Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

 

Deposition_of_Christ_from_the_Cross_St_Stephens__52993.1435101149.1000.1200_grande.jpeg

“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;

whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Supplication of Christ in Agony (Ps 143: 1-10)

Hear my prayer, O God, give ear to my supplications! In your faithfulness answer me,in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant for no one living is righteous before you.

For the enemy has pursued me, has crushed my life to the ground, and has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. I remember the days of old, I meditate on all that you have done; I muse on what your hands have wrought, I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

Make haste to answer me, O God, My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the Pit, Let me hear in the mourning of your steadfast love, for in you I put my trust.

Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Deliver me, O God, from my enemies.

I have fled to you for refuge.

Teach me to do your will for you are my God!

Let your good spirit lead me on a level path!

Glory be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end.

Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

grant that we may always conform our will to yours

and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart.

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

jesus.jpg

 

Is 53:10-11

The LORD was pleased

to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,

he shall see his descendants in a long life,

and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction

he shall see the light in fullness of days;

through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,

and their guilt he shall bear.

APPLICATION

The lesson to be learned from these two verses of second-Isaiah (it would be well to read the entire prophecy, or Fourth Servant Oracle as it is called, in Is. 52: 13-53 : 12), is that God in his extraordinary, infinite love for us men and for our salvation, decreed that his divine Son in his assumed human nature, should suffer torture and death so that we might live eternally. The leaders of the Jews plotted his death, and forced the Roman authorities to condemn him to the shameful death of crucifixion, but this was all in God’s plan for us before he created the world. Christ, the Son of God, knew this all along; he tried to prepare his disciples for the shock his death and sufferings would cause them by foretelling on three distinct occasions, that he would suffer and be put to death, but that he would triumph over death and rise again (see Mk. 8: 31-33; 9: 30-32; 10: 32-34). In the garden of Gethsemane, as his hour drew near, he suffered agony because his human nature shrank from the tortures which he vividly foresaw; nevertheless he accepted what his Father had planned and humbly and submissively said: “yet not what I will but what thou wilt ” (Mk. 14: 36).

That Christ our Lord was the suffering obedient Servant foretold by the prophet is evident from the gospel story. He was “rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering . . . yet ours were the sufferings he bore, our sorrows he carried . . . he was crushed for our sins . . . We had all gone astray like sheep . . . Yahweh burdened him with the sins of us all . . . like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house, like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers, never opening his mouth” (Is. 53: 3-7). This prophecy had its literal fulfillment in Christ. This is testified by all four gospels. It is not so much the fact that one might be tempted to question, but rather the reason, the necessity, why it had to be thus. Could not God have found other ways of bringing men to heaven without subjecting his divine Son to humiliations and sufferings?

God alone has the full and satisfying answer to this question, and part of our joy in heaven will be to learn the answers to this and to other theological questions which trouble us on earth. Both the Old and New Testaments indicate at least a partial answer to this particular question: when they tell us this was an effect of God’s infinite love for us. We, of course, can form no adequate idea of what infinite love is and does. But even finite love, if true and meaningful, can and does go to great extremes for the sake of those loved. For instance, true patriots in all ages have never hesitated to sacrifice their lives for their country and their fellow countrymen. Their finite love was sufficient to move them to make the supreme sacrifice. God was not dealing with the preservation of a country’s freedom or its liberation from an oppressor, he was dealing with the eternal freedom and happiness of the whole human race. The task was great, the end desired was of everlasting value, the life sacrificed was God’s own Son in his human nature–but the love of God which his Son shared with him, was infinite and therefore capable of any sacrifice.

Furthermore, if we knew our own weak, lazy, human nature as well as God knows it, we would see another reason for the extraordinary manifestation of his love. The cross of Christ, the scourging at the pillar, the crowning with thorns, the cruel nails through the hands and feet, are reminders that will touch a chord even in the coldest Christian heart. With these reminders of God’s love for us many of us are still all too slow to show our appreciation of all God has done for us. How much less responsive, how much less appreciative of what eternal life is worth, would such Christians be, if God had opened heaven for them in a less impressive way?

Our Savior took human nature–an act of extreme humiliation, in order to make us his brothers and therefore sons of God. He came into a world of sin where God the Creator was practically forgotten. He told those who “had ears to hear,” of God and of his desire to give unending life in his own eternal kingdom, to all who would follow the Christian precepts. He established a society–the Church–on earth which would continue until the end of time to proclaim God’s mercy and love. He was tortured and put to the cruelest of deaths because of the opposition and hatred of some of the Jews among whom he lived. But as God, and with God his Father, he foresaw all this and in the full knowledge that he would rise again, willingly accepted it notwithstanding the agonies it would cause him. While the resurrection made his life and death a success and an eternal triumph it did not make the pains of his passion any easier.

We may not understand what infinite love is, but we cannot fail to see the glorious effects that the infinite love of God has earned for us. We are citizens of heaven. We must expect to meet some obstacles on the way–there will be troubles and trials in our lives, but one look at our crucifix should make us realize how little we are asked to suffer for our own salvation when compared with what Christ has suffered to make salvation possible.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 64 Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts.1 The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations.2 Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel’s salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary.3

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.4 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.”5 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.6 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.”7

CCC 579 This principle of integral observance of the Law not only in letter but in spirit was dear to the Pharisees. By giving Israel this principle they had led many Jews of Jesus’ time to an extreme religious zeal.8 This zeal, were it not to lapse into “hypocritical” casuistry,9 could only prepare the People for the unprecedented intervention of God through the perfect fulfillment of the Law by the only Righteous One in place of all sinners.10

CCC 601 The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of “the righteous one, my Servant” as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin.11 Citing a confession of faith that he himself had “received”, St. Paul professes that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.”12 In particular Jesus’ redemptive death fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering Servant.13 Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God’s suffering Servant.14 After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.15

CCC 615 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”16 By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin”, when “he bore the sin of many”, and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous”, for “he shall bear their iniquities”.17 Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.18

CCC 1502 The man of the Old Testament lives his sickness in the presence of God. It is before God that he laments his illness, and it is of God, Master of life and death, that he implores healing.19 Illness becomes a way to conversion; God’s forgiveness initiates the healing.20 It is the experience of Israel that illness is mysteriously linked to sin and evil, and that faithfulness to God according to his law restores life: “For I am the Lord, your healer.”21 The prophet intuits that suffering can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others.22 Finally Isaiah announces that God will usher in a time for Zion when he will pardon every offense and heal every illness.23

1 Cf. Isa 2:2-4; Jer 31:31-34; Heb 10:16.

2 Cf. Ezek 36; Isa 49:5-6; 53:11.

3 Cf. Ezek 2:3; Lk 1:38.

4 Cf. Mt 16:16-23.

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

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

7 Acts 2:36.

8 Cf. Rom 10:2.

9 Cf. Mt 15:31; Lk 11:39-54.

10 Cf Is 53:11; Heb 9:15.

11 Is 53:11; cf. 53:12; Jn 8 34-36; Acts 3:14.

12 1 Cor 15:3; cf. also Acts 3:18; 7:52; 13:29; 26:22-23.

13 Cf. Is 53:7-8 and Acts 8:32-35.

14 Cf. Mt 20:28.

15 Cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-45.

16 Rom 5:19.

17 Is 53:10-12.

18 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529.

19 Cf. Pss 6:3; 38; Isa 38.

20 Cf. Pss 32:5; 38:5; 39:9, 12; 107:20; cf. Mk 2:5-12.

21 Ex 15:26.

22 Cf. Isa 53:11.

23 Cf. Isa 33:24.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Upright is the word of the LORD,

and all his works are trustworthy.

He loves justice and right;

of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,

upon those who hope for his kindness,

To deliver them from death

and preserve them in spite of famine.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Our soul waits for the LORD,

who is our help and our shield.

May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us

who have put our hope in you.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

READING II

Jesus-Tree-of-Life.jpg

Heb 4:14-16

Brothers and sisters:

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,

Jesus, the Son of God,

let us hold fast to our confession.

For we do not have a high priest

who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,

but one who has similarly been tested in every way,

yet without sin.

So let us confidently approach the throne of grace

to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

APPLICATION

We Christians are God’s chosen people of today. Compared with his Chosen People of the Old Testament, we have infinitely greater blessings and advantages. They knew of the existence of the one true and only God, the Creator of all things, and they knew he was interested in them. Although they knew that he existed they knew very little else about him, and their chief interest in him was to obtain from him all earthly blessings: health, wealth and progeny. They had only a very hazy idea of the future life or what it held for them, yet they did know they were chosen by God so that through them God would send a great blessing on all nations; somehow, sometime they would have a share in that blessing.

We Christians are indeed fortunate that we know much more about God and our real purpose in life. Through the incarnation we have learned that God loves us so much that he sent his divine Son to live among us in order to make us heirs to heaven. That divine Son of God suffered and died in his human nature in order to make perfect atonement to his Father in our behalf. This, surely, was divine love for us creatures. Not only did God make us heirs to his eternal kingdom through the incarnation, but he gave us his own divine Son to be our leader and intermediary between himself and us.

Unlike the Jews of old we know clearly what our real purpose in life is. It is not to be found on this earth, it is the eternal happiness that awaits us after death. Life on earth is but a preparation for the real life to come. This knowledge coupled with the assurance that Christ our brother is pleading for us at the throne of grace, should fill every Christian with courage and hope. Christ knows our weaknesses and should we give in to them and the temptations of life, he is ready to obtain from our Father in heaven pardon the moment we repent of our fall.

We are fortunate to have such a loving and all-powerful high priest who has entered heaven before us and is preparing a place for us. No true Christian can ever despair. God has proved how much he loves us, and how anxious he is to share his heaven with us. Christ, the Son of God, endured the humiliation of the incarnation and the sufferings and pains of his life on earth, and his cruel death on the cross, because he gladly cooperated with the Father in making us heirs of heaven.

With such an intermediary and helper how can we fail to reach our goal? With God and his divine Son on our side, who is against us?

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 784 On entering the People of God through faith and Baptism, one receives a share in this people’s unique, priestly vocation: “Christ the Lord, high priest taken from among men, has made this new people ‘a kingdom of priests to God, his Father.’ The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood.”1

CCC 1537 The word order in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. Ordinatio means incorporation into an ordo. In the Church there are established bodies which Tradition, not without a basis in Sacred Scripture,2 has since ancient times called taxeis (Greek) or ordines. And so the liturgy speaks of the ordo episcoporum, the ordo presbyterorum, the ordo diaconorum. Other groups also receive this name of ordo: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows,…

CCC 1539 The chosen people was constituted by God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”3 But within the people of Israel, God chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service; God himself is its inheritance.4 A special rite consecrated the beginnings of the priesthood of the Old Covenant. The priests are “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”5

CCC 1540 Instituted to proclaim the Word of God and to restore communion with God by sacrifices and prayer,6 this priesthood nevertheless remains powerless to bring about salvation, needing to repeat its sacrifices ceaselessly and being unable to achieve a definitive sanctification, which only the sacrifice of Christ would accomplish.7

CCC 1564 “Whilst not having the supreme degree of the pontifical office, and notwithstanding the fact that they depend on the bishops in the exercise of their own proper power, the priests are for all that associated with them by reason of their sacerdotal dignity; and in virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, after the image of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest, they are consecrated in order to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful as well as to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament.”8

CCC 1578 No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God.9 Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God’s call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.

1 LG 10; Cf. Heb 5:1-5; Rev 1:6.

2 Cf. Heb 5:6; 7:11; Ps 110:4.

3 Ex 19:6; cf. Isa 61:6.

4 Cf. Num 1:48-53; Josh 13:33.

5 Heb 5:1; cf. Ex 29:1-30; Lev 8.

6 Cf. Mal 2:7-9.

7 Cf. Heb 5:3; 7:27; 101-4.

8 LG 28 cf. Heb 5:1-10; 7:24; 9:11-28; Innocent I, Epist. ad Decentium:PL 20,554A; St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 2,22:PG 35,432B.

9 Cf. Heb 5:4.

GOSPEL

Crucifixion flyer.jpg

Mk 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,

“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”

They answered him, “Grant that in your glory

we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”

Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.

Can you drink the cup that I drink

or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

They said to him, “We can.”

Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink,

and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;

but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give

but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.

Jesus summoned them and said to them,

“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles

lord it over them,

and their great ones make their authority over them felt.

But it shall not be so among you.

Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;

whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.

For the Son of Man did not come to be served

but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/102118.cfm

APPLICATION

Our own natural inclination most likely would be to react like the other ten Apostles and become vexed with James and John and to tell them what we thought of their selfish worldly ambitions. However, our Lord’s gentle answer: “you do not know what you are asking” shows us that ignorance of the nature of the kingdom he was going to set up, was the cause of their very human ambitions. They, with the other Apostles, had still the common Jewish idea of the messianic kingdom. They thought the Messiah–and they were now convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah–would set up a political kingdom in Palestine, oust the pagan Romans and eventually extend his kingdom to all nations. That this kingdom he would set up would be universal, extending to all nations, was indicated in almost all the, messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, but that this kingdom would be spiritual not political, was not grasped by most of Christ’s contemporaries including the Apostles.

Jesus, knowing that his Apostles still had this wrong idea, was gentle with James and John. He took this opportunity to tell them that he would set up a glorious kingdom but that his sufferings and death would be a necessary prelude to its establishment. He had already referred to his sufferings and death three times, but the mention fell on deaf ears. Their argument was: how could he suffer death when he has still to establish his earthly kingdom? The truth in fact was that it was by means of his sufferings and death that he would establish his glorious kingdom. He challenged the two Apostles then to know if they were willing to pay the price for a high place in his glorious kingdom: were they prepared to follow him through suffering and death? He accepted their affirmation, knowing it to be true, but told them their position of honor depended on his Father’s decision. Once they realized the nature of his glorious kingdom they would be the last to look for positions of honor in it.

While no Christian today thinks that Christ came on earth in order to make us wealthy, happy and prosperous during our few years on earth, there are, unfortunately, many Christians who are unwilling to accept Christ’s teaching that the way to heavenly glory is the way of the cross. “All this and heaven too” is their motto. It would, of course, be marvelous if all our days on earth were days of peace, happiness and prosperity to be followed by eternal happiness–when we “shuffle off this mortal coil.” But any man who has the use of reason sees that our world is inhabited by weak, sin-inclined and usually sinful mortals, himself included–weak mortals who can and do disturb the peace and harmony that could regulate our mortal lives. There are “accidents” on our roads and highways every day of the year, frequently causing death or grave injury to hundreds. The rules of the road, if kept by all, would prevent ninety-nine per cent of such accidents–the other one per cent are caused by mechanical failure. Would any man be so naive as to expect that we could have even one day free from car accidents?

Because man has a free-will he is liable to abuse it by choosing what is sinful and wrong. Most of the crosses and trials we meet in life are caused by violations–by ourselves and others–of the rules of life and the laws of charity and justice. To prevent this abuse of free-will, God would have to deprive men of that essential gift which, with his intellect, makes him a man. Likewise, we could prevent all road accidents by removing the steering wheels from cars but then we would have no cars. Let us face the fact, almost all the hardships and sufferings which we have to bear in life, are caused by the unjust and uncharitable actions of our fellowman: and even God himself, following his own wise pattern of life for men on earth, cannot prevent such evil actions.

Would God want to prevent all such injustices and all this inhumanity of man toward his fellowman? Not that he approves of it, much less causes it, but can he not have a purpose in permitting it? How would we, his children on earth, earn heaven if this world were an earthly paradise? What loving father would keep his children from school because they found it a hardship, and when they could be so happy playing at home all day and every day? School is absolutely necessary for those children’s future, and it is because fathers are truly kind to their children that they compel them to undergo this temporary hardship. God is the kindest of fathers. He wants us all in heaven. He has mapped out the road which will lead us there. He allows these hardships to come our way so that we can prepare for our real future life.

With James and John, let us tell our divine Lord that we are ready to follow him on the path to Calvary; that we are ready to drink the cup of sufferings which he drank and to be immersed in the sorrows which he endured. He went through all of this for us; we are doing it for our own sakes. He carried the real cross–ours is light when compared with his; furthermore, he will help us to bear our daily trial and struggles. How could any Christian become weary and faint-hearted when he has Christ helping him on the road?

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him.1 To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask.2 So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.3 But his miracles can also be occasions for “offence”;4 they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.5

CCC 2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief)6 or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman).7 The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”8 Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus’ prayer: “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.”9

CCC 2667 This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.” It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light.10 By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior’s mercy.

1 cf. Jn 5:36; 10:25, 38.

2 Cf. Mk 5:25-34; 10:52; etc.

3 Cf. Jn 10:31-38.

4 Mt 11:6.

5 Cf. Jn 11:47-48; Mk 3:22.

6 Cf. Mk 1:40-41; 5:36; 7:29; Cf. Lk 23:39-43.

7 Cf. Mk 25; 5:28; Lk 7:37-38.

8 Mt 9:27, Mk 10:48.

9 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 85, 1: PL 37, 1081; cf. GILH 7.

10 Cf. Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:13.

BENEDICTUS

Mission and Loosing Self

The encounter with the Word is a gift for us, too, which was given to us so that we might give it to others, freely, as we have received it.  God made a choice… and we can only acknowledge in humility that we are unworthy messengers who do not proclaim ourselves but rather speak with a holy fear about something that is not ours but that comes from God.  Only in this way can the missionary task be understood…  The model for the missions is clearly prescribed in the way of the Apostles and of the early Church, especially in the commissioning discourses of Jesus.  Missionary work requires, fors and foremost, being prepared for martyrdom, a willingness to lose oneself for the sake of the truth and for the sake of others.  Only in this way does it become believable; again and again this has been the situation with the missions, and so it will always be.  For only then do Christians raise the standard of primacy of the truth… The truth can and must have no other weapon but itself.  Someone who believes has found in the truth the pearl of which he is ready to give everything, even himself.  For he knows that he finds himself by losing himself, that only the grain of wheat that has died bears much fruit.  Someone who can both believe and say, “We have found Love,” has to pass this gift on.  He knows that in doing so he does no one violence, does not destroy anyone’s identity, does not disrupt cultures, but rather sets them free to realize their own great potential; he knows that he is fulfilling a responsibility.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

The Jesus Prayer

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,

have mercy on me, a sinner.

Advertisements
Posted in Catholic

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

Featured image

“You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Prayer for the Gift of Wisdom

Great is the wisdom of the Lord!

God Almighty, Your Wisdom includes

An understanding of what is fair,

What is logical, what is true,

What is right and what is lasting.

It mirrors Your pure intellect!

I entreat You to grant me such Wisdom,

That my labors may reflect Your insight.

Your Wisdom expands in Your creations,

Displaying complexity and multiplicity.

Your Wisdom is an eternity ahead of man.

May Your wisdom flourish forever!

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=772

COLLECT

May your grace, O Lord, we pray,

at all times go before us and follow after

and make us always determined

to carry out good works.

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

Wis 7:7-11

I prayed, and prudence was given me;

I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.

I preferred her to scepter and throne,

and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,

nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;

because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,

and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.

Beyond health and comeliness I loved her,

and I chose to have her rather than the light,

because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.

Yet all good things together came to me in her company,

and countless riches at her hands.

The word of the Lord.

APPLICATION

Though this Book of Wisdom was written over two thousand years ago, the message we have read from it today is so timely and practical for us Christians that it might well

have been written last week! The reason is that real wisdom is unchangeable. It is a correct knowledge and understanding of the eternal truths that God has revealed to us and as these truths are unchanged and unchangeable so is our knowledge of them. The author clearly realized that reaching eternal life was the one and only aim worth striving for in this life; all his other occupations here below were only temporary and transient while eternal life is permanent and therefore well worth the sacrifice of all earthly attractions.

He was willing to forego all earthly wealth: gold, silver and precious gems, and all earthly power including a king’s throne, rather than desert wisdom which would lead him to everlasting wealth. This is what all sane men would and should do when they are convinced that an unending life of happiness awaits them. No Christian doubts this. The very meaning of Christianity is a rule of life which directs our actions while on this earth, so that we shall enter heaven when we die. Christ did not come on earth without a purpose; he did not suffer and die in vain. He became man and suffered and died so that those who would follow him and keep the rules he laid down for them would enter into heaven when they breathed their last breath.

It was not then to make life here hard for us but to put eternal life within our reach that he commanded us to bear our crosses, our troubles and trials in life. He told us not to let ourselves be ensnared by the attractions of this world, its wealth, its positions of honor, its pleasures. But he did not forbid us to use wisely, that is, in moderation and within his rules, the pleasures, power and goods of this world. As Christians, we can enjoy the pleasures and happiness of family life; we can own property; we can accept positions of authority–provided always that these things will not come between us and our real life which is eternal life.

It is here that too many Christians fail. They let themselves become so absorbed in their pursuit of pleasure, or in the acquisition of wealth or power, that they leave themselves no time for the things of God, the things that really matter. If such people only stopped and asked themselves the question: during the two thousands years of Christianity did any of those who lost heaven because they became too absorbed in the things of earth, ever get real happiness and satisfaction out of their few years on earth? Was there ever a rich man who was truly happy with all he had, and deliberately stopped getting richer? Was there ever a pleasure-lover who could say that he was content with all the pleasure he had received? Did not these very pleasures interfere with his health and shorten the already too-short span he had to enjoy himself?

No, chasing after the will-of-the-wisp attractions of this life is not the occupation of a sane man, much less of the truly wise man–as a Christian is by his profession. We have been given a period of time here during which we can earn our future reward; any days,

months or years wasted on other pursuits will be hard to replace. The mercy of God is infinite, and while there have been from time to time exceptional cases of deathbed conversions, the only sure way of passing our final examination is to have learned, during the years God gave us for this purpose here below, the answers to the questions we shall be asked.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17

Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

Teach us to number our days aright,

that we may gain wisdom of heart.

Return, O LORD! How long?

Have pity on your servants!

Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,

that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.

Make us glad, for the days when you afflicted us,

for the years when we saw evil.

Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

Let your work be seen by your servants

and your glory by their children;

and may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;

prosper the work of our hands for us!

Prosper the work of our hands!

Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

READING II

Saint-Paul-the-Apostle-5.jpg

Heb 4:12-13

Brothers and sisters:

Indeed the word of God is living and effective,

sharper than any two-edged sword,

penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow,

and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

No creature is concealed from him,

but everything is naked and exposed to

the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

The word of the Lord.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 302 Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created “in a state of journeying” (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call “divine providence” the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward this perfection:

By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made, “reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering all things well”. For “all are open and laid bare to his eyes”, even those things which are yet to come into existence through the free action of creatures.1

1 Vatican Council I, Dei Filius 1: DS 3003; cf. Wis 8:1; Heb 4:13.

APPLICATION

The sacred author of this epistle, writing for Jewish converts who presumably knew their history, is urging them not to make the same mistake as did their ancestors in the desert. They did not believe God’s promise and they disobeyed him. For that reason they did not enter into the Promised Land of Canaan, they died in the desert. Now Christians through Christ have been promised and are made heirs of God’s place of eternal rest, but unless they live their faith and obey God they too will end up like their disobedient ancestors in the desert.

Some of his intended readers may have been foolish themselves–pretending externally to be Christians while their thoughts and intentions were not. He reminds them of God’s omniscience. He knows not only their external actions but their every thought and their most secret intentions. Therefore, external observance will not earn the heavenly rest for them, their heart and spirit must be in their daily observance of the Christian way of life.

There is a warning here for all of us and it is that not a single thought or action of our lives can remain unknown to the God who will be our Judge on our day of reckoning. We can fool ourselves, and fool our neighbors by carrying out the externals of the Christian law while in our hearts we have evil thoughts, evil intentions and sentiments of rebellion against our Creator. The Christian who behaves in this way is foolish in the extreme and he is fooling only himself. He cannot hide his wrong intentions or his rebellious inclinations from God who reads his heart and his mind. Unless he changes his relations with God and humbly submits himself to God’s will he has little hope of entering the promised land of heaven.

Among us there are others who spoil and make useless those Christian acts that would earn heaven for them–by their refusal to repent of a sin or sins they have committed. To their friends and neighbors they may appear as model Christians but in the eyes of God they are proud and stubborn subjects who will not bend their knee to God and ask for the pardon which he is ever willing to give even to the greatest sinners. While they are in this state of sin they can earn no merit for heaven. Our God is a God of mercy, he has gone to incredible lengths to share his kingdom with us. He knows all our weaknesses and is ever ready to raise us up again when we fall–if we repent and turn to him. There is no sin we can commit, no matter how serious it be, that he cannot forgive and blot out

if only we ask him to do so. Of those Christians whom God will have to condemn on the judgement day not one will be condemned because he sinned: but he will be condemned because he did not repent and ask God’s pardon for his sins.

Let us never forget that God’s eyes are always on us, not only to see our innermost faults but also to be ever ready to succor and help us. He is a loving Father and he will not give us a cross too heavy to bear. If, when we have crosses, we stay close to him and ask for his help he will most certainly answer our call.

GOSPEL

Unknown.jpeg

Mk 10:17-30

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,

knelt down before him, and asked him,

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?

No one is good but God alone.

You know the commandments: You shall not kill;

you shall not commit adultery;

you shall not steal;

you shall not bear false witness;

you shall not defraud;

honor your father and your mother.”

He replied and said to him,

“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,

“You are lacking in one thing.

Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor

and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

At that statement his face fell,

and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,

“How hard it is for those who have wealth

to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words.

So Jesus again said to them in reply,

“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle

than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,

“Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said,

“For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.

All things are possible for God.”

Peter began to say to him,

“We have given up everything and followed you.”

Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you,

there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters

or mother or father or children or lands

for my sake and for the sake of the gospel

who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:

houses and brothers and sisters

and mothers and children and lands,

with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1618 Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social.1 From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming.2 Christ himself has invited certain persons to follow him in this way of life, of which he remains the model:

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”3

CCC 1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”4 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

CCC 2728 Finally, our battle has to confront what we experience as failure in prayer: discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have “great possessions,”5 we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift; and so forth. The conclusion is always the same: what good does it do to pray? To overcome these obstacles, we must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance.

1 Cf. Lk 14:26; Mk 10:28-31.

2 Cf. Rev 14:4; 1 Cor 7:32; Mt 2:56.

3 Mt 19:12.

4 Mk 10:19.

5 Cf. Mk 10:22.

APPLICATION

By coming to Jesus with his problem this man has done all Christians a good turn. We have learned from Christ’s answer that over-attachment to worldly goods is one of the big obstacles to entering heaven. The man in this story was a good-living man, he kept all the commandments from his youth upward and he had an interest in eternal life, while many of his compatriots of that day had not. Reading this man’s heart like an open book, Christ saw that not only was he fit for eternal life but that he was one who could have a very high place in heaven if he would leave everything and become a close follower of his. Not only would be become a saint, but he would lead many to sanctity.

The price to pay for this privilege, however, seemed too high to this “good man.” “He had great possessions” and he was too attached to them so he could not accept Christ’s offer, “his countenance fell and he went away sorrowful.” Although his case was exceptional, Christ saw in him the makings of a saint and he asked him to make an exceptional sacrifice, one which he did not and does not ask of all his followers; his remark to the disciples later: “how hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” holds for all time and for all mankind.

This statement of Christ, however, does not mean that a follower may not possess any of this world’s goods. He may possess and use those goods, but what he must not do is to allow them to take such a hold on him that he has no time for acquiring everlasting goods–the Christian virtues. Unfortunately, there are Christians whose whole purpose in this life is the accumulation of worldly goods. Concentration on such accumulation is wrong, but in many cases the methods of acquisition are unjust: defrauding laborers of their just wages; overcharging customers; cheating in business deals; giving false measures and many other devices which produce unearned wealth.

All this is far from Christian justice, and those who have let such sinful greed to regulate their lives are certainly not on the road, to heaven. There are other sins, of course, which can keep us from heaven, but of all the sins a man can commit this irrational greed for the wealth of this world seems the most unreasonable of them all. How utterly inane and foolish to have spent a lifetime collecting something from which we shall soon be parted forever! The rich man’s bank-book and his gilt-edged shares will be not only valueless in the after-life but they, if unjustly acquired, will be witnesses for the prosecution at the judgement on which one’s eternal future depends. While most of us are not guilty of such excessive greed for wealth, we all do need to examine our consciences as to how we acquire and use the limited wealth we have. There are very rich men who have acquired their wealth honestly and justly and who spend much of their wealth on charitable causes. Their wealth will not hinder them from reaching heaven. On the other hand, there are many in the middle and lower income-bracket who may be offending against justice through the means they use to acquire what they have, and in the little helps which they refuse to a needy neighbor. We may not be able to found a hospital for the poor, or pay an annuity to support the family of a disabled fellow workman, but we are not excused from bringing a little gift to our neighbors who are in hospital, or from supplying even part of a meal for the dependents of the injured workman.

Remember that Christ praised the widow who put a mite (a cent) into the collection-box for the poor in the temple area, and he also said that a cup of cold water given in his name would not go without reward. We need not be rich in order to be charitable; often

our own exaggerated sense of our poverty can make us hard-hearted and mean toward our fellowman who look to us for help. The true Christian, whose principal purpose in life is to serve God, will not overburden himself with unnecessary pieces of luggage; instead he will travel light and be ever ready to help others also to carry their burdens.

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

BENEDICTUS

God Becomes Our Richness

The poverty that Jesus means – that the prophets mean – presupposes above all inner freedom from the greed for possession and the mania for power. This is a greater reality than merely a different distribution of possessions, which would still be in the material domain and thereby make hearts even harder. It is first and foremost a matter of purification of heart, through which one recognizes possession as responsibility, as a duty towards others, placing oneself under God’s gaze and letting oneself be guided by Christ, who from being rich became poor for our sake (cf. 2 Cor 8: 9). Inner freedom is the prerequisite for overcoming the corruption and greed that devastate the world today. This freedom can only be found if God becomes our richness; it can only be found in the patience of daily sacrifices, in which, as it were, true freedom develops. It is the King who points out to us the way to this goal: Jesus, whom we acclaim on Palm Sunday, whom we ask to take us with him on his way… He comes in all cultures and all parts of the world, everywhere, in wretched huts and in poor rural areas as well as in the splendor of cathedrals. He is the same everywhere, the One, and thus all those gathered with him in prayer and communion are also united in one body. Christ rules by making himself our Bread and giving himself to us. It is in this way that he builds his kingdom.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate the splendor of true love, to you we turn with trust. Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again experience violence, rejection and division: may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth, may the Synod of Bishops make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

graciously hear our prayer.

Amen

Posted in Uncategorized

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

Jesus-and-Children.jpg

“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

A Marriage Blessing Prayer

We thank you, O God, for the Love You have implanted in our hearts. May it always inspire us to be kind in our words, considerate of feeling, and concerned for each other’s needs and wishes. Help us to be understanding and forgiving of human weaknesses and failings. Increase our faith and trust in You and may Your Prudence guide our life and love. Bless our Marriage O God, with Peace and Happiness, and make our love fruitful for Your glory and our Joy both here and in eternity.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

who in the abundance of your kindness

surpass the merits and the desires of those

who entreat you,

pour out your mercy upon us

to pardon what conscience dreads

and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.

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

posts-icon-creation-eve.jpg

Gn 2:18-24

The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone.

I will make a suitable partner for him.”

So the LORD God formed out of the ground

various wild animals and various birds of the air,

and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them;

whatever the man called each of them would be its name.

The man gave names to all the cattle,

all the birds of the air, and all wild animals;

but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man,

and while he was asleep,

he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib

that he had taken from the man.

When he brought her to the man, the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

this one shall be called ‘woman, ‘

for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother

and clings to his wife,

and the two of them become one flesh.

The word of the Lord.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 343 Man is the summit of the Creator’s work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures.1

CCC 369 Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. “Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.2 Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity “in the image of God”. In their “being-man” and “being-woman”, they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness.

CCC 371 God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. The Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of the sacred text. “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him.”3 None of the animals can be man’s partner.4 The woman God “fashions” from the man’s rib and brings to him elicits on the man’s part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”5 Man discovers woman as another “I”, sharing the same humanity.

CCC 372 Man and woman were made “for each other” – not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be “helpmate” to the other, for they are equal as persons (“bone of my bones. ..”) and complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming “one flesh”,6 they can transmit human life: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”7 By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents cooperate in a unique way in the Creator’s work.8

CCC 1605 Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”9 The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom comes our help.10 “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”11 The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”12

CCC 1607 According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a

break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations;13 their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust;14 and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work.15

CCC 1616 This is what the Apostle Paul makes clear when he says: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her,” adding at once: “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.”16

CCC 1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; “to be free” means:

– not being under constraint;

– not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

CCC 1644 The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses’ community of persons, which embraces their entire life: “so they are no longer two, but one flesh.”17 They “are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving.”18 This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.

CCC 1652 “By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.”19

Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: “It is not good that man should be alone,” and “from the beginning [he] made them male and female”; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.20

CCC 2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man

leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”21

All human generations proceed from this union.22

CCC 2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.23 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

1 Cf. Gen 1-26.

2 Cf. Gen 2:7, 22.

3 Gen 2:18.

4 Gen 2:19-20.

5 Gen 2:23.

6 Gen 2:24.

7 Gen 1:28.

8 Cf. GS 50 # 1.

9 Gen 2:18.

10 Cf. Gen 2:18-25.

11 Gen 2:24.

12 Mt 19:6.

13 Cf. Gen 3:12.

14 Cf. Gen 2:22; 3:16b.

15 Cf. Gen 1:28; 3:16-19.

16 Eph 5:25-26, 31-32; Cf. Gen 2:24.

17 Mt 19:6; cf. Gen 2:24.

18 FC 19.

19 GS 48 # 1; 50.

20 GS 50 # 1; cf. Gen 2:18; Mt 19:4; Gen 1:28.

21 Gen 2:24.

22 Cf. Gen 4:1-2, 25-26; 5:1.

23 Cf. Gen 2:19-20; 9:1-4.

APPLICATION

Although polygamy, that is one man with many wives, and divorce were widely practiced not alone among their pagan neighbors but also among the Israelites themselves. When the Yahwistic writer composed this source of Genesis, the author courageously expressed the will and intention of God in this regard. God intended woman to be man’s helper and mate for life; she was not his slave or chattel. She was his equal and had a right to be treated as an equal. One of the many evil effects of polygamy and divorce was and is the lowering of the status of woman. Where polygamy is practiced, each wife is but a special slave in the household. She is a chattel which her lord can use when it suits him, but she has no claim on him. However, that one evil has disappeared “officially” from our Western world, but the worse evil of divorce, instead of disappearing, is on the increase.

Here again it is the woman who is humiliated, and sad to say there are women who agree to and encourage this humiliation of their own sex. Apart from the humiliation of woman there is a worse effect of divorce–it is a violation of God’s law, as is clearly revealed to us in the text from Genesis that we have read; this text is again confirmed by Christ in today’s Gospel. God created human nature in two sexes so that one would be a complement of the other and together they were given the power to reproduce themselves and thus continue the human race on earth. To do this–to procreate children and to educate them, is a life-long task and demands the greatest cooperation between husband and wife. Their task is no easy one, difficulties and differences of opinion can and do often arise; but it was God himself who gave married couples this vocation and with it he gives many consolations and moments of deep happiness and contentment as well.

Added to these divine blessings and to fulfill their duties, Christians have the graces of the sacrament which Christ instituted to help those who marry. Not only is their union blessed by God on the day of their marriage but the grace of the sacrament remains with them to aid them all through their married lives. Yet, there are many Christian nations today which have made laws permitting the dissolution of a valid marriage, and there are Christians who avail themselves of this legal loophole to get rid of the partner they took for life. They often enter a new matrimonial bond which not only has not the blessing of God but is directly against his will–as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.

The nations who have passed this law which directly contravenes the law of the Creator, and the people who avail themselves of such a law are Christian only in name. Their outlook is purely and exclusively worldly, selfishness plays a leading part in their decision. They feel that all crosses must be removed from their paths, they do not wish to climb any Calvary.

Alone among the Christian communities the Catholic Church has stood firm against the violation of God’s law in this matter of divorce, and firm, please God, it will continue to stand. Even among Catholics today, there are isolated voices raised here and there in favor of a relaxation of the indissolubility of marriage. The reasons they bring forward are humane–or is it humanist?  They know of husbands and wives who are incompatible with each other, who are continually quarreling; would they not be better off materially and spiritually if they were separated?  They can be separated, for the Church allows separation where things have become well-nigh impossible, and they may remain apart until peace descends once more upon them, as it often does.

However, this is not what our advocates of a relaxation of the laws of marriage want. They would go as far as allowing the separated partners to undertake a new union wherein they would each find a new happiness.  Would they find that happiness?  The history of the past few decades in the nations where the civil power allows divorce, with re-marriage, would seem to prove the opposite.  No, the Christian who violates the law of God for his own selfish happiness is not likely to get happiness in a new marriage venture nor can he hope to earn eternal happiness.

To our faithful husbands and wives I would say:  continue in your fidelity. You have many trials and troubles, but they are the new crosses that will raise you up and keep you near God. Be quick to forgive and ever ready to forget. Even though one may be right in a row, let one not be too proud to be first to break the ice and reopen relations. Your marriage partner may not be an angel, but he or she is a saint in the making, and you are doing your part to make him or her just that. You, too, are on the road to heaven; you will kick some hard stones and hurt your toes many times during your journey, but when you see your reward you will realize how little you have done and how

unprofitable a servant you have been.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

Blessed are you who fear the LORD,

who walk in his ways!

For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;

blessed shall you be, and favored.

May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine

in the recesses of your home;

your children like olive plants

around your table.

May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

Behold, thus is the man blessed

who fears the LORD.

The LORD bless you from Zion:

may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

all the days of your life.

May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

May you see your children’s children.

Peace be upon Israel!

May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

READING II

13072905_260604814280715_2984183060960798422_o.jpg

Heb 2:9-11

Brothers and sisters:

He “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels, ”

that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting that he,

for whom and through whom all things exist,

in bringing many children to glory,

should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.

He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated

all have one origin.

Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers.’

The word of the Lord.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 624 “By the grace of God” Jesus tasted death “for every one”.1 In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only “die for our sins”2 but should also “taste death”, experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb,3 reveals God’s great sabbath rest4 after the fulfillment5 of man’s salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.6

1 Heb 2:9.

2 I Cor 15:3.

3 Cf. Jn 19:42.

4 Cf. Heb 4:7-9.

5 Cf. Jn 19:30.

6 Cf Col 1: 18-20.

APPLICATION

The inspired author of this epistle sets out to strengthen the faith of his readers who had become lax in the practice of their faith (see 10: 24). He recalls to their minds that Christ is high priest who has entered into the holy of holies–heaven–to make atonement for the sins of mankind, offering to God not the blood of sacrificed animals but his own precious blood which he shed for mankind on Calvary. He does not enter into heaven alone; he enters rather as the pioneer, the leader of all the faithful ones who will follow him here on earth. He is God’s own Son through whom the universe was created. He is, therefore, immeasurably above the angels. He condescended to become lower than they by taking our ordinary humanity here on earth. And this he did for love of us, to make us his brothers and heirs to heaven. He “tasted death” for all of us. Because of this, death can no longer hold us in its grip: we too shall rise from the dead as Christ did and we shall enter into the glory of heaven if we remain his faithful followers.

Surely, when a Christian realizes how much God has done for him in order to bring him to the eternal happiness of heaven, he cannot and should not find it too difficult to carry some few crosses in life. The author of this letter to the Hebrews compares our Christian life to a pilgrimage, to the heavenly sanctuary (4: 16; 12: 22). In days gone by, making a pilgrimage to some far-off shrine implied a willingness to make many sacrifices–but the thought of seeing the sacred place and kneeling in prayer there made the difficulties of the journey seem as nothing. Let us meditate more often on heaven. We too can make light of the hardships of the earthly journey.

If those in the past who have failed to merit heaven were given a second chance, do we think for a moment that they would let the difficulties and trials of life prevent them from reaching their eternal home? How gladly would they snatch up the crosses which perhaps we are throwing down? How cheerfully would they not forego the illicit pleasures of life, and how quickly would they not turn their backs on the treasures of this world, for now they see the full meaning of that warning: “what does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his (eternal) life?”

When tempted by our passions or by greed or by our pride and selfishness, let us look ahead and see ourselves at the judgement seat of God. It will help to cast these temptations far from us. I should imagine that the greatest shock those who are lost will get on their judgement day will be to realize the folly which moved them to exchange the eternity of happiness offered them for the empty baubles, the nothingness of this world’s pleasures and gains. If one had all the possible pleasures of this life and never a pain or ache or sorrow of any kind, and had all the gold in Fort Knox he still would have to leave them all at death. What then?

The Son of God came on earth, emptied himself of his divine glory and lived a life of poverty and hardship among us. He let himself be put to death—the shameful death of a criminal and outcast–so that we could merit heaven. In order to reap the great, almost incredible, reward which he won for us, we are asked merely to accept the crosses life brings us and to plod along cheerfully on the road mapped out for us by our loving Lord. He has opened heaven for us, he has shown us the way there; he has left us all the aids we need on our journey. He cannot force our free will, but is there a sane man or woman with such disdain for his or her own true interest as to refuse to follow him on the Christian road to eternal happiness? May God grant us all the grace to avoid such extreme folly!

GOSPEL

sunday-school-icon-1024x587-1440x825.jpg

Mk 10:2-16

The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked,

“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”

They were testing him.

He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”

They replied,

“Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce

and dismiss her.”

But Jesus told them,

“Because of the hardness of your hearts

he wrote you this commandment.

But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother

and be joined to his wife,

and the two shall become one flesh.

So they are no longer two but one flesh.

Therefore what God has joined together,

no human being must separate.”

In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.

He said to them,

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another

commits adultery against her;

and if she divorces her husband and marries another,

she commits adultery.”

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them,

but the disciples rebuked them.

When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them,

“Let the children come to me;

do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to

such as these.

Amen, I say to you,

whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child

will not enter it.”

Then he embraced them and blessed them,

placing his hands on them.

The Gospel of the Lord.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 699 The hand. Jesus heals the sick and blesses little children by laying hands on them.1 In his name the apostles will do the same.2 Even more pointedly, it is by the Apostles’ imposition of hands that the Holy Spirit is given.3 The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the “fundamental elements” of its teaching.4 The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in its sacramental epicleses.

CCC 1244 First Holy Communion. Having become a child of God clothed with the wedding garment, the neophyte is admitted “to the marriage supper of the Lamb”5 and receives the food of the new life, the body and blood of Christ. The Eastern Churches maintain a lively awareness of the unity of Christian initiation by giving Holy Communion to all the newly baptized and confirmed, even little children, recalling the Lord’s words: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them.”6 The Latin Church, which reserves admission to Holy Communion to those who have attained the age of reason, expresses the orientation of Baptism to the Eucharist by having the newly baptized child brought to the altar for the praying of the Our Father.

CCC 1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,”7 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

CCC 1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; “to be free” means:

– not being under constraint;

– not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

 

CCC 1639 The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself.8 From their covenant arises “an institution, confirmed by the divine law,. .. even in the eyes of society.”9 The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love.”10

CCC 1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ –

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”11 the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.

CCC 2364 The married couple forms “the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent.”12 Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. The covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble.13 “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”14

CCC 2380 Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations – even transient ones – they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire.15 The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely.16 The prophets denounce the gravity of adultery; they see it as an image of the sin of idolatry.17

CCC 2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble.18 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.19

Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.”20

1 Cf. Mk 6:5; 8:23; 10:16.

2 Cf. Mk 16:18; Acts 5:12; 14:3.

3 Cf. Acts 8:17-19; 13:3; 19:6.

4 Cf. Heb 6:2.

5 Rev 19:9.

6 Mk 10 14.

7 Mk 10 14; cf. 1 Tim 2:4.

8 Cf. Mk 10:9.

9 GS 48 # 1.

10 GS 48 # 2.

11 Mk 10:11-12.

12 GS 48 # 1.

13 Cf. CIC, can. 1056.

14 Mk 109; cf. Mt 19:1-12; 1 Cor 7: 10-11.

15 Cf. Mt 5:27-28.

16 Cf. Mt 5:32; 19:6; Mk 10:11; 1 Cor 6:9-10.

17 Cf. Hos 2:7; Jer 5:7; 13:27.

18 Cf. Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mk 10 9; Lk 16:18; 1 Cor 7:10-ll.

19 Cf. Mt 19:7-9.

20 CIC, can. 1141.

APPLICATION

On the “divorce” section of this Gospel see today’s first reading. Christ clearly states that from the very beginning, God’s plan for marriage was that it should be a life-long unity of one man and one woman. Its purpose is the procreation of children and their education, as well as the mutual love and fulfillment of the husband and wife. These demand this life-long bond. Divorce, which tries to break this bond, breaks the law of the Creator who decreed what was best for the temporal and spiritual welfare of the human race.

The last four verses of today’s Gospel describe an incident which is in no way connected with the previous discussion but which has a very useful lesson for all Christians. It describes Christ’s love for children and while manifesting this love he stresses the need

for all his true followers to be childlike.  “I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  To receive the kingdom of God is to accept the teaching of Christ and live according to it in his kingdom on earth. He who does this will enter, after death, into the eternal kingdom of heaven. Christ says, however, that we must accept “like a child”: his kingdom on earth, his teaching and the Church he founded to carry on that teaching. It does not mean: in a childish way, an unthinking, uneducated way, but in a child-like way–a humble, grateful, receptive way. A child is unselfconscious, content to be dependent on others’ care and generosity. Christianity is a gift of the generous God to us, we have done nothing and never could do anything to merit it.  We must accept it simply and gratefully as a gift; we could never deserve it.

While Christianity is a religion of reason and conforms in all its aspects to the rational nature of man–its basis is the revelation of God who is the author and foundation of all rationality–yet it is the heart of man rather than his intellect which Christ means to capture. The assent of the intellect to the doctrine revealed by Christ is not sufficient of itself for a Christian to earn the eternal kingdom; faith is the total acceptance and commitment of the believer to God through Jesus Christ. The man of true faith commits himself to God with a filial childlike trust, assured that if he does all that in him lies God will do the rest.

Therefore, our Christian faith must be childlike, a trusting, humble and obedient faith. This is the kind of faith that will move mountains–the mountains that loom so large in the vision of too many Christians today–the mountains of doubt, selfishness, unwillingness to be subjected to authority.  Christ asks us, if we would be his followers: to take up our daily cross and climb the way to Calvary after him. This daily cross is made of the troubles and trials of life from which no one can escape.  They can be borne with reluctance and grumbling, or they can be accepted as the loving God’s means of training us for the future life.  Every true Christian accepts his trials in the latter way, for if he is true to his faith he knows that his years on earth are his apprenticeship to prepare him for his eternal life.

God is surely not asking too much of us when he asks us to live our Christian faith in childlike humility, candor and confidence during the days of our pilgrimage on this earth.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Bond of Marriage

The question of the right relationship between man and woman sinks its roots in the most profound essence of the human being, and can only find its answer in the latter.  It cannot be separated from the always ancient and always new question of man about himself: Who am I?  Does God exist?  And, who is God?  What is his face really like?  The Bible’s answer to these questions is unitary and consequential:  Man is created in the image and likeness of God, and God himself is love.  For this reason, the vocation to love is what makes man the authentic image of God:  He becomes like God in the measure that he becomes someone who lives.  From this fundamental bond between God and man another is derived:  The indissoluble bond between spirit and body.  Man is, in fact, soul that expresses itself in the body and [the] body that is vivified by an immortal spirit.  Also, the body of man and of woman has, therefore, so to speak, a theological character, it is not simply body, and what is biological in man is not only biological, but an expression and fulfillment of our humanity…  In this way, from the two bonds, that of man with God and – in man – that of the body with the spirit, arises a third bond:  the one that exists between person and institution.  The totality of man includes the dimension of time, and man’s “yes” goes beyond the present moment:  In his totality, the “yes” means “always,” it constitutes the area of fidelity.  Only in his interior can this faith grow which gives a future and allows the children, the fruit of love, to believe in man and in his future in difficult times.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of Spouses

O Lord, holy Father, omnipotent and eternal God, we give you thanks and we bless your holy name. You created man and woman in your image and blessed their union, so that each would be for the other a help and support. Remember us today. Protect us and grant that our love may be in the image of the devotion and love of Christ for his Church. Grant us a long and fruitful life together, in joy and in peace, so that, through your Son and in the Holy Spirit, our hearts may always rise to you in praise and goods works.

Amen.

 

Posted in Catholic

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

gadarene.jpg

“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.  “Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.  There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Parents’ Prayer for Their Children

O God the Father of mankind, who hast given unto me these my children, and committed them to my charge to bring them up for Thee, and to prepare them for eternal life: help me with Thy heavenly grace, that I may be able to fulfill this most sacred duty and stewardship. Teach me both what to give and what to withhold; when to reprove and when to forbear; make me to be gentle, yet firm; considerate and watchful; and deliver me equally from the weakness of indulgence, and the excess of severity; and grant that, both by word and example, I may be careful to lead them in the ways of wisdom and true piety, so that at last I may, with them, be admitted to the unspeakable joys of our true home in heaven, in the company of the blessed Angels and Saints. Amen.

O Heavenly Father, I commend my children to Thy care. Be Thou their God and Father; and mercifully supply whatever is lacking in me through frailty or negligence. Strengthen them to overcome the corruptions of the world, whether from within or without; and deliver them from the secret snares of the enemy. Pour Thy grace into their hearts, and strengthen and multiply in them the gifts of Thy Holy Spirit, that they may daily grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and so, faithfully serving Thee here, may come to rejoice in Thy presence hereafter. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=71

COLLECT

O God, who manifest your almighty power

above all by pardoning and showing mercy,

bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us

and make those hastening to attain your promises

heirs to the treasures of heaven.

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

246613.p.jpg

Nm 11:25-29

The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses.

Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses,

the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders;

and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad,

were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp.

They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent;

yet the spirit came to rest on them also,

and they prophesied in the camp.

So, when a young man quickly told Moses,

“Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, ”

Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses?aide, said,

“Moses, my lord, stop them.”

But Moses answered him,

“Are you jealous for my sake?

Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!

Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!”

APPLICATION

The close personal interest of God in his Chosen People–not only when bringing them from Egypt to Canaan, but all through their history–must strike even a casual reader of the Old Testament. He was a true Father to them, even though more often than not they proved themselves to be unworthy children. At times he had to chastise them as has any true father to chastise the children he loves, but his anger against them never lasted long. His constant aim was to make of them a loving and obedient family. In the desert, on their journey from Egypt to Canaan, he provided for their bodily and spiritual needs; while in Canaan he helped them to overcome their enemies and establish themselves in the land he had promised their patriarchs; and through his prophets he tried to protect them from the idolatrous practices of their pagan neighbors.

If one had read only the Old Testament story, and had never heard of the New Testament, one would surely find it difficult to understand why God–the God of the universe and of all nations–gave so much of his loving care to this one nation, while practically excluding all others. Such a reader would be like a man who read only the preface to a book while omitting the book itself. The Old Testament is in fact an introduction, a preface to the story of God’s real love for all men. God picked Abraham and his descendants to prepare the way for the coming of his Son as man, in order to make all men sons of God and candidates for heaven. While favoring the Israelites then, he was preparing a far greater favor for all nations–he had not forgotten or neglected them. Through the Israelites they would receive the blessings he had planned from all eternity for the whole human race.

The incident described in today’s reading shows God’s interest in the temporal and spiritual welfare of the Chosen People in their desert wanderings. It is also a foreshadowing of the power of the Spirit which Christ would give to the new Chosen People–the Church, for its spiritual government and guidance. Moses and his assistants were types of Peter and the other Apostles. They and their successors would do for the Church of Christ what Moses and his helpers did for the Israelites–they would teach and guide it on the way of truth, they would lead it on its journey through this life to the gates of eternity.

The scene in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost day, when the Holy Spirit descended with visible signs and effects on the Apostles, was a replica of what happened in the desert to the Chosen People after they had left Mount Sinai; but the Jerusalem event had a meaning and a value which would extend through all time into eternity. The Church was to be taught the full knowledge of God as seen in the incarnation. It was to be taught the true destination of man. That destination was not Canaan or any other earthly kingdom, but unending life in God’s kingdom. The Church was to be taught how to reach that goal. Peter and his assistants were given all the necessary helps which the members of the Church would need for their spiritual life.

God was good to the Israelites and near to them, he is much nearer to us and greater are the divine gifts he has given us. He did not visit us in a cloud, he came in the person of his divine Son and lived among us. That divine Son suffered torments and death in his human nature so that we could live forever. He founded for us a Church, a living institution in which we have all the helps we need, including infallible guidance, when necessary, from the leaders he has appointed for us. They are the successors of Peter and the Apostles. While we live loyally in the Church, striving in all sincerity to carry out its laws, we need have no fear for our eventual salvation.

Among the Israelites were some who resisted the authority of Moses and his assistants even though God had given his spirit to them. In Christ’s Church also are some who challenge the authority of the divinely appointed leaders–the successors of Peter and the Apostles; the disobedient Israelites died in the desert, they did not see nor enter the Promised Land.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1541 The liturgy of the Church, however, sees in the priesthood of Aaron and the service of the Levites, as in the institution of the seventy elders,1 a prefiguring of the ordained ministry of the New Covenant. Thus in the Latin Rite the Church prays in the consecratory preface of the ordination of bishops:

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,. .. by your gracious word

you have established the plan of your Church.

From the beginning,

you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation.

You established rulers and priests

and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you. ..2

1 Cf. Num 11:24-25.

2 Roman Pontifical, Ordination of Bishops 26, Prayer of Consecration.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The law of the LORD is perfect,

refreshing the soul;

the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,

giving wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The fear of the LORD is pure,

enduring forever;

the ordinances of the LORD are true,

all of them just.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Though your servant is careful of them,

very diligent in keeping them,

Yet who can detect failings?

Cleanse me from my unknown faults!

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant;

let it not rule over me.

Then shall I be blameless and innocent

of serious sin.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

READING II

S130lg.jpg

Jas 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.

Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,

your gold and silver have corroded,

and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;

it will devour your flesh like a fire.

You have stored up treasure for the last days.

Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers

who harvested your fields are crying aloud;

and the cries of the harvesters

have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;

you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.

You have condemned;

you have murdered the righteous one;

he offers you no resistance.

APPLICATION

The unscrupulous rich to whom St. James is referring most likely were not Christians. He is, nevertheless, warning all Christians to beware of the danger of concentrating on the accumulation of earthly wealth, especially if that wealth is acquired through injustice to the poor and helpless who labor for them. At the same time, he is consoling his fellow-Christians who are suffering and are without hope of redress at the hands of the unscrupulous ones. The sufferings of the Christians will bring them an eternal reward, while the wealth collected by the rich will be as additional instruments in the punishment which judgement so very soon will inflict on them.

There is a reminder for all of us in these words of St. James. We have not here a lasting city; our purpose in life is not to collect the goods of this world in order to spend our years in luxury and pleasure, but to use this world as a stepping-stone toward our real goal in the life hereafter. Unfortunately, this earth with its wealth and pleasures, has a certain attraction for all of us. For some they become so alluring that they obscure, and sometimes exclude, the real purpose of life. While far from approving of this foolish mentality, we can nevertheless understand it. We are creatures of this earth, our life began here and here it would all have ended if God in his goodness had not planned otherwise. If this earth were the sole stage on which our life’s drama was to run its course, then any sane man would try to get all he could out of this life. If death were the end, then surely we should try to pack all the pleasure and luxury possible into our few years on earth.

As Christians we know the true purpose of our life on earth. We know God’s loving plan for us. An eternity of happiness awaits us after death, if we live according to the rules he has laid down for us. With such a future awaiting us, God is not asking too much of us when he demands of us to be relatively detached from the things of earth. “Relatively,” we say, because we may acquire within reason the goods of this world according to our needs, and we may enjoy the pleasures of this life that are according to our state in life, not against the commandments.

For many the difficulty is to control “within reason” the acquisition of worldly goods and to see that these goods are acquired within the laws of justice. Today, in our Western world, because of the solidarity of laborers through their unions and associations, it is not quite so easy for employers to deprive their employees of just wages. What is often forgotten, however, is that the employees can and do at times act unjustly by failing, through idleness and unjustified abstention from work, to earn the wages given them. The worker, as well as the employer, is bound by the laws of justice.

It is perhaps in the underdeveloped countries today that the words of St. James are still literally fulfilled. There the unscrupulous are amassing wealth at the expense, and by the exploitation, of the poor and helpless natives. To our shame, many of these oppressors of the poor are Christian at least in name, but they have forgotten Christian justice and their true purpose in life. As individuals, we cannot do much to right such shameful wrongs, but there are groups formed or being formed in the Western world to promote world justice and peace; by joining such groups and helping them financially, if possible, we can do much to stop such seriously sinful violations of the Christian code and the code of simple human justice.

Today, let us examine our consciences in relation to this world’s goods. Are we acquiring more than we need? Are we acquiring these goods justly? If we are employers: are we paying our workers a just wage? Are we treating them as fellowman, fellow-Christians, fellow-travelers to heaven? If we are employees: are we earning justly the wages we collect? Have we an interest in our employer’s business and property? Do we act justly toward all our fellow-workers? If each of us can answer “yes” to our questions we are laying up “treasure for ourselves in heaven where neither moth nor woodworm destroy them nor can thieves break in and steal them” (Mt. 6: 21).

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,1 the sin of the Sodomites,2 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,3 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,4 injustice to the wage earner.5

CCC 2409 Even if it does not contradict the provisions of civil law, any form of unjustly taking and keeping the property of others is against the seventh commandment: thus, deliberate retention of goods lent or of objects lost; business fraud; paying unjust wages; forcing up prices by taking advantage of the ignorance or hardship of another.6  The following are also morally illicit: speculation in which one contrives to manipulate the price of goods artificially in order to gain an advantage to the detriment of others; corruption in which one influences the judgment of those who must make decisions according to law; appropriation and use for private purposes of the common goods of an enterprise; work poorly done; tax evasion; forgery of checks and invoices; excessive expenses and waste. Willfully damaging private or public property is contrary to the moral law and requires reparation.

CCC 2435 Recourse to a strike is morally legitimate when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit. It becomes morally unacceptable when accompanied by violence, or when objectives are included that are not directly linked to working conditions or are contrary to the common good.

CCC 2445 Love for the poor is incompatible with immoderate love of riches or their selfish use:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist you.7

1 Cf. Gen 4:10.

2 Cf. Gen 18:20; 19:13.

3 Cf. Ex 3:7-10.

4 Cf. Ex 20:20-22.

5 Cf. Deut 24:14-15; Jas 5:4.

6 Cf. Deut 25:13-16; 24:14-15; Jas 5:4; Am 8:4-6.

7 Jas 5:1-6.

GOSPEL

gadarene.jpg

Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,

“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,

and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”

Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.

There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name

who can at the same time speak ill of me.

For whoever is not against us is for us.

Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink

because you belong to Christ,

amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,

it would be better for him if a great millstone

were put around his neck

and he were thrown into the sea.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.

It is better for you to enter into life maimed

than with two hands to go into Gehenna,

into the unquenchable fire.

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.

It is better for you to enter into life crippled

than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.

Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye

than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,

where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'”

APPLICATION

There are two very practical lessons we must learn from today’s Gospel: the grave obligation we have of not causing scandal to our fellow-Christians or indeed to any man or woman and secondly, the willingness we should have to sacrifice any earthly possession which is a cause of sin to us.

Scandal, the sin of being a cause or an occasion of another’s sin, is doubly sinful involving one’s own sin and the sin of the person scandalized. Scandal can be caused by word–that is, by teaching or propagating wrong doctrine or by giving sinful advice, and it can be caused by one’s own sinful deeds which may be imitated by others. Those in positions of authority such as parents whose duty it is to bring up their children in the Christian faith, are especially liable to give scandal if they fail to live truly Christian lives. Christian parents who fail to live according to their faith will be held accountable not only for their own sins, but for the sins of their children and perhaps their children’s children for generations to come.

Much, if not all of today’s moral laxity and permissiveness can be blamed on parents who have failed to give the example of true Christian living in the home and in dealings with their neighbors. To children of such parents, Christianity is only a label; it does not inform or inspire their lives, hence they are only nominal Christians. It is true that there may be “black sheep” in the best of Christian homes. When, however, all the children of a home are “black sheep” the whiteness, the sincerity, of the parents of such a home must certainly be called into question. There may be many bad influences at work outside the home but the good example of truly Christian parents can counteract these influences. Let parents see to it that they will not be a cause of scandal and a cause of eternal loss to the children God put into their charge.

The second lesson for all of us in today’s Gospel is that we should ever realize that eternal life is worth any sacrifice which we may be called on to make. The road we have to travel in life is not an easy one. As our Lord says in another place: “Enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt. 7: 13). We wish to reach heaven, therefore we must be prepared to follow Christ; we must not allow others to lead us astray but be prepared and determined to conquer and resist our own evil inclinations also.

The world and our own human nature will put many obstacles in our way. For that reason God gave us the Ten Commandments which spell out for us what we are to avoid and what we are to do if we wish to have eternal life. For many, keeping these commandments is no easy task–they make severe demands at times, but our Lord makes it crystal clear that we must endure the hardship because the prize, the reward, is everlasting happiness. When he said that we must be ready to deprive ourselves of a foot or a hand or an eye if they should be obstacles to us, he was speaking metaphorically: to stress that we must be ready if necessary to give up what is nearest and dearest to our nature. The less of earthly luggage we carry with us and the less of earthly attachments we give way to, the easier and safer will be our journey.

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.1 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”2 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”3

1 Cf. Mt 5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50; Mk 9:43-48.

2 Mt 13:41-42.

3 Mt 25:41.

BENEDICTUS

Becoming Like the Angels

Faith gives joy.  When God is not there, the world becomes desolate, and everything becomes boring, and everything is completely unsatisfactory.  It’s easy to see today how a world empty of God is also increasingly consuming itself, how it has become a wholly joyless world.  The great joy comes from the fact that there is this great love, and that is the essential message of faith.  You are unswervingly loved.  This also explains why Christianity spread first predominantly among the weak and suffering.  To that extent it can be said that the basic element of Christianity is joy…  It is joy in the proper sense.  A joy that exists together with a difficult life and also makes this life livable…  Faith also makes man light.  To believe means that we become like angels.  We can fly, because we no longer weigh so heavy in our own estimation.  To become a believer means to become light, to escape our own gravity, which drags us down, and thus to enter the weightlessness of faith…  Catholics are not promised an “exterior” happiness but rather a deep interior security through communion with the Lord.  That he  is an ultimate light of happiness in one’s life is in fact a part of all this…  We are so alienated from God’s voice that we simply do not recognize it immediately as his.  But I would still say that everyone who is in some sense attentive can experience and sense for himself that now he is speaking to me.  And it is a chance for me to get to know him.  Precisely in catastrophic situations he can suddenly break in, if I am awake and if someone helps me decipher the message.

Pope Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

St. Francis of Assisi’s Vocation Prayer

Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our minds. Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that we may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen.

St. Francis of Assisi Feast day October 4th

Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, Divine Mercy, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, Mary, mercy, Pentecost, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

 

Jesus Blessing the ChildrenEbay.jpg                 “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

 

Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Lord, I pray that in my home, peace and quiet and well being may prevail under the shadow of Your holy mantle. Bless and protect, O Lord, my endeavors, my enterprises and all those who depend on me and everything I long for and desire. Banish from my mind and my heart false ideas and evil sentiments. Infuse in me a love of my neighbor and grant me the means to help him. Give me resignation and fortitude of spirit in time of adversity, so that I may rise above the contradictions of life. Guide and protect, O Lord, my own who are exposed to the dangers and contingencies of this world. Do not forget, O my Jesus, our loved ones with whom we were united in life and whose departure from this earth causes us sorrow, at the same time consoled by the thought that, because they remained faithful to You, You did not abandon them at the hour of death. Have pity on them, O Lord, and bring them to their eternal glory in heaven.   Amen

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

DSC_0961.JPG

Wis 2:12, 17-20

The wicked say:

Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;

he sets himself against our doings,

reproaches us for transgressions of the law

and charges us with violations of our training.

Let us see whether his words be true;

let us find out what will happen to him.

For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him

and deliver him from the hand of his foes.

With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test

that we may have proof of his gentleness

and try his patience.

Let us condemn him to a shameful death;

for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

The word of the Lord.

APPLICATION

St. Augustine says: “corruptio optimi pessima”–the best when corrupted becomes the most corrupt. The Jews who abandoned the true God and his law became worse than the pagans who never knew God. They also became the most bitter opponents of the observant Jews. The same holds today: the Christian who abandons his faith, as a general rule becomes a bitter opponent of Christianity–the deserting soldier always condemns his army! When the book of Wisdom was written there were renegade Jews in Egypt, and elsewhere. They despised and hated the God-fearing Jews, because they reminded them of their own apostasy; they would do all in their power to humiliate and exterminate them. When they got one such Jew in their clutches they plotted to jeer at him and mock him saying: “he claimed to be a son of God, let us see if God will deliver him from (us) his adversaries.” That this could have happened there can be no doubt, and it may be that it is of some such incident or incidents that the words of Wisdom are to be understood in their literal sense.

The similarity of the ideas here expressed with the fourth Song of the Suffering Servant in second-Isaiah (52-53), which refers to Christ are so close that most of the Fathers of the Church saw in these words a typical prophecy giving the reasons for, and the fact of, the sufferings and death of Christ. He was the perfect Jew par excellence. He was an inconvenience and embarrassment to the Scribes and Pharisees and opposed their actions. He reproached them for sins against the law and against the true tradition (see Mk. 7: 1-23 and Gospel for 22nd Sunday). He claimed to be the Son of God: this was the principal charge made against him at his trial (Mk. 14: 61-64). “Let us condemn him to a shameful death,” they say, “he will be protected” (by God). While he hung on the cross the passers-by and the chief priests and Scribes jeered him also: “he puts his trust in God,” they said : “now let God rescue him if he wants him.” For he did say: “I am the Son of God ” (Mt. 27: 42-43).

While some loyal Jews may have suffered injury and maybe death at the hands of Jewish apostates in Egypt, the words of the author of Wisdom were certainly fulfilled to the letter in Christ, the true Son of God, the perfect loyal Jew. The opposition of the Scribes and Pharisees which was manifest all through his public life and which culminated on Calvary arose from their jealous pride. In their proud estimation of themselves they alone were the true sons of Abraham. They heartily despised the tax-gatherers, the uneducated in the law and human traditions, and those guilty of human failings. All of these were sinners to be avoided at any cost. Christ who came to save sinners associated freely with these people, thus openly “opposing the Pharisees’ action”, hence their plotting and their final resolve to get rid of him. They thought they had succeeded on Good Friday but Easter Sunday proved how wrong they were. He was indeed the Son of God.

Our Lord warned his disciples, and through them all of us, to beware of the leaven–the pride of the Pharisees. Of all sins pride is the most injurious to the sinner and the most offensive to God. It was the first human sin and the source of all other sins. There is an inclination to pride in all men so we must be on our guard against it. If we try to remember always that everything we are, and everything we have is from God this would remove any cause for pride. If, furthermore, we remember that we are Christians, followers of the humble Christ, we can hardly be tempted, must less yield to the temptation, to be proud; for a proud Christian is a contradiction in terms. If we are Christians we cannot be proud, if we are proud we are no longer Christians.

Let us ever strive to imitate, in our own way, him “whose state was divine, but who emptied himself of his divine glory to assume the condition of a slave… and, being as all men are, he was humbler yet

even to accepting death, death on a cross” (Ph. 2: 6-8). He, Christ, is our leader and model, let us strive daily to follow him.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 54:3-4, 5, 6 and 8

The Lord upholds my life.

O God, by your name save me,

and by your might defend my cause.

O God, hear my prayer;

hearken to the words of my mouth.

The Lord upholds my life.

For the haughty men have risen up against me,

the ruthless seek my life;

they set not God before their eyes.

The Lord upholds my life.

Behold, God is my helper;

the Lord sustains my life.

Freely will I offer you sacrifice;

I will praise your name, O LORD, for its goodness.

The Lord upholds my life.

READING II

images.jpg

Jas 3:16-4:3

Beloved:

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,

there is disorder and every foul practice.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,

then peaceable, gentle, compliant,

full of mercy and good fruits,

without inconstancy or insincerity.

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace

for those who cultivate peace.

Where do the wars

and where do the conflicts among you come from?

Is it not from your passions

that make war within your members?

You covet but do not possess.

You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;

you fight and wage war.

You do not possess because you do not ask.

You ask but do not receive,

because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

The word of the Lord.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2737 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”1 If we ask with a divided heart, we are “adulterers”;2 God cannot answer us, for he desires our well-being, our life. “Or do you suppose that it is in vain that the scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us?’”3 That our God is “jealous” for us is the sign of how true his love is. If we enter into the desire of his Spirit, we shall be heard.

Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.4

God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give.5

1 Jas 4:3; cf. the whole context: Jas 4:1-10; 1:5-8; 5:16.

2 Jas 4:4.

3 Jas 4:5.

4 Evagrius Ponticus, De oratione 34: PG 79, 1173.

5 St. Augustine, Ep. 130, 8, 17: PL 33, 500.

APPLICATION  

The gospel of Christ is a gospel which preaches peace and harmony between man and God, and between man and man. Christ, the Son of God, who took our human nature made all men adopted sons of God. All men are therefore members of the same family–the family of God. Therefore, they should reverence and honor God their Father at all times and they should respect and love one another as brothers, which they are. Above all others, Christians should put this gospel truth into practice among themselves and then among all men. They know, from Christ’s own lips, that love of God and love of neighbor are the two basic essential commands of Christianity. The man who keeps these two commandments keeps the “whole law and the prophets”–the whole of revealed religion.

Had Christians done this down through the twenty centuries of Christianity what a different world ours would be today! The vast majority of the peoples of this earth would be Christians. It is a religion, in practice so divine, and yet so rationally human: God, loved and obeyed by a family united in love. This would have convinced all heathens and would have kept Christians closely united and made the rise of agnosticism and atheism impossible.

However, there were lax, half-hearted and selfish Christians in the Church from the very beginning. They were there already in St. James’ day which was less than a generation after the death and resurrection of Christ. Because of jealousy and selfish ambition, there existed disorder and every vile practice among those Christians to whom he was writing. The jealous and selfish ones resented others for having certain worldly goods or positions–goods or positions they lawfully gained. Why, say the jealous ones, should we not have these benefits? Let us take them; hence followed “wars and fightings” among fellow-Christians. What a scandal for their pagan neighbors and what a violation of the basic Christian law!

Unfortunately, St. James’ letter did not eradicate these human weaknesses from human nature. There have been and there will be jealous and selfish people and nations who envy the success of others and, as is often the case, successful but selfish people who do not want others to equal them. Our own century has witnessed two world wars on a scale never seen before, and for what reason? Was there a just side in these wars? History will have difficulty in finding it. It is not always the invader, or so-called aggressor, who starts the evil of war. Jealousies and selfish interests have aroused hatred and animosity for years before ever the first gun-fire is heard.

Our world was never so divided and so lacking in true Christian brotherhood as it is today. Too many are lacking the necessities of life, while the well-to-do are smothering, in excesses and luxuries, their humanity and any brotherly love they have. The wealthy nations, jealous, ambitious and afraid of each other’s ambitions, are squandering on war machines wealth that could save millions from starvation and slavery. Not only are professed atheists but ex-Christians also, forgetful that God is their Father and therefore they can no longer see all men as their brothers.

This is a time when true Christians must try to make their voices heard above the din and noise of the warmongers, who will remain safely at home filling their coffers, when war comes to claim millions of innocent lives. We want peace not war; we want to live in charity and unity with all men, not in enmity and hatred. Let us begin at home, by our charity and brotherly love. Let us make our own neighborhood a haven of peace and happiness and let us pray God to fill the hearts of all men with the same Christian spirit.

GOSPEL

Jesus+with+children-long.jpg

 

Mk 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,

but he did not wish anyone to know about it.

He was teaching his disciples and telling them,

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men

and they will kill him,

and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”

But they did not understand the saying,

and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,

he began to ask them,

“What were you arguing about on the way?”

But they remained silent.

They had been discussing among themselves on the way

who was the greatest.

Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,

“If anyone wishes to be first,

he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,

and putting his arms around it, he said to them,

“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;

and whoever receives me,

receives not me but the One who sent me.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/092318.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 474 By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal.1 What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.2

CCC 557 “When the days drew near for him to be taken up [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem.”3 By this decision he indicated that he was going up to Jerusalem prepared to die there. Three times he had announced his Passion and Resurrection; now, heading toward Jerusalem, Jesus says: “It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”4

CCC 1825 Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies.”5 The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.6

The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: “charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”7

1 Cf. Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34; 14:18-20, 26-30.

2 Cf. Mk 13:32, Acts 1:7.

3 Lk 9:51; cf. Jn 13:1.

4 Lk 13:33; cf. Mk 8:31-33; 9:31-32; 10:32-34.

5 Rom 5:10.

6 Cf. Mt 5:44; Lk 10:27-37; Mk 9:37; Mt 25:40, 45.

7 1 Cor 13:4-7.

APPLICATION

The Apostles were still very worldly-minded, they were full of the hope that Christ would establish an earthly messianic kingdom, that he would not only free their holy land from the hated pagan rulers but that he would set up a worldwide empire for the people of God. Many of the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament spoke of a worldwide kingdom; all nations would submit to the descendant of David; Jerusalem would be the magnet which would attract all peoples. The prophets, however, were speaking of the true messianic kingdom, the spiritual kingdom that Christ would establish. The Apostles were as yet unable to see the true meaning of these prophecies. They took them as referring to a worldly kingdom. They had come to believe that Christ was the promised Messiah, therefore he would overcome all enemies and all opposition and set up this kingdom. How, therefore, could his enemies overpower him much less put him to death before he had accomplished his task? Thus they refused to believe his prophecies concerning his coming tortures and death.

Now, either in trying to understand what he had so plainly told them, or maybe in putting this disturbing thought far from their minds, they began disputing with one another as to which of them would have the highest post of honor in the earthly messianic kingdom which they had envisaged. How worldly but how human they were! We must not forget though, that they were not yet really Christians–they needed the death and resurrection of Christ to make them what they became–his true followers and loyal disciples.

There was in the unformed Apostles a desire to turn Christ’s kingdom into an earthly welfare state, rather than into a preparation for heaven? All Christians know that Christ suffered and died for their salvation, and that he asked his followers to take up their cross and follow him if they wished to be his disciples. The first generations of Christians fully understood this and faithfully followed him even to martyrdom. However, as time went on and opposition to the Christian faith disappeared, so too did the zeal and fervor of many Christians. For centuries, we have had nominal Christians in Christ’s Church: men and women who tried to make their paradise in this world, and forgot the everlasting heaven.

Our own age has seen an unprecedented increase in this falling away of Christians. Leaving aside the parts of Europe which are professedly atheist–but where in spite of the leaders there are many sincere and devout Christians–the number of lapsed and nominal Christians in the other Western countries is frightening. These non-practicing Christians, unwilling to carry their crosses, have decided to make this earth their paradise. They want prosperity, comfort and happiness in this world. The vast majority of them, of course, refuse to look to the future; it could be an unpleasant thought, yet they must see that in every town and village there is a mortician, an undertaker who makes a good living disposing of human “remains.” Die they must; “and what then?” should be a question which overshadows their lives.

Many of these people who in practice have abandoned Christianity, try to salve their consciences by devoting any time they can spare to making this planet a better place in which to live. It is an excellent aim with a possibility of success–if the Fatherhood of God and the true brotherhood of man are upheld. But otherwise its a vain Utopia. If God, and Christ’s teaching are left out of our reckoning, we shall ever have jealousies, enmities, hatred and wars. Christians have made war on Christians because neither side in the struggle was truly Christian. What chance then has the world when Christ and Christianity are banished from it?

Today’s thought for each one of us is this: Christ became man, suffered and died as man, for our sakes. By his resurrection he conquered death and opened heaven for us. Heaven is our true destiny. Loving God and our neighbor and carrying our cross is the only way to reach heaven. Forget this “heaven on earth” doctrine; it does not and never will exist! Accept Christ and you are accepting the Father who sent him. He in turn will accept you.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Success of the Cross

On the cross, Christ saw love through to the end.  For all the differences there may be between the accounts in the various Gospels, there is one point in common:  Jesus died praying. And in the abyss of death he upheld the First Commandment and held on to the presence of God.  Out of such a death springs this sacrament, the Eucharist… Did Jesus fail? …  Success is definitely not one of the names of God and it is not Christian to have an eye to outward success or numbers.  God’s paths are other than that.  His success comes about through the cross and is always found under that sign.  The true witnesses to his authenticity, down through their emblem…  What strengthens our faith, what remains constant, what gives us hope, is the Church of the suffering.  She stands, to the present day, as a sign that God exists and that man is not just a cesspit, but that he can be saved…  The Church of the suffering gives credibility to Christ: she is God’s success in the world; the sign that gives us hope and courage; the sign from which still flows the power of life, which reaches beyond mere thoughts of success and which thereby purifies men and opens up for God a door into this world.  So let us be ready to hear the call of Jesus Christ, who achieved the great success of God on the cross; he who, as the grain of wheat that died, has become fruitful down through all the centuries; the Tree of Life, in whom even today men may put their hope.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for the Virtue of Humility

Lord Jesus, when You walked the earth,

Your humility obscured Your Kingship.

Your meekness confused the arrogant,

Hindering them from grasping

Your purpose,

Your nobleness attending to the destitute.

Teach me to model after Your eminence,

To subject my human nature to humility.

Grant me a with a natural inclination

To never view myself greater than anyone.

Banish all lingering sparks of self-importance

That could elevate me greater than You.

Let my heart always imitate Your humility!

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=1968

 

Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, Divine Mercy, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, Mary, mercy, Oblate, Pentecost, prayer, Resurrection, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

The Spirit to Know You

Gracious and Holy Father,

Please give me:

intellect to understand you,

reason to discern you,

diligence to seek you,

wisdom to find you,

a spirit to know you,

a heart to meditate upon you,

ears to hear you,

eyes to to see you,

a tongue to proclaim you,

a way of life pleasing to you,

patience to wait for you

and perseverance to look for you.

Grant me a perfect end,

your holy presence,

a blessed resurrection

and life everlasting.

St. Benedict

COLLECT

Look upon us, O God,

Creator and ruler of all things,

and, that we may feel the working of your mercy,

grant that we may serve you with all our heart.

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

Is 50:5-9a

The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear;

and I have not rebelled,

have not turned back.

I gave my back to those who beat me,

my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;

my face I did not shield

from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,

therefore I am not disgraced;

I have set my face like flint,

knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

He is near who upholds my right;

if anyone wishes to oppose me,

let us appear together.

Who disputes my right?

Let that man confront me.

See, the Lord GOD is my help;

who will prove me wrong?

APPLICATION

Five hundred and fifty years before Christ came on earth, a prophet whom we call the second-Isaiah encouraged the Jewish exiles in Babylon with his descriptions of the great blessings which the Messiah would bring them (see chapters 43:44; 47; 51; 52). These blessings would be bought at a great price, bought for us by the shame, humiliations and death of the future Messiah. The prophet calls the Messiah the Servant of God—-a servant faithful and obedient unto death, and because of his perfect obedience and fidelity he would be raised from the grave in glory and be given numerous off spring. This suffering and obedient Servant was Christ. Christ himself applied these prophecies to himself (see today’s Gospel: also Lk. 24: 26 etc.). He fulfilled these prophecies to the letter, and he did so for us and for our salvation. Our Creed says: “Who (the Son of God) came down from heaven for us men and for our salvation . . . suffered under Pontius Pilate, was put to death and was buried. The third day he arose from the dead, ascended to heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.”

This reading has been chosen for us to recall to our minds all that Christ has done for us in carrying out the Father’s plan for our eternal welfare. God does not need us, he has infinite perfection and happiness in the community of the Blessed Trinity, but because his nature is goodness itself, he wants to share his perfection and his happiness with us his creatures. For that reason he decreed the incarnation of his divine Son from all eternity. Because sin had entered the world and man had rebelled against God, Christ when he came met with opposition, disbelief and hatred from the leaders of those who had been prepared for centuries to receive him—the Chosen People. Thus his life among us was a life of humiliations, persecutions and opposition which culminated in the death on the cross. But faithful and obedient Servant of the Father that he was, he bore it all in patience and in submission even unto death; but death could not hold him. He was raised in glory and returned triumphant to heaven to reassume the glory of his divinity of which he had “emptied himself” while on earth, as St. Paul tells us. With his glorified human nature he now occupies the chief place in heaven after that of God the Father.

We all know what meaning for us the incarnation has and the humiliations and sufferings it implied for Christ. The crucifix over the altar, the stations of the cross, the sacrifice of the Mass recall to our minds what Christ has done for us; but do we always react as we should to this sacred remembrance? Our first reaction should be sincere acts of gratitude to our Father in heaven and to his divine Son, for going to such lengths to give us eternal life. Christ died so that we should live eternally; he stretched out his arms on the cross in order to gather all men to his Father in heaven. We can do something in return. It should be our second reaction to remembrance of what the incarnation means: we can bear our own daily crosses patiently and gladly, for compared to the cross of Christ they are light indeed. A third way of showing our appreciation of Christ’s suffering for us is to help our neighbor to carry his cross. We can all, and we all should, if we appreciate what the incarnation means, help to spread its fruits as widely as possible. As true apostles of Christ’s faith we need never fear of becoming apostates.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 713 The Messiah’s characteristics are revealed above all in the “Servant songs.”1 These songs proclaim the meaning of Jesus’ Passion and show how he will pour out the Holy Spirit to give life to the many: not as an outsider, but by embracing our “form as slave.”2 Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.

1 Cf. Isa 42:1-9; cf. Mt 12:18-21; Jn 1:32-34; then cf. Isa 49:1-6; cf. Mt 3:17; Lk 2:32; finally cf. Isa 50:4-10 and Isa 52:13-53:12.

2 Phil 2:7.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 114:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

I love the LORD because he has heard

my voice in supplication,

Because he has inclined his ear to me

the day I called.

I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

The cords of death encompassed me;

the snares of the netherworld seized upon me;

I fell into distress and sorrow,

And I called upon the name of the LORD,

“O LORD, save my life!”

I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

Gracious is the LORD and just;

yes, our God is merciful.

The LORD keeps the little ones;

I was brought low, and he saved me.

I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

For he has freed my soul from death,

my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

I shall walk before the Lord

in the land of the living.

I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

READING II

Jas 2:14-18

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,

if someone says he has faith but does not have works?

Can that faith save him?

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear

and has no food for the day,

and one of you says to them,

“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, ”

but you do not give them the necessities of the body,

what good is it?

So also faith of itself,

if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say,

“You have faith and I have works.”

Demonstrate your faith to me without works,

and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works

APPLICATION

A pagan can recite the Creed from beginning to end from: “I believe in God the Father almighty” down to: “life everlasting, Amen,” but he cannot recite it sincerely and with conviction and remain a pagan. To say: “I believe in God” and do nothing whatsoever about it means that I am not stating the truth; I am lying, when I say: “I believe in God.” The “Apostles’ Creed” is a brief synopsis of the Christian religion. When a true Christian recites this Creed he is affirming the central truths of his religion, and at the same time accepting the consequences which flow from these truths. This is what St. James means when he says that Christians must be “doers of the word and not hearers only.” They must, he says, put their Christian faith into practice. A Christian must live his faith as well as believe it.

There is no need to labor this point; all who are sincere Christians know this; but most, if not all, of us can profit from a look at our daily actions in the light of St. James’ words today. Is our faith really alive? Does it produce “good works,” works of charity toward our needy neighbors? If it does not it is “dead,” it produces nothing in this life and it will produce nothing, no reward for us in the next. There are Christians whose Christian faith is completely self-centered, it begins and ends with themselves. They say their prayers; they attend their Sunday Mass; they avoid grave sins or think they do; but they exclude all other men from their thoughts; they are blind and deaf to any appeals for spiritual or material help from any neighbor or charitable cause. They will try to justify their behavior by saying that they have enough to do to look after their own bodily and spiritual needs. They act as if they never heard that the spiritual and corporal works of mercy were an essential part of the Christian code. Such Christians are rare among us, thank God, but they are not “doers of the word,” and will meet some questions on their judgement day to which they will have no answers.

However, before we clap ourselves on the back and say: “thank God, we are not like the other Christians,” we would all do well to look again at our own fulfillment of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Are we really doing all that our Christian faith expects of us to help our needy neighbors? To keep to the two corporal works of mercy mentioned by St. James, let each one of us ask himself or herself: “What have I done to clothe the naked and feed the hungry during the past month?” There are ill-clad and hungry people in the ghettoes and slums of every city in our land. There are millions of such unfortunate people in Asia, Africa and South America. These are calling on us, and beseeching us to come to their aid. Associations to help them have been set up by charitable Christians and charitable non-Christians in all the Western nations. These good men and women moved by the spirit of Christ and the brotherhood of men, depend on you and me to continue their good work. How much have we given to suffering neighbors or to these associations?

There may be some among us today who are struggling hard to keep off the bread-line themselves—God will excuse them from giving a helping hand, when their two hands are tied by their own poverty. But there may be others who should and could help, but do not. To these I would say: Limit severely your luxuries in food, drink and clothing while there are millions of hungry and half-naked brothers of yours—adopted sons of God. God is appealing to your Christian heart and conscience today, through these words of St. James. To refuse to listen to his plea will be to risk your eternal salvation. Remember Christ’s own description of the judgement scene: “He will say to those on his left hand, I was hungry and you gave me no food . . . I was naked and you did not clothe me . . . depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt. 24: 42-45).

“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 162 Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: “Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.”1 To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith;2 it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.3

CCC 2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.4 Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.5 Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:6

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise.7 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.8 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?9

1 1 Tim 1:18-19.

2 Cf. Mk 9:24; Lk 17:5; 22:32.

3 Gal 5:6; Rom 15:13; cf. Jas 2:14-26.

4 Cf. Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3.

5 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

6 Cf. Tob 4:5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6:2-4.

7 Lk 3:11.

8 Lk 11:41.

9 Jas 2:15-16; cf. 1 Jn 3:17.

GOSPEL

Mk 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples set out

for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.

Along the way he asked his disciples,

“Who do people say that I am?”

They said in reply,

“John the Baptist, others Elijah,

still others one of the prophets.”

And he asked them,

“But who do you say that I am?”

Peter said to him in reply,

“You are the Christ.”

Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them

that the Son of Man must suffer greatly

and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,

and be killed, and rise after three days.

He spoke this openly.

Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,

rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.

You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,

“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

and that of the gospel will save it.”

APPLICATION

We need not be surprised at the slowness of the Apostles in grasping the messiahship of Jesus. He did not want the crowds who flocked to him to know this until later—after his resurrection—because they had the idea that the Messiah would be a political leader who would set them free from their subjection to pagan Rome. It was not until this occasion, near Caesarea Philippi, somewhat over a year after he had called them, that he admitted to his Apostles that he was the Messiah. He charged them not to make this fact known outside of their own limited circle. To forestall and erase any wrong ideas of a political leader which some of the Apostles might have, he immediately foretold the sufferings and death he would have to endure at the hands of the leaders of the Jews. He would be conquered and humiliated by his enemies but their victory would be short-lived—death would not hold him–he would rise triumphant on the third day.

To the Apostles this seemed incredible and Peter, their spokesman, told him so. This outlook of the Apostles is also very understandable. They had seen him work many miracles, God was evidently very near to him: how could God let his enemies humiliate and kill him? They did not know God’s plan, they were fishermen and knew little if anything of the Old Testament messianic prophecies. Had they read of the Suffering Servant in second-Isaiah they would not have disbelieved the prophecy of his forth-coming sufferings, death and resurrection. And his mention of his resurrection after three days, which would prove that it was he and not his enemies who conquered, fell on deaf cars, because the idea of a resurrection of that kind was incomprehensible to them. We know how slow they were to accept his resurrection even after it had happened.

Although the message was only vaguely and dubiously grasped, Christ had forewarned his Apostles (he repeated this twice later: Mk. 9: 9-10; 31-32 and 10: 32-34), so as to prepare them for the scandal of the cross. While it did not really prepare them because they were still too worldly-minded, it did help to strengthen their faith once the facts convinced them of the resurrection. They then realized that their beloved Master was more than Messiah, that he was in fact the Son of God, who with knowledge aforethought freely accepted his humiliations and shameful death for their sakes and ours. They gladly gave their lives to bringing this news of God’s great love for men to all nations. From being a scandal the cross became the emblem and the proud standard of God’s love for mankind.

We are in the happy position of the Apostles after the resurrection of Jesus. We know how much God loves us; we appreciate the humiliation that the incarnation brought on his beloved Son and the sufferings and cruel death which the sins of the world, ours included, brought on the Son of God. All of this took place because God wished to make us his adopted sons and worthy of the inheritance he had planned for us. For a faithful and grateful Christian, however, theoretical appreciation is not enough. Atonement has been made for our sins, but we have still a very important part to play. Our sins can be forgiven but we must truly repent of them before God will forgive them.

St. Mark adds some words of Christ which illustrate what practical form our appreciation and gratitude for Christ’s sufferings should take. We must be ready to follow him on the road to Calvary. We must deny ourselves—deprive ourselves not only of sinful pleasure or gain, but even of lawful things at times, in order to be Christ-like. We must take up our cross and follow him. This does not mean that we must search for crosses—there are plenty of them in any good Christian’s life—but we must gladly accept the crosses life brings us and see in them God’s means of keeping us close to him.

Life on earth is very short, eternal life is endless. No thinking man, and certainly no true Christian, would risk losing the eternal life for the sake of a few paltry gains or a few extra years here below.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.S.F. Used with permission of Ignatius Press

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”1 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to him!”2 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”3 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.4

CCC 472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”,5 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience.6 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.7

CCC 474 By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal.8 What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.9

CCC 557 “When the days drew near for him to be taken up [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem.”10 By this decision he indicated that he was going up to Jerusalem prepared to die there. Three times he had announced his Passion and Resurrection; now, heading toward Jerusalem, Jesus says: “It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”11

CCC 572 The Church remains faithful to the interpretation of “all the Scriptures” that Jesus gave both before and after his Passover: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”12 Jesus’ sufferings took their historical, concrete form from the fact that he was “rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes”, who handed “him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified”.13

CCC 649 As for the Son, he effects his own Resurrection by virtue of his divine power. Jesus announces that the Son of man will have to suffer much, die, and then rise.14 Elsewhere he affirms explicitly: “I lay down my life, that I may take it again. .. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”15 “We believe that Jesus died and rose again.”16

CCC 1615 This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses.17 By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ.18 This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

CCC 2544 Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them “renounce all that [they have]” for his sake and that of the Gospel.19 Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on.20 The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.

1 Mt 11:29; Jn 14:6.

2 Mk 9:7; cf. Dt 6:4-5.

3 Jn 15:12.

4 Cf. Mk 8:34.

5 Lk 2:52.

6 Cf. Mk 6 38; 8 27; Jn 11:34; etc.

7 Phil 2:7.

8 Cf. Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34; 14:18-20, 26-30.

9 Cf. Mk 13:32, Acts 1:7.

10 Lk 9:51; cf. Jn 13:1.

11 Lk 13:33; cf. Mk 8:31-33; 9:31-32; 10:32-34.

12 Lk 24:26-27,44-45.

13 Mk 8:31; Mt 20:19.

14 Cf. Mk 8:31; 9:9-31; 10:34.

15 Jn 10:17-18.

16 I Th 4:14.

17 Cf. Mk 8:34; Mt 11:29-30.

18 Cf. Mt 19:11.

19 Lk 14:33; cf. Mk 8:35.

20 Cf. Lk 21:4.

BENEDICAMUS

God Penetrates Human Events

History is not in the hands of the powers of darkness, chance, or human decisions alone.  When evil energy that we see is unleashed, when Satan vehemently bursts in, when a multitude of scourges and ills surface, the Lord, the supreme arbiter of historical events, arises.  He leads history wisely towards the dawn of the new heavens and the new earth… There is consequently a desire to reaffirm that God is not indifferent to human events but penetrates them, creating his own “ways” or, in other words, his effective plans and “deeds”… The nations must learn to “read” God’s message in history.  The adventure of humanity is not confused and meaningless, nor is it doomed, never to be appealed against or to be abused by the overbearing and the perverse…  This attitude of faith leads men and women to recognize the power of God who works in history and thus to open themselves to feeling awe for the name of the Lord.  In biblical language, in fact, this “fear” is not fright.  It is recognition of the mystery of divine transcendence.  Thus, it is at the root of faith and is interwoven with love…  As Saint Hilary of Poitiers, a fourth-century bishop, said: “All our fear is in love.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

One day, after celebrating Mass, the aged Pope Leo XIII was in conference with the Cardinals when suddenly he sank to the floor in a deep swoon. Physicians who hastened to his side could find no trace of his pulse and feared that he had expired. However, after a short interval the Holy Father regained consciousness and exclaimed with great emotion: “Oh, what a horrible picture I have been permitted to see!”

He had been shown a vision of evil spirits who had been released from Hell and their efforts to destroy the Church. But in the midst of the horror the archangel St. Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell. Soon afterwards Pope Leo XIII composed the following prayer to Saint Michael, which is the original version:

Original – Prayer to St. Michael

“O Glorious Prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and in the terrible warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come to the aid of man, whom Almighty God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of Satan.

“Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. That cruel, ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

“These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be.

“Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly find mercy in the sight of the Lord; and vanquishing the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

  1. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
  2. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered the root of David.
  3. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
  4. As we have hoped in Thee.
  5. O Lord, hear my prayer.
  6. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as supplicants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious St. Michael the Archangel, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.”

Roman Raccolta, July 23, 1898, supplement approved July 31, 1902,

London: Burnes, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1935, 12th edition.

Short Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

The well-known short version of this prayer follows in English. The Pope ordered this prayer to be recited daily after Low Mass in all the churches throughout the Catholic world. However this practice was almost completely swept away in the 1960s by liturgical changes made in the wake of Vatican Council II.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

 

Posted in Catholic

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

 

 

Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_037.jpg

They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Prayer to Jesus

O Lord and lover of men, make shine in our hearts the pure light of Thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teaching. Instill in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling upon all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual life, willing and doing all that is Thy good pleasure. For Thou art the light of our souls and of our bodies, Christ O God, and we give glory to Thee together with Thine eternal Father and Thine all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, world without end. Amen.

From the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

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

images.jpg

Is 35:4-7a

Thus says the LORD:

Say to those whose hearts are frightened:

Be strong, fear not!

Here is your God,

he comes with vindication;

with divine recompense

he comes to save you.

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,

the ears of the deaf be cleared;

then will the lame leap like a stag,

then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Streams will burst forth in the desert,

and rivers in the steppe.

The burning sands will become pools,

and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

APPLICATION

God chose the descendants of Abraham (1800 B.C.) as the people to whom he would reveal himself and through whom he would preserve that revelation while preparing for the coming of his Son as man on earth. He selected human representatives from among them who, acting in his name, would direct their civic and spiritual activities, and so keep them faithful to the covenant he had made with them on Sinai. Moses, Joshua and the Judges were civic and spiritual leaders who regulated the Chosen People’s lives for nearly two hundred years. Samuel (1040 B.C.), the last of the Judges, was more a spiritual than a civic leader. He was the first of the prophets—a line of men chosen by God to speak his “word” to his people. It was he, under God’s orders, who anointed Saul as first king of the Israelites.

The monarchy survived as the political and civic director of the Chosen People, down to 721 B.C. in the schismatic north, and until the Babylonian exile (587) in Judah. God, however, continued to send his prophets for nearly two hundred years more. The monarchy had failed in the break-away north (Israel). But even in Judah the line of David came under pagan influence—with a few notable exceptions—and led many of their subjects away from God. For their part, the prophets were faithful to their vocation and it is to them, under God, that we owe it that a “remnant” of the Chosen People preserved the knowledge of the true God in Israel until the “fullness of time” had arrived—the age predetermined by God for the coming of Christ.

Isaiah, of the 8th century B.C., was one of the greatest of these mouthpieces of God. As well as strong words of condemnation for the evil practices of kings and people–words that were badly needed, he had also words of encouragement and consolation for the faithful among God’s people–they were needed too. Many of those good people, because of the evil which was rampant around them, were beginning to doubt if God would fulfill the promises he made to Abraham and his descendants (Gn. 12: 1-3), promises repeated down through the centuries. Had God forgotten them because of the disloyalty of so many among them?

Today’s excerpt from the prophet gives a definite no to these misgivings. “Behold your God will come with vengeance (for the wicked) with the recompense of God he will save you.” He goes on then to describe some of the blessings that this coming of God would bring them: spiritual blessings described in the image of material ones. The religiously blind would see God (in Christ); the deaf would listen to God’s word; the lame would walk freely in God’s paths; the dumb would pronounce God’s praises. What was desert land, as far as the knowledge of God was concerned, would become fertile and fruitful in God’s cause, flowing with streams and fountains of good works.

Today, perhaps more than ever before, devout Christians may, like Isaiah’s contemporaries, be beginning to wonder if God has lost interest in them. Not only has theoretical atheism spread like wild-fire throughout the world, but practical atheism seems to be getting a grip on some within the stronghold of the Church of Christ. What is God doing about it? people are tempted to ask. The answer of Isaiah to his contemporaries is the same answer that God gives to all good Christians today. God will fulfill his promises to us as he fulfilled them for his Chosen People of old. This period of doubting, of questioning, of permissiveness, will pass. There will be casualties but his Church will come forth from this passing crisis strengthened and renewed. Many who were blind will again see the light of faith, others who had closed their ears will again listen to the eternal truths.

Heaven is God’s plan for us. If we remain faithful and loyal to him and his laws during life, no matter what those about us think or say, heaven will be our eternal home. While we do our best then to prove our fidelity to God and to Christ, let us not forget to pray sincerely and often to our loving Father to send his light and grace to those of our fellow-exiles who have put themselves in grave danger of missing their destined goal.

READING II

james2-209x300.jpg

Jas 2:1-5

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality

as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes

comes into your assembly,

and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in,

and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes

and say, “Sit here, please, ”

while you say to the poor one, “Stand there, ” or “Sit at my feet, ”

have you not made distinctions among yourselves

and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.

Did not God choose those who are poor in the world

to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom

that he promised to those who love him?

APPLICATION

The words we have read from St. James’ letter could have been written to almost any Christian parish in the world of our day. Yet, they were written over nineteen centuries ago. This simply proves that human nature, even in Christians, has not changed with the passing of the centuries. There are still Christians who are “respecters of persons” and there are still Christians who because of their worldly wealth or position expect and demand special respect for themselves. This would be wrong even in a purely secular society, but in the religious brotherhood of Christians it is sinful and an offense against God whose children we all are.

St. James tells his fellow-Christians that giving special honor to the Christian who wears gold rings and fine clothes, while humiliating the poor man in shabby clothing is to pass judgement with evil thoughts–that is, to judge not on the real merit of a man but on one’s own false criteria. God alone is able and has the right to pass judgement on a man’s merit as a Christian. The Christian who usurps this right of God is sinning. Furthermore, to base one’s judgement on the false worldly criteria or wealth status–which is what the “respecter of persons” does–is doubly sinful: it is usurping God’s right and is a false judgement.

There are few of us who cannot profit from a meditation on these words of St. James. First of all, far too many of us are inclined to claim special consideration and credit because of our personal gifts of mind or body or because of the personal position of power or wealth which we happen to have attained. To such of us, St. Paul puts a very pungent and deciding question: “What have you that you have not received? If then you received it all as a gift why take the credit to yourself?” (1 Cor. 4: 7). As regards our personal qualities of mind and body, we did not give them to ourselves, God it was who gave them to us. If we have used them well and profited by them, we must still thank God. If our neighbors did not get these gifts, we have no right to think less of them because of that—God may have given them unseen gifts which will be more profitable in the final reckoning.

As regards position and worldly wealth, we have less reason still to exalt ourselves. There is always the great question-mark as to how we got them! And granted that everything was honorable and above board in our acquisition of wealth or position: neither is really of lasting value. The millionaire, president, or king of a country will get the same size grave as the pauper. Monuments and laudatory inscriptions will not help the dead man one bit once he has left this life.

We owe all we are and have honestly acquired to the good God; let us never forget it. Instead, let us thank him all the days of our lives. He has a bigger and a far greater gift in store for us—eternal happiness; let us not lose that through the infantile folly of pride. All men are God’s children, he cherishes them all equally—even those who refuse to recognize him. They may have abandoned him, but he will not abandon them until they have breathed their last. As members of his family who recognize all that he has done for us let us do all we can to bring his prodigal children back to him, and help them to appreciate who their true Benefactor is. Thus we shall prove our own gratitude to him and strive to earn his esteem, the only esteem that really matters. We shall not be tempted then to seek glory from men, nor shall we encourage those who, in their childish folly, seek honors or adulation from us.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

Praise the Lord, my soul!

The God of Jacob keeps faith forever,

secures justice for the oppressed,

gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets captives free.

Praise the Lord, my soul!

The LORD gives sight to the blind;

the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.

The LORD loves the just;

the LORD protects strangers.

Praise the Lord, my soul!

The fatherless and the widow the LORD sustains,

but the way of the wicked he thwarts.

The LORD shall reign forever;

your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.

Praise the Lord, my soul!

GOSPEL

magic-duccio.jpg

 

 

Mk 7:31-37

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre

and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,

into the district of the Decapolis.

And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment

and begged him to lay his hand on him.

He took him off by himself away from the crowd.

He put his finger into the man’s ears

and, spitting, touched his tongue;

then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,

“Ephphatha!”– that is, “Be opened!” —

And immediately the man’s ears were opened,

his speech impediment was removed,

and he spoke plainly.

He ordered them not to tell anyone.

But the more he ordered them not to,

the more they proclaimed it.

They were exceedingly astonished and they said,

“He has done all things well.

He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/090918.cfm

APPLICATION

During his discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob, our Lord told her that “salvation was to come from the Jews” (Jn. 4: 22). This was in accordance with God’s plan when he took Abraham from his pagan family and surroundings, and elected him to be the father of a Chosen People from whom God’s blessing would come for all nations (Gn. 12: 1-4). This was the historic beginning of “salvation” for men. It was, as yet, a vague generic promise but down through the following eighteen-century history of the Chosen People (Abraham’s descendants) this blessing eventually became crystallized in the Messiah—the anointed and holy one of God. It was he who would introduce the messianic age of which the prophets so often had spoken, and it was in him that all peoples, Jews and Gentiles would find their true “blessing.”

It was right and fitting, therefore, that Christ should proclaim his kingdom and his Gospel among the Jews and in their promised land. Those who would accept him and his message would later spread the good news among the Gentile nations. This is what happened. His Apostles, including St. Paul, and the faithful disciples having done their best for their fellow-Jews, left Palestine and carried the great news of the incarnation–a blessing greater than any man could have imagined–to the pagan peoples of the then-known world. It was surely from the Jews that salvation came to us Gentiles.

While Christ reserved his preaching to the Jews according to God’s plan, he visited some of the Gentile lands bordering on Palestine–Tyre, Sidon, Phoenicia, the Decapolis–and worked some miracles there. However, he did not preach to them. This exception–going into pagan lands–was evidently important to St. Mark, for he goes into details in describing the faith of the people of the place who asked for a miracle, and their enthusiastic reaction to Christ’s power when he did what they requested. Mark himself knew very well that Christ was fulfilling the divine plan when he restricted his preaching to the Jews, and that he had given a command to his Apostles to bring his Gospel to all nations (Mk. 16: 16). Possibly, however, some of his Gentile converts were questioning why Christ had not come to the Gentiles but spent all his public life in Palestine. In this short episode, Mark shows that Christ was interested indeed in Gentiles and showed his compassion for them by working miracles for them.

We have much for which to thank God the Father, Christ and the good Jews who preached the Gospel to our ancestors. We should not think of questioning why Jesus spent his short public life trying to convert his fellow-Jews. God thought of us from all eternity–the incarnation was his way of giving a truly satisfying meaning to the life of man–the masterpiece and master of all his creation. It has given us a new status in life, a new purpose and an end worth every effort we can muster to gain. Life, with its trials and troubles and its brevity, has a meaning, a profound meaning, for Christians–it is a short period of preparation for the future which awaits us after death if we use it properly.

Christ who carried out his Father’s will even unto the death on the cross, deserves our unending gratitude. Eternity will not be long enough for us to thank and praise him. If ever we are tempted to be in any way anti-semitic let us first remember those of God’s Chosen People who preserved the knowledge of God and trust in his promises until the time of their fulfillment had come. Secondly, we must never forget the Apostles and disciples of Christ who devoted and gave their lives in order to bring the Christian faith to us. The best way to show appreciation of a gift is to use it fully and gratefully. Let us make full use of the divine gift of salvation by living according to its teaching all the days of our lives.

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1151 Signs taken up by Christ. In his preaching the Lord Jesus often makes use of the signs of creation to make known the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.1 He performs healings and illustrates his preaching with physical signs or symbolic gestures.2 He gives new meaning to the deeds and signs of the Old Covenant, above all to the Exodus and the Passover,3 for he himself is the meaning of all these signs.

CCC 1504 Often Jesus asks the sick to believe.4 He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands,5 mud and washing.6 The sick try to touch him, “for power came forth from him and healed them all.”7 And so in the sacraments Christ continues to “touch” us in order to heal us.

1 Cf. Lk 8:10.

2 Cf. Jn 9:6; Mk 7:33ff.; 8:22ff.

3 Cf. Lk 9:31; 22:7-20.

4 Cf. Mk 5:34, 36; 9:23.

5 Cf. Mk 7:32-36; 8:22-25.

6 Cf. Jn 9:6-7.

7 Lk 6:19; cf. Mk 1:41; 3:10; 6:56.

BENEDICTUS

Bread for the Journey

The Son of God, becoming flesh, could become bread in this way by the nourishment of his people journeying toward the promised land of heaven.  We need this bread to cope with the toil and exhaustion of the journey…  The Sunday precept is not a simple duty imposed from outside.  To participate in the Sunday celebration and to be nourished with the eucharist bread is a need of a Christian, who in this way can find the necessary energy for the journey to be undertaken…  The way that God indicates through his law goes in the direction inscribed in the very essence of man.  To follow the way means man’s own fulfillment; to lose it, is to lose himself.  The Lord does not leave us alone on this journey.  He is with us; he wishes to share our destiny by absorbing us…  In the Eucharist the center is Christ who attracts us to himself; he makes us come out of ourselves to make us one with him.  In this way, he introduces us into the community of brothers…  This means that we can only encounter him together with all others.  We can only receive him in unity…  We cannot commune with the Lord if we do not commune among ourselves.  If we wish to present ourselves to him, we must go out to meet one another…  We must not allow the destructive larva of resentment to take hold of our spirit, but open our heart to the magnanimity of listening to the other, of understanding, of the possible acceptance of his apologies, of the generous offering of our own.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 40

How many, O Lord my God,

are the wonders and designs

that you have worked for us;

you have no equal.

Should I proclaim and speak of them,

they are more than I can tell!

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings,

but an open ear.

You do not ask for holocaust and victim.

Instead, here am I.

In the scroll of the book it stands written

that I should do your will.

My God, I delight in your law

in the depth of my heart.

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now,

and ever shall be,

world without end. Amen

 

Posted in Catholic

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

Pharisee in market.jpg

“Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Teach us, Good Lord

To serve you as you deserve.

To give and not count the cost.

To fight and not heed the wounds.

To toil and not to seek for rest.

To labor and not to ask for any reward

Except that of knowing that we do Your Will.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

COLLECT

God of might, giver of every good gift,

put into our hearts the love of your name,

so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,

you may nurture in us what is good

and, by your watchful care,

keep safe what you have nurtured.

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

Moses_the_Ethiopian.jpeg

Dt 4:1-2, 6-8

Moses said to the people:

“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees

which I am teaching you to observe,

that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land

which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.

In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God,

which I enjoin upon you,

you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.

Observe them carefully,

for thus will you give evidence

of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations,

who will hear of all these statutes and say,

‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’

For what great nation is there

that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us

whenever we call upon him?

Or what great nation has statutes and decrees

that are as just as this whole law

which I am setting before you today?”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law.1 God gave the Law as a “pedagogue” to lead his people toward Christ.2 But the Law’s powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine “likeness,” along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts,3 enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.

1 Cf. Ex 19-20; Deut 1-11; 29-30.

2 Gal 3:24.

3 Cf. Rom 3:20.

APPLICATION

Even though the book of Deuteronomy was written some centuries after the death of Moses it is quite possible that he spoke words of exhortation to the Israelites–exhortation to be faithful to their covenant with God–before they left Moab to enter the Promised Land. Whether or not Moses spoke the words given here, they were written by an inspired author and this exhortation was perhaps even more necessary for the author’s contemporaries and their descendants, than it would have been for the Israelites of Moses’ day. The memory of the Exodus and the part played by God in it, as well as all the assistance he gave to them during their journey from Egypt to Moab (Transjordan), was still fresh in the minds of Moses’ contemporaries. The temptation to forget God or to be disloyal to his commandments, would have been much less likely to impress these early Israelites–they badly needed God, they would remain close to him. It was much later, when their descendants had successfully settled in Canaan and through success had grown worldly-minded, that this temptation grew strong and made many Israelites forget their past and God’s part in their history. The exhortation was more necessary in the later period than it would have been at the time of Moses.

These verses from Deuteronomy were selected for our reading today to remind us of our covenant with God, to remind us of all God has done for us and of what he expects of us in return. The boast of the Jews that God was very near to them was true, but with much more truth can we Christians make that same boast. God sent his divine Son to live among us and he raised us up to the dignity of adopted sonship. He made a new and everlasting covenant with us and sealed it with his own precious blood, shed on the cross of Calvary. He has prepared a place in heaven for us and there he will lead us if we cooperate with him. The old covenant made on Mount Sinai, the promised land of Palestine, the Chosen People of Israel were but pale shadows of what God had in store for all nations, Jews and Gentiles, when the “fullness of time” came with Christ.

The words of Moses: give heed to the commands of your Lord and God–keep them and do them, are words addressed to us today. Christ himself has summed them up for us very briefly: “love God and love your neighbor.” If we do these two we are doing everything God expects of us. For any Christian who realizes all that God has done for him and the great future he has in store for him, it should not be hard to love such a good and kind Benefactor. It is to God that we owe our existence and every gift of mind and body we have in this life, and it is to his infinite generosity that we owe the promise of an unending happiness after death.

Loving our neighbor may be at times more difficult–there are people who seem very unlovable. However, we must see in our neighbors God’s other children, our brothers in Christ, and be ever ready to overlook their faults and be willing to offer them the hand of friendship, as well as the helping hand if ever they need it. We are living in a world of tensions and strife. There is greater need than ever to foster the brotherhood of man. The lead should surely come from Christians whose faith teaches them that Christ has made all men his brothers and therefore sons of God. Race or color of skin can mean nothing to a true Christian. God is Father of us all and heaven is the end he has destined for all mankind. As Christians, all our endeavors should be directed to helping our brothers, our fellowman, to reach that happy end. A narrow form of nationalism, or pride of race, or ancestry can have no place in the mind of a true follower of Christ. We are all made of the same clay, but the incarnation of God’s Son has raised us up to a lofty dignity which carries with it the promise of a glorious eternal future. Our one desire should be to help all our neighbors, be they near or far, to share with us that glorious future.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 15:2-3, 3-4, 4-5

One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Whoever walks blamelessly and does justice;

who thinks the truth in his heart

and slanders not with his tongue.

One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man,

nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;

by whom the reprobate is despised,

while he honors those who fear the LORD.

One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury

and accepts no bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

shall never be disturbed.

One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

READING II

images-1.jpg

Jas 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27

Dearest brothers and sisters:

All good giving and every perfect gift is from above,

coming down from the Father of lights,

with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.

He willed to give us birth by the word of truth

that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you

and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:

to care for orphans and widows in their affliction

and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 212 Over the centuries, Israel’s faith was able to manifest and deepen realization of the riches contained in the revelation of the divine name. God is unique; there are no other gods besides him.1 He transcends the world and history. He made heaven and earth: “They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. .. but you are the same, and your years have no end.”2 In God “there is no variation or shadow due to change.”3 God is “HE WHO IS”, from everlasting to everlasting, and as such remains ever faithful to himself and to his promises.

CCC 2208 The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”4

CCC 2642 The Revelation of “what must soon take place,” the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy5 but also by the intercession of the “witnesses” (martyrs).6 The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb.7 In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the “Father of lights,” from whom “every perfect gift” comes down.8 Thus faith is pure praise.

1 Cf. Is 44:6.

2 Ps 102:26-27.

3 Jas 1:17.

4 Jas 1:27.

5 Cf. Rev 4:8-11; 5:9-14; 7:10-12.

6 Rev 6:10.

7 Cf. Rev 18:24; 19:1-8.

8 Jas 1:17.

APPLICATION

The letter of St. James to his fellow-Jewish converts to Christianity is full of sound practical advice. Today’s extract recalls to his readers’ minds how indebted they are to the good God. It was he who gave them every gift of mind and body which they possess. Furthermore, as Jews they were given a limited revelation of himself, but now as Christians they have received, through Christ, all the revelation and helps they need to reach eternal life. They have been given the Christian gospel and the Christian faith and they have the honor of being the first to receive this divine gift.

The practical St. James, however, reminds them that they must use these gifts properly if they are to profit by them. They would be deceiving themselves badly if they thought they would earn heaven by simply professing their faith in God and his Son, Jesus Christ. They must act according to that faith; they must live as adopted sons of God and brothers of Christ by keeping and putting into daily practice the commandments they have learned from the gospel. They must as he says: “be doers of the word and not hearers only.” In this he was but following his divine Master’s warning: “It is not those who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ who will enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

The Apostle then mentions two things that they must do in order to be truly Christian, truly religious in God’s sight. They must care for the needy among them. He mentions orphans and widows as those most likely to be in need of help–spiritual and material. They must avoid the sinful practices of the worldly people among whom they were living, This means that they must put the law of love of neighbor into daily practice and they must preserve interior moral purity in the midst of the moral laxity which then prevailed.

This letter of St. James, written about nineteen hundred years ago for the Christians of that day, has still a valuable lesson for us of the 21st century. We. too, need to be reminded often that the gifts of mind and body which we are fortunate to have are not our own–we did not give them to ourselves. We owe our existence and every natural and supernatural gift we possess to the good God who created us. He brought us into being, he gave us life in this world, in order to give us eternal life hereafter; for this reason he has given us the Christian faith which is the one and only true explanation of man’s life on this earth.

We are surely privileged then for we have the true explanation of this life and a firm hope and divine promise of an unending future happy life. But we must never forget that in order to merit this divine promise we have a positive role to play: we must be Christians in practice. Being a Christian is like having a passport for heaven, but having a passport will not get one to the destination he wants to reach; he must take all the necessary steps to reach his desired goal. True, the Christian has divine assistance and aid in taking all these necessary steps, but he must cooperate with it. In other words, he must put the gospel teaching into practice every day of his life.

This is not beyond his strength; if it were, Christ would not have demanded it of him. Since St. James’ day, millions have followed his sound advice and have reached heaven. The vast majority of them did nothing extraordinary–they kept their consciences at peace with God, avoiding the sinful temptations of this world. If they had an occasional lapse in a moment of weakness, they returned quickly to their loving Father. They loved God and proved that love by helping God’s other children who needed help. If we keep these two commandments of love for God and love for our neighbor–the essence of the Christian gospel–we too will find heaven’s gates open to us when our journey through this life ends.

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

GOSPEL

Pharisee in market.jpg

Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem

gathered around Jesus,

they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals

with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.

–For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,

do not eat without carefully washing their hands,

keeping the tradition of the elders.

And on coming from the marketplace

they do not eat without purifying themselves.

And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,

the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. —

So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,

“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders

but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”

He responded,

“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

He summoned the crowd again and said to them,

“Hear me, all of you, and understand.

Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;

but the things that come out from within are what defile.

“From within people, from their hearts,

come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,

adultery, greed, malice, deceit,

licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.

All these evils come from within and they defile.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/090218.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 574 From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him.1 Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners2 – some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession.3 He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.4

CCC 582 Going even further, Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation: “Whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him… (Thus he declared all foods clean.)… What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts. ..”5 In presenting with divine authority the definitive interpretation of the Law, Jesus found himself confronted by certain teachers of the Law who did not accept his interpretation of the Law, guaranteed though it was by the divine signs that accompanied it.6 This was the case especially with the sabbath laws, for he recalls, often with rabbinical arguments, that the sabbath rest is not violated by serving God and neighbor,7 which his own healings did.

CCC 1764 The passions are natural components of the human psyche; they form the passageway and ensure the connection between the life of the senses and the life of the mind. Our Lord called man’s heart the source from which the passions spring.8

CCC 2197 The fourth commandment opens the second table of the Decalogue. It shows us the order of charity. God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority.

1 Cf. Mk 3:6; 14:1.

2 Cf. Mt 12:24; Mk 2:7,14-17; 3:1-6; 7:14-23.

3 Cf. Mk 3:22; Jn 8:48; 10:20.

4 Cf. Mk 2:7; Jn 5:18; 7:12, 52; 8:59; 10:31, 33.

5 Mk 7:18-21; cf. Gal 3:24.

6 Cf. Jn 5:36; 10:25, 37-38; 12:37.

7 Cf. Num 28 9; Mt 12:5; Mk 2:25-27; Lk 13:15-16; 14:3-4; Jn 7:22-24., 8 Cf. Mk 7:21.

APPLICATION

When Christ came on earth the Scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of the Jews. The Scribes, so called because of their knowledge of the Mosaic Law and the traditions added on to it, were the elite among the Pharisees who prided themselves on their strict, rigorous observance of the Law and the human traditions. The Pharisees had no time or no understanding for their fellow-Jews who often violated the scribal traditions–and even the Law of Moses itself sometimes. For this reason they kept themselves apart from the ordinary people and developed a proud superiority complex. They performed many acts of virtue but their pride and sense of self-sufficiency vitiated their good deeds (see the description of the Pharisee and the tax-gatherer in the temple, in Lk. 18: 10-14). The opposition of the Pharisees and Scribes to Jesus began very early in his public life. It grew in strength daily until, with the help of the Sadducees, their arch-opponents, they finally nailed him to the cross.

The main reason why they opposed him so bitterly was his mercy, kindness and understanding for sinners. He ate with tax-gatherers and made one of them, Levi, an Apostle. He forgave the adulteress and many, many others. While he certainly did not approve of sin, he never uttered a hard word against any sinner. He had come, as he said, to call sinners to himself and to repentance. This he did all through his public life. He objected to the Pharisees, not because of their strict observance of the Mosaic Law nor of their insistence on human traditions–although they sometimes carried this to an intolerable extreme. He objected because they despised the lowly people, the uneducated in the law and traditions–those, in other words, who did not belong to their own exclusive class. To the Pharisees all these were “sinners,” while they themselves had the worst sin of all–the original sin of mankind, the sin of pride.

In today’s encounter with the Pharisees, Jesus tells them that they are hypocrites: “they honor God with their lips but their heart is far from God”; they obey the Law and the traditions, not to please God, but to be seen and admired by men; their motive, self-glorification, vitiates every otherwise good act they perform. Christ then addresses the people–the crowds who most likely had overheard his dialog with the Pharisees–and he tells them that it is not legal or cultic uncleanliness that matters, but cleanliness of the heart before God. Eating with unwashed hands, or using unwashed vessels for drinking, does not defile a man, this does not make him less worthy before God. It is not from things outside him that a man incurs defilement but from his own innermost self. Every serious sin against God and neighbor has its beginning within a man, in his intellect and will; the evil design is the forerunner and instigator of the evil deed.

The Pharisees should have known all this. They did know it. They knew very well that before a man breaks any of the commandments of God he must first plan and decide to break it; it was not their theology that was defective but their practice. They despised their neighbors and called fellowman “sinners,” because through ignorance they violated many of the man-made precepts the Pharisees had added to the Law of Moses. There were also fellow-Jews of theirs who violated the law itself, but it was not their right to judge or condemn much less excommunicate them, as they so often did in practice.

Christ condemned the Pharisees by word and deed. He was merciful, kind and understanding to all sinners. He forgave sin and promised forgiveness to all who would repent of their past misdeeds. Not only that: for he left to his followers for all time his sacrament of mercy and forgiveness, by means of which they could have their sins forgiven by his minister, acting in his name. Should we ever forget all he has done for us and disobey in a serious way any of his commandments, let us remember that we are not excluded from his company as the sinners were excluded by the Pharisees: we have banged the door on ourselves but he has given us the key with which to reopen it. Let us never be so foolish as to fail to use that key.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Paralysis of Sin

The paralyzed man is the image of every human being whom sin prevents from moving about freely, from walking on the path of good and from giving the best of himself.  Indeed, by taking root in the soul, evil binds the person with the ties of falsehood, anger, envy, and other sins and gradually paralyzes him.  Jesus, therefore, scandalizing the scribes who were present, first said “…your sins are forgiven.”  Only later, to demonstrate the authority to forgive sins that God had conferred upon him, did he add: “Stand up!  Pick up your mat and go home? (Mk 2: 11), and heals the man completely.  The message is clear: human beings, paralyzed by sin, need God’s mercy which Christ came to give to them so that, their hearts healed, their whole life might flourish anew.  Today too, humanity is marked by sin which prevents it from rapidly progressing in those values of brotherhood, justice, and peace that with solemn declarations it had resolved to practice.  Why?  What is blocking it?  What is paralyzing this integral development?  We know well that there are many historical reasons for this and that the problem is complex.  But the Word of God invites us to have a gaze of faith and to trust, like the people who were carrying the paralytic, that Jesus alone is capable of true healing… Only God’s love can renew the human heart, and only if he heals the heart of paralyzed humanity can it get up and walk.  The love of God is the true force that renews the world.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

The Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5: 1-12

Posted in Catholic

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

mostholytrinity.jpg

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Prayer for Peace of Mind and Heart

Eternal, Holy God, I come to You burdened

with worries, fears, doubts, and troubles.

Calm and quiet me with peace of mind.

Empty me of the anxiety that disturbs me,

of the concerns that weary my spirit,

and weigh heavy on my heart.

Loosen my grip on the disappointments

and grievances I hold on to so tightly.

Release me from the pain of past hurts,

of present anger and tension, of future fears.

Sometimes it’s too much for me Lord –

too many demands and problems –

too much sadness, suffering, and stress.

Renew me spiritually and emotionally.

Give me new strength, hope, and confidence.

Prepare me to meet the constant struggles of

daily life with a deeper faith and trust in You.

Let Your love set me free . . . . for peace,

for joy, for grace, for life, for others . . . .

forever.

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

 ascension.jpg

Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,

summoning their elders, their leaders,

their judges, and their officers.

When they stood in ranks before God,

Joshua addressed all the people:

“If it does not please you to serve the LORD,

decide today whom you will serve,

the gods your fathers served beyond the River

or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.

As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

But the people answered,

“Far be it from us to forsake the LORD

for the service of other gods.

For it was the LORD, our God,

who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,

out of a state of slavery.

He performed those great miracles before our very eyes

and protected us along our entire journey

and among the peoples through whom we passed.

Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

APPLICATION

It is possible and even probable that some of the twelve tribes had never been in Egypt and therefore had not taken part in the covenant of Sinai. This would explain Joshua’s reason for re-affirming the Sinaitic covenant at Shechem, so that these tribes could take on themselves the covenant obligations and become fully integrated into the Chosen People. Even without this reason the re-enactment or re-acceptance of the covenant at this point in their history was of the greatest importance for the Chosen People. They had had the land of Canaan divided among them and were about to settle down as citizens with rights and duties in their own country.  Hitherto, they had been slaves and nomads. Although their individual territories had been mapped out for them, most of the tribes had but a precarious foothold as yet on the land allotted to them. They had still many battles to fight before they could say that they owned their land

Furthermore, they needed to renew their resolution to remain loyal to Yahweh for as yet their faith in the formative stage would often be threatened by the pagan idolatrous practices they would see on all sides of them. The pagan fertility gods of Canaan had attractions for agricultural people–they were supposed to make the harvests plentiful and produce rain when needed; these pagan idols were there among them. Yahweh was far away in heaven, above the skies. The idols seemed to answer the pagan people’s prayers–Yahweh did not always do so. Therefore, the renewal of the covenant of Sinai at this moment in their history was of the greatest importance; to begin their lives as citizens of Canaan with a solemn dedication of themselves as a united people to the true God was setting up for themselves a standard, a banner, to which they could turn for strength in later life–if tempted to abandon their faith in the one and only God.

There is a lesson here for all Christians: at baptism we were made members of God’s new Chosen People. A solemn covenant or pact was then entered into between us and the Blessed Trinity.  God, through the Church, promised us the eternal possession of the true promised land–heaven, provided we kept our part of the covenant, that is, if we remained faithful to his laws during our days on earth. At our confirmation we renewed this covenant and promised to be loyal to Christ–even if that loyalty brought sufferings and death on us. We gladly became soldiers of Christ.

However, soldiers, tired of discipline and fearful of further battles, have been known to desert their colors and country. Many Israelites, in spite of all their solemn declarations of loyalty to God, turned away from him and put their trust in idols of wood and stone. Worse still, Christians who had a better and a fuller revelation of God in the person of Christ, have deserted God and Christ and their own eternal interests. Like the Israelites of old, they chose the earthly deities of pleasure and plenty; like the timid soldier they have resented discipline and hated the personal restrictions that the Christian code imposes on us all.

While we leave these to the infinite mercy of God, their desertion should make us examine our way of living the Christian life lest we, too, should fall away. We live today in a world which is, alas, ungodly and unchristian. This makes it all the harder for God’s loyal people to live their religious life to the full, but at the same time, it demands of all of God’s loyal subjects to let their light shine before men. Our world needs light and divine illumination. The faith of Christ, the belief in God and in a future life, is not only being attacked by enemies of Christ’s Church, it is being hidden under a bushel, if not completely extinguished, by some who would still claim to be within the fold.

Let us ask God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith and baptismal covenant. We want to take up our permanent residence in the eternal promised land of heaven. Only the grace of God can keep us from being lost on the way.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall be ever in my mouth.

Let my soul glory in the LORD;

the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

The LORD has eyes for the just,

and ears for their cry.

The LORD confronts the evildoers,

to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,

and from all their distress he rescues them.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;

and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Many are the troubles of the just one,

but out of them all the LORD delivers him;

he watches over all his bones;

not one of them shall be broken.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

READING II

viktor-krivorotov-christ-enthroned-as-heavenly-king-2000s.jpg 

Eph 5:21-32

Brothers and sisters:

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.

For the husband is head of his wife

just as Christ is head of the church,

he himself the savior of the body.

As the church is subordinate to Christ,

so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives,

even as Christ loved the church

and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,

cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,

that he might present to himself the church in splendor,

without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,

that she might be holy and without blemish.

So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.

He who loves his wife loves himself.

For no one hates his own flesh

but rather nourishes and cherishes it,

even as Christ does the church,

because we are members of his body.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother

and be joined to his wife,

and the two shall become one flesh.

This is a great mystery,

but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

APPLICATION

While giving his Ephesian converts some very practical advice to govern the relationships between husbands and wives, St. Paul reveals to us that Christ has made all his faithful followers his bride. He, Christ, is the divine groom; we the Christian Church, are his bride. In the Old Testament, the Chosen People are frequently described as the spouse, the bride of Yahweh. The Song of Songs or Song of Solomon, is generally interpreted as a poem describing this marriage bond between God and Israel. Now in the New Testament, Christ the Son of God has made his new Chosen People his bride. By becoming man he has become one of us, but under this symbol of marriage which is the closest union there can be between two individuals, he is represented as uniting us to himself by a bond greater than brotherhood. Could Christ have done more for us? What return do we make for such overwhelming love? Even the best of us must admit that we have indeed done very little.

Today, the spotlight is on husbands and wives. St. Paul calls on them to live in love and harmony. He tells the wife to be subject to her husband, not as a slave to one’s master but as if subject “to the Lord.” Her subjection is based on love and respect. Marriage has made them one with a unity that has no equal on earth. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, and as Christ’s love for the Church went so far as to sacrifice his life to save the Church, so must a true Christian husband be ready to sacrifice himself for love of his wife. St. Paul explains that the husband who truly loves his wife is loving himself, for by marriage husband and wife have become “one flesh.” No man ever hates his own flesh and now that his wife is “one flesh” with him, he is loving himself when he loves her. The same holds for the wife.

This ideal state of perfect harmony in married life between husband and wife is not always easily attained but it must be the aim of all married couples. The example St. Paul sets before them is the mutual love of Christ and his Church. While Christ’s love for his Church remains ever constant and unchanging, the same cannot be said for the individuals who form the Church; and no one knew this better than St. Paul. Christ himself foresaw that the many he had made his “bride” would fail sometimes in their obedience and reverence to him; but occasional lapses would not break the “matrimonial bond” between him and them. Therefore, he left the sacrament of penance, the means of erasing such defects, to his Church. Having purified themselves of their sins, these brides of his would return to him, renewed in love and loyalty.

Married couples, therefore, must not be surprised, much less despondent, if that perfect harmony and the idyllic love of their first years in marriage begins to show signs of tension and strain as the days go on. There will be lapses and disappointments on both sides, but this only proves that both are human: they are not yet saints but only learners of the art of sanctity. Here is where Christian charity and Christian forgiveness, obligatory on all Christians, are especially needed between husbands and wives. They must be ever ready to forgive and forget, and to do so quickly. Christ forgives us our sins the moment we sincerely ask for pardon, he does not make us wait for weeks while he sulks and refuses to deal with us.

Husbands and wives must imitate him in this readiness to forgive. When your partner seems to have insulted, neglected or offended you, think of your wedding day and honeymoon. Are you not to blame as much as your partner for this apparent lapse? With the passing of time you have taken your spouse too much for granted; perhaps, you are becoming selfish. Get back to your original loving enthusiasm, renew your wedding-day fervor, forget self for the moment and you’ll find by your side the spouse with whom you walked arm-in-arm down the aisle that great day–one of the greatest days in your life.

GOSPEL

 tumblr_lpttw8vFa41qkynm4-e1426725539190.jpg

Jn 6:60-69

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said,

“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,

he said to them, “Does this shock you?

What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending

to where he was before?

It is the spirit that gives life,

while the flesh is of no avail.

The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.

But there are some of you who do not believe.”

Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe

and the one who would betray him.

And he said,

“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me

unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this,

many of his disciples returned to their former way of life

and no longer accompanied him.

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life.

We have come to believe

and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082618.cfm

APPLICATION

As we heard last Sunday, St. John was writing about the promise of the Blessed Eucharist at a time when Christians accepted the Mass and Holy Communion as the essential act of Christian worship. Very probably he omitted many details when describing this promise. The “disciples” who murmured evidently saw nothing but a man in Christ. It was very natural, therefore, that they could not accept his saying that they should eat his body and drink his blood. Thus it seems most probable that when Christ says they lacked “faith,” he had given them sufficient proofs that he was more than a man. These individuals among the disciples, however, refused to open their minds to these proofs, therein was their guilt. Their minds were earth-bound and were determined to remain earth-bound. Faith is a gift of the Father, as Christ says to those disciples: “no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father,” but the Father has offered them this gift and they have refused to accept it; otherwise they would not be guilty.

No one who accepts Christ for what he is, the Son of God in human form, has any difficulty in believing that he left us himself in the Eucharist as a sacrifice and a sacrament. This does not mean that we understand this gift of Christ in all its details–it was an act of divine power and as such beyond full human comprehension. However, we can understand enough about the actuality of the Eucharist because we accept the words of Christ, who “has the words of eternal life,” even though its innermost nature escapes us. We are doing no violence to our intelligence when we accept as fact from a trustworthy witness what we cannot prove or confirm for ourselves. No more trustworthy witness than Christ ever existed. In Galilee he promised to give his body and blood–in the Eucharist–to be our spiritual nourishment–communion–and our means of offering an absolutely pleasing sacrifice to God every time his body and blood are made present by the words of his ordained minister. He fulfilled that promise at the Last Supper. He gave to his Apostles and their successors the power to repeat this act of divine love when he said: “Do this in memory of me.”

When Simon Peter answered Christ’s challenge—“will you too go away?”–he spoke not only for his fellow-Apostles that day with: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” but for all Christians who really believe that Christ was the incarnate Son of God. Peter, be it noted, made his act of faith before he was fully convinced of the divinity of Christ, but he was already convinced that Christ was close to God and spoke nothing but the truth.

We have the proofs of Christ’s divinity which Peter and the Apostles later got. We have also the faith of two thousand years of the Christians whose belief in the Blessed Eucharist as a sacrifice and sacrament was at the very center of their Christian lives. We have also the noble example of many martyrs who gladly gave their lives in defense of this truth. Our faith may never be put to such an extreme test, but should it be, God grant that we will not be found wanting.

Many of us may need to examine ourselves as regards the full and effective use we make of that gift. Every time we attend at Mass do we realize that Christ is offering himself to his Father for our sanctification and the sanctification of the world? Do we realize that we, through his minister at the altar, are offering infinite thanksgiving, infinite atonement, infinite adoration, infinitely effective petition, to our Father in heaven through the sacrifice of his divine Son in the Mass? Are we always worthy to act this part, are our consciences fit to allow us to partake of this sacrifice in Holy Communion? A true Christian who realizes and appreciates what the Son of God has done and is still doing for him will try always to make himself less unworthy, for not even the greatest saint was worthy to partake of this act of divine love.

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 438 Jesus’ messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, “for the name ‘Christ’ implies ‘he who anointed’, ‘he who was anointed’ and ‘the very anointing with which he was anointed’. The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing.’”1 His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power”, “that he might be revealed to Israel”2 as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as “the Holy One of God”.3

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.4 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.”5 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.6 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.”7

CCC 473 But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God’s Son expressed the divine life of his person.8 “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.”9 Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father.10 The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.11

CCC 728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.12 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,13 to the Samaritan woman,14 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.15 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer16 and with the witness they will have to bear.17

CCC 1336 The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”18 The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. “Will you also go away?”:19 the Lord’s question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has “the words of eternal life”20 and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.

CCC 2766 But Jesus does not give us a formula to repeat mechanically.21 As in every vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father. Jesus not only gives us the words of our filial prayer; at the same time he gives us the Spirit by whom these words become in us “spirit and life.”22 Even more, the proof and possibility of our filial prayer is that the Father “sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”23 Since our prayer sets forth our desires before God, it is again the Father, “he who searches the hearts of men,” who “knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”24 The prayer to Our Father is inserted into the mysterious mission of the Son and of the Spirit.

1 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3,18,3: PG 7/1, 934.

2 Acts 10:38; Jn 1:31.

3 Mk 1:24; Jn 6:69; Acts 3:14.

4 Cf. Mt 16:16-23.

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

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

7 Acts 2:36.

8 Cf. St. Gregory the Great, “Sicut aqua” ad Eulogium, Epist. Lib. 10, 39 PL 77, 1097 Aff.; DS 475.

9 St. Maximus the Confessor, Qu. et dub. 66 PG 90, 840A.

10 Cf. Mk 14:36; Mt 11:27; Jn 1:18; 8:55; etc.

11 Cf. Mk 2:8; Jn 2 25; 6:61; etc.

12 Cf. Jn 6:27, 51, 62-63.

13 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.

14 Cf. Jn 4:10, 14, 23-24.

15 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.

16 Cf. Lk 11:13.

17 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.

18 Jn 6:60.

19 Jn 6:67.

20 In 6:68.

21 Cf. Mt 6:7; 1 Kings 18:26-29.

22 Jn 6:63.

23 Gal 4:6., 24 Rom 8:27.

BENEDICTUS

The Father – Son Relationship

It seems important to me to highlight the unique nature of the quite special Father-Son relationship.  There is first of all a quite universal rule of knowledge expressed in this sentence about “no one knows the Father except the Son; no one knows the Son but the Father.”  It signifies that like can only be recognized by like.  Where there is no inner correspondence to God, there is no possibility of knowing God.  God can be known, in a strict sense, only by himself.  Consequently, knowledge of God is bestowed on man, then that assumes that God draws man into a relationship of kinship and that there is then so much alive in man that resembles God that cognition and knowledge become possible.  And then Jesus continues:  “No one can know this; except those to whom you choose to reveal it.”  In other words:  Recognition and knowledge can only dawn within a community of will… The pattern of relationships between father and son could not serve as an analogy, to pass on to us even a distant glimpse of the inner mystery of God, were there not a trace of God himself to be found in it.  This specific relationship of father to son – which is a relationship of giving, of receiving, and of giving in return – is basic to human life.  If one continues to philosophize on this basis, then one must of course pose the whole question of the human family, and then one also inevitably runs into limitations.  It is in any case right that this particular type of relationship is of such great extent that it can reach right up above, like an outstretched index finger.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer for Spouses

Lord Jesus,

Grant that my spouse and I may have a true and understanding love for each other.

Grant that we may both be filled with faith and trust.

Give us the grace to live with each other in peace and harmony.

May we always bear with one another’s weaknesses

and grow from each other’s strengths.

Help us to forgive one another’s failings

and grant us patience, kindness, cheerfulness,

and the spirit of placing the well being of one another ahead of one’s self.

May the love that brought us together grow and mature with each passing year.

Bring us both ever closer to You through our love for each other.

Let our love grow to perfection.

We ask this and all things through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Posted in Catholic

TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – B

twelve-apostles-icon-740.jpg

“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

For your mercies’ sake, O Lord my God, tell me what you are to me. Say to my soul: “I am your salvation.” So speak that I may hear, O Lord; my heart is listening; open it that it may hear you, and say to my soul: “I am your salvation.” After hearing this word, may I come in haste to take hold of you. Hide not your face from me. Let me see your face even if I die, lest I die with longing to see it. The house of my soul is too small to receive you; let it be enlarged by you. It is all in ruins; do you repair it. There are things in it – I confess and I know – that must offend your sight. But who shall cleanse it? Or to what others besides you shall I cry out? From my secret sins cleanse me, O Lord, and from those of others spare your servant. Amen.

Saint Augustine of Hippo

COLLECT

O God, who show the light of your truth

to those who go astray,

so that they may return to the right path,

give all who for the faith they profess

are accounted Christians

the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ

and to strive after all that does it honor.

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

Amos.jpg

Amos 7:12-15

Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos,
“Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.”
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

APPLICATION

What happened to the prophet Amos in Israel eight hundred years before Christ, has happened again and again down through the centuries and is happening in our own day on a larger scale than ever before. This man of God was expelled and silenced because those in authority could not listen to the reproofs of the Lord which their injustices, inhumanity and irreligion so richly deserved. Had the king and his associates listened to the prophet and mended their ways, they would have saved their people from exile and their nation would not have been wiped off the map. But because they would not submit to the Lord their God, they were made slaves of the neighboring pagan nation.

The prophets who were sent to speak God’s “word” were made to suffer and were silenced. The Word of God, the Son of God himself, who became man to lead all men back to their eternal Father, suffered even a worse, fate. The pride and prejudice of the leaders of the Jews, God’s Chosen People, had him condemned to a criminal’s death as if he were an outcast from society and a blasphemer to boot. They would not accept the Son of God in human form – the “Word made flesh” came unto his own and his own received him not.

The Church which he founded to carry on and complete his work of redemption was threatened with the same fate. The Jewish authorities tried to strangle that infant Church in Jerusalem, in Palestine and even in, faraway Damascus in Syria, but God’s hand was raised in its defense—and its enemies failed. A few decades later the Roman emperors tried to do what the Jewish authorities had failed to do. But even though they persevered in their evil intent for almost three centuries, they too were fighting against the power of God – and they failed. Many saintly men and women gladly gave their lives for their faith but their deaths increased rather than diminished the number of Christians; for as St. Angustine said: “the blood of martyrs became the seed of Christians.” The Church grew daily and spread through the Roman empire.

From the beginning of the fourth century down to the twentieth, there have been, periods of persecution in different parts of the world. When compared, however, with the widespread disinterest in God and the things of God in most of today’s world, together with the absolute rejection of Christ and God in very many parts of it, the irreligion and opposition to religion in the past were restrained and limited. Behind the bamboo curtain today the destructive philosophy or folly of atheism is being imposed on more than a third of the world’s population. God is excluded from the world he created, man is using the, gifts of intellect and freewill, given him by God, to deny and destroy his divine benefactor. What is worse: two-thirds of the so-called believers are not shocked or disturbed by this sad behavior of God’s children. The nominal Christian nations are indifferent as long as these atheistic ideas do not interfere with their own political or commercial interests. It’s a sign of how little their belief in God and Christ affects their own daily lives and way of thinking.

Today we are living in a world in which the Creator and Lord of that world is given little or no say. Men think they can despise the road rules which he has so wisely laid down and still run human traffic successfully. Head-on crashes, wars and rumors of wars, the expensive build-up of armaments, the gross injustices inflicted on the weak, the inhumanity of men to their fellowmen are the visible proofs of the folly of such a philosophy. It is like trying to navigate a ship when the navigator has been thrown overboard. The world must come back to God and to his ten commandments. No society can survive without rules. The all-wise rules for human society are God’s decalog. We can ignore them only at our peril. To expel God’s prophets and shut our ears to his wise counsels may silence our troubled consciences for a moment, but this will not restore our social health or promote our true welfare. This world is not the sanctuary of any earthly ruler, nor the temple of any human king; it is God’s temple, God’s sanctuary where he expects his creatures to serve him devoutly and loyally.

RESPONSORIAL

Ps 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14

Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD –for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.

Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.

Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

READING II

lastjudgment_5x10.jpg

Eph 1:3-14

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us
the mystery of his will in accord with his favor
that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times,
to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.

In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance
toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.

APPLICATION

In these opening verses of his letter, St. Paul recalls to the minds of his Ephesian converts the basic teaching, the fundamental and central meaning of the Christian faith which he had taught them. In his infinite love, God the Father planned from all eternity to make us his adopted sons, by means of the incarnation of his only begotten Son. “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” This is surely a tremendous truth – a truth that not only changes our whole outlook on life but our very nature itself. As intelligent creatures, the highest of all the other living beings that God put on this earth, we should have much to be grateful for. We have been given life. We are able to think and plan and provide for our needs, to enjoy the beautiful and seek after the good. We are able to study, control and put to our own use myriad’s of inanimate things, as well as the other animate beings God created. We have fellow humans with whom we can converse and share the joys of living. God had so arranged things that we were born into a human family where tenderness and love were showered on us during infancy and adolescence. When we came to the age of responsibility we could have formed a new family, a new association where in turn we would shower love and tenderness on our offspring who would, we should hope, look after us in our declining years.

Creation then was surely a marvelous gift given us by God. But just because of the special gifts he gave us which raise us above all other earthly creatures, could we really enjoy these few short years of life on this earth if we know there was nothing but the gloomy grave awaiting us? If our sixty or eighty years were made up of days of unbroken happiness would we be content with that and nothing else. But as they are years heavily tinged with sorrow and sadness for so many would we not have less reason to be content with our fate? Good as God was to give us life would we not feel that we were somehow treated unfairly by Him?

However, once we know that God exists and once we know from revelation that he is a God of infinite love, we can see how it was in keeping with his love and thoughtfulness that he would arrange a future life for us in which the created gifts which he gave us, would be used to the full, capacity. This God did through the incarnation. We are made heirs to heaven because Christ, the Son of God, made us his brothers when he took our human nature and joined it to his divinity. We shall die to this earth and bid adieu to all its God-given gifts, but for the true Christian, death will mean a change for the better, it will be the door to the true unending life. “Vita mutatur non tollitur,” as we say in the requiem Mass: for the Christian “life is changed not taken away” by death.

The coming of Christ then has not only changed our outlook on life; we no longer see it in terms of days or years – we, look on it from the angle of eternity. Christ’s coming has also changed our very nature itself. We are no longer mere human beings, we are raised to the supernatural status of sons of God, we belong to God’s heaven, God’s home, is our home. Our life on earth is only a pilgrimage, a short journey, during which we work our passage to our everlasting home, our eternal fatherland.

We thank God for creating us and for putting heaven within our reach. We thank Jesus for humiliating himself in the incarnation in order to raise us up beyond our natural selves and for having shed his blood on the cross to wash away the one impediment that could keep us from heaven – sin.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 51  “It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature.”1

CCC 52 God, who “dwells in unapproachable light”, wants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Son.2 By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity.

CCC 257  “O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!”3 God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness”, conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, through “the spirit of sonship”.4 This plan is a “grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”, stemming immediately from Trinitarian love.5 It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.6

CCC 294 The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us “to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace”,7 for “the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the vision of God: if God’s revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word’s manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God.”8 The ultimate purpose of creation is that God “who is the creator of all things may at last become ”all in all“, thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude.”9

CCC 492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.10 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.11

CCC 517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross,12 but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:
– already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;13
– in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;14
– in his word which purifies its hearers;15
– in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;16
– and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.17

CCC 668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”18 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.”19 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.20

CCC 693 Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise,21 the Spirit of adoption,22 the Spirit of Christ,23 the Spirit of the Lord,24 and the Spirit of God25 – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.26

CCC 698 The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. “The Father has set his seal” on Christ and also seals us in him.27 Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible “character” imprinted by these three unrepeatable sacraments.

CCC 706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.28 In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,29 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”30 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.”31

CCC 772 It is in the Church that Christ fulfills and reveals his own mystery as the purpose of God’s plan: “to unite all things in him.”32 St. Paul calls the nuptial union of Christ and the Church “a great mystery.” Because she is united to Christ as to her bridegroom, she becomes a mystery in her turn.33 Contemplating this mystery in her, Paul exclaims: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”34

CCC 796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist.35 The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.”36 The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride “betrothed” to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him.37 The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.38 “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.”39 He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:40
This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many. .. whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? “The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church.”41 And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”42 They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union,. .. as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself “bride.”43

CCC 865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that “the Kingdom of heaven,” the “Reign of God,”44 already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he has redeemed and made “holy and blameless before him in love,”45 will be gathered together as the one People of God, the “Bride of the Lamb,”46 “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.”47 For “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”48

CCC 1042 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:
The Church. .. will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ.49

CCC 1043 Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, “new heavens and a new earth.”50 It will be the definitive realization of God’s plan to bring under a single head “all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.”51

CCC 1066 In the Symbol of the faith the Church confesses the mystery of the Holy Trinity and of the plan of God’s “good pleasure” for all creation: the Father accomplishes the “mystery of his will” by giving his beloved Son and his Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world and for the glory of his name.52
Such is the mystery of Christ, revealed and fulfilled in history according to the wisely ordered plan that St. Paul calls the “plan of the mystery”53 and the patristic tradition will call the “economy of the Word incarnate” or the “economy of salvation.”

CCC 1077 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us before him in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”54

CCC 1083 The dual dimension of the Christian liturgy as a response of faith and love to the spiritual blessings the Father bestows on us is thus evident. On the one hand, the Church, united with her Lord and “in the Holy Spirit,”55 blesses the Father “for his inexpressible gift”56 in her adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. On the other hand, until the consummation of God’s plan, the Church never ceases to present to the Father the offering of his own gifts and to beg him to send the Holy Spirit upon that offering, upon herself, upon the faithful, and upon the whole world, so that through communion in the death and resurrection of Christ the Priest, and by the power of the Spirit, these divine blessings will bring forth the fruits of life “to the praise of his glorious grace.”57

CCC 1107 The Holy Spirit’s transforming power in the liturgy hastens the coming of the kingdom and the consummation of the mystery of salvation. While we wait in hope he causes us really to anticipate the fullness of communion with the Holy Trinity. Sent by the Father who hears the epiclesis of the Church, the Spirit gives life to those who accept him and is, even now, the “guarantee” of their inheritance.58

CCC 1274 The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord (“Dominicus character”) “for the day of redemption.”59 “Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life.”60 The faithful Christian who has “kept the seal” until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life “marked with the sign of faith,”61 with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God – the consummation of faith – and in the hope of resurrection.

CCC 1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal.62 Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”63 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.64

CCC 1426 Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us “holy and without blemish,” just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is “holy and without blemish.”65 Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life.66 This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.67

CCC 1671 Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.”68 This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.

CCC 2603 The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes.69 His exclamation, “Yes, Father!” expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father’s “good pleasure,” echoing his mother’s Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.70

CCC 2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father – we bless him for having blessed us;71 it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father – he blesses us.72

CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”73 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.74 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.75

CCC 2748 In this Paschal and sacrificial prayer, everything is recapitulated in Christ:76 God and the world; the Word and the flesh; eternal life and time; the love that hands itself over and the sin that betrays it; the disciples present and those who will believe in him by their word; humiliation and glory. It is the prayer of unity.

CCC 2807 The term “to hallow” is to be understood here not primarily in its causative sense (only God hallows, makes holy), but above all in an evaluative sense: to recognize as holy, to treat in a holy way. And so, in adoration, this invocation is sometimes understood as praise and thanksgiving.77 But this petition is here taught to us by Jesus as an optative: a petition, a desire, and an expectation in which God and man are involved. Beginning with this first petition to our Father, we are immersed in the innermost mystery of his Godhead and the drama of the salvation of our humanity. Asking the Father that his name be made holy draws us into his plan of loving kindness for the fullness of time, “according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ,” that we might “be holy and blameless before him in love.”78

CCC 2823 “He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ. .. to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will.”79 We ask insistently for this loving plan to be fully realized on earth as it is already in heaven.

CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.80 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”81 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.82

CCC 2854 When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ’s return By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has “the keys of Death and Hades,” who “is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”83
Deliver us, Lord, we beseech you, from every evil and grant us peace in our day, so that aided by your mercy we might be ever free from sin and protected from all anxiety, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.84

1 DV 2; cf. Eph 1:9; 2:18; 2 Pt 1:4.
2 1 Tim 6:16, cf. Eph 1:4-5.
3 LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer.
4 Eph 1:4-5,9; Rom 8:15,29.
5 2 Tim 1:9-10.
6 Cf. AG 2-9.
7 Eph 1:5-6.
8 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,20,7: PG 7/1,1037.
9 AG 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:28.
10 LG 53, 56.
11 Cf. Eph 1:3-4.
12 Cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 1 Pt 1:18-19.
13 Cf. 2 Cor 8:9.
14 Cf. Lk 2:51.
15 Cf. Jn 15:3.
16 Mt 8:17; cf. Is 53:4.
17 Cf. Rom 4:25.
18 Rom 14:9.
19 Eph 1:20-22.
20 Eph 1:10; cf. 4:10; 1 Cor 15:24, 27-28.
21 Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13.
22 Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.
23 Rom 8:9.
24 2 Cor 3:17.
25 Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40.
26 1 Pet 4:14.
27 Jn 6:27; cf. 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:3.
28 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21.
29 Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16.
30 Cf. In 11:52.
31 Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14.
32 Eph 1:10.
33 Eph 5:32; 3:9-11; 5:25-27.
34 Col 1:27.
35 Jn 3:29.
36 Mk 2:19.
37 Cf. Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor 6:15-17; 2 Cor 11:2.
38 Cf. Rev 22:17; Eph 1:4. 5:27.
39 Eph 5:25-26.
40 Cf. Eph 5:29.
41 Eph 5:31-32.
42 Mt 19:6.
43 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 74:4: PL 36, 948-949.
44 Rev 19:6.
45 Eph 1:4.
46 Rev 21:9.
47 Rev 21:10-11.
48 Rev 21:14.
49 LG 48; Cf. Acts 3:21; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; 2 Pet 3:10-13.
50 2 Pet 3:13; Cf. Rev 21:1.
51 Eph 1:10.
52 Eph 1:9.
53 Eph 3:9; cf. 3:4.
54 Eph 1:3-6.
55 Lk 10:21.
56 2 Cor 9:15.
57 Eph 1:6.
58 Cf. Eph 1:14; 2 Cor 1:22.
59 St. Augustine, Ep. 98, 5: PL 33, 362; Eph 4:30; cf. 1:13-14; 2 Cor 1:21-22.
60 St. Irenaeus, Dem ap. 3: SCh 62, 32.
61 Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 97.
62 Cf. Jn 6:27.
63 2 Cor 1:21-22; cf. Eph 1:13; 4,30.
64 Cf. Rev 7:2-3; 9:4; Ezek 9:4-6.
65 Eph 1:4; 5:27.
66 Cf. Council of Trent (1546) DS 1515.
67 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1545; LG 40.
68 Eph 1:3.
69 Cf. Mt 11:25-27 and Lk 10:21-23.
70 Cf. Eph 1:9.
71 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3 7; 1 Pet 1:3-9.
72 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; Rom 15:5-6,13; Eph 6:23-24.
73 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.
74 Cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13.
75 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.
76 Cf. Eph 1:10.
77 Cf. Ps 111:9; Lk 1:49.
78 Eph 1:9, 4.
79 Eph 1:9-11.
80 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.
81 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.
82 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.
83 Rev 1:8,18; cf. Rev 1:4; Eph 1:10.
84 Roman Missal, Embolism after the Lord’s Prayer, 126: Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris, ut, ope misericordiae tuae adiuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi: expectantes beatam spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi.

GOSPEL

1028px-Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_027a.jpg

Mk 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick–
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081918.cfm

APPLICATION

That Christ the Son of God could have spread his Gospel of peace and love, his message of eternal salvation, to the whole world without human help need not be proved. He could, for instance, have written the Gospel in the sky – over each country in its own language. He could have gone to every part of the earth, after his resurrection, and taught his doctrine to all peoples, confirming his words with extraordinary miracles. Yet he chose the weaker but the more human way of evangelizing men – he sent their own fellowman to bring them the message. This choice showed his divine love and understanding of weak human nature, much better and much more effectively than the use of any of the supernatural means which he could have employed.

God, and Christ is God, gave man the gift that we call freewill. Man is able to choose between alternatives. God wants man to choose heaven as his eternal home, but he wants him to choose it without compulsion or coercion. He will have volunteers in heaven not conscripts. The man who chooses heaven must choose the means for going there. If you choose a holiday resort for your summer vacation, you must buy travel tickets, book a hotel and save up the expenses necessary for the holiday. By appointing mortal men to bring the news of salvation, the news of heaven, and the means of getting there to all of us, Christ has given us the chance of exercising our freewill and therefore of meriting heaven. Refusal to accept would hardly be possible if Christ informed us miraculously or taught us in person. If some extraordinary individual could persist in refusing, his refusal would be utterly inexcusable.

Now, Christ has earned heaven for all men and not for Christians only. He has given his Church, with all its aids and its guaranteed truth, to those who will be his followers. For them the road of the Gospel is an absolutely assured way by which they will reach heaven, if they are faithful to the rules. But there are, and there have always been, millions and millions of men and women who through no fault of their own have not heard of the Church of Christ. There are other millions who have heard of Christ and his Church, but who, because of some personal kink of pride or because of their upbringing or surroundings, have not felt able to accept the Christian way of life. God is mindful of all these millions and wants them in heaven. If their present circumstances, their lack of knowledge of the Christian truths, or personal prejudice, brought on by circumstances beyond their control, prevent them from being convinced of the necessity of becoming Christians would God exclude them from heaven? Surely not. It was because he foresaw all those who could not freely accept his Gospel to the letter and who yet want to go to heaven, that he let other human beings, who could and would be doubted, preach and propagate his Gospel. Therefore, it would be inexcusable to refuse to listen to his own word if it were written by him in the sky or preached by himself personally. But men could be excused if they doubted his human agents, for some reasons which appeared to them as valid. In other words, the merciful Christ who humiliated himself and who submitted to the death of the cross in order to open heaven for all men, found ways and means of excusing those who would elect to trudge through the fields and over the hedges rather than travel on the royal highroad that he had laid down for them.

This is divine mercy in action. God wants every human being to be saved. There are no Jews or Gentiles in the Church; no pagans, Moslems, Jews or rationalists in heaven – the citizens of heaven are all children of God. While on earth they each served him according to their lights, under their own particular banners. “The Spirit breathes where it will.” God’s mercy and love can reach into the darkest corners and produce fruit from the most unlikely and apparently most neglected of orchards.

While we thank God from our hearts today for having been put on the road to heaven, let us remember in our prayers our fellowman, God’s other children, who are trudging along through the fields and hedges. May God continue to show his mercy and divine understanding toward them! May they meet us at the entrance to our Father’s home where we shall be happy forever together!

 

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 765 The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head.1 Representing the twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem.2 The Twelve and the other disciples share in Christ’s mission and his power, but also in his lot.3 By all his actions, Christ prepares and builds his Church.

CCC 1506 Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. ..4 By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing: “So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.”.5

CCC 1511 The Church believes and confesses that among the seven sacraments there is one especially intended to strengthen those who are being tried by illness, the Anointing of the Sick:
This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord.6

CCC 1673 When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing.7 In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.8

1 Cf. Mk 3:14-15.
2 Cf. Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30; Rev 21:12-14.
3 Cf. Mk 6:7; Lk 10:1-2; Mt 10:25; Jn 15:20.
4 Cf. Mt 10:38.
5 Mk 6:12-13.
6 Council Of Trent (1551): DS 1695; cf. Mk 6:13; Jas 5:14-15.
7 Cf. Mk 1:25-26; 3:15; 6:7, 13; 16:17.
8 Cf. CIC, can. 1172.

BENEDICTUS

The “Nothingness” Asked of the Twelve

This “nothingness” that the disciples share with Jesus expresses at once the power and the impotence of the apostolic office.  On their own, by the force of their own understanding, knowledge and will, they cannot do anything they are meant to do as Apostles.  How could they possibly say “I forgive you your sins”?  How could they conceivably say “This is my body” or impose their hands and pronounce the words “Receive the Holy Spirit”?  Nothing that makes up the activity of the Apostles is the product of their own capabilities.  But it is precisely in having “nothing” to call their own that their communion with Jesus consists, since Jesus is also entirely from the Father, has being only through him and in him and would not exist at all if he were not a continual coming forth from and self-return to the Father.  Having “nothing” of their own draws the Apostles into communion of mission with Christ.  This service, in which we are made the entire property of another, this giving of what does not come from us, is called sacrament in the language of the Church.

This is precisely what we mean when we call the ordination of priests a sacrament: ordination is not about the development of one’s own powers and gifts.  It is not the appointment of a man as a functionary because he is especially good at it, or because it suits him, or simply because it strikes him as a good way to earn his bread; it is not a question of a job in which someone secures his own livelihood by his own abilities, perhaps in order to rise later to something better.

Sacrament means: I give what I myself cannot give; I do something that is not my work; I am on a mission and have become the bearer of that which another has committed to my charge… This very self-expropriation for the other; this leave-taking from oneself, this self-dispossession and selflessness that are essential to the priestly ministry can lead to authentic human maturity and fulfillment.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Become More Like Jesus

God, our Father, You redeemed us and made us Your children in Christ. Through Him You have saved us from death and given us Your Divine life of grace. By becoming more like Jesus on earth, may I come to share His glory in Heaven. Give me the peace of Your kingdom, which this world does not give. By Your loving care protect the good You have given me. Open my eyes to the wonders of Your Love that I may serve You with a willing heart.

We ask this and all things through Christ our Lord, Amen.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Catholic

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

Orthodox_icon_of_Christ_The_bread_of_Life_grande.jpg

“Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.”

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Prayer for Eternal life with God

Heavenly Father,

in glorifying Jesus

and sending us your Spirit,

You open the way to eternal life.

May my sharing in this Gift increase my love

and make my faith grow stronger.

Send Your Spirit to cleanse my life

so that the offering of myself to You at Mass

may be pleasing to You.

May my sharing in the Eucharist,

our Bread of Life,

bring me eternal life.

Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=739

COLLECT

May the precious long-suffering of the just,

O Lord, we pray,

bring us a great increase of love for you

and always prompt in our hearts

constancy in the holy faith.

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

fa849cb2b6ed4fd9e832e1834064cd23--archangel-gabriel-the-prophet.jpg

1 Kgs 19:4-8

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert,

until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.

He prayed for death saying:

“This is enough, O LORD!

Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,

but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.

Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake

and a jug of water.

After he ate and drank, he lay down again,

but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,

touched him, and ordered,

“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”

He got up, ate, and drank;

then strengthened by that food,

he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.1 Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.2

CCC 2583 After Elijah had learned mercy during his retreat at the Wadi Cherith, he teaches the widow of Zarephath to believe in The Word of God and confirms her faith by his urgent prayer: God brings the widow’s child back to life.3

The sacrifice on Mount Carmel is a decisive test for the faith of the People of God. In response to Elijah’s plea, “Answer me, O LORD, answer me,” the Lord’s fire consumes the holocaust, at the time of the evening oblation. The Eastern liturgies repeat Elijah’s plea in the Eucharistic epiclesis.

Finally, taking the desert road that leads to the place where the living and true God reveals himself to his people, Elijah, like Moses before him, hides “in a cleft of he rock” until the mysterious presence of God has passed by.4 But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of him whom they sought; “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ,” crucified and risen.5

1 Cf. Job 38:7 (where angels are called “sons of God”); Gen 3:24; 19; 21: 17; 22:11; Acts 7:53; Ex 23:20-23; Judg 13; 6:11-24; Is 6:6; 1 Kings 19:5.

2 Cf. Lk 1:11, 26.

3 Cf. 1 Kings 17:7-24.

4 Cf. 1 Kings 19:1-14; cf. Ex 33:19-23.

5 2 Cor 4:6; cf. Lk 9:30-35.

APPLICATION

The miraculous feeding of the prophet Elijah on his journey through the desert is recalled to mind today, because the Gospel story concerns our Lord’s promise of the miraculous bread which he will give to sustain his followers on their journey through life. That God provided for the bodily needs of his prophet, and that Christ did likewise for the simple people of Galilee, were but a foreshadowing of the spiritual food which Christ would leave to his faithful followers to sustain them during their journey through this life. Of this we shall hear more in today’s Gospel. Let us now see what lessons there are for us in this incident in the life of the prophet Elijah.

Elijah defended the true religion in the northern kingdom against all the power of the forces which the pagan wife of king Achab had introduced into the country. Having won a great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah had to flee the country to escape the clutches of the pagan queen. He was on his way to Mount Horeb in Sinai hoping to contact Yahweh where Moses had received the covenant, the covenant which Israel had so seriously violated. On his way, however, weary from travel and short of food he grew despondent and lost heart. In spite of all his endeavors Israel was full of sin and idolatrous practices. His labors were in vain, he would be better off dead. He sat down under a broom tree and asked Yahweh to end his life.

Instead, Yahweh sent an angel to him with food to restore his tired body and mind—a food which gave him the strength to walk without ceasing until he reached Horeb. Here the gracious Lord appeared to him, and having shown him that he was not a God of fury but a God of mercy (1 Kgs. 19: 9-12), he sent him back to continue his work. The reign of Jezabel, the pagan queen, would soon end, for God told Elijah to anoint Jehu as the next king of Israel. Elijah returned to Israel and with renewed vigor continued his work for the true religion of Yahweh.

Here is a story which has encouragement for all of us. Here we have a prophet, God’s own chosen representative, a man full of zeal for God’s honor and glory—a saint, and yet he was as human as the rest of us. He grew tired of fighting a losing battle, he fled from the front, he set out to get protection and consolation from God, but tiring of the long journey he became so depressed and so despondent that he wanted God to take him from this vale of tears. God was not disgusted with him, he did not think him a coward or a failure; instead, he renewed his energies and sent him back to fight on for the Lord.

There are few of us who do not, have our moments, even days maybe, and weeks of spiritual depression. Our crosses seem at times to become unbearable; we feel like lying down under them and asking God to take us. This is exactly what this holy man did and we saw how kindly God dealt with him. God will lift us up too, and if only we rely on him he will give us the strength to carry on. It is he who allows those crosses to come on us, but he does not want them to crush us, he wants us to use them to rise above our earthly weaknesses and to stay closer to him.

The next time I feel despondent, I shall not ask the good God to take, we away from it all; I shall ask him to give me that new strength which he gave to Elijah–the strength to persevere, bearing my cross not only for forty days but for forty more years, if this should be God’s means of assuring me my eternal salvation.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall be ever in my mouth.

Let my soul glory in the LORD;

the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Glorify the LORD with me,

Let us together extol his name.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me

And delivered me from all my fears.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.

And your faces may not blush with shame.

When the afflicted man called out, the LORD heard,

And from all his distress he saved him.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

The angel of the LORD encamps

around those who fear him and delivers them.

Taste and see how good the LORD is;

blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

READING II

cropped-st-paul-icon-2.jpg

Eph 4:30-5:2

Brothers and sisters:

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,

with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.

All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling

must be removed from you, along with all malice.

And be kind to one another, compassionate,

forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,

as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us

as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 698 The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. “The Father has set his seal” on Christ and also seals us in him.1 Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible “character” imprinted by these three unrepeatable sacraments.

CCC 1274 The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord (“Dominicus character”) “for the day of redemption.”2 “Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life.”3 The faithful Christian who has “kept the seal” until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life “marked with the sign of faith,”4 with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God – the consummation of faith – and in the hope of resurrection.

CCC 1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal.5 Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”6 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.7

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.8

CCC 2842 This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”9 It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.10 Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.11

1 Jn 6:27; cf. 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:3.

2 St. Augustine, Ep. 98, 5: PL 33, 362; Eph 4:30; cf. 1:13-14; 2 Cor 1:21-22.

3 St. Irenaeus, Dem ap. 3: SCh 62, 32.

4 Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 97.

5 Cf. Jn 6:27.

6 2 Cor 1:21-22; cf. Eph 1:13; 4,30.

7 Cf. Rev 7:2-3; 9:4; Ezek 9:4-6.

8 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.

9 Mt 5:48; Lk 6:36; Jn 13:34.

10 Cf. Gal 5:25; Phil 2:1,5.

11 Eph 4:32.

APPLICATION

Charity, love of neighbor, is the hallmark of all true Christians. We have it from our divine Lord’s own mouth when he said: “by this will all men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13: 35). This is the basic virtue of Christianity which St. Paul is urging his recent converts to put into daily practice. First, he tells them what vices and failings they must avoid, and then he describes the positive things they must do in order to live in true charity with their neighbors. He then gives the reason why Christians must love one another, namely, that they are children of God and must imitate their heavenly Father who is Love; they are brothers of Christ who set them such a sublime example of true love.

What St. Paul urged on the Ephesians he is urging on us too. If charity was the hallmark of Christianity in the 1st century, it is still the same in the 20th. If the Ephesians were children of God so, too, are we–thanks to God’s mercy; if they should imitate their Father so, too, must we if we want to be found worthy of the dignity he has conferred on us. Christ died for us as well as for the Ephesians and this he did out of love for us, we must make some return for his sublime example of love.

How do we set about loving our neighbor in a truly Christian manner? St. Paul gives us some guidelines today. Avoid bitterness, he tells us. Bitterness is a feeling of dislike, of resentment which we develop within us against somebody who has done us a real or imagined wrong. Our Christian duty is to forgive a neighbor who has offended us, or who we think has offended us, for often the offense was not intended and the neighbor is not guilty. “Forgive and forget” is a truly Christian advice. One can forgive but still keep remembering the offense; this is not complete forgiveness and the retention of such memories makes one unhappy and develops a certain amount of bitterness against the offending brother. Cast your mind around among those neighbors against whom you have some resentment. Even if they did deliberately offend you, they have also offended God by that same act and that is far more serious; yet God will forgive them; should not you as his child do likewise? You have to turn to God pleading for forgiveness at times; you will obtain that forgiveness if you forgive your neighbor: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we refuse fully to forgive our neighbor what we are saying in that prayer is: “do not forgive me, Lord, as I do not forgive those who offend me.”

St. Paul tells us to avoid “wrath, anger and clamor,” in other words, uncharitable scenes and quarrels. Although “hot tempers” are especially attributed to Irishmen and redheads, the true fact is that men of all nationalities and colors of hair have their share of this unlovable commodity. It has to be kept in check, or it may lead us to say or do things to a neighbor which are the opposite of charitable. It is often said of a person that he would provoke the anger of a saint. It is not true: a true saint has control of his temper. What the saying really means is: “I am a saintly person but that neighbor’s tongue or actions make me lose my temper.” But that neighbor’s behavior could have been the very test which would prove my sanctity and patience. No one deserves credit for being even-tempered and mild with those who are gentle and kindly in word and deed. It is in our dealings with the unkind and the uncharitable that we must avoid the uncharitable scenes mentioned by St. Paul. A true Christian, instead of paying such uncharitable neighbors back in their own coin, will try to make them better Christians by treating them kindly and charitably. St. Francis de Sales, speaking of charity, says one can catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.

St. Paul goes on to tell us that we must be kind and tender-hearted to one another, not only forgiving any offenses our neighbors may have committed against us but taking them to our heart, making them feel that they are wanted. They are members of the one family and we should gladly sacrifice our own convenience in order to help them along in life. We may not be able to do much but if our “little” comes from a warm charitable heart it can and will work wonders.

GOSPEL

127e14d0e8759554a398d4c79e798767--angels-in-heaven-heavenly-angels.jpg

Jn 6:41-51

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said,

“I am the bread that came down from heaven,”

and they said,

“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?

Do we not know his father and mother?

Then how can he say,

‘I have come down from heaven?'”

Jesus answered and said to them,

“Stop murmuring among yourselves.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,

and I will raise him on the last day.

It is written in the prophets:

They shall all be taught by God.

Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.

Not that anyone has seen the Father

except the one who is from God;

he has seen the Father.

Amen, amen, I say to you,

whoever believes has eternal life.

I am the bread of life.

Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;

this is the bread that comes down from heaven

so that one may eat it and not die.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven;

whoever eats this bread will live forever;

and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081218.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his “beloved Son”, in whom the Father is “well pleased”; God tells us to listen to him.1 The Lord himself said to his disciples: “Believe in God, believe also in me.”2 We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”3 Because he “has seen the Father”, Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.4

CCC 259 Being a work at once common and personal, the whole divine economy makes known both what is proper to the divine persons, and their one divine nature. Hence the whole Christian life is a communion with each of the divine persons, without in any way separating them. Everyone who glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit moves him.5

CCC 591 Jesus asked the religious authorities of Jerusalem to believe in him because of the Father’s works which he accomplished.6 But such an act of faith must go through a mysterious death to self, for a new “birth from above” under the influence of divine grace.7 Such a demand for conversion in the face of so surprising a fulfillment of the promises8 allows one to understand the Sanhedrin’s tragic misunderstanding of Jesus: they judged that he deserved the death sentence as a blasphemer.9 The members of the Sanhedrin were thus acting at the same time out of “ignorance” and the “hardness” of their “unbelief”.10

CCC 728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.11 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,12 to the Samaritan woman,13 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.14 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer15 and with the witness they will have to bear.16

CCC 1001 When? Definitively “at the last day,” “at the end of the world.”17 Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ’s Parousia:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.18

CCC 1355 In the communion, preceded by the Lord’s prayer and the breaking of the bread, the faithful receive “the bread of heaven” and “the cup of salvation,” the body and blood of Christ who offered himself “for the life of the world”:19

Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist (“eucharisted,” according to an ancient expression), “we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught.”20

CCC 1428 Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, “clasping sinners to her bosom, [is] at once holy and always in need of purification, [and] follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”21 This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a “contrite heart,” drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.22

CCC 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but. .. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”23 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”24 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.25

CCC 2837 “Daily” (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of “this day,”26 to confirm us in trust “without reservation.” Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence.27 Taken literally (epi-ousios: “super-essential”), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the “medicine of immortality,” without which we have no life within us.28 Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: “this day” is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day.

The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive. .. This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage.29

The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.30

1 Mk 1:11; cf. 9:7.

2 Jn 14:1.

3 Jn 1:18.

4 Jn 6:46; cf. Mt 11:27.

5 Cf. Jn 6:44; Rom 8:14.

6 Jn 10:36-38.

7 Cf. Jn 3:7; 6:44.

8 Cf. Is 53:1.

9 Cf. Mk 3:6; Mt 26:64-66.

10 Cf. Lk 23 34; Acts 3: 17-18; Mk 3:5; Rom 11:25, 20.

11 Cf. Jn 6:27, 51, 62-63.

12 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.

13 Cf. Jn 4:10, 14, 23-24.

14 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.

15 Cf. Lk 11:13.

16 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.

17 Jn 6: 39-40,44,54; 11:24; LG 48 § 3.

18 1 Thess 4:16.

19 Jn 6:51.

20 St. Justin, Apol. 1, 66,1-2: PG 6, 428.

21 LG 8 # 3.

22 Ps 51:17; cf. Jn 6:44; 12:32; 1 Jn 4:10.

23 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

24 Am 8:11.

25 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

26 Cf. Ex 16:19-21.

27 Cf. 1 Tim 6:8.

28 St. Ignatius Of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20, 2 PG 5, 661; Jn 6:53-56.

29 St. Augustine, Sermo 57, 7: PL 38, 389.

30 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 67 PL 52, 392; Cf. Jn 6:51.

APPLICATION

The main point of doctrine in this part of our Lord’s discourse, as given by St. John, is the necessity for belief in Christ who has come down from heaven. It is only in the last verse of today’s text that Christ explicitly states that he is about to give his own very body as their spiritual food to those who believe in him. The description of himself as “bread from heaven” and the vital difference between the effect of this bread and the manna given to their fathers in the desert, are a definite preparation for the announcement of the doctrine of the Eucharist.

However, before they could even think of accepting this teaching on the Eucharist they had first to accept Christ as divine, as the Son of God. This was not easy for Jews, for whom strict monotheism was the center of their faith. To admit that Christ was God would at first sight seem like admitting two gods. Secondly, even though Christ had worked extraordinary miracles, to all appearances he was still a mere man—and the prophets of old had worked miracles. True, Christ was evidently claiming to be more than a prophet; he claimed that he alone had seen the Father, that he had come from the Father. This claim of equality with the Father would be sheer blasphemy if it were not true; could God give the power of miracles to such a great sinner?

Perhaps some of them argued along these lines and accepted his claim later on. Others remained stiff-necked and stubborn and could see nothing in him but a native of Nazareth, a humble Galilean like themselves, but one who had developed strange ideas about who and what he was. These Galileans began a long line of unbelievers which has stretched down through the centuries to our own day. The reasons for the unbelief are the same today as they were in the year 29 A.D. Man is proud of his intelligence; which he did not give to himself. Whatever he cannot grasp within the limited confines of that intellect, he treats as non-existent as far as he is concerned. If a God exists, a doubtful possibility to these great thinkers, we mortals can know nothing about him; he is beyond our understanding and we can be of no concern to him.

If there ever was a Jesus of Nazareth, he could be only a mere man who suffered from grave hallucinations! But his miracles? A simple answer: there never were any. His disciples invented these stories later. But these disciples were willing to die for these inventions of theirs! Thousands of Christians were martyred rather than deny the divine claims of Jesus! More hallucination, no doubt! Nineteen centuries of Christian history can be shrugged off as easily as that by those who will not believe. If certain statements do not fit in with preconceived ideas then these statements are false; if certain facts do not agree with history, as the unbelievers understand history, then these facts never happened. So man’s limited, finite mind remains the sole judge and arbiter of all truth.

We believe in a loving God, and in his divine Son, Jesus Christ, who came on earth to bring us to heaven, and in the Holy Spirit who completes the work of sanctification in us. Surely, we owe this Blessed Trinity a debt of gratitude! We can never fully repay it. Because of our Christian faith which has come to us from Jesus, we know where we came from, we know whither we are going and we know how to reach that destination. Of all the knowledge a human being can acquire on this earth, the above facts are the most essential and important. Any other knowledge is of temporary value. The knowledge our Christian faith gives us concerns eternity and our journey toward it.

Today, we must thank God from the bottom of our hearts for giving us the Christian faith. This faith means that “God out of the abundance of his love, speaks to men as friends and lives among them so that he may invite and take them into fellowship with himself,” as Vatican II puts it. He did not put us on earth and leave us on our own with nowhere to go except to the grave. He sent his beloved Son on earth. He made us heirs to heaven and left to us, in his Church, all the instruction and aids we need to reach our inheritance. The unbelievers and free-thinkers may feel that they are free to do what they will here on earth, but we know that we have been given the freedom of the children of God for all eternity, if only we live according to the faith given us.

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

BENEDICTUS

Eucharist as Oneness

The Eucharist gathers people together; it creates for human beings a blood relationship, a sharing of blood, with Jesus Christ and, thus, with God, and of people with one another. Yet in order for this, the coming together on the highest level, to come about, there must first be a simpler level of getting together, so to speak, and people have to step outside their own private worlds and meet together. People’s coming together in response to the Lord’s call is the necessary condition for the Lord’s being able to make them into an assembly in a new way… All eucharistic assemblies taken together are still just one assembly, because the body of Christ is just one, and hence the People of God can only be one… If the eucharistic assembly first brings us out of the world and into the “upper room,” into the inner chamber of faith, this very upper room is yet the place of meeting, a universal meeting of everyone who believes in Christ, beyond all boundaries and divisions; and it thus becomes the point from which a universal love is bound to shine forth, overcoming all boundaries and divisions: if others are going hungry, we cannot live in opulence. On the one hand, the Eucharist is a turning inward and upward; yet only from the depths within, and from the heights of what is truly above, can come the power that overcomes boundaries and divisions and changes the world.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though Thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not, that I should ever be separated from Thee. Amen.

tumblr_lm83pyGQZj1qde1luo1_500.jpg

What is the Mass? The Holy Mass is the highest form of worship.

The four aims of the Mass are;to adore God, to thank Him, 
to ask Him for forgiveness and 
to ask Him for our needs.

The Mass is comprised of two major and distinct, though related parts, namely the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. One centers around the Bible, and other, around the bread and wine. However, both form one single act of worship. They are not independent of each other. What is proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word is celebrated in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Christ is present in both parts; first in His word, then in His Eucharistic action, and;

Christ said that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. This word is our food before the Eucharistic bread: we receive Christ in the Sacred Readings before receiving Him in Holy Communion.

Liturgy of the Word

The purpose of the readings and the homily is to proclaim the Word of God, which has the power to change our lives. We are not simply to listen, but to respond to what is being proclaimed.

The purpose of the Liturgy of the Word is not information, but transformation; not merely to tell what God has done in the past, but what he continues to do today; not merely to instruct, but to lead to worship. Worship is not something we do for God; rather it is our response to what he has done for us.

The Liturgy of the Word leads us to respond to that word by sacrifice in the second part of the Mass.

Liturgy of the Eucharist: Meal and Sacrifice

Family and friends like to enjoy each other’s company through having meals together, eg; family dinners, lunches, birthday parties, picnics etc. It is not surprising then that Jesus chose a meal to be close to us. The prototype of this Eucharistic meal was the Passover meal when the Jews recalled their deliverance from slavery to freedom through God’s intervention.

In Holy Comm-union (community union), everyone is united with Jesus and with each other.

The Eucharist is the same sacrifice of Jesus offered once and for all, re-presented (made present) for us who were not at Calvary under the sacramental sign of the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist. The sacrifice at Calvary was bloody, the sacrifice at Mass is not.

We are God’s children and by faith and baptism share in Christ’s priesthood. In the Mass we join our High Priest, Jesus in offering the Sacrifice of His Body and Blood. With the whole Church we unite the offering of ourselves and of all created things with Christ’s offering to the Father. We adore God, we thank Him, we atone for our sins and we ask Him for help.

In the Jewish Passover, the unblemished lamb is sacrificed and eaten by family members. The Body of Jesus is also eaten by the family members of the community during Holy Communion.

Nourishments

We eat to get nourishments and to live. The Mass nourishes us with the Word of God (first part, Liturgy of the Word) and the Body and Blood of Christ (Holy Communion) when Christ comes to our souls to give us a fuller share in His Sacrifice and unite us more closely to Himself and to one another.

When we eat food, the food is transformed into our beings. When we eat the Body and Blood of Christ under the form of bread and wine, Jesus transforms us into Himself.

The Real Presence

When the species (the bread and wine) are consecrated by a priest or bishop, “This is my body, … This is my blood, …” Jesus becomes really and truly present. We call this the Real Presence.

It is no longer bread and wine, but really Jesus Himself. 
The substance (what the thing is) of bread and wine is changed into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus, even though we can still see and taste the accidents (what we see or taste) of bread and wine. Traditionally, this is called transubstantiation.

It is not symbolic, but Jesus is really present.

“Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.” (John 6:53-54) This passage cannot be understood in a figurative way. In the biblical world, when the words “to eat the flesh and drink the blood” were used metaphorically, they meant to destroy someone, either by slander or by doing physical harm. (See Isaiah 49-26; Psalm 27:2.)

This is precisely why the Jews murmured at Jesus’ words and why his disciples were shocked. They knew the phrase could only be taken literally. Jesus did not correct any misunderstanding on the part of the crowd or his disciples who walked away after He said these Words. (John 6:66) He simply reminded them that it is necessary to have God’s Spirit to be able to accept such a teaching. (John 6:63.)

If we are unable to attend daily mass, the least we should do to offer up our day is offer up a Spiritual Communion.

St John Vianney had this to say about Spiritual Communion;

“If we are deprived of Sacramental Communion, let us replace it, as far as we can, by spiritual communion, which we can make every moment; for we ought to have always a burning desire to receive the good God. Communion is to the soul like blowing a fire that is beginning to go out, but that has still plenty of hot embers; we blow, and the fire burns again. After the reception of the Sacraments, when we feel ourselves slacken in the love of God, let us have recourse at once to spiritual communion. When we cannot come to church, let us turn towards the tabernacle: a wall cannot separate us from the good God; let us say five Our Fathers and five Hail Mary’s to make a spiritual communion. We can receive the good God only once a day; a soul on fire with love supplies for this by the desire to receive Him every moment. O man, how great thou art! fed with the Body and Blood of a God! Oh, how sweet a life is this life of union with the good God! It is Heaven upon earth; there are no more troubles, no more crosses! When you have the happiness of having received the good God, you feel a joy, a sweetness in your heart for some moments. Pure souls feel it always, and in this union consists their strength and their happiness.”

To learn more about the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharistic, please read Blessed Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Dominicae Cenae. You can find it at the link provided below.

http://www.cin.org/jp2ency/dominica.html

Another great teaching website:

http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/a.html

Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, Divine Mercy, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, Mary, mercy, Oblate, prayer, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

IMG_0926.jpg

“Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Prayer Before Mass

Receive, O Holy Trinity, One God, this Holy Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which I, Your unworthy servant, desire now to offer to Your Divine Majesty by the hands of this Your minister, with all the Sacrifices which have ever been or will be offered to You, in union with that most Holy Sacrifice offered by the same Christ our Lord at the Last Supper, and on the Altar of the Cross.

I offer it to You with the utmost affection of devotion, out of pure love for Your infinite goodness, and according to the most holy intention of the same Christ our Lord, and of our Holy Mother the Church.

O God, almighty and merciful, grant us through this Holy Sacrifice, joy and peace, a holier life, time to do penance, grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and perseverance in good works. Amen.

COLLECT

Draw near to your servants, O Lord,

and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness,

that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide,

you may restore what you have created

and keep safe what you have restored.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

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

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

READING I

bowersock_1-042414.jpg

Ex 16:2-4, 12-15

The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

The Israelites said to them,

“Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt,

as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!

But you had to lead us into this desert

to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the LORD said to Moses,

“I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.

Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;

thus will I test them,

to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.

Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,

and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,

so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.

In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,

and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert

were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.

On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?”

for they did not know what it was.

But Moses told them,

“This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

APPLICATION

In spite of all the miracles that God worked to set the Israelites free from the slavery of Egypt, they were still far from trusting him. When their food supplies had run out and no food seemed available in the desert region where they were, they murmured against Moses and against God. They thought God was going to let them die of starvation. “Would it not have been far better to have remained reasonably well-fed slaves in Egypt rather than starve as freemen out here?” they said. As yet they did not realize that God had a loving Father’s interest in them, that he intended to bring them into the land of Canaan, as promised to Abraham and his descendants. This he was doing in order to put his eternal plan for man’s salvation–the incarnation – into action later on.

God did not reprimand them for their lack of trust in him, he knew they were as yet poorly formed spiritually. Instead, he immediately promised to provide for their bodily needs. That evening he would provide meat for them to eat and next morning they would be able to find a bread-like food in sufficient quantity to supply each day’s needs. This provision of meat and bread-like food was a miracle of God’s kindness for the people he had chosen to be the ancestors of his divine Son in his human nature. The two items of food were in themselves natural to the region – the quails were passing over the Sinai desert for six months every year, and the “manna” came naturally from the tamarisk trees. What was miraculous was the large number of quails which landed around the camp, and also the regular, abundant supply of the tamarisk product which was available each day.

Each day the people rejoiced for a while at the turn of events. They had an abundant fresh supply, but some months later they again murmured and complained against God: they longed for variety as they had only the same manna all the time (Nb. 11: 5). They were surely an ungrateful, a stiff-necked, stubborn people, and nothing short of the infinite patience of God could have put up with them and continued to care for them. This he did, more for our sakes than for theirs. And it’s here that this story of God’s compassion has a lesson for us. Everything that God did in the Old Testament was in preparation for the New, in which his eternal plan for all men was put into operation. He chose Abraham so that from him would come Jesus “according to the flesh.” He looked after Abraham’s descendants and eventually established them as a people in the promised land. They were the people he had chosen to keep his name and his knowledge alive on earth, while all other peoples were serving empty idols. This Chosen People failed him again and again, but in spite of their disloyalty, he preserved a remnant of Abraham’s descendants in Judah until the “fullness of time” had come–the time for sending his divine Son as an on earth.

This miraculous feeding of the Israelites in the desert therefore was an act of mercy for such ungrateful people. It was also, and more importantly, a step in the preparation for the immensely greater act of our elevation to sonship with himself – brought about by the incarnation. Think of it! God was planning for our eternal salvation over three thousand two hundred years ago when he saved the Israelites from starvation in the desert of Sinai! Consider how much we take our religion for granted; how little we esteem the privilege that is ours; what little thought do we give to all that God did in order to make us Christians.

God has no need of us in heaven; he is infinitely happy without us, but because of his infinite goodness he wants to share his heaven with us and therefore he has been making arrangements from the beginning of time to enable us to get there. But he does need our cooperation. He created us, as St. Augustine says, without our consent but he cannot bring us to heaven without our consent. Unfortunately, there are some men who will not cooperate in providing for their own eternal happiness. Let us not be of their number. Let us look back on history today, and see all that God has done for us in order to make us eternally happy. Let us thank him and make a sincere and heartfelt resolve to be faithful to his teaching in future, to follow the path he has appointed for us to lead us to him.

Thanks be to the good Lord for feeding the Israelites in Sinai, and for having had our eternal welfare in mind when he came to their aid!

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

What we have heard and know,

and what our fathers have declared to us,

We will declare to the generation to come

the glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength

and the wonders that he wrought.

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

He commanded the skies above

and opened the doors of heaven;

he rained manna upon them for food

and gave them heavenly bread.

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

Man ate the bread of angels,

food he sent them in abundance.

And he brought them to his holy land,

to the mountains his right hand had won.

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

READING II 

as-panto.jpg

Eph 4:17, 20-24

Brothers and sisters:

I declare and testify in the Lord

that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,

in the futility of their minds;

that is not how you learned Christ,

assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him,

as truth is in Jesus,

that you should put away the old self of your former way of life,

corrupted through deceitful desires,

and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,

and put on the new self,

created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.1

CCC 1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”2

CCC 1695 “Justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God,”3 “sanctified. .. [and] called to be saints,”4 Christians have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.5 This “Spirit of the Son” teaches them to pray to the Father6 and, having become their life, prompts them to act so as to bear “the fruit of the Spirit”7 by charity in action. Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation.8 He enlightens and strengthens us to live as “children of light” through “all that is good and right and true.”9

CCC 2475 Christ’s disciples have “put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”10 By “putting away falsehood,” they are to “put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander.”11

1 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.

2 Eph 4:22, 24.

3 2 Cor 6:11.

4 1 Cor 1:2.

5 Cf. 1 Cor 6:19.

6 Cf. Gal 4:6.

7 Gal 5:22, 25.

8 Cf. Eph 4:23.

9 Eph 5:8, 9.

10 Eph 4:24.

11 Eph 4:25; 1 Pet 2:1.

APPLICATION

St. Paul had to remind the Ephesians what Christianity meant. They were men and women who were close to the time of Christ, They had seen the many miracles worked by their Apostle and father in the faith. He was a saintly man and their teacher, if they needed a reminder. How much more do we Christians of today need such a reminder? This is the very reason that these words of St. Paul are read to us today: to remind us that we are Christians, that we are new men. We have a new outlook on life and therefore our way of living should not conform to the pagan ethos of our day, but should show to the world than we are sons of God. How many Christians today are doing that? How many of Christ’s followers are bearing the true witness to him?

The western world, that is, all Europe and the Americas, is nominally Christian. However, for a large percentage of the citizens of these lands Christianity is only a label not a way of life. Many millions of these people have never learned the truth which is Jesus, they have not been taught the Christian faith. Other millions have learned the truths of the faith, in a modified form perhaps, but are not willing to carry out their Christian duties. The Eastern and Western schisms, the Greek and the Protestant revolts, can be blamed for much of this religious decay–but not for all of it by any means. There are many millions of unbaptized in the Christian countries of Europe which never had an Orthodox or Protestant infiltration. Laxity on the part of parents, and neglect of their duty on the part of pastors down through the years, have led such countries into this sorry state.

Africa and Asia are two continents with about two thirds of the world’s population. They have still much pagan territory–and this after nineteen centuries of Christianity! There have been great efforts made by devout individuals and by dedicated groups but, by and large, the Christian countries have neglected their obligation of bringing the light of faith to their pagan fellowmen. The result would appear to be that what they were unwilling to share with their pagan neighbors, they also neglected for themselves.

Before we begin to take the mote out of our neighbors’ eyes, let us make sure that we have not a beam in our own. Are we exemplary Christians, are we living up to the tenets and obligations of our faith? Are we just in our dealings with all men, truthful, chaste in thought, word and deed; are we, above all, charitable to our neighbor, carrying out the spiritual and corporal works of mercy wherever and whenever we can? Do we give a good example of what a Christian ought to be to those in our own homes and to all our fellowman we meet during the course of the day? Not many of us can give a definite yes to all of these questions. God will, however, be merciful to us if our intention is to be good Christians–even though we may fail now and then in our efforts. Where there is good will and a good intention God will make allowances. If they fail, through your fault, you cannot but fail yourselves. If they refuse to follow your teaching and example, pray often and with fervor for them. You want the best for them in this world and the next. There are many openings in this life, there is only one entrance, however, to happiness in the next–the, gate of heaven. If they miss that, they have missed everything.

Let us all have a good look at our consciences today. We are Christians and should be proud of it. But to be true Christians, we must play our part, we must carry out our Christian duties. We must remember that we are now sons of God, brothers of Christ, and our lives must be in keeping with this great dignify which Christ has won for us; we must live in righteousness and holiness.

GOSPEL

IMG_0933.jpg

Jn 6:24-35

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,

they themselves got into boats

and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

And when they found him across the sea they said to him,

“Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered them and said,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

you are looking for me not because you saw signs

but because you ate the loaves and were filled.

Do not work for food that perishes

but for the food that endures for eternal life,

which the Son of Man will give you.

For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

So they said to him,

“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”

Jesus answered and said to them,

“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

So they said to him,

“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?

What can you do?

Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat.?

So Jesus said to them,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;

my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven

and gives life to the world.”

So they said to him,

“Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them,

“I am the bread of life;

whoever comes to me will never hunger,

and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080518.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 423 We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He ‘came from God’,1 ‘descended from heaven’,2 and ‘came in the flesh’.3 For ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. .. And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.’4

CCC 698 The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. “The Father has set his seal” on Christ and also seals us in him.5 Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible “character” imprinted by these three unrepeatable sacraments.

CCC 728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.6 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,7 to the Samaritan woman,8 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.9 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer10 and with the witness they will have to bear.11

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,12 and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called “typological” because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the “figures” (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled.13 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,14 as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven.”15

CCC 1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal.16 Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”17 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.18

CCC 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but. .. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”19 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”20 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.21

1 Jn 13:3.

2 Jn 3:13; 6:33.

3 1 Jn 4:2.

4 Jn 1:14,16.

5 Jn 6:27; cf. 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:3.

6 Cf. Jn 6:27, 51, 62-63.

7 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.

8 Cf. Jn 4:10, 14, 23-24.

9 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.

10 Cf. Lk 11:13.

11 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.

12 Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49.

13 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

14 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

15 Jn 6:32; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6.

16 Cf. Jn 6:27.

17 2 Cor 1:21-22; cf. Eph 1:13; 4,30.

18 Cf. Rev 7:2-3; 9:4; Ezek 9:4-6.

19 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

20 Am 8:11.

21 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

APPLICATION

The multiplication of the loaves which fed five thousand men was bound to recall to the minds of the multitude the bread from heaven which God had given to their ancestors in the desert. That it should do so was Christ’s secondary intention in working the miracle; his first intention was to feed those hungry people. Next day when the crowds gathered around him again in Capernaum, hoping for another free meal rather than looking for religious instruction, he openly accused them of their worldliness. While they knew and admitted that he was the second Moses, the prophet from God (see last Sunday’s gospel), and while they had heard him speak frequently of the new kingdom of God (see Mk. 5), their thoughts were still entirely worldly. The politically-minded wanted him to throw out the Romans and set up a new kingdom of David; the others were content with all the material benefits he could give them at the moment. Things spiritual and the everlasting life were far from their thoughts.

Christ told them how wrong their attitude to life was. They were concentrating all their thoughts and efforts on the things of this life, they should rather have given thought to the future life. Instead of looking for earthly bread which had real though transitory value, they should have looked for the bread which would bring them eternal life–“the food which endures.” He could give them this; they had God’s guarantee and seal for it–God sent him on earth so that men would accept him and believe in his message. They demanded further proofs; and referred to the manna given to their fathers in the desert. He answered them: the manna given to their fathers was not bread from heaven, it was earthly food which preserved earthly life, but God was now giving the true bread from heaven–Christ himself. He had come down from heaven; he was divine, and was to give them eternal life, if only they would believe in him.

Acceptance of Christ as God’s intermediary with men was the first essential step on the road to eternal life. “It is my Father’s will that whosoever sees (that is acknowledges him as Son of God) the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day” (6: 40). Christ went on then in this discourse, as we shall see during the next three Sundays, to foretell the gift of the Eucharist wherein he gives himself as the spiritual food to all those who believe in him. The act of faith, the act of accepting him as God’s envoy, God’s Son in fact, is already the beginning, the first step, toward the eternal life he came to give us.

In today’s reading we hear of the lack of faith of those Galileans, of their utter worldliness and lack of interest in their future life. We may be inclined to judge them severely. But we must not forget that as Jews they knew almost nothing about the future life. It was only with the full revelation given by Christ, that men learned of God’s wonderful plan for them. Thank God, we have this full knowledge today; we know that this life is only a period of preparation, a few years during which we can make ourselves worthy to enter the real kingdom of God in heaven. We know that Christ was God’s divine Son, who took our human nature in order to make us his brothers and therefore sons of God. We know that heaven is awaiting us, if only we accept Christ here and follow his teaching. Surely, we are infinitely more fortunate than were the Galileans we read about today!

Do we appreciate our good fortune; do we live up to the teaching which we know is true? Do we ever allow ourselves to get immersed in worldly affairs–forgetting that this earth is not our home, that we are only passing through? Unfortunately, many Christians do act in this manner. While they have the name of “followers of Christ,” they are not following him, they have chosen the path of worldliness and earthly interests which will lead to a dead end. Have an honest, sincere look at your own Christianity today. Your eternity, the unending ages that come after your death, will depend on how you spend your fleeting years on this earth.

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

BENEDICTUS

Breaking of Bread

Ultimately, the Church draws her life from the Eucharist, from this real, self-giving presence of the Lord. Without this ever-new encounter with him, she would necessarily wither… Anyone who repeatedly exposes himself to it and confides in it will be changed. You cannot walk constantly with the Lord, cannot ever anew pronounce these tremendous words, This is my Body and my Blood, you cannot touch the Body of the Lord again and again, without being affected by him and challenged by him, being changed and led by him. We may of course lag behind him, and will again and again lag immeasurably far behind, but in the long run there are really only two possibilities: either to shake off the Eucharist, with the enormous demands and power it sets up in life, or to surrender to it, to hold fast to it. Anyone who holds fast to the Lord will not be abandoned by him. Anyone who grapples with him calmly and patiently, humbly and sincerely, will be led by him; he will never be denied his light… Christ genuinely shared himself out, gave himself with the torn-up bread, so that his life might be ours: that is the incredible event that occurs ever anew. Herein lies the great significance of the Eucharist, and that is why it is no game, but quite real. When death comes onstage the game is at an end. Man is set before the truth. But only when this encounter reaches right down unto death can true hope arise for man.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer after Holy Communion

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water flowing from the side of Christ, purify me.

Passion of Christ, comfort me.

O good Jesus, hear me.

Hide me within Thy wounds.

Never permit me to be separated from Thee.

From the malignant enemy defend me.

At the hour of my death call me,

And cause me to come to Thee,

That with the Saints and the Angels,

I may praise Thee For everlasting ages.

Amen.

Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, Divine Mercy, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, mercy, Pentecost, prayer, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,