my sin or to look the other way. What help would that be? I want to be rid of my transgression, really rid of it. Again, were one to say: Forgiveness means that I remain a sinner, but that God in his magnanimity attributes me with sanctity, thus giving me a share of his own unimaginable divine grace, the thought would be so complicated and so full of reservations that it would be untenable with the meaning of Scriptures. Forgiveness also does not mean that God gives me the strength never to repeat my sin. Even if this were so, my old sin would still be there; forgiveness could never spirit it away. That would be deceitful and impure. How could God’s immaculateness ever reconcile itself to such a thought?

What possibility then does exist? Only one: that which the simplest interpretation of the Gospel suggests and which the believing heart must feel. Through God’s forgiveness, in the eyes of his sacred truth I am no longer a sinner; in the profoundest depths of my conscience, I am no longer guilty. That is what I wanted – only that! If such complete eradication of my sin cannot be, then it should stand. Bit it can be; that is the sense of Christ’s message.

Whether or not such forgiveness is possible cannot be determined by you or me according to any ethical or religious principles. The question can be answered by revelation only, which clearly reveals who God is. He is the God of Justice, who not only rejects sin, but absolutely condemns it; the holy one who hates sin with divine hatred; the true one who neither veils nor covers, but penetrates to root and essence. And now, Christian revelation continues, in a mysterious and supremely holy sense infinitely far from mitigating the majesty of virtue, God lives beyond the reaches of good, and therefore of evil. He himself is the good – but in inconceivable freedom; freedom from all ties, even from ties as ultimate as the conception of good. Such freedom renders him more powerful than sin. It is the freedom of love. Love is not only kinder, more alive than mere justice, it is more than justice – higher, mightier, in sense and essence. Such then the love that enables God to rise and, without in the least impairing truth and justice, to proclaim: Thy sin no longer exists!

Monsignor Romano Guardini

Magnificat Sept. 2011

Closing Prayer

Prayer for Forgiveness

Forgive me my sins, O Lord; forgive me the sins of my youth and the sins of mine age, the sins of my soul and the sins of my body, my secret and my whispering sins, the sins I have done to please myself and the sins I have done to please others. Forgive those sins which I know, and the sins which I know not; forgive them, O Lord, forgive them all of Thy great goodness. Amen

– Anonymous

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BENEDICAMUS DOMINO | Let us Bless the Lord – A weekly study of the Catholic Church’s Sunday Sacred Liturgy including Catechism and Applications.

Let us Bless the Lord – A weekly study of the Catholic Church’s Sunday Sacred Liturgy including Catechism and Applications.
— Read on benedicamusdominoblog.com/

Posted in Catholic

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

apostoles-cimientos1.jpg

“Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.”

OPENING PRAYER

 Dedication to Jesus

 Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I have and cherish You have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by Your will. Your love and Your grace are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I’ll ask for nothing more.

Amen.

COLLECT

O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive adoption,

look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters,

that those who believe in Christ

may receive true freedom

and an everlasting inheritance.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Ez 33:7-9

 Thus says the LORD:

You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;

when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.

If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”

and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,

the wicked shall die for his guilt,

but I will hold you responsible for his death.

But if you warn the wicked,

trying to turn him from his way,

and he refuses to turn from his way,

he shall die for his guilt,

but you shall save yourself.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;

let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship;

let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For he is our God,

and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,

as in the day of Massah in the desert,

Where your fathers tempted me;

they tested me though they had seen my works.”

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

READING II

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2 Rom 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:

Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;

for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;

you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ”

and whatever other commandment there may be,

are summed up in this saying, namely,

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love does no evil to the neighbor;

hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1824 Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: “Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.”1

CCC 2055 When someone asks him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?”2 Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.”3 The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law:

The commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.4

CCC 2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”5

The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,‘ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”6

CCC 2845 There is no limit or measure to this essentially divine forgiveness,7 whether one speaks of “sins” as in Luke (11:4), “debts” as in Matthew (6:12). We are always debtors: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.”8 The communion of the Holy Trinity is the source and criterion of truth in every relation ship. It is lived out in prayer, above all in the Eucharist.9

God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother. For God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord, and a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.10

1 Jn 15:9-10; cf. Mt 22:40; Rom 13:8-10.

2 Mt 22:36.

3 Mt 22:37-40; cf. Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18.

4 Rom 13:9-10.

5 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28.

6 Rom 13:8-10.

7 Cf. Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:3-4.

8 Rom 13:8.

9 Cf. Mt 5:23-24; 1 Jn 3:19-24.

10 St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat. 23: PL 4, 535-536; cf. Mt 5:24.

GOSPEL

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Mt 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If your brother sins against you,

go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.

If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.

If he does not listen,

take one or two others along with you,

so that ‘every fact may be established

on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.

If he refuses to listen even to the church,

then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Amen, I say to you,

Again, amen, I say to you,

if two of you agree on earth

about anything for which they are to pray,

it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name,

there am I in the midst of them.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091017.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”1 The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.”2 The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles3 and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

CCC 1088 “To accomplish so great a work” – the dispensation or communication of his work of salvation – “Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.”’4

CCC 1373 “Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to his Church:5 in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,”6 in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned,7 in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “he is present. .. most especially in the Eucharistic species.”8

CCC 1444 In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”9 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.”10

CCC 2472 The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.11

All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.

1 Mt 16:19.

2 Jn 21:15-17; Cf. 10:11.

3 Cf. Mt 18:18.

4 SC 7; Mt 18:20.

5 Rom 8:34; cf. LG 48.

6 Mt 18:20.

7 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

8 SC 7.

9 Mt 16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20.

10 LG 22 # 2.

11 Cf. Mt 18:16.

APPLICATION

The Gospel is from St. Matthew 18:15-20. Unfortunately, there are far too many Christians today who pay no heed to the serious obligation of encouraging an erring brother to give up his sinful ways. They shrug it off by saying : “I have more than enough to do to keep myself from sin” or “am I my brother’s keeper”? The answer is in this lesson we have just read. We are our brothers’ keepers, and even if we have many temptations and inclinations to sin we shall not overcome them if we have no time to think of our neighbors’ need.

There are, alas, millions of lapsed or luke-warm Christians who could and would have been active members of Christ’s mystical body if their neighbors had fulfilled this grave obligation which Christ has imposed on us all. They are now a source of scandal to the weaker and youthful members of the Church, and an impediment to the possible acceptance of the faith by non-Christians. Would the Reformation, which has caused whole countries of the western world to lose almost all faith in Christ and indeed in God, have had such disastrous effects, if those who remained within the Church had put this law of fraternal charity into practice? However, it is no use crying over spilt milk! Let us see our present-day obligations and what we are doing to help our neighbors retain their Christian faith and practice. How much of the indifference to religion which the youth of today seems to be showing is due to lack of parental control and example? How many children of Christian families grow up as practical pagans because their Christian faith meant little or nothing to their parents? It is in the home that the religion of the next generation is firmly established or lost. When parents are loyal to their faith in their daily lives, their children will, as a rule, be loyal to it too; where parents are careless and lax their children will be still more careless and more lax.

Parents! the first neighbors and fellow Christians whom you must kindly and charitably correct are your own children. Their future salvation and your own too will depend on how well you fulfill this obligation. Parents who are obedient to Christ in this will find time and many opportunities to have a charitable word of help for an erring neighbor outside their household. On the other hand, the lax parents, who give little or no thought to getting to heaven or to their children getting there in God’s good time, will hardly bother with their neighbor’s salvation. Thus this cancer of infidelity and irreligion grows and spreads.

Let each one of us look into his past conduct in relation to this law of charity. Have we really tried to help our fellowmen on the road to heaven? Have we given them the good example of a truly Christian way of living? Have we offered advice and encouragement when it was needed, and correction in private where that was possible? If so “we have gained our brother.” We have brought a prodigal son back to a loving Father and that loving Father will repay us a hundred-fold in this life and especially in the next.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Birthday of Mary

Mary’s birthday is exceptional among the feasts in which honor is paid to saints, in that the Church usually does not celebrate the day of birth. The Church’s practice was quite different here from that of pagan Greece or Rome, where the birthday of a great man – a Caesar or an Augustus, for example – was celebrated with great pomp as a day of redemption. The Church always argued that it was premature to celebrate a birthday because the rest of the life of the person born on that day was subject to such ambiguity. It was, in other words, impossible to predict the answers to certain questions simply on the basis of a person’s birthday. Would his life really be a reason for celebrations? Would the person who was born really be able to be glad about the day that he came into the world? Would the world be glad that he was born?… No, the Church has always celebrated the day of death, believing that it is only possible to celebrate a person’s life when he has passed beyond that life into death and judgment… Mary was the gate through which he came into the world and not simply the external gateway. She had already conceived Jesus in her heart before she became his mother according to the body, as Augustine so meaningfully said. Her soul was the space from which God was able to gain access into humanity. Unlike the great and mighty ones of this earth, Mary, the believer who bore the light of God in her heart, was able to play her vital part in changing the very foundation of the world. The world can be truly changed only by the power of the soul.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of the Church:

Grant to us, Thy servants,

we beseech Thee, O Lord,

the gift of heavenly grace;

that to those for whom the delivery

of the Blessed Virgin

was the commencement of salvation,

the commemoration of her nativity

may give increasing peace.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,

that never was it known

that anyone who fled to your protection,

implored your help

or sought your intercession,

was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence,

I fly unto you,

O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.

To you I come,

before you I stand,

sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word incarnate,

despise not my petitions,

but, in your mercy,

hear and answer me.

Amen.

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Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – A | BENEDICAMUS DOMINO

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me. 
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ OPENING PRAYER Carry Your Cross Take up your cross, the Savior said, If you would my disciple be; Deny yourself,…
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Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Mosaic-of-St.-Peter-in-Basilica-Saint-Peter-Vatican-Rome-ItalyOPENING PRAYER

Prayer to St. Peter

Thou art the Shepherd of the sheep, the Prince of the Apostles, unto thee were given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. “Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church.” Raise us up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, by the apostolic assistance of blessed Peter, Thine Apostle; so that the weaker we are, the more mightily we may be helped by the power of his intercession; and that being perpetually defended by the same holy apostle, we may neither yield to any iniquity, nor be overcome by any adversity. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who cause the minds of the faithful

to unite in a single purpose,

grant your people to love what you command

and to desire what you promise,

that, amid the uncertainties of this world,

our hearts may be fixed on that place

where true gladness is found.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

unashamedcatholic – A Catholic Just posting about the faith.

Is 22:19-23

Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace:

I will thrust you from your office

and pull you down from your station.

On that day I will summon my servant

Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;

I will clothe him with your robe,

and gird him with your sash,

and give over to him your authority.

He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

and to the house of Judah.

I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder;

when he opens, no one shall shut

when he shuts, no one shall open.

I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot,

to be a place of honor for his family.”

APPLICATION

Just as in the days of King Hezekiah, seven hundred years before Christ came on earth, the man in charge of the appointed family (the major-domo), the chief authority (next to the king) in the household, was deposed because of his disloyalty to Yahweh and his worldly ambitions, so also when Christ came the kingdom of God passed from the Chosen People of old and was given to the Gentiles, with Peter as chief steward representing Christ and next to him in authority.

Shebna lost his position because of worldliness and infidelity to God. The Scribes and Pharisees lost their leadership and their place in the new kingdom of God, for the very same reasons. This should surely be a lesson to us. But how many Christians fail to learn this lesson? They forget the exalted position they hold in God’s plan, and through their worldliness and disloyalty to God in his earthly kingdom, they put at risk their inheritance in the eternal kingdom.

The profound saying of Christ. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his life?” is forgotten by many Christians today. They make the possessing of all this world’s goods their sole purpose in life. They therefore neglect, and eventually forget, their own best interests, their eternal interests. Could folly be greater? Our world today is full of such foolish people. More than ever before in the two thousand years of Christianity there are ex-Christians who have become atheists in practice if not in theory.

There are many causes for this state of affairs. The basic cause is the reluctance of human nature to accept the need for self-restraint and sacrifice. Man does not like obligations or duties, but he is ever ready to grasp at privilege and freedom. The false doctrine that each one is captain of his own soul, sole master of his own life, is much more attractive to human nature than the call to obedience and submission to the Creator. But the cure for this sad state of our present-day world is much more important than diagnosing its causes. We, practicing Christians, want all our fellowman to reach heaven; we want them all to recognize what they are, whence they came, and whither they are going. We want them in other words to have their own eternal interests at heart.

Apart from fervent prayer for all our neighbors, whatever their color, creed or non-creed, the next best remedy we can apply to the infidel world, is to give to all men the example of a truly Christian life. Good, practicing Christian parents must hand down to their children untarnished the Christian faith they themselves received from their own parents. They do this especially by good example. Outside of the home, every good Christian must strive to let his non-practicing neighbor see that he lives according to Christ’s gospel, and that he appreciates and esteems it.

If each loyal Christian won back three lapsed Christians each year, in thirty years time most of the western countries would be Christian once again! We have heard too many lamentations and condemnations of the paganism which has gripped our present-day society. It is time we were up and doing our part to bring our neighbors back to God and Christ. Sitting and lamenting has not helped; action will.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8

Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.


I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple.


Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.


I will give thanks to your name,
because of your kindness and your truth:
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.


Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.


The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,
and the proud he knows from afar.
Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.


Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

READING II

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Icon - OrthodoxGifts.com

Rom 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 
 How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
  For who has known the mind of the Lord
 or who has been his counselor?
  Or who has given the Lord anything
 that he may be repaid?  
For from him and through him and for him are all things.  
To him be glory forever. Amen.

APPLICATION

What strange creatures we are! We admire and exalt great scientists, men who have discovered more of the laws of nature than any others who went before them. Yet, we do not stop to admire and praise the One who made all the laws, discovered by science, and millions more as yet undiscovered! We praise and extol great painters who can reproduce in color faces of men and women and beautiful landscapes, but we forget or ignore the maker of these landscapes and the creator of these faces!

Yes, we praise and admire our fellow-creatures who have greater gifts than ordinary men, but we forget the good God from whom these gifts came, and who possessed them to an infinite degree. We fail to praise and admire him. How illogical!

In a very real sense it may be said that no true scientist and no true student of nature has ever been an atheist. Because of the perfection of the natural laws and the proofs of supreme intelligence evident in creation the inference is almost inevitable that some supremely intelligent Being (in other words, God) was the originator and inventor of all this created perfection. It is the pseudo-scientists and the self-styled intelligentsia who fail to see God in his marvelous creation. As some writer put it: “The pseudo-scientist says: ‘Look what I found in the atom,’ while the scientist says: ‘Look what God put into the atom’.”

Without being scientists or highly versed in the intricate nature of created things, we have a knowledge of God sufficient for our purpose in life, because God in his love and mercy revealed himself to us. He has told us he is our Creator, our Sustainer, our Savior, and our Last End, our Goal in life. While with St. Paul we must marvel at, and admire, the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God, we must marvel still more at the infinite love which moved him to reveal himself and his purpose to us.

However, because of that same infinite love of God, we are no longer unworthy creatures: we are finite and limited, but we are still important in God’s eyes, because through the Incarnation he has made us his adopted children in order to give us a share in his eternal life. It is because of this relationship that we can approach the infinite God as a loving father, as one who, though infinitely above and beyond us, has a father’s interest in our eternal and temporal welfare. We need not fear his infinite power and majesty, for in the Incarnation he has proved to us how he can descend to our level in order to give us a place and make us feel at home in his eternal kingdom.

Today, with St. Paul, let us say from the depths of our hearts: “To the infinitely wise and merciful God may all honor and glory be forever offered by all his adopted children.” And may we never fail to thank him for this almost incredible privilege. May we ever show in our daily lives that we appreciate and treasure all he has done and is continuing to do for our temporal and eternal welfare.

GOSPEL

... Perugino entitled "Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter" (1480-81

MT 16: 13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
 he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 
Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. 
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; 
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082717.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “my Father who is in heaven”.1 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’”2

CCC 424 Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’3 On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church.4

CCC 440 Jesus accepted Peter’s profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man.5 He unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man “who came down from heaven”, and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”6 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.7 Only after his Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus’ messianic kingship to the People of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”8

CCC 442 Such is not the case for Simon Peter when he confesses Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, for Jesus responds solemnly: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”9 Similarly Paul will write, regarding his conversion on the road to Damascus, “When he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles. ..”10 “And in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’”11 From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ’s divine sonship will be the center of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as the Church’s foundation.12

CCC 552 Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;13 Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”14 Christ, the “living Stone”,15 thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.16

CCC 553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”17 The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.”18 The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles19 and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

CCC 586 Far from having been hostile to the Temple, where he gave the essential part of his teaching, Jesus was willing to pay the Temple-tax, associating with him Peter, whom he had just made the foundation of his future Church.20 He even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God’s definitive dwelling-place among men.21 Therefore his being put to bodily death22 presaged the destruction of the Temple, which would manifest the dawning of a new age in the history of salvation: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”23

CCC 849 The missionary mandate. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”:24 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”25

CCC 881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.26 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.”27 This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

CCC 1444 In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”28 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.”29

1 Mt 16:17; cf. Gal 1:15; Mt 11:25.

2 DV 5; cf. DS 377; 3010.

3 Mt 16:16.

4 Cf. Mt 16:18; St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4 3: PL 54,150 – 152; 51,1: PL 54, 309B; 62, 2: PL 54, 350-351; 83, 3: PL 54, 431-432.

5 Cf. Mt 16:16-23.

6 Jn 3:13; Mt 20:28; cf. Jn 6:62; Dan 7:13; Is 53:10-12.

7 Cf. Jn 19:19-22; Lk 23:39-43.

8 Acts 2:36.

9 Mt 16:16-17.

10 Gal 1:15-16.

11 Acts 9:20.

12 Cf. I Th 1:10; Jn 20:31; Mt 16:18.

13 Cf Mk 3:16; 9:2; Lk 24:34; I Cor 15:5.

14 Mt 16:18.

15 I Pt 2:4.

16 Cf. Lk 22:32.

17 Mt 16:19.

18 Jn 21:15-17; Cf. 10:11.

19 Cf. Mt 18:18.

20 Cf. Mt 8:4; 16:18; 17:24-27; Lk 17:14; Jn 4:22; 18:20.

21 Cf. Jn 2:21; Mt 12:6.

22 Cf. Jn 2:18-22.

23 Jn 4:21; cf. 4:23-24; Mt 27:5; Heb 9:11; Rev 21:22.

24 AG 1; cf. Mt 16:15.

25 Mt 28:19-20.

26 Cf. Mt 16:18-19; Jn 21:15-17.

27 LG 22 # 2.

28 Mt 16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20.

29 LG 22 # 2.

APPLICATION

Jesus, the true Son of God, became man in order to make all men his brothers and co-heirs with him, to the divine, eternal kingdom. To carry on his divine mission on earth (after he had ascended into heaven), he founded the Church on the twelve Apostles. This Church was to be God’s new Chosen People (hence perhaps the twelve Apostles take the place of the heads of the twelve tribes of the Chosen People of old). It was to be made up of all races from all parts of the world. As its mission was to bring the message of salvation to all men, it was to go on until the end of time.

For this Church, this divinely instituted society of human beings, to carry out its mission of helping all men to reach their eternal kingdom, it was necessary to be sure of the road and the aids offered to its members. In other words, the Church should be certain that what it told men to believe and to practice was what God wanted them to believe and to practice. Today’s reading from St. Matthew tells us how Christ provided for this necessity. In making Peter the head of the Apostolic College, the foundation stone of his Church, the guarantor of its stability in the symbol of the keys and the promise that all his decisions would be ratified in heaven, Christ gave him the power of freedom from error when officially teaching the universal Church.

In other words, Peter received the primacy in the Church and the gift of infallibility in his official teaching on matters of faith and morals. As the Church was to continue long after Peter had died, it was rightly understood from the beginning that the privileges given to him and which were necessary for the successful mission of the Church, were given to his lawful successors–the Popes.

This has been the constant belief in the Church from its very beginning. The first Vatican Council solemnly defined this dogma and it was reconfirmed recently in the second Vatican Council. In giving these powers to Peter and to his lawful successors Christ was planning for our needs. In order to preserve and safeguard the right conduct of all its members he provided a central seat of authoritative power in his Church. Through the gift of infallibility he assured us that whatever we were commanded to believe (faith) or to do (morals) would always be what he and his heavenly Father wanted us to believe and to do.

How can we ever thank Christ for these marvelous gifts to his Church, that is, to us? Let us say a fervent: “thank you, Lord; you have foreseen all our needs and provided for them, grant us the grace to do the little part you ask of us in order to continue our progress on the one direct road to heaven.”

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Peter the Rock

But how are we to understand the new first name Peter? It certainly does not portray the character of this man whom Favius Josephus’ description of the Galilean national temperament so recognizably fits: “brave, kind-hearted, trusting, but also easily influenced and eager for change.” The designation “rock” yields no pedagogical or psychological meaning; it can be understood only in terms of mystery, that is to say, christologically and ecclesiologically: Simon Peter will be by Jesus commission precisely what he is not by “flesh and blood”… A rabbinical text may shed some light on what is meant here: “Yahweh spoke: ‘How can I create the world, when these godless men will arise to vex me?’ But when God looked upon Abraham, who was also to be born, he spoke: “Behold, I have found a rock upon which I can build and found the world.’ He therefore called Abraham a rock: ‘Look upon the rock from which you have been hewn’” (Is 51: 12). Abraham, the father of faith, is by his faith the rock that holds back chaos, the onrushing primordial flood of destruction, and this sustains creation. Simon, the first to confess Jesus as the Christ and the first witness of the Resurrection, now becomes by virtue of his Abrahamic faith, which is renewed in Christ, the rock that stands against the impure tide of unbelief and its destruction of man.

His Holiness Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Saint Peter

O Holy Apostle, because you are the Rock upon which Almighty God has built His Church, obtain for me I pray you: lively faith, firm hope, and burning love, complete detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, recollection in prayer, purity of heart, a right intention in all my works, diligence in fulfilling the duties of my state of life, constancy in my resolutions, resignation to the will of God and perseverance in the grace of God even unto death; that so, by means of your intercession and your glorious merits, I may be made worthy to appear before the Chief and Eternal Shepherd of Souls, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns forever. Amen.

 

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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

via Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

DORMIZIONE-FOTO-INTERA-400x467

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled’

OPENING PRAYER

MATINS. Quem terra, pontus, sidera

The God whom earth and sea and sky
Adore and laud and magnify,
WHO o’er their threefold fabric reigns,
The Virgin’s spotless womb contains.

The God whose will by moon and sun
And all things in due course is done,
Is borne upon a Maiden’s breast
By fullest heavenly grace possessed.

How blest that Mother, in whose shrine
The great artifices Divine,
Whose hand contains the earth and sky,
Vouchsafed, as in his ark to lie.

Blest, in the message Gabriel brought;
Blest by the work the Spirit wrought:
From whom the great Desire of earth
Took human flesh and human birth.

All honor, laud and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee!
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete.

(Ascribed to Venantius Fortunatus, 530-609. Tr. J. M. Neale, 1818-66)

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son,

body and soul into heavenly glory,

grant we pray,

that, always attentive to the things that are above,

we may merit to be sharers of her glory.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Poklad-z-dob-Stolete-valky_v

Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab

God’s temple in heaven was opened,

and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,

with the moon under her feet,

and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.

Then another sign appeared in the sky;

it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,

and on its heads were seven diadems.

Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky

and hurled them down to the earth.

Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,

to devour her child when she gave birth.

She gave birth to a son, a male child,

destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.

Her child was caught up to God and his throne.

The woman herself fled into the desert

where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have salvation and power come,

and the Kingdom of our God

and the authority of his Anointed One.”

APPLICATION

This text from the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse was chosen for the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, because of the close link between Christ our Messiah and Savior and his blessed Mother. John stresses it in these verses. In God’s plan for our elevation to divine son-ship by adoption, Mary was chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of his divine Son’s human nature. She was thus intimately connected with her son in the carrying out of this divine plan. As this plan was to be opposed by sin, and by Satan, the head and representative of all sinners, it was to be expected that opposition would concentrate on his blessed Mother, as well as on her offspring, Christ the Messiah.

In chapter three of Genesis this opposition was already foretold in the poetic description of the first sin of disobedience, attributed to the wiles of Satan. God said to the serpent, who represented Satan, as the Dragon in Revelation does: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers” (Gn. 3 :15). St. John in his apocalyptic imagery, describes this opposition. We know from the Gospel story how Mary suffered with her divine Son. The culmination of that suffering was the three hours of incredible and indescribable agony she had to bear while her beloved one slowly shed his life’s blood on the cross.

Today, on the feast of our Blessed Mother’s triumph, we can omit the tragic events of her life and, like St. John, pass quickly to the victorious outcome of the struggle between the Dragon and the Messiah, a victory in which Mary had played her part. In return she received a reward far exceeding any earthly pains which she had endured.

Today the Church celebrates Mary’s assumption into heaven which took place immediately after her death. She was then given the same glorified existence which her divine Son’s human nature had been given by the Father at his moment of death, and which all the elect will be given at their moment of resurrection. We believe that, after Christ, she has occupied the next highest place of glory in heaven from the moment that her earthly life ended. This has been the constant belief of the Church from the very beginning, a belief confirmed and guaranteed by the infallible declaration of Pope Pius XII in 1950.

Mary was Mother of Christ, the God-man and our Savior. She cooperated with him in his saivific mission. She suffered, as we saw above, because of our sins. She saw her beloved Son suffer and die on the cross for our sins. She is now enjoying eternal glory in heaven. Is it likely that she could lose interest in us, her other children who are brothers of Christ? No, her divine Son has not lost interest in us and therefore his blessed Mother cannot fail to be interested in our eternal welfare. We can feel certain that she will intercede for us if we ask her, and we can rest assured that her intercession will not be ignored.

Let us honor her today in the manner in which she wants us to honor her, that is, by thanking God for all the graces which he conferred on her, graces which flowed from her privileged position as Mother of Christ. Her immediate assumption into heaven was the crowning grace and the divine reward which the infinitely loving God conferred on the woman whom he had chosen to cooperate in the messianic mission of his beloved Son. For having been made sons of God and heirs to heaven we owe a debt of thanks, after God, Father, Incarnate Son and Holy Spirit, to the Mother of God and our Mother.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 45:10, 11, 12, 16

The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.

The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,

forget your people and your father’s house.

The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

So shall the king desire your beauty;

for he is your lord.

The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

They are borne in with gladness and joy;

they enter the palace of the king.

The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

READING II

ResurrectionIcon3

1 Cor 15:20-27

Brothers and sisters:

Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man.

For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,

but each one in proper order:

Christ the first-fruits;

then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;

then comes the end,

when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father,

when he has destroyed every sovereignty

and every authority and power.

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

The last enemy to be destroyed is death,

for “he subjected everything under his feet.”

APPLICATION

St. Paul says in the verse that immediately precedes today’s reading (15: 19): “If it is for this life only that we had hope in Christ, we of all men are most to be pitied.” How true this is! If all were to end for us in the grave how foolish we would be to deprive ourselves of any of the pleasure, power or wealth of this life! What folly it would be for any man to mortify himself, to keep laws that were restricting his personal liberty, to waste time on prayer and other practices which produced no earthly pleasure or gain! In other words, being a Christian would mean taking on oneself unpleasant obligations which earned nothing for us but the grave!

However, St. Paul proves in this same chapter that there is a life beyond the grave, an eternal life which Christ has won for us and which God has planned for us from all eternity. We shall all rise from the dead and enter into this new life. Christ’s own resurrection is the proof that this will be so. We have another proof of this basic truth of our faith in the feast we are celebrating today. This proof has been infallibly defined by the successor of St. Peter, the head of the Church.

Our blessed Lady, Mother of Christ and our Mother, has been raised from the dead and is now in heaven in a glorified state next to the incarnate Son of God who is her Son also. The blessed Mother is one of us, a mere creature who was made of flesh and blood as we are. She differs from us in this, that because of her honored and most special relationship with God’s incarnate Son she received greater graces than any other human being, and she cooperated with these graces. If we cooperate with them each one of us is guaranteed enough graces and favors to win our own resurrection to the eternal life.

As the resurrection or assumption of our blessed Lady is a further proof and guarantee that we too shall one day rise in triumph from our graves, so also is it a source of greater confidence and hope for each one of us. She, our Mother, is in heaven. She is interested in each one of us. She has influence with her Son and with the Holy Trinity. She will use that influence on our behalf if we ask her. This fact of her power of intercession has been proved again and again down through the history of the Church. She has obtained material blessings for thousands. The spiritual blessings she has obtained for those devoted to her are innumerable. They will be known to all only on the last day.

Today, then, let us thank God first and foremost for the incarnation, for sending his Son on earth as a man in order to lift us up to sonship with his Father. Then let us thank him for choosing this human Mother—one of ourselves—for his incarnate Son, and for giving her all the graces necessary for the position he gave her in life. She suffered with her divine Son on Calvary and that suffering was for us. She, like her beloved Son, wants us in heaven. She is able and willing to help us to get there. At the wedding feast in Cana she successfully interceded with him to save a bridal pair from temporary embarrassment. Will she not be even more successful still in her intercession to save all her devoted children from eternal embarrassment, now that she is with her Son in heaven?

All that is needed is trust and confidence on our part. Let us ask her today, on this great feast of her triumph, to be ever watching over us, directing and encouraging us to persevere in our loyalty to her divine Son. Let us resolve to follow her example and climb our Calvary as she climbed hers. If we do so, the day is not far distant when we too will rise from the dead and join her and him in the home prepared for us through the incarnation and the infinite love of God.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.1 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.2

CCC 655 Finally, Christ’s Resurrection – and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. .. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”3 The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment. In Christ, Christians “have tasted. .. the powers of the age to come”4 and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”5

CCC 668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”6 Christ’s Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God’s power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”, for the Father “has put all things under his feet.”7 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.8

CCC 954 The three states of the Church. “When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is”’:9

All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbors, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together.10

CCC 1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin.11 Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.12 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.13

CCC 2855 The final doxology, “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever,” takes up again, by inclusion, the first three petitions to our Father: the glorification of his name, the coming of his reign, and the power of his saving will. But these prayers are now proclaimed as adoration and thanksgiving, as in the liturgy of heaven.14 The ruler of this world has mendaciously attributed to himself the three titles of kingship, power, and glory.15 Christ, the Lord, restores them to his Father and our Father, until he hands over the kingdom to him when the mystery of salvation will be brought to its completion and God will be all in all.16

1 Cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22,45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20.

2 Cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.

3 I Cor 15:20-22.

4 Heb 6:5.

5 2 Cor 5:15; cf. Col 3:1-3.

6 Rom 14:9.

7 Eph 1:20-22.

8 Eph 1:10; cf. 4:10; 1 Cor 15:24, 27-28.

9 LG 49; cf. Mt 25:31; 1 Cor 15:26-27; Council of Florence (1439): DS 1305.

10 LG 49; cf. Eph 4:16.

11 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511.

12 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

13 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

14 Cf. Rev 1:6; 4:11; 5:13.

15 Cf. Lk 4:5-6.

16 1 Cor 15:24-28.

GOSPEL

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Lk 1:39-56

Mary set out

and traveled to the hill country in haste

to a town of Judah,

where she entered the house of Zechariah

and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,

and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,

cried out in a loud voice and said,

“Blessed are you among women,

and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me,

that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,

the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

Blessed are you who believed

that what was spoken to you by the Lord

would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

the promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months

and then returned to her home.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081516-mass-during-day.cfm

APPLICATION

“All ages to come shall call me blessed” was a prophecy uttered by our Lady and was not a boast. She who was chosen by God to be the Mother of his incarnate Son, saw in herself nothing but a maidservant, completely and entirely unworthy of the dignity conferred on her. Elizabeth had called her “blessed among women” but Mary attributes this blessedness to the “greatness of the Lord” who had “looked on his servant in her lowliness.” She had no doubts about her own unworthiness and her unfitness for the dignity conferred on her by God, but she recognized how great, how sublime that dignity was. She had been made the Mother of God.

Her prophecy has been fulfilled from the very first days of the Church. She has been given the highest place among all of God’s creatures—Queen of Angels and Queen of all Saints—right through the history of Christianity. In giving her this place of honor above all other angelic or saintly creatures, we are but following God’s own initiative—he made her the Mother of his divine Son and gave her all the graces which that position of unparalleled dignity demanded. When we honor her it is really his infinite love for, and his unbounded generosity toward, the human race that we are honoring. It was for us men and for our salvation that the Son of God came down from heaven. It was for us that he chose Mary as his Mother. She was but the human intermediary in God’s plan of salvation for mankind.

Today’s feastday of God’s Mother and ours is the climax and crowning of all the other graces and honors which God conferred on her. The assumption or the transferring of our blessed Lady to heaven, in her glorified but identical, total personality, immediately after her death on earth, was not only the triumph of Mary but a triumph for all humanity. Where the Mother is, there will be all her loyal children. She played a large part in the redemption-work of her divine Son on earth. She continues in heaven to play a very effective part in applying the fruits of that redemption to all her children. If we follow Mary we are following Christ. If we remain close to the Mother we can never wander away from her Son. If we put ourselves under the mantle of her protection, Christ will shelter us from the enemies of our salvation. If we call on her to intercede for us our petitions will be answered by Christ.

This climax of all God’s gifts to Mary—the assumption into heaven, not of her separated soul, but of her total person, is a gift which God has ready for all of us, provided we imitate Mary on earth and be loyal to her Son and God’s Son. We cannot expect the same degree of heavenly glory which is hers, but we shall be perfectly happy with what we shall receive. All eternity will not be long enough for us to thank the Blessed Trinity, Christ in his humanity and his Blessed Mother who did so much to save us.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Ignatius Press.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that “with God nothing will be impossible” and so giving her assent: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.”1 Elizabeth greeted her: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”2 It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.3

CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.4 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.5 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”6

CCC 495 Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.7 In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).8

CCC 523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way.9 “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last.10 He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.11 Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.12

CCC 706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.13 In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,14 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”15 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and “the promised Holy Spirit. .. [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.”16

CCC 717 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”17 John was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb”18 by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.19

CCC 2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:

Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.20

Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel’s greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. “Rejoice. .. O Daughter of Jerusalem. .. the Lord your God is in your midst.”21 Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God. .. with men.”22 Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary “blessed.”23 “Blessed is she who believed. .. ”24 Mary is “blessed among women” because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.25 Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God’s own blessing: Jesus, the “fruit of thy womb.”

CCC 2677 Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”26 Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: “Let it be to me according to your word.”27 By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: “Thy will be done.”

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing28 to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.

1 Lk 1:37-38; cf. Gen 18:14.

2 Lk 1:45.

3 Cf. Lk 1:48.

4 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.

5 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.

6 Jn 20:28,21:7.

7 Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.

8 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.

9 Cf. Acts 13:24; Mt 3:3.

10 Lk 1:76; cf. 7:26; Mt 11:13.

11 Jn 1 29; cf. Acts 1:22; Lk 1:41; 16:16; Jn 3:29.

12 Lk 1:17; cf. Mk 6:17-29.

13 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21.

14 Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16.

15 Cf. In 11:52.

16 Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14.

17 Jn 1:6.

18 Lk 1:15, 41.

19 Cf. Lk 1:68.

20 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.

21 Zeph 3:14,17a.

22 Rev 21:3.

23 Lk 1:41, 48.

24 Lk 1:45.

25 Cf. Gen 12:3.

26 Lk 1:43.

27 Lk 1:38.

28 Cf. Jn 19:27.

BENEDICTUS

The feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love. Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven: There is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us. We have a Mother in heaven. Heaven is open, heaven has a heart… Only if God is great is humankind also great. With Mary, we must begin to understand that this is so. We must not drift away from God but make God present; we must ensure that he is great in our lives. Thus, we too will become divine; all the splendor of the divine dignity will then be ours. Let us apply this to our own lives… Precisely because Mary is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us. While God, who is close to us, actually, “within” all of us, Mary shares in this closeness of God. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a “mother” to whom we can turn at every moment. She always listens to us, she is always close to us, and being Mother of the Son, participates in the power of the Son and in his goodness. We can always entrust the whole of our lives to this Mother, who is not far from any one of us.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to our Lady, Assumed in Heaven

Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, we believe in your triumphant assumption into heaven where the angels and saints acclaim you as Queen.

We join them in praising you and bless the Lord who raised you above all creatures. With them we offer you our devotion and love.

We are confident that you watch over our daily efforts and needs, and we take comfort from the faith in the coming resurrection.

We look to you, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. After this earthly life, show us Jesus, the blest fruit of your womb, O kind, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary. Pray for us most holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

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