Fourth Sunday of Lent – C

 

Prodigal Son

‘your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

 

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of Reconciliation

God of compassion, You sent Jesus to proclaim a time of mercy reaching out to those who had no voice, releasing those trapped by their own shame, and welcoming those scorned by society.

Make us ambassadors of reconciliation. Open our ears that we may listen with respect and understanding. Touch our lips that we may speak your words of peace and forgiveness. Warm our hearts that we may bring wholeness to the broken-hearted and dissolve the barriers of division.

Guide the work of your Church and renew us with the Spirit of your love. Help us and all people to shape a world where all will have a place, where the flames of hatred are quenched, and where all can grow together as one.

Forgive, restore and strengthen us through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

http://www.paulist.org/reconciliation/prayer-reconciliation

COLLECT

O God, who through your Word

reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way,

grant, we pray,

that with prompt devotion and eager faith

the Christian people may hasten

toward the solemn celebrations to come.

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

giosia.jpg

Jos 5:9a, 10-12

The LORD said to Joshua,

“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”

While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho,

they celebrated the Passover

on the evening of the fourteenth of the month.

On the day after the Passover,

they ate of the produce of the land

in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain.

On that same day after the Passover,

on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased.

No longer was there manna for the Israelites,

who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

APPLICATION

The Pharao of Egypt refused to listen to the pleas of Moses to let the Israelites go. The first nine plagues left him still stubborn. God therefore sent the final plague. The first-born male of man and beast was to be struck dead on the fourteenth night of the first month. On that night the Israelites were to sacrifice an unspotted lamb, smearing their door posts with its blood, so that the avenging angel would pass over their homes and strike death in the homes of the Egyptians. The whole lamb was to be eaten, without breaking any of its bones. It was to be eaten by the family, or by two or more families if the members of one family were not numerous enough to eat it all. They were to eat the lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread (a reminder of their slavery) whilst standing, ready to get on their way.

This final plague of death frightened the Pharao and the Jews were given their liberty. Our interest as Christians in this is more than historical. It happened for us. The Israelites were set free so that from them would come the One who was to set all mankind free. The Paschal Lamb and the liberation from Egypt were a foreshadowing of our liberation from sin and our change from slavery to this world into the freedom of the sons of God.

Because Christ was our Pascal Lamb –“Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed,” St. Paul says (1 Cor. 5: 7) – he chose to die for us in the Jewish feast of Passover, and to be raised again on the third day to prove our true liberation. Thus the religion of the Israelites and all their festivals were brought to fruition, and fulfilled for all mankind in our Christian Passover, in Christ’s death and resurrection.

This is why we are reminded today, the fourth Sunday of Lent, of the paschal feast we shall celebrate with joy and gratitude at the end of this holy season of preparation. God’s love for us and his interest in our true welfare dates back to eternity. Before he created all things his plan was to give man, his highest earthly creature, a share in his own divinity. With the call of Abraham, his interest in us was his motive. The liberation from Egypt was a prelude to his plan of redemption for us. The first Good Friday and Easter morning were the culmination of this divine love for mankind. It went to such lengths–the sacrifice of Christ the Son of God – so that we could share in the eternal happiness of heaven.

Cold is the human heart that fails to react to such proofs of true, unselfish love. Weak indeed is the faith of the Christian who can look on the scene enacted on Calvary while throwing his own mean little cross on the ground. Foolish beyond belief is the man who would let the passing things of this world so engage him that he has no time to earn the everlasting life that God’s infinite love has planned for him from all eternity.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall be ever in my mouth.

Let my soul glory in the LORD;

the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Glorify the LORD with me,

let us together extol his name.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me

and delivered me from all my fears.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,

and your faces may not blush with shame.

When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,

and from all his distress he saved him.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

READING II

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2 Cor 5:17-21

Brothers and sisters:

Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:

the old things have passed away;

behold, new things have come.

And all this is from God,

who has reconciled us to himself through Christ

and given us the ministry of reconciliation,

namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,

not counting their trespasses against them

and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

So we are ambassadors for Christ,

as if God were appealing through us.

We implore you on behalf of Christ,

be reconciled to God.

For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,

so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 433 The name of the Savior God was invoked only once in the year by the high priest in atonement for the sins of Israel, after he had sprinkled the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies with the sacrificial blood. The mercy seat was the place of God’s presence.1 When St. Paul speaks of Jesus whom “God put forward as an expiation by his blood”, he means that in Christ’s humanity “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”2

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.”3 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.4 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.”5

CCC 827 “Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”6 All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.7 In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.8 Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness:

The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.9

CCC 859 Jesus unites them to the mission he received from the Father. As “the Son can do nothing of his own accord,” but receives everything from the Father who sent him, so those whom Jesus sends can do nothing apart from him,10 from whom they received both the mandate for their mission and the power to carry it out. Christ’s apostles knew that they were called by God as “ministers of a new covenant,” “servants of God,” “ambassadors for Christ,” “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”11

CCC 981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.”12 The apostles and their successors carry out this “ministry of reconciliation,” not only by announcing to men God’s forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:13

[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit’s action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.14

CCC 1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.”15

CCC 1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,”16 member of Christ and co-heir with him,17 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.18

CCC 1424 It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a “confession” – acknowledgment and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.

It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent “pardon and peace.”19

It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the live of God who reconciles: “Be reconciled to God.”20 He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: “Go; first be reconciled to your brother.”21

CCC 1442 Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of reconciliation.”22 The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.”23

CCC 1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation,24 bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

CCC 1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:25

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.26

CCC 2844 Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies,27 transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master. Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God’s compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus. Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another.28

1 Cf. Ex 25:22; Lev 16:2,15-16; Num 7:89; Sir 50:20; Heb 9:5,7.

2 Rom 3:25; 2 Cor 5:19.

3 I Pt 1:18-20.

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

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

6 LG 8 § 3; Cf. UR 3; 6; Heb 2:17; 726; 2 Cor 5:21.

7 Cf. 1 Jn 1:8-10.

8 Cf. Mt 13:24-30.

9 Paul VI, CPG § 19.

10 Jn 5:19, 30; cf. Jn 15:5.

11 2 Cor 3:6; 6:4; 5:20; 1 Cor 4:1.

12 Lk 24:47.

13 2 Cor 5:18.

14 St. Augustine, Sermo 214,11:PL 38,1071-1072.

15 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Cf. Rom 6:34; Col 2:12.

16 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Gal 4:5-7.

17 Cf. l Cor 6:15; 12:27; Rom 8:17.

18 Cf. l Cor 6:19.

19 OP 46 formula of absolution.

20 2 Cor 5:20.

21 MT 5:24.

22 2 Cor 5:18.

23 2 Cor 5:20.

24 Cf. In 20:23; 2 Cor 5:18.

25 Cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38-39.

26 2 Cor 5:17-18.

27 Cf. Mt 5:43-44.

28 Cf. 2 Cor 5:18-21; John Paul II, DM 14.

APPLICATION

We are Christians. To many perhaps this statement is about as important as if we say we are Americans, we are Germans, we are Irish, we are Italians. But as every sincere Christian knows, and as St. Paul has reminded us today, to be a Christian means something different. It means that our relationship with God and the whole meaning of life has been radically changed. The divine plan of the Incarnation reached its climax in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. As a result of this plan we are no longer mere human beings. We have been raised up to adopted sonship by God. We are already by baptism citizens of God’s earthly kingdom, and we are legal heirs of his eternal kingdom in heaven. These are not empty words, nor empty titles. Because the Son of God became a man, and one of us, we have been made brothers of his and sons of God. Because we are sons of God we are heirs to heaven, and have a legal right – through the sheer gift of God’s infinite love for us, not through any merit whatsoever of our own – to eternal happiness.

The plan for our eternal happiness was made by God before creation began. It was signed and sealed by the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. At baptism each Christian is handed his bill of rights, his guarantee of eternal citizenship, together with the map which shows him the road he must travel to attain his kingdom.

But reading and following the road map is for many of us the part we like least. We are all thankful to God and to his divine Son for all he has done for us. We are all delighted with the privilege of divine sonship and the promise of a part in the eternal kingdom of God in heaven. But many of us get sleepy and faint-hearted when it comes to following the road mapped out for us. We know that we have been raised above our mere human nature and given a new status in relation to God. We also know and feel that we are still very human, very earthly beings, naturally attracted to the things of this world.

But we can and we must overcome this attraction. This is what St. Paul is exhorting us to do today. “Be reconciled to God,” he says. Repent of past faults, of past sins, he tells us. If we turn to God with a sincere heart, he will accept us back once more into the divine family of which baptism made us members. We are the chosen children of God, not in any metaphorical or figurative sense, but in the true sense of the words. Heaven is the eternal home earned for us by our true brother Christ. Could we be so foolish as to let some earthly passing pleasure or possession deprive us of that everlasting reward?

GOSPEL

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Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,

but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So to them Jesus addressed this parable:

“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,

‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’

So the father divided the property between them.

After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings

and set off to a distant country

where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.

When he had freely spent everything,

a severe famine struck that country,

and he found himself in dire need.

So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens

who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.

And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,

but nobody gave him any.

Coming to his senses he thought,

‘How many of my father’s hired workers

have more than enough food to eat,

but here am I, dying from hunger.

I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

I no longer deserve to be called your son;

treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’

So he got up and went back to his father.

While he was still a long way off,

his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.

He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.

His son said to him,

‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;

I no longer deserve to be called your son.’

But his father ordered his servants,

‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;

put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.

Then let us celebrate with a feast,

because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;

he was lost, and has been found.’

Then the celebration began.

Now the older son had been out in the field

and, on his way back, as he neared the house,

he heard the sound of music and dancing.

He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.

The servant said to him,

‘Your brother has returned

and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf

because he has him back safe and sound.’

He became angry,

and when he refused to enter the house,

his father came out and pleaded with him.

He said to his father in reply,

‘Look, all these years I served you

and not once did I disobey your orders;

yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.

But when your son returns

who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,

for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’

He said to him,

‘My son, you are here with me always;

everything I have is yours.

But now we must celebrate and rejoice,

because your brother was dead and has come to life again;

he was lost and has been found.’”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030616-fourth-sunday-lent.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 589 Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God’s own attitude toward them.1 He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet.2 But it was most especially by forgiving sins that Jesus placed the religious authorities of Israel on the horns of a dilemma. Were they not entitled to demand in consternation, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”3 By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming as a man who made himself God’s equal, or is speaking the truth and his person really does make present and reveal God’s name.4

CCC 1423 It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father5 from whom one has strayed by sin.

It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.

CCC 1439 The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father:6 the fascination of illusory freedom, the abandonment of the father’s house; the extreme misery in which the son finds himself after squandering his fortune; his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, and still worse, at wanting to feed on the husks the pigs ate; his reflection on all he has lost; his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey back; the father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure worthy, and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of his family, which is the Church. Only the heart Of Christ Who knows the depths of his Father’s love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way.

CCC 1443 During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God.7

CCC 1468 “The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.”8 Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.”9 Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.10

CCC 1700 The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (article 1); it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude (article 2). It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment (article 3). By his deliberate actions (article 4), the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience (article 5). Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth (article 6). With the help of grace they grow in virtue (article 7), avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son11 to the mercy of our Father in heaven (article 8). In this way they attain to the perfection of charity.

CCC 1846 The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners.12 The angel announced to Joseph: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”13 The same is true of the Eucharist, the sacrament of redemption: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”14

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,15 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.16 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,17 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.18

CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.19 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”20 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.21

1 Cf. Mt 9:13; Hos 6:6.

2 Cf. Lk 15:1-2, 22-32.

3 Mk 2:7.

4 Cf. Jn 5:18; 10:33; 17:6,26.

5 Cf. Mk 1:15; Lk 15:18.

6 Cf. Lk 15:11-24.

7 Cf. Lk 15; 19:9.

8 Roman Catechism, II, V, 18.

9 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1674.

10 Cf. Lk 15:32.

11 Lk 15:11-32

12 Cf. Lk 15.

13 Mt 1:21.

14 Mt 26:28.

15 Cf. Gen 3.

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

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

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

19 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.

20 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.

21 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.

APPLICATION

This parable or story refuted the Pharisees’ objection to Christ’s friendliness with sinners very effectively. The infinite mercy of God, the Father of saint and sinner, is brought out very clearly in the story of the younger son. Even though he abandoned his father, the father did not abandon him. The father’s mercy was big enough and generous enough to forgive and forget. His love for his son was strong enough to smother any feelings of personal resentment. His son’s return, humble and chastened, blotted out all his past faults and failures. It was surely an occasion for general rejoicing.

Could the Pharisees fail to see that the father in that story was God and the wayward son the sinners with whom Christ was associating? That the elder son who had stayed with his father looking after the part of the property given to him represented themselves, must have been evident to them too. They were faithful to God and to his law in most ways even if not from completely unselfish motives. But their lack of charity, especially their lack of interest in their fellow-men and the pride they took in their own strict observance, made imperfect all their otherwise good deeds. They were the elder sons, they were still nominally God’s chosen people. But their place was about to be taken by the younger son, by the sinners and publicans, by the Gentiles they so despised.

They must have seen the point of the story and the message Christ had in it for them. Yet they failed to learn its lesson. They remained stubborn in their pride and refused to accept Christ and his salvation.

For the vast majority of us, Christians, our message of consolation and hope is in the first part of today’s parable. All of us have, many a time, been prodigal, ungrateful, selfish sons of our loving Father. But he is still a Father of infinite love, of boundless mercy. He is not only waiting for us to return, like the human father in the story. He is continually sending out messengers to recall us and to help us on the return journey. Like the prodigal in the story, we may have squandered the gifts that our heavenly father gave us. We may have abused our freedom and broken his laws. We may have descended to the deepest depths of degradation (to a Jew to become a swine-herd was the last step in human debasement). We may now feel torn and tattered but, never forget it, our loving, merciful Father is waiting for us with open arms to welcome us back the moment we come to ourselves and decide to return. Until we have drawn our last breath on earth, the mercy of God and his pardon, are there for our asking.

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

BENEDICTUS

Love and Correction

Anger is not necessarily always in contradiction with love. A father, for instance, sometimes has to speak crossly to his son so as to prick his conscience, just because he loves him. And he would fall short of his loving obligation and his will to love if, in order to make things easier for the other person, and also for himself, he avoided the task of putting him right sometimes by making a critical intervention in his life. We know that spoiled children, to whom everything has been permitted, are often in the end quite unable to come to terms with life, because later on life treats them quite differently, and because they have never learned to discipline themselves, to get themselves on the right track. Or if, for instance, because I want to be nice to him, I give to an addict the drugs he wants instead of weaning him off them (which would seem to him very hard treatment), then in that case you cannot talk of real love. To put it another way: love, in the true sense, is not always a matter of giving way, being soft, and just acting nice. In that sense, a sugar-costed Jesus or a God who agrees to everything and is never anything but nice and friendly is no more than a caricature of real love. Because God loves us, because he wants us to grow into truth, he must necessarily make demands on us and must also correct us. God has to do those things we refer to in the image of “the wrath of God,” that is, he has to resist us in our attempts to fall from our own best selves and when we pose a threat to ourselves.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Rebellious Youth

Dear Lord, you have witnessed the rebelliousness of youth since the very beginnings of time. You understand a parent’s anguish and helplessness over the actions of his child. Please help us to transform our anger and frustration into loving care for our child who has gone astray. Help us begin to mend our broken fences and heal our broken hearts. Bless our child and also help him to mend the error of his ways. Help and bless us all to do right in Your name and restore us to peace and tranquility. We ask this and all things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=2989

Posted in Catholic

Third Sunday of Lent – C

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But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

OPENING PRAYER

Come, all who are thirsty

says Jesus, our Lord,

come, all who are weak,

taste the living water

that I shall give.

Dip your hands in the stream,

refresh body and soul,

drink from it,

depend on it,

for this water

will never run dry.

Come, all who are thirsty

says Jesus, our Lord.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=3094

COLLECT

O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness,

who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving

have shown us a remedy for sin,

look graciously on this confession of our lowliness,

that we, who are bowed down by our conscience,

may always be lifted up by your mercy.

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

Related image

Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro,

the priest of Midian.

Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,

the mountain of God.

There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire

flaming out of a bush.

As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,

though on fire, was not consumed.

So Moses decided,

“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,

and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,

God called out to him from the bush, Moses! Moses!”

He answered, “Here I am.”

God said, “Come no nearer!

Remove the sandals from your feet,

for the place where you stand is holy ground.

I am the God of your fathers, “ he continued,

“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”

Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

But the LORD said,

“I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt

and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers,

so I know well what they are suffering.

Therefore I have come down to rescue them

from the hands of the Egyptians

and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land,

a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites

and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’

if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”

God replied, “I am who am.”

Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:

I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites:

The LORD, the God of your fathers,

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,

has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever;

thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 205 God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that burns without being consumed: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”1 God is the God of the fathers, the One who had called and guided the patriarchs in their wanderings. He is the faithful and compassionate God who remembers them and his promises; he comes to free their descendants from slavery. He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.

“I Am who I Am”

Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’… this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”2

CCC 207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past (“I am the God of your father”), as for the future (“I will be with you”).3 God, who reveals his name as “I AM”, reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.

CCC 208 Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness.4 Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.”5 Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”6 But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: “I will not execute my fierce anger. .. for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.”7 The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. .. reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”8

CCC 446 In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the ineffable Hebrew name YHWH, by which God revealed himself to Moses,9 is rendered as Kyrios, “Lord”. From then on, “Lord” becomes the more usual name by which to indicate the divinity of Israel’s God. The New Testament uses this full sense of the title “Lord” both for the Father and – what is new – for Jesus, who is thereby recognized as God Himself.10

CCC 1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,11 the sin of the Sodomites,12 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,13 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,14 injustice to the wage earner.15

CCC 2575 Here again the initiative is God’s. From the midst of the burning bush he calls Moses.16 This event will remain one of the primordial images of prayer in the spiritual tradition of Jews and Christians alike. When “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob” calls Moses to be his servant, it is because he is the living God who wants men to live. God reveals himself in order to save them, though he does not do this alone or despite them: he calls Moses to be his messenger, an associate in his compassion, his work of salvation. There is something of a divine plea in this mission, and only after long debate does Moses attune his own will to that of the Savior God. But in the dialogue in which God confides in him, Moses also learns how to pray: he balks, makes excuses, above all questions: and it is in response to his question that the Lord confides his ineffable name, which will be revealed through his mighty deeds.

CCC 2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “YHWH saves.”17 The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.18

CCC 2777 In the Roman liturgy, the Eucharistic assembly is invited to pray to our heavenly Father with filial boldness; the Eastern liturgies develop and use similar expressions: “dare in all confidence,” “make us worthy of. .. ” From the burning bush Moses heard a voice saying to him, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”19 Only Jesus could cross that threshold of the divine holiness, for “when he had made purification for sins,” he brought us into the Father’s presence: “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”20

Our awareness of our status as slaves would make us sink into the ground and our earthly condition would dissolve into dust, if the authority of our Father himself and the Spirit of his Son had not impelled us to this cry. .. ‘Abba, Father!’. .. When would a mortal dare call God ‘Father,’ if man’s innermost being were not animated by power from on high?21

CCC 2810 In the promise to Abraham and the oath that accompanied it,22 God commits himself but without disclosing his name. He begins to reveal it to Moses and makes it known clearly before the eyes of the whole people when he saves them from the Egyptians: “he has triumphed gloriously.”23 From the covenant of Sinai onwards, this people is “his own” and it is to be a “holy (or ”consecrated“: the same word is used for both in Hebrew) nation,”24 because the name of God dwells in it.

1 EX 3:6.

2 EX 3:13-15.

3 EX 3:6, 12.

4 Cf. EX 3:5-6.

5 Is 6:5.

6 Lk 5:8.

7 Hos 11:9.

8 I Jn 3:19-20.

9 Cf. Ex 3:14.

10 Cf. I Cor 2:8.

11 Cf. Gen 4:10.

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

13 Cf. Ex 3:7-10.

14 Cf. Ex 20:20-22.

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

16 Ex 3:1-10.

17 Cf. Ex 3:14; 33: 19-23; Mt 1:21.

18 Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20.

19 Ex 3:5.

20 Heb 1:3; 2:13.

21 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 71, 3: PL 52, 401 CD; cf. Gal 4:6.

22 Cf. Heb 6:13.

23 Ex 15:1 cf. 3:14.

24 Cf. Ex 19:5-6.

APPLICATION

In Lent we are preparing for the death and Resurrection of Christ. It is the central, the crowning act, of God’s love in the divine drama of our liberation from sin, and our admission to citizenship of our new exalted and everlasting homeland. The Exodus, the liberation of the Chosen People from the slavery of Egypt and the beginning of their journey into their promised land, Canaan, was a type or prophecy of our great liberation and exaltation to the status, not only of Chosen People, but of sons of God.

For this reason Christ chose the Jewish feast of Passover or Pasch–the beginning of the old Exodus, as the day on which he would begin our liberation. He was the real Lamb of God whose sacrifice would redeem us from the slavery of sin and death, and whose precious blood would mark us for eternity as the chosen sons of the Father.

It is to remind us of this that we are told today of this story of God’s mission to Moses. The liberation of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt and their eventual establishment in the Promised Land of Canaan were outstanding proofs of God’s deep interest in those he loves. But they were only types and shadows of what he has done for us. It was not a mere man, like Moses, but his own Divine Son that he sent to liberate us. He came not to give us a few years of temporal freedom in a little corner of this planet, but to give us a new supernatural life in his own everlasting kingdom of unending freedom and happiness.

With infinitely more reason than the Psalmist who lived before Christ came, can we cry out: “Lord, what is man that thou shouldst be mindful of him?” What am I that God should care for me and go to such extremes in order to make me truly happy forever? From my heart I can say: ” Lord, I am not worthy.” But I also know that he who made all things, can make me worthy of the future he has so generously prepared for me, if only I cooperate, if only I do the little he asks of me.

There is no road-block on my journey to heaven. There is no hindrance on my way into the Promised Land, which I cannot remove, with the help of grace, which is there for the asking. Will I sit idly on the roadside bewailing my weaknesses, or will I roll up my sleeves and start casting aside the cardboard barricades set up by my own selfishness and spiritual laziness? Today is the best day to answer that question. There may not be another chance.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11

The Lord is kind and merciful.

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.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

He pardons all your iniquities,

heals all your ills,

He redeems your life from destruction,

crowns you with kindness and compassion.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

The LORD secures justice

and the rights of all the oppressed.

He has made known his ways to Moses,

and his deeds to the children of Israel.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,

slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,

so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

READING II

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1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,

that our ancestors were all under the cloud

and all passed through the sea,

and all of them were baptized into Moses

in the cloud and in the sea.

All ate the same spiritual food,

and all drank the same spiritual drink,

for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them,

and the rock was the Christ.

Yet God was not pleased with most of them,

for they were struck down in the desert.

These things happened as examples for us,

so that we might not desire evil things, as they did.

Do not grumble as some of them did,

and suffered death by the destroyer.

These things happened to them as an example,

and they have been written down as a warning to us,

upon whom the end of the ages has come.

Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure

should take care not to fall.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.1

2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.2

3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.3

CCC 128 The Church, as early as apostolic times,4 and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son.

CCC 670 Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at “the last hour”.5 “Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.”6 Christ’s kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church.7

CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.”8 Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified9 as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.10

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,11 and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called “typological” because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the “figures” (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled.12 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,13 as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven.”14

CCC 2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:15

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.16

1 Cf. I Cor 10:2.

2 I Cor 10:11; cf. Heb 3:1 -4:11.

3 Cf. Rev 21:1 – 22:5.

4 Cf. I Cor 10:6, 11; Heb 10:l; l Pt 3:21.

5 I Jn 2:18; cf. I Pt 4:7.

6 LG 48 # 3; cf. I Cor 10:11.

7 Cf. Mk 16:17-18, 20.

8 1 Cor 12:13.

9 Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:8.

10 Cf. Jn 4:10-14; 738; Ex 17:1-6; Isa 55:1; Zech 14:8; 1 Cor 10:4; Rev 21:6; 22:17.

11 Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49.

12 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

13 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

14 Jn 6:32; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6.

15 Cf. 1 Cor 10:11.

16 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magn. 9, 1: SCh 10, 88.

APPLICATION

This admonition of Paul, given to the converts in Corinth, but applicable to all of us, could not be more timely. During Lent we are, or should be, thinking of all God did for us, and of how mean is our response. We read of the wonderful things he did for the Israelites, getting them out of Egypt, feeding them in the desert and leading them towards their own national home. We see the return they made him: ingratitude, forgetfulness, betrayal by turning to false gods who did not or could not help them. We very naturally conclude that they deserved all the punishment he gave them.

But who are we to pass judgement on the Israelites? They did not know God as well as we do. They had witnessed God’s love, mercy, and kindness in their regard, but, compared to the divine love and mercy we have witnessed in the Incarnation, what God did for them was relatively little. Yet like the Israelites we lust too often after evil things, we let the pleasures and wealth of this world come between us and God. We do not perhaps set up a golden calf as our god, but how often does something more trifling, the silver dollar, become the center of our lives and of our devotion?

We, too, tempt Christ when we presume we shall get to heaven by means of a few mumbled prayers and a hasty Mass on Sunday, while the rest of our week is spent in the service of our pagan worldly idols. And how often do we murmur and complain against God when things do not go as we’d like them to go ? If our health is not always the best, if our work is not quite suitable, if our husbands or wives are not the true and best partners in life we expected them to be, if our children are disobedient and wayward, we murmur against God and blame him. Often, if not always, the fault lies with ourselves.

Today, I would ask each one of you to stop, look and listen, before you take your next step on your road of life. Stop and take an honest look at yourself and at your Christian attitude to life. Are you expecting heaven here below or are you one of those who wants to have all the goods and pleasures of life and heaven too? Christ won for us and promised to those who would follow him, a day of resurrection to an unending life of blessed happiness, but he told us very definitely and very clearly that the way to the resurrection is over the hill of Calvary.

Listen today to St. Paul’s admonition. We too, Christian though we be and far better educated in the things of God, can, like the Israelites, fail to reach the eternal homeland he has prepared for us, if we imitate the Israelites in their ingratitude and their forgetfulness of all that God did for them.

GOSPEL

Image result for Jesus and the fig tree icon

Gospel Lk 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans

whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

Jesus said to them in reply,

“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way

they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?

By no means!

But I tell you, if you do not repent,

you will all perish as they did!

Or those eighteen people who were killed

when the tower at Siloam fell on them —

do you think they were more guilty

than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?

By no means!

But I tell you, if you do not repent,

you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:

“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,

and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,

he said to the gardener,

‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree

but have found none.

So cut it down.

Why should it exhaust the soil?’

He said to him in reply,

‘Sir, leave it for this year also,

and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;

it may bear fruit in the future.

If not you can cut it down.’”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022816-third-sunday-lent.cfm

APPLICATION

Although the incidents collected together here by St. Luke are not logically or chronologically connected there is one theme and lesson running through them all. It is the need, namely, for repentance. Some sinners are punished in this life but an earthly punishment is no proof of greater sin, nor is it the real punishment that must be feared.

The parable of the useless fig tree, while it applies directly to the stubborn Jews of Christ’s time, has a lesson for all time and for all sinners. God’s mercy is infinite but man’s earthly life, during which he can obtain that mercy, is very finite. God’s mercy can forgive sins no matter how grievous, but it cannot forgive even less serious sins unless the sinner is sorry and asks for forgiveness. Christ, our true mediator with God, is continually interceding for us, but unless we do our part by repenting and changing our behavior, his intercession will be of no avail to us. No man is lost because God so wishes it, but no man is saved unless he himself wishes it and works for it.

Think on this parable of the fruitless fig tree today. If your conscience tells you that it applies to you, think also that Christ is interceding for you. He has obtained for you a moratorium, a period in which you can prove yourself fruitful. Use that gift of God with gratitude and you shall obtain the result that God wants, and that in all good sense, you should want as well.

BENEDICTUS

The Attempt to Save Ourselves

It is clear that human beings alone cannot save themselves.  There innate error is precisely that they want to do this by themselves.  We can only be saved – that is, be free and true – when we stop wanting to be God and when we renounce the madness of autonomy and self-sufficiency.  We can only be saved – that is, become ourselves – when we engage in the proper relationship.  But our interpersonal relationships occur in the context of our utter creatureliness, and it is there that the damage lies.  Since the relationship with creation has been damaged, only the Creator himself can be our savior.  We can be saved only when he from whom we have cut ourselves off takes the initiative with us and stretches out his hand to us.  Only being loved is being saved, and only God’s love can purify damaged human love and radically reestablish the network of relationships that have suffered from alienation…  The One who is truly like God does not hold graspingly to his autonomy, to the limitlessness of his ability and his willing.  He does the contrary:  he becomes completely dependent, he becomes a slave.  Because he does not go the route of power but that of love, he can descend into the depths of Adam’s lie, into the depths of death, and there raise up truth and life.  Thus Christ is the new Adam, with whom humankind begins anew.  The Son, who is by nature relationship and relatedness, reestablishes relationships.  His arms, spread out on the cross, are an open invitation to relationship, which is continually offered to us.  The cross, the place of his obedience, is the true tree of life.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

This is love.

Not that you spoke words of comfort,

walked with the unclean and unloved,

shared wisdom, bread and fish,

brought healing into lives

and challenged the status quo.

This is love.

That you spoke the word of God,

walked a painful road to the Cross,

shared living water, bread of life,

brought Salvation to the world

and died for the sake of all.

This is love.

It is a seed

sown in the ground,

which germinates,

blossoms,

and spreads its sweet perfume.

This is love.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=3098

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Second Sunday of Lent – C

Transfiguration                                           “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

OPENING PRAYER

You were transfigured on the mountain,

O Christ our God,

revealing as much of your glory to your disciples

as they could behold.

Through the prayers of the Mother of God,

let your everlasting light also shine upon us sinners.

O Giver of Light, glory be to You!

COLLECT

O God, who have commanded us

to listen to your beloved Son,

be pleased, we pray,

to nourish us inwardly by your word,

that, with spiritual sight made pure,

we may rejoice to behold your 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

86743fdbc8e988177f826b35effa0deb-russian-icons-byzantine-icons.jpg

Gn 15:5-12, 17-18

The Lord God took Abram outside and said,

“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.

Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”

Abram put his faith in the LORD,

who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him,

“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans

to give you this land as a possession.”

“O Lord GOD,” he asked,

“how am I to know that I shall possess it?”

He answered him,

“Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat,

a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

Abram brought him all these, split them in two,

and placed each half opposite the other;

but the birds he did not cut up.

Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,

but Abram stayed with them.

As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram,

and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark,

there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,

which passed between those pieces.

It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,

saying: “To your descendants I give this land,

from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 146 Abraham thus fulfills the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”:1 “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”2 Because he was “strong in his faith”, Abraham became the “father of all who believe”.3

CCC 288 Thus the revelation of creation is inseparable from the revelation and forging of the covenant of the one God with his People. Creation is revealed as the first step towards this covenant, the first and universal witness to God’s all-powerful love.4 And so, the truth of creation is also expressed with growing vigor in the message of the prophets, the prayer of the psalms and the liturgy, and in the wisdom sayings of the Chosen People.5

CCC 343 Man is the summit of the Creator’s work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures.6

CCC 762 The remote preparation for this gathering together of the People of God begins when he calls Abraham and promises that he will become the father of a great people.7 Its immediate preparation begins with Israel’s election as the People of God. By this election, Israel is to be the sign of the future gathering of All nations.8 But the prophets accuse Israel of breaking the covenant and behaving like a prostitute. They announce a new and eternal covenant. “Christ instituted this New Covenant.”9

CCC 2571 Because Abraham believed in God and walked in his presence and in covenant with him,10 the patriarch is ready to welcome a mysterious Guest into his tent. Abraham’s remarkable hospitality at Mamre foreshadows the annunciation of the true Son of the promise.11 After that, once God had confided his plan, Abraham’s heart is attuned to his Lord’s compassion for men and he dares to intercede for them with bold confidence.12

1 Heb 11:1.

2 Rom 4:3; cf. Gen 15:6.

3 Rom 4:11, 18; 4:20; cf. Gen 15:5.

4 Cf. Gen 15:5; Jer 33:19-26.

5 Cf. Isa 44:24; Ps 104; Prov 8:22-31.

6 Cf. Gen 1-26.

7 Cf. Gen 12:2; 15:5-6.

8 Cf. Ex 19:5-6; Deut 7:6; Isa 2:2-5; Mic 4:1-4.

9 LG 9; cf. Hos 1; Isa 1:2-4; Jer 2; 31:31-34; Isa 55:3.

10 Cf. Gen 15:6; 17:1 f.

11 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38.

12 Cf. Gen 18:16-33.

APPLICATION

The lesson we are to learn from these verses of the book of Genesis is that we should imitate the faith of Abram and trust in God’s word. He promised Abram what seemed the impossible, namely that he would have a numerous progeny even though his wife was barren. Abram trusted God’s word and God then goes on to confirm it by promising to give a large territory to those descendants yet to come. This promise is ratified with a solemn pact, as was then the custom, God pledging his word with his life, as it were.

Now Abram had a very limited knowledge of God. He had a vague idea that he was God of the whole world for he could dispose of any part of it as he wished, and also that he was interested in the welfare of all men, for he was using Abram as the means through which he would bless all nations (see Gen. 12: 1-3). He knew little more than that. Yet he believed God’s promise and continued to believe it even when its fulfillment was postponed for years.

How much greater should be our faith in God’s word, our trust in his promises? We have seen the fulfillment of his promise to Abram–we have seen the blessing that was sent to all nations. We have that blessing in the New Covenant that Christ made with us. He has not only made us his Chosen People, he has also raised us up, through his Incarnation, to the supernatural status of sons of God. It is not the land of Canaan that is promised to us but the mansions of heaven to be our home for all eternity.

But to profit by all this we have our part to play. We must not only accept the faith, and the truths which Christ has revealed to us, but we must live by these truths, and put our faith into daily practice. It is only by doing this that we can receive the promises that he has made to us. There is no sane man alive who does not want eternal happiness. There is no Christian who does not want to rise with Christ because he knows that this is the way to reach it. But not every Christian is willing to follow Christ first to Calvary. Am I following Christ to Calvary in my daily living? It is through the daily carrying of the Christian cross that an eternal crown is earned. What I do in life will determine what kind of resurrection is in store for me.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom should I fear?

The LORD is my life’s refuge;

of whom should I be afraid?

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;

have pity on me, and answer me.

Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Your presence, O LORD, I seek.

Hide not your face from me;

do not in anger repel your servant.

You are my helper: cast me not off.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD with courage;

be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

READING II

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Phil 3:17—4:1

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters,

and observe those who thus conduct themselves

according to the model you have in us.

For many, as I have often told you

and now tell you even in tears,

conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Their end is destruction.

Their God is their stomach;

their glory is in their “shame.”

Their minds are occupied with earthly things.

But our citizenship is in heaven,

and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

He will change our lowly body

to conform with his glorified body

by the power that enables him also

to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,

whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,

in this way stand firm in the Lord.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 556 On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration”, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration”: our own Resurrection.1 From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”2 But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God”:3

Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: “Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?”4

CCC 793 Christ unites us with his Passover: all his members must strive to resemble him, “until Christ be formed” in them.5 “For this reason we. .. are taken up into the mysteries of his life,. .. associated with his sufferings as the body with its head, suffering with him, that with him we may be glorified.”6

CCC 999 How? Christ is raised with his own body: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself”;7 but he did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, “all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear,” but Christ “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body,” into a “spiritual body”:8

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel. .. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. .. The dead will be raised imperishable. .. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.9

CCC 1003 United with Christ by Baptism, believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ, but this life remains “hidden with Christ in God.”10 The Father has already “raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”11 Nourished with his body in the Eucharist, we already belong to the Body of Christ. When we rise on the last day we “also will appear with him in glory.”12

CCC 2796 When the Church prays “our Father who art in heaven,” she is professing that we are the People of God, already seated “with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” and “hidden with Christ in God;”13 yet at the same time, “here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling.”14

[Christians] are in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their lives on earth, but are citizens of heaven.15

1 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.

2 Phil 3:21.

3 Acts 14:22.

4 St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493; cf. Lk 9:33.

5 Gal 4:19.

6 LG 7 # 4; cf. Phil 3:21; Rom 8:17.

7 Lk 24:39.

8 Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 801; Phil 3:21; 2 Cor 15:44.

9 1 Cor 15:35-37,42,52,53.

10 Col 3:3; cf. Phil 3:20.

11 Eph 2:6.

12 Col 3:4.

13 Eph 2:6; Col 3:3.

14 2 Cor 5:2; cf. Phil 3:20; Heb 13:14.

15 Ad Diognetum 5: PG 2, 1173.

APPLICATION

The season of Lent, the six weeks that precede Easter, is a period which long tradition has set apart as a time to prepare for the crowning event of our salvation, the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. Christ came on earth to reveal to men by his teaching, and especially by his life, God’s infinite love for the human race. God has shown that love down through the centuries, to the Chosen People especially, but also to others. He showed it by the words sent through the prophets, and by his deeds. But it was in Christ that he gave men the full revelation of his divine love for us.

God’s plan for man in creation was to raise him up to an intimate union with the divinity. The masterpiece of creation was to become an adopted son of God, a member of the divine family. This was done in the Incarnation. The Son of God became a man, one of us, so that we, through and in him, could become sons of God. Christ, representing us, gave perfect human respect and obedience to God the Father in every action of his life. This perfect homage and obedience led him to his death on the cross: he gave him human life in fulfillment of it.

And, because he did, God raised him up again from the dead and seated him at his right hand in heaven. Christ, one of us, has the principal place in heaven next to God the Father–as God, he is equal to the Father. Ever since this plan of God’s love for us was carried out, ever since the day of Christ’s Resurrection, our home, our permanent abode, is heaven. Our time on earth is only a period of exile. It is a period in which, if we try to imitate Christ, giving true reverence and obedience to God our Father, we can secure for ourselves a place in the eternal home which he has planned for us, and which Christ has won for us.

The true Christian should be aware of what God’s love has planned for us, and of what humiliations and sufferings this loving plan caused our Savior. How could a person with such an awareness ever forget his supernatural vocation and purpose in life? There are too many who do just this, too many who attach themselves to the fleeting, passing things of this world, and neglect the everlasting possessions which are theirs for the taking.

Let us not be among their number. Let us pay heed today to St. Paul’s advice to the Philippians and strive to imitate him who was the true lover and follower of Christ. While using thankfully the gifts that God has given us in this life to help us on our journey let us never forget our journey’s end, our heritage in heaven, of which Christ our brother has made us co-heirs.

GOSPEL

transfiguration A email.jpg

 

Lk 9:28b-36

Jesus took Peter, John, and James

and went up the mountain to pray.

While he was praying his face changed in appearance

and his clothing became dazzling white.

And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,

who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus

that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.

Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,

but becoming fully awake,

they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.

As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,

“Master, it is good that we are here;

let us make three tents,

one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But he did not know what he was saying.

While he was still speaking,

a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,

and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.

Then from the cloud came a voice that said,

“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.

They fell silent and did not at that time

tell anyone what they had seen.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022116.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 516 Christ’s whole earthly life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”, and the Father can say: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”1 Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father’s will, even the least characteristics of his mysteries manifest “God’s love. .. among us”.2

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.”3 Peter scorns this prediction, nor do the others understand it any better than he.4 In this context the mysterious episode of Jesus’ Transfiguration takes place on a high mountain,5 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”.6 A cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”7

CCC 556 On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration”, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration”: our own Resurrection.8 From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”9 But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God”:10

Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: “Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?”11

CCC 557 “When the days drew near for him to be taken up [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem.”12 By this decision he indicated that he was going up to Jerusalem prepared to die there. Three times he had announced his Passion and Resurrection; now, heading toward Jerusalem, Jesus says: “It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”13

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”14 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.15 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.16 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.17 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.18

CCC 697 Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory – with Moses on Mount Sinai,19 at the tent of meeting,20 and during the wandering in the desert,21 and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple.22 In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus.23 On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’”24 Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming.25

CCC 1151 Signs taken up by Christ. In his preaching the Lord Jesus often makes use of the signs of creation to make known the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.26 He performs healings and illustrates his preaching with physical signs or symbolic gestures.27 He gives new meaning to the deeds and signs of the Old Covenant, above all to the Exodus and the Passover,28 for he himself is the meaning of all these signs.

CCC 2583 After Elijah had learned mercy during his retreat at the Wadi Cherith, he teaches the widow of Zarephath to believe in The Word of God and confirms her faith by his urgent prayer: God brings the widow’s child back to life.29

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

Finally, taking the desert road that leads to the place where the living and true God reveals himself to his people, Elijah, like Moses before him, hides “in a cleft of he rock” until the mysterious presence of God has passed by.30 But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of him whom they sought; “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ,” crucified and risen.31

CCC 2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ’s ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father’s witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father’s plan of love by his Passion.32 He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter’s confession of him as “the Christ of God,” and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted.33 Jesus’ prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.

1 Jn 14:9; Lk 9:35; cf. Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7, “my beloved Son”.

2 Jn 4:9.

3 Mt 16:21.

4 Cf. Mt 16:22-23; 17:23; Lk 9:45.

5 Cf. Mt 17:1-8 and parallels; 2 Pt 1:16-18.

6 Lk 9:31.

7 Lk 9:35.

8 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.

9 Phil 3:21.

10 Acts 14:22.

11 St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493; cf. Lk 9:33.

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

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

14 Mk 16:19.

15 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

16 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

17 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

18 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

19 Cf. Ex 24:15-18.

20 Cf. Ex 33:9-10.

21 Cf. Ex 40:36-38; 1 Cor 10:1-2.

22 Cf. 1 Kings 8:10-12.

23 Lk 1:35.

24 Lk 9:34-35.

25 Cf. Acts 1:9; cf. Lk 21:27.

26 Cf. Lk 8:10.

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

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

29 Cf. 1 Kings 17:7-24.

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

31 2 Cor 4:6; cf. Lk 9:30-35.

32 Cf. Lk 3:21; 9:28; 22:41-44.

33 Cf. Lk 6:12; 9:18-20; 22:32.

APPLICATION

It was out of the abundance of his divine love that God gave a glimpse of the future glory of Christ in his risen humanity to the three disciples on that memorable occasion. And with Christ he showed two others of his faithful servants also in glory. He understood the human weakness of the disciples, and foresaw the shock to their faith which the sad scenes of the passion and crucifixion of their beloved Master would be some weeks later. So, to strengthen and forearm them for that sad trial, he gave them a glimpse of the future glory which was to be theirs, too, if they persevered.

It is for this same reason that this all-important event in the life of Christ and of his Apostles has been preserved for us in the Gospels and is put before us today.

Like the Apostles, we, too, believe firmly in God. We, too, are convinced that Christ was sent by God to bring us to heaven. We now have much more convincing proof that Christ was not only the Messiah, an envoy of God, but the very Son of God–something the Apostles did not then understand. But we are still very much like them in our human weakness, and in our half-hearted acceptance of God’s purpose for and promises to us.

The Apostles had to face the awful test to their faith and trust in God, which the passion and crucifixion of Christ was for them. We now accept with gratitude and realize that Christ “had to suffer and thus enter into his glory.” We even understand that the very purpose of Christ’s passion was that, in spite of our mortality and weakness, we also might enter into eternal glory through his suffering, on condition that we remain true to our faith.

In our moments of cool, calm reasoning we can see clearly how good God has been to us, how wonderful his love which has arranged for us an eternity of happiness, the perfect fulfillment of every rational human desire. We can also see how little God asks of us during our few short years here, in return for the everlasting happy home he has prepared for us.

But unfortunately we have many moments in life in which cool, calm reasoning does not prevail. We have moments when our vices and not our virtues take charge, moments when we are prepared to sell our eternal heritage in exchange for a mess of earthly pottage. Some of us may already have bartered our heavenly home for some temporal gain or pleasure–but while there is life there is hope. We can still put things right with God.

“Lord, it is good for us to be here,” it is wonderful to be adopted sons of God on the road back to our Father. It is wonderful to be assured that in death this body of ours with its pains and aches, its attraction to earthly things and worse still its propensity to sin, will give place to a glorified body. This glorified body will be free from all pain and corruption and will possess all the human spiritual gifts of intelligence and will to so much greater a degree as will enable us to appreciate and enjoy the eternal happiness in store for us.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Chair of St. Peter

Peter expressed in the first place, in the name of the apostles, the profession of faith: “You are the Christ. The Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). This is the task of all the successors of Peter: to be the leader in the profession of faith in Christ, the Son of the living god. The chair of Rome is, first of all, the chair of this creed. From the loftiness of this chair the Bishop of Rome is obliged to repeat constantly “Dominus Iesus.” “Jesus is Lord,” as Paul wrote in his Letters to the Romans (10: 9), and to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12: 3). To the Corinthians he said, with particular emphasis: “For although there may be so-called gods in heaven and on earth… yet for us there is one God, the Father… and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (! Cor 8:5). The chair of Peter obliges its incumbents to say, as Peter did at a moment of crisis of the disciples, when many wished to go away: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; (Jn 6: 68 and following). Whoever sits on the chair of Peter must remember the words that the Lord said to Simon Peter at the Last Supper: “And when you have returned again, strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22: 32). The holder of the Petrine ministry must be conscious of being a frail and weak man, as his own strength is frail and weak, constantly needing purification and conversion. But he can also be conscious that from the Lord he receives strength to confirm his brethren in the faith and to keep them united in the confession of Christ, crucified and risen.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

God, our Father, in the transfigured glory of Christ your Son, you strengthen our faith by confirming the witness of your prophets and by showing to us the splendor of your beloved Son, help us to become heirs to the eternal life with Him, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/novena/Transfiguration.htm#ixzz2LDV3Mpo6
Posted in Catholic

First Sunday of Lent – C

Duccio_-_The_Temptation_on_the_Mount‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

OPENING PRAYER

St. Michael the Archangel,

defend us in battle.

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;

and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –

by the Divine Power of God –

cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,

who roam throughout the world seeking

the ruin of souls.

Amen.

COLLECT

Grant, almighty God,

through the yearly observances of holy Lent,

that we may grow in understanding

of the riches hidden in Christ

and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.

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

exodus.jpg

Dt 26:4-10

Moses spoke to the people, saying:

“The priest shall receive the basket from you

and shall set it in front of the altar of the LORD, your God.

Then you shall declare before the Lord, your God,

‘My father was a wandering Aramean

who went down to Egypt with a small household

and lived there as an alien.

But there he became a nation

great, strong, and numerous.

When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us,

imposing hard labor upon us,

we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers,

and he heard our cry

and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.

He brought us out of Egypt

with his strong hand and outstretched arm,

with terrifying power, with signs and wonders;

and bringing us into this country,

he gave us this land flowing with milk and honey.

Therefore, I have now brought you the first-fruits

of the products of the soil

which you, O LORD, have given me.’

And having set them before the Lord, your God,

you shall bow down in his presence.”

APPLICATION

The Israelites had every reason to be grateful to the good God who had liberated them from the slavery of Egypt and had given them a land of their own, a territory in which they could live their lives free from oppression and free to serve the God who had made them a Chosen People. In return he asked them to remember his goodness to them, and to show their gratitude by offering to him some of the fruits of the land he had given them, year after year.

How much greater is the debt of gratitude we owe to God? He has made us not only his Chosen People but his sons–he has promised us not a strip of earthly territory in which we could be happy for our few earthly years, but the eternal kingdom of heaven. He sent Moses his servant to liberate the Israelites from Egypt–he has sent his divine Son to liberate us from the slavery of Satan and Sin. That Son of God took human nature in order to represent us and suffer in our name, and thus raise us up to become adopted sons of God and heirs of heaven.

Like the Israelites of old we too are called on to remember what God has done for us. Each Mass we attend during the year is a reminder of what Christ has suffered for us, but the season of Lent is especially set aside by the Church as a time when we should remember Christ’s suffering and death on our behalf.

Today, then, the first Sunday in Lent, it is good to remember what our ancestors were, “wandering Aramaeans”–far from the knowledge of the God of love–before Christ came on earth to give its true meaning to human life. If he had not come, we would still be, as are many today who refuse to listen to his voice, wandering through the trackless desert of life not knowing where we came from or whither we are going.

Now, thanks to Christ the Son of God, we know we are children of God. We are made for an eternal life and helped on every step of our way there by the gifts and the aids that Christ left to us in his Church. But let us not forget, we have to play our part. God has done and is still doing his part. Our part is to thank God for all he has done for us, and during this season of Lent we must especially recall to mind all that Christ suffered for us. The only true way to show our gratitude for this is to take on some extra sufferings, some extra penances on ourselves. These need not be extraordinary or excessive–the basket of first fruits was tiny in comparison with all that the land gave each year–but if what we do reminds us of what God has done for us it will be a true sign of our sincere gratitude, it will be acceptable to God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,

who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress,

my God in whom I trust.”

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

No evil shall befall you,

nor shall affliction come near your tent,

For to his angels he has given command about you,

that they guard you in all your ways.

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

Upon their hands they shall bear you up,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.

You shall tread upon the asp and the viper;

you shall trample down the lion and the dragon.

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;

I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in distress;

I will deliver him and glorify him.

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

READING II

dd15b3f38851cecc70555f7ac17e7e3a.jpg

Rom 10:8-13

Brothers and sisters:

What does Scripture say?

The word is near you,

in your mouth and in your heart

—that is, the word of faith that we preach—,

for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord

and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,

you will be saved.

For one believes with the heart and so is justified,

and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

For the Scripture says,

No one who believes in him will be put to shame.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;

the same Lord is Lord of all,

enriching all who call upon him.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 14 Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men.1 First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God (Section One). The profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church (Section Two).

CCC 186 From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formula normative for all.2 But already very early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of her faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism:

This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and the New Testaments.3

CCC 432 The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,4 so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”5

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”,6 and the Father manifested the sovereignty of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him into his glory.7

CCC 2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “YHWH saves.”8 The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.9

CCC 2739 For St. Paul, this trust is bold, founded on the prayer of the Spirit in us and on the faithful love of the Father who has given us his only Son.10 Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to our petition.

1 Cf. Mt 10:32; Rom 10:9.

2 Cf. Rom 10:9; I Cor 15:3-5, etc.

3 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. illum. 5, 12: PG 33, 521-524.

4 Cf. Jn 3:18; Acts 2:21; 5:41; 3 Jn 7; Rom 10:6-13.

5 Acts 4:12; cf. 9:14; Jas 2:7.

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

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

8 Cf. Ex 3:14; 33: 19-23; Mt 1:21.

9 Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20.

10 Cf. Rom 10:12-13; 8:26-39.

APPLICATION

We are Christians–we call upon the name of the Lord. We know that it is Christ’s death and resurrection that opened for us the gates of salvation. This is the basis of our Christian faith, and the solid foundation of our Christian hope. But we also know that we must do our part if we are to profit by our Christian faith. The gates of the eternal life are opened for us by the death and resurrection of Christ. But if we are to arrive at these gates, we must walk during life on the road mapped out for us by the Christian law.

The best of us needs to be reminded of this time and time again. The attractions of this world are strong and alluring for us all. If there is one thing in this life of which every thinking man is absolutely certain, it is that he knows he must leave it one day, yet do we not all try to keep that certainty as far from our minds as possible? When a relative or close friend dies we readily admit it had to be because of that accident, that family weakness, that unfortunate disease he caught–but we always assure ourselves we are protected for ages yet against such causes of death.

Granted that we must not let the fact that death is the one certain event that awaits us, make us morbid or miserable, still the wise man will look often into his conscience and see how prepared he is to meet it. The season of Lent is a very appropriate occasion for this inward examination. During these weeks the Church is urging us to get ready for Good Friday and Easter Sunday by striving in some little way to imitate our divine Lord in his sufferings for us, so that we shall rise with him when our appointed time comes.

We shall rise with him to an eternal life only if we die with him in his grace and friendship. We have one, and only one, guarantee of dying in his grace and friendship, and that is that we strive daily to live our Christian faith. We may all have heard this before, some will not hear it next year, their eternal future will depend on how they react to this call this year. “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord,” not by empty words but by his daily actions “shall be saved.”

GOSPEL

1200px-Temptations_of_Christ_(San_Marco).jpg

Lk 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan

and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,

to be tempted by the devil.

He ate nothing during those days,

and when they were over he was hungry.

The devil said to him,

“If you are the Son of God,

command this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered him,

“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”

Then he took him up and showed him

all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.

The devil said to him,

“I shall give to you all this power and glory;

for it has been handed over to me,

and I may give it to whomever I wish.

All this will be yours, if you worship me.”

Jesus said to him in reply,

“It is written:

You shall worship the Lord, your God,

and him alone shall you serve.”

Then he led him to Jerusalem,

made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,

“If you are the Son of God,

throw yourself down from here, for it is written:

He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,

and:

With their hands they will support you,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus said to him in reply,

“It also says,

You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

When the devil had finished every temptation,

he departed from him for a time.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021416.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 538 The Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after his baptism by John. Driven by the Spirit into the desert, Jesus remains there for forty days without eating; he lives among wild beasts, and angels minister to him.1 At the end of this time Satan tempts him three times, seeking to compromise his filial attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert, and the devil leaves him “until an opportune time”.2

CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,3 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.4 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”5 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.6 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.7 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.8 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:9 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.

CCC 2096 Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,” says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.10

CCC 2119 Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by word or deed. Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act.11 Jesus opposed Satan with the word of God: “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.”12 The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power.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. Mk 1:12-13.

2 Lk 4:13.

3 Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.

4 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.

5 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.

6 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.

7 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.

8 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.

9 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.

10 Lk 4:8; Cf. Deut 6:13.

11 Cf. Lk 4:9.

12 Deut 6:16.

13 Cf. 1 Cor 10:9; Ex 17:2-7; Ps 95:9.

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

15 Cf. Lk 4:5-6.

16 1 Cor 15:24-28.

APPLICATION

Christ’s voluntary self-mortification of forty days’ fast, with its accompanying temptations, was but part of the self-mortification, with its climax on the Cross, which he gladly underwent for our salvation. He did not need to fast in order to keep the inclinations of the body in subjection, he did not need to allow the insult of temptation. He could have said, “begone Satan” at the beginning as easily and as effectively as he said it at the end. But he willingly underwent this humiliation in order to set us an example and to prove to us the infinite love he bears us and the value, the priceless value, he sets on our eternal salvation. He became like us in all things (except sin) in order to make it possible for us to become like him–the beloved of his Father–and co-heirs with him in the kingdom of heaven.

With this example given us by Christ no Christian can or should expect to travel the road to heaven without meeting obstacles and temptations. Our weak human nature is of itself, even without any external tempter, a source of many temptations to us, especially of those three illustrated in the case of Christ. Our body desires all the pleasures and comforts that can be got out of life and resents any curtailment of these desires even on the part of our Creator and Benefactor. Our gifts of intelligence and freewill often tempt most of us to look for power, political or economic, over our fellowman. We want to be better off than others in this world, when our purpose in life is to help ourselves and our fellowmen to the better life. Finally, so fully occupied are many in the mad rush after pleasure and power that they have no time to devote to the one thing that matters, the attainment of eternal life.

Yet, through some foolish logic of our own, we expect God to do for us what we refuse to do for ourselves. We are tempting God by presuming he will save us if we have deliberately chosen the road to perdition.

There are few, if any, amongst us who can honestly say: “I am free from such inclinations or temptations.” The vast majority of us can and should beat our breasts and say with the publican: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” And merciful he will be if we turn to him with true humility. He may not remove all our temptations, all our wrong inclinations, but he will give us the grace to overcome them if we sincerely seek his aid.

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

BENEDICTUS

Forty Days of Preparation

In the forty days of the preparation for Easter, we endeavor to get away from the heathenism that weighs us down, that is always driving us away from God, and we set off toward him once again. So, too, at the beginning of the Eucharist, in the confession of sin, we are always trying to take up this path again, to set out, to go to the mountain of God’s word and God’s presence… We must learn that it is only in the silent, barely noticeable things that what is great takes place, that man becomes God’s image and the world once more becomes the radiance of God’s glory. Let us ask the Lord to give us a receptivity to his gentle presence; let us ask him to help us not to be so deafened and desensitized by this world’s loud outcry that our receptivity fails to register him. Let us ask him that we may hear his quiet voice, go with him, and be of service together with him and in a way, so that his kingdom may become present in this world… We imitate God, we live by God, like God, by entering into Christ’s manner of life. He has climbed down from his divine being and become one of us; he has given himself and does so continually… It is by these little daily virtues, again and again, that we step out of our bitterness, our anger towards others, our refusal to accept the other’s otherness; by them, again and again, we open up to each other in forgiveness. This “littleness” is the concrete form of our being like Christ and living like God, imitating God; he has given himself to us so that we can give ourselves to him and to one another.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

The Lord’s Prayer

by Sr. Rosemary

Our Father

Has there ever been a more powerful or more important prayer than the Our Father? The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Our Father “is truly the summary of the whole Gospel”. (#2761) Jesus isn’t just suggesting a prayer for us to say; what he said is: “This is how you are to pray.”

Since the time he taught us the Our Father himself, it has been recited by every Christian church, in every service from baptism to burial. It’s also at the heart of our private devotions. People who might otherwise differ on points of doctrine are united by their common use of this beautiful prayer. How easy, though, it can be for us to say it routinely and without much thought.

With that in mind, let’s reflect together in a prayerful way on each powerful phrase of the Our Father:

I cannot say “our” if I live only for myself.

I cannot say “Father” if I do not approach God like a child.

I cannot say “who art in heaven” if I am not laying up some treasure there right now.

I cannot say “hallowed be thy name” if I am careless with that name.

I cannot say “Thy kingdom come” if I am not working to bring it about in the here and now.

I cannot say “thy will be done” if I am resentful of that will for me at this moment.

I cannot say “on earth as it is in heaven” if I don’t look on heaven as my future home.

I cannot say “give us our daily bread” if I am overanxious about tomorrow.

I cannot say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” if I am waiting to settle a score with someone.

I cannot say ‘lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately put myself in a place to be tempted.

I cannot say ‘deliver us from evil’ if I am not prepared to pray as though everything depends on God and work as though everything depends on me.

And finally, I cannot say “amen’ with my lips if my heart does not believe the words Our Lord himself has given us to pray.

© St Margaret Mary Church 2016.

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

-22

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

OPENING PRAYER

A Three O’Clock Prayer

Dear Lord, remembering the hour when You experienced death

So that we might have Eternal Life,

May we appreciate in our hearts

the necessity of Your sacrifice for us

And with Your help, Your guidance, and Your grace,

May we be made worthy of it.

COLLECT

Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care,

that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace,

they may be defended always by your protection.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Sprit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

S146-prophet-isaiah-isaias-legacy-icons__62109.1515512723.1280.1280.jpg

Is 6:1-2a, 3-8

In the year King Uzziah died,

I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,

with the train of his garment filling the temple.

Seraphim were stationed above.

They cried one to the other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!

All the earth is filled with his glory!”

At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook

and the house was filled with smoke.

Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed!

For I am a man of unclean lips,

living among a people of unclean lips;

yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me,

holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it, and said,

“See, now that this has touched your lips,

your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,

“Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”

“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

CCC 712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the “Book of Emmanuel” (“Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,”3 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.4

CCC 1137 The book of Revelation of St. John, read in the Church’s liturgy, first reveals to us, “A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne”: “the Lord God.”5 It then shows the Lamb, “standing, as though it had been slain”: Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one “who offers and is offered, who gives and is given.”6 Finally it presents “the river of the water of life. .. flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” one of most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit.7

CCC 1138 “Recapitulated in Christ,” these are the ones who take part in the service of the praise of God and the fulfillment of his plan: the heavenly powers, all creation (the four living beings), the servants of the Old and New Covenants (the twenty-four elders), the new People of God (the one hundred and forty-four thousand),8 especially the martyrs “slain for the word of God,” and the all-holy Mother of God (the Woman), the Bride of the Lamb,9 and finally “a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues.”10

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.11

CCC 2809 The holiness of God is the inaccessible center of his eternal mystery. What is revealed of it in creation and history, Scripture calls “glory,” the radiance of his majesty.12 In making man in his image and likeness, God “crowned him with glory and honor,” but by sinning, man fell “short of the glory of God.”13 From that time on, God was to manifest his holiness by revealing and giving his name, in order to restore man to the image of his Creator.14

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

2 Cf. Lk 1:11, 26.

3 Jn 12:41; cf. Isa 6-12.

4 Isa 11:1-2.

5 Rev 4:2, 8; Isa 6:1; cf. Ezek 1:26-28.

6 Rev 5:6; Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Anaphora; cf. Jn 1:29; Heb 4:14-15; 10:19-2.

7 Rev 22:1; cf. 21:6; Jn 4:10-14.

8 Cf. Rev 4-5; 7:1-8; 14:1; Isa 6:2-3.

9 Rev 6:9-11; Rev 21:9; cf. 12.

10 Rev 7:9.

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

12 Cf. Ps 8; Isa 6:3.

13 Ps 8:5; Rom 3:23; cf. Gen 1:26.

14 Col 3:10.

APPLICATION

This incident–the call of Isaiah to the office of Prophet–happened over 2,600 years ago and yet it has a lesson, a practical lesson, for each one of us today. Every one of us, every human being on earth has his own mission to perform. Each one of us has a personal vocation, a special purpose in life, which God expects (but will not force him) to perform. And this personal task is in addition to the basic, the principal purpose God has for each one of us, namely, that we should work our way to heaven.

I said it is in addition to our principal purpose, but in fact it is rather the means through which we shall attain to our principal purpose. In other words if we carry out faithfully our particular vocation we shall earn heaven.

Catholics too often understand by vocation a call to serve God in the priesthood or the religious life. This is a vocation, but, so are the various other calls which God gives to men and women in lay life. The call to the married life is a divine vocation, and in many, if not most cases, a more difficult vocation than that of the priest or the religious. The call to the single life when a man or woman, through no personal fault, does not find a life-partner, is also a vocation, and one in which God is frequently served loyally, in spite of difficulties and great personal problems and heart-aches.

We are all then in God’s army and each one of us has his or her task to perform. Our eternal fate, our eternal destiny, will depend on how well we carry out the task given us.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

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

and give thanks to your name.

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Because of your kindness and your truth;

for you have made great above all things

your name and your promise.

When I called, you answered me;

you built up strength within me.

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O LORD,

when they hear the words of your mouth;

and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD:

“Great is the glory of the LORD.”

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Your right hand saves me.

The LORD will complete what he has done for me;

your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;

forsake not the work of your hands.

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

READING II

Road to Damascus.com.jpeg

1 Cor 15:1-11

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,

of the gospel I preached to you,

which you indeed received and in which you also stand.

Through it you are also being saved,

if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,

unless you believed in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins

in accordance with the Scriptures;

that he was buried;

that he was raised on the third day

in accordance with the Scriptures;

that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

After that, Christ appeared to more

than five hundred brothers at once,

most of whom are still living,

though some have fallen asleep.

After that he appeared to James,

then to all the apostles.

Last of all, as to one born abnormally,

he appeared to me.

For I am the least of the apostles,

not fit to be called an apostle,

because I persecuted the church of God.

But by the grace of God I am what I am,

and his grace to me has not been ineffective.

Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them;

not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.

Therefore, whether it be I or they,

so we preach and so you believed.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 186 From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formula normative for all.1 But already very early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of her faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism:

This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and the New Testaments.2

CCC 519 All Christ’s riches “are for every individual and are everybody’s property.”3 Christ did not live his life for himself but for us, from his Incarnation “for us men and for our salvation” to his death “for our sins” and Resurrection “for our justification”.4 He is still “our advocate with the Father”, who “always lives to make intercession” for us.5 He remains ever “in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him all that he lived and suffered for us.”6

CCC 552 Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;7 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.”8 Christ, the “living Stone”,9 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.10

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

CCC 624 “By the grace of God” Jesus tasted death “for every one”.16 In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only “die for our sins”17 but should also “taste death”, experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb,18 reveals God’s great sabbath rest19 after the fulfillment20 of man’s salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.21

CCC 627 Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for “it was not possible for death to hold him” 22 23 and therefore “divine power preserved Christ’s body from corruption.” Both of these statements can be said of Christ: “He was cut off out of the land of the living”,24 and “My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption.”25 Jesus’ resurrection “on the third day” was the sign of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.26

CCC 639 The mystery of Christ’s resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness. In about A.D. 56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians: “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. ..”27 The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.28

CCC 641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One.29 Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves.30 They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers,31 and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”32

CCC 642 Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles – and Peter in particular – in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary “witnesses to his Resurrection”, but they are not the only ones – Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.33

CCC 652 Christ’s Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life.34 The phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures”35 indicates that Christ’s Resurrection fulfilled these predictions.

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”36 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.37 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.38 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.39 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.40

CCC 752 In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the liturgical assembly,41 but also the local community42 or the whole universal community of believers.43 These three meanings are inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.

CCC 857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

– she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”44 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;45

– with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,46 the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;47

– she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:48

You are the eternal Shepherd

who never leaves his flock untended.

Through the apostles

you watch over us and protect us always.

You made them shepherds of the flock

to share in the work of your Son. ..49

1 Cf. Rom 10:9; I Cor 15:3-5, etc.

2 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. illum. 5, 12: PG 33, 521-524.

3 John Paul II, RH II.

4 I Cor 15:3; Rom 4:25.

5 I Jn 2:1 Heb 7:25.

6 Heb 9:24.

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

8 Mt 16:18.

9 I Pt 2:4.

10 Cf. Lk 22:32.

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

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

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

14 Cf. Mt 20:28.

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

16 Heb 2:9.

17 I Cor 15:3.

18 Cf. Jn 19:42.

19 Cf. Heb 4:7-9.

20 Cf. Jn 19:30.

21 Cf Col 1: 18-20.

22 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3.

23 Acts 2:24.

24 Is 53:8.

25 Acts 2:26-27; cf. Ps 16:9-10.

26 Cf. I Cor 15:4; Lk 24:46; Mt 12:40; Jon 2:1; Hos 6:2; cf. Jn 11:39.

27 I Cor 15:3-4.

28 Cf. Acts 9:3-18.

29 Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 19:31,42.

30 Cf Lk 24:9-10; Mt 28:9-10; Jn 20:11-18.

31 Cf I Cor 15:5; Lk 22:31-32.

32 Lk 24:34, 36.

33 I Cor 15:4-8; cf. Acts 1:22.

34 Cf. Mt 28:6; Mk 16:7; Lk 24:6-7, 26-27, 44-48.

35 Cf. I Cor 15:3-4; cf. the Nicene Creed.

36 Mk 16:19.

37 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

38 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

39 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

40 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

41 Cf. 1 Cor 11:18; 14:19,28,34,35.

42 Cf. 1 Cor 1:2; 16:1.

43 Cf. 1 Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13; Phil 3:6.

44 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.

45 Cf. Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Gal 1:1; etc.

46 Cf. Acts 2:42.

47 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.

48 AG 5.

49 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.

APPLICATION

If St. Paul, the great Apostle, found it necessary to recall to the minds of his Corinthian converts the basic doctrines of the faith that he had preached to them some five years earlier, it is very fitting that we too should meditate on the same basic doctrines today. We have many of the difficulties and problems that made living a truly Christian life a hard struggle for the first Christians of Corinth. They were a relatively small group, living in the midst of pagan neighbors whose purpose in life was to get what they could out of this world. These pagans had no thought for the future and only ridicule for anyone who was foolish enough, according to their philosophy, to forego the pleasures and the comforts of this life for the sake of something they expected after death. It was far from easy to carry the Christian cross through a throng of jeering pleasure-seekers. It was hard to mortify the senses and the flesh when the neighbor’s motto in life was “eat, sleep and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

But what of us Christians today? Is our lot that much easier; have we no pagans or paganism to contend with? Leaving out for the moment the countries that have not yet learned of Christianity–how Christian is the so-called western world? More than half of the people of Europe are living under a regime that not alone denies Christianity but proclaims that there is no God, and no future for man but the grave. And how Christian are the peoples of the other half of Europe, and Europe’s western allies, who, for political and commercial reasons, condemn the eastern atheists? In theory they do not deny the existence of God, but what part does God play in their national legislation and their international deliberations? To come down from the legislators to the masses: what part does the law of the Gospel play in the lives of the majority of them?

The Christian of today is tempted on all sides to forget his Christian calling. He is tempted to forget the future life and urged to live in the present, to enjoy the pleasures of the moment, to join in the mad rush for worldly wealth and power. But as Christians, we have a philosophy of life which shows up the folly and the emptiness of these temptations. Granted that this world could give us (which, of course, it cannot) all the pleasures, all the wealth, all the power we desire, death will still come to cut us off from all these cherished things. And what then?

We know that our true home is in heaven, that true happiness consists in loving God and neighbor, that true wealth is supernatural grace and virtue, which will last for all eternity. The Incarnation, death and Resurrection of our Savior, of which St. Paul reminds us today, are for us an absolute guarantee that God wants us in heaven and that we shall be with him in heaven if we live the few short years given us in the world, as true Christians, lovers of God and of Christ.

GOSPEL

ducinaltum-1024x812.jpeg

Lk 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening

to the word of God,

he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.

He saw two boats there alongside the lake;

the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.

Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,

he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.

Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”

Simon said in reply,

“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,

but at your command I will lower the nets.”

When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish

and their nets were tearing.

They signaled to their partners in the other boat

to come to help them.

They came and filled both boats

so that the boats were in danger of sinking.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him

and all those with him,

and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,

who were partners of Simon.

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;

from now on you will be catching men.”

When they brought their boats to the shore,

they left everything and followed him.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/020716.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 208 Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness.1 Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.”2 Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”3 But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: “I will not execute my fierce anger. .. for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.”4 The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. .. reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”5

1 Cf. EX 3:5-6.

2 Is 6:5.

3 Lk 5:8.

4 Hos 11:9.

5 I Jn 3:19-20.

APPLICATION

How the wisdom of God differs from the wisdom of men! If a businessman of today (or even of the year 28 A.D.) were choosing a chairman and assistants for the world-wide enterprise he was about to set up, is it likely that he would choose them from among the unknown, unlettered fishermen of Galilee? Yet Christ, who was about to set up not only a world-wide institute but an everlasting one, chose these simple fishermen and made them his assistants and his successors in the work that he had taken in hand.

And it wasn’t that he was restricted in his choice. There were many highly educated priests and scribes in Jerusalem whom he could have won over, men who could preach and instruct so much more eloquently than Peter or Andrew. There were Roman officers in Palestine who were highly educated, and who would be much more eagerly listened to in the Gentile world. There were Greek philosophers whose very name would add prestige to the Gospel message had they been Apostles. Yet it was to none of these that Christ entrusted the arduous task of spreading the good news of the Gospel, it was to none of these that he gave the keys of his kingdom.

Christ was not influenced in his judgement by external, accidental qualifications. He judged the heart and the will. He knew the true worth of men. Furthermore, the society that he was about to set up was not a worldly business concern but a free transport system to heaven. The truths he was committing to its keeping were not based on earthly wisdom which would require eloquence and prestige to bolster them up. They were the eternal, divine truths which needed no human propaganda, no help from mere men.

Thus, in the selection of his Apostles, Christ has given us an extra proof, if one were needed, of his own divine wisdom and of the divine origin of the Christian religion which we profess. Our religion is not man-made, God is its author.

While thanking God today for our Christian religion, with its clearly drawn map of salvation, let us show our appreciation by doing our own little part, as humble apostles, weak but willing helpers of Christ. This we can do without eloquence, or personal prestige. We do so by living as true Christians in our homes, in our places of work, and in our recreations, by carrying our cross daily and patiently, ever ready to give a hand when the neighbor’s cross seems too heavy for him. This will be Christian eloquence, this will be a true apostleship of Christ, because actions speak louder than words.

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

BENEDICTUS

Entering into Lent

Lent is a propitious time in which the Church invites Christians to be more intensely aware of Christ’s redeeming work and to live our baptism more profoundly… With its duration of forty days, Lent tries to recall some of the events that marked the life and history of ancient Israel, presenting to us again its paradigmatic value… The Lenten season is an invitation to relive with Jesus the forty days he spent in the desert, praying and fasting, before undertaking his public mission… This is the authentic and central program of the Lenten Season: to listen to the Word of truth, to live, speak, and do the truth, to reject lies that poison humanity and are the door to all evils. It is urgent, therefore, during these forty days, to listen again to the Gospel, the Lord’s Word, Word of truth, so that in every Christian, in each one of us, the awareness be reinforced of the truth that has been given, that he has given us, to live it and be his witnesses. Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we came from, where we must go, what path we must take in life. Thus, the Lenten season offers us an ascetic and liturgical journey that, helping us to open our eyes in face of our weakness, makes us open our hearts to the merciful love of Christ.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer Before a Crucifix

BEHOLD, O good and sweetest Jesus,

I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight,

and with the most fervent desire of my soul

I pray and beseech Thee

to impress upon my heart

lively sentiments of faith,

hope and charity,

with true repentance for my sins

and a most firm desire of amendment:

whilst with deep affection and grief of soul

I consider within myself and mentally contemplate

Thy five most precious Wounds,

having before mine eyes that which David, the prophet,

long ago spoke in Thine own person concerning Thee,

my Jesus: “They have pierced My hands and My feet,

they have numbered all My bones.”

Posted in Catholic

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

-18

“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.’

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas

Grant me, O Lord my God,

a mind to know you,

a heart to seek you,

wisdom to find you,

conduct pleasing to you,

faithful perseverance in waiting for you,

and a hope of finally embracing you.

Amen.

COLLECT

Grant us, Lord our God,

that we may honor you with all our mind,

and love everyone in truth of heart,

Though 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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Jer 1:4-5, 17-19

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

But do you gird your loins;
stand up and tell them
all that I command you.
Be not crushed on their account,
as though I would leave you crushed before them;
for it is I this day
who have made you a fortified city,
a pillar of iron, a wall of brass,
against the whole land:
against Judah’s kings and princes,
against its priests and people.
They will fight against you but not prevail over you,
for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.1

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.2

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.3

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.4

1 Cf. CDF, Donum vitae I, 1.

2 Jer 1:5; cf. Job 10:8-12; Ps 22:10-11.

3 Ps 139:15.

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

APPLICATION

These five verses of the book of Jeremiah which you have had read to you describe something that happened over two thousand five hundred years ago. You might well ask what has that got to do with me today. Why should I worry about what happened to some Jew six hundred years before Christ came? But it is because you and I have much we can learn from this man’s life and work, that God has preserved his story for us in the sacred Bible. Learning from the past is an absolutely essential preparation for our journey into the future. Jeremiah trod the road that we are called on to tread today. He has left us signposts we must follow if we want to arrive at our journey’s end.

He accepted the vocation God gave him, namely, to try to turn the kings and people of Judah from the false paths they had chosen. He foresaw the impossibility of such a task and he shuddered at the thought of it. Yet, once he realized this was God’s will for him, he set about the task and carried it out to the bitter end.

He did not succeed in saving either the faith or the fatherland of his contemporaries. He saw Jerusalem destroyed and its citizens carried off in chains to Babylon. His own life ended, if not in martyrdom (which is very probable), at least as a prisoner in Egypt where his Jewish enemies had forcibly taken him.

And yet he was a success. He carried out God’s will faithfully without counting the cost. He did his part to prepare a remnant of the old Chosen People so that they would preserve belief in the true God and trust in his promises until Christ came to form the New People of God. He lit a candle in a cave of darkness which later, illumined the path to Christ; he planted a sapling which in years to come would be the tree from which the Ark of the New Covenant would be built. Jeremiah succeeded and is now enjoying his reward.

We too have our trials and troubles in life. Our Christian faith demands sacrifices of us. The world in which we live is earth-bound and earth-directed. The majority of men feverishly seek after its pleasures, its power and its plenty. Not only have they no time themselves for the gospel of penance, patience and poverty, but they despise and spurn the few who do, and thus make their Christian living all the harder.

However, where Jeremiah succeeded the Christian can succeed and with less difficulty–he has the example of the suffering Savior ever before his eyes. If he grasps his daily cross firmly and resolutely it will become lighter–the road to Calvary will be less steep and the light of the Mount of Ascension will brighten its darkness.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17

I will sing of your salvation.

In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.

I will sing of your salvation.

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
I will sing of your salvation.

For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.

I will sing of your salvation.

My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

I will sing of your salvation.

READING II

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1 Cor 12:31—13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues,
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy,
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 25 To conclude this Prologue, it is fitting to recall this pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism:

The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.1

CCC 163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God “face to face”, “as he is”.2 So faith is already the beginning of eternal life:

When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.3

CCC 164 Now, however, “we walk by faith, not by sight”;4 we perceive God as “in a mirror, dimly” and only “in part”.5 Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.

CCC 314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face”,6 will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest7 for which he created heaven and earth.

CCC 735 He, then, gives us the “pledge” or “first fruits” of our inheritance: the very life of the Holy Trinity, which is to love as “God [has] loved us.”8 This love (the “charity” of 1 Cor 13) is the source of the new life in Christ, made possible because we have received “power” from the Holy Spirit.9

CCC 773 In the Church this communion of men with God, in the “love [that] never ends,” is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world.10 “[The Church’s] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. And holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom.”11 Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as “the bride without spot or wrinkle.”12 This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine.”13

CCC 800 Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.14

CCC 953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.”15 “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.”16 “Charity does not insist on its own way.”17 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 1023 Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face:18

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints. .. and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died,. .. or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death,. ..) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment – and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven – have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.19

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.20

CCC 1720 The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls man:

– the coming of the Kingdom of God;21 – the vision of God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”22

– entering into the joy of the Lord;23

– entering into God’s rest:24

There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end?25

CCC 1813 The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.26

CCC 1825 Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies.”27 The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.28

The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: “charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”29

CCC 1826 “If I. .. have not charity,” says the Apostle, “I am nothing.” Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, “if I. .. have not charity, I gain nothing.”30 Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: “So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.”31

CCC 1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:32

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. .. For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.33

CCC 2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.34

CCC 2519 The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him.35 Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbors”; it lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.

1 Roman Catechism, Preface 10; cf. I Cor 13 8.

2 1 Cor 13:12; I Jn 3:2.

3 St. Basil De Spiritu Sancto 15, 36: PG 32, 132; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 4, 1.

4 2 Cor 5:7.

5 l Cor 13:12.

6 1 Cor 13:12.

7 Cf. Gen 2:2.

8 1 Jn 4: 12; cf. Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:21.

9 Acts 1:8; cf. 1 Cor 13.

10 1 Cor 13:8; cf. LG 48.

11 John Paul II, MD 27.

12 Eph 5:27.

13 Cf. John Paul II, MD 27.

14 Cf. 1 Cor 13.

15 Rom 14:7.

16 1 Cor 12:26-27.

17 1 Cor 13:5; cf. 10:24.

18 1 Jn 3:2; cf. 1 Cor 13:12; Rev 22:4.

19 Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000; cf. LG 49.

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

21 Cf. Mt 4:17.

22 Mt 5:8; cf. 1 Jn 2; 1 Cor 13:12.

23 Mt 25:21-23.

24 Cf. Heb 4:7-11.

25 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 22, 30, 5: PL 41,804.

26 Cf. 1 Cor 13:13.

27 Rom 5:10.

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

29 1 Cor 13:4-7.

30 1 Cor 13:1-4.

31 1 Cor 13:13.

32 Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1 4.

33 St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1, 24: PG 26, 585 and 588.

34 Rom 12:6-8.

35 Cf. 1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2.

APPLICATION

The image of the one body, which St. Paul used to describe the Christian community, is perfect in itself. Christ is our Head, he has made us his members–we are the eyes, the ears, the legs, the arms of that one body of which the main purpose in life is to get to eternity. It should be not only the duty of each of us to contribute all in our power to help all the other members along, but we should regard it as our privilege that we are allowed to help Christ by helping our neighbor. In our physical body there is harmony when each member carries out its duty–the legs walk, the eyes see and so on, and because of this cooperation, all goes well.

But there is one snag as regards the members of the mystical body–each one is an individual, a person with his own will and desires and his natural inclination is to think of himself rather than of the community. Each one can very well say: “I have enough to do to look after myself without having to help my neighbor as well.” Indeed far too many say it! You certainly have more than enough to do, and, as God has arranged things, you have the impossible to do, if you think you can reach eternal happiness while selfishly thinking of your own interests only.

No man is an island in civil society. No nation or group of people can survive, much less prosper, unless each individual cooperates with the others, and contributes his assistance to the whole. Only then is civil life possible. The same is true and even more so in the religious society–the Church–which Christ has founded to bring us to eternal life. He took human nature in order to make all men adopted sons of God. His work has to go on until the last man leaves this earth. He has set up a society which is to carry on his work until the end of time. He has made us cooperators with him in that divine work. He has made us the members of his mystical body, and each one of us is asked by him to help him in this work of divine love.

Our response to this request of Christ will prove how sincere our Christian charity is. It is easy to say that we love God, and it is easy to convince ourselves that we have this love in us. The acid test is our true love of our neighbor (see 1 Jn. 4: 10). Many of those described by our Lord himself in his vivid account of the last judgement thought they had loved God and had never been selfish in this regard. But they learned too late, and to their utter dismay, that they had not loved him and had not cared for him because they had failed to care for their neighbor. “I was hungry… thirsty… naked… in prison.” “When did we see thee hungry …?” “Amen, I say to you, as long as you did not do it for one of these least ones, you did not do it for me” (Mt. 25: 41-46).

The others in that scene, the ones that the king has placed at his right hand, had fed the hungry, had clothed the naked, had visited the sick. In other words, they had proved their true love for God by their charity towards their neighbor, having kept his other commandments as well. They received the welcome invitation “come blessed of my Father.” So will we, if we too prove our true love for God by keeping his commandments and especially by keeping his command to love our neighbor as ourselves.

GOSPEL

CX4K3103.jpg

Lk 4:21-30

Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying:
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say,
‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”
And he said, “Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/013116.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.1 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.2 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.3 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

CCC 1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission.4 The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God.5 He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him “without measure.”6

1 Cf. Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16.

2 Cf. Ps 2:2; Acts 4:26-27.

3 Cf. Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21.

4 Cf. Isa 11:2; 61:1; Lk 4:16-22.

5 Cf. Mt 3:13-17; Jn 1:33-34.

6 Jn 3:34.

APPLICATION

This rejection of Jesus by his own townsfolk must have sincerely grieved him. But it was only the beginning of similar rejections. Their attempt to murder him was an indication of what was yet to come. “To his own he came but his own did not accept him” as St. John says (1: 11). The reason was that the Messiah they were looking for was a political leader who would make Israel a political power not only among the nations but over the other nations. Nearly all the messianic prophecies had references to the universality of the messianic kingdom–this universality they interpreted in a political, worldly sense. Their interest in things spiritual was then at a very low ebb and therefore the message of Christ had little interest for them. They did not want a spiritual kingdom.

For seventeen centuries they had been God’s Chosen People, and they were proud of their superiority over the sinful Gentiles who did not know the true God. That very pride of theirs was their undoing. The Gentiles were God’s children too, and they also were to share in, the new kingdom which the Messiah would establish, but the very thought of this was abhorrent to the vast majority of the Jews.

In spite of all their opposition, however, Jesus spent his public life amongst them. He gave them the first offer of entering the new kingdom. They could still continue to be God’s Chosen People together with, and alongside, the other nations of the earth. They refused. And their refusal went so far as to call in the aid of the hated Gentiles to crucify the One–their own fellow Jew–who had come to bring them the message of the true kingdom and the offer of being its first citizens.

There were exceptions, of course, and honorable exceptions at that. Christ founded his Church, the new kingdom of God on the Apostles, who were Jews, and through their noble sacrifices and efforts, the kingdom spread to all the Gentile nations of the earth. Because of their sacrifices, we are Christians, members of Christ’s kingdom on earth and heirs to his eternal kingdom in heaven.

Through our Christian teaching we have learned that our life on this earth is but a period of preparation, a period during which we can earn the true life as citizens of his eternal kingdom. How often do we, like the Jews of Christ’s day, forget this and bend all our efforts to building for ourselves a kingdom of power or wealth in this world, a kingdom which we will have to leave so soon?

We would not, of course, openly deny Christ, much less try, like his neighbors in Nazareth, to throw him to his death over a cliff; but how often in our private actions, and in our dealings with our neighbors, do we push him and his doctrine quietly aside and act as if we knew him not. In this we are no better than Christ’s neighbors of Nazareth and we grieve his loving heart as much as they did on that sad day.

Am I one of those (each one of us can ask himself)? Do I really love Christ or, to put it in a more personal way, do I really love myself? If I do, I will not risk losing my place in the eternal kingdom for the sake of some paltry pleasure or gain in this present life which will end for me so very soon.

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

BENEDICTUS

Original Sin

What does original sin mean when we interpret it correctly? It must once again be stressed that no human being is closed in upon himself or herself and that no one can live of or for himself or herself alone. We received our life not only at the moment of birth but every day from without – from others who are not ourselves but who nonetheless somehow pertain to us. Human beings have their selves not only in themselves but also outside of themselves: they live in those whom they love and in those who love them and to whom they are “present.” Human beings are relational, and they possess their lives – themselves – only by way of relationship. I alone am not myself, but only in and with you am I myself. To be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and for. But sin means the damaging or the destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god. Sin is loss of relationship, disturbance of relationship, and therefore it is not restricted to the individual. When I destroy a relationship, then this event – sin – touches the other person involved in the relationship. Consequently sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it… At the very moment that a person begins human existence, which is a good, he or she is confronted by a sin-damaged world. Each of us enters into a situation in which relationality has been hurt. Consequently each person is, from the very start, damaged in relationships and does not engage in them as he or she ought. Sin pursues the human being, and he or she capitulates to it.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Love

O God, all that I am and all that I have is from you. You have given me my gifts of body and soul. You have numbered me among your favored children. You have showered me with countless graces and blessings. From all eternity you have thought of me and loved me. How shall I ever love you in return?

And now in your merciful goodness you are coming into my soul to unit yourself most intimately with me. You came into the world for love of man, but now you are coming from the altar for love of me. You are coming to fill me heart with your holy love, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Sanctifier, my God.

O Jesus, I want to return this love. I want to love you with all the powers of my soul. I want to belong only to you, to consecrate myself to you alone. Jesus, let me live for you; let me die for you. Living and dying may I be yours.

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

 

-19

Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

OPENING PRAYER

Fifth Centenary Prayer

Your Word of Life, O God, reached these lands five centuries ago, and calls us still to proclaim the saving message of Christ. We pray today for a dawn of a new evangelization in these lands. Send us out to draw others to You, into Your peace, into the Church, into lives dedicated to the Gospel. As people of many cultures and races, may our voices speak together of hope and welcome to all. May our hands lift high the torch of new life and solidarity. May our hearts yearn for justice and truth. Renew in us the courage and strength to reach out to the neediest in our midst. United in faith and prayer, with Mary, Virgin Mother of the Americas, keep us ever steadfast in Your love as we strive for Your vision of a world renewed. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.

Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

direct our actions according to your good pleasure,

that in the name of your beloved Son

we may abound in 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

Image result for nehemiah prophet

Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,

which consisted of men, women,

and those children old enough to understand.

Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate,

he read out of the book from daybreak till midday,

in the presence of the men, the women,

and those children old enough to understand;

and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.

Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform

that had been made for the occasion.

He opened the scroll

so that all the people might see it

— for he was standing higher up than any of the people —;

and, as he opened it, all the people rose.

Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God,

and all the people, their hands raised high, answered,

“Amen, amen!”

Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD,

their faces to the ground.

Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God,

interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.

Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe

and the Levites who were instructing the people

said to all the people:

“Today is holy to the LORD your God.

Do not be sad, and do not weep”—

for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.

He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,

and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;

for today is holy to our LORD.

Do not be saddened this day,

for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

APPLICATION

The infinite goodness and the infinite mercy, which God has shown to mankind down through the ages, is the theme of the lessons read at today’s Mass. These verses of Nehemiah describe the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile and their resettlement in Jerusalem and Judah. They owed this return to the gracious act of God and they had the good grace to acknowledge this in a public religious ceremony.

This recalling of the Jews from Babylon was part of God’s remote preparation for the coming of his Son, our divine Lord, on earth. Before creation began he had the Incarnation in mind. And the purpose of the Incarnation was to raise man, the highest being in his created universe, to a capacity to share in the infinite happiness of the Blessed Trinity. Man was thus raised to the adopted sonship of God through the descent of God’s Son to take our humanity.

This is expressed in the mixing of the water and wine at the offertory of the Mass when the celebrant says: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

So the story of the return of the Jewish exiles is not just some faded page of past history. It is for us a very important incident in God’s plan for our elevation and glorification. All through pre-history his plan was being slowly but surely shaped. From Abraham, the pagan called from Ur of the Chaldees, to become the Father of his Chosen People, down to Mary the humble unknown young Jewess of Nazareth, who was chosen to be the Mother of Christ, God was drawing the lines of his great design on every page of the Old Testament.

Notwithstanding the open opposition of men, of pagan nations who tried to crush and annihilate his Chosen People, and of the many rebellious sons within his fold who refused to have Him rule over them, he brought his plan to completion. He raised humanity to the status of sonship that be had intend for it from all eternity.

This return from exile then has deep meaning for us Christians today, twenty-five centuries after it happened. It was a very important step in God’s plan to return us from perpetual exile, a merely earthly life, to a spiritual life, and to the home that in his mercy and goodness he had planned for us.

Through God’s infinite generosity we are destined for an eternal homeland. We must thank God for that but, let us not forget, we have not yet arrived there. We are on the way, and we must work our passage. When the work seems dreary and hard, we must remember that we are not left alone. We have such abundant helps from God as will enable even the weakest to reach home if they avail of them.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15

(cf John 6:63c) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The law of the LORD is perfect,

refreshing the soul;

The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,

giving wisdom to the simple.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The precepts of the LORD are right,

rejoicing the heart;

The command of the LORD is clear,

enlightening the eye.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The fear of the LORD is pure,

enduring forever;

The ordinances of the LORD are true,

all of them just.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart

find favor before you,

O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

READING II

Image result for St. Paul

1 Cor 12:12-30

Brothers and sisters:

As a body is one though it has many parts,

and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,

so also Christ.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,

whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,

and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many.

If a foot should say,

“Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,

“it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.

Or if an ear should say,

“Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body, “

it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.

If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?

If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

But as it is, God placed the parts,

each one of them, in the body as he intended.

If they were all one part, where would the body be?

But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you, “

nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”

Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker

are all the more necessary,

and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable

we surround with greater honor,

and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,

whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.

But God has so constructed the body

as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,

so that there may be no division in the body,

but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;

if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

Some people God has designated in the church

to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;

then, mighty deeds;

then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,

and varieties of tongues.

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?

Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing?

Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.”1 Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified2 as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.3

CCC 790 Believers who respond to God’s word and become members of Christ’s Body, become intimately united with him: “In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification.”4 This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the Eucharist, by which “really sharing in the body of the Lord,. .. we are taken up into communion with him and with one another.”5

CCC 791 The body’s unity does not do away with the diversity of its members: “In the building up of Christ’s Body there is engaged a diversity of members and functions. There is only one Spirit who, according to his own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives his different gifts for the welfare of the Church.”6 The unity of the Mystical Body produces and stimulates charity among the faithful: “From this it follows that if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with him, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice.”7 Finally, the unity of the Mystical Body triumphs over all human divisions: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”8

CCC 798 The Holy Spirit is “the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body.”9 He works in many ways to build up the whole Body in charity:10 by God’s Word “which is able to build you up”;11 by Baptism, through which he forms Christ’s Body;12 by the sacraments, which give growth and healing to Christ’s members; by “the grace of the apostles, which holds first place among his gifts”;13 by the virtues, which make us act according to what is good; finally, by the many special graces (called “charisms”), by which he makes the faithful “fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.”14

CCC 953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.”15 “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.”16 “Charity does not insist on its own way.”17 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 1227 According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ’s death, is buried with him, and rises with him:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.18

The baptized have “put on Christ.”19 Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.20

CCC 1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,”21 member of Christ and co-heir with him,22 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.23

CCC 1267 Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: “Therefore. .. we are members one of another.”24 Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”25

CCC 1396 The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body – the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body.26 The Eucharist fulfills this call: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:”27

If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond “Amen” (“yes, it is true!”) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, “the Body of Christ” and respond “Amen.” Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.28

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.29

CCC 1469 This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members.30 Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland:31

It must be recalled that… this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.32

CCC 1508 The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing33 so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord. But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church.”34

CCC 1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:35

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature… For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.36

CCC 2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.37

1 1 Cor 12:13.

2 Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:8.

3 Cf. Jn 4:10-14; 738; Ex 17:1-6; Isa 55:1; Zech 14:8; 1 Cor 10:4; Rev 21:6; 22:17.

4 LG 7.

5 LG 7; cf. Rom 6:4-5; 1 Cor 12:13.

6 LG 7 # 3.

7 LG 7 # 3; cf. 1 Cor 12:26.

8 Gal 3:27-28.

9 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis: DS 3808.

10 Cf. Eph 4:16.

11 Acts 20:32.

12 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.

13 LG 7 # 2.

14 LG 12 # 2; cf. AA 3.

15 Rom 14:7.

16 1 Cor 12:26-27.

17 1 Cor 13:5; cf. 10:24.

18 Rom 6:3-4; cf. Col 2:12.

19 Gal 3:27.

20 CE 1 Cor 6:11; 12:13.

21 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Gal 4:5-7.

22 Cf. l Cor 6:15; 12:27; Rom 8:17.

23 Cf. l Cor 6:19.

24 Eph 4:25.

25 1 Cor 12:13.

26 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.

27 1 Cor 10:16-17.

28 St. Augustine, Sermo 272: PL 38, 1247.

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

30 Cf. 1 Cor 12:26.

31 Cf. LG 48-50.

32 John Paul II, RP 31, 5.

33 Cf. 1 Cor 12:9, 28, 30.

34 2 Cor 12:9; Col 1:24.

35 Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1 4.

36 St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1, 24: PG 26, 585 and 588.

37 Rom 12:6-8.

APPLICATION

St. Paul is urging his Corinthian converts to appreciate and be grateful to God for the wonderful gifts he has given them. Not only have they received the gift of the true faith, but God is proving the truth of that faith in their very midst by the miraculous powers he is giving to individuals amongst them. But they must never forget that these gifts are not for their own benefit or glory. They are given to help build up the whole new Christian community.

To drive this lesson home, he compares the new Christian community–the Church–to a human body. Man’s body has many and various members, but each member is there for the good of the whole body. No one member can survive on its own, the brain needs the stomach, as the stomach needs the brain, the eye needs the foot as the foot needs the eye and so on. All the members must work for the good of the whole body, using the capabilities given it, and it is only thus that the body will survive and thrive.

Now for St. Paul this comparison of the Christian community to the members of a human body, is not merely a metaphor, it is a reality. “You are the body of Christ,” he says, “member for member.” This consoling doctrine that the Church is the mystical body of Christ was not invented by St. Paul–he invented the name only–it follows of necessity from the doctrine of the Incarnation. When the Son of God took on human nature, he made us one with him. As Christ himself said: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn. 15: 5). i.e. we form one tree with him. This is the same idea as the body and its members.

We Christians then (and all men of good-will who are not actually in the Church through no fault of their own) are intimately united with the risen and glorious body of Christ in heaven. He is the Head, the director, of his new Chosen People. We are the other members of his body, whom he uses to spread the life-stream of grace and growth to the whole body until it reaches its full stature in the future life. What a glorious position is ours. What an exalted status the Incarnation has given us mere mortals!

Do we think often enough of our privileged status? Do we especially realize our obligations as members of that body? Do we always do all that Christ expects of us to promote the welfare of the whole body? If I think that I am doing enough by providing for my own spiritual well-being, and take no interest in the needs of the other members, I can be sure I am not in fact providing for my spiritual well-being. If the foot says: “I am tired of walking and looking for food for that stomach,” and rests in comfort, it won’t be long until the foot feels the bad effects of a starving stomach and will not be able to walk.

Each one of us must ever keep before his mind this inspiring thought that we are individual members of Christ’s body and that it is only by the full cooperation of all members that that body, which means all of us, will reach its full maturity.

Today especially, in a world which is growing daily more materialistic, more individualistic, more selfish, the Church must set a shining, noticeable, example of unselfish dedication to the material and spiritual welfare of all mankind. And the Church can do this only if each one of its members, that is you and I, will begin today to use the gifts, material and spiritual that God gave us, for the benefit of the community in which we live.

GOSPEL

Image result for The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events

that have been fulfilled among us,

just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning

and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,

I too have decided,

after investigating everything accurately anew,

to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,

most excellent Theophilus,

so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings

you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,

and news of him spread throughout the whole region.

He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,

and went according to his custom

into the synagogue on the sabbath day.

He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,

and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.

He said to them,

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012416.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.1 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.2 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.3 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

CCC 544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;4 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”5 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.6 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.7 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.8

CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,9 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.10 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”11 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.12 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.13 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.14 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:15 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.

CCC 714 This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News by making his own the following passage from Isaiah:16

The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me,

because the LORD has anointed me

to bring good tidings to the afflicted;

he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.

CCC 1168 Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy. It really is a “year of the Lord’s favor.”17 The economy of salvation is at work within the framework of time, but since its fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated “as a foretaste,” and the kingdom of God enters into our time.

CCC 1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission.18 The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God.19 He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him “without measure.”20

CCC 2444 “The Church’s love for the poor. .. is a part of her constant tradition.” This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor.21 Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to “be able to give to those in need.”22 It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.23

CCC 2684 In the communion of saints, many and varied spiritualities have been developed throughout the history of the churches. The personal charism of some witnesses to God’s love for men has been handed on, like “the spirit” of Elijah to Elisha and John the Baptist, so that their followers may have a share in this spirit.24 A distinct spirituality can also arise at the point of convergence of liturgical and theological currents, bearing witness to the integration of the faith into a particular human environment and its history. The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are essential guides for the faithful. In their rich diversity they are refractions of the one pure light of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is truly the dwelling of the saints and the saints are for the Spirit a place where he dwells as in his own home since they offer themselves as a dwelling place for God and are called his temple.25

1 Cf. Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16.

2 Cf. Ps 2:2; Acts 4:26-27.

3 Cf. Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21.

4 Lk 4:18; cf. 7:22.

5 Mt 5:3.

6 Cf. Mt 11:25.

7 Cf. Mt 21:18; Mk 2:23-26; Jn 4:6 1; 19:28; Lk 9:58.

8 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

9 Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.

10 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.

11 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.

12 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.

13 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.

14 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.

15 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.

16 Isa 61:1-2; cf. Lk 4:18-19.

17 Lk 4:19.

18 Cf. Isa 11:2; 61:1; Lk 4:16-22.

19 Cf. Mt 3:13-17; Jn 1:33-34.

20 Jn 3:34.

21 CA 57; cf. Lk 6:20-22, Mt 8:20; Mk 12:41-44.

22 Eph 4:28.

23 Cf. CA 57.

24 Cf. 2 Kings 2:9; Lk 1:1; PC 2.

25 St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, 26, 62: PG 32, 184.

APPLICATION

In the first four verses of St. Luke’s Gospel which have been read to you today, you will find reason to be grateful to him. He went to a lot of trouble in order to put in a permanent form, in a written record, the essential facts concerning Christ, his words and his works, so that we “would understand (like Theophilus) the certainty of the faith in which we have been instructed.”

But while we must be grateful to St. Luke, we owe a bigger debt of gratitude still to the all-good, all-wise God who moved Luke and the other Evangelists to preserve for us in writing the essential truths of the Christian faith that has been handed down to us. The Apostles were companions of Christ. They witnessed his works and his words; they remembered most of his doings and his sayings, and what they might have forgotten the Holy Spirit recalled to their memory on that first Pentecost day in Jerusalem. The first two generations of Christians received the facts of the faith from these eye-witnesses and the miracles so frequent in the infant Church were confirmation of the truth of their teaching. But God in his wisdom provided for the many generations to come who would not have this evident confirmation of their faith. He established a teaching body in his Church which would safeguard the purity of the Christian truths, for “he himself would be with it all days ” and he gave us a written record of the facts of the faith in the Gospels and the other writings of the New Testament.

How can we ever thank God sufficiently for his thoughtfulness in our regard? We Christians of today can be as certain, as assured, of the truth of the faith that we are trying to practice as was St. Luke who was converted by St. Paul. We have a living, teaching magisterium in the Church, which authentically preserves and interprets for us the true facts of Christ’s teaching and works as written down for us by a first-generation Christian under the impulse and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. If we needed further proof of the priceless value of our New Testament Books, the virulent attacks on their authenticity, on their objectivity, and on their veracity, by enemies of the faith down to and including our own day, should be sufficient.

But they have stood the test of time and the onslaughts of biassed, prejudiced criticism, for they are the word of truth, which is eternal, and comes from God.

We have a priceless gift of God in the inspired Books of the Bible. Let us show true appreciation for that gift by using it to build up a better knowledge of the Christian faith which it teaches us. There should be a Bible, or at least the New Testament, in every Christian home. It should not be an ornament on a shelf, but a fountain and source from which we can draw strength and refreshment in the daily practice of our Christian faith. Almost two thousand years ago, God’s infinite goodness provided this source of strength, the “fountain of living water,” for us Christians of this century. Are we grateful for his thoughtfulness? Are we nourishing our faith at this blessed fountain of his infinite wisdom and love?

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

BENEDICTUS

Conversion and Obedience

Faith requires conversion and that conversion is an act of obedience toward a reality which precedes me and which does not originate from me. Moreover, this obedience continues, inasmuch as knowledge never transforms this reality into a constituent element of my own thought, but rather the converse is true: it is I who make myself over to it, while it always remains above me. For Christians, this prior reality is not an “it” but a “he” or, even better, a “you.” It is Christ, the Word made flesh. He is the new beginning of our thought. He is the new “I” which bursts open the limits of subjectivity and the boundaries dividing subject from object, this enabling me to say: “It is no longer I who live.” Conversion does not lead into a private relationship with Jesus, which in reality would be another form of mere monologue. It is delivery into the pattern of doctrine, as Paul says, or, as we discovered in John, entrance into the “we” of the Church. This is the sole guarantee that the obedience which we owe to the truth is concrete… Only the concrete God can be something other than a new projection of one’s own self. Following in Christ’s footsteps is the only way of losing oneself which attains the desired goal… The one who becomes flesh has remained flesh. He is concrete… Obedience to the Church is the concreteness of our obedience. The Church is that new and greater subject in which past and present, subject and object come into contact. The Church is our contemporaneity with Christ: there is no other.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Christ, The Way Of Conversion Communion, And Solidarity In America

We thank You, Lord Jesus,

because the Gospel of the Father’s love,

with which You came to save the world,

has been proclaimed far and wide in America

as a gift of the Holy Spirit

that fills us with gladness.

We thank You for the gift of Your Life,

which You have given us by loving us to the end:

Your Life makes us children of God,

brothers and sisters to each other.

Increase, O Lord, our faith and our love for You,

present in all the tabernacles of the continent.

Grant us to be faithful witnesses

to your Resurrection

for the younger generation of Americans,

so that, in knowing You, they may follow You

and find in You their peace and joy.

Only then will they know that they

are brothers and sisters

of all God’s children scattered

throughout the world.

You who, in becoming man,

chose to belong to a human family,

teach families the virtues which filled with light

the family home of Nazareth.

May families always be united,

as You and the Father are one,

and may they be living witnesses

to love, justice and solidarity;

make them schools of respect,

forgiveness and mutual help,

so that the world may believe;

help them to be the source of vocations

to the priesthood and the consecrated life,

and all the other forms

of firm Christian commitment.

Protect Your Church and the Successor of Peter,

to whom You, Good Shepherd, have entrusted

the task of feeding Your flock.

Grant that the Church in America may flourish

and grow richer in the fruits of holiness.

Teach us to love Your Mother, Mary,

as you loved her.

Give us strength to proclaim

Your word with courage

in the work of the new evangelization,

so that the world may know new hope.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America,

pray for us!

(Given at Mexico City on January 22, 1999, by Pope John-Paul II).

Posted in Catholic

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

-17

When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”  

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of St. Francis de Sales

Be at peace.

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;

Rather, look to them with full hope as they arise.

God, whose very own you are,

Will deliver you from out of them.

He has kept you hitherto,

And He will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it,

God will bury you in his arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

The same everlasting Father who cares for you today

Will take care of you then and everyday.

He will either shield you from suffering,

Or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace,

And put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

who govern all things,

both in heaven and on earth,

mercifully hear the pleading of your people

and bestow your peace on our times.

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_Isaias__20333.1374493609.1000.1200_large.jpeg

Is 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.
Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

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 1611 Seeing God’s covenant with Israel in the image of exclusive and faithful married love, the prophets prepared the Chosen People’s conscience for a deepened understanding of the unity and indissolubility of marriage.2 The books of Ruth and Tobit bear moving witness to an elevated sense of marriage and to the fidelity and tenderness of spouses. Tradition has always seen in the Song of Solomon a unique expression of human love, insofar as it is a reflection of God’s love – a love “strong as death” that “many waters cannot quench.”3

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

2 Cf. Hos 1-3; Isa 54; 62; Jer 2-3; 31; Ezek 16; 23; Mal 2:13-17.

3 Song 8:6-7.

APPLICATION

On reading these words of the prophet (God’s mouthpiece) today, words spoken to encourage and console the returned exiles in the midst of their desolation, our first thought must be of the infinite mercy, kindness and love of God. This people had deserted him, they had brought this exile on themselves, yet he has brought them back to their native land and he now encourages them to take up the work of reconstruction and promises them his divine assistance.

And our second thought must be of the meanness, the ingratitude, the incredible thanklessness of that people to the God who so befriended them. They very soon forgot him, they became immersed in their earthly concerns, became worldly and politically minded. They interpreted his promise of a new Jerusalem, which would be to him a virgin bride and his crown of glory, into an earthly city which would give them political power and earthly plenty, they would have no further need of him.

But let us stop for a moment and turn our thoughts on ourselves. Are we much better than they, in fact are we not much meaner, much more ungrateful than they ever were? Is our Christian world today–the new spouse of Christ, the adopted children of God, the people to whom this prophecy was really directed–is this Christian world of ours, living up to its vocation–is it really behaving as God would and does expect it to behave?

He has done infinitely more for us than he did for the Jews. He has sent his Son to make us heirs of eternal life–that Son suffered and died for us. He gave us all the necessary instructions as to how we can get to heaven and gave us the means of getting there. In spite of all this, there are many–far too many–Christians today who not only forget him and all he has done for them, but also despise and insult him by their mode of life. Like the Jews of old they are busy trying to make a heaven for themselves in this life and alas like the Jews of old their endeavors will be in vain. They will have to leave this earth of ours and face the great beyond with empty hands, having buried their talent (all the gifts God has given them) in this barren earth.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10

Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
\

R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!

R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Worship the LORD in holy attire.
Tremble before him, all the earth;
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He governs the peoples with equity.

R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

READING II

Unknown.jpeg

1 Cor 12:4-11

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 249 From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy Trinity has been at the very root of the Church’s living faith, principally by means of Baptism. It finds its expression in the rule of baptismal faith, formulated in the preaching, catechesis and prayer of the Church. Such formulations are already found in the apostolic writings, such as this salutation taken up in the Eucharistic liturgy: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”1

CCC 308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”2 Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for “without a Creator the creature vanishes.”3 Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace.4

CCC 801 It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. “Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,”5 so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together “for the common good.”6

CCC 951 Communion of charisms. Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit “distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank” for the building up of the Church.7 Now, “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”8

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.9

CCC 1508 The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing10 so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord. But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church.”11

CCC 1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:12

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. .. For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.13

CCC 2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.14

1 2 Cor 13:14; cf. 1 Cor 12:4-6; Eph 4:4-6.

2 Phil 2:13; cf. 1 Cor 12:6.

3 GS 36 § 3.

4 Cf. Mt 19:26; Jn 15:5; 14:13

5 LG 12; cf. 30; 1 Thess 5:12, 19-21; John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 24.

6 1 Cor 12:7.

7 LG 12 # 2.

8 1 cor 12:7.

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

10 Cf. 1 Cor 12:9, 28, 30.

11 2 Cor 12:9; Col 1:24.

12 Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1 4.

13 St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1, 24: PG 26, 585 and 588.

14 Rom 12:6-8.

APPLICATION

The kindness and the goodness of God to us unworthy creatures, is a mystery we shall never understand in this life. All through the story of God’s dealings with man we have example after example of this infinite love, mercy and kindness. The Old Testament has proofs of this in almost every page of its two thousand years’ history. And what of the’ story of the New Testament, during our two thousand years’ history? This began with an almost incredible act of divine love, the coming of God’s Son in our human nature–his setting up of the Church, the society of the new Chosen Race and his promise to be “with it all days even unto the consummation of the world.”

That he has kept his promise the history of the Church proves. He was with it in its infancy, as today’s reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians shows. He showered extraordinary gifts on the first converts to help the spread of the faith. He was with it in its early years when persecution followed persecution, encouraging and strengthening the martyrs to bear their trials and give witness to the faith that was in them. He was with his Church in the sad days of schism and heresy when some of his chosen ones left him and when brother turned against brother in foolish fraternal strife. He is with it today when, moved by his grace, the separated brothers are making preparations for a great family reunion. He has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church–they cannot for he is ever with it guiding and guarding it.

While thanking God today for the infinite goodness, kindness and mercy he has shown to the human race down through the ages, especially for sending us his Son to raise us up and make us heirs of heaven, let us stop for a moment and ask ourselves one question: Are we really and truly grateful to God for all he has done and is still doing for us? Our answer will be evident from the answer we can honestly give to this second question: what have I done in the past, what am I doing in the present to show that gratitude?

If I cannot give myself good marks on that question, and which of us can, it is never too late to begin. We are dealing with a God of mercy, with a father who is ever ready to welcome back all his prodigal sons; we can begin this moment by saying a heartfelt “thank you, God, for all your loving kindness, please forget my past ingratitude, and give me the grace to be one of your grateful children for the future.”

GOSPEL

The-Wedding-at-Cana-Hand-Painted-Orthodox-Byzantine-Icon-PREMIUM-11.jpg

Jn 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011716.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.1 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”2

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”.3 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).4

CCC 1335 The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist.5 The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.6

CCC 1613 On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign – at his mother’s request – during a wedding feast.7 The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.

CCC 2618 The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana,8 the mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast – that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride. It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross,9 that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true “Mother of all the living.”

1 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:1-12; Lk 1:35; 2:8-20; Jn 1:3 1-34; 2:11.

2 Acts 10:38.

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

4 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.

5 Cf. Mt 14:13-21; 15:32-39.

6 Cf. Jn 2:11; Mk 14:25.

7 Cf. Jn 2:1-11.

8 Cf. Jn 2:1-12.

9 Cf. Jn 19:25-27.

APPLICATION

There are many lessons we can learn from this incident in Christ’s life: for example, Christ’s approval of marriage–there were some heretical sects later who said marriage was sinful, unfit for a Christian. Or we could see in it the intercessory power of our blessed Mother. Christ anticipated his “hour” for working miracles in order to grant her request. But the theme of today’s readings is the goodness and kindness of God and we surely have a convincing proof of that loving kindness in today’s gospel story.

Christ worked his first miracle in order to grant a temporal favor, an earthly gift, to save the newly married groom from embarrassment. It had the other effects of convincing his very recent disciples of their belief that he was the expected Messiah, and also it convinces all Christians of the efficacy of our Lady’s intercession for us, but its primary purpose was to confer a temporal benefit on the groom.

By this kind act he has shown us that he is interested in our earthly affairs also. He became man in order that we could become sons of God, he came on earth so that we could go to heaven, but this miracle at Cana proves that he has a deep interest in our many and varied activities during the course of our journey to heaven.

He told us “ask and you shall receive.” That “shall” is very definite, our prayers will be answered, and what we should ask for is not only spiritual gifts, but the temporal aids also which we need. The “shall” applies to them too, as the miracle of Cana proves. We shall get our temporal requests, provided of course that they won’t impede us on our journey to heaven. No kind father would give his child a gift that would injure him–God is the kindest of fathers and he sees what will or will not impede or endanger our eternal happiness. We can and should therefore make our temporal needs known to God in our prayers, confident that he will give us what we ask if it is for our real good.

But, someone may object: how often have I asked God for temporal favors I needed so badly, and my prayer was unanswered? Was it unanswered really? Perhaps you did not get the exact thing you asked for but you got something more useful, more necessary, something you never thought of asking for, but the good God saw your need of it. We have a father in heaven who really loves us, and cares for us, let us make our temporal, as well as our spiritual needs, known to him in confident prayer. Our requests will not go unanswered.

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

BENEDICTUS

Human Thirst and the Holy Spirit

The ultimate thirst of men cries out for the Holy Spirit. He, and he alone, is, at a profound level, the fresh water without which there is no life. In the image of a spring, of the water that irrigates and transforms a desert, that man meets like a secret promise, the mystery of the Spirit becomes visible in an ineffable fashion that no rational meditation can encompass. In man’s thirst, and in his being refreshed by water, is portrayed that infinite, for more radical thirst that can be quenched by no other water… The Holy Spirit is eternally, of his very nature, God’s gift, God as wholly self-giving, God as sharing himself, as gift. In that sense, the inner reason and basis for creation and salvation history do after all lie in this quality of being of the Holy Spirit, as donum and datum… He is the content of Christian prayer. He is the only gift worthy of God: as God, God gives nothing other than God; he gives himself and thereby everything. That is why properly Christian prayer, again, does not beg for just anything; rather, it begs for the gift of God that is God himself, begs for him.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for America

Father, we beg Your blessing for the Right to Life, the Unborn, the weak, the sick and the old; all who are finding themselves being targets of the vicious culture of death.

That our Lord Jesus bless and protect all who stand up for the Christian dignity of persons.

That God enlighten those who are traveling down death’s highway by their involvement, in any way, with either the contemporary death culture, selfism, relativism, or any of the new age errors of our times.

That God envelop our culture with His Divine protection and help us both individually and as a nation to true enlightenment, conversion and repentance of our selves and our culture.

Help us to turn from our national sin of abortion, and return to, and once again become a Christian nation, on the narrow road, that is, the path to becoming a nation and culture, under God.

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

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=222

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

The Baptism of the Lord – C

BaptismOfLord

‘And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

OPENING PRAYER

When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan

The worship of the Trinity was made manifest,

For the voice of the Father bore witness to You

And called You His beloved Son.

And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,

Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.

O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself

And have enlightened the world, glory to You!

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan

and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him,

solemnly declared him your beloved Son,

grant that your children by adoption,

reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,

may always be well pleasing to you.

Thorough 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

Isaiah02.jpg

Is 42: 1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

APPLICATION

This prophecy of second-Isaiah was chosen for today, the feast which commemorates the baptism of Christ in the Jordan, because on that occasion the Father’s voice from heaven proclaimed that Christ was “his beloved servant in which he was well pleased.” Following the interpretation of the inspired Evangelists and of the ancient and constant tradition of the Church, we can have no hesitation in seeing in these words of second-Isaiah, written five centuries or so before Christ, a description of the Savior who came on earth to teach Jew and Gentile the new law of God, the law of love and mercy.

He who was the Son of God took our human nature in order to represent us, and as one of us to give our heavenly Father the perfect obedience and service which no mere man had done ever since the creation, and which no mere man could ever do. This perfect obedience or service of God which Christ, the perfect servant, gave the Father, went as far as the acceptance of the shameful and excruciating death on a cross. But all this he accepted gladly for us–it was in our name he did it–and because he did it, we are all raised to a new relationship with God. He has made us all, Jew and Gentile, the whole human race, adopted sons of his heavenly Father.

As members of his mystical body we can now, because he is our Head, give a service to God worthy of our new status, a service which God accepts from us because it is given to him and through “Christ our Lord.”

Today, as we offer the Mass, the sacrifice of Christ renewed before our eyes, let us try to realize the privilege that is ours. We are able, through Christ, to offer a sacrifice which gives infinite honor to God. We are able in spite of all our weaknesses and all our faults to give a service that is pleasing to God and to make some return for all he has done for us. We have become “good and faithful servants” because Christ the Son of God became the perfect servant of God for our sake.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

READING II

st.-paul.jpg

Acts 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”

APPLICATION

That day, nearly two thousand years ago, when Christ by his baptism in the Jordan, began his public preaching of salvation for all men, is a day–a feastday–no true Christian can ever forget. The baptism of John was for sinners–a sign of change of heart and a turning to God. Christ had no sin, he had never turned away from God, he was God–but he was the representative of sinful humanity. He represented us sinners that day and opened the door of salvation for us. In that ceremony Christ was proclaimed by the heavenly Father to be his son and faithful servant, and the power of the Holy Spirit came upon him.

But this was all for us; as God he already had all things in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit. But in his human nature–our weak human nature which he took on himself in order to be one of us, and our representative–he was on that day proclaimed God’s true and faithful servant. At the same moment we human beings were accepted in him and through him (i.e. through his perfect obedience even unto the death on the cross) as God’s adopted children. The mission of Christ was for us. The Incarnation took place because God’s infinite love wanted man, the masterpiece of his whole creation, to have a share in the divine gifts of the Blessed Trinity. God united the divine with the human nature in Christ. We mortal men were raised above our human nature; we would become immortal, not that we would never die on this earth–Christ himself died in his human nature-but “he would raise us up on the last day” to share forever with the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Incarnate Son the eternal bliss of heaven.

How could a Christian, one who knows all this, ever refuse to do the little part he is called on to do–“to fear God, that is, to reverence and respect him and to do what is right”? Reverence and respect for God should come easily from anyone who realizes what God has done for him. But true respect for God is not proved by a few distracted prayers and a grudging attendance at Sunday Mass. It is proved by striving to keep the laws Christ gave us, i.e. doing what is right, every day of our lives. This is difficult at times but if we keep our eternity–the unending life–before our eyes, the few short years of hardship and training on earth, will seem very short indeed. There is no comparison between what God has prepared for us, and promises us, and the trifling conditions he asks us to fulfill in order to earn his promised reward.

GOSPEL

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Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011016.cfm

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

CCC 536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.1 Already he is anticipating the “baptism” of his bloody death.2 Already he is coming to “fulfill all righteousness”, that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins.3 The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son.4 The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to “rest on him”.5 Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism “the heavens were opened”6 – the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed – and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.

CCC 608 After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.7 By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover.8 Christ’s whole life expresses his mission: “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”9

CCC 696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel.10 This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”11 Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!”12 In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself13 The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions.14 “Do not quench the Spirit.”15

CCC 2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ’s ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father’s witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father’s plan of love by his Passion.16 He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter’s confession of him as “the Christ of God,” and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted.17 Jesus’ prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.

1 Jn 1:29; cf. Is 53:12.

2 Cf. Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50.

3 Mt 3:15; cf. 26:39.

4 Cf. Lk 3:22; Is 42:1.

5 Jn 1:32-33; cf. Is 11:2.

6 Mt 3:16.

7 Jn 1:29; cf. Lk 3:21; Mt 3:14-15; Jn 1:36.

8 Is 53:7,12; cf. Jer 11:19; Ex 12:3-14; Jn 19:36; 1 Cor 5:7.

9 Mk 10:45.

10 Sir 48:1; cf. 1 Kings 18:38-39.

11 Lk 1:17; 3:16.

12 Lk 12:49.

13 Acts 2:3-4.

14 Cf. St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 577 ff.

15 1 Thess 5:1.

16 Cf. Lk 3:21; 9:28; 22:41-44.

17 Cf. Lk 6:12; 9:18-20; 22:32.

APPLICATION

Of the hundreds of Jews who had flocked to hear the Baptist’s message, and who were present when Christ insisted on going through John’s baptismal rite and who had probably heard the words from heaven proclaiming him to be the expected Messiah, only two left the Baptist and followed him. One of these was Andrew and the other was most probably John the Evangelist. Later in that day Andrew told Peter, his brother, that he had found the Messiah and Peter joined him too.

What was wrong with the hundreds of others? We are told they were all agog about the Messiah and were wondering in their hearts if John was not he. Yet when the real Messiah was pointed out to them they did nothing about it. John had told them the Messiah would baptize them, not with water as he did, but with the Holy Spirit of God, and with fire. As Jews they must have understood that this meant he would make of them a holy people, a spiritual people, a people close to God and cleansed from all earthly attachments.

Was it this that held them back? Were their hearts so centered on the things of earth, the things of this life, that they had no time for things spiritual? Were they so anxious for a king, a messiah, who would set them free from the hated pagan Romans and give them once more a powerful earthly kingdom, that talk of the kingdom of God and of a spiritual life made no impression on them? Their dealings with Christ during his public mission amongst them, their disbelief, their opposition, their persecution, which led eventually to the death on the cross answer these questions for us. The vast majority of the Jews of that day did not want a spiritual Messiah or kingdom. They were not interested in a heaven of the future, they wanted their heaven, their happiness, and prosperity here on earth.

Before we pass any judgement on such folly let us have a look into our own hearts today. We are Christians, we are followers of Christ, we know he was God, we believe his word. We are convinced that getting to heaven is more important than getting all the treasures and pleasures this earth has to offer. But do we always live up to these convictions, are we true Christians the seven days of the week? In our work, in our speech, in our dealings with others, in our family life are we truly following Christ and his teaching?

Is my way of life, my daily conduct, such that it would cause a non-Christian to say: “That man has something noble and sensible about him, that man is concerned with the things that really matter; that man has an inward peace and sense of security which I have not got, a sense of peace and security which comes not from the things of this world. I must find out what it is and get it for myself?”

In all sincerity I cannot see any non-Christian speaking thus of me today, but helped by God’s grace, it could and may be truly said of me in the days to come. God grant that this may be so.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Baptism of the Lord

In the gospel account of the baptism of Jesus, the mystery of death and Resurrection, sin and redemption, sin and forgiveness is prefigured: Jesus descends into the depths of the Jordan. Being submerged in the river is a symbolic representation of the process of death. An old life is buried, so that a new one can arise. Because Jesus himself is without sin and has no old life to bury, his acceptance of baptism is an anticipation of the cross, whereby he begins to share in our lot and to take upon himself our sins and our death. At the moment when he comes up out of the river, the heavens part, and from them is heard the voice in which the Father acknowledges him as his Son. The opening of heaven is a sign that this descent into our night is the dawning of a new day, that the barrier between God and man is being broken down by this identification of the Son with us: God and man is being broken down by this identification of the Son with us: God is no longer inaccessible; in the depths of our sins, and even of death, he searches for us and brings us into the light again. To this extent the baptism of Jesus anticipates the entire drama of his life and death and at the same time explains them to us.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty, eternal God, when the Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan, you revealed him as your own beloved Son. Keep us, your children born of water and the Spirit, faithful to our calling. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/pray0328.htm

 

 

Posted in Catholic

The Epiphany of the Lord

Adoration_of_the_Magi_Tapestry.png

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary his mother”

OPENING PRAYER

Christmas Prayer

Moonless darkness stands between.

Past, the Past, no more be seen!

But the Bethlehem star may lead me

To the sight of Him

Who freed me

From the self that I have been.

Make me pure, Lord: Thou art Holy;

Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;

Now beginning, and always,

Now begin, on Christmas day.

COLLECT

O God, who on this day

revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations

by the guidance of a star,

grant in your mercy

that we, who know you already by faith,

may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime 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

Andrea_Mantegna_Maggi_1641.jpg

Is 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,

the glory of the Lord shines upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth,

and thick clouds cover the peoples;

but upon you the LORD shines,

and over you appears his glory.

Nations shall walk by your light,

and kings by your shining radiance.

Raise your eyes and look about;

they all gather and come to you:

your sons come from afar,

and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,

your heart shall throb and overflow,

for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,

the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.

Caravans of camels shall fill you,

dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;

all from Sheba shall come

bearing gold and frankincense,

and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

APPLICATION

The feast of the Epiphany is the feast which commemorates the manifestation of God to the Gentiles. This manifestation began when the Wise Men from the East came to Bethlehem to pay their respects and offer their gifts to the newly-born king of the Jews (see Mt. 2 in today’s gospel). Though the words of second-Isaiah were not understood by his hearers as referring to this event, it was only in the coming of the Magi, to welcome Christ, that they were really fulfilled. Jerusalem was in no sense an attraction for the nations in the intervening centuries. But the Magi at Bethlehem were the first-fruits of the thousands and millions of Gentiles who have since then seen the glory of God in the Babe of Bethlehem and who have figuratively come to Jerusalem from the West and from the East to form the new Chosen People, the new Kingdom of God.

Let us thank God today for having called us, Gentiles, to his kingdom, his Church, and for giving us the means to reach heaven. Let us never imitate the Chosen People of the Old Testament who so often forgot how good God was to them, and who often so provoked him, that he allowed them to be taken into exile as slaves of a pagan nation. We too could bring exile on ourselves, an exile much more fatal than the Babylonian one. Whatever else may be my lot, whatever hardship I may have to suffer during the few years I am on earth, God forbid that I should ever, through my unfaithfulness, cause myself to be excluded from my true home, heaven, where “the glory of the Lord will shine” forever.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

adorat10.jpg

Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,

and with your justice, the king’s son;

He shall govern your people with justice

and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Justice shall flower in his days,

and profound peace, till the moon be no more.

May he rule from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;

the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.

All kings shall pay him homage,

all nations shall serve him.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,

and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.

He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;

the lives of the poor he shall save.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

READING II

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Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:

You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace

that was given to me for your benefit,

namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.

It was not made known to people in other generations

as it has now been revealed

to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,

and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

APPLICATION

St. Paul’s thoughts in his prison in Rome are not for himself nor for the fate that awaits him. He is thinking instead of the mission Christ gave him, to evangelize the Gentile nations. He has done much already, and even in prison he does all he can to continue the good work. He writes to his Gentile converts from Rome, to remind them of their great privilege in being called to the Christian faith. They are now God’s new Chosen People, they are now members of Christ’s mystical body, they are now guaranteed heaven if they appreciate and live up to their vocation.

Today, on the feast of the Epiphany, we are celebrating the coming of the first Gentiles to the feet of Christ. They were the first of the long stream of Gentile peoples and nations that flowed steadily toward Christ’s mystical body, the Church, down through the years. We have the privilege of being part of that stream, and St. Paul, who today in heaven is as interested in us as he was in his Ephesian converts, is exhorting us, through these words of his, to appreciate the privilege which is ours. Through the grace of God and not through any merits of our own, we are Christians and are on the road to heaven. “Rejoice and persevere” is St. Paul’s advice to us today. If we truly rejoice it means we truly appreciate what the gift of the true faith means. We know where we came from, we know where we are going, and we are certain there is a place, a wonderful, eternal place, to go to. We know too how to get there. This is no mean knowledge in the world of today, where so many seem content to make this world their heaven, and let the future look after itself–if there be a future (and logically to ease their consciences they must hope there isn’t one).

Thank God, our faith and our ordinary intelligence tell us there has to be a future life—God would be a cruel joker if he gave us the nature we possess with its spiritual gifts and desires only to have them end in a grave after a few short years. We can rejoice then because we appreciate the great privilege given us, and if we appreciate it we shall hold on to it and follow the path it indicates. We may have to climb some hills and they may look as steep as Calvary, but after Calvary comes the Mount of Olives, the mount of the Ascension.

GOSPEL

Gentile_da_Fabriano_-_Adorazione_dei_Magi_-_Google_Art_Project_detail-1140x1125.jpg

Mt 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,

in the days of King Herod,

behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?

We saw his star at its rising

and have come to do him homage.”

When King Herod heard this,

he was greatly troubled,

and all Jerusalem with him.

Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,

He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,

for thus it has been written through the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

since from you shall come a ruler,

who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly

and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.

He sent them to Bethlehem and said,

“Go and search diligently for the child.

When you have found him, bring me word,

that I too may go and do him homage.”

After their audience with the king they set out.

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,

until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.

They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary his mother.

They prostrated themselves and did him homage.

Then they opened their treasures

and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,

they departed for their country by another way.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/010316.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 430 Jesus means in Hebrew: “God saves.” At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission.1 Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, “will save his people from their sins”.2 in Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of salvation on behalf of men.

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.3 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.4

CCC 486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.5 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”6

CCC 528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.7 In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.8 Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament.9 The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas10 (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”).

CCC 724 In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and the first representatives of the gentiles that she makes him known.11

1 Cf. Lk 1:31.

2 Mt 1:21; cf. 2:7.

3 Cf Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9.15.

4 Cf. Jn 4:25-26; 6:15; 11:27; Mt 22:41-46; Lk 24:21.

5 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:1-12; Lk 1:35; 2:8-20; Jn 1:3 1-34; 2:11.

6 Acts 10:38.

7 Mt 2:1; cf. LH, Epiphany, Evening Prayer II, Antiphon at the Canticle of Mary.

8 Cf Mt 2:2; Num 24:17-19; Rev 22:16.

9 Cf Jn 4 22; Mt 2:4-6.

10 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 3 in epiphania Domini 1-3, 5: PL 54, 242; LH, Epiphany, OR; Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 26, Prayer after the third reading.

11 Cf. Lk 1:15-19; Mt 2:11.

APPLICATION

The Magi are the central personages in today’s feast of Epiphany. They were pagans who did not know the true God of the Jews. Yet that true God revealed to them that the King he had promised to the Jews had come. The expected Prince was born. They came to Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, expecting, of course, to find the city and the whole country rejoicing. Instead they found suspicion and hatred in the reigning king–a hatred which in a few days turned to murder. Among the religious leaders they found knowledge of their past history, but utter indifference as regards the present and the future. These leaders knew the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem; they must have realized that the Magi were very sure of the truth revealed to them–they would not have come such a long journey on a “fool’s errand.” In spite of that, the thought of going to Bethlehem with the Magi never entered their minds. These were the leaders who some years later refused to listen to Christ and in spite of his miracles refused to admit his claim that he was not only the promised Messiah, but the true Son of God. These were the men who rejected him because he had mercy on sinners, and spoke of a future life. What they wanted from their Messiah was political power and earthly freedom and prosperity. Like Herod they ended with murder–the crucifixion of the “King of the Jews.” The pagan king was not much worse than the indifferent leaders of God’s Chosen People.

We too know the true facts concerning Christ, his mission, and his present and future kingdom. Like the leaders of the Jews of his day, we also could become absorbed in the affairs of this life and the quest for wealth, pleasure and power. We could become so totally absorbed in such things as to have neither the interest nor the time to pay our respects to Christ or to welcome him into our homes and our hearts, as our true Lord. God forbid it should ever be thus with us. Rather let us resolve this morning to make the Magi our models, to follow them to Bethlehem and offer him all that we have and are. He will accept our offering and we will return by another way, wiser and better men.

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

BENEDICTUS

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The Deep Desire of the Magi

Why did the Magi set off from afar to go to Bethlehem? The answer has to do with the mystery of the “star” which they saw “in the East” and which they recognized as the star of the “King of the Jews,” that is to say, the sign of the birth of the Messiah (Mt 2: 2). So their journey was inspired by a powerful hope, strengthened and guided by the star, which led them toward the King of the Jews, toward the kingship of God himself. The Magi set out because of a deep desire which prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was as though they had always been waiting for that star. It was as if the journey had always been a part of their destiny, and was finally about to begin. This is the mystery of God’s call, the mystery of vocation. It is part of the life of every Christian… When the Magi came to Bethlehem, “going into the house they saw the child with Mary his Mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Mt 2: 11). Here at last was the long-awaited moment – their encounter with Jesus. “Going into the house”: this house in some sense represents the Church… “They fell down and worshiped him… and offered him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Mt 2: 11-12). Here is the culmination of the whole journey: encounter becomes adoration; it blossoms into an act of faith and love which acknowledges in Jesus, born of Mary, the Son of God made man… The secret of holiness is friendship with Christ and faithful obedience to his will.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A PRAYER FOR THE VIRTUE OF OBEDIENCE

Jesus, Almighty King of kings,

You Who obeyed Your Father to the end,

Teach me the meaning of obedience.

My soul burns to comply to Your Will,

Striving to charm Your Divinity.

While my worldly nature seeks one way,

My spiritual nature seeks another.

Bless me with the strength to obey,

That my soul may subdue both natures,

Blending them as a fair aromatic bloom.

I always seek favor in Your eyes,

To always obey You until my last breath!

 

Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, Christmas, Epiphany, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Mary, prayer, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

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“Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”  And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he said to them.

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

A Prayer for a Family

O dear Jesus,

I humbly implore You to grant Your special graces to our family.

May our home be the shrine of peace, purity, love, labor and faith.

I beg You, dear Jesus, to protect and bless all of us, absent and

present, living and dead.

O Mary, loving Mother of Jesus, and our Mother,

pray to Jesus for our family, for all the families of the world,

to guard the womb of the unborn, the cradle of the newborn,

the schools of the young and their vocations.

Blessed Saint Joseph, holy guardian of Jesus and Mary,

assist us by your prayers in all the necessities of life.

Ask of Jesus that special grace which He granted to you,

to watch over our home at the pillow of the sick and the dying,

so that with Mary and with you, heaven may find our family unbroken

in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who were pleased to give us

the shining example of the Holy Family,

graciously grant that we may imitate them

in practicing the virtues of family life and in

the bonds of charity,

and so, in the joy of your house,

delight one day in eternal rewards.

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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Sir 3:2-6, 12-14

God sets a father in honor over his children;

a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.

Whoever honors his father atones for sins,

and preserves himself from them.

When he prays, he is heard;

he stores up riches who reveres his mother.

Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,

and, when he prays, is heard.

Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;

he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;

grieve him not as long as he lives.

Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;

revile him not all the days of his life;

kindness to a father will not be forgotten,

firmly planted against the debt of your sins

–a house raised in justice to you.

APPLICATION

Although all the emphasis, in these verses of holy Scripture just read to us, seems to be on the obligation of children to their parents, there is a profound lesson here for parents too. “Like father like son” is an old and a true saying very often. If the parents fail to do what is right and just in the sight of God they can hardly complain if their children turn out disobedient to God and to them. The young learn more from example than from precept. If parents give their children the example of a life of obedience to the laws of God, and their country–the children will in turn carry out their duties to God, to their parents and to their fellowman. There have been and there will be exceptions, of course, to this rule but they are exceptions; the vast majority follow the pattern laid down for them by their parents.

As you heard during your marriage ceremony: “children are a gift from God to you,” a gift for this life to be the joy of your young years and a help and comfort in your old age; but above and beyond that, they are a gift which you must do all in your power to return to God when their hour comes. You must not only strive to make them good citizens of this world but you must never forget that God gave them to you primarily so that you would make them citizens of heaven. You may fail, in spite of your best intentions and endeavors, but God will reward you nonetheless–the failure will not be laid to your door.

Today, on the feast-day of the only perfect family that ever lived on this earth, I would ask all parents to examine themselves and see how they are fulfilling this grave responsibility–which God has placed on them. Are they preparing their children by word and example, especially by example, to be worthy citizens of heaven where they will be their parents’ crown and glory?

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,

who walks in his ways!

For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;

blessed shall you be, and favored.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine

in the recesses of your home;

your children like olive plants

around your table.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

Behold, thus is the man blessed

who fears the LORD.

The LORD bless you from Zion:

may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

all the days of your life.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

READING II

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Col 3:12-21

Brothers and sisters:

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,

heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

bearing with one another and forgiving one another,

if one has a grievance against another;

as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

And over all these put on love,

that is, the bond of perfection.

And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,

the peace into which you were also called in one body.

And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,

as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,

singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs

with gratitude in your hearts to God.

And whatever you do, in word or in deed,

do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands,

as is proper in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives,

and avoid any bitterness toward them.

Children, obey your parents in everything,

for this is pleasing to the Lord.

Fathers, do not provoke your children,

so they may not become discouraged.

APPLICATION

Ninety per cent of the first readers of St. Paul’s letter–the first Christian converts of the town of Colossae–were pagans before their conversion. To practice the new Christian virtues was no easy task for people reared in the laxity and license of the paganism of their day. Yet they did practice these virtues and produced many saints and martyrs. After twenty centuries of Christianity one would expect that to live a full Christian life today should be less difficult but unfortunately it is not so. For the fact is our world is rapidly sinking back again into paganism–a paganism more inimical to truth and morality than the paganism of St. Paul’s day. The pagans of the Roman Empire were tired of vice and worldliness–they were looking for the truth and the real purpose of life. They found it in Christianity and cherished it. Today’s neo-pagans are tired of Christianity–they have found it wanting, because they are found wanting in its observance.

GOSPEL

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Lk 2:41-52

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast

of Passover,

and when he was twelve years old,

they went up according to festival custom.

After they had completed its days, as they were returning,

the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,

but his parents did not know it.

Thinking that he was in the caravan,

they journeyed for a day

and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,

but not finding him,

they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

After three days they found him in the temple,

sitting in the midst of the teachers,

listening to them and asking them questions,

and all who heard him were astounded

at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him,

they were astonished,

and his mother said to him,

“Son, why have you done this to us?

Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

And he said to them,

“Why were you looking for me?

Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

But they did not understand what he said to them.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth,

and was obedient to them;

and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor

before God and man.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/122715.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 94 Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church:

– “through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts”;1 it is in particular “theological research [which] deepens knowledge of revealed truth”.2

– “from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience”,3 the sacred Scriptures “grow with the one who reads them.”3

– “from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth”.5

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”,6 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience.7 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.8

CCC 503 Mary’s virginity manifests God’s absolute initiative in the Incarnation. Jesus has only God as Father. “He was never estranged from the Father because of the human nature which he assumed… He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the Father in both natures.”9

CCC 517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross,10 but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:

– already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;11

– in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;12

– in his word which purifies its hearers;13

– in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;14

– and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.15

CCC 531 During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of God,16 a life in the community. From this whole period it is revealed to us that Jesus was “obedient” to his parents and that he “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”17

CCC 534 The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus.18 Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s work?”19 Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary “kept all these things in her heart” during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life.

CCC 583 Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem. It was in the Temple that Joseph and Mary presented him forty days after his birth.20 At the age of twelve he decided to remain in the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father’s business.21 He went there each year during his hidden life at least for Passover.22 His public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts.23

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

CCC 2599 The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin also learned to pray according to his human heart. He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother, who kept in her heart and meditated upon all the “great things” done by the Almighty.24 He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. But his prayer springs from an otherwise secret source, as he intimates at the age of twelve: “I must be in my Father’s house.”25 Here the newness of prayer in the fullness of time begins to be revealed: his filial prayer, which the Father awaits from his children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in his humanity, with and for men.

1 DV 8 § 2; cf. Lk 2:19,51.

2 GS 62 § 7; cf. GS 44 § 2; DV 23; 24; UR 4.

3 DV 8 § 2.

4 DV 8 § 2.

5 St. Gregory the Great, Hom. in Ez. 1,7,8:PL 76,843D.

6 Lk 2:52.

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

8 Phil 2:7.

9 Council of Friuli (796): DS 619; cf. Lk 2:48-49.

10 Cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 1 Pt 1:18-19.

11 Cf. 2 Cor 8:9.

12 Cf. Lk 2:51.

13 Cf. Jn 15:3.

14 Mt 8:17; cf. Is 53:4.

15 Cf. Rom 4:25.

16 Cf. Gal 4:4.

17 Lk 2:51-52.

18 Cf. Lk 2:41-52.

19 Lk 2:49 alt.

20 Lk 2:22-39.

21 Cf. Lk 2 46-49.

22 Cf. Lk 2 41.

23 Cf. Jn 2 13-14; 5:1, 14; 7:1, 10, 14; 8 2; 10:22-23.

24 Cf. Lk 1:49; 2:19; 2:51.

25 Lk 2:49.

APPLICATION

The Church has appointed this Sunday within the octave of Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. She wants all Christian families to try to model their lives on this, the holiest of families that ever lived on earth. No family can ever hope to be as perfect as this one was, but every family must strive to imitate it if only from afar.

In Joseph, the father of the family has his model. Patiently and humbly he worked at his carpenter’s bench to provide the necessities of life for his wife and for the child Jesus. He could not always give them all he would wish for them but he did what he could gladly and humbly. To his neighbors he was just another carpenter, unknown to the world, of no importance in their eyes, yet his name will be known and revered until the end of time. Fathers, many (if not most) of you too, are living a life of obscurity–a life of monotonous toil–a daily struggle to provide bread for your family. You will never make the headlines in the newspapers because of what you are doing, but you are playing an important, an essential part, in God’s plan for providing citizens for heaven.

If you carry out faithfully the task God has given you, if you provide for and protect the wife and family God has committed to your care you will make the headlines in the world to come, your names will be written in the Book of Life.

Mothers of families, in Mary you have the perfect example you should strive to follow. She was a dutiful, faithful wife and an ideal and loving mother. How often she must have regretted that her beloved spouse had to struggle so hard to earn their meager, daily bread. How great must have been her grief that she could not give her beloved Child more comforts in his infancy and youth. She had days of sorrow and anxiety, sorrow which culminated at the foot of the cross on Calvary, but she accepted it all as God’s will for the salvation of the world. You too have your days of anxiety and your years perhaps of worry–worries which will not end till you draw your last breath. But think of your Model, turn to Mary for courage and for help. She can and will get you the strength to keep going on the hard road of motherhood.

Like her, you too have a great task to perform for God. You have the eternal salvation of your family in your hands. Their future in this world and in the more important world–the next–will depend largely on how you behave as mother of the family. Your greatest joy in heaven, after the beatific vision, will be, please God, that you will be surrounded by your family which, aided by God’s grace, you did so much to bring there.

Children : your duty in the family is to love, honor and obey your parents. And your model is none other than Jesus of Nazareth who, though he was God, made himself subject to Joseph and Mary. He who was God, has set you an example which you must follow. Your obedience will never be as perfect as his but it can and should be as perfect as you can make it. Be a comfort and a consolation to your parents. Remember always what they have done for you in your infancy when you could not help yourself. Remember what they have done and are still doing for you in order to fit you to take your place in this life and in the next.

Show your thankfulness and appreciation by doing what they tell you. You may not see the reason for all their restrictions and all their commands but it is because they have your welfare at heart and because they truly love you that such commands and restrictions are placed on you. It is only later on in life that you will fully understand the true love they had for you and the great sacrifices they made for you so that you would be worthy of them and worthy of your heavenly father who gave you to them. Show your appreciation now while you have them.

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

BENEDICTUS

Passover and Family

In the course of a year, a people is always in danger of disintegrating, not only through external causes, but also interiorly, and of losing hold of the inner motivation which sustains it. It needs to return to its fundamental origin… We experience the primal, chaotic powers rising up from the very midst of a progressive society – which seems to know everything and to be able to do anything – and attacking the very progress of which it is so proud. We see how, in the midst of prosperity, technological achievement, and the scientific domination of the world, a nation can be destroyed from within; we see how the creation can be threatened by the chaotic powers which lurk in the depths of the human heart. We realize that neither money nor technology nor organizational ability alone can banish chaos. Only the real protective wall given to us by the Lord, the new family he has created for us, can do this… Passover is a summons, urgently reminding us that the family is the living home in which humanity is nurtured, which banishes chaos and futility, and which must be protected as such… The individual family cannot survive; it will disintegrate unless it is kept safe within the larger family which guarantees it and gives it security. So this night needs to be the night in which we set out once again on our twin paths: we set out on the path to the new city, the new family, the Church, and dedicate ourselves irrevocably to her, to our heart’s true home; and then, on the basis of this family of Jesus Christ, we can proceed to grasp what it meant by the human family and by the humanity which sustains and protects us.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Consecration of a Christian Family to the Holy Family

To the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Oh Mother Most Pure,

we come to You as a family

and consecrate ourselves to your most Immaculate Heart.

We come to You as a family

and place our trust in Your powerful intercession.

Oh Dearest Mother Mary,

teach us as a mother teaches her children,

for our souls are soiled

and our prayers are weak

because of our sinful hearts.

ready to respond to You

and follow Your way,

for Your way leads us

to the heart of Your Son, Jesus.

We are ready to be cleansed and purified.

Come then Virgin Most Pure,

and embrace us with Your motherly mantle.

Make our hearts whiter than snow

and as pure as a spring of fresh water.

Teach us to pray,

so that our prayers may become more beautiful

than the singing of the birds at the break of dawn.

Dear Mother Mary,

we entrust to Your Immaculate Heart of hearts,

our family and our entire future.

Lead us all to our homeland which is Heaven.

Amen.

Immaculate Heart of Mary,

pray for us.

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

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) – Mass During the Night

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“And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

OPENING PRAYER

Christmas Prayer of St. Pope John XXIII

O sweet Child of Bethlehem,
grant that we may share with all our hearts
in this profound mystery of Christmas.
Put into the hearts of men and women this peace
for which they sometimes seek so desperately
and which you alone can give to them.
Help them to know one another better,
and to live as brothers and sisters,
children of the same Father.
Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity.
Awaken in their hearts
love and gratitude for your infinite goodness.
Join them all together in your love.
And give us your heavenly peace. Amen.

St. Pope John XXIII

COLLECT

O God, who have made this most sacred night

radiant with the splendor of the true light,

grand, we pray, that we, who have known the mysteries

of his light on earth

may also delight in his gladness in heaven.

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 9:1-6

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

APPLICATION

What Isaiah foresaw some 700 years before it happened we are commemorating tonight nearly 2,000 years after it happened, and it will still be commemorated 2,000 years from today if this world will still be in existence. God came on our earth, became one of us so that we could become one with God. This is incomparably greater than any other historical event that ever happened or ever could happen on our planet.

Yet unfortunately there are millions of people who have not yet heard this good news, but its good effects will reach them if their ignorance is not their fault. There are millions of others who have heard this good news but refuse to believe it. The basic reason for their disbelief is not that it couldn’t be true, but that it is too good to be true. It is indeed hard to believe that the infinite, all-perfect God should bother with such imperfect, such mean creatures, as we are. But it is because he is infinite and his love is infinite that he can and did go to such lengths for us his unworthy creatures.

While we thank God tonight with true sincerity and heartfelt gratitude, for all he has done for us, and while we promise faithfully to try to make ourselves less unworthy of the infinite love he has shown us in the Incarnation, let us remember all those millions of our brothers who do not really know him yet. Let us beg God to send them the goods news and the grace to accept this great gift of infinite love, so that all his children on earth may know and thank him too. And let us strive by the example of a truly Christian life to make God’s love for us known not only to our fellow-Christians but to all men.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the “Book of Emmanuel” (“Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,”1 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.2

CCC 2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.”3 By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,”4 he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.”5 He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”6

1 Jn 12:41; cf. Isa 6-12.
2 Isa 11:1-2.
3 Isa 9:5.
4 Eph 2:16 J.B.; cf. Col 1:20-22.
5 Eph 2:14.
6 Mt 5:9.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 96: 1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

READING II

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Ti 2:11-14

Beloved:
The grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

CCC 1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.”2 Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: “Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.”3 In the New Testament it is called “moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.”4
To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).5

1 DV 4; cf. 1 Tim 6:14; Titus 2:13.
2 Sir 5:2; cf. 37:27-31.
3 Sir 18:30.
4 Titus 2:12.
5 St. Augustine, De moribus eccl. 1, 25, 46: PL 32, 1330-1331.

APPLICATION

Christmas is an occasion for rejoicing, a season of goodwill, a time of joy even for those who unfortunately do not know or realize its true meaning. For us Christians it is the second of our greatest annual feasts (next after Easter) in which we call to mind God’s infinite love for us and his infinite mercy towards us mortals.

We surely have reason to rejoice and be glad. Christ, the true Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, took to himself our lowly human nature and became one with us in order to raise us up to the dignity of adopted sons of his heavenly Father. If some earthly king or nobleman took the son of one of his servants into his palace, clothed him in costly robes and made him his heir, the world would gasp in amazement. God has taken us, his lowly creatures; has clothed us in the divine garments of grace; has made us one of his family by making his Son one of us, and has made us heirs of an eternal kingdom.

And yet mankind can ignore or forget such an act of benevolence, such a proof of divine love! Of course, we Christians do not ignore or forget this divine benevolence but we just do not remember it as much as we should; we do not thank God often enough for all he has done for us; too often we are ungrateful children.

Tonight, as we call to mind the infinite love of God which sent his Son on earth to be born of the virgin Mary in a stable in Bethlehem so that we could spend our eternity in the mansions of heaven, let us show our gratitude, our appreciation, by resolving to live as adopted sons of God are expected to live.

St. Paul’s letter to Titus tells us how. We must reject ungodliness and worldly lusts by living temperately, justly and piously, using the things of this world as stepping-stones to heaven. God has made us his Chosen People; nay more! he has made us his adopted sons. Let us show our true gratitude by striving to live a life worthy of such a sublime vocation.

GOSPEL

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Lk 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122517-midnight.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”1 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”2 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.3 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.4 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.5

CCC 437 To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”6 From the beginning he was “the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world”, conceived as “holy” in Mary’s virginal womb.7 God called Joseph to “take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, so that Jesus, “who is called Christ”, should be born of Joseph’s spouse into the messianic lineage of David.8

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.9 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.10 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!”11

CCC 486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.12 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”13

CCC 515 The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith14 and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of his mystery in all his earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus’ life was a sign of his mystery.15 His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”16 His humanity appeared as “sacrament”, that is, the sign and instrument, of his divinity and of the salvation he brings: what was visible in his earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship and redemptive mission

CCC 525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family.17 Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest.18 The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!19

CCC 559 How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”.20 Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”.21 Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth.22 And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds.23 Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”,24 is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.

CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,25 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.26 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”27 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.28 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.29 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.30 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:31 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.

CCC 725 Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God’s merciful love,32 into communion with Christ. And the humble are always the first to accept him: shepherds, magi, Simeon and Anna, the bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples.

1 Heb 1:6.
2 Lk 2:14.
3 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13,19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30; 11:8.
4 Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7.
5 Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9. The angels in the life of the Church
6 Lk 2:11.
7 Jn 10:36; cf. Lk 1:35.
8 Mt 1:20; cf. 1:16; Rom 1:1; 2 Tim 2:8; Rev 22:16.
9 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.
10 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.
11 Jn 20:28,21:7.
12 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:1-12; Lk 1:35; 2:8-20; Jn 1:3 1-34; 2:11.
13 Acts 10:38.
14 Cf. Mk 1:1; Jn 21:24.
15 Cf Lk 2:7; Mt 27: 48; Jn 20:7.
16 Col 2:9.
17 Cf. Lk 2:61.
18 Cf. Lk 2:8-20.
19 Kontakion of Romanos the Melodist.
20 Lk 1:32; cf. Mt 21:1-11; Jn 6:15.
21 Ps 24:7-10; Zech 9:9.
22 Cf. Jn 18:37.
23 Cf. Mt 21:15-16; cf. Ps 8:3; Lk 19:38; 2:14.
24 Cf. Ps 118:26.
25Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.
26 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.
27 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.
28 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.
29 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.
30 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.
31 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.
32 Cf. Lk 2:14.

APPLICATION

Tonight as we kneel before the Baby in the Manger in praise and thanksgiving to the Son of infinite love and mercy let not our amazement at the humility and poverty of the stable and manger, touching though they be, prevent us from seeing the greater, the almost incredible, humiliation of the Incarnation itself. Had our Savior been born in Herod’s marble palace in Jerusalem and laid on a gilded cot with covers of the finest silk, his becoming man would yet have been a humbling, a lowering of himself, which would stagger the human mind. There are those who puzzle over and try to explain the mystery of the Incarnation—how Christ, namely, could be God and man at the same time, how one Person could have two natures. But mystery though this is, and fully intelligible to God only, the mystery of the love of God who did this for us is a greater mystery still and more of a puzzle to our finite human minds. “What is man that God should be mindful of him?” What have we ever done or what could we ever do to merit such love, such mercy, such condescension? No, we did not merit such love but the infinitely unselfish generosity of God, which no human mind is capable of grasping, has done this. We are his creatures who are capable of sharing his own happiness with him for all eternity and he has arranged it that we shall do so.

All we can do is to say from our heart a humble, thank you God, and to resolve to have the sense to avail ourselves of this almost incredible offer. We are “God’s friends.” He has called us so, then let us do our best to retain this friendship than which there is nothing greater for us on earth or in heaven. If we do, and if we do the little he asks of us, he will do his part; he will give us our share in the eternal happiness the Incarnation has won for us.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Real Point of Christmas

Why do we really celebrate Christmas despite the wretchedness, turmoil, and isolation that are still man’s lot and are if anything intensifying rather than lessening? What is the real point of Christmas?… Is it not consoling to see how, despite all the misunderstandings, the message of Jesus of Nazareth is heard? It is not only conflict that the message has produced but also and even more the miracle of understanding, so that across ages and cultures, and even across the boundaries between religions, human beings find one another in his name. Distance vanishes and people are drawn together amid all our doubts and bewilderment: God exists. Not as an infinitely distant power that can at best terrify us; not as being’s ultimate ground that is not conscious of itself. Rather he exists as One who can be concerned about us; he is such that everything we are and do lies open to his gaze. But that gaze is the gaze of Love. For anyone who accepts this in faith and knows it by faith, there is no longer any ultimate isolation. He is here. The light that one man becomes in history and for history is not an accident or something powerless, but Light from Light. The hope and encouragement that emanate from this light thus acquire a wholly new depth. But precisely because it is an entirely divine hope, we can and should accept it as also an entirely human hope and pass it on to others.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer for Christmas

A Root shall come forth from the stock of Jesse
And a Flower shall rise out of his root!
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him
the spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the spirit of counsel and of fortitude,
the spirit of knowledge and of godliness.
The people that walked in darkness
shall see a great light,
For a Child is born to us
and a Son is given to us.
To Him all power shall be given.
His Name shall be: Wonderful One,
Strong God, Eternal One, Prince of Peace.
He shall sit on the throne of David,
And He will found a new Covenant
which will last for ever and ever.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

SUGGESTED PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL

The shepherds rejoiced to hear the choir of angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest.” United in their joy, we glorify the Father by offering him our Christmas petitions:

For the Holy Father and the bishops who assist him: that their life, teaching, preaching, and pastoral care will proclaim the saving Event of the Incarnation to everyone throughout the world.

For our President and all who assist him in governing our country: that they will receive many blessings at Christmas and be strengthened to lead our nation in the ways of enduring righteousness and freedom.

For lasting peace throughout the world: that the coming of the Prince of Peace will put an end to all enmity and division, and unify the peoples of the world.

For families: that the powerful graces of this Christmas will draw family members together in fresh expressions of love and belonging that will last for a lifetime.

For the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, and for refugees: that Jesus Christ, who came into the world as one who was destitute and marginalized, will love and rescue the needy with special preference and grace.

That all Christians will be serious in responding to the universal call to holiness by living their faith with great fervor.

Loving Father, darkness is for ever changed because of the birth of the Light: Jesus Christ your Son. Take all the darkness of our lives and replace it with the radiance of our newborn Savior. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

GRACE BEFORE THE MEAL

Loving Father,

you bless us in every way,

especially with the love of the Mother of your Son.

United in a special way with the Blessed Virgin Mary,

our souls magnify you.

We thank you for all good things,

especially this meal,

through Christ our Lord. Amen.

GRACE AFTER THE MEAL

Our spirits rejoice in God our Savior,

for he has filled the hungry with good things.

Bless those who have provided for us in any way,

and fill all those who live in want.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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