Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence.  Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’  Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

OPENING PRAYER

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.

Amen.

St. Benedict of Norcia
ca. 480-547

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

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Is 25:6-10a

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.
On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

APPLICATION

Seven hundred years or so before Christ came on earth the prophet Isaiah described the result of that coming under the image of a bountiful banquet in which those taking part would find everlasting happiness and contentment. He was referring, of course, to heaven, the second and final stage of the messianic kingdom. There all tears will be wiped away, there death will no longer have sway. There every desire for what is good and what is perfect will be satisfied, and man’s natural desire for perfect happiness will be fulfilled.

What the prophet foretold Christ brought to pass. He who was God’s Son took our human nature. He made us his brothers and co-heirs with him of heaven, thus fulfilling God’s plan for mankind. God intended that we should share his eternal kingdom of happiness when we die. This we can now do because through the Incarnation of his Son we have been made his adopted sons.

Heaven, therefore, is ours for the taking. God the Father intended it for us, God the Son has earned it for us, God the Holy Spirit is ready at every moment of our lives to assist us to obtain it. We have very few descriptions of heaven in our revelation, because our minds are incapable of grasping its infinite happiness and perfection. St. Paul’s negative description is perhaps the best we can get. He had been given a vision of heaven but he said he could not describe it in human language, nor could anyone, while still alive on earth, understand him even if Paul could describe it. He says that “no (human) eye has seen, no human ear has heard, no human mind can grasp all that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

Negative though our descriptions are, we can form a sufficient picture of it to make us want to reach it. Who would not want to have: eternal freedom from all cares and worries; eternal freedom from pain, sickness and death; eternal union with all friends and relatives and with all the saints of God, the eternal company of Mary the Virgin Mother, and the assured and lasting friendship and love of Christ our Savior in his human nature, and to crown all, the beatific vision of God in the three divine persons?

Is it any wonder that many saints, including St. Paul himself, longed to put off this mortal life so that they could be in the happy possession of heaven! Unfortunately for ourselves, we ordinary Christians do not give enough thought to heaven. If we meditated more often on the future life, we would see world for what it is; a journey, a very short journey, often unpleasant and difficult, but a journey by means of which we can reach that future home if we travel as God wants us. Too many of us mistake this world for the future one. We try to get our perfect happiness here on earth even though the most thoughtless among us shall have to leave this world. Not even the merciful God himself can take us into his eternal banquet unless we have traveled through this world on the path he has laid down for us, or repented of our sins if we have strayed from that path.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

READING II

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Phil 4:12-14, 19-20

Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 273 Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God’s almighty power. This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ’s power.1 The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that “nothing will be impossible with God”, and was able to magnify the Lord: “For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”2

CCC 1460 The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, “provided we suffer with him.”3


The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of “him who strengthens” us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ. .. in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth “fruits that befit repentance.” These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father.4

1 Cf. 2 Cor 12:9; Phil 4:13.
2 Lk 1:37, 49.
3 Rom 8:17; Rom 3:25; 1 Jn 2:1-2; cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1690.
4 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1691; cf. Phil 4:13; 1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17; Gal 6:14; Lk 3:8.

APPLICATION

The generous unsolicited aid which the Christian converts of Philippi gave to St. Paul should be an example and encouragement to all Christians to help in the spread of the gospel. We have St. Paul’s word for it that such generosity will not go unrewarded in this life and the next. What is given for God’s work for our fellowman is not lost but invested; it will reap an abundant harvest perhaps when we least expect it. Our surest and most direct entry to heaven is when we help to bring as many of our fellowmen as we can with us. The “loner” who excludes others from his life and prayer is a non-starter in the heavenly journey.

There is another important lesson too for all of us in today’s few short verses from St. Paul. It is our need for a complete and unquestioning trust in God and the firm conviction that he is regulating all the affairs of our lives. Our Lord himself tells us: “can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair in your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid, you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows” (Mt. 10: 29).

St. Paul had learned this lesson well and put it into daily practice. He faced trials and troubles as gladly as he faced peace and plenty. for he was convinced that God allowed la7i these things to happen for his salvation and for the spread of God’s kingdom, the Church. We too must learn this lesson. We must have complete confidence in God. Our whole lives are in his capable hands. If he allows temporal or spiritual trials to assail us, he has a good purpose in so doing. We may not see that purpose, but we can be certain it is there. If the little sparrow is under his care how much more so are not we—his chosen children. If the hairs of our head are numbered by God, how much more so are not our daily sorrows and joys his concern?

To make a statue from a lump of stone the sculptor has to chip and cut and hew. If the stone could object, it would most likely tell that sculptor how unjust and unmerciful he was. But when the statue is finished that which was once a lump of rough stone will be a thing of beauty and dignity on a pedestal for all to see. God is the perfect Sculptor. He intends to place us on an everlasting pedestal of glory. To do this he has to cut and hew and chip away at us all through our life. Those of us who realize God’s divine plan for us will, instead of complaining, thank him for the infinite love which makes him take such pains to make us what we ought to be.

GOSPEL

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Mt 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
“Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/101517.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”1 He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”.2 The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.3

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.4 The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.”5 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.6 The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.7 “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.”8 He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:9

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.”10 And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”11 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.”12

CCC 1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “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. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”13

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where “men will weep and gnash their teeth.”14

1 Mk 2:17; cf. l Tim 1:15.
2 Lk 15:7; cf. 7:11-32.
3 Mt 26:28.
4 Jn 3:29.
5 Mk 2:19.
6 Cf. Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor 6:15-17; 2 Cor 11:2.
7 Cf. Rev 22:17; Eph 1:4. 5:27.
8 Eph 5:25-26.
9 Cf. Eph 5:29.
10 Eph 5:31-32.
11 Mt 19:6.
12 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 74:4: PL 36, 948-949.
13 Mt 7:13-14.
14 LG 48 # 3; Mt 22:13; cf. Heb 9:27; Mt 25:13, 26, 30, 31 46

APPLICATION

How foolish the Pharisees were in not listening to our Lord’s warnings. He gave them every opportunity to turn away from the false path which their pride had chosen for them. His divine heart was ever ready to embrace them if only they would say “mea culpa.” “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets, and stone them that are sent to you, how often would I have gathered together your children, as the hen does her chickens under her wings, and you would not?” (Mt. 23:37). “God created us without our cooperation,” says St. Augustine, “but he cannot save us unless we cooperate.”

We too could make the Pharisees’ mistake. We have the invitation to the wedding feast; in fact, we are already in the banquet hall, since our baptism; but are we wearing the wedding garment of virtue and grace? If not, we are no better off than those who rejected the invitation. The king may come in at any moment and cast out those who are not properly dressed. Being a member of the Church on earth is a wonderful privilege, and a sure guarantee that we will reach heaven, if we do what is expected of us. But the same obstacles which prevented the Pharisees from entering the kingdom–love of this world, its wealth and its pleasures–can impede us too, unless we are on our guard. The world with its allurements is very close to us; heaven seems very far away. Thus we must be prepared to do violence to our ordinary inclinations, to go against them whenever and wherever “the things that are Caesar’s” tend to blot out or make us forget “the things that are God’s.”

This implies a daily carrying of the cross, a daily struggle against our evil inclinations, a daily endeavor to acquire true love of God and neighbor. This may sound superhuman, but Christ did not ask anyone to do the impossible. He led the way, and millions have followed him to eternal glory. He has called us too and has placed within our easy reach in his Church all the grace we need. If we fail to use these divine helps, if we are found without the wedding garment, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. We have been called with the many. We can be among the “chosen.”

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

BENEDICTUS

Sharing God’s Wisdom

Wisdom is a sharing in God’s ability to see and judge things as they really are. God reveals himself as God by his just judgements; as God, he sees things without disguise, as they really are, and deals with each according to his truth. Wisdom is a sharing in God’s way of seeing reality. But there are, obviously, certain preconditions to this knowing from God’s perspective. We cannot possess it unless we are united with God. This, in turn, means that this last and deepest mode of knowledge is not just an intellectual experience. In all that is essential, the incorruptibility of God himself belongs to this deepest kind of knowledge, then there belongs to it also that purity of the “I” without which man is not incorruptible. From this, the meaning of the concepts “gifts of God” and “sharing in God’s way of thinking” also become clear. Only if we let ourselves be cleansed of the corruptibility of the “I” and come thus gradually to live by God, to be united with God, do we come to a true inner freedom of judgement, to a fearless independence of thinking and deciding, that no longer cares about the approval or disapproval of others but clings only to truth. Such a purification is always a process of opening oneself and, at the same time, of receiving oneself. It cannot take place without the suffering of the vine that is pruned. But it makes possible the only form of power that leads, not to slavery, but to freedom.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 138

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart,

you have heard the words of my mouth.

In the presence of the angels I will bless you.

I will adore before your holy temple.

I thank you for your faithfulness and love

which excel all we ever knew of you.

On the day I called, you answered;

you increased the strength of my soul.

All earth’s kings shall thank you

when they hear the words of your mouth.

They shall sing of the Lord’s ways:

How great is the glory of the Lord!”

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.

 

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Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’  They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.  What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”

OPENING PRAYER

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,

for all the benefits which you have given us,

for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.

Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,

may we know you more clearly,

love you more dearly,

and follow you more nearly,

day by day.

Amen.

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 live and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Is 5:1-7

Let me now sing of my friend,

my friend’s song concerning his vineyard.

My friend had a vineyard

on a fertile hillside;

he spaded it, cleared it of stones,

and planted the choicest vines;

within it he built a watchtower,

and hewed out a wine press.

Then he looked for the crop of grapes,

but what it yielded was wild grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah,

judge between me and my vineyard:

What more was there to do for my vineyard

that I had not done?

Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes,

did it bring forth wild grapes?

Now, I will let you know

what I mean to do with my vineyard:

take away its hedge, give it to grazing,

break through its wall, let it be trampled!

Yes, I will make it a ruin:

it shall not be pruned or hoed,

but overgrown with thorns and briers;

I will command the clouds

not to send rain upon it.

The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,

and the people of Judah are his cherished plant;

he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed!

for justice, but hark, the outcry!

APPLICATION

This image of a vineyard. carefully laid out and cared for by its owner, expressed very vividly the Chosen People’s relationships with God. It was a self-evident image in a wine- growing country, and is repeated in today’s gospel. The Chosen People of Isaiah’s day were well aware of all that God had done for them in the past. Ever since the call of Abraham (about 1800 B.C.), and especially since the Exodus (1300 B.C.), their history was handed down from generation to generation and was one continuous reminder of God’s benevolence towards them. But the return they made for this divine benevolence and love was a reluctant, cold service at its best, and a complete forgetfulness of him and his past favors at its worst.

However, this reading from Isaiah was not put before us today to have us say how deserving the Jews were of the fate their disloyalty brought on them, but rather that we, the new Chosen People of God, might apply this word of God to ourselves. If God did so much for his Chosen People of the Old Testament, how incomparably greater is the benevolence and love he has shown us Christians? The love God showed his Chosen People was but a shadow, A foretaste, of the love he has shown to his chosen ones of the New Testament. He sent his prophets to reveal himself and his message to the Jews; to us he sent his own divine Son, in human nature, to live and die among us and prove his love for us. He gave the land of Canaan to the Jews to be their homeland; through the Incarnation he has made us heirs of his own eternal kingdom of heaven. In spite of the overflowing love which God has shown us, how ungrateful we Christians can be and are. How often do we not only forget him, but positively offend him through our sinful attachment to the goods and pleasures of this world. How often must our heavenly Father have said of Christians whom he had adopted as sons: “what more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done for it?” When he expected loving gratitude and generosity from his privileged children, be received instead cold indifference and disloyalty from so many of them. Sunk in their own selfishness, they did not recognize their divine benefactor. Over-interested as they were in this world, they had no time for God’s interests or their own true interest. They sold their eternal inheritance for a mess of earthly pottage.

Such Christians are the vineyard which the heavenly Father says he will lay waste and destroy. There is a dire threat in it for the worst of us. But if we heed the warning, the merciful Father will remove his threat and will take us back once more as his beloved children.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

A vine from Egypt you transplanted;

you drove away the nations and planted it.

It put forth its foliage to the Sea,

its shoots as far as the River.

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

Why have you broken down its walls,

so that every passer-by plucks its fruit,

The boar from the forest lays it waste,

and the beasts of the field feed upon it?

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,

look down from heaven, and see;

take care of this vine,

and protect what your right hand has planted

the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

Then we will no more withdraw from you;

give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

O LORD, God of hosts, restore us;

if your face shine upon us, then we shall be saved.

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

READING II

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Phil 4:6-9

Brothers and sisters:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,

by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,

make your requests known to God.

Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding

will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,

whatever is true, whatever is honorable,

whatever is just, whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,

if there is any excellence

and if there is anything worthy of praise,

think about these things.

Keep on doing what you have learned and received

and heard and seen in me.

Then the God of peace will be with you.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1803 “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”1

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.

The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.2

CCC 2683 When we share in God’s saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ, who assumed all things in order to redeem all things, is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name.3 It is with this confidence that St. James and St. Paul exhort us to pray at all times.4

1 Phil 4:8.

2 St. Gregory of Nyssa, De beatitudinibus, 1: PG 44, 1200D.

Cf. Jn 14:13.

4 Cf. Jas 1:5-8; Eph 5:20; Phil 4:6-7; Col 3:16-17; 1 Thess 5:17-18.

APPLICATION

These words of encouragement and comfort which St. Paul wrote to his converts in Philippi, have encouragement and comfort too for us Christians of today. The world and its ways have changed since, but the road to heaven has not altered and human nature has not changed. Getting to heaven was then a strenuous upward climb, there were many worldly attractions which tempted men to linger on the way or turn off the main road. It is no different today. Keeping the Christian law is still something which is beyond the power of weak human nature, if left to itself. But it is not left to itself. By baptism we are made members of Christ’s mystical body and have the channels of divine grace open to us. All we have to do is to switch on the current of grace, and St. Paul tells us how to do this today.

He tells us to make our needs known to God through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. The primary purpose of prayer is adoration–man recognizes God as his creator and benefactor and pays him homage. The second end of prayer is thanksgiving–the creature shows gratitude to God for the many gifts he has so gratuitously received. It is only when a man has fulfilled these two obligations, that he can ask God for further spiritual and temporal favors. This is, as St. Paul tells us today, the true prayer that will bring us the peace of God; peace of mind in this life and eternal peace and happiness in the life to come, for it will keep us united closely with our brother, Christ, who is ever interceding for us in heaven.

The true Christian life is a life of continual prayer. Our Lord himself told his disciples that they should pray continually (Lk. 18: 1). But many will object: how can we do this, we have so many cares and distractions in life, earning our livelihood is a full-time occupation, where can we find time for prayer? The answer is, of course, that our daily chores are prayers if offered to God. Using the muscles and brawn of our bodies in manual labor, or the gifts of intellect and mind in office or professional work, is and should be a way of thanking God for giving us these gifts. And, done with the intention of thanking him, these daily occupations give honor and glory to God.

Prayer is not only the few moments of each day or each week which we spend on our knees; it is the dedication of our whole life to God, our recreation and rest as well as our labor. Our life was thus dedicated to God in our baptism, but we need to renew that dedication again and again during our lives. Today we are reminded to renew that dedication once more. It is of the essence of a Christian life, it is through the daily prayer of our work and recreation, interspersed and activated by verbal or oral prayer in the home or in church, that we can earn the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding. It is the guarantee of our happiness in this life.

GOSPEL

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Mt 21:33-43

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:

“Hear another parable.

There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,

put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.

Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.

When vintage time drew near,

he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.

But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,

another they killed, and a third they stoned.

Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,

but they treated them in the same way.

Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,

‘They will respect my son.’

But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,

‘This is the heir.

Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’

They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”

They answered him,

“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death

and lease his vineyard to other tenants

who will give him the produce at the proper times.”

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

by the Lord has this been done,

and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,

the kingdom of God will be taken away from you

and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/100817.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 755 “The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.”1

CCC 756 “Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the corner-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”2

1 LG 6; cf. 1 Cor 39; Rom 11:13-26; Mt 21:32-43 and parallels; Isa 51-7; Jn 15:1-5.

2 LG 6; Cf. 1 Cor 3:9; Mt 21:42 and parallels; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7; Ps 118:22; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19-22; Rev 21:3; 1 Pet 2:5; Rev 21:1-2.

APPLICATION

There are two leading thoughts that come to the mind of any true believer on hearing this parable: the infinite goodness, patience and mercy of God in his dealings with mankind, and the unsounded depths of wickedness and ingratitude to which men can sink. To his Chosen People of the Old Testament God had given a fertile and fully-equipped vineyard: his revelation, his protection, a homeland of their own in Canaan, and all this in order to prepare them for the future Messiah, who would bring them an eternal home in God’s own kingdom. All he asked in return was their cooperation.

But they had other plans; they wanted their kingdom on earth. Yet God was patient with them; again and again he pardoned their infidelities. He sent them prophet after prophet to recall them to their senses, but they maltreated these messengers of God and refused to heed their warnings.

Then “the fullness of time” came and he sent his divine Son on earth in human form. He took his human nature from one of their race, lived among them and preached his gospel of love and peace to them. He tried to soften their hard hearts, and made them the final offer of the Fathers mercy and pardon. But instead of accepting God’s offer of mercy the chief priests and elders only made it an occasion of an even greater sin. To their crimes of infidelity and injustice they added the murder of God’s Messiah and Son.

In God’s plan of love and mercy the tragedy of Calvary turned out to be the great “triumph of failure.” That death brought life to the world and opened the gates of God’s eternal kingdom for all nations and races. The Gentiles rallied around the standard of Christ. A new vineyard was set up in which all men could work for their Father in heaven and for their own eternal interests.

We Christians today are the successors of the first Gentile followers of Christ. We too have been called to work in God’s vineyard. Are we working honestly and devotedly? Are we producing the grapes and the wine that our divine Master expects of us? If our answer is “yes, I am living a true Christian life, I am working for God’s honor and glory and for my own eternal salvation,” then we can say a heartfelt “thank you” to our merciful Father, and ask him to keep us ever on this right path. But if our answer is “no,” then let us pay heed to today’s lesson. What happened to the chief priests and elders can and will happen to unfaithful Christians if they persevere in their infidelity and disobedience. But we can still put ourselves right with God. Let us do it today; tomorrow may be too late.

 

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

BENEDICTUS

Respect for Creator and Creation

There is a story that goes as follows: Francis told the brother responsible for the garden never to plant the whole area with vegetables but to leave part of the garden for flowers, so that at every season of the year it may produce our sisters, the flowers, out of love for her who is called “the flower of the field and the lily of the valley” (Song 2:1). In the same way he wanted there always to be a particularly beautiful flower bed, so that, at all times, people would be moved by the sight of flowers to praise God, “for every creature calls to us: God has made me for thy sake, O man” (Mirror of Perfection 11:118). We cannot take this story and simply leave the religious element to one side as a relic of a bygone age, while accepting its refusal of mean utility and its appreciation of the wealth of species. This would in no way correspond to what Francis did and intended… When man himself is out of joint and can no longer affirm himself, nature cannot flourish. On the contrary: man must first be in harmony with himself; only then can he enter into harmony with creation and it with him. And this is only possible if he is in harmony with the Creator who designed both nature and us. Respect for man and respect for nature go together, but ultimately both can only flourish and find their true measure if, in man and nature, we respect the Creator and his creation. The two only harmonize in relationship with the Creator. We shall assuredly never find the lost equilibrium if we refuse to press forward and discover this relationship. Let Francis of Assisi, then, make us reflect; let him set us on the right path.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Canticle of Sirach

39: 13-16, 32-33

Listen, my faithful children: open up your petals,

like roses planted near running waters;

send up the sweet odor of incense,

break forth in blossoms like the lily.

Send up the sweet odor of your hymn of praise;

bless the Lord for all he has done!

Proclaim the greatness of his name,

loudly sing his praises,

with music on the harp and all stringed instruments;

sing out with joy as you proclaim:

All the works of the Lord are very good.

When the time is right, he gives whatever is needed.

so now, sing with all your heart and voice,

and bless the name of the Lord!

Glory be 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. Alleluia!

 

 

 

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Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

01-jesus-christ-pantocrator_full.jpg

“Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.  When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.”

OPENING PRAYER

The Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven, and the pains of Hell; but most of all because I love Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

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

Prophet Ezra.jpg

Ez 18:25-28

Thus says the LORD:
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
he does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

APPLICATION

There is something frightening, but yet something very necessary, for each one of us in this reading today. Each one of us is responsible to God for every one of his actions. In the presence of our fellowman we are very much inclined to blame others for our wrong doings, or at least to share the blame with them. But when our actions are judged by God we stand alone, in compete isolation from all others. While it is true that the bad example of parents, or of companions, may play a part in our guilt, it is our will, our personal decision, and not that bad example, that produces a sin. On the other hand, we may be the children of saintly parents and our companions through life may be exemplary Christians, but unless we willingly and knowingly act like them we will not reach heaven. Each man, therefore, is fully responsible for his own actions, and the just God will punish or reward each individual according to his actions.

While it is depressing and disconcerting to learn that the good and holy can turn from God and commit sin, this very thought should make us vigilant and watchful over ourselves and our actions. Knowing our weakness and our general inclination to do what is wrong, should help us to look for help where it can be found—in the bountiful mercy of God. He will never desert the man who is sincerely anxious to serve him. On the other hand, the word of God telling us through the prophet, that a sinner may turn away from his wickedness, should be a great consolation for most of us who have often offended God. God holds no enmity against sinners. He is ever ready to take them back to his bosom. He sends grace after grace to them to help and encourage them to come back to the source and the author of eternal life.

There is not, and there never was, a man on earth who did not want to live on forever if possible. We believers know it is possible because God has told us that he has arranged it so for us. Eternal life, “where tears will be wiped away and death will be no more,” is awaiting each one of us after our earthly death, on the one condition that we die in God’s friendship. As we do not know the moment death will strike us, our only guarantee of dying in God’s friendship is that we live in that friendship always. This we could never do on our own but we are not on our own. God is ever with us to strengthen us, and to pardon and lift us up again, if through human weakness we stumble on the road. Christ has left to his Church the sacrament of reconciliation, by the use of which the greatest sinner can be restored to God’s friendship, if he repents and resolves to mend his ways.

If any Christian dies in his sins and forfeits eternal happiness, he can blame nobody but himself. If, during his time on earth, he refused to accept the mercy and forgiveness God offered him so often, he must now accept the sentence of condemnation which the just judge has to impose on him.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14.

Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.

Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.

Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.

Remember your mercies, O Lord.

READING II

preaching1.jpg

 

Phil 2:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 201 To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”1 Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. .. To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. ‘Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength.’”2

CCC 411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.3 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life. 4

CCC 434 Jesus’ Resurrection glorifies the name of the Savior God, for from that time on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the “name which is above every name”.5 The evil spirits fear his name; in his name his disciples perform miracles, for the Father grants all they ask in this name.6

CCC 449 By attributing to Jesus the divine title “Lord”, the first confessions of the Church’s faith affirm from the beginning that the power, honor and glory due to God the Father are due also to Jesus, because “he was in the form of God”,7 and the Father manifested the sovereignty of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him into his glory.8

CCC 461 Taking up St. John’s expression, “The Word became flesh”,9 the Church calls “Incarnation” the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.10

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”,11 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience.12 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.13

CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,14 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.15

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”16 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.17 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”18

CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,19 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”20 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.21 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.22 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”23

CCC 633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.24 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:25 “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”26 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.27

CCC 635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”28 Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”29 Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”30
Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. .. He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who is both their God and the son of Eve. .. “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. .. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”31

CCC 705 Disfigured by sin and death, man remains “in the image of God,” in the image of the Son, but is deprived “of the glory of God,”32 of his “likeness.” The promise made to Abraham inaugurates the economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that “image”33 and restore it in the Father’s “likeness” by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is “the giver of life.”

CCC 713 The Messiah’s characteristics are revealed above all in the “Servant songs.”34 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.”35 Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.

CCC 876 Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character as service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly “slaves of Christ,”36 in the image of him who freely took “the form of a slave” for us.37 Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all.38

CCC 908 By his obedience unto death,39 Christ communicated to his disciples the gift of royal freedom, so that they might “by the self-abnegation of a holy life, overcome the reign of sin in themselves”:40
That man is rightly called a king who makes his own body an obedient subject and, by governing himself with suitable rigor, refuses to let his passions breed rebellion in his soul, for he exercises a kind of royal power over himself. And because he knows how to rule his own person as king, so too does he sit as its judge. He will not let himself be imprisoned by sin, or thrown headlong into wickedness.41

CCC 1224 Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to “fulfill all righteousness.”42 Jesus’ gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying.43 The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his “beloved Son.”44

CCC 1694 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord.45 Following Christ and united with him,46 Christians can strive to be “imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love”47 by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the “mind. .. which is yours in Christ Jesus,”48 and by following his example.49
CCC 1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”50 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”51 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”52 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.53

CCC 2635 Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm.54

CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”55 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.56 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.57

CCC 2812 Finally, in Jesus the name of the Holy God is revealed and given to us, in the flesh, as Savior, revealed by what he is, by his word, and by his sacrifice.58 This is the heart of his priestly prayer: “Holy Father. .. for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”59 Because he “sanctifies” his own name, Jesus reveals to us the name of the Father.60 At the end of Christ’s Passover, the Father gives him the name that is above all names: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”61

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.”62 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.63 Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.64

1 Dt 6:45.
2 Is 45:22-24; cf. Phil 2:10-11.
3 Cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22,45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20.
4 Cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.
5 Phil 2:9-10; cf. Jn 12:28.
6 Cf. Acts 16:16-18; 19:13-16; Mk 16:17; Jn 15:16.
7 Cf. Acts 2:34 – 36; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; Rev 5:13; Phil 2:6.
8 Cf. Rom 10:9; I Cor 12:3; Phil 2:9-11.
9 Jn 1:14.
10 Phil 2:5-8; cf. LH, Saturday, Canticle at Evening Prayer.
11 Lk 2:52.
12 Cf. Mk 6 38; 8 27; Jn 11:34; etc.
13 Phil 2:7.
14 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5; Phil 2:5.
15 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.
16 I Pt 1:18-20.
17 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.
18 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.
19 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.
20 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.
21 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.
22 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.
23 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.
24 Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13.
25 Cf. Ps 89:49; I Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26.
26 Roman Catechism 1, 6, 3.
27 Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Mt 27:52-53.
28 Jn 5:25; cf. Mt 12:40; Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9.
29 Heb 2:14-15; cf. Acts 3:15.
30 Rev 1:18; Phil 2:10.
31 Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR.
32 Rom 3:23.
33 Cf. Jn 1:14; Phil 2:7.
34 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.
35 Phil 2:7.
36 Cf. Rom 1:1.
37 Phil 2:7.
38 Cf. 1 Cor 9:19.
39 Cf. Phil 2:8-9.
40 LG 36.
41 St. Ambrose, Psal 118:14:30: PL 15:1476.
42 Mt 3:15.
43 Cf. Phil 2:7.
44 Mt 3:16-17.
45 Rom 6:11 and cf. 6:5; cf. Col 2:12.
46 Cf. Jn 15:5.
47 Eph 5:1-2.
48 Phil 2:5.
49 Cf. Jn 13:12-16.
50 Ps 51:4.
51 Gen 3:5.
52 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 14, 28: PL 41, 436.
53 Cf. Phil 2:6-9.
54 Phil 2:4; cf. Acts 7:60; Lk 23:28, 34.
55 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.
56 Cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13.
57 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.
58 Cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31, Jn 8:28; 17:8; 17:17-19.
59 Jn 17:11, 19.
60 Cf. Ezek 20:39; 36:20-21; Jn 17:6.
61 Phil 2:9-11.
62 Mt 5:48; Lk 6:36; Jn 13:34.
63 Cf. Gal 5:25; Phil 2:1,5.
64 Eph 4:32.

APPLICATION

The basic dogma of our Christian religion is that Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, spent his childhood and youth in Nazareth, traveled through the valleys and over the hills of Palestine preaching the good news of their eternal salvation to men, that he was the Son of God in human nature. During his public life he often claimed to be the Son of God. Because this title has often been given to men, however, and because he was so really human, even his closest disciples did not understand this claim in its real, strict meaning. His enemies noted the claim, but not believing it either, they looked on it as a blasphemous statement and used it as a justification for crucifying him; “we have a law,” the Jews replied to Pilate, “and according to that law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the Son of God” (Jn. 19: 7).

His resurrection from the dead changed the Apostles and his other followers. His appearance to them convinced them that he was indeed the real Son of God, who had taken human nature in order to raise mankind up to divine sonship and to take away the sins of the world through his sufferings and death. From Pentecost day their one and only mission in life was to bring this good news–the gospel of Christ–to all men. This they faithfully did, in spite of persecutions, sufferings and martyrdom, for what could a shortening of earthly life mean to men who looked forward anxiously to an eternal life.

We of the twentieth century have the same faith which inspired and sustained the first-century Apostles. That faith is solidly built on the same unchangeable truth. In order to carry out the divine Father’s plan to raise mankind to a superhuman status, the status of adopted sonship on earth, Christ the Son of God, took human nature. That adopted sonship was to be followed after death, by a sharing in the eternal kingdom of God. This is the central truth of our Christian religion. This is the basic motivation of our Christian lives. Our kingdom is not of this world, we are living and working for the kingdom prepared for us by God’s eternal and infinite love.

God grant that we will never forget this truth, never cease to thank our divine Lord for all he has done for us. The only true and acceptable thanks we can offer him, is our true appreciation of the honor he has conferred on us through his Incarnation. We are children of God, on our way to our real and lasting home. Our loving Savior has not only opened the door to that eternal home for us, he has shown us very clearly the way to get there and has given us all the helps we need on the way. All he asks of us is to follow the map he gave us and to use the means he left to us. Could we be so ungrateful to our divine benefactor and so forgetful of our own eternal interests as to refuse to do that little? God forbid!

GOSPEL

1211-003ji-saviour-yzantine-wooden-icon-average_enl.jpg

 

Mt 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/100117.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 535 Jesus’ public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan.1 John preaches “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”.2 A crowd of sinners3 – tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes- come to be baptized by him. “Then Jesus appears.” The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my beloved Son.”4 This is the manifestation (“Epiphany”) of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God.

CCC 546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching.5 Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.6 Words are not enough, deeds are required.7 The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?8 What use has he made of the talents he has received?9 Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”.10 For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.11

CCC 755 “The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.”12

1 Cf. Lk 3:23; Acts 1:22.
2 lK 3:3.
3 Cf. Lk 3:10-14; Mt 3:7; 21:32.
4 Mt 3:13-17.
5 Cf. Mk 4:33-34.
6 Cf. Mt 13:44-45; 22:1-14.
7 Cf. Mt 21:28-32.
8 Cf. Mt 13:3-9.
9 Cf. Mt 25:14-30.
10 Mt 13:11.
11 Mk 4:11; cf. Mt 13:10-15.
12 LG 6; cf. 1 Cor 39; Rom 11:13-26; Mt 21:32-43 and parallels; Isa 51-7; Jn 15:1-5.

APPLICATION

This parable was primarily intended to show up the hypocrisy of the chief priests and elders of the Jews, and the perilous position in which they stood in relation to God and heaven. It is, however, a warning against hypocrisy for all time. Lip service of God will not merit heaven. Nominal Christians are not working in the Lord’s vineyard. At any moment they may be called from this life, and what defense can they offer the just judge? Will they dare to offer the flimsy excuses with which they try to silence their consciences now: “we didn’t realize how sinful we were”; “we were too occupied with family and personal cares to have time for our spiritual duties”; “we were led astray by bad example”; “we didn’t like to be different from others”; “we were going to put things right”? Who will dare to offer such excuses at the judgment seat? Their utter futility will then be apparent in all its nakedness.

However, we are still on earth, and while we are, the door of God’s mercy is wide open to us. If in the past we said, “I will not go into your vineyard”, we still have time to reverse that sinful decision. Not only can we with God’s grace turn over a new leaf, but we can completely wipe out the sinful pages of our life’s story written up to now. Remember that what God in his mercy did for the tax-collectors and harlots in the parable, the Matthews, the Mary Magdalenes, the Augustines, the Margarets of Cortona, the Matt Talbots and the millions of unknown penitents who are now saints in heaven he can also do for you.

We answered the call to God’s vineyard by accepting baptism and membership of his Church. If we have grown lax in our fervor and refused to do the tasks allotted to us, we still have time, thanks to God’s mercy and patience, to put things right. Today, look into your conscience and see how much of your past life you have given to God and how much you have kept for yourself. If you were called tonight to render an account to the Lord, would the balance sheet be in your favor? Is our corner of the vineyard producing abundant crops, or is it perhaps filling up with weeds, briers and brambles? If the latter, then we will say a heartfelt: “Thank you, God, for not calling us to judgment today. We will begin right now to understand our sinful past, so that our corner of your vineyard will be in good order when you do call us. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy. God grant that we shall never abuse it.”

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

BENEDICTUS

God is Waiting for Us

In Sacred Scripture, bread represents all that human beings need for their daily life. Water makes the earth fertile: it is the fundamental gift that makes life possible. Wine, on the other hand, expresses the excellence of creation and gives us the feast in which we go beyond the limits of our daily routine: wine, the Psalm says, “gladdens the heart.”

So it is that wine and with it the vine have also become images of the gift of love in which we can taste the savor of the Divine. God created a vineyard for himself – this is an image of the history of love for humanity, of his love for Israel which he chose. God instilled in men and women, created in his image, the capacity for love, hence also the capacity for loving him, their Creator. With the Prophet Isaiah’s canticle of love God wants to speak to the hearts of his people – and to each one of us. “I have created you in my image and likeness,” he says to us. “I myself am love and you are my image to the extent that the splendor of love shines out in you, to the extent that you respond lovingly to me.” God is waiting for us. He wants us to love him” should not our hearts be moved by this appeal? Or will what happened to the vine of which God says in Isaiah: “He waited for it to produce grapes but it yielded wild grapes? Also happen to us? Is not our Christian life often far more like vinegar than wine? Self-pity, conflict, indifference?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 51

12-17

A pure heart create for me, O God,

put a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence,

nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help;

with a spirit of fervor sustain me,

that I may teach transgressors your ways

and sinners may return to you.

O rescue me, God, my helper,

and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.

O Lord, open my lips

and my mouth shall declare your praise.

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,

one world for ever and ever. Amen.

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Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

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

OPENING PRAYER

I am the Vine; you are the branches.

Remain in me and you will bear abundant fruit.

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

He trims away every barren branch,

but the faithful ones he trims to increase their yield.

I am the Vine; you are the branches.

Remain in me and you will bear abundant fruit.

Live on in me, as I do in you.

No more than a branch can bear fruit alone,

can you bear fruit apart from me.

I am the Vine; you are the branches.

Remain in me and you will bear abundant fruit.

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

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

Through your work, God is glorified!

I am the Vine; you are the branches.

Remain in me and you will bear abundant fruit.

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

COLLECT

O God, who founded all the commands of your

sacred Law

upon love of you and of our neighbor,

grant that, by keeping your precepts,

we may merit to attain eternal life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Prophet_Isaiah__85640.1413570020.jpg

Is 55:6-9

Seek the LORD while he may be found,

call him while he is near.

Let the scoundrel forsake his way,

and the wicked his thoughts;

let him turn to the LORD for mercy;

to our God, who is generous in forgiving.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.

As high as the heavens are above the earth,

so high are my ways above your ways

and my thoughts above your thoughts.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

Every day will I bless you,

and I will praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;

his greatness is unsearchable.

The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is good to all

and compassionate toward all his works.

The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

The LORD is just in all his ways

and holy in all his works.

The LORD is near to all who call upon him,

to all who call upon him in truth.

The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

READING II

St. Paul III.jpg

Phil 1:20c-24, 27a

Brothers and sisters:

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

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

If I go on living in the flesh,

that means fruitful labor for me.

And I do not know which I shall choose.

I am caught between the two.

I long to depart this life and be with Christ,

for that is far better.

Yet that I remain in the flesh

is more necessary for your benefit.

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL

True Vine.jpg

Mt 20:1-16a

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner

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

After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,

he sent them into his vineyard.

Going out about nine o’clock,

the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

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

and I will give you what is just.’

So they went off.

And he went out again around noon,

and around three o’clock, and did likewise.

Going out about five o’clock,

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

‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’

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

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

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

‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,

beginning with the last and ending with the first.’

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

each received the usual daily wage.

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

but each of them also got the usual wage.

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

‘These last ones worked only one hour,

and you have made them equal to us,

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

He said to one of them in reply,

‘My friend, I am not cheating you.

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

Take what is yours and go.

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

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

Are you envious because I am generous?’

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

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

God Descends

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of Thanksgiving

God of all blessings,

source of all life,

giver of all grace:

We thank you for the gift of life:

for the breath

that sustains life,

for the food of this earth

that nurtures life,

for the love of family and friends

without which there would be no life.

We thank you for the mystery of creation:

for the beauty

that the eye can see,

for the joy

that the ear may hear,

for the unknown

that we cannot behold filling the universe with wonder,

for the expanse of space

that draws us beyond the definitions of our selves.

We thank you for setting us in communities:

for families

who nurture our becoming,

for friends

who love us by choice,

for companions at work,

who share our burdens and daily tasks,

for strangers

who welcome us into their midst,

for people from other lands

who call us to grow in understanding,

for children

who lighten our moments with delight,

for the unborn,

who offer us hope for the future.

We thank you for this day:

for life

and one more day to love,

for opportunity

and one more day to work for justice and peace,

for neighbors

and one more person to love

and by whom be loved,

for your grace

and one more experience of your presence,

for your promise:

to be with us,

to be our God,

and to give salvation.

For these, and all blessings,

we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,

through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen!

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Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

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

Collect

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

Reading I 

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Sir 27:30-28:7

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

Application

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading II

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Rom 14:7-9

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

Catechism of the Catholic Church” (CCC)

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

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

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

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

Application

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

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

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

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

 

Gospel

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Mt 18:21-35

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

Catechism of the Catholic Church” (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

Application

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

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

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

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

 

FORGIVENESS

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

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

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

Monsignor Romano Guardini

Magnificat Sept. 2011

Closing Prayer

Prayer for Forgiveness

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

– Anonymous

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Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

OPENING PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

our lives are in your hands.

You work to bring good out of evil,

healing out of pain

and grace out of sinfulness.

As we make our way through

life’s ups and downs

give us trust in your providence,

hope in your justice,

and confidence in your love,

so that we can see your healing hand at work

in our lives and in the lives of those we serve.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen

COLLECT

O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son

should undergo the Cross to save the human race,

grant, we pray,

that we, who have known his mystery on earth,

may merit the grace of his redemption in 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

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Nm 21:4b-9

 

 

With their patience worn out by the journey,

the people complained against God and Moses,

“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,

where there is no food or water?

We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,

which bit the people so that many of them died.

Then the people came to Moses and said,

“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.

Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.”

So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,

“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,

and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.”

Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,

and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent

looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.1

1 Cf. Num 21:4-9; Wis 16:5-14; Jn 3:14-15; Ex 25:10-22; 1 Kings 6:23-28; 7:23-26.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Hearken, my people, to my teaching;

incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth in a parable,

I will utter mysteries from of old.

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

While he slew them they sought him

and inquired after God again,

Remembering that God was their rock

and the Most High God, their redeemer.

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

But they flattered him with their mouths

and lied to him with their tongues,

Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,

nor were they faithful to his covenant.

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

But he, being merciful, forgave their sin

and destroyed them not;

Often he turned back his anger

and let none of his wrath be roused.

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

READING II

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Phil 2:6-11

Brothers and sisters:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

coming in human likeness;

and found human in appearance,

he humbled himself,

becoming obedient to death,

even death on a cross.

Because of this, God greatly exalted him

and bestowed on him the name

that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 201 To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”1 Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. .. To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. ‘Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength.’”2

CCC 411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.3 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.4

CCC 434 Jesus’ Resurrection glorifies the name of the Savior God, for from that time on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the “name which is above every name”.5 The evil spirits fear his name; in his name his disciples perform miracles, for the Father grants all they ask in this name.6

CCC 449 By attributing to Jesus the divine title “Lord”, the first confessions of the Church’s faith affirm from the beginning that the power, honor and glory due to God the Father are due also to Jesus, because “he was in the form of God”,7 and the Father manifested the sovereignty of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him into his glory.8

CCC 461 Taking up St. John’s expression, “The Word became flesh”,9 the Church calls “Incarnation” the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.10

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”,11 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience.12 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.13

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”14 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.15 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”16

CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,17 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”18 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.19 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.20 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”21

CCC 633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.22 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:23 “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”24 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.25

CCC 635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”26 Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”27 Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”28

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. .. He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who is both their God and the son of Eve. .. “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. .. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”29

CCC 705 Disfigured by sin and death, man remains “in the image of God,” in the image of the Son, but is deprived “of the glory of God,”30 of his “likeness.” The promise made to Abraham inaugurates the economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that “image”31 and restore it in the Father’s “likeness” by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is “the giver of life.”

CCC 713 The Messiah’s characteristics are revealed above all in the “Servant songs.”32 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.”33 Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.

CCC 876 Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character as service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly “slaves of Christ,”34 in the image of him who freely took “the form of a slave” for us.35 Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all.36

CCC 908 By his obedience unto death,37 Christ communicated to his disciples the gift of royal freedom, so that they might “by the self-abnegation of a holy life, overcome the reign of sin in themselves”:38

That man is rightly called a king who makes his own body an obedient subject and, by governing himself with suitable rigor, refuses to let his passions breed rebellion in his soul, for he exercises a kind of royal power over himself. And because he knows how to rule his own person as king, so too does he sit as its judge. He will not let himself be imprisoned by sin, or thrown headlong into wickedness.39

CCC 1224 Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to “fulfill all righteousness.”40 Jesus’ gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying.41 The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his “beloved Son.”42

CCC 1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”43 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”44 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”45 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.46

CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”47 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.48 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.49

CCC 2812 Finally, in Jesus the name of the Holy God is revealed and given to us, in the flesh, as Savior, revealed by what he is, by his word, and by his sacrifice.50 This is the heart of his priestly prayer: “Holy Father. .. for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”51 Because he “sanctifies” his own name, Jesus reveals to us the name of the Father.52 At the end of Christ’s Passover, the Father gives him the name that is above all names: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”53

1 Dt 6:45.

2 Is 45:22-24; cf. Phil 2:10-11.

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

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

5 Phil 2:9-10; cf. Jn 12:28.

6 Cf. Acts 16:16-18; 19:13-16; Mk 16:17; Jn 15:16.

7 Cf. Acts 2:34 – 36; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; Rev 5:13; Phil 2:6.

8 Cf. Rom 10:9; I Cor 12:3; Phil 2:9-11.

9 Jn 1:14.

10 Phil 2:5-8; cf. LH, Saturday, Canticle at Evening Prayer.

11 Lk 2:52.

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

13 Phil 2:7.

14 I Pt 1:18-20.

15 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.

16 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

17 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.

18 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.

19 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.

20 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.

21 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.

22 Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13.

23 Cf. Ps 89:49; I Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26.

24 Roman Catechism 1, 6, 3.

25 Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Mt 27:52-53.

26 Jn 5:25; cf. Mt 12:40; Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9.

27 Heb 2:14-15; cf. Acts 3:15.

28 Rev 1:18; Phil 2:10.

29 Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR.

30 Rom 3:23.

31 Cf. Jn 1:14; Phil 2:7.

32 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.

33 Phil 2:7.

34 Cf. Rom 1:1.

35 Phil 2:7.

36 Cf. 1 Cor 9:19.

37 Cf. Phil 2:8-9.

38 LG 36.

39 St. Ambrose, Psal 118:14:30: PL 15:1476.

40 Mt 3:15.

41 Cf. Phil 2:7.

42 Mt 3:16-17.

43 Ps 51:4.

44 Gen 3:5.

45 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 14, 28: PL 41, 436.

46 Cf. Phil 2:6-9.

47 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.

48 Cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13.

49 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.

50 Cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31, Jn 8:28; 17:8; 17:17-19.

51 Jn 17:11, 19.

52 Cf. Ezek 20:39; 36:20-21; Jn 17:6.

53 Phil 2:9-11.

GOSPEL

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Jn 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

“No one has gone up to heaven

except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,

so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in him might not perish

but might have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,

but that the world might be saved through him.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 219 God’s love for Israel is compared to a father’s love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother’s for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”1

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’,2 ‘descended from heaven’,3 and ‘came in the flesh’.4 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.’5

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.6 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.”7 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.8 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.”9

CCC 444 The Gospels report that at two solemn moments, the Baptism and the Transfiguration of Christ, the voice of the Father designates Jesus his “beloved Son”.10 Jesus calls himself the “only Son of God”, and by this title affirms his eternal pre-existence.11 He asks for faith in “the name of the only Son of God”.12 In the centurion’s exclamation before the crucified Christ, “Truly this man was the Son of God”,13 that Christian confession is already heard. Only in the Paschal mystery can the believer give the title “Son of God” its full meaning.

CCC 458 The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”14 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”15

CCC 661 This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who “came from the Father” can return to the Father: Christ Jesus.16 “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”17 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness.18 Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.19

CCC 679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son”.20 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.21 By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.22

CCC 706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.23 In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,24 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”25 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.”26

CCC 2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.27

CCC 2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father’s house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,28 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.29 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,30 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.31

1 Jn 3:16; cf. Hos 11:1; Is 49:14-15; 62: 4-5; Ezek 16; Hos 11.

2 Jn 13:3.

3 Jn 3:13; 6:33.

4 1 Jn 4:2.

5 Jn 1:14,16.

6 Cf. Mt 16:16-23.

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

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

9 Acts 2:36.

10 Cf. Mt 3:17; cf. 17:5.

11 Jn 3:16; cf. 10:36.

12 Jn 3:18.

13 Mk 15:39.

14 I Jn 4:9.

15 Jn 3:16.

16 Cf. Jn 16:28.

17 Jn 3:13; cf. Eph 4:8-10.

18 Jn 14:2.

19 Missale Romanum, Preface of the Ascension: sed ut illuc confideremus, sua membra, nos subsequi quo ipse, caput nostrum principiumque, praecessit.

20 Jn 5:22; cf. 5:27; Mt 25:31; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim 4:1.

21 Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.

22 Cf. Jn 3:17; 5:26. 588 Cf. Jn 3:18; 12:48; Mt 12:32; I Cor 3:12-15; Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-31.

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

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

25 Cf. In 11:52.

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

27 Cf. Num 21:4-9; Wis 16:5-14; Jn 3:14-15; Ex 25:10-22; 1 Kings 6:23-28; 7:23-26.

28 Cf. Gen 3.

29 Jer 3:19-4:1a; Lk 15:18, 21.

30 Cf. Isa 45:8; Ps 85:12.

31 Jn 3:13; 12:32; 14 2-3; 16:28; 20:17; Eph 4:9-10; Heb 1:3; 2:13.

APPLICATION

O Crux, ave spes unica! Hail, O Cross, our only hope!

Dear Brothers and Sisters, we are invited to look upon the Cross. It is the “privileged place” where the love of God is revealed and shown to us.… On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.

The Cross is planted in the earth and would seem to extend its roots in human malice, but it reaches up, pointing as it were to the heavens, pointing to the goodness of God. By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted. O Crux, ave spes unica!…

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15), says Jesus. What do we see then when we bring our eyes to bear on the cross where Jesus was nailed (cf. John 19:37)? We contemplate the sign of God’s infinite love for humanity.

O Crux, ave spes unica! Saint Paul speaks of the same theme in the letter to the Ephesians…. Not only did Christ Jesus become man, in everything similar to human beings, but He took on the condition of a servant and humbled Himself even more by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (cf. Philippians 2:6-8).

Yes, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” (John 3:16). We admire — overwhelmed and gratified — the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge (cf. Ephesians 3:18-19)! O Crux, ave spes unica!

Through the mystery of your Cross and your Resurrection, save us O Lord! Amen

— Pope John Paul II — Excerpts from homily September 14, 2003

What it Means to Exalt the Cross

In A.D. 326, St. Helena, the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, discovered the true cross of Jesus near the site that generations had venerated as the Mount of Crucifixion. Upon discovering the cross, everyone fell to their knees and cried out, “Lord, have mercy!” A church was built on the site—the Church of the Holy Sepulcher—and the cross was placed in a prominent position within the building. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335, and the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross was celebrated annually on the following day, September 14th.

About three hundred years later, the cross was taken as plunder by the Persian emperor Khosrau II but was reclaimed fourteen years later by the Roman emperor Heraclius, who brought it to Constantinople where it was once again triumphantly exalted.

This short history lesson has some resemblance to the way we live out our faith. For instance, when we see the glory of the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we rejoice. With grateful hearts we say, “Lord, I love you; have mercy on me.” But then we lose sight of this gift of salvation. Without even realizing it, we let the cross get buried underneath our many priorities and responsibilities.

Then, when we are touched, maybe by a tragic event, by a book we read, or by a moving homily at Mass, we “excavate” the cross and exalt it once more. We give it a place of prominence in the sanctuary of our hearts. But then we lose our focus and let our guard down. A stronger foe conquers us and steals the joy of the cross from us. Finally, with newfound determination we take the cross back and we say once more, “Jesus, I exalt your cross. I make it my foundation. Lord, have mercy on me!”

May we all do our best to exalt the cross and make it the first foundation of our lives!

“Lord, as I lift up the cross, I ask you to have mercy on me.”

Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition http://www.wau.org.

BENEDICTUS

The Sign of the Cross

The most basic Christian gesture of prayer is and always will be the sign of the cross. It is a way of confessing Christ crucified with one’s very body… To seal oneself with the sign of the cross is a visible and public Yes to him who suffered for us; to him who in the body has made God’s love visible, even to the utmost; to the God who reigns not by destruction but by the humility of suffering and love, which is stronger than all the power of the world and wiser than all the calculating intelligence of men. The sign of the cross is a confession of faith: I believe in him who suffered for me and rose again; in him who has transformed the sign of shame into the sign of hope and of the love of God that is present with us. The confession of faith is a confession of hope: I believe in him who in his weakness is the Almighty; in him who can and will save me even in apparent absence and impotence. By signing ourselves with the cross, we place ourselves under the protection of the cross, hold it in front of us like a shield that will guard us in all the distress of daily life and give us the courage to go on. We accept it as a signpost that we follow… The cross shows us the road of life – the imitation of Christ … Whenever we make the sign of the cross, we accept our Baptism anew; Christ from the cross draws us, so to speak, to himself … We make the sign of the cross on ourselves and thus enter the power of the blessing of Jesus Christ. We make the sign over people to whom we wish a blessing … Through the cross, we can become sources of blessing for one another.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

God thank you for the gift of salvation through your Son on the cross.

Help us to be consumed by the power of the cross, t

he forgiveness, mercy, hope and love to fuel our actions

embedded with compassion and the humbleness of servants.

When we see condemnation in the world,

percolating from our actions or the acts of other,

help us to realize your only desire for us is to manifest the love

from the gift of your Son.

Help us never to shrink from this path,

but continually transform our minds and hearts

to courageously live this journey into eternity.

We pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

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Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

OPENING PRAYER

 Dedication to Jesus

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

Amen.

COLLECT

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

look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters,

that those who believe in Christ

may receive true freedom

and an everlasting inheritance.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Ez 33:7-9

 Thus says the LORD:

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

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

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

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

the wicked shall die for his guilt,

but I will hold you responsible for his death.

But if you warn the wicked,

trying to turn him from his way,

and he refuses to turn from his way,

he shall die for his guilt,

but you shall save yourself.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

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

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;

let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

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

Come, let us bow down in worship;

let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For he is our God,

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

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

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,

as in the day of Massah in the desert,

Where your fathers tempted me;

they tested me though they had seen my works.”

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

READING II

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2 Rom 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:

Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;

for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;

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

and whatever other commandment there may be,

are summed up in this saying, namely,

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love does no evil to the neighbor;

hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Mt 22:36.

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

4 Rom 13:9-10.

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

6 Rom 13:8-10.

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

8 Rom 13:8.

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

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

GOSPEL

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Mt 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If your brother sins against you,

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

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

If he does not listen,

take one or two others along with you,

so that ‘every fact may be established

on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

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

If he refuses to listen even to the church,

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

Amen, I say to you,

Again, amen, I say to you,

 

if two of you agree on earth

about anything for which they are to pray,

it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.

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

there am I in the midst of them.”

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Mt 16:19.

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

3 Cf. Mt 18:18.

4 SC 7; Mt 18:20.

5 Rom 8:34; cf. LG 48.

6 Mt 18:20.

7 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

8 SC 7.

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

10 LG 22 # 2.

11 Cf. Mt 18:16.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

The Birthday of Mary

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of the Church:

Grant to us, Thy servants,

we beseech Thee, O Lord,

the gift of heavenly grace;

that to those for whom the delivery

of the Blessed Virgin

was the commencement of salvation,

the commemoration of her nativity

may give increasing peace.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,

that never was it known

that anyone who fled to your protection,

implored your help

or sought your intercession,

was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence,

I fly unto you,

O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.

To you I come,

before you I stand,

sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word incarnate,

despise not my petitions,

but, in your mercy,

hear and answer me.

Amen.

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

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Take up your cross and follow me.jpg

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me. 
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’

OPENING PRAYER

Carry Your Cross

Take up your cross, the Savior said,

If you would my disciple be;

Deny yourself, the world forsake,

And humbly follow after me.

Take up your cross, let not its weight

Fill your weak spirit with alarm;

His strength shall bear your heart

And nerve your arm.

Take up your cross then in his strength,

And ev’ry danger calmly brave,

To guide you to a better home,

And vict’ry over death and grave.

Take up your cross and follow Christ,

Nor think till death to lay it down;

For only he who bears the cross

May hope to wear the glorious crown.

To you, great Lord, the One in three,

All praise for evermore ascend;

O grant us here below to see

The heav’nly life that knows no end.

~~by Charles William Everest

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

jeremiah-prophet.jpg

Jer 20:7-9


You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped;
you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.
  All the day I am an object of laughter;
everyone mocks me.

Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
 violence and outrage is my message;
 the word of the LORD has brought me
 derision and reproach all the day.

I say to myself, I will not mention him,
 I will speak in his name no more.
  But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, 
imprisoned in my bones;
 I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2584 In their “one to one” encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history.1

1 Cf. Am 7:2, 5; Isa 6:5, 8, 11; Jer 1:6; 15: 15-18; 20: 7-18.

APPLICATION

Among all the prophets of the Old Testament Jeremiah is the one who most closely resembled Christ in his sufferings. Other prophets were martyred by their own people, but the whole public life of Jeremiah was one long drawn-out martyrdom. He loved his country and his countrymen, but he had to forewarn them of the fate which would follow from their worldliness and their worldly politics. For this they hated and derided him, and, refusing to listen to God’s warning, which he spoke to them, they went headlong toward the destruction of Jeremiah, of Jerusalem with God’s temple, and the slavery of exile.

Christ too loved his country and his fellow-Jews. The aim of his mission was to bring them into the new kingdom of God on earth from which they would pass in due course, to God’s eternal kingdom.  However, they were more interested in worldliness and worldly politics than in their eternal happiness. They refused to see in him the Messiah whom God had promised to their forefathers. They rejected his message as not being from God. They mocked and insulted him during his mission among them, and they ended up by having the pagan Romans nail him to the cross. Christ loved his fellow-Jews notwithstanding their insults and their rejection of him. Sitting on Mount Olivet one day shortly before his crucifixion, “he shed tears over the city and said: If you had only understood . . . the message of peace! but alas it is hidden from your eyes . . . your enemies will not leave one stone standing on another within you, because you did not recognize your opportunity when God offered it (Lk. 19: 41-44). And again: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those that are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children (your inhabitants) as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you refused” (Lk. 13: 34).

Jeremiah’s sufferings, endured because he was God’s chosen prophet, should encourage us to bear whatever sufferings the practice of our Christian religion may bring on us. To those around us who ignore God, we too are prophets of God, if we put our Christian faith into daily practice. Christian living is a clear message from God, to those whose lives are totally engrossed in this world. In our daily lives we are God’s mouth-pieces, preaching the true purpose of life by our actions. We may be mocked and derided for this, but it must not prevent us from carrying out our Christian duty–the giving of good example to our neighbor, whether he accepts it or not.

Like Jeremiah and like our Savior Christ, we must continue to love our neighbors even if they revile and mock us because of our fidelity to God. They especially need our love and our prayers. They are putting their eternal welfare in jeopardy. Our good example, together with our prayers, may be the means God has ordained to bring them to heaven. Let us not be found wanting in this mission, given by God to each one of us. If we are loyal to our faith, during our short spell on earth, we shall merit eternal happiness for ourselves and those who were influenced by our exemplary lives.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

O God, you are my God whom I seek;

for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts

like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary

to see your power and your glory,

For your kindness is a greater good than life;

my lips shall glorify you.

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Thus will I bless you while I live;

lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.

As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,

and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

You are my help,

and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

My soul clings fast to you;

your right hand upholds me.

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

READING II

SAINT_PAUL_AND_SCENES_FROM_HIS_LIFE_11.jpg

Rom 12: 1-2

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,

to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,

holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.

Do not conform yourselves to this age

but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,

that you may discern what is the will of God,

what is good and pleasing and perfect.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1105 The Epiclesis (“invocation upon”) is the intercession in which the priest begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, so that the offerings may become the body and blood of Christ and that the faithful by receiving them, may themselves become a living offering to God.1

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.2

CCC 2031 The moral life is spiritual worship. We “present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,”3 within the Body of Christ that we form and in communion with the offering of his Eucharist. In the liturgy and the celebration of the sacraments, prayer and teaching are conjoined with the grace of Christ to enlighten and nourish Christian activity. As does the whole of the Christian life, the moral life finds its source and summit in the Eucharistic sacrifice.

CCC 2520 Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins. But the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires. With God’s grace he will prevail
– by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart;
– by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man: with simplicity of vision, the baptized person seeks to find and to fulfill God’s will in everything;4
– by purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God’s commandments: “Appearance arouses yearning in fools”;5
– by prayer: I thought that continence arose from one’s own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know. .. that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you.6

CCC 2826 By prayer we can discern “what is the will of God” and obtain the endurance to do it.7 Jesus teaches us that one enters the kingdom of heaven not by speaking words, but by doing “the will of my Father in heaven.”8

1 Cf. Rom 12:1.
2 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.
3 Rom 12:1.
4 Cf. Rom 12:2; Col 1:105 Wis 15:5. 6 St. Augustine, Conf. 6, 11, 20: PL 32, 729-730.
7 Rom 12:2; Cf. Eph 5:17; Cf. Heb 10:36.
8 Mt 7:21.

APPLICATION

These words were written over nineteen hundred years ago, but they are as obligatory for us and as instructive for us today as they were for the Roman converts of the year 58 A.D. We have the very same Christian life to live as they had. We have the self-same road to travel to heaven and the same marvelous mercies of God to be grateful for. Therefore, we have the same obligation of showing our gratitude to the good God who called us to be followers and co-heirs of his divine Son.

St. Paul tells us how we are to show that gratitude to God. He tells us we must live our lives as true Christians, that is, our daily lives must conform to the will of God. The prime motive in all our actions must ever be the honor and glory of God. When we do this our lives are living sacrifices, we are offering ourselves daily to God. Because God accepts our offering this makes our Christian lives good and acceptable and perfect in his sight.

Is not this too high a standard to set for a weak mortal? How can a man be always thinking of God when he has so many earthly cares and worries which demand his attention? The answer is, of course, that it is exactly by attending to our earthly worries and problems, and by carrying out our duties faithfully, that we honor God. He does not ask us or want us to be always on our knees saying “Lord, Lord.” He wants us to work honestly and faithfully and from the right motive..

While we must not imitate the foolish ones who try to make their heaven in this world neither must we despise this world. It is God who gave it with all its products so that we could use it as the testing ground in which we are to earn our eternal happiness. God does not forbid us to possess and to use the goods of this world: it is precisely for our use that he put them there. It is the abuse, not the lawful use, of this world’s goods that is wrong; it is not the possession of earthly goods, but the folly of allowing earthly goods to possess us, that is forbidden.

It is God’s will for all Christians that they should always remember to be dedicated to his service by their baptism. They are destined for heaven, and they will reach their destination, by justly and honestly using the things of this life, as means to that end and not as ends in themselves.

GOSPEL

 

Get Behind Me Satan.jpg

Mt 16: 21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
 and be killed and on the third day be raised. 
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” 
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. 
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me. 
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life? 
Or what can one give in exchange for his life? 
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/090317.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 226 It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.1

CCC 363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.2 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,3 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

CCC 540 Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him.4 This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.”5 By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.

CCC 554 From the day Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Master “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things. .. and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”6 Peter scorns this prediction, nor do the others understand it any better than he.7 In this context the mysterious episode of Jesus’ Transfiguration takes place on a high mountain,8 before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, James and John. Jesus’ face and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking “of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem”.9 A cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”10

CCC 607 The desire to embrace his Father’s plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus’ whole life,11 for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his Incarnation. And so he asked, “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.”12 And again, “Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?”13 From the cross, just before “It is finished”, he said, “I thirst.”14

CCC 618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”.15 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.16 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”,17 for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.”18 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.19 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.20 Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.21

CCC 736 By this power of the Spirit, God’s children can bear much fruit. He who has grafted us onto the true vine will make us bear “the fruit of the Spirit:. .. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”22 “We live by the Spirit”; the more we renounce ourselves, the more we “walk by the Spirit.”23
Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and adopted as children, given confidence to call God “Father” and to share in Christ’s grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory.24

CCC 1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.25 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul–a destiny which can be different for some and for others.26

CCC 2232 Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”27

1 St. Nicholas of Flue; cf. Mt 5:29-30; 16:24-26.
2 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.
3 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.
4 Cf Mt 16:2 1-23.
5 Heb 4:15.
6 Mt 16:21.
7 Cf. Mt 16:22-23; 17:23; Lk 9:45.
8 Cf. Mt 17:1-8 and parallels; 2 Pt 1:16-18.
9 Lk 9:31.
10 Lk 9:35.
11 Cf Lk 12:50; 22:15; Mt 16:21-23.
12 Jn 12:27.
13 Jn 18:11.
14 Jn 19:30; 19:28.
15 1 Tim 2:5.
16 GS 22 # 5; cf. # 2.
17 Mt 16:24.
18 I Pt 2:21.
19 Cf Mk 10:39; Jn 21:18-19; Col 1:24.
20 Cf. Lk 2:35.
21 St. Rose of Lima: cf. P. Hansen, Vita mirabilis (Louvain, 1668).
22 Gal 5:22-23.
23 Gal 5:25; cf. Mt 16:24-26.
24 St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, 15,36: PG 32,132.
25 Cf. 2 Tim 1:9-10.
26 Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.
27 Mt 10:37; cf. 16:25.

APPLICATION

By becoming man… equal to us in all things save sin… the Son of God joined our human nature to the divine and so made all men his brothers and adopted sons of the Father. From all eternity this was God’s plan for mankind. But because sin had entered into the world before the Incarnation took place, the Son of God in his human nature had to suffer the violent death of the cross at the hands of sinners. In this very suffering he became the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world, as the second-Isaiah had foretold in his “suffering servant” prophecies (Is. 53: 1-7; 42: 1-9 etc). His death, because he was God as well as man, was a sacrifice, an atonement, of infinite value, and therefore obtained forgiveness from the Father for all the sins of the human race.

In foretelling his sufferings and death, which took place some months later, Christ intended to prepare his disciples and other followers for what he knew would be for them a severe crisis of faith. He also took occasion from it to remind his disciples, and all others who would follow him, of what their attitude to suffering and death should be. He told them, and us too, that we must be ever ready to accept sufferings in this life, and even an untimely death if that should be demanded of us, rather than deny our Christian faith.

To prove their loyalty to their faith in Christ thousands of Christians in the early Church, and thousands more during persecutions in later centuries, gladly took him at his word and went joyfully to their martyrdom. It is to be hoped that, aided by God’s grace, we would all be ready to imitate their example, if called on to prove our fidelity to Christ and our Christian faith. But at the moment what Christ expects and asks of us is that we should bear the sufferings and hardships of daily life cheerfully and gladly for his sake.

This daily carrying of our Christian cross can be, and is for many, a prolonged martyrdom. Poverty, ill-health, cruelty and hardheartedness met with in the home and in one’s neighbors, are heavy crosses which only a truly Christian shoulder can bear. But, if we were offered health, happiness, peace, wealth and power for the next fifty or seventy years on this earth, in exchange for an eternal heaven after death, what rational one among us would accept that offer?

Christians know that this life is a period of training, which makes us ready hereafter to receive the eternal reward which Christ has won for us. Every trainee knows that one must endure certain hardships and sufferings in order to merit graduation into one’s chosen profession or trade. On our Christian graduation day we shall, please God, hear the welcome words: “Well done good and faithful servant; because you have been faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater, come and join in your Master’s happiness” (Mt. 25:21). May God grant that every one of us will hear these words of welcome.

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

BENEDICTUS

Following, Believing Loving

“To follow’ means to entrust oneself to the Word of God, to rate it higher than the laws of money and bread and to live by it. In short, to follow means to believe, but to “believe’ in the sense of making a radical decision between the two and, in the last analysis, the only two possibilities for human life: bread and the word. The human person does not live on bread alone but also and primarily on the word, the spirit, meaning. It is always this same radical decision that confronts disciples when they hear the call “Follow me!”; the radical decision to stake one’s life either on profit and gain or on truth and love; the radical decision to live for oneself or to surrender one’s self… Only in losing themselves can human beings find themselves. The real and radical martyrdom of genuine self-renunciation is and remains the basic condition for following Christ… To follow Christ means to accept the inner essence of the cross, namely the radical love expressed therein, and thus to imitate God himself. For on the cross God who surrenders his glory in order to be present for us; who desires to rule the world not by power but by love, and in the weakness of the cross reveals his power which operates so differently from the power of this world’s mighty rulers. To follow Christ, then, means to enter into the self-surrender that is the real heart of love. To follow Christ means to become one who loves as God has loved… In the last analysis, to follow Christ is simply for man to become human by integration into the humanity of God.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of Resignation in Suffering

Merciful Lord of life, I lift up my heart to You in my suffering, and ask for your comforting help. I know that You would withhold the thorns of this life, if I could attain eternal life without them. So, I throw myself on your mercy, resigning myself to this suffering. Grant me the grace to bear it and to offer it in union with your sufferings. No matter what suffering may come my way, let me always trust in You. Amen.

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Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

Prayer to St. Peter

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

COLLECT

O God, who cause the minds of the faithful

to unite in a single purpose,

grant your people to love what you command

and to desire what you promise,

that, amid the uncertainties of this world,

our hearts may be fixed on that place

where true gladness is found.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

unashamedcatholic – A Catholic Just posting about the faith.

Is 22:19-23

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

I will thrust you from your office

and pull you down from your station.

On that day I will summon my servant

Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;

I will clothe him with your robe,

and gird him with your sash,

and give over to him your authority.

He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

and to the house of Judah.

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

when he opens, no one shall shut

when he shuts, no one shall open.

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

to be a place of honor for his family.”

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

READING II

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

Rom 11:33-36

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL

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

MT 16: 13-20

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

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 DV 5; cf. DS 377; 3010.

3 Mt 16:16.

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

5 Cf. Mt 16:16-23.

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

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

8 Acts 2:36.

9 Mt 16:16-17.

10 Gal 1:15-16.

11 Acts 9:20.

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

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

14 Mt 16:18.

15 I Pt 2:4.

16 Cf. Lk 22:32.

17 Mt 16:19.

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

19 Cf. Mt 18:18.

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

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

22 Cf. Jn 2:18-22.

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

24 AG 1; cf. Mt 16:15.

25 Mt 28:19-20.

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

27 LG 22 # 2.

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

29 LG 22 # 2.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

Peter the Rock

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

His Holiness Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Saint Peter

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

 

Posted in Catholic

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

miracle-exorcism-of-daughter-of-the-canaanite-woman.jpeg

“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.

OPENING PRAYER

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,

and in our souls take up Thy rest;

come with Thy grace and heavenly aid

to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,

O heavenly gift of God Most High,

O fount of life and fire of love,

and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;

Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;

Thou, promise of the Father,

Thou
 Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,

and make our hearts o’erflow with love;

with patience firm and virtue high

the weakness of our flesh supply.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,

and grant us Thy peace instead;

so shall we not,

with Thee for guide,

turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow

the Father and the Son to know;

and Thee, through endless times confessed,

of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son,

Who rose from death,

be glory given,

with Thou,

O Holy Comforter,

henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who have prepared for those who live you

good things which no eye can see,

full our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,

so that, loving you in all things and above all things,

we may attain your promises,

which surpass every human desire.

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

AllSeeingEyeofGod.jpeg

Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:

Observe what is right, do what is just;

for my salvation is about to come,

my justice, about to be revealed.

And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,

ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD,

and becoming his servants–

All who keep the Sabbath free from profanation

and hold to my covenant,

them I will bring to my holy mountain

and make joyful in my house of prayer;

their holocausts and sacrifices

will be acceptable on my altar,

for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

APPLICATION

The liberation of the Jews from the exile of Babylon (538 B.C.) was, like the first liberation from Egypt, seven centuries earlier, but a preparation for the real liberation to come. The promised Messiah would bring this final liberation to all mankind. He would set all men free from the slavery of sin and the estrangement from God which sin brought with it into the world, and he would make them citizens-to-be, not of a small corner of this earth, but of the eternal kingdom of heaven.

This liberation has taken place, and we are the new Chosen People of God. The Christian Church is the new temple of God. It is open to all nations and peoples. It is the place where, through baptism, all men become children of God, brothers of Christ and heirs to the eternal kingdom. But it is a “house of prayer,” a place where all must strive to keep God’s laws and be loyal subjects of his kingdom on earth, if they want to earn their place in his heavenly kingdom.

While proud of the privileges God had given them, the Jews, God’s Chosen People of old, neglected their obligations to him and, content with keeping the external shell of the law, forgot to give God true reverence and gratitude from their hearts. This pride and purely external observance blinded them to the true meaning of God’s promises; they were unable to see in Christ the Son of God, which he claimed to be, or the long-promised Messiah. They had grown worldly and politically minded, and had gradually lost interest in God’s eternal kingdom. All they wanted was a worldly kingdom of power and plenty. But Christ’s kingdom was “not of this world.”

The same fate, alas, has befallen many members of the new Chosen People and it can happen to any one of us. This world and its passing interests can blind us to the real facts of life. We can become so enmeshed in the search for the goods of this earth that we leave ourselves no time or no inclination to think about and prepare for the goods of the after-life. Yet, these are the goods that matter!

The industry and zeal with which many–far too many–Christians, use their energies in amassing the goods and comforts of this world would perhaps be understandable, or at least a little less foolish, if they expected to live on here for seven or eight hundred years. But they cannot guarantee themselves even one hundred. Their zeal and industry are surely misplaced. When they have to leave this world they can take none of its goods with them. All that they can produce at the judgment seat are the virtues or vices they accumulated during life. The millionaire and the beggar will be judged by the same yardstick. We will not be asked for our bank account; we will be asked to account for the years God has given us in which to earn eternal credit.

Like the Jews of old, many Christians have in the past let the cares and interests of this life blind them to the true purpose of life. To their grief they have now learned what folly this was. Any one of us could make the same mistake. Today’s lesson reminds us not to follow in that foolish path and end as they did. If we love and reverence the name of the Lord and keep his commandments, we may enjoy God’s gift in this life while making sure of the gift of eternal life, when we are called from this world.

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

O God, let all the nations praise you!

May God have pity on us and bless us; 
may he let his face shine upon us.
 So may your way be known upon earth;
 among all nations, your salvation.

O God, let all the nations praise you!

May the nations be glad and exult
 because you rule the peoples in equity;
 the nations on the earth you guide.

O God, let all the nations praise you!

May the peoples praise you, O God; 
may all the peoples praise you! 
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!

O God, let all the nations praise you!

READING II

prodigal-son.jpeg

Rom 11:13-15, 29-32

Brothers and sisters:
 I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, 
I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 674 The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus.1 St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”2 St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?”3 The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”,4 will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”.5

CCC 755 “The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.”6

CCC 839 “Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways. ”7The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,8 “the first to hear the Word of God. ”9 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,10 “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”11

1 Rom I 1:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39.
2 Acts 3:19-21.
3 Rom 11:15.
4 Rom 11:12, 25; cf. Lk 21:24.
5 Eph 4:13; I Cor 15:28.
6 LG 6; cf. 1 Cor 39; Rom 11:13-26; Mt 21:32-43 and parallels; Isa 51-7; Jn 15:1-5.
7 LG 16.
8 Cf. NA 4.
9 Roman Missal, Good Friday 13:General Intercessions,VI.
10 Rom 9:4-5.
11 Rom 11:29.

APPLICATION

The lesson for us today in these words of St. Paul is that our Christian faith–the greatest gift in life, the pearl of great price–is a free gift from God. Through it we Gentiles, whose pagan ancestors knew nothing of God, have been brought to know and love the God who created us and who will bring us to heaven through the Incarnation of his only-begotten Son.

This is a gift we must cherish and nourish daily in our lives if we hope to earn the eternal happiness which God intended for us when he gave us this gift. Through the sacrament of baptism we have been made brothers of Christ and heirs to heaven, but if we are to die as brothers of Christ and be worthy of our eternal inheritance, we have to live the years given us on earth as true brothers of this same Christ.

This is no easy task, but neither is it impossible, as is proved by the millions who have gone through the same difficulties before us, and have earned their reward. All those who are now in heaven have one thing in common–their great love for God and true appreciation of his gifts to them. If we can imitate these two basic points we too shall, with God’s assured help, make a success of our lives.

A second point we should learn from St. Paul’s message to us today, is that we should pray fervently and often for the conversion of the members of the Jewish race. They are really our brothers in God, for their father Abraham was our father too. He was asked to leave his home and his kindred, his family and his country so that God’s plan for bringing all the peoples of the world to heaven could be put into action. Abraham’s call was the first step in the long journey of preparation for the coming of the Messiah on earth.

For eighteen centuries the direct descendants of Abraham were dear to God, and sometimes they were very near to him. It was through them that God brought Christ and the new covenant to us; it would be fitting now that we, through our prayers and good works, should be instrumental under God, in bringing them to Christ. St. Paul was confident that one day God’s mercy would reach out to them and bring them into his new kingdom. Let us help to hasten that day, so that they will become not only our brothers in Abraham but our brothers in Christ, and our fellow-citizens in heaven.

GOSPEL

miracle-exorcism-of-daughter-of-the-canaanite-woman.jpeg

Mt. 15: 21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082017.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel.1 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.2

CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.3 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.4 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”5

CCC 2610 Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.”6 Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: “all things are possible to him who believes.”7 Jesus is as saddened by the “lack of faith” of his own neighbors and the “little faith” of his own disciples8 as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman.9

1 Cf Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9.15.
2 Cf. Jn 4:25-26; 6:15; 11:27; Mt 22:41-46; Lk 24:21.
3 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al. 4 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.
5 Jn 20:28,21:7. 6 Mk 11:24.
7 Mk 9:23; cf. Mt 21:22. 8 Cf. Mk 6:6; Mt 8:26.
9 Cf. Mt 8:10; 15:28.

APPLICATION

There is a lesson, a very necessary one, for all of us in this episode of Christ’s public life. It is the necessity of perseverance in our prayers of petition. Prayer is an essential part of our Christian life, and the essential part of prayer is that of adoration and thanksgiving, but prayer of petition has a big part in our daily prayers. We have so many spiritual and temporal needs, needs which we cannot provide by ourselves. Christ himself has told us to ask him for these needs: “ask and you shall receive.”

Do we ask with the fervor and perseverance which prove that we have “great faith”? That faith is the proof which Christ needs before he grants our requests. The Canaanite woman of whom we have just heard is for us an example of that deep-seated faith and trust in Christ’s power and Christ’s goodness. Even though he ignored her she continued to beseech him, and when he answered with what seemed a direct refusal her faith and trust did not waver. She answered his reason for refusal with another statement which showed that the granting of her petition would not in any way interfere with or impede his primary task, his mission to his fathers chosen people. This was the proof of great faith which he required. He granted her request.

We must imitate and learn from this pagan mother. Her love for her child made her ready to undergo every hardship or suffering for the restoration to health of her loved one. When we turn to Christ in our needs is our faith in him as sincere and unwavering as was this woman’s? No doubt it often is, and yet we do not get the desired answer. As Christians we know that our particular request may not always be for our good, or for the final good of the person for whom we are praying. In that case, the good God will not grant what would be to our eternal disadvantage. But if our prayer is sincere and persevering–we shall always get an answer, and one which is better than what we asked for.

How often do we wonder at or perhaps doubt God’s mercy when we see, for example, the young father of a family being taken from his loved and helpless ones, notwithstanding the prayers and tears of his wife and children. Where is God’s mercy here? Where is his answer to these sincere prayers? But who are we to question God’s mercy? The answer is there and often clear enough: that death brings out in his relatives and neighbors virtues which they would otherwise never have had occasion to practice– virtues that will earn for them eternal life.

It is only when we get to heaven–and getting to heaven is our purpose in life–that we shall see how our prayers, sincere and persevering, were answered by God.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Prayer of Jesus

Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him… Prayer is the act of self-surrender by which we enter the Body of Christ. Thus it is an act of love. As love, in and with the Body of Christ, it is always both love of God and love of neighbor, knowing and fulfilling itself as love for the members of this Body… The person Jesus is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls “Father.” If this is the case, it is only possible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it. This is suggested by Jesus saying that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (Jn 6: 44). Where there is no Father, there is no Son. Where there is no relationship with God, there can be no understanding of him who, in his innermost self, is nothing but relationship with God, the Father… Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e., in his prayer,… is the basic precondition if real understanding, in the sense of modern hermeneutics – i.e., the entering-in to the same time and the same meaning – is to take place.

His Holiness Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for Healing

Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to You. Allow your healing hand to heal us. Touch our souls with Your compassion for others. Touch our hearts with Your courage and infinite love for all. Touch our minds with Your wisdom, that our mouths may always proclaim Your praise. Teach us to reach out to You in our need, and help us to lead others to You by our example. Most loving Sacred Heart of Jesus, bring us health in body and spirit that we may serve You with all our strength. Touch gently these lives which You have created, now and forever and we humbly ask this through your son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

REFLECTION

Inspiration of the Holy Spirit – From the Sacred Heart of Jesus

I reward faith, therefore have faith in me. I came to my own people and they rejected me, with the exception of the humble, who recognized the value of the gift from God. Only those open to the Holy Spirit accepted me as the son of David, the Messiah who was empowered to save the people of God.

All my miracles were granted to those who had faith; I wanted to impress upon everyone the importance of believing in me the Son of the Living God. It is only by accepting me that you can accept the Heavenly Father, it is only by believing in me and having faith in me, that even now you can expect the power of God to manifest in your life through a miracle.

Miracles are not as popular now as in my time, because there is no faith. To pray for a miracle is the perfect prayer, but it must come from a heart full of faith, otherwise the petition remains a prayer and is not answered as a miracle.

Many people during the profession of my healing ministry were attracted to me by my miracles, not by their faith; they were curious people in search of the supernatural. However there was also a large number of people who were genuine, they accepted the dignity of my presence among them, they firmly believed in the power of God at my disposal and they merited all the miracles that I performed.

It is in my power to grant any petition I like, but I desire to cultivate faith in human hearts. A prayer to me is most attractive when it comes from a humble and contrite heart. If I were to grant miracles for every petition, men would become very proud and would sin thinking that they had the power to control God’s power.

The true saint prays very humbly for a miracle, echoing my prayer in Gethsemane, “Father, not my will, but yours be done”. The man of faith puts all his trust in the Lord, not in his human effort, and he is prepared to give all the credit to God for every good thing that he receives.

The one who desires a miracle must first acknowledge that he is not worthy to be in my presence, and that he does not even deserve to be heard. Yet, by confessing his sinfulness, his unworthiness, and by acknowledging my holiness, he calls on my compassion for his good desires and may be fortunate to receive.

Do not underestimate the great power of God that is at your disposal if you have faith. Pray for your faith to increase. Believe that I can grant you any good desire of your heart, pray in accordance to my will and wait patiently for my answer.

theworkofgod.org

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord – A Benedictine oblate’s weekly study of the Catholic Church’s Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

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    Posted in Catholic

    Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

    miracle-exorcism-of-daughter-of-the-canaanite-woman.jpeg

    “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.

    OPENING PRAYER

    Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,

    and in our souls take up Thy rest;

    come with Thy grace and heavenly aid

    to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

    O comforter, to Thee we cry,

    O heavenly gift of God Most High,

    O fount of life and fire of love,

    and sweet anointing from above. 



    Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;

    Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;

    Thou, promise of the Father,

    ThouWho dost the tongue with power imbue. 



    Kindle our sense from above,

    and make our hearts o’erflow with love;

    with patience firm and virtue high

    the weakness of our flesh supply. 



    Far from us drive the foe we dread,

    and grant us Thy peace instead;

    so shall we not,

    with Thee for guide,

    turn from the path of life aside.

    

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow

    the Father and the Son to know;

    and Thee, through endless times confessed,

    of both the eternal Spirit blest. 



    Now to the Father and the Son,

    Who rose from death,

    be glory given,

    with Thou,

    O Holy Comforter,

    henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

    COLLECT

    O God, who have prepared for those who live you

    good things which no eye can see,

    full our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,

    so that, loving you in all things and above all things,

    we may attain your promises,

    which surpass every human desire.

    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

    AllSeeingEyeofGod.jpeg

    Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7

    Thus says the LORD:

    Observe what is right, do what is just;

    for my salvation is about to come,

    my justice, about to be revealed.

    And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,

    ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD,

    and becoming his servants–

    All who keep the Sabbath free from profanation

    and hold to my covenant,

    them I will bring to my holy mountain

    and make joyful in my house of prayer;

    their holocausts and sacrifices

    will be acceptable on my altar,

    for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

    APPLICATION

    The liberation of the Jews from the exile of Babylon (538 B.C.) was, like the first liberation from Egypt, seven centuries earlier, but a preparation for the real liberation to come. The promised Messiah would bring this final liberation to all mankind. He would set all men free from the slavery of sin and the estrangement from God which sin brought with it into the world, and he would make them citizens-to-be, not of a small corner of this earth, but of the eternal kingdom of heaven.

    This liberation has taken place, and we are the new Chosen People of God. The Christian Church is the new temple of God. It is open to all nations and peoples. It is the place where, through baptism, all men become children of God, brothers of Christ and heirs to the eternal kingdom. But it is a “house of prayer,” a place where all must strive to keep God’s laws and be loyal subjects of his kingdom on earth, if they want to earn their place in his heavenly kingdom.

    While proud of the privileges God had given them, the Jews, God’s Chosen People of old, neglected their obligations to him and, content with keeping the external shell of the law, forgot to give God true reverence and gratitude from their hearts. This pride and purely external observance blinded them to the true meaning of God’s promises; they were unable to see in Christ the Son of God, which he claimed to be, or the long-promised Messiah. They had grown worldly and politically minded, and had gradually lost interest in God’s eternal kingdom. All they wanted was a worldly kingdom of power and plenty. But Christ’s kingdom was “not of this world.”

    The same fate, alas, has befallen many members of the new Chosen People and it can happen to any one of us. This world and its passing interests can blind us to the real facts of life. We can become so enmeshed in the search for the goods of this earth that we leave ourselves no time or no inclination to think about and prepare for the goods of the after-life. Yet, these are the goods that matter!

    The industry and zeal with which many–far too many–Christians, use their energies in amassing the goods and comforts of this world would perhaps be understandable, or at least a little less foolish, if they expected to live on here for seven or eight hundred years. But they cannot guarantee themselves even one hundred. Their zeal and industry are surely misplaced. When they have to leave this world they can take none of its goods with them. All that they can produce at the judgment seat are the virtues or vices they accumulated during life. The millionaire and the beggar will be judged by the same yardstick. We will not be asked for our bank account; we will be asked to account for the years God has given us in which to earn eternal credit.

    Like the Jews of old, many Christians have in the past let the cares and interests of this life blind them to the true purpose of life. To their grief they have now learned what folly this was. Any one of us could make the same mistake. Today’s lesson reminds us not to follow in that foolish path and end as they did. If we love and reverence the name of the Lord and keep his commandments, we may enjoy God’s gift in this life while making sure of the gift of eternal life, when we are called from this world.

    The word of the Lord.

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM

    Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

    O God, let all the nations praise you!

    May God have pity on us and bless us; may he let his face shine upon us.So may your way be known upon earth;among all nations, your salvation.

    O God, let all the nations praise you!

    May the nations be glad and exultbecause you rule the peoples in equity;the nations on the earth you guide.

    O God, let all the nations praise you!

    May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! May God bless us,and may all the ends of the earth fear him!

    O God, let all the nations praise you!

    READING II

    prodigal-son.jpeg

    Rom 11:13-15, 29-32

    Brothers and sisters:I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

    For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 674 The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus.1 St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”2 St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?”3 The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”,4 will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”.5

    CCC 755 “The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.”6

    CCC 839 “Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways. ”7The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,8 “the first to hear the Word of God. ”9 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,10 “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”11

    1 Rom I 1:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39.2 Acts 3:19-21.3 Rom 11:15.4 Rom 11:12, 25; cf. Lk 21:24.5 Eph 4:13; I Cor 15:28.6 LG 6; cf. 1 Cor 39; Rom 11:13-26; Mt 21:32-43 and parallels; Isa 51-7; Jn 15:1-5.7 LG 16.8 Cf. NA 4.9 Roman Missal, Good Friday 13:General Intercessions,VI.10 Rom 9:4-5.11 Rom 11:29.

    APPLICATION

    The lesson for us today in these words of St. Paul is that our Christian faith–the greatest gift in life, the pearl of great price–is a free gift from God. Through it we Gentiles, whose pagan ancestors knew nothing of God, have been brought to know and love the God who created us and who will bring us to heaven through the Incarnation of his only-begotten Son.

    This is a gift we must cherish and nourish daily in our lives if we hope to earn the eternal happiness which God intended for us when he gave us this gift. Through the sacrament of baptism we have been made brothers of Christ and heirs to heaven, but if we are to die as brothers of Christ and be worthy of our eternal inheritance, we have to live the years given us on earth as true brothers of this same Christ.

    This is no easy task, but neither is it impossible, as is proved by the millions who have gone through the same difficulties before us, and have earned their reward. All those who are now in heaven have one thing in common–their great love for God and true appreciation of his gifts to them. If we can imitate these two basic points we too shall, with God’s assured help, make a success of our lives.

    A second point we should learn from St. Paul’s message to us today, is that we should pray fervently and often for the conversion of the members of the Jewish race. They are really our brothers in God, for their father Abraham was our father too. He was asked to leave his home and his kindred, his family and his country so that God’s plan for bringing all the peoples of the world to heaven could be put into action. Abraham’s call was the first step in the long journey of preparation for the coming of the Messiah on earth.

    For eighteen centuries the direct descendants of Abraham were dear to God, and sometimes they were very near to him. It was through them that God brought Christ and the new covenant to us; it would be fitting now that we, through our prayers and good works, should be instrumental under God, in bringing them to Christ. St. Paul was confident that one day God’s mercy would reach out to them and bring them into his new kingdom. Let us help to hasten that day, so that they will become not only our brothers in Abraham but our brothers in Christ, and our fellow-citizens in heaven.

    GOSPEL

    miracle-exorcism-of-daughter-of-the-canaanite-woman.jpeg

    Mt. 15: 21-28

    At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

    http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082017.cfm

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

    CCC 439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel.1 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.2

    CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.3 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.4 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”5

    CCC 2610 Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.”6 Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: “all things are possible to him who believes.”7 Jesus is as saddened by the “lack of faith” of his own neighbors and the “little faith” of his own disciples8 as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman.9

    1 Cf Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9.15.
2 Cf. Jn 4:25-26; 6:15; 11:27; Mt 22:41-46; Lk 24:21.
3 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al. 4 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.
5 Jn 20:28,21:7. 6 Mk 11:24.
7 Mk 9:23; cf. Mt 21:22. 8 Cf. Mk 6:6; Mt 8:26.
9 Cf. Mt 8:10; 15:28.

    APPLICATION

    There is a lesson, a very necessary one, for all of us in this episode of Christ’s public life. It is the necessity of perseverance in our prayers of petition. Prayer is an essential part of our Christian life, and the essential part of prayer is that of adoration and thanksgiving, but prayer of petition has a big part in our daily prayers. We have so many spiritual and temporal needs, needs which we cannot provide by ourselves. Christ himself has told us to ask him for these needs: “ask and you shall receive.”

    Do we ask with the fervor and perseverance which prove that we have “great faith”? That faith is the proof which Christ needs before he grants our requests. The Canaanite woman of whom we have just heard is for us an example of that deep-seated faith and trust in Christ’s power and Christ’s goodness. Even though he ignored her she continued to beseech him, and when he answered with what seemed a direct refusal her faith and trust did not waver. She answered his reason for refusal with another statement which showed that the granting of her petition would not in any way interfere with or impede his primary task, his mission to his fathers chosen people. This was the proof of great faith which he required. He granted her request.

    We must imitate and learn from this pagan mother. Her love for her child made her ready to undergo every hardship or suffering for the restoration to health of her loved one. When we turn to Christ in our needs is our faith in him as sincere and unwavering as was this woman’s? No doubt it often is, and yet we do not get the desired answer. As Christians we know that our particular request may not always be for our good, or for the final good of the person for whom we are praying. In that case, the good God will not grant what would be to our eternal disadvantage. But if our prayer is sincere and persevering–we shall always get an answer, and one which is better than what we asked for.

    How often do we wonder at or perhaps doubt God’s mercy when we see, for example, the young father of a family being taken from his loved and helpless ones, notwithstanding the prayers and tears of his wife and children. Where is God’s mercy here? Where is his answer to these sincere prayers? But who are we to question God’s mercy? The answer is there and often clear enough: that death brings out in his relatives and neighbors virtues which they would otherwise never have had occasion to practice– virtues that will earn for them eternal life.

    It is only when we get to heaven–and getting to heaven is our purpose in life–that we shall see how our prayers, sincere and persevering, were answered by God.

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

    BENEDICTUS

    The Prayer of Jesus

    Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him… Prayer is the act of self-surrender by which we enter the Body of Christ. Thus it is an act of love. As love, in and with the Body of Christ, it is always both love of God and love of neighbor, knowing and fulfilling itself as love for the members of this Body… The person Jesus is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls “Father.” If this is the case, it is only possible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it. This is suggested by Jesus saying that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (Jn 6: 44). Where there is no Father, there is no Son. Where there is no relationship with God, there can be no understanding of him who, in his innermost self, is nothing but relationship with God, the Father… Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e., in his prayer,… is the basic precondition if real understanding, in the sense of modern hermeneutics – i.e., the entering-in to the same time and the same meaning – is to take place.

    His Holiness Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus

    CLOSING PRAYER

    A Prayer for Healing

    Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to You. Allow your healing hand to heal us. Touch our souls with Your compassion for others. Touch our hearts with Your courage and infinite love for all. Touch our minds with Your wisdom, that our mouths may always proclaim Your praise. Teach us to reach out to You in our need, and help us to lead others to You by our example. Most loving Sacred Heart of Jesus, bring us health in body and spirit that we may serve You with all our strength. Touch gently these lives which You have created, now and forever and we humbly ask this through your son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

    REFLECTION

    Inspiration of the Holy Spirit – From the Sacred Heart of Jesus

    I reward faith, therefore have faith in me. I came to my own people and they rejected me, with the exception of the humble, who recognized the value of the gift from God. Only those open to the Holy Spirit accepted me as the son of David, the Messiah who was empowered to save the people of God.

    All my miracles were granted to those who had faith; I wanted to impress upon everyone the importance of believing in me the Son of the Living God. It is only by accepting me that you can accept the Heavenly Father, it is only by believing in me and having faith in me, that even now you can expect the power of God to manifest in your life through a miracle.

    Miracles are not as popular now as in my time, because there is no faith. To pray for a miracle is the perfect prayer, but it must come from a heart full of faith, otherwise the petition remains a prayer and is not answered as a miracle.

    Many people during the profession of my healing ministry were attracted to me by my miracles, not by their faith; they were curious people in search of the supernatural. However there was also a large number of people who were genuine, they accepted the dignity of my presence among them, they firmly believed in the power of God at my disposal and they merited all the miracles that I performed.

    It is in my power to grant any petition I like, but I desire to cultivate faith in human hearts. A prayer to me is most attractive when it comes from a humble and contrite heart. If I were to grant miracles for every petition, men would become very proud and would sin thinking that they had the power to control God’s power.

    The true saint prays very humbly for a miracle, echoing my prayer in Gethsemane, “Father, not my will, but yours be done”. The man of faith puts all his trust in the Lord, not in his human effort, and he is prepared to give all the credit to God for every good thing that he receives.

    The one who desires a miracle must first acknowledge that he is not worthy to be in my presence, and that he does not even deserve to be heard. Yet, by confessing his sinfulness, his unworthiness, and by acknowledging my holiness, he calls on my compassion for his good desires and may be fortunate to receive.

    Do not underestimate the great power of God that is at your disposal if you have faith. Pray for your faith to increase. Believe that I can grant you any good desire of your heart, pray in accordance to my will and wait patiently for my answer.

    theworkofgod.org

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    Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

     

    DORMIZIONE-FOTO-INTERA-400x467

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

    OPENING PRAYER

    MATINS. Quem terra, pontus, sidera

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

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

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

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

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

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

    COLLECT

    Almighty ever-living God,

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

    body and soul into heavenly glory,

    grant we pray,

    that, always attentive to the things that are above,

    we may merit to be sharers of her glory.

    Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

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

    one God, for ever and ever.

    READING I

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

    God’s temple in heaven was opened,

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

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

    with the moon under her feet,

    and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

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

    Then another sign appeared in the sky;

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

    and on its heads were seven diadems.

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

    and hurled them down to the earth.

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

    to devour her child when she gave birth.

    She gave birth to a son, a male child,

    destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.

    Her child was caught up to God and his throne.

    The woman herself fled into the desert

    where she had a place prepared by God.

    Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

    “Now have salvation and power come,

    and the Kingdom of our God

    and the authority of his Anointed One.”

    APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

    RESPONSORIAL PSALM

    Ps 45:10, 11, 12, 16

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

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

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

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

    forget your people and your father’s house.

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

    So shall the king desire your beauty;

    for he is your lord.

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

    They are borne in with gladness and joy;

    they enter the palace of the king.

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

    READING II

    ResurrectionIcon3

    1 Cor 15:20-27

    Brothers and sisters:

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

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

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

    but each one in proper order:

    Christ the first-fruits;

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

    then comes the end,

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

    when he has destroyed every sovereignty

    and every authority and power.

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

    The last enemy to be destroyed is death,

    for “he subjected everything under his feet.”

    APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    3 I Cor 15:20-22.

    4 Heb 6:5.

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

    6 Rom 14:9.

    7 Eph 1:20-22.

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

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

    10 LG 49; cf. Eph 4:16.

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

    12 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

    13 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

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

    15 Cf. Lk 4:5-6.

    16 1 Cor 15:24-28.

    GOSPEL

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    Lk 1:39-56

    Mary set out

    and traveled to the hill country in haste

    to a town of Judah,

    where she entered the house of Zechariah

    and greeted Elizabeth.

    When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,

    and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,

    cried out in a loud voice and said,

    “Blessed are you among women,

    and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

    And how does this happen to me,

    that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

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

    the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

    Blessed are you who believed

    that what was spoken to you by the Lord

    would be fulfilled.”

    And Mary said:

    “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

    my spirit rejoices in God my Savior

    for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

    From this day all generations will call me blessed:

    the Almighty has done great things for me

    and holy is his Name.

    He has mercy on those who fear him

    in every generation.

    He has shown the strength of his arm,

    and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

    He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

    and has lifted up the lowly.

    He has filled the hungry with good things,

    and the rich he has sent away empty.

    He has come to the help of his servant Israel

    for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

    the promise he made to our fathers,

    to Abraham and his children forever.”

    Mary remained with her about three months

    and then returned to her home.

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

    APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2 Lk 1:45.

    3 Cf. Lk 1:48.

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

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

    6 Jn 20:28,21:7.

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

    8 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    15 Cf. In 11:52.

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

    17 Jn 1:6.

    18 Lk 1:15, 41.

    19 Cf. Lk 1:68.

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

    21 Zeph 3:14,17a.

    22 Rev 21:3.

    23 Lk 1:41, 48.

    24 Lk 1:45.

    25 Cf. Gen 12:3.

    26 Lk 1:43.

    27 Lk 1:38.

    28 Cf. Jn 19:27.

    BENEDICTUS

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

    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

    CLOSING PRAYER

    Prayer to our Lady, Assumed in Heaven

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

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

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

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

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