Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

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‘there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.'”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for the Conversion of Sinners.

Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful Savior of the world, we humbly beseech You, by Your most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep who stray out of Your fold may in one days be converted to You, the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end.

Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=1949

COLLECT

Look upon us O God,

Creator and ruler of all things,

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

grant that we may serve you with all our heart,

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

 

moses_b

READING I

Ex 32:7-11, 13-14

The LORD said to Moses,

Go down at once to your people,

whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,

for they have become depraved.

They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,

making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,

sacrificing to it and crying out,

This is your God, O Israel,

who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’

I see how stiff-necked this people is, ” continued the LORD to Moses.

Let me alone, then,

that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.

Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,

Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,

whom you brought out of the land of Egypt

with such great power and with so strong a hand?

Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,

and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,

I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;

and all this land that I promised,

I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’”

So the LORD relented in the punishment

he had threatened to inflict on his people.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 210 After Israel’s sin, when the people had turned away from God to worship the golden calf, God hears Moses’ prayer of intercession and agrees to walk in the midst of an unfaithful people, thus demonstrating his love.1 When Moses asks to see his glory, God responds “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name ‘the LORD’ [YHWH].”2 Then the LORD passes before Moses and proclaims, “YHWH, YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”; Moses then confesses that the LORD is a forgiving God.3

CCC 2577 From this intimacy with the faithful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,4 Moses drew strength and determination for his intercession. He does not pray for himself but for the people whom God made his own. Moses already intercedes for them during the battle with the Amalekites and prays to obtain healing for Miriam.5 But it is chiefly after their apostasy that Moses “stands in the breach” before God in order to save the people.6 The arguments of his prayer – for intercession is also a mysterious battle – will inspire the boldness of the great intercessors among the Jewish people and in the Church: God is love; he is therefore righteous and faithful; he cannot contradict himself; he must remember his marvelous deeds, since his glory is at stake, and he cannot forsake this people that bears his name.

1 Cf. Ex 32; 33: 12-17.

2 Ex 33:18-19.

3 Ex 34:5-6; cf. 34:9.

4 Cf. Ex 34:6.

5 Cf. Ex 17:8-12; Num 12:13-14.

6 Ps 106:23; cf. Ex 32:1-34:9.

APPLICATION

No doubt most people who read or hear of this ingratitude which the Israelites showed toward God are shocked and disgusted. How could they forget the good God who set them free from the slavery of Egypt and worked so many extraordinary miracles to do so, and promised them a home-land, a country that would be their own, on the one condition that they would be loyal and obedient to him?

How could they turn away from their divine benefactor and accept the idol of their previous slave-Masters as their God? But we must remember that they had been brought up practically as pagans in Egypt. Any recollection that they may have had of the God of Abraham was very hazy, if many of them had even heard of him. Yet, it is true that what Yahweh, the God of Abraham, whom Moses had again brought to their notice, had done for them so recently should not have been forgotten so quickly. They were an ungrateful people, “Stiff-necked” God called them, and stiff-necked, ungrateful, and proud the vast majority of them remained, down through their history.

The intercession of Moses, however, saved them on this occasion. God was moved to mercy by the prayer of one faithful member of an ungrateful race. He would still fulfill the promise given to Abraham. He would still send “the blessing,” the One who would intercede not only for Abraham’s descendants but for the whole human race. The One who would reconcile mankind to God and make us all sharers in his divinity by sharing in our humanity, was Christ our Lord.

The Israelites indeed were ungrateful and disloyal to God who had done such great things for them. He has done greater things still for us Christians and yet we too are often ungrateful and disloyal. We may not set up graven images or golden calves to take God’s place but we turn our own vices into idols and serve them as our God. Our pride, our desire for worldly wealth, our ambitions for power, our sensual pleasures, become our idols. How often do these push God out of our thoughts and out of our lives and calculations. We have all, at one time or another, succumbed to one or other of these vices and gravely insulted God and Christ our Savior. Every time we committed a mortal sin we deserved to be cut off forever from the inheritance that Christ won for us. We have a mediator more influential than Moses could ever be. He is Christ, the Son of God and our brother in the one divine Person. He is always interceding with the Father on our behalf, and no sinner, no matter how serious or how numerous his sins, should ever despair. There is no prodigal son, no matter how long he has been absent from home, that the Father will not receive back because of Christ’s intercession. The one danger is that the prodigal may delay his return until it is too late. If he does, even the all-merciful, all powerful God cannot pardon him, for he cannot then ask for pardon.

Grateful Christians, and a large majority of them are grateful, will serve God willingly because of what he has done for them. They will follow Christ, who took the hard road to Calvary for their sake, and they will carry their own crosses cheerfully behind him, because he has asked them to do so. There is no place for idols in the hearts of the true followers of Christ. They love the Lord their God with their whole heart and their whole mind, because he loves them with an infinite love. And they love Christ his divine Son, who not only died that they might live, but is always interceding for them at the throne of God’s mercy.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19

(Lk 15:18) I will rise and go to my father.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;

in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.

Thoroughly wash me from my guilt

and of my sin cleanse me.

I will rise and go to my father.

A clean heart create for me, O God,

and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

Cast me not out from your presence,

and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

I will rise and go to my father.

O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;

a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

I will rise and go to my father.

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READING II

1 Tm 1:12-17

Beloved:

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord,

because he considered me trustworthy

in appointing me to the ministry.

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant,

but I have been mercifully treated

because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.

Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,

along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Of these I am the foremost.

But for that reason I was mercifully treated,

so that in me, as the foremost,

Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example

for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.

To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,

honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 142 By his Revelation, “the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company.”1 The adequate response to this invitation is faith.

CCC 545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”2 He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”.3 The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.4

1 DV 2; cf. Col 1:15; I Tim 1:17; Ex 33:11; Jn 15:14-15; Bar 3:38 (Vulg.).

2 Mk 2:17; cf. l Tim 1:15.

3 Lk 15:7; cf. 7:11-32.

4 Mt 26:28.

APPLICATION

St. Paul spent his Christian life regretting his sinful past and wondering at the infinite mercy of Christ, the Son of God, who not only forgave all his past sins but showered his graces on him so abundantly. He realized that his past crimes against Christ, whom he judged as an impostor who was perverting the Chosen People of God, and also his persecution of the Jewish converts to Christ, were caused by his own pride. Yet he blames himself for the ignorance which caused this pharisaical pride in him, while Christ on the other hand excused him because of this ignorance. The conclusion he rightly draws from this is that there is no sinner so wicked but can be forgiven, and will be forgiven, if only he listens to the call of Christ.

There is a consoling lesson here for all of us. We have all sinned in one way or another. We have all offended Christ. We have not offended him as seriously as Paul did perhaps, but then Paul did not know who Christ was at that time. We can have no doubts as to the identity of Christ. St. Paul’s conversion and his absolute dedication to the work of telling the world who Christ was, is alone a convincing proof for use of the divinity of Christ. That the fanatic defender of Judaism, a member of the strict sect of the Pharisees, whose basic doctrine was the strictest monotheism, could turn around and preach the divinity of Christ demanded more than a miracle. It was in fact, something greater than a miracle. It was the very appearance of the Risen Christ in person to him on the road to Damascus.

This appearance of Christ, and his converse with him, convinced Paul that Christ was the Son of God who had assumed human nature in order to live amongst men. By his perfect obedience to his father as man, he had earned for all men forgiveness of their sins and sonship with God: he, Christ, had become their brother. From that moment Paul, who up to now had thought that Christ’s claim to be God was absolute blasphemy, became the most convinced preacher and the most fearless defender of the divine sonship of Christ.

While we thank God for having given us this most convincing proof of Christ’s divinity in the conversion of St. Paul, let us not forget to imitate the same Paul in his life-long sense of sorrow for the offenses he committed against Christ and his followers before his conversion. We too have offended Christ and with far less excuse than Paul had. Christ’s mercy is there in abundance for us also. He came on earth to bring us sinners to heaven. He will bring us there if only we allow him. He has left us in his sacrament of penance all the means necessary to wipe out our past offenses, and if penance is not available to us, he will accept a sincere act of repentance made directly to himself.

Our God is a God of love. He wants to share his eternal happiness with us. To do this he planned the Incarnation through which our lowly human nature was united with the divine nature in Christ. Mankind was raised to brotherhood with Christ and therefore sonship with God and inheritance of heaven. The God who has shown such infinite love for us does not want any of us adopted sons to lose the eternal happiness he has planned for us. He wants us all in heaven, and there we will be, if we are found free from serious sin when leaving this life.

What man could be so foolish, so utterly uninterested in his own eternal welfare, as to refuse to put on the wedding-garment of grace which will admit him to heaven? The merciful, generous God not only gives it freely to him, but implores him, for his own sake, to accept it.

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GOSPEL

LK 15:1-10

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 he addressed this parable.

What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them

would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert

and go after the lost one until he finds it?

And when he does find it,

he sets it on his shoulders with great joy

and, upon his arrival home,

he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,

Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’

I tell you, in just the same way

there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents

than over ninety-nine righteous people

who have no need of repentance.

Or what woman having ten coins and losing one

would not light a lamp and sweep the house,

searching carefully until she finds it?

And when she does find it,

she calls together her friends and neighbors

and says to them,

Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’

In just the same way, I tell you,

there will be rejoicing among the angels of God

over one sinner who repents.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091116.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

CCC 589 Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God’s own attitude toward them.4 He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet.5 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?”6 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.7

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 Father8 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:9 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.10

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.”11 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.”12 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.13

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 son14 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.15 The angel announced to Joseph: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”16 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.”17

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,18 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.19 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,20 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.21

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.22 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.”23 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.24

1 Mk 2:17; cf. l Tim 1:15.

2 Lk 15:7; cf. 7:11-32.

3 Mt 26:28.

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

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

6 Mk 2:7.

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

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

9 Cf. Lk 15:11-24.

10 Cf. Lk 15; 19:9.

11 Roman Catechism, II, V, 18.

12 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1674.

13 Cf. Lk 15:32.

14 Lk 15:11-32

15 Cf. Lk 15.

16 Mt 1:21.

17 Mt 26:28.

18 Cf. Gen 3.

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

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

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

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

23 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.

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

APPLICATION

The lesson that these stories, made up by our Lord himself, has for us is clearly a lesson of hope and confidence in the infinite mercy of God in his dealings with us. We are all sinners in one way or another. We have all gone astray, got lost like the sheep and the coin in those stories, sometime or other. What is worse, we are all capable of going astray from God again at any moment. If we had only the justice of God to deal with we might well despair, our chances of reaching heaven would be slight indeed.

We are dealing, however, with a God of infinite mercy, who loves us with a love we cannot grasp or understand. All this infinite mercy of God is there for our benefit as long as we have the breath of life in us in this world. The whole of the Old Testament is full of examples and proofs of this mercy of God for man. It is in the New Testament, however, which begins with that almost incredible act of divine mercy, the Incarnation, that the infinite mercy of God for all mankind is seen in its fullness. The coming of the Son of God on earth in our human nature, his teaching, his sufferings and death, his resurrection were all accomplished for us, so that we could rise glorious from the dead and share the joys of heaven, to which we have no claim whatever, except the merciful goodness and generosity of God.

God does not need us to make his existence happy. He is all-powerful, all-perfect, all-happy in himself. Because he is a God of love, a God of infinite generosity, he wants to give us a share in his happiness. At times one must wonder how any man who knows of God’s generosity and of what that generosity has led him to do for us, could ever think of abandoning that loving God, or get lost in futile earthly folly. Yet that does happen when we sin grievously.

God does not cast us out forever as sinners unworthy of his gifts. Instead, he foresees such folly on our part, and has left us lessons of encouragement, as in today’s parables, and set up in the Church ways and means to carry on his work of mercy for weak, mortal men. During his life on earth, Christ dealt mostly with sinners–he said he came to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He told the Pharisees that it was the sick who needed a doctor, not those who were well. The Pharisees in their pride thought they were not sick but they were, and he was only too ready to heal them too if only they would let him.

He spent his days then among sinners, the tax-gatherers, the robbers, the adulterers, the usurers. The twelve special friends he chose from amongst his followers had more than their share of human failings. James and John were more interested in getting good profitable positions in the earthly kingdom which they thought he would set up, than they were in heavenly things. Peter shamelessly and openly denied him on Holy Thursday night to save himself from the clutches of the Sanhedrin. Judas actually sold him for thirty mean pieces of silver. Yet, he never uttered a harsh word against any of these sinners. He forgave the weaknesses of his Apostles and they became the solid foundation of his Church soon afterwards. He offered Judas forgiveness when he called him “friend” in the garden of Gethsemani. But Judas did not avail of his generous offer.

We are all sinners to a greater or lesser degree. With this knowledge and conviction, which any true Christian must have, of the infinite mercy of God, no sinner need ever, and should never, despair. No sinner was ever lost and no sinner will ever be lost, because of his sins. Sinners are lost only because they will not trust and believe in God’s mercy and turn to him to ask for pardon.

Not a day passes but our merciful Father sends out and calls to us his erring children to return to our Fathers household. Today, one of those calls is in the very words of the parables you have heard. There may be another call for the sinners amongst us. There may not. Heed this one and the other call will not be necessary. Turn to God today with a truly contrite heart. God will do the rest.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Personal Dimension of Forgiveness

As sin, despite all our bonds with the human community, is ultimately something totally personal, so also our healing with forgiveness has to be something totally personal. God does not treat us as part of a collectivity. He knows each one by name, and he calls him personally and saves him if he has fallen into sin. Even if in all the sacraments, the Lord addresses the person as an individual, the personalist nature of the Christian life is manifested in a particularly clear way in the sacrament of Penance. That means that the personal confession and the forgiveness directed to this person are constitutive parts of the sacrament… Of course, the confession of one’s own sin can seem to be something heavy for the person, because it humbles his pride and confronts him with his poverty. It is this that we need: we suffer exactly for this reason: we shut ourselves up in our delirium of guiltlessness and for this reason we are closed to others and to any comparison with them. In psychotherapeutic treatments a person is made to bear the burden of profound and often dangerous revelations of his inner self. In the sacrament of Penance, the simple confession of one’s guilt is presented with confidence in God’s merciful goodness. It is important to do this without falling into scruples, with the spirit of trust proper to the children of God. In this way confession can become an experience of deliverance, in which the weight of the past is removed from us and we can feel rejuvenated by the merit of the grace of God who each time gives back the youthfulness of the heart.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 6

O Lord, reprove me not in your anger, nor chastise me in your wrath.

Have pity on me, O Lord, for I am languishing ; heal me, O Lord, for my body is in terror ;

My soul, too, is utterly terrified ; but you, O Lord, how long?

Return, O Lord, save my life ; rescue me because of your kindness,

For among the dead no one remembers you ; in the nether world who gives you thanks?

I am wearied with sighing ; every night I flood my bed with weeping ; I drench my couch with my tears.

My eyes are dimmed with sorrow ; they have aged because of all my foes.

Depart from me, all evildoers, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping ;

The Lord has heard my plea ; the Lord has accepted my prayer.

All my enemies shall be put to shame in utter terror ; they shall fall back in sudden shame.

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Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

01-jesus-christ-pantocrator_fullIf anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

OPENING PRAYER

The Passion Of Christ, Strengthen Me Prayer

Passion of Christ, strengthen me! Strengthen me under the pressure of temptation. Strengthen me when principle is at stake. Strengthen me to do Your Will, My God. Strengthen me in moments of suffering, in times of loneliness, in periods of depression. Strengthen me that I may never swerve from You, dear Christ, nor weaken through human respect, through a desire to be popular, through hope of social distinction. Strengthen me to accept my cross and carry it generously to the end. On the battlefield of life, stand by me that I may never prove a traitor in the ranks. Stand by me that I may not be dazzled by the glitter and glow of the enemy camp.

Amen

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=1687

COLLECT

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

look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters,

that those who believe in Christ

may receive true freedom

and an everlasting inheritance.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

holyspirit

Wis 9:13-18b

Who can know God’s counsel,

or who can conceive what the LORD intends?

For the deliberations of mortals are timid,

and unsure are our plans.

For the corruptible body burdens the soul

and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.

And scarce do we guess the things on earth,

and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;

but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?

Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom

and sent your holy spirit from on high?

And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

APPLICATION

We can never thank God sufficiently for his goodness in revealing himself to us, and in unveiling the plans he had for us when we were created. By the use of reason, we could prove that we were created by some all-wise, all-powerful being. That would, however, be but cold philosophical knowledge. We would still not see any purpose in life except to get what we could out of it, and that would in fact be very little because life is so short, and the amount of good we could get in its short span of time is so limited.

God has revealed that he has planned an unending life for us once we have completed our term on this earth. This is surely a revelation which satisfies every human ambition that we find in ourselves, and which gives a meaning to this life which human reasoning could never of itself discover. What is more, this revelation gives us an idea of God which no human philosophy could deduce from the knowledge of a Creator. It tells us our Creator is a God of love, a God who has a very personal interest in man, the masterpiece of his creative act. He not only gave us existence for a space of time on this earth, as he gave to the other beings about us. He intended also that unending existence for us afterwards.

Fortunate indeed are we who have this revelation of God from God. The author of the Book of Wisdom was grateful for the limited knowledge that the Old Testament contained. How much more grateful should we Christians be, who have seen the love of God personified and living amongst us and dying for us in the humanity of the Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ? “Greater love than this no man has than that a man lay down his life for his friends.” These are the words of Christ himself, but when it is God-made-man who does this for his mere creatures “the work of his hands:” how much greater, how much more beyond expectation is that love!

This is what God’s love has done for us. What does he ask in return? He asks that we should love and respect him in our limited little way. There isn’t much that we can give, but he accepts our tiny tokens. One way in which we can show how we appreciate all that he has done for us, is to try, by word and example, to make the infinite love of God for mankind known, to those who have not yet received the Christian faith, or who once had it but lost it through their human folly.

God loves the whole human race. He intends heaven for each one of us. There is room there for all. Men will be perverse and abuse the gifts of intellect and will which he gave them. They will even turn against himself and refuse the eternal reward which he has in store for them. He cannot force their free-will. He depends on us to act on his behalf. Every true Christian is an apostle. Every man who appreciates God’s goodness and love, must prove to his neighbor by his life that he has the “pearl of great price.” His place must show that he has the true answer to the enigma of life, and his confidence emphasize that the innate ambitions and desires of mankind are to be, and will be, fulfilled in him who serves God faithfully, according to his lights, during his few years on earth.

Thank you, God, for the Wisdom you have sent us from heaven. Give us the grace to live up to it always, and to be ready to share it with our neighbor on every available occasion. Thus may we arrive at the gates of heaven accompanied by many fellowmen, our brothers, who would otherwise have missed the road there.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17

In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

You turn man back to dust,

saying, “Return, O children of men.”

For a thousand years in your sight

are as yesterday, now that it is past,

or as a watch of the night.

In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

You make an end of them in their sleep;

the next morning they are like the changing grass,

Which at dawn springs up anew,

but by evening wilts and fades.

In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Teach us to number our days aright,

that we may gain wisdom of heart.

Return, O LORD! How long?

Have pity on your servants!

In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,

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

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

prosper the work of our hands for us!

Prosper the work of our hands!

In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

READING II

-1

Phmn 9-10, 12-17

I, Paul, an old man,

and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus,

urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,

whose father I have become in my imprisonment;

I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.

I should have liked to retain him for myself,

so that he might serve me on your behalf

in my imprisonment for the gospel,

but I did not want to do anything without your consent,

so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.

Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,

that you might have him back forever,

no longer as a slave

but more than a slave, a brother,

beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,

as a man and in the Lord.

So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.1 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul–a destiny which can be different for some and for others.2

CCC 2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country’s legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this “festal gathering,” this “assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.”3

1 Cf. 2 Tim 1:9-10.

2 Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.

3 Heb 12:22-23.

APPLICATION

In all his other Epistles we see St. Paul as the great apostle, the great lover of Christ, who counted suffering, imprisonment and even death as gain, so far as they were for Christ. We see the great theologian who expounds the depths and the riches and the greatness of God’s love for us as proved by the Incarnation. We see the saint who is devoting every gift of his mind, and every muscle and sinew of his body, to the service of his Master, Jesus Christ. In today’s short epistle we see Paul the warm-hearted man, who forgets himself and his own needs in order to reconcile two brothers. They are each dear to him. He wants to make them just as dear to one another. He succeeded, we can feel sure.

It is good for us to know that the great saints of God were not like the cold statues of them which we see in our churches. They were men and women of flesh and blood, like ourselves. Becoming saints did not make them less but more human. There was a period in the history of the Church when the lives of saints were so written as to leave almost nothing human in them. This was done to edify the reader, or so the authors thought. But the fact was that instead of such lives attracting the ordinary faithful, they had the opposite effect. Who could imitate a saint who was one from birth, who not only never did anything wrong, but almost never did anything human. How could we, very human people, become saints if that was the stuff saints were made of.

Of course, it was not. They had the same human nature that we have. They had the same attachment to family and to friends that we have. They had the same weaknesses that we have. Some of them, like St. Augustine and many others, gave in to those weaknesses for a time. Eventually they overcame them. Most of the saints whose feasts are celebrated by the Church did outstanding and even extraordinary things for God and for the Church, but there are millions of others in heaven. These are saints who did nothing very big or extraordinary. They did the small things of life well, while they lived a very “ordinary” life in the grace of God.

We need have no doubt but that there are millions of such saints in heaven. If there are not, then Christ’s salvific work has been in vain. The few thousand who figure in the calendar of the Church would be a very poor harvest, in two thousand years, from the seed which Christ planted.

Yes, the ordinary, good Christian goes to heaven. He may have stumbled and fallen many a time on the way. But, aided by God’s grace, he always rose up again and kept on the road that his faith had marked out for him. We have every reason, every one of us here present, to feel confident that we will make the grade. We are dealing with a God of mercy who understands our weak, human nature, better than we ourselves can understand it. We are dealing with the God of infinite love who proved his love for us in the Incarnation. He is sorry for our sakes when we forget him and offend him. He is ever ready to receive us back with open arms when we see our folly and repent of our sins.

One of the great proofs, I would venture to say, that the Church is not a human invention, is the sacrament of penance. What human mind would be big enough to say that a sinner would be pardoned, no matter how seriously and how often he sinned, provided the sinner was truly repentant. Peter suggested that the forgiving of an enemy seven times would be stretching things a bit, but Christ who was divine had a different view.

Yes, think over St. Paul’s very human nature today. Think of the very human nature of millions of others who have gone to heaven before us. What they did, we can do. We have the same helps for the same weak human nature which they had. Let us use these helps. Let us do our very ordinary day’s work well. Let us try always to stay in God’s grace, or if temptation should overcome us, let us get back quickly to God’s grace through the sacrament of divine mercy. Very likely, we shall not get our names in the Church calendar of canonized saints, but we can get them in the heavenly calendar.

GOSPEL

Banner+Top+2+-+Plain+2

Lk 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,

and he turned and addressed them,

If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,

wife and children, brothers and sisters,

and even his own life,

he cannot be my disciple.

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me

cannot be my disciple.

Which of you wishing to construct a tower

does not first sit down and calculate the cost

to see if there is enough for its completion?

Otherwise, after laying the foundation

and finding himself unable to finish the work

the onlookers should laugh at him and say,

This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’

Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down

and decide whether with ten thousand troops

he can successfully oppose another king

advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?

But if not, while he is still far away,

he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.

In the same way,

anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions

cannot be my disciple.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090416.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,1 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,2 than for the ordinary People of God.3 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;4 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.5 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,6 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),7 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.8

CCC 588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves.9 Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”, Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”10 He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.11

1 Lk 2:34.

2 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.

3 Jn 7:48-49.

4 Cf Lk 13:31.

5 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.

6 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.

7 Cf. Mt 6:18.

8 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.

9 Cf. Lk 5:30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1.

10 Lk 18:9; 5:32; cf. Jn 7:49; 9:34.

11 Cf. Jn 8:33-36; 9:40-41.

APPLICATION

The essential condition for true discipleship, demanded by Christ, was, and still is, total dedication, total commitment of oneself to him. There can be no such person as a half- Christian. “He that is not with me is against me,” he said on another occasion. We cannot be for Christ on Sunday and against him for the other six days of the week. To be his true disciples, his true followers, we must live our Christian life every day and all day.

Following Christ means making our way to heaven. It is a life-journey. We have a limited time in which to complete this journey. Therefore, we must travel a certain distance each day. This does not mean that we must spend every day in prayer and meditation. There are other tasks to be done, but we must Christianize these other tasks. Even the members of religious orders who “leave the world,” that is, who are set free from the family and financial cares of this world by their vows of chastity and poverty, have to busy themselves with other cares like teaching, nursing, tilling the soil perhaps, house-keeping, writing and many such activities. They cannot and do not spend all their day and every day in prayer and meditation. Nor does Christ demand this of them.

Much less, therefore, does he demand this of the ninety-nine per cent of his followers who have to take on themselves financial and family cares. It is by fulfilling these worldly duties in a Christian way that they are dedicating themselves to his service. This is their total commitment to Christ. The married man or woman who is loyal to his or her life-partner and to the family, if there is one, and who provides diligently and honestly for his own and the family’s spiritual and temporal welfare, and who always does this with the intention of pleasing God, is following Christ and is moving steadily day by day towards heaven.

This, of course, is more easily said than done. There are temptations, there are pit-falls on every side. While we are in this life we are travelers. We have not yet seen the beauty, the joy, the happiness toward which we are traveling, whereas this world, with its attractions, its own limited joys and pleasures, is here under our eyes. This is what makes the going difficult for most, if not all, of us. Of this we have been forewarned–we must take up our cross daily–we must “turn our backs” on these earthly attractions if and when they threaten to impede or obstruct our heavenward journey.

We must Christianize our daily work therefore by accepting it and honestly carrying it out as a necessary condition of Christian discipleship. If we offer our day’s work to God for his honor and glory, it will be a continuous prayer. We are working for God and moving a step closer to heaven each day. If in spite of our honest labor we often find it harder to make ends meet, and we have done everything possible to better our situation, we must remember our Savior who “had not whereon to lay his head.” That extra bit of income we so much desire might not turn out to be the blessing we think it would. God is not forgetting us. These times of difficulty may be the very moments when he is nearest to us.

On the other hand, those amongst us who find life running almost too smoothly, who have no family or financial difficulties, could well look into their consciences. If they never seem to have a cross to carry, they may be forgetting God. Their financial success may not be built on Christian honesty. Their peace in their house may not be the result of Christian discipline. The children who get every material thing that they desire, and are permitted by their parents to do as they wish, are not having their feet set on the road to heaven. They will not thank their over-generous parents later on, and those parents will pay for their folly, if not in this life, assuredly in the next.

To be true Christians, therefore, we must act as Christians all our lives. We must not let this world detain us on our journey home. We must use it and not let it use us. We must be ready to give up and turn our backs on anyone or anything, no matter how near or dear to us, if it is an impediment to us on our way to heaven. On the day that we were made Christians, we set out to build a tower that will reach to heaven. We decided to win a battle against whatever foe we met in life. By perseverance, we shall win our battles, we shall finish our tower, we shall reach the home which God has prepared for us.

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

BENEDICTUS

Imitating Jesus

The call to imitation is concerned not simply with a human agenda or with the human virtues of Jesus, but with his entire way, “through the curtain” (Heb 10:20). What is essential and innovative about the way of Jesus Christ is exactly that he opens this way for us, for only in this manner do we come out into the open, into freedom. Imitation has the dimension of moving toward the divine communion, and this is why it is tied to the paschal mystery. For this reason the saying of Jesus about following him that comes after Peter’s profession of faith states “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mk 8: 34). This is not a narrow moralism that views life principally from the negative side, nor is it a kind of masochism for those who do not like themselves. We also do not track down the real meaning of Jesus’ words if we understand them the other way around, as an exalted moralism for heroic souls who are determined to be martyrs. Jesus’ call can only be comprehended from the broad paschal context of the entire exodus, which goes “through the curtain.” From this goal the age-old wisdom of humans acquires its meaning – that only they who lose themselves find themselves, and only they who give life receive life (Mk 8: 35)… “The plan of God and our Redeemer for human beings consists in calling them back from exile and bringing them back from the alienation which came about because of disobedience?… For the perfection of life it is necessary to imitate Christ, not only in terms of the meekness and patience exhibited in his life, but also in terms of his death.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Birth of the Virgin; The Hours of Catherine of Cleves – Byzantine Liturgy of the Hours

Come, all you faithful, let us hasten to the Virgin: for long before her conception in the womb, the one who was to be born of the stem of Jesse was destined to be the Mother of God. The one who is the treasury of virginity, the flowering Rod of Aaron, the object of the prophecies, the child of Joachim and Anne, is born today and the world is renewed in her. Through her birth, she floods the church with her splendor. O holy Temple, Vessel of the Godhead, Model of virgins and Strength of kings: in you the wondrous union of the two natures of Christ was realized. We worship Him and glorify your most pure birth, and we magnify you. (441-442)

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Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

extreme humility

For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

OPENING PRAYER

A Prayer for the Virtue of Humility

Lord Jesus, when You walked the earth,

Your humility obscured Your Kingship.

Your meekness confused the arrogant,

Hindering them from grasping Your purpose,

Your nobleness attending to the destitutes.

Teach me to model after Your eminence,

To subject my human nature to humility.

Grant me with a natural inclination

To never view myself greater than anyone.

Banish all lingering sparks of self-importance

That could elevate me greater than You.

Let my heart always imitate Your humility!

COLLECT

God of might, giver of every good gift,

put into our hearts the love of your name,

so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,

you may nurture in us what is good

and, by your watchful care,

keep safe what you have nurtured.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

1AN52-E__88693.1316243297.500.500

Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,

and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.

Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,

and you will find favor with God.

What is too sublime for you, seek not,

into things beyond your strength search not.

The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs,

and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.

Water quenches a flaming fire,

and alms atone for sins.

APPLICATION

Humility, the virtue recommended to all of us in today’s man of the Old Testament times, is the quotation from Sirach, a wise and saintly basic virtue of a Christian life. It is the one virtue our divine Lord told us to copy from him: “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.” He had all the other virtues to the highest degree and he did not mean that we should ignore them, but as humility is the foundation on which all the other Christian virtues are built, if we have it, the others will grow from it as the tree comes from the root.

What is humility? It is an honest, truthful estimation of ourselves. Whatever we are or have, we owe to God. We did not bring ourselves into being, God created us. If we have healthy bodies, sound limbs and senses, bright and alert intellects, it was God who gave them to us. If we have used these gifts of God properly and acquired some of this world’s goods and honors, we did so because God gave us the materials with which to work. In other words, everything we are and have is a loan from God, and therefore we cannot boast of it, or grow proud because of it.

Yet the world is full of pride. Pride has been the besetting sin of man from the beginning of time. It is the original sin, the cause of all other sins, and it has been copied by generation after generation down to our own day. Puny, finite man came to realize that he had gifts which raised him above all the other beings that inhabited the earth. Instead of using his gift of reasoning he abused it by claiming these gifts as his own, shutting his eyes to the fact, which was evident, that he could not have given these gifts to himself. He not only forgot his Creator, but he turned against him, and refused to admit that the Creator had any claims on his gratitude or obedience.

This was the beginning, very early in man’s history on earth, of human opposition to God and disobedience to the wise laws of God which should regulate life on earth. It was consequently the beginning of man’s opposition to his fellowman and the cause of the wars, the strife between individuals and between races and nations, which have been the blot and disgrace of the history of man on this planet.

As the proverb says : “There is no use crying over spilt milk.” It will help in no way to waste time lamenting over the havoc that pride has caused down through the ages. What we must do is try to eradicate this human vice by cultivating its opposite virtue, humility. Each one must begin with himself. “What have I.” St. Paul reminds me, “that I have not received, and if I have received it why glory in it as if it were my own?” All I am and have are from God. Once I realize this and keep it in my mind, I will resist any temptation to look down on my neighbor or lord it over him, if he happens to have less gifts from God than I.

If I am physically or mentally stronger than my neighbor, and if I have acquired more of the goods of this world because of these extra gifts, I must give the credit to God and not to myself. I must by ready to share my surplus with those who received lesser gifts from the Creator. If I happen to be a citizen of a nation which has exploited successfully its greater natural wealth and consequently has a higher standard of education and living, I must not despise other nations or races who are less fortunate in the portion of this earth which falls to their lot. Rather, if I realize and admit that everything, both I and my nation have, is from God. I must be willing and ready to help in every possible way to alleviate the material and spiritual deprivations of those less fortunate neighbors of mine who are children of the same human family of God.

Thank God that this spirit of true humility, the realization of God’s dominion over all the gifts which he has given to mankind, is spreading today more than ever before among the peoples of this earth. We Christians should be in the vanguard in this movement of true fraternity and charity. We will be, if we give the virtue of true humility the place it should have in our lives, the place of honor among our Christian virtues.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

The just rejoice and exult before God;

they are glad and rejoice.

Sing to God, chant praise to his name;

whose name is the LORD.

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

The father of orphans and the defender of widows

is God in his holy dwelling.

God gives a home to the forsaken;

he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

A bountiful rain you showered down, O God, upon your inheritance;

you restored the land when it languished;

your flock settled in it;

in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy.

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

READING II

crown-of-thorns-icon-of-immense-humility

Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a

Brothers and sisters:

You have not approached that which could be touched

and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness

and storm and a trumpet blast

and a voice speaking words such that those who heard

begged that no message be further addressed to them.

No, you have approached Mount Zion

and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,

and countless angels in festal gathering,

and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,

and God the judge of all,

and the spirits of the just made perfect,

and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,

and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.1 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul–a destiny which can be different for some and for others.2

CCC 2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country’s legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this “festal gathering,” this “assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.”3

1 Cf. 2 Tim 1:9-10.

2 Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.

3 Heb 12:22-23.

APPLICATION

The reason why the Church has selected these verses for our reading today is the same reason that the author of this Epistle had when he wrote them. He wanted to impress on the Jewish converts the superiority of the Christian religion over that of the Old Testament, which they had practiced until their conversion. We, too, must never forget that our Christian religion is based on love, on the infinite love of God for mankind.

The Jews served God out of fear. They did not and could not know him as we know him. He gave them a partial revelation of himself through his dealings with them, and through the prophets and sacred writers. However, to us he has given the fullness of revelation through his divine Son who lived amongst us. The Incarnation is an act of divine love which no finite, human mind can ever fully understand in this life. That the Son of God could so humiliate himself as to take our created human nature, empty himself of his divinity, of the glory which was his as God, and live amongst us as one of ourselves, is a mystery of love which surpasses human understanding.

Add to that the extra humiliations which we sinful men, whom he had come to raise up to sonship of the Father, heaped upon him during his stay on earth. He was accused by his opponents of being a liar, a deceiver, of being in league with the devil, of being an enemy of the people, of being a blasphemer who claimed to be God. On this last accusation they had him put to the ignominious death of the cross. His very friends, the Apostles and disciples who admired his teaching and believed in his miracles, were little better. One of them sold him to his enemies for thirty pieces of silver. The others deserted him when he was arrested. Peter denied that he ever knew him. While he hung in agony on the cross, John alone, with the blessed Mother and a few women, was near him. The others stood far off lest they should endanger their lives by associating themselves with him.

Yet all this did not prevent the Son of God from fulfilling the mission that the Father gave him. Through perfect obedience in his human nature, he reconciled disobedient mankind with God; and through sharing in our human nature, he gave us a share in the divinity.

While we cannot in this life fully appreciate the mystery of the divine love which went to such lengths in order to raise us up to the height of sonship with God, we can and do understand enough of this mystery to make us try to love him in return. We are now adopted sons of God. We have heaven as our eternal home. What does God ask of us in return? What must we do to get possession of that inheritance? Nothing very difficult. Nothing beyond our human powers, aided by the means of grace that Christ made available to us in his Church. We need not leave the world and enclose ourselves within the walls of a monastery. A few do that, but it is only for the few. We can and must live our ordinary earthly lives, using the goods of this earth which God has put here for our use. We can enjoy the normal pleasures of life. We can and must take an interest in the welfare of our families, our cities and our states.

While our Christian lives are to all external appearances very ordinary, they are extra-ordinary and special in this: they are lived within the commandments of God and the regulations and teaching of Christ’s Church. This is not something too much to expect of us, if we are true followers of Christ. Millions have done this before us and attained to Christian perfection. We can do it too, and with God’s help we will do it, and thus reach the “city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” where “Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant” will be waiting to welcome us.

GOSPEL

PalmSunday-01

Lk 14:1, 7-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine

at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,

and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited,

noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.

When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,

do not recline at table in the place of honor.

A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,

and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,

Give your place to this man,’

and then you would proceed with embarrassment

to take the lowest place.

Rather, when you are invited,

go and take the lowest place

so that when the host comes to you he may say,

My friend, move up to a higher position.’

Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.

For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,

but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Then he said to the host who invited him,

When you hold a lunch or a dinner,

do not invite your friends or your brothers

or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,

in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.

Rather, when you hold a banquet,

invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;

blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.

For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082816.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,1 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,2 than for the ordinary People of God.3 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;4 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.5 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,6 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),7 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.8

CCC 588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves.9 Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”, Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”10 He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.11

1 Lk 2:34.

2 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.

3 Jn 7:48-49.

4 Cf Lk 13:31.

5 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.

6 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.

7 Cf. Mt 6:18.

8 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.

9 Cf. Lk 5:30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1.

10 Lk 18:9; 5:32; cf. Jn 7:49; 9:34.

11 Cf. Jn 8:33-36; 9:40-41.

APPLICATION

This parable was intended in the first instance for the Pharisees but it was preserved in the inspired Gospel because it has a lesson for all men. A proud Christian, that is, a proud follower of the humble Christ, is a contradiction in terms. Christ, the Son of God, lowered himself to our level when he took our human nature. He was born in a stable, reared in the obscure village of Nazareth; earned his meager meals as a country carpenter; died on a cross as a malefactor with two thieves as companions; was buried in a stranger’s grave. Could he have done more to induce us to listen to his counsel when he said: “Learn of me, for I am humble of heart?”

Yet, there are Christians who are proud. Like the Pharisees of old, they thank God that they are not like the rest of men. They shun any contact with sinners. They cover their ears when any scandal is mentioned. Yet they never miss the gossip, and are always ready to condemn offhand the unfortunate giver of scandal, without knowing the extenuating circumstances.

The authorities placed by Christ over them in the Church do not escape their severe censorship. The normal, humble Christian knows that pastors and individual bishops are not infallible, and that they can make mistakes at times, but to the proud, self-opinionated Christian they are always wrong except when their decisions agree to the letter with his opinions.

Worse still, the proud Christian sets himself up as a critic of God’s wisdom. He muses: God forgives sinners too easily, God doesn’t know them as well as I do. That conversion cannot be trusted, it will not last, he says. The “sinners” prosper, they are blessed with good health, a happy family, more than their share of the world’s goods, and here am I who never failed God, who always did what was right and even more, and I am neglected by God. God doesn’t know his real friends!

These are the questionings of a proud soul. Such Christians raise themselves above their neighbors in their own minds. They choose the first places, and from their self-appointed heights they look down on their fellow guests at God’s banquet. Thank God, there are few whose pride leads them to these extremes, but there are far too many who set themselves up as judges over their neighbor and appoint themselves as the models to be imitated by all others.

There is a little demon of pride in every one of us. There is a natural inclination in each one to esteem himself a little better in most ways, if not in all, than his neighbor. We must keep this demon in check and not let him grow in us. Any gifts of mind or body that we have are from God–our duty is to use them properly and to thank God for the loan of them. If he gave greater gifts to another, I thank God for it. That other was able to make better use of them than I would. I have enough to go on with. I shall not be judged on the use or abuse of gifts which I did not receive.

If I use all the gifts which God gave me, to help my neighbor, the spiritually poor, the lame and blind, to heaven, instead of keeping myself aloof from them as the Pharisees did, then my judgment will be easy, I shall be “repaid in the resurrection of the just.”

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

BENEDICTUS

The Meaning of a Christian Feast

In a world in which, despite all its progress, injustice and affliction are perhaps more than ever before exercising their fearful reign in many forms: In such a world it must seem like a gesture of contempt when those who are able to do so escape into the happy forgetfulness or expensive pomp of a festive celebration. Well, if celebration means simply a self-satisfied enjoyment of one’s own affluence and security, then there is really no place for that kind of celebration today. But is this really the meaning of celebration? It is certainly not the original meaning of a Christian feast. A Christian feast – the birth of the Lord, for example – means something entirely different. It means that the human person leaves the world of calculation and determinisms in which everyday life snares him, and that he focuses his being on the primal source of his existence. It means that for the moment he is freed from the stern logic of the struggle for existence and looks beyond his own narrow world to the totality of things. It means that he allows himself to be comforted, allows his conscience to be moved by the love he finds in the God who has become a child, and that in doing so he becomes freer, richer, purer. If we were to try celebrating in this fashion, would not a sigh of relief pass across the world? Would such a feast not bring hope to the oppressed and be a clarion call to the forgetful folk who are aware only of themselves?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of Saint Augustine (354-430)

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know you and desire nothing save only you. Let me hate myself and love you. Let me humble myself and exalt you. Let me think nothing except you. Let me die to myself and live in you. Let me accept whatever happens as from you. Let me banish myself and follow you, and ever desire to follow you. Let me fly from myself and take refuge in you, that I may deserve to be defended by you. Let me fear for myself, let me fear you, and let me be among those who are chosen by you. Let me be willing to obey for the sake of you. Let me cling to nothing save only to you, and let me be poor because of you. Look upon me, that I may love you. Call me that I may see you, and for ever enjoy you. Amen.

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Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

myth3-17

“For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of Commendation

Go forth, Christian soul, from this world

in the name of God the almighty Father,

who created you,

in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,

who suffered for you,

in the name of the Holy Spirit,

who was poured out upon you.

Go forth, faithful Christian!

May you live in peace this day,

may your home be with God in Zion,

with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,

with Joseph, and all the angels and saints. . . .

May you return to your Creator

who formed you from the dust of the earth.

May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints

come to meet you as you go forth from this life. . . .

May you see your Redeemer face to face.

http://www.ibreviary.com/m/preghiere.php?tipo=Rito&id=371

COLLECT

O God, who cause the minds of the faithful

to unite in a single purpose,

grant your people to love what you command

and to desire what your promise,

that, amid the uncertainties of this world,

our hearts may be fixed on that place

where true gladness is foundation.

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

allsaintsicon2

Is 66:18-21

Thus says the LORD:

I know their works and their thoughts,

and I come to gather nations of every language;

they shall come and see my glory.

I will set a sign among them;

from them I will send fugitives to the nations:

to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan,

to the distant coastlands

that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory;

and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations.

They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations

as an offering to the LORD,

on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries,

to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD,

just as the Israelites bring their offering

to the house of the LORD in clean vessels.

Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

APPLICATION

Like all the prophecies of the Old Testament these words of Trito-Isaiah contained far more than his contemporaries could grasp. The glory of Jerusalem which he foretold was to be something entirely new, something the Jews of his time could not even begin to understand. The most they could see in it was that the pagans of the world would come to recognize Yahweh, the God of Israel, and offer tribute to him in his Temple in Jerusalem. This was but a small part of the significance of the prophecy; the pagans would recognize the God of Israel, but through his divine Son, the Immanuel who had come on earth to bring all men to heaven and to his Father. The Temple of Jerusalem with its animal sacrifices and symbolic rites would be replaced by the true Temple, the Church, with its once-for-all effective sacrifice of Christ which would earn heaven for all men. The shadow would give place to the substance, the types and symbols would yield to the reality.

Reading these words of Trito-Isaiah today, words written five hundred years before Christ came on earth to fulfill them, we can see how the good and kind God was thinking of, and preparing for, the salvation of mankind down through the ages. He was gradually opening the minds of the Jews to see that the Gentiles were his children also, that the Temple of Jerusalem, where he had shown them his glory, was but a preparation, a symbol of the universal Temple in which he would really dwell among all the peoples of the earth in the person of Christ, his divine Son.

We can also see that God is not rushed in the carrying out of his plans. He delayed the sending of his Son for thousands of years, but in the meantime he was not neglecting Jew or Gentile. To the former he gave a direct but limited revelation of himself, and he accepted the crude but willing sacrifices and honor they paid to him, for which they were eventually rewarded. To the Gentiles he revealed himself indirectly through the things he had created. Even though they localized him in idols of their imagination, he did not condemn them for their sins of ignorance. The pious pagan, as well as the pious Jew, found a place in his kingdom, when the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ had made this possible for man.

Today, there are still millions who do not know God and who therefore do not serve him. God is waiting patiently for willing apostles who will bring his knowledge to these people, but in the meantime they will be judged not by what they do not know, but by their compliance with the knowledge they have. We who have the full revelation of God and of his plans for us, and who have the supernatural aids which he has given to his Church, should lose no opportunity of bringing this gift to our fellowman.

They can get to heaven without this. God’s mercy is as infinite as his justice. But they will find the going much more difficult. A neighbor of mine who cannot afford transport of any kind has to go from New York to Philadelphia. He can make the journey on foot but with what hardship! I am going there by car. Would I be worthy of the title of neighbor, much less of brother, if I refused to offer that poor unfortunate man a seat in my car?

Our pagan brothers’ journey to heaven will be on foot unless we Christians, who have all the necessary transport, awaken to our obligations of fraternal charity. God is depending on us–he is calling on us daily through the many appeals to help the missions. If we continue to refuse to listen, we may find God turning a deaf ear to our entreaties when we are in need.

“They shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the Lord,” the prophet says to us today. Am I included in that “they?” Am I helping within the limits, of my means to bring my fellowman, whether in pagan lands or nearer home, back to their Father, God, and eventually to heaven? If I am not, I had better look up my spiritual road-map. I must have taken a wrong turning somewhere. I am not on the road to heaven myself.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 117:1, 2

Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

Praise the LORD all you nations;

glorify him, all you peoples!

Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

For steadfast is his kindness toward us,

and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.

Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

READING II

images

Heb 12:5-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters,

You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:

My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord

or lose heart when reproved by him;

for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;

he scourges every son he acknowledges.”

Endure your trials as “discipline”;

God treats you as sons.

For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?

At the time,

all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,

yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness

to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.

Make straight paths for your feet,

that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

APPLICATION

This exhortation, given to the early Jewish converts, is as necessary for us today as it was in the year 67 A.D. Those converts suffered much from their fellow-Jews, who refused to accept Christ as the promised Messiah and branded all Jews who became his followers as perverts and traitors to their own religion and race. In many cases they had to leave their towns and their possessions. They were persecuted, imprisoned and threatened with death (see Acts 8 and 9). Besides all this, they had poverty and sickness to contend with. Their following of Christ was surely a climbing of Calvary.

There are many parts of our world today where the same or even a worse fate is the lot of the true follower of Christ. Even in countries where there is no open persecution, there are hidden, insidious attacks on religion, especially on the Christian religion, attacks all the more dangerous because they are hidden. It is not easy for one to keep the commandments of God and the precepts of the Church when so many of his neighbors, including some who were one time “Masters in Israel,” having thrown aside all sense of Christian observance themselves, ridicule and deride his attempts to live his faith.

It is not easy, but living the Christian faith was never intended to be easy. The man who looks seriously on life, and knows what it really is, a period of preparation, a training-school for the eternal life that is to follow; will expect and in fact gladly accept the difficulties and hardships which this entails. Nor must we forget that God also grants his faithful ones many happy moments in this “valley of tears.” We are not crying all the time. As for the temptations which the enemies of Christ spread around us to abandon our upward climb, and the ridicule they sometimes heap on the man who is seriously concerned with the things of God, the old saying is still very true : “He who laughs last, laughs longest.”

Not that we should ever rejoice or laugh at the unfortunate ones who, because of the way they mis-spend their life here, will find no welcome in the heavenly kingdom. Rather, the true lover of God will want them to turn to God before it is too late, and will never miss an opportunity to help them to see the light.

True love of God demands true love of neighbor, and that neighbor is even the man who is trying to keep me from living my Christian life as I should. In fact, such a man may be a truer and a more helpful neighbor than those who never trouble me, for he is giving me a chance to practice the virtues of patience and perseverance which today’s lesson urges me to practice.

“Endure your trials as the discipline (the training) of God, who deals with you as sons.” The Christian’s trials, then, come from God, a God who is his father and wants to train him and make him fit to earn the heavenly reward. How proud, how glad, we should be that God deigns to take such an interest in us. He has made us, mere creatures that we are, his sons and heirs. Because we are his sons and heirs, he goes to the trouble of training us for the position of honor which he has prepared for us. Let us then endure our trials, knowing that God has a very special purpose in sending them to us.

GOSPELscara._ingeri._cale_spre_cer

Lk 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,

teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him,

Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

He answered them,

Strive to enter through the narrow gate,

for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter

but will not be strong enough.

After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,

then will you stand outside knocking and saying,

Lord, open the door for us.’

He will say to you in reply,

I do not know where you are from.

And you will say,

We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’

Then he will say to you,

I do not know where you are from.

Depart from me, all you evildoers!’

And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth

when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

and all the prophets in the kingdom of God

and you yourselves cast out.

And people will come from the east and the west

and from the north and the south

and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.

For behold, some are last who will be first,

and some are first who will be last.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082116.cfm

APPLICATION

While the questioner who asked how many would be saved did not get a direct answer from Christ, nevertheless it was made very clear to him and to all of us that each one’s salvation is in his own hands. All those who accept Christ, his teaching and the helps he has made available to them, will enter the kingdom of God. On the other hand, those who are excluded from that eternal kingdom will have only themselves to blame. God invites all men to heaven. He gives all the help necessary to every man, but, because men have a free will which God cannot force, some will abuse that freedom and choose wrongly.

Christ mentions the narrow door through which we must enter into God’s kingdom. This means that we must exercise self-restraint and mortification and this we do when we respect and keep his commandments. When we are called to judgement it will be too late to shout “Sir, open for us.” We should have sought his mercy and his forgiveness during our earthly life, and he would have granted it.

Neither will it avail us to say that we knew him in life. Acquaintance with Christ is not enough. We should have loved him and become his real friends, which we could only do by being loyal followers of his. “He taught in our streets” will only prove our guilt. We could have learned his doctrine; we could have become his disciples, but we would not. The pagan who never heard of Christ will not be condemned for not following his teaching, but the Christian who did hear his doctrine and refused to carry it out, will deserve condemnation.

As descent from Abraham was not a claim for special consideration on the part of the Jews, neither will any other circumstances of nationality, birth or earthly privilege help us on the day of judgement. Each one will stand or fall by his own mode of life during his term on earth. Nothing and nobody else can change the just judgement of God when that moment arrives for each one of us.

The thought of our moment of judgement is a staggering one even for the holiest of us. Things and actions that do not trouble us much now, will appear in a different light then. The prayers we omitted or said carelessly, the Masses we missed on flimsy excuses the little bit of continual injustice to a workman or customer, or the dishonesty practiced by a worker against his employer, the sins of impurity of which we thought rather lightly, the bad language so freely used and the scandal we spread so flippantly, the money wasted on drink or gambling when our children needed nourishment and clothing–these, and many other such faults of which we excuse ourselves so easily now, will not be a source of joy or consolation for us on that dread day, if we arrive at God’s justice-seat still burdened with them.

We are dealing with God’s mercy while alive. He will forgive any sin and any number of sins if we truly repent, and resolve to correct these faults. To do this is the only one guarantee that even God himself can give us of a successful judgement. Every man who lives in God’s grace will die in God’s grace and be numbered among the saved. The man who lives habitually in sin, and refuses to amend his life, will die in his sinful state, and thus exclude himself from eternal salvation.

I have a free will. I can choose to pass that final examination or to fail it. The whole of my eternity, the unending life after death, depends on my choice now. If I choose to follow Christ and live according to his laws during the few years I have on this earth, I shall pass and shall be among the saved. If I ignore Christ and his laws now, he will not know me on the day of judgement. I shall be among the lost. God forbid that I should choose the latter course.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Highest Peak of Being

Satan’s heights are the heights of doing things on one’s own authority, of uninhibitedly determining oneself in possessing all things and being permitted all things… The height of the mountain of crucifixion consists in Jesus’ having relinquished all possessions and privileges all the way down to the pure nothingness of complete naked-ness, which then does not even have a place on the ground any more. He has put these things aside in his “thy will be done,” which is spoken to the Father. He has put them aside in the complete unity of his will with the Father. In so doing he has attained the real “all”; he is at the highest peak of being – he is one with the true God, who is not a despot or pleasure-image of God and humans which lay behind the satanic offer of “being like God.” In his earthly nothingness but in unity with the will of God, Jesus also stood firm against the power of force and its being able to do all things. He is one with God, and therefore one with the real power that encompasses heaven and earth, time and eternity. He is one with God, so that God’s power has become his power. The power he now proclaims from the mountain of exaltation is power coming from the roots of the cross and is thus radically opposed to the unrestrained power of possessing all things, being allowed all things, and being able to do all things.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 1

Happy indeed is the man

who follows not the counsel of the wicked;

nor lingers in the way of sinners

nor sits in the company of scorners,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord

and who ponders his law day and night.

He is like a tree that is planted

beside the flowing waters,

that yields its fruit in due season

and whose leaves shall never fade;

and all that he does shall prosper.

Not so are the wicked, not so!

For they like winnowed chaff

shall be driven away by the wind.

When the wicked are judged they shall not stand,

nor find room among those who are just;

for the Lord guards the way of the just

but the way of the wicked leads to doom.

Glory be to the Father,

and to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning,

is now, and ever shall be,

world without end. Amen.

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

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

jesus+icon+3Jesus said to his disciples:  I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for Justice

Father, you have given all peoples one common origin.

It is your will that they be gathered together

as one family in yourself.

Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love

and with the desire to ensure justice for all.

By sharing the good things you give us,

may we secure an equality for all

our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

May there be an end to division, strife and war.

May there be a dawning of a truly human society

built on love and peace.

We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord.

Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who have prepared for those who love you

good things which no eye can see,

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

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

we may attain your promises,

which surpass every human desire.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I
Jer 38:4-6, 8-10

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

In those days, the princes said to the king:  Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin.”  King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your power”; for the king could do nothing with them.  And so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the quarters of the guard,letting him down with ropes.  There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. 
Ebed-melech, a court official, went there from the palace and said to him: My lord king, these men have been at fault in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern.  He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food in the city.”  Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite to take three men along with him, and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he should die.

 

APPLICATION

We have in Jeremiah a man of God who suffered all his life for the sake of the true religion. He saw how his compatriots, led by wicked kings, were gradually forgetting their God and their mission in life. God had not made them his Chosen People so that they would become wealthy and politically powerful–he chose them so that they would keep the knowledge of the true God alive until the Messiah, who would bring God’s knowledge to all men, should come on earth. This was Jeremiah’s message. This was his convinced faith. This he preached, completely regardless of the consequences to himself.

He was a thorn in the side of the wicked king and princes, whose ambitions were earthly power and prosperity. These ambitions he roundly and ceaselessly condemned. He could have led a life of relative comfort. He owned property outside of the city and he could have served God faithfully himself and let the others go their sinful ways. But God had given him his prophetic vocation and he was true to that call to the bitter end. He never counted the costs.

Jeremiah, the suffering prophet, was a type of our loving Savior, who suffered torture and the cruel death of the cross in order to call mankind away from the folly of worldly pursuits, and to set their hearts on the one pursuit that really mattered–the attainment of the everlasting happiness which his coming on earth had made possible for them. The princes and leaders of the Chosen People, like their predecessors in the days of Jeremiah, would have none of this talk. They wanted political freedom from their pagan Roman rulers. They had ambitions for a world empire of power and plenty in this life. So they had Jesus put to death. But their scheming was in vain. Like Jeremiah who was taken out of the cistern, the Father raised Jesus from the grave, and the spiritual empire they did not want was established.

We must admire Jeremiah, the courageous prophet of God, who tried to save his fellow-Jews from their own folly. How much greater must be our admiration for the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who “although he was God emptied himself of his divinity” and became like one of us, in order to live, suffer and die for our sake. He suffered and died so that we could have eternal life. He came on earth so that we could get to heaven. He lowered himself to the humble level of man, so that man could be raised up to son-ship with God.

The more we think of this infinite divine love, the more we see ourselves to be unworthy of it. How quickly we grumble when called on to make some small sacrifice for our own salvation. How hard it is to drag us away from the fleeting, passing things of this life even though we know, and are convinced, that nothing really matters but to reach the eternal kingdom. Christ suffered and died for all men. How willing are we to suffer a little inconvenience, to give a little of our wealth or time, to help a neighbor for whom Christ died?

Our world today is like Judah in the days of Jeremiah. It has once known God, but it is daily falling further and further away from him and from his commandments. What it needs is thousands of Jeremiahs who will “demoralize” the advocates of earthly pleasure and a pagan outlook in life. This can be done more effectively by example than by word. If all those who are numbered as Christians would live the Christian life in all sincerity, the drums of the anti-God legion would be silenced by the prayers and the good works of those who know what God has done for them and what he has in store for them.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 40:2, 3, 4, 18

Lord, come to my aid!

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me.

Lord, come to my aid!

The LORD heard my cry.
He drew me out of the pit of destruction,
out of the mud of the swamp;
he set my feet upon a crag;
he made firm my steps.

Lord, come to my aid!

And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
Many shall look on in awe
and trust in the LORD.

Lord, come to my aid!

Though I am afflicted and poor,
yet the LORD thinks of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, hold not back!

Lord, come to my aid!

READING II

Heb 12:1-4

The Crucifixion (Click icon)
Brothers and sisters:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.  For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.
Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 147 The Old Testament is rich in witnesses to this faith. The Letter to the Hebrews proclaims its eulogy of the exemplary faith of the ancestors who “received divine approval”.1 Yet “God had foreseen something better for us”: the grace of believing in his Son Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”.2

CCC 165 It is then we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who “in hope. .. believed against hope”;3 to the Virgin Mary, who, in “her pilgrimage of faith”, walked into the “night of faith”4 in sharing the darkness of her son’s suffering and death; and to so many others: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”5

CCC 598 In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that “sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.”6 Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself,7 the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:

We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in them) and hold him up to contempt. And it can be seen that our crime in this case is greater in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness of the Apostle, “None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” We, however, profess to know him. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him.8

Nor did demons crucify him; it is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.9

CCC 1161 All the signs in the liturgical celebrations are related to Christ: as are sacred images of the holy Mother of God and of the saints as well. They truly signify Christ, who is glorified in them. They make manifest the “cloud of witnesses”10 who continue to participate in the salvation of the world and to whom we are united, above all in sacramental celebrations. Through their icons, it is man “in the image of God,” finally transfigured “into his likeness,”11 who is revealed to our faith. So too are the angels, who also are recapitulated in Christ:

Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets.12

CCC 2683 The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom,13 especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were “put in charge of many things.”14 Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.

1 Heb 11:2, 39.

2 Heb 11:40; 12:2.

3 Rom 4:18.

4 LG 58; John Paul II, RMat 18.

5 Heb 12:1-2. Article 2.

6 Roman Catechism I, 5, 11; cf. Heb 12:3.

7 Cf. Mt 25:45; Acts 9:4-5.

8 Roman Catechism I, 5, 11; cf. Heb 6:6; 1 Cor 2:8.

9 St. Francis of Assisi, Admonitio 5, 3.

10 Heb 12:1.

11 Cf. Rom 8:29; 1 Jn 3:2.

12 Council of Nicaea II: DS 600.

13 Cf. Heb 12:1.

14 Cf. Mt 25:21.

APPLICATION

We can get so accustomed to looking at a crucifix that it may cease to make any real impression on our minds. We see a brass or ivory model of a man nailed hand and foot to a small wooden cross. We know this represents Christ nailed to the cross for us, but we seldom stop to think of the suffering, the torture this nailing of human hands and feet entailed.

Most of us dread the doctor’s syringe which is pushed quickly through a soft, fleshy part of our body. Think for a moment of a thick nail being hammered through one of your hands. It goes through flesh, nerves, muscle and bone, causing an excruciating pain. Have this repeated for the second hand for your two feet. The very thought would make a strong man shiver and the weaker amongst us faint for fear.

Yet, this is what happened to Christ on Calvary–he did not faint and thus lessen the pain, because he willed not to. He remained fully conscious for three hours while the excruciating pains continued. All this terrible torture was endured for us! We are grateful, of course, to him and when we are feeling devout we would love to make some return to him for all he suffered for our sake. When he sends us a little cross, however, so that we can imitate him in a small little way, how do we react? Do we welcome it and grasp it to our hearts saying: “Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the privilege to do something in return for all you did for me,” or do we ask him immediately to remove it, or worse still, grumble and grouse and show God how displeased we are with him for treating us like that?

The author of Hebrews says that our Lord endured the cross for the sake of the joy which lay before him. A great part of that joy was our resurrection to a glorified existence in the future life which his cross was earning for us. Surely we should be willing and ready to endure our small crosses so that we could, in even a tiny way, cooperate with him in the attainment of that eternal joy which he earned for us.

It is true that human nature does not take gladly to sacrifices. We would all like life on earth to run smoothly and without hardships of any kind. But as Christians we know that bearing the troubles and trials of this life is the means God gives us to cooperate in our salvation. Every athlete knows that to win a race he must train, and train hard. He must cut down on his eating. He must control his bodily desires. He must strain his limbs and muscles again and again, before he can feel fit to enter the contest. We are told today in this Epistle that the Christian life is like running a race. We enter this race in order to win, but unless we are in training, unless we avoid the worldly impediments of sin and selfishness, we’ll find ourselves unable to compete because of the unnecessary and impossible weight of worldliness which we have taken on our shoulders.

Think again, and think deeply today, on the crucifixion of Christ on Calvary for your sake. Look at the crosses which you are asked to carry. Compare them with this. He did all this for you. You are asked to do this for yourself. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and on the reward he has won for you, and the trials and troubles of your earthly life will appear in their true perspective, as a puny price to pay for perpetual happiness in the life to come.

GOSPEL
Lk 12:49-53
crowd of many nations
Jesus said to his disciples:  I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!  There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!  Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.  From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081416.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 “fulfil 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 607 The desire to embrace his Father’s plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus’ whole life,7 for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his Incarnation. And so he asked, “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.”8 And again, “Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?”9 From the cross, just before “It is finished”, he said, “I thirst.”10

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.11 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.”12 Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!”13 In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself14 The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions.15 “Do not quench the Spirit.”16

CCC 1225 In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion, which he was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a “Baptism” with which he had to be baptized.17 The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life.18 From then on, it is possible “to be born of water and the Spirit”19 in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

See where you are baptized, see where Baptism comes from, if not from the cross of Christ, from his death. There is the whole mystery: he died for you. In him you are redeemed, in him you are saved.20

CCC 2804 The first series of petitions carries us toward him, for his own sake: thy name, thy kingdom, thy will! It is characteristic of love to think first of the one whom we love. In none of the three petitions do we mention ourselves; the burning desire, even anguish, of the beloved Son for his Father’s glory seizes us:21 “hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done. .. ” These three supplications were already answered in the saving sacrifice of Christ, but they are henceforth directed in hope toward their final fulfillment, for God is not yet all in all.22

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 Cf Lk 12:50; 22:15; Mt 16:21-23.

8 Jn 12:27.

9 Jn 18:11.

10 Jn 19:30; 19:28.

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

12 Lk 1:17; 3:16.

13 Lk 12:49.

14 Acts 2:3-4.

15 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.

16 1 Thess 5:1.

17 Mk 10:38; cf. Lk 12:50.

18 Cf. Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:6-8.

19 Cf. Jn 3:5.

20 St. Ambrose, De sacr. 2, 2, 6: PL 16, 444; cf. Jn 3:5.

21 Cf. Lk 22:14; 12:50.

22 Cf. 1 Cor 15:28.

APPLICATION

Christ foresaw his sufferings in their minutest details, and like any human being this foresight and anticipation caused him anguish of spirit. He also foresaw the result of his sufferings–the elevation of mankind to be sons of God, and heirs presumptive of heaven. This far outweighed the load of sufferings because he loved man with an infinite love.

He came to light a fire on this earth. He lit that fire and it is still burning brightly in the hearts of many. Unfortunately for them, there are far too many in whom it has turned to ashes. That he foresaw also, and it added to his anguish of spirit. The thought that his sufferings and his humiliations would be in vain for so many, added greatly to his grief.

We who appreciate what he has done for us, and who are striving hard against our natural weaknesses to profit by his salvific work, can do something to console him for the desertion of so many that he still loves dearly. God wants no human being lost eternally. He detests sin but he still loves the sinner. He is always ready to grant a full pardon for each and every sin a man commits, if only the sinner has the humility to say “mea culpa.”

Let those of us who have remained faithful never let a day pass without a fervent prayer for the prodigal sons of God, that they will get the humility to return to their father’s home and ask for his pardon. Another grace, too, that we must ask of God is that peace between fellowman will soon be restored. Christ foresaw that this concord would be broken, because of his very gospel of peace. First and foremost we must pray for, and do everything we can to help bring about, a reunion between all Christians who are followers of Christ by their baptism. Thanks to the late saintly Pope John, active steps are now being taken to restore the unity which Christ wished and intended to exist among his followers. We may not be able to solve the theological problems which are preventing this unity, and each of us can do much to make personal contacts between the members of what were once opposing Churches. We are all followers of Christ, we are all on the road to heaven–if we really love God and if we really appreciate what the Son of God has done for us, we must want every one of his followers to be in heaven with him.

Let us put aside all past prejudices and opinions. Neither we nor our separated brethren are responsible for the sins and failings of our ancestors in the eleventh or the sixteenth centuries. We are responsible for our own actions today. We are failing Christ if we do not take a sincere and active interest in the noble and truly Christian work of ecumenism.

To mention our brothers in Christ first, does not mean we forget the children of Abraham whom, in our Mass, we call “our father in faith.” They are still dear to God. We are now the Chosen People of the New Covenant but that New Covenant is for them also. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, Greek or Barbarian in the Church of Christ. It is for all mankind, as St. Paul tells us. The followers of Mohammed also have much in common with us Christians; they believe in one God, the Creator of all, but not yet in the Trinity. They believe in a future life and hope to reach it by keeping the rules laid down by their Prophet. While respecting the beliefs of Jew and Moslem, which correspond with some of those we ourselves hold, let us pray fervently that God will give them the grace to recognize Jesus as the Person he was, the Son of God in human nature, who came on earth to make us fit for heaven.

God speed the day, and let us each give him a helping hand in this work, when not only all Christians will be one but when our Jewish and Muslim fellowman will also be with us, thanking Christ for all that he has done for us. That day may still be a long way off, but every step I take towards bringing it about, is bringing me a step nearer to heaven and making me dearer to God.

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

BENEDICTUS

Making God Present in Society

We all ask ourselves what the Lord expects from us… There is a desire to reduce God to the private sphere, to a sentiment… As a result, everyone makes his or her own plan of life. But this vision, presented as though it were scientific, accepts as valid only what can be proven. With a God who is not available for immediate experimentation, this vision ends by also injuring society. The result is in fact that each one makes his own plan and in the end finds himself opposed to the other. As can be seen, this is definitely an unlivable situation. We must make God present again in our society. This is the first essential element: that God be once again present in our lives, that we do not live as though we were autonomous, authorized to invent that freedom and life are. We must realize that we are creatures, aware that there is a God who has created us and that living in accordance with his will is not dependence but a gift of love that makes us alive. Therefore, the first point is to know God, to know him better and better, to recognize that God is in my life, and that God has a place… The second point, therefore, is recognizing God who has shown us his face in Jesus, who suffered for us, who loved us to the point of dying, and thus overcame violence. It is necessary to make the living God present in our “own” lives first of all… a God only thought of, but a God who has shown himself, who has shown his being and his face. Only in this way do our lives become true, authentically human: hence, the criteria of true humanism emerge in society.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

The Prayer You are Christ (by Saint Augustine of Hippo.)

You are Christ, my Holy Father, my Tender God, my Great King, my Good Shepherd, my Only Master, my Best Helper, my Most Beautiful and my Beloved, my Living Bread, my Priest Forever, my Leader to my Country, my True Light, my Holy Sweetness, my Straight Way, my Excellent Wisdom, my Pure Simplicity, my Peaceful Harmony, my Entire Protection, my Good Portion, my Everlasting Salvation.

Christ Jesus, Sweet Lord, why have I ever loved, why in my whole life have I ever desired anything except You, Jesus my God? Where was I when I was not in spirit with You? Now, from this time forth, do you, all my desires, grow hot, and flow out upon the Lord Jesus: run… you have been tardy until now; hasten where you are going; seek Whom you are seeking. O, Jesus may he who loves You not be an anathema; may he who loves You not be filled with bitterness.

O, Sweet Jesus, may every good feeling that is fitted for Your praise, love You, delight in You, adore You! God of my heart, and my Portion, Christ Jesus, may my heart faint away in spirit, and may You be my Life within me! May the live coal of Your Love grow hot within my spirit and break forth into a perfect fire; may it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart; may it glow in my innermost being; may it blaze in hidden recesses of my soul; and in the days of my consummation may I be found consummated with You!

Amen.

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Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

DORMIZIONE-FOTO-INTERA-400x467

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

OPENING PRAYER

MATINS. Quem terra, pontus, sidera

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

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

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

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

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

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

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

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

body and soul into heavenly glory,

grant we pray,

that, always attentive to the things that are above,

we may merit to be sharers of her glory.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

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

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Poklad-z-dob-Stolete-valky_v

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

God’s temple in heaven was opened,

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

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

with the moon under her feet,

and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

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

Then another sign appeared in the sky;

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

and on its heads were seven diadems.

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

and hurled them down to the earth.

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

to devour her child when she gave birth.

She gave birth to a son, a male child,

destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.

Her child was caught up to God and his throne.

The woman herself fled into the desert

where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have salvation and power come,

and the Kingdom of our God

and the authority of his Anointed One.”

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 45:10, 11, 12, 16

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

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

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

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

forget your people and your father’s house.

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

So shall the king desire your beauty;

for he is your lord.

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

They are borne in with gladness and joy;

they enter the palace of the king.

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

READING II

ResurrectionIcon3

1 Cor 15:20-27

Brothers and sisters:

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

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

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

but each one in proper order:

Christ the first-fruits;

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

then comes the end,

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

when he has destroyed every sovereignty

and every authority and power.

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

The last enemy to be destroyed is death,

for “he subjected everything under his feet.”

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 I Cor 15:20-22.

4 Heb 6:5.

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

6 Rom 14:9.

7 Eph 1:20-22.

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

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

10 LG 49; cf. Eph 4:16.

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

12 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

13 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

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

15 Cf. Lk 4:5-6.

16 1 Cor 15:24-28.

GOSPEL

a434d8149803198f873e12fe804090f0

Lk 1:39-56

Mary set out

and traveled to the hill country in haste

to a town of Judah,

where she entered the house of Zechariah

and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,

and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,

cried out in a loud voice and said,

“Blessed are you among women,

and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me,

that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

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

the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

Blessed are you who believed

that what was spoken to you by the Lord

would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

the promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months

and then returned to her home.

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Lk 1:45.

3 Cf. Lk 1:48.

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

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

6 Jn 20:28,21:7.

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

8 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 Cf. In 11:52.

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

17 Jn 1:6.

18 Lk 1:15, 41.

19 Cf. Lk 1:68.

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

21 Zeph 3:14,17a.

22 Rev 21:3.

23 Lk 1:41, 48.

24 Lk 1:45.

25 Cf. Gen 12:3.

26 Lk 1:43.

27 Lk 1:38.

28 Cf. Jn 19:27.

BENEDICTUS

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to our Lady, Assumed in Heaven

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

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

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

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

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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

1127asign

   “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

 

OPENING PRAYER

Stewardship “Gift” Prayer

Lord, you alone are the source of every good gift,

of the vast array of our universe,

and the mystery of each human life.

We praise you and we thank you

for your great power and your tender, faithful

LOVE.

Everything we are and everything we have

is your gift,

and after having created us,

You have given us the greatest of all gifts, your son,

JESUS CHRIST.

Fill our minds with His truth

and our hearts with His love,

that in His Spirit

we may be bonded together into a community

of faithful, caring people.

In the name and spirit of Jesus,

we commit ourselves to be good stewards

of the gifts entrusted to us,

to share our time, our talent

and our material gifts as an outward sign

of the treasure we hold in Jesus.

Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

whom, taught by the Holy Spirit,

we dare to call our Father,

bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts

the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters,

that we may merit to enter into the inheritance

which you have promised.

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 I27d8ac3964055ff2eacf261bae1a931b

Wis 18:6-9

The night of the passover

was known beforehand to

our fathers, that, with sure

knowledge of the oaths in

which they put their faith,

they might have courage.

Your people awaited the

salvation of the just

and the destruction of their foes.

For when you punished our adversaries,

in this you glorified us whom you had summoned.

For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice

and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.

APPLICATION

The author of the book of Wisdom, writing for his fellow-Jews in Egypt, recalls to their memories the great miracles, especially the last one, which led to the liberation of their ancestors from this land of slavery. The Exodus, as it is called, resulted in their final establishment in Canaan, the land that God had promised to Abraham as the home of his descendants. He recalls this long-past event to encourage them to persevere in their faith, for the God who did these great things for their ancestors is the same God whom they worship still. He continues to be interested in those who serve him, and is always ready to come to their assistance.

This Exodus, this marvelous intervention of God on behalf of his Chosen People, is of even greater interest to us, the Chosen People of the new dispensation. It was on the occasion of the feast of the Jewish Passover that our Passover Lamb, the Son of God, was sacrificed for us and we were sprinkled with his precious blood. Thus began the Exodus of all men from the slavery of this life on earth, and thus they set out for the real promised land, their true and everlasting home.

The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt was a type, a foreshadowing, a prophecy, of the real liberation of mankind and of the elevation of man to citizenship of the new kingdom, God’s everlasting heaven. It was for this very reason that Christ chose this great prophetic festival of the Jews on which to allow himself to be sacrificed for our liberation. Christ was the true Paschal or Passover Lamb. Through his sacrifice of himself, we have been freed from the slavery of sin, and have been made sons of God and heirs of heaven towards which we set out the moment we are baptized.

Today, by reading this lesson from the Book of Wisdom to us, the Church wants to remind us of all we owe to God. Before creation began, he was thinking of us and planning to give us the power to share his divine happiness with him. This he did through the Incarnation, because Christ shared our humanity with us, we come to share his divinity with him. Preparing the world for the Incarnation involved the whole history of the Chosen People. The Exodus from Egypt was a milestone in that history and in it was foreshadowed the event for which it was but a preparation. We Christians can never forget the Exodus, and the Passover feast which commemorates it, because the fulfillment of that prophetic event of the history of the Israelites was for us, not only a milestone, but a turning-point in the history of man’s relation with God.

We are now freemen of heaven. We are on our way there, because of God’s infinite love for us. Our promised land is just over the horizon; it is within the reach of every one of us. We may have a few obstacles to overcome but, with Christ’s leadership, and the assistance of the almighty power of God, there is none so weak amongst us that he cannot overcome these obstacles and reach heaven, the goal that God has prepared for him from all eternity.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22

Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Exult, you just, in the LORD;

praise from the upright is fitting.

Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,

the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.

Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

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

upon those who hope for his kindness,

To deliver them from death

and preserve them in spite of famine.

Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Our soul waits for the LORD,

who is our help and our shield.

May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us

who have put our hope in you.

Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

READING IIA022

HEB 11:1-2, 8-12

Brothers and sisters:

Faith is the realization of what

is hoped for and evidence

of things not seen.

Because of it the ancients

were well attested.

By faith Abraham obeyed when

he was called to go out to a

place that he was to receive as

an inheritance;

he went out, not knowing where he was to go.

By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,

dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;

for he was looking forward to the city with foundations,

whose architect and maker is God.

By faith he received power to generate,

even though he was past the normal age

and Sarah herself was sterile—

for he thought that the one who had made the promise was

trustworthy.

So it was that there came forth from one man,

himself as good as dead,

descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky

and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

APPLICATION

Our faith, our firm belief in the truth of all we have learned about God and our relationship with him, and also our unshakable trust in the promises he has solemnly given to us, is a free gift of God. It is one of the three theological virtues given to us in baptism, and it is the solid basis of the other two; we hope for all the help we need in this life and for an eternal happy future, and we love God and our neighbor because we know that God exists and is deserving of all our love.

We have never seen God. No human being is capable of seeing God while on this earth, but we know he exists because he has told us so indirectly and directly. The universe, with its precision and perfection, reveals him to us, and tells us much about his nature. He must be all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving. He must be supreme and absolutely independent of any other being. The created, finite universe demands a Creator, and our human intellect will not rest in any intermediate cause or creator; it must arrive at the uncaused Cause, another name for God. He has therefore, given us indirectly a proof of his existence.

His love for man, and his special plans for him, moved God to reveal himself directly to mankind. Firstly, he did so through the Patriarchs and the Prophets of the Old Testament, and finally, in a much more complete way, through his divine Son whom he sent on earth to tell us about the three divine persons and their plan for our eternal salvation.

As Christians, then, not only do we know that God exists, but we know enough about the nature of God and about his loving interest in us, to enable us to entrust ourselves entirely to him and to be ready to obey every command and direction which he gives us for our temporal and eternal welfare. As Christians, therefore, we have confident assurance that God exists and that he loves us; that, through the Incarnation of his divine Son, he has arranged to share his heaven with us when we leave this world. That he will help us on the way is a certainty, for Christ left us his Church with the power of giving us his sacraments as well as sure guidance on our journey.

Let us thank God for this divine gift of faith and cherish it as the most valuable gift we have. Life without it would not only be an enigma, an insoluble puzzle, but for any man who stops and thinks, it could only be the product of some diseased mind or the cruelest of jokers. All our powers, all our desires for happiness, all our marvelous gifts of intellect and will, all to perish forever in a few years’ time! Could a hole in the ground six feet by three be the end of one who can probe the heavens, control the elements, reach to the moon and beyond, and dream of ever-widening conquests of nature? Could the man who can build bridges and buildings that will last for hundreds of years, who can compose works of literature and art that will live as long as this earth is inhabited, could he end just like the cow or the horse, a lump of useless dust after a few years of life on earth?

For anyone who admits the existence of an intelligent Creator, and that should be for anyone who has the use of his reason, such a thought is absurd. God made us fit for an unending life, and before he made us, he had prepared the way and the means to give us that eternal life. This is what our Christian faith teaches us. This is what common, human reasoning tells us ought to be. This is how things will be for each one of us, if we not only cherish our gift of faith, but live according to its teaching every day of our lives.

To get to heaven, the place God has planned for us, it is not enough to be theoretical Christians; we must put our Christian faith into daily practice.

GOSPEL

Lk 12:32-48Behold the Bridegroom

Jesus said to his disciples:

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,

for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.

Sell your belongings and give alms.

Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,

an inexhaustible treasure in heaven

that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Gird your loins and light your lamps

and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,

ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.

Blessed are those servants

whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.

Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,

have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.

And should he come in the second or third watch

and find them prepared in this way,

blessed are those servants.

Be sure of this:

if the master of the house had known the hour

when the thief was coming,

he would not have let his house be broken into.

You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,

the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said,

Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”

And the Lord replied,

Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward

whom the master will put in charge of his servants

to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?

Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.

Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant

in charge of all his property.

But if that servant says to himself,

My master is delayed in coming,’

and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,

to eat and drink and get drunk,

then that servant’s master will come

on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour

and will punish the servant severely

and assign him a place with the unfaithful.

That servant who knew his master’s will

but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will

shall be beaten severely;

and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will

but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating

shall be beaten only lightly.

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,

and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080716.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations.1 To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.2

CCC 764 “This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ.”3 To welcome Jesus’ word is to welcome “the Kingdom itself.”3 The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the “little flock” of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is.5 They form Jesus’ true family.6 To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new “way of acting” and a prayer of their own.7

CCC 2849 Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony.8 In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is “custody of the heart,” and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: “Keep them in your name.”9 The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch.10 Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake.”11

1 Cf. Mt 8:11 10:5-7; 28:19.

2 LC 5; cf. Mk 4:14, 26-29; Lk 12:32.

3 LG 5.

4 LG 5.

5 Lk 12:32; cf. Mt 10:16; 26:31; Jn 10:1-21.

6 Cf. Mt 12:49.

7 Cf. Mt 5-6.

8 Cf. Mt 4:1-11; 26:36-44.

9 Jn 17:11; Cf. Mk 13:9, 23, 33-37; 14:38; Lk 12:35-40.

10 Cf. 1 Cor 16:13; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:6; 1 Pet 5:8.

11 Rev 16:15.

APPLICATION

This teaching of our Lord should make us all sit up and take serious notice this morning. He has taken us into his household. He has made us his “little flock.” We are invited guests in his home, his Church, rather than mere servants. He warns us today that we must always be busy about our vocation, about the reason why he invited us into his home. If we grasped clearly what that call of Christ means, what our Christian vocation is, we would hardly need today’s warning. We are Christians, we are members of his Church, for our own eternal good. God, through Christ’s Incarnation, has put us on the road to heaven. He is ever helping us on the way. Could we be so blind to our own welfare that we would risk losing the eternal life that God has in store for us, and for which he went to the extreme lengths of love? In our saner moments we would give an emphatic no to this question. Yet, we must look the real facts of life in the face. There are many Christians who are destined for heaven but who, in their folly, have left the only road which leads there, and are now traveling in the opposite direction.

Some of us here present may be among these foolish ones. We may have let this world get such a grip on us that we have no time or thought for the world that is to come. For such foolish people, and indeed for all of us, today’s warning is that our call to judgement will come on each one of us like a thief in the night, at a moment when we least expect it. This need not be a sudden death. Of every thousand who die after long illnesses in our hospitals, there rarely is one who knows and admits he is about to die, so actually all deaths are sudden, that is, unexpected.

However the unexpected death, which we are sure to get, need not worry the ordinary good Christian. It is the unprepared, the unprovided-for, death which must cause us anxiety. It need not, if, when it comes, it finds us living in God’s grace, living the ordinary Christian life, doing our daily tasks but doing them as part of our duty to God. We have to take an interest in the affairs of this world, but the interest must never exclude our eternal interest. Instead it can and must help us toward the one real interest that man has in this life, that is, to earn his eternal life.

Take a serious look at your way of living, today. Is our behavior in the home, in your place of work, in your recreation, in your relations with God–prayers and church attendance—and with your neighbor, it is such that you would change nothing in it, if you were told by God that you were to die tonight? If it is, thank God for it and keep on going; you are on the right road. If it is not, don’t wait for God to tell you when or where you will die; he will not tell you. Put things right today, and then you need not worry when your call to judgement comes. Death will be graduation day for the good Christian–not examination day.

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

BENEDICTUS

Why Jesus Washes Our Feet

Anyone who is not numbered among the powerful will be thankful whenever he sees someone powerful not helping himself at life’s table. When the powerful person sees the power or possessions that have been given hum as a mandate to be service to others… As long as power and wealth are seen as ends in themselves, then power is always a power to be used against others and possessions will always exclude others. At that moment when the Lord of the world comes and undertakes the slave’s task of foot-washing – which is, in turn, only an illustration of the way he washes our feet all through our lives – we have a totally different picture. God, who is absolute power itself, doesn’t want to trample on us, but kneels down before us so as to exalt us. The mystery of the greatness of God is seen precisely in the fact that he can be small. He doesn’t always have to take the highest place or the box seats. God is trying in this way to wean us away from our ideas of power and domination. He shows us that it is in fact a trifling matter if I can give orders to a great crowd of people and have everything I could want – and that it is great if I undertake the service of others… Only when power is changed from the inside, when our relationship to possessions is changed from within and we accept Jesus and his way of life, whose whole self is there in the action of foot-washing, only then can the world be healed and people be able to live at peace with one another. Jesus shows us what man ought to be, how he ought to live, and what we ought to work toward.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Stewardship Giving Prayer

Good and gracious God,

We thank you for all we are, and all we have.

Everything is a gift from your infinite generosity.

We marvel how bountiful is your kindness.

We rest in appreciation of your enduring mercy.

As we explore our responsibility to be good stewards,

Fill us with the compassion of Jesus, your Son.

Give us eyes to see the needs of those around us,

In the faces of our neighbors near and far.

Give us hearts that are moved by the pleas of those who cry out.

On behalf of the children, the refugees, the sick, and the suffering.

Give us hands that are eager to share what has been entrusted to us.

For the homeless and those alone in their homes.

Give us feet to venture wherever the Spirit leads.

For the mission to bring your good news to all.

As we resolve to be mindful of the needs of others, we pray that

You instill in us your generosity, your kindness, and your mercy.

Free us from all attachments to the things of this world.

Keep us focused in our mission of good stewardship.

In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.

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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

Stefan_Lochner_-_Last_Judgement_-_circa_1435

  • Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for Choosing a State of Life

From all eternity, O Lord, You planned my very existence and my destiny. You wrapped me in Your love in baptism and gave me the Faith to lead me to an eternal life of happiness with You. You have showered me with Your graces and You have been always ready with Your mercy and forgiveness when I have fallen. Now I beg You for the light I so earnestly need that I may find the way of life in which lies the best fulfillment of Your will.  Whatever state this may be, give me the grace necessary to embrace it with love of Your holy will, as devotedly as Your Blessed Mother did Your will. I offer myself to You now, trusting in Your wisdom and love to direct me in working out my salvation and in helping others to know and come close to You, so that I may find my reward in union with You for ever and ever. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=21

COLLECT

Draw near to your servants, O Lord,

and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness,

that, for those who glory in you as their Creator

and guide,

you may restore what you have created

and keep safe what you have restored.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

 

READING ILynettesIcons

Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,

vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill,

and yet to another who has not labored over it,

he must leave property.

This also is vanity and a great misfortune.

For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart

with which he has labored under the sun?

All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;

even at night his mind is not at rest.

This also is vanity.

APPLICATION

While we sympathize with this poor man who could see nothing but emptiness, folly and vanity for man in this life, let us thank God that we have been given the full revelation through Christ. This is a revelation which the Jews lacked. We know that our purpose on earth is not to gather the wealth of this world or to enjoy all its pleasures and its power–all of which we have to leave behind us when death calls us. We know that we are put here for a short period of time during which, if we use our days properly, we can earn for ourselves a new life in which we shall have forever everything we need.

What a consolation, what a source of strength and encouragement this knowledge is for us! Our Christian faith puts a silver lining in the darkest clouds of life. We accept these darkest clouds of sufferings, disappointments and sorrows, because we know that God has a purpose for us in them–they are his means of making us worthy of the real life that is to come later. We accept the moments of happiness and joy with the same spirit. They are little tokens of the greater happiness and joy which will be ours in a few years time. The true, sincere Christian accepts the cross and the crown, the crumb and the feast, the aches and pains as well as the joy of good health, the funeral as well as the wedding, for he knows that all are part of God’s plan for man’s real welfare, and eternal happiness.

We can appreciate our good fortune if we look around us. We need not look far to see some of our fellowman who, like the author Ecclesiastes, have no true explanation for the problems of life. They try not to think of these problems, but try as they may, they cannot keep them always in the background. They get themselves immersed in the affairs of this world. They strive to collect its wealth. They chase after earthly pleasures. They seek for power and political influence. They may succeed in getting little bits of some of these consolations. But never will they receive enough, never all together because one generally excludes the other. Worst of all, they know they have no solid grip on these slippery things of earth. They know that soon, all too soon, they must leave all these, their idols, and be taken by neighbors in a wooden box, to a plot of ground in which they will be buried deep, lest their corrupting flesh pollute the locality.

While we sincere Christians can thank God for making known to us the purpose and the value of our few years on this earth, we would not appreciate this gift of God if we did not feel the urge, and see the obligations we have, of doing all in our power to give this knowledge to our fellowman, our brothers, who also are God’s sons. The millionaire who is godless, if not anti-God, is in dire need of our help. The hobo who has no religion is in more need of prayer and a word of advice than of a dime. The communist who is striving in vain to make this earth a heaven for all men, needs to be told in what direction heaven lies.

All these are our brothers. We must help them to attain the one thing that matters. We may not be able to do much but we must do what we can. God expects it of us. He has given us this knowledge of the true meaning and purpose of life in order that we may share it with all men.

Vanity of vanities! This world and all it holds is nothing but sheer folly and emptiness if seen by itself alone. But, if seen in the light of God’s revelation, it is a gift of God to man, a most useful and necessary gift. It is the bridge that spans the gulf between earthly and eternal life.

 

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17

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

You turn man back to dust,

saying, “Return, O children of men.”

For a thousand years in your sight

are as yesterday, now that it is past,

or as a watch of the night.

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

You make an end of them in their sleep;

the next morning they are like the changing grass,

Which at dawn springs up anew,

but by evening wilts and fades.

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

Teach us to number our days aright,

that we may gain wisdom of heart.

Return, O LORD! How long?

Have pity on your servants!

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

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,

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

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

prosper the work of our hands for us!

Prosper the work of our hands!

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

 

READING IIRisen+Christ

Col 3:1-5, 9-11

Brothers and sisters:

If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,

where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

For you have died,

and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ your life appears,

then you too will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:

immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,

and the greed that is idolatry.

Stop lying to one another,

since you have taken off the old self with its practices

and have put on the new self,

which is being renewed, for knowledge,

in the image of its creator.

Here there is not Greek and Jew,

circumcision and uncircumcision,

barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;

but Christ is all and in all.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 655 Finally, Christ’s Resurrection – and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. .. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”1 The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment. In Christ, Christians “have tasted. .. the powers of the age to come”2 and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”3

CCC 1002 Christ will raise us up “on the last day”; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:

And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. .. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.4

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.”5 The Father has already “raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”6 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.”7

CCC 1420 Through the sacraments of Christian initiation, man receives the new life of Christ. Now we carry this life “in earthen vessels,” and it remains “hidden with Christ in God.”8 We are still in our “earthly tent,” subject to suffering, illness, and death.9 This new life as a child of God can be weakened and even lost by sin.

CCC 1852 There are a great many kinds of sins. Scripture provides several lists of them. The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit: “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.”10

CCC 2518 The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”11 “Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity;12 chastity or sexual rectitude;13 love of truth and orthodoxy of faith.14 There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith:

The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed “so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.”15

CCC 2772 From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which “it does not yet appear what we shall be.”16 The Eucharist and the Lord’s Prayer look eagerly for the Lord’s return, “until he comes.”17

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;”18 yet at the same time, “here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling.”19

[Christians] are in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their lives on earth, but are citizens of heaven.20

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.21 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.”22 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.23

1 I Cor 15:20-22.

2 Heb 6:5.

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

4 Col 2:12; 3:1.

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

6 Eph 2:6.

7 Col 3:4.

8 2 Cor 4:7; Col 3:3.

9 2 Cor 5:1.

10 Gal 5:19-21; CE Rom 1:28-32; 1 Cor 9-10; EPh 5:3-5; Col 3:5-8; 1 Tim 9-10; 2 Tim 2-5.

11 Mt 5:8.

12 Cf. 1 Tim 4:3-9; 2 Tim 2:22.

13 Cf. 1 Thess 4:7; Col 3:5; Eph 4:19.

14 Cf. Titus 1:15; 1 Tim 1:3-4; 2 Tim 2:23-26.

15 St. Augustine, Defide et symbolo 10, 25: PL 40, 196.

16 1 Jn 3:2; Cf. Col 3:4.

17 1 Cor 11:26.

18 Eph 2:6; Col 3:3.

19 2 Cor 5:2; cf. Phil 3:20; Heb 13:14.

20 Ad Diognetum 5: PG 2, 1173.

21 Cf. Ps 8; Isa 6:3.

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

23 Col 3:10.

APPLICATION

We all know what a true Christian demands of us. Today St. Paul is reminding us of it again. He tells us that in baptism we have become new men. Christ has taken us, united us with himself, and raised us to the new status of sons of God. We must therefore act like sons of God, not like sons of mere earthly men. The difficulty is that, even though we have become sons of God who will one day inherit heaven, we still have to contend with our earthly selves together with all their affinities and attractions to things earthly. We have died with Christ and risen with him, but we have not yet been given risen, glorified bodies. We have been given our citizenship papers, and an official passport to enter into our new country. But we are still in our country of origin, and have to make a long, arduous voyage before we take up residence in the new one.

Some Christians waver in their resolution and at times they give up this struggle against natural inclinations which, however, go against baptismal promises and hopes. What adds to each one’s natural weakness is the fact that we are living in an age and a society in which the majority of our fellow men have long since given up even the name of Christian. If they do not openly preach from the housetops that death and the grave are the end of man’s hopes, that man’s only purpose is to get all that is possible from this earthly life, and that they no longer believe in a higher purpose for man, they certainly show by the way they live that this is their only religion.

It is indeed difficult for even a sincere, dedicated Christian to live up to his faith and his hope in such surroundings. Yet, let us not forget that St. Paul was not demanding the impossible of his Gentile converts when he commanded them to put to death, to oppose effectively, all that was earthly in their make-up. Difficult as the practice of real Christianity is in today’s western society, it was much more difficult in the Greek and Roman world of St. Paul’s day. The Colossians were surrounded by their pagan fellow-countrymen, who laughed and jeered at the folly of the converts. To them it seemed that they had foolishly given up the pleasures of this life for the sake of some fairy castle in the sky.

But the converts persevered. Not only did they retain their faith, but they gradually won over the jeers and the scoffers. We can and we will do likewise, with the help of God’s grace, if we persevere in our loyalty to Christ and to the faith he has given us. We encounter temptations both from within ourselves and from without. We have to struggle against our own weaknesses and against the difficulties which the opponents of Christianity, and all things spiritual, place in our way. It is difficult to live a pure life in the permissive society which encourages all the lower instincts in man. It is difficult to be just when injustice is rife and profitable all around us. It is difficult to be truthful when unscrupulous neighbors use lying as the key to power.

Yes, it is difficult to be a true Christian, but neither Christ himself nor any of his Apostles ever told us the Christian life was easy. It never was and never will be. And yet the man who grasps its meaning, the Christian who is convinced that it is not this life but the next that really matters, can make light of these difficulties. He will take up his cross daily, as he has been told to do. He will follow Christ, knowing full well that the reward awaiting him is worth ten thousand times any hardships in this life that he is called on to endure in order to obtain it.

The true Christian is one “who has put aside his old self with its past deeds” and “who is growing daily in the knowledge and in the likeness of the image of his Creator”.

GOSPELThe-Ladder-of-Divine-Ascent-4.jpg

Gospel Lk 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,

Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”

He replied to him,

Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”

Then he said to the crowd,

Take care to guard against all greed,

for though one may be rich,

one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.

There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.

He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,

for I do not have space to store my harvest?’

And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:

I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.

There I shall store all my grain and other goods

and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,

you have so many good things stored up for many years,

rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’

But God said to him,

You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;

and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’

Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves

but are not rich in what matters to God.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/073116.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death,1 Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below,2 but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage.3

1 Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5.

2 Cf. Lk 12 13-14; Jn 18:36.

3 Cf. Jn 8:34-36.

APPLICATION

The lesson of this parable is obvious to all, and it is perhaps as difficult to put into practice as it is obvious. To be in this world and not of it, to collect the necessary goods of this world by honest labor and yet remain detached from them, to possess but not be possessed by worldly riches, is an ideal to which our weak human nature responds very reluctantly.

A large percentage of Christians, however, do respond to the challenge manfully and loyally. They earn and use the goods of this world, while at the same time they keep God’s laws and earn wealth for heaven. Some there are who renounce even the right, which is theirs, to possess the necessary things of this world, by taking on themselves the vows of religion. Thus they set themselves free to devote their whole time and energy to the service of God and neighbor. Others, and they are of necessity the more numerous, have to own the world’s goods in order to provide for themselves and their dependents, but, while so doing, they never let their temporal possessions come between them and their God. To do this is not easy, but God’s helping grace is always available to the willing heart.

There is still a third group–those who resemble the foolish man described in the parable. Like him they are so enmeshed and ensnared in their desire to collect good things for their earthly life, that they forget that at any moment they may have to leave this earth and all they possess in it. They may not have large barns or grain-bins bursting at the seams with the fruits of their fields or their market dealings, but they have allowed their possessions, large or small, to become the prison-houses of their hearts and thoughts. In their mad rush for earthly treasure they give themselves no time to stop and think of the really important thing in life, namely, that soon they must leave this world and all it holds dear to them. But it is not the departure from this world that is to be feared. Rather, it is the arrival at another for which they have made no preparation. That other world of which they have often heard, but which they shrugged off as something fit for the weak-minded, will not open before them in all its awe-inspiring immensity. They will have a momentary glimpse of the eternal beauty and happiness that they lost for a “mess of pottage,” before they enter the unending valley of sorrow which they elected for themselves when, during their period of trial, they chose earthly baubles instead of God.

This has been the fate of foolish men and women in the past. It will, also, be the fate of many more in the future. It could be my fate, too, unless I remain ever on the alert to keep myself free from the snare of worldly wealth. I must remember that it is not the quantity of this world’s goods which I possess that will be my undoing, but the quality of the hold which they have on me. There are and will be millionaires in heaven, while many in the lower income-brackets will find themselves excluded.

No man will be excluded from heaven because he lawfully possessed some of this world’s wealth. But a man will exclude himself from eternal happiness if he lets this world’s wealth possess him to the exclusion of God.

The fate of the rich man in the parable need not, and should not, be mine. I have still time to stop building larger grain-bins and barns, and to turn my attention instead to collecting some treasure for heaven.

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

BENEDICTUS

The Richness of Giving

A fantasy of people with property takes no account of the fact that, for the great majority of mankind, life is a struggle. On those grounds I would see this idea of choosing one’s own path in life as a selfish attitude and as a waste of one’s vocation. Anyone who thinks he already has it all, so that he can take what he wants and center everything on himself, is depriving himself of giving what he otherwise could. Man is not there to make himself, but to respond to demands made upon him. We all stand in a great arena of history and are dependent on each other. A man ought not, therefore, just to figure out what he would like, but to ask what he can do and how he can help. Then he will see that fulfillment does not lie in comfort, ease, and following one’s inclinations, but precisely in allowing demands to be made upon you, in taking the harder path. Everything else turns out somehow boring, anyway. Only the man who “risks the fire,” who recognizes a calling within himself, a vocation, an ideal he must satisfy, who takes on real responsibility, will find fulfillment. It is not in taking, not on the path of comfort, that we become rich, but only in giving.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

 

CLOSING PRAYER

The Universal Prayer (attributed to Pope Clement XI)

Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.

I trust in you: strengthen my trust.

I love you: let me love you more and more.

I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.

I worship you as my first beginning,

I long for you as my last end,

I praise you as my constant helper,

And call on you as my loving protector.

Guide me by your wisdom,

Correct me with your justice,

Comfort me with your mercy,

Protect me with your power.

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;

My words: to have you for their theme;

My actions: to reflect my love for you;

My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

I want to do what you ask of me:

In the way you ask,

For as long as you ask,

Because you ask it.

Lord, enlighten my understanding,

Strengthen my will,

Purify my heart,

and make me holy.

Help me to repent of my past sins

And to resist temptation in the future.

Help me to rise above my human weaknesses

And to grow stronger as a Christian.

Let me love you, my Lord and my God,

And see myself as I really am:

A pilgrim in this world,

A Christian called to respect and love

All whose lives I touch,

Those under my authority,

My friends and my enemies.

Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,

Greed by generosity,

Apathy by fervor.

Help me to forget myself

And reach out toward others.

Make me prudent in planning,

Courageous in taking risks.

Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.

Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,

Temperate in food and drink,

Diligent in my work,

Firm in my good intentions.

Let my conscience be clear,

My conduct without fault,

My speech blameless,

My life well-ordered.

Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.

Let me cherish your love for me,

Keep your law,

And come at last to your salvation.

Teach me to realize that this world is passing,

That my true future is the happiness of heaven,

That life on earth is short,

And the life to come eternal.

Help me to prepare for death

With a proper fear of judgment,

But a greater trust in your goodness.

Lead me safely through death

To the endless joy of heaven.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, mercy, prayer, Uncategorized

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

CA5078“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for our Nation (U.S.A)

God our Father,

Giver of life,

we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care.

You are the rock on which this nation was founded.

You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life,

liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Reclaim this land for Your glory and dwell among Your people.

Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation´s leaders.

Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities

that accompany human freedom.

Remind Your people that true happiness is rooted in

Seeking and doing Your will.

Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate,

Patroness of our land, grant us the courage to reject the “culture of death.”

Lead us into a new millennium of life.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=800

 

COLLECT

O God, protector of those who hope in you,

without whom nothing has firm foundation

nothing is holy,

bestow in abundance your mercy upon us

and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide,

we may use the good things that pass

in such a way as to hold fast even now

to those that ever endure.

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 I87ce6445bd1efeb4d18020cae2dd708a

Reading 1 Gn 18:20-32

In those days, the LORD said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great,

and their sin so grave,

that I must go down and see whether or not their actions

fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me.

I mean to find out.”

While Abraham’s visitors walked on farther toward Sodom,

the LORD remained standing before Abraham.

Then Abraham drew nearer and said:

“Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?

Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city;

would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it

for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?

Far be it from you to do such a thing,

to make the innocent die with the guilty

so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike!

Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?”

The LORD replied,

“If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom,

I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Abraham spoke up again:

“See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord,

though I am but dust and ashes!

What if there are five less than fifty innocent people?

Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?”

He answered, “I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there.”

But Abraham persisted, saying “What if only forty are found there?”

He replied, “I will forbear doing it for the sake of the forty.”

Then Abraham said, “Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on.

What if only thirty are found there?”

He replied, “I will forbear doing it if I can find but thirty there.”

Still Abraham went on,

“Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord,

what if there are no more than twenty?”

The LORD answered, “I will not destroy it, for the sake of the twenty.”

But he still persisted:

“Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time.

What if there are at least ten there?”

He replied, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

CCC 1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,2 the sin of the Sodomites,3 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,4 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,5 injustice to the wage earner.6

CCC 2571 Because Abraham believed in God and walked in his presence and in covenant with him,7 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.8 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.9

1 Cf. Gen 1-26.

2 Cf. Gen 4:10.

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

4 Cf. Ex 3:7-10.

5 Cf. Ex 20:20-22.

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

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

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

9 Cf. Gen 18:16-33.

APPLICATION

The first lesson we can learn from this episode is the power of intercessory prayer. We can pray for others and God will hear and answer our prayers. Abraham has left us a wonderful example of love of neighbor. He did not wish to see the people of those cities suddenly sent to their death. He pleaded for them and he used God’s own justice as a lever to move him from his resolve. How could the just God condemn the innocent with the wicked? If only ten just men had been found in them, the cities and their inhabitants would have been saved, saved by Abraham’s intercession.

How often do we pray for our neighbors when they are in temporal or spiritual danger or difficulties? Most of us can answer truthfully and admit that we do not do so half as often as we should. We entreat God when we ourselves are in need, but God will be much more ready to answer us in our need if we have proved true brothers to our fellowman by pleading for them when they need the divine assistance.

We can learn another valuable lesson, also, from this story. The presence of a group of pious people in our midst, people who are close to God, is a guarantee that we shall be protected from the divine vengeance which we may have thoroughly deserved. There are Catholics who question the purpose of enclosed communities of women or men who devote all their time to prayer and the liturgy. Why don’t they teach or nurse, or earn their bread in some way? Why should the people have to support them? These were the very sentiments expressed by the Reformers when they knocked down the convents in England and banished the sisters. Some Catholics are still of this opinion today.

They forget, however, that the prayers of these devout lovers of God have often saved them from the temporal punishments that they deserve. The contemplatives are the spiritual lightning-conductors in our parishes and towns. They sacrifice their personal freedom and enclose themselves for life behind their convent walls in order to intercede for all sinners, for all of us.

Instead of criticizing them and questioning their sanity, we should thank God for them and pray that they will never be short of vocations–new members in their communities who will continue their good work. The parish or the town that has a community of enclosed religious has a divine blessing in its midst. It has a power-house of prayer which will spread the light of God’s grace amongst the citizens of that town and parish, and will turn away the just wrath of God from those who, by their sins, deserve it. “For the sake of those ten innocent people,” said the Lord to Abraham, “I will not destroy the cities.”

Imitate Abraham’s true, unselfish love of neighbor by always remembering your needy neighbor in your prayers. Help to protect your city and your fellow citizens, by a special prayer today for an increase in the number of just men living in it.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8

Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

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.

Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

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.

Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,

and the proud he knows from afar.

Though I walk amid distress, you preserve me;

against the anger of my enemies you raise your hand.

Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

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.

Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

READING IICrucifixion

Col 2:12-14

Brothers and sisters:

You were buried with him in baptism,

in which you were also raised with him

through faith in the power of God,

who raised him from the dead.

And even when you were dead

in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh,

he brought you to life along with him,

having forgiven us all our transgressions;

obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims,

which was opposed to us,

he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 527 Jesus’ circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth,1 is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law2 and his deputation to Israel’s worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that “circumcision of Christ” which is Baptism.3

CCC 628 Baptism, the original and full sign of which is immersion, efficaciously signifies the descent into the tomb by the Christian who dies to sin with Christ in order to live a new life. “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.”4

CCC 1002 Christ will raise us up “on the last day”; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:

And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. .. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.5

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.”6

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.7

The baptized have “put on Christ.”8 Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.9

CCC 1694 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord.10 Following Christ and united with him,11 Christians can strive to be “imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love”12 by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the “mind. .. which is yours in Christ Jesus,”13 and by following his example.14

1 Cf. Lk 2:21.

2 Cf. Gal 4:4.

3 Cf. Col 2:11-13.

4 Rom 6:4; cf. Col 2:12; Eph 5:26.

5 Col 2:12; 3:1.

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

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

8 Gal 3:27.

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

10 Rom 6:11 and cf. 6:5; cf. Col 2:12.

11 Cf. Jn 15:5.

12 Eph 5:1-2.

13 Phil 2:5.

14 Cf. Jn 13:12-16.

APPLICATION

How can we ever thank God for all he has done for us! Eternity itself will not be long enough for us to sing him our full hymn of gratitude. He created us and gave us wonderful gifts. We abused his gifts, and went so far as to use the very gifts he gave us to insult him. He had planned to make us heirs to heaven, but we were more interested in this fleeting world. We lost interest in his plans for our good. Nevertheless, he did not lose interest in us. He sent his divine Son on earth to take our human nature and thus gather the whole human race into himself, thereby making us sons of his heavenly Father.

If the Incarnation had not taken place we could never reach heaven. Mere man could never of himself become a citizen of that kingdom to which his nature gave him no claim. An alien, coming to live in a country not his by birth, needs a special act, a gratuitous act on the part of that country, to become its citizen. Similarly man, a native of earth, needed a special gratuitous act on the part of God to make him a citizen of heaven.

This is what the Incarnation did for us. The Son of God deigned to share our humanity with us. We are thus enabled to share his divinity with him. We have been given the citizenship of heaven. The conferring of that citizenship on us takes place in baptism as arranged by Christ. In baptism we die with Christ. That means that we cast off the man of flesh, the mere mortal man of this earth, and rise from the baptismal waters, clothed with divinity, because Christ has made us one with him, who is God and Man.

Of course, we are not yet in heaven. But we have a heavenly passport: we have the right to get there, and what is more we have been given in abundance the means of getting there. Christ saw to that. He knew our weaknesses. He provided us with his Church to which he gave and gives, his sacraments. He also gives, through the Holy Spirit, the divine assistance which will ensure for us a safe journey.

How truly fortunate we followers of Christ are! We have a passport, a ticket from him. We have sufficient means to pay for all our needs on the journey homewards. Let us thank God from our hearts this morning, for his infinite kindness to us. Let us turn our thoughts for a moment to our unfortunate fellowman, who are also brothers of Christ and heirs to heaven. They are also brothers of ours. They either do not know God and all that he has done for them, or, worse still, they know him but despise him and his gifts. Thus, they are seriously risking their own future happiness. God wants them all in heaven. Christ died for all. The heavenly citizenship is there for all, though it cannot be forced on any man.

We can do much to help these brothers of ours. To do so will be the best way we can show our appreciation of God’s goodness to us, the best way to prove our gratitude. Prayer is a way of helping that is open to all, young and old, rich and poor. Every day of our lives, we should beg God to put a knowledge of his infinite love into the hearts of those who do not have it. When we need some temporal favor for ourselves, the best way we can pray for it is to forget our little needs and to pray instead for this most essential need of the neighbor who does not know God, and is jeopardizing his future–his eternal future. God will, in his own way and his own time, answer that prayer of true charity. Our temporal needs will not be forgotten either.

Most of us can help by cooperating financially and otherwise with those who are giving their lives to spreading the knowledge of God and his goodness among the pagans, old and new. We have many of the latter right in our midst. Each one of us can find a way to get this knowledge to those nearest him. For those living in their own pagan countries, we can, besides praying, help to support the generous men and women who have gone to these lands and are doing God’s work, and our work there for us.

Finally, if each one of us would give the good example of a Christian life, Christ would soon have more followers. We would show that our Christian life is lived by one who appreciates it; by one who realizes that he is on the way to heaven and that he will not allow earthly attractions or earthly trials to impede his journey.

All I can do is one man’s part. However, I am ready to do that much. I hope that many others will follow suit. God grant that it may be so.

GOSPEL

prayer

Lk 11:1-13

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,

one of his disciples said to him,

“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread

and forgive us our sins

for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,

and do not subject us to the final test.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend

to whom he goes at midnight and says,

‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,

for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey

and I have nothing to offer him,’

and he says in reply from within,

‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked

and my children and I are already in bed.

I cannot get up to give you anything.’

I tell you,

if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves

because of their friendship,

he will get up to give him whatever he needs

because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;

seek and you will find;

knock and the door will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks, receives;

and the one who seeks, finds;

and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

What father among you would hand his son a snake

when he asks for a fish?

Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?

If you then, who are wicked,

know how to give good gifts to your children,

how much more will the Father in heaven

give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072416.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? “I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution”, said St. Augustine,1 and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For “the mystery of lawlessness” is clarified only in the light of the “mystery of our religion”.2 The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace.3 We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.4

CCC 443 Peter could recognize the transcendent character of the Messiah’s divine sonship because Jesus had clearly allowed it to be so understood. To his accusers’ question before the Sanhedrin, “Are you the Son of God, then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am.”5 Well before this, Jesus referred to himself as “the Son” who knows the Father, as distinct from the “servants” God had earlier sent to his people; he is superior even to the angels.6 He distinguished his sonship from that of his disciples by never saying “our Father”, except to command them: “You, then, pray like this: ‘Our Father’”, and he emphasized this distinction, saying “my Father and your Father”.7

CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,8 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.9

CCC 700 The finger. “It is by the finger of God that [Jesus] cast out demons.”10 If God’s law was written on tablets of stone “by the finger of God,” then the “letter from Christ” entrusted to the care of the apostles, is written “with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”11 The hymn Veni Creator Spiritus invokes the Holy Spirit as the “finger of the Father’s right hand.”12

CCC 728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.13 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,14 to the Samaritan woman,15 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.16 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer17 and with the witness they will have to bear.18

CCC 1425 “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”19 One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has “put on Christ.”20 But the apostle John also says: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”21 And the Lord himself taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses,”22 linking our forgiveness of one another’s offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us.

CCC 1969 The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, directing them to the “Father who sees in secret,” in contrast with the desire to “be seen by men.”23 Its prayer is the Our Father.24

CCC 2601 “He was praying in a certain place and when he had ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.”’25 In seeing the Master at prayer the disciple of Christ also wants to pray. By contemplating and hearing the Son, the master of prayer, the children learn to pray to the Father.

CCC 2613 Three principal parables on prayer are transmitted to us by St. Luke:

– The first, “the importunate friend,”26 invites us to urgent prayer: “Knock, and it will be opened to you.” To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will “give whatever he needs,” and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts.

– The second, “the importunate widow,”27 is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith. “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

– The third parable, “the Pharisee and the tax collector,”28 concerns the humility of the heart that prays. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” The Church continues to make this prayer its own: Kyrie eleison!

CCC 2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.29 There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.30 It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer.31 By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.

CCC 2671 The traditional form of petition to the Holy Spirit is to invoke the Father through Christ our Lord to give us the Consoler Spirit.32 Jesus insists on this petition to be made in his name at the very moment when he promises the gift of the Spirit of Truth.33 But the simplest and most direct prayer is also traditional, “Come, Holy Spirit,” and every liturgical tradition has developed it in antiphons and hymns.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.34

Heavenly King, Consoler Spirit, Spirit of Truth, present everywhere and filling all things, treasure of all good and source of all life, come dwell in us, cleanse and save us, you who are All Good.35

CCC 2759 Jesus “was praying at a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’”36 In response to this request the Lord entrusts to his disciples and to his Church the fundamental Christian prayer. St. Luke presents a brief text of five petitions,37 while St. Matthew gives a more developed version of seven petitions.38 The liturgical tradition of the Church has retained St. Matthew’s text:

Our Father who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

1 St. Augustine, Conf. 7,7,11: PL 32,739.

2 2 Thess 2:7; 1 Tim 3:16.

3 Cf. Rom 5:20.

4 Cf. Lk 11:21-22; Jn 16:11; 1 Jn 3:8.

5 Lk 22:70; cf. Mt 26:64; Mk 14:61-62.

6 Cf. Mt 11:27; 21:34-38; 24:36.

7 Mt 5:48; 6:8-9; 7:21; Lk 11:13; Jn 20:17.

8 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5; Phil 2:5.

9 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.

10 Lk 11:20.

11 Ex 31:18; 2 Cor 3:3.

12 LH, Easter Season after Ascension, Hymn at Vespers: digitus paternae dexterae.

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

14 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.

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

16 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.

17 Cf. Lk 11:13.

18 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.

19 1 Cor 6:11.

20 Gal 3:27.

21 1 Jn 1:8.

22 Cf. Lk 11:4; Mt 6:12.

23 Cf. Mt 6:1-6; 16-18.

24 Cf. Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4.

25 Lk 11:1.

26 Cf. Lk 11:5-13.

27 Cf. Lk 18:1-8.

28 Cf. Lk 18:9-14.

29 Cf. Mt 6:10, 33; Lk 11:2,13.

30 Cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3.

31 Cf. Rom 10:1; Eph 1:16-23; Phil 1911; Col 1:3-6; 4:3-4, 12.

32 Cf. Lk 11:13.

33 Cf. Jn 14:17; 15:26; 16:13.

34 Roman Missal, Pentecost Sequence.

35 Byzantine Liturgy, Pentecost Vespers, Troparion.

36 Lk 11:1.

37 Cf. Lk 11:2-4.

38 Cf. Mt 6:9-13.

APPLICATION

The disciples asked to be taught how to pray to God. Jesus told them how. He gave them a formula which contains the essence of all prayer. God is addressed as our Father. He really is, since he made his Son our brother. We praise and honor him and wish that all will honor him. Then we ask for our daily, temporal needs, and especially for our spiritual needs. We ask forgiveness of all our offenses, while we likewise promise to forgive our brothers if they offend us.

Jesus then went on to stress the necessity of perseverance in our prayers. We must honor God daily and pray that all will honor him. We must also keep on asking for our temporal and spiritual needs. This is the meaning of the parable. The Father may delay the granting of our request because he wants us to continue to trust in him. This very perseverance in our prayer is bringing us closer and making us dearer to God. This is a greater blessing for us than the favor for which we were asking.

As regards requests for help in our spiritual life, we can rest assured that, if God delays his answer, the reason is that he has some more important spiritual gift for us. Our perseverance in prayer will bring it to us. Many great saints often wondered why God did not answer their fervent prayers and remove some temptation, or some lack of virtue which they felt was impeding their progress. They found out later that it was because God was slow in granting their requests that they actually progressed in sanctity.

As far as temporal favors are concerned, we do not always know what is best for us. God does. Of this we can be sure: if our requests for temporal favors are sincere and persevering, we are sure to get an answer. Christ himself says so. The answer, however, may not always be what we asked. If not, it will be something better, something we do not even know we need. God knows it and gives it to us, instead of the less essential gift we were asking for.

Looking back over our lives, many of us can see now how fortunate we were that some of the favors we sought so fervently from God in our youth were not given us. He gave us instead some gift which we had not even thought of, but which changed the course of our lives and saved us from the tribulations, spiritual and temporal, which the gift we were so anxiously seeking would have caused us, if God had granted it. There are thousands of men and women in heaven today who would not be there had God granted them the temporal favors they thought they needed so badly. One of our joys in heaven, among the lesser ones perhaps, will be in discovering how cleverly our heavenly Father helped us to get there by refusing certain of our requests, and by giving us others for which we had not asked.

Not only, therefore, may we, but we must, ask our heavenly Father for our spiritual and temporal needs. This we are told to do by Christ. We must continue to ask. He has put us in this world in order to earn heaven. Our life here is of its very nature a journey. All journeys entail some, and often many, hardships. For one on his way home, the journey’s hardships are bearable. For some they may at times border on the unbearable, but such people can turn to their heavenly Father. He has a personal knowledge of, and interest in, each individual’s progress. Ask him to remove the cross, for the time being at least. Loving Father that he is, he will do just that, or he will strengthen the shoulder that has to bear it.

Remember our Lord’s advice to us: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and it shall be opened to you.

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

BENEDICTUS

Our Father

In teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus told them to say “Our Father.” (Mt. 6: 9). No one but he can say “my Father.” Everyone else is only entitled , as a member of the community, to use that “we” which Jesus made possible for them; i.e., they have the right to address God as Father because they are all created by God and for one another. To recognize and accept God’s Fatherhood always means accepting that we are set in relation to one another: man is entitled to call God “Father” to the extent that he participates in that “we” – which is the form under which God’s love seeks for him… No one can build a bridge to the Infinite by his won strength. No one’s voice is loud enough to summon the Infinite. No intelligence can adequately and securely conceive who God is, whether he hears us and how we should act toward him… Even the awareness that religion must rest on a higher authority than that of one’s own reason, and that it needs a community as a “carrier,” is part of mankind’s basic knowledge, though found in manifold forms and even distortions… Jesus’ task was to renew the People of God by deepening its relationship to God and by opening it up for all mankind… He achieved this by transforming his death into an act of prayer, an act of love, and thus by making himself communicable. Jesus has made it possible for people to participate in his most intimate and personal act of being, i.e., his dialogue with the Father. That is the deepest layer of meaning of that process in which he taught his disciples to say “Our Father.”

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 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.

Posted in Catholic

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

MaryMartha Email“There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for Grace and Guidance

Oh my God, You know my weakness and failings, and that without Your help I can accomplish nothing for the good of souls, my own and others’. Grant me, therefore, the help of Your grace. Grant it according to my particular needs this day. Enable me to see the task You will set before me in the daily routine of my life, and help me work hard at my appointed tasks. Teach me to bear patiently all the trials of suffering or failure that may come to me today. Amen.

http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/prayers-for-grace-and-guidance.html

COLLECT

Show favor, O Lord, to your servants

and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,

that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,

they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.

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 I01-anonymous-the-hospitality-of-abraham-duomo-di-monreale-monreale-sicily-itGn 18:1-10a

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot.

Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby.

When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them;

and bowing to the ground, he said:

“Sir, if I may ask you this favor,

please do not go on past your servant.

Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet,

and then rest yourselves under the tree.

Now that you have come this close to your servant,

let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves;

and afterward you may go on your way.”

The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.”

Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah,

“Quick, three measures of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls.”

He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer,

and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it.

Then Abraham got some curds and milk,

as well as the steer that had been prepared,

and set these before the three men;

and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

They asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

He replied, “There in the tent.”

One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year,

and Sarah will then have a son.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

CCC 489 Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living.2 By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age.3 Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women.4 Mary “stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established.”5

CCC 706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.6 In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,7 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”8 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and “the promised Holy Spirit. .. [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.”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 Cf. Gen 1-26.

2 Cf. Gen 3:15, 20.

3 Cf. Gen 18:10-14; 21:1-2.

4 Cf. I Cor 1:17; I Sam 1.

5 LG 55.

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

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

8 Cf. In 11:52.

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

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

This incident which happened to the Father and Founder of the Jewish race, the Chosen People, nearly four thousand years ago, would seem at first sight to have little if any interest for us Christians of the twentieth century. Yet it has. That is why it is read in our liturgy today. Whether things happened exactly as described, or whether the inspired writer later used his poetic imagination to drive home to his readers, and to all of us, some very important lessons, matters but little. The basic fact of the narrative is that Abraham, after years of faithful trust in God, was finally given a definite guarantee that God’s promise to him would be fulfilled within a year.

The fulfillment of that promise has more meaning and importance for us than it had even for Abraham. It was the beginning of God’s preparation for sending the Messiah, his divine Son in human nature, to raise us men above our natural capacities and make us heirs of an eternal life. We call Abraham “our father in faith” in the Mass and rightly so. We owe it, after God, to his faith and trust in God, that the way was prepared, according to God’s eternal plan, for the coming of Christ amongst us. This resulted in the supernatural change in man and in his relationship with God.

How slowly, how patiently, but how effectively and successfully, God works when dealing with weak, worldly and often stubborn man. The whole story of salvation is an example of divine, infinite patience and almost incredible tolerance in the face of human ingratitude, infidelity and, frequently, utter unworthiness. Yet, he carried out his plan and opened heaven for us unworthy and ungrateful men.

That was all before Christ came on earth. Has man been much more grateful, much more obedient, much more reverent towards God, even since he sent his Son to raise us up to the dignity of sonship with himself? There have been noble exceptions, thank God. Down through the two thousand years of Christianity, men and women have given their lives totally and exclusively to the task of thanking God for all he has done for mankind. But the vast majority of all generations have taken God’s gifts as they take the weather. They grumble when it rains. They are thankless when the sun shines.

Human nature has changed very little. Thanks be to God, he does not change either. He is still tolerant. He is still patient. He is still forgiving and more anxious to get us to heaven than even we ourselves are. We have much to learn from Abraham’s faith. When God seems to be slow in answering our urgent request, when he seems to forget the pressing spiritual needs we have put before him, when he seems to be kinder to his enemies than to us his children, it is well for us to think of Abraham’s years of patient trust and absolute confidence in God’s promise. God has his reasons which we cannot see or understand. Of this we can be certain though: he makes no mistakes. Our prayers and our requests are and will always be answered in God’s time and in God’s way. That means, at the right time and in the manner best for us. We are the very worst judges in our own cases. Leave it to the all-wise judge.

It is worth noting also in today’s lesson that Abraham was given his final, definite guarantee after he had proved himself a true, kind, generous neighbor to complete strangers. Perhaps if we all forget self a little more, and think, instead, of our needy neighbor, then God would come more quickly to our own aid. There is a strong stubborn and selfish strain in every man. Overcoming that selfishness is one of the principal obligations of a Christian. We have all failed miserably in this duty in the past. We have all failed often. But we must keep on trying. There are occasions every day for practicing brotherly love, which is the true mark of Christianity, not only on our doorsteps but within the walls of our own homes. These are the means God is sending us to help us to earn eternal life. Unless we use them we shall live and die as selfish, self-centered individuals. There is no place in heaven for the self-centered, selfish man.

Heaven is the home of the great and loving family, where each is for all and where all are for God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

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

One who walks blamelessly and does justice;

who thinks the truth in his heart

and slanders not with his tongue.

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

Who harms not his fellow man,

nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;

by whom the reprobate is despised,

while he honors those who fear the LORD.

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

Who lends not his money at usury

and accepts no bribe against the innocent.

One who does these things

shall never be disturbed.

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

READING IIsaint_paul+(blue+older+icon)

Col 1:24-28

Brothers and sisters:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,

and in my flesh I am filling up

what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ

on behalf of his body, which is the church,

of which I am a minister

in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me

to bring to completion for you the word of God,

the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.

But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,

to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory

of this mystery among the Gentiles;

it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.

It is he whom we proclaim,

admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,

that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 307 To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of “subduing” the earth and having dominion over it.1 God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors. Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings.2 They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.3

CCC 618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”.4 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.5 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”,6 for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.”7 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.8 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.9

Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.10

CCC 772 It is in the Church that Christ fulfills and reveals his own mystery as the purpose of God’s plan: “to unite all things in him.”11 St. Paul calls the nuptial union of Christ and the Church “a great mystery.” Because she is united to Christ as to her bridegroom, she becomes a mystery in her turn.12 Contemplating this mystery in her, Paul exclaims: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”13

CCC 1499 “By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.”14

CCC 1508 The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing15 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.”16

1 Cf. Gen 1:26-28.

2 Cf. Col 1:24.

3 1 Cor 3:9; 1 Thes 3:2; Col 4:11.

4 1 Tim 2:5.

5 GS 22 # 5; cf. # 2.

6 Mt 16:24.

7 I Pt 2:21.

8 Cf Mk 10:39; Jn 21:18-19; Col 1:24.

9 Cf. Lk 2:35.

10 St. Rose of Lima: cf. P. Hansen, Vita mirabilis (Louvain, 1668).

11 Eph 1:10.

12 Eph 5:32; 3:9-11; 5:25-27.

13 Col 1:27.

14 LG 11; cf. Jas 5:14-16; Rom 8:17; Col 1:24; 2 Tim 2:11-12; 1 Pet 4:13.

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

16 2 Cor 12:9; Col 1:24.

APPLICATION

What a startling and amazing piece of news the gospel must have been for the Gentiles! Up till then, they had heard of many gods–the products of men’s hands and imaginings. These gods were powerless to help man. They were stone deaf to his prayers. Men may have had a desire to live for ever, but what a hopeless piece of wishful thinking it must have appeared to them as they saw even the richest and most powerful among them invariably end in the grave.

Now they hear of one all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God, who made all things and cares for all things. That all-loving, all-powerful God, who gave such marvelous gifts to man, has still greater plans for the masterpiece of his creation. He intends that man should share his own eternal happiness with him, so man’s desire to live forever turns out to be something that can and will be fulfilled. Man’s created, finite nature could of itself have no claim on, or reason to expect such an extraordinary privilege. But God planned from all eternity to unite the human with the divine. This he did through the Incarnation. The Son of God became man–humanity was united to the divinity in him. Human nature was thus enabled to share, in a finite way, in the divinity of God. Only God could do this, and only infinite love could move God to act in that way towards a mere creature.

Because God acted in such a manner, man’s lot on earth was radically changed. The troubles and hardships of this life mattered little now. The grave no longer meant the end of everything. It was, rather, the beginning of man’s true life. The moment of death, when they would meet Christ in his glorified human nature, united to his divinity, was something to be looked forward to, and not a thing to be dreaded. No wonder these first Gentile converts led exemplary Christian lives. They appreciated sincerely all that God and Christ had done for them. The best that they could do was not half enough to show their heartfelt gratitude.

“Familiarity breeds contempt,” the proverb says. After almost twenty centuries of Christianity, we have indeed grown familiar with it, and some, alas, have the rudeness to despise and ignore it. A true familiarity with God’s love for us, however, should rather increase our respect and our gratitude for the extraordinary gift of his divine love, Christ’s Incarnation–with all its consequences for us. It has made new creatures of us. It has raised us up above our ordinary selves. It has made us sons of God. We know there is an eternal life awaiting us when we finish with this earthly life. The marvelous powers of intellect and will which God gave us and which make us the highest of his creatures on earth, will have their full scope and satisfaction in that eternal life. All human problems will be solved, and all human pain and sorrow will end. There will be no more tears nor cause for tears. Heaven will be a place of unending happiness and peace.

The conditions we must fulfill in order to merit this happy, everlasting abode are not impossible. With the aid of God’s grace, which is there for the asking, they are not even difficult. The trials of life, which we all have to face and bear, are made so much easier for us. We can see in them God’s mercies, sent to cleanse us and prepare us for what lies beyond.

What most of us need is a great bit of that fervor which animated the early Christians. If we meditated and pondered more often on the gift of Christ and what the Christian faith means to us, we would live our daily Christian live a little more fervently. Our love for God and for neighbor (the proof of love for God) would grow stronger. Not only would we make sure of our future happiness, but our good example would spur the careless Christians, that we encounter, to love and esteem the blessings which Christ and Christianity have made available to them.

GOSPELbiserica-maria-magdalena-ierusalim-9

Lk 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.

She had a sister named Mary

who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,

“Lord, do you not care

that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?

Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply,

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.

There is need of only one thing.

Mary has chosen the better part

and it will not be taken from her.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071716.cfm

APPLICATION

This story concerning Mary and Martha has often been used by spiritual writers to prove the superiority of the contemplative life over the active, pastoral form of life. That there is room and necessity for some members of Christ’s body, the Church, to dedicate their lives solely and entirely to meditation and prayer needs no proof. Each member of the body can and must help the other members. Most Christians cannot give much time to prayer, contemplation of God, and acts of thanksgiving for all he has done and is doing for them. There are members set apart for this very purpose. With their material needs provided for by the other members, they can act in the name of the whole body. They can represent all its members in their prayers and acts of thanksgiving. It is God himself who has thought of this form of religious life and who provides the vocations to keep it going.

The more correct lesson which the story of Martha and Mary seems to have is that we must not let the affairs of this life, innocent though they be in themselves, prevent us from attending primarily to the one affair that really matters, our future life. The emphasis, then, is on Martha rather than on Mary. In her over-excitement to prove herself a kind and true hostess, she bent all her energies to preparing an excellent meal. She had no time to listen to the Master’s words of divine wisdom. The work she was doing was excellent and faultless in itself. She need not and should not have excluded learning from Christ’s teaching while doing that good work.

Like Martha, many “good” Christians are “anxious and upset” about many earthly concerns. These concerns are necessary. This we know. A man must earn his daily bread; a wife must cook and wash and labor for her husband and family. This is what God himself expects us to do. What we need not and must not do, however, is to forget or exclude God in the process. Our daily tasks, whether in the office, workshop, or home, are prayers that are honoring God and thanking him for the many gifts of mind and body that he has given us, if we offer them to him and do them with this intention, they are indeed perfect prayers.

This is where so many fail. They spend days, months, maybe years, intent solely on their earthly tasks, without a thought for their future fate in the life that is to come. Yet a truly profitable Christian life is so easy for the vast majority of true Christians. A short morning prayer can be said while dressing. Thus we offer to God the day with all its joys and sorrows, all its trials and tests. It will mean that the day is registered to our account in the Book of Life. A few moments of thought for God and his goodness every now and then during the day will help immensely to keep our morning offering alive and active. A few moments on one’s knees beside the bed before retiring to rest, thanking God for the day he has given us, and asking pardon for the faults committed, is not too difficult for anyone.

A day such as this is a day spent in the service of God, such as will ensure a happy future when our last day comes. Mass and Holy Communion will round out each week for all practicing Christians. Besides, everyone ought to do some good reading. The knowledge gained from reading is a must today for anyone who really wants to help his fellowman many of whom have lost their bearings and need a helping hand to put them back on the right road.

Yes, while active in the necessary affairs of this world, providing for the earthly necessities of ourselves and our dependents, we can at the same time, if we are sensible and sincere Christians, be storing up merits for ourselves. These merits will give us a pleasant surprise when the day of reckoning comes.

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

BENEDICTUS

Why Listening is a Part of Life

Man ought not to try to be self-sufficient, and he must have the humility to learn, to accept something – “incline thy head.” He must find the way to follow the call into listening. And listening means not just giving ear to whatever is going the rounds, but also listening to the depths, or to the heights, since what the Master says is basically the application of Holy Scripture, the application of this fundamental rule of human existence… We can see in the Rule of Saint Benedict how nothing that is truly human ever becomes old-fashioned. Anything that really comes from the depths of our being remains a counsel of life that is always relevant… Perhaps we are beginning to see again that God’s service, stepping outside the mentality of mere achievement, is what we need. That listening – for the service of God is to a great extent a matter of letting God in and of listening – must be a part of life. Just as discipline and right measure and order belong together, just like obedience and freedom, so, equally, tolerating each other in the spirit of faith is not merely a basic rule for any monastic community, but all these things are, when you come down to it, essential elements for building any and every society. This is a rule that springs from what is truly human, and it was able to formulate what was truly human because it looked out and listened beyond what is human and perceived the divine. Man becomes really human when he is touched by God.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Hope

For Your mercies’ sake, O Lord my God,

tell me what You are to me.

Say to my soul: “I am your salvation.”

So speak that I may hear, O Lord;

my heart is listening;

open it that it may hear You,

and say to my soul: “I am your salvation.”

After hearing this word,

may I come in haste to take hold of you.

Hide not Your face from me.

Let me see Your face even if I die,

lest I die with longing to see it.

The house of my soul is too small to receive You;

let it be enlarged by You.

It is all in ruins;

do You repair it.

There are thing in it,

I confess and I know,

that must offend Your sight.

But who shall cleanse it?

Or to what others besides You shall I cry out?

From my secret sins cleanse me, O Lord,

and from those of others spare your servant.

Amen.

Saint Augustine of Hippo

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

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

 

Good-Samaritan-1

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

OPENING PRAYER

For Healing

Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to You. Allow your healing hand to heal me. Touch my soul with Your compassion for others. Touch my heart with Your courage and infinite love for all. Touch my mind with Your wisdom, that my mouth may always proclaim Your praise. Teach me to reach out to You in my need, and help me to lead others to You by my example. Most loving Heart of Jesus, bring me health in body and spirit that I may serve You with all my strength. Touch gently this life which You have created, now and forever. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=75

COLLECT

O God, who show the light of your truth

to those who go astray,

so that they may return to the right path,

give all who for the faith they profess

are accounted Christians

the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name

of Christ

and to strive after all that does it honor.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I46Rephidim

Dt 30:10-14

Moses said to the people:

“If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God,

and keep his commandments and statutes

that are written in this book of the law,

when you return to the LORD, your God,

with all your heart and all your soul.

“For this command that I enjoin on you today

is not too mysterious and remote for you.

It is not up in the sky, that you should say,

‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us

and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’

Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,

‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us

and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’

No, it is something very near to you,

already in your mouths and in your hearts;

you have only to carry it out.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

2 Gal 3:24.

3 Cf. Rom 3:20.

APPLICATION

The history of Israel has a lot in common with the life-history of many, if not most, individual Christians. The Israelites served God while in need of his material help. Their first three centuries in the Promised Land, which he had given them and which he was helping them to occupy, were years of fairly loyal service. When, under David and Solomon, they acquired a political and economic standing among the nations, they gradually began to lose interest in their divine Protector. Under Solomon’s successor a schism came, a political and religious separation of the northern Tribes from Judah and Jerusalem where God’s Temple was situated. Gradually things went from bad to worse. The north was wiped out. Soon the south was over-run by the Babylonians. The city and Temple were destroyed. The people were taken as prisoners to Babylon. They had practically ignored God during the previous centuries of prosperity, and had even taken an interest in the false gods of the pagan nations.

Their years of exile made them think. They repented. They turned back to God and asked him to forgive them and give them another chance. He did, on condition that they would remain loyal this time. He would be their protector and would give them temporal rewards, provided that their loyalty came from their hearts, not from their lips only.

How many Christians thank God when everything is going well with them? How many do so when their health is the best, when their business is prospering? And worse still, there are Christians who not only do not think of God when all is going well with them, but who go out of their way to offend God by abusing the very gifts which he has given them. They break his commandments and they ignore their obligations. The world sniffles on them for a while. If their worldly prosperity lasts until their end comes, they have every likelihood of leaving this world without knowing God, and of being unknown to him when they meet him as their Judge.

Thank God, however, for this is God’s kindness to weak man. Very few, even of the healthiest and the wealthiest, go through life without reminders of their need for God, even in this world. He sends his warnings to earth-bound man through illnesses and business failures, or grave disappointments. This he does in order to awaken man to the realization that he has not here a lasting city. The Christian, unless he has put himself beyond the reach of God’s mercy, and this is a possibility but an exceptional occurrence, will then turn to God once more. He will cry for help, as the Jewish exiles in Babylon did. God is still merciful and will remove the temporary cross or give the necessary strength to bear it. God will and does expect thanks in return, however, and as today’s lesson puts it, the thanks he expects is that his law be kept in future.

What we have said of God sending his messengers of mercy to awaken sinners, must by no means be taken to indicate that all sickness and sufferings are due to sins and injustices on the part of the suffering individual. Many of God’s saints had their share of heavy crosses. This was not in order to awaken them from their sins, but to make them into greater saints. Many good-living Christians, too, get more than their share of life’s troubles. If they remain close to God they will weather these storms and end up closer to God.

What we all need is to keep the God of love always before, our minds. Let us also remember the commandments he gave us for our own good. By doing so the saint will become more saintly and the sinner will grow gradually less sinful. Remember, always, that God can do without you, but you cannot do without God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

I pray to you, O LORD,

for the time of your favor, O God!

In your great kindness answer me

with your constant help.

Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness:

in your great mercy turn toward me.

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

I am afflicted and in pain;

let your saving help, O God, protect me.

I will praise the name of God in song,

and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;

you who seek God, may your hearts revive!

For the LORD hears the poor,

and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

For God will save Zion

and rebuild the cities of Judah.

The descendants of his servants shall inherit it,

and those who love his name shall inhabit it.

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

READING IIChrist_Pantocrator.jpg

Col 1:15-20

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God,

the firstborn of all creation.

For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,

the visible and the invisible,

whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;

all things were created through him and for him.

He is before all things,

and in him all things hold together.

He is the head of the body, the church.

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,

that in all things he himself might be preeminent.

For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,

and through him to reconcile all things for him,

making peace by the blood of his cross

through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 142 By his Revelation, “the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company.”1 The adequate response to this invitation is faith.

CCC 241 For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”; as “the image of the invisible God”; as the “radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature”.2

CCC 291 “In the beginning was the Word. .. and the Word was God. .. all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”3 The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word, his beloved Son. In him “all things were created, in heaven and on earth. .. all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”4 The Church’s faith likewise confesses the creative action of the Holy Spirit, the “giver of life”, “the Creator Spirit” (Veni, Creator Spiritus), the “source of every good”.5

CCC 299 Because God creates through wisdom, his creation is ordered: “You have arranged all things by measure and number and weight.”6 The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the “image of the invisible God”, is destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the “image of God” and called to a personal relationship with God.7 Our human understanding, which shares in the light of the divine intellect, can understand what God tells us by means of his creation, though not without great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before the Creator and his work.8 Because creation comes forth from God’s goodness, it shares in that goodness – “And God saw that it was good. .. very good”9- for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world.10

CCC 331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. .. ”11 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”12 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”13

CCC 504 Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.”14 From his conception, Christ’s humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God “gives him the Spirit without measure.”15 From “his fullness” as the head of redeemed humanity “we have all received, grace upon grace.”16

CCC 624 “By the grace of God” Jesus tasted death “for every one”.17 In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only “die for our sins”18 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,19 reveals God’s great sabbath rest20 after the fulfillment21 of man’s salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.22

CCC 753 In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and figures through which Revelation speaks of the inexhaustible mystery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are variations on a profound theme: the People of God. In the New Testament, all these images find a new center because Christ has become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body.23 Around this center are grouped images taken “from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building or from family life and marriage.”24

CCC 792 Christ “is the head of the body, the Church.”25 He is the principle of creation and redemption. Raised to the Father’s glory, “in everything he [is] preeminent,”25 especially in the Church, through whom he extends his reign over all things.

CCC 1042 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:

The Church. .. will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ.27

CCC 1701 “Christ,. .. in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to himself and brings to light his exalted vocation.”28 It is in Christ, “the image of the invisible God,”29 that man has been created “in the image and likeness” of the Creator. It is in Christ, Redeemer and Savior, that the divine image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of God.30

CCC 2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.”31 By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,”32 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.”33 He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”34

CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”35 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.36 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.37

1 DV 2; cf. Col 1:15; I Tim 1:17; Ex 33:11; Jn 15:14-15; Bar 3:38 (Vulg.).

2 Jn 1:1; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3.

3 Jn 1:1-3.

4 Col 1:16-17.

5 Cf. Nicene Creed: DS 150; Hymn “Veni, Creator Spiritus”; Byzantine Troparion of Pentecost Vespers, “O heavenly King, Consoler”.

6 Wis 11:20.

7 Col 1:15, Gen 1:26.

8 Cf. Ps 19:2-5; Job 42:3.

9 Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,31.

10 Cf. DS 286; 455-463; 800; 1333; 3002.

11 Mt 25:31.

12 Col 1:16.

13 Heb 1:14.

14 I Cor 15:45,47.

15 Jn 3:34.

16 Jn 1:16; cf. Col 1:18.

17 Heb 2:9.

18 I Cor 15:3.

19 Cf. Jn 19:42.

20 Cf. Heb 4:7-9.

21 Cf. Jn 19:30.

22 Cf Col 1: 18-20.

23 Cf. Eph 1:22; Col 1:18; LG 9.

24 LG 6.

25 Col 1:18.

26 Col 1:18.

27 LG 48; Cf. Acts 3:21; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; 2 Pet 3:10-13.

28 GS 22.

29 Col 1:15; cf. 2 Cor 4:4.

30 Cf. GS 22.

31 Isa 9:5.

32 Eph 2:16 J.B.; cf. Col 1:20-22.

33 Eph 2:14.

34 Mt 5:9.

35 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.

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

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

APPLICATION

Philosophers, thinking men of all ages and races, who had not the blessing of revelation, have puzzled their brains searching for the meaning and purpose of man’s life on earth. It cannot be riches, for no man ever seems to have had enough, and there are not enough riches in the world to make even ten per cent of men moderately rich. It cannot be pleasure, for life on earth is too short to enjoy a fraction of the pleasures that would satisfy men. It isn’t power, for only a few can have it, and their hold on it is tenuous and too short-lived.

Through his divine revelation. God has given us the answer to the problem that baffled millions. We are not to look for man’s purpose in life here on this earth. We were created by God for a future life in which we would share in his eternal, everlasting happiness. In that life, and only in that, will all the rational desires and all the rational powers which man possesses be completely fulfilled.

This is the consoling truth, the foundation-stone of our Christian religion, that St. Paul puts before us for our consideration and our consolation today. He tells us God created us as intelligent beings, capable of seeing truth and beauty and of enjoying happiness. He did so with the image of his Incarnate Son before his mind. Through the assumption of our human nature by his divine Son, we would be made brothers and sisters of Christ, children of God, and heirs to his own eternal kingdom.

This was an act of sheer love of which only the infinite God could be capable. We shall need all eternity to get even a vague grasp of what such infinite love means, but in the meantime all we can and must do is to say “thank you God, for the infinite love you have shown us.” When the appointed time had come, the Son of God came on earth, took our human nature, went about telling people of God’s great love for them and what they should do to profit by this love. In all of this, although he was God, Christ hid his divinity under the veil of his humanity. He put up with insults, abuse, hard-heartedness, disbelief and, finally, permitted his enemies to crucify him. The world’s only benefactor died as a malefactor, hanging between two crucified thieves on Mount Calvary, beside Jerusalem.

But his enemies’ victory was short-lived. The Father raised him from the tomb, revealed the divinity that had been hidden, and gave him a glorified body fit for heaven. He was “the first-born of the dead.” This phrase means that Christ was the first of millions of human beings to be raised like him from the dead, given glorified bodies and transferred to heaven to enjoy an eternal happiness for which God created them. It is the one and only answer to the philosopher’s problem: “What is man’s purpose in life?”

Let us say a heartfelt “thank you” to God today. Let us also thank his divine Son, our beloved Christ, who planned and executed such an act of benevolence for our sakes, unworthy though we are of such love. Even the holiest amongst us are unworthy. We know where we are going and we have all the means necessary to get us there. It is no harm to remember that thinking pagans found the trivial things of life of no real value to man. As Christians, should we allow them to come between us and the eternal life in which our human nature will find its eternal fulfillment, as well as the one and only real explanation of its existence?

GOSPELChrist-samaritan

Lk 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,

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

Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?

How do you read it?”

He said in reply,

“You shall love the Lord, your God,

with all your heart,

with all your being,

with all your strength,

and with all your mind,

and your neighbor as yourself.”

He replied to him, “You have answered correctly;

do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,

“And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied,

“A man fell victim to robbers

as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.

They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.

A priest happened to be going down that road,

but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.

Likewise a Levite came to the place,

and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him

was moved with compassion at the sight.

He approached the victim,

poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.

Then he lifted him up on his own animal,

took him to an inn, and cared for him.

The next day he took out two silver coins

and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,

‘Take care of him.

If you spend more than what I have given you,

I shall repay you on my way back.’

Which of these three, in your opinion,

was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”

He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”

Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071016.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1293 In treating the rite of Confirmation, it is fitting to consider the sign of anointing and what it signifies and imprints: a spiritual seal.

Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: oil is a sign of abundance and joy;1 it cleanses (anointing before and after a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds;2 and it makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength.

CCC 1825 Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies.”3 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.4

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.”5

CCC 2083 Jesus summed up man’s duties toward God in this saying: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”6 This immediately echoes the solemn call: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.”7

God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the “ten words.” The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God.

CCC 2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”8

The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,‘ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”9

CCC 2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”10 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.”11 His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”12 This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

1 Cf. Deut 11:14; Pss 23:5; 104:15.

2 Cf. Isa 1:6; Lk 1034.

3 Rom 5:10.

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

5 1 Cor 13:4-7.

6 Mt 22:37; cf. Lk 10:27:“… and with all your strength.”

7 Deut 6:4.

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

9 Rom 13:8-10.

10 1 Tim 2:3-4.

11 2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14.

12 Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37.

APPLICATION

Whether this lawyer acted in good or bad faith when he questioned our Lord, need not trouble us now. We can be thankful that his question brought forth this beautiful parable which has a lesson for us today as fresh as it had for all those who heard it from the lips of Jesus.

The roads of life, no matter where we live, have neighbors lying injured by the wayside. They are waiting and hoping that some fellow-man will come to give them a helping hand. We can shut our eyes or turn away, as the priest and levite did. No doubt, these two men had urgent business or they had troubles enough of their own. Perhaps they had helped a few other similar cases already that day. Our Lord does not seem to excuse them on any of these scores. Even the lawyer did not find any justifying excuse for them. They behaved badly. They showed that they had no interest in their neighbor when he was in need. They did not keep the command that God had given them through Moses.

Judged in the light of that parable, are my dealings with my neighbor such as would earn the praise or the condemnation of our Lord? Would he number me with the priest and levite, or with the Samaritan? If I give a helping hand to the neighbors whom I see in corporal or spiritual need, as often as I possibly can, he will number me among the good Samaritans. If, instead, I turn a blind eye and busy myself with my own affairs, I am classing myself with the condemned priest and levite.

I have excuses. We all have. They sound plausible to ourselves. We have more than enough to do to look after our own affairs, material and spiritual. So too had the priest and levite. We have had to go through similar hardships and nobody gave us a helping hand. Two wrongs don’t make a right. These people in corporal or spiritual need brought this on themselves. Let them get themselves out of their difficulties now. Why should I be expected to help? People who are so foolish and so thoughtless as to bring such difficulties on themselves are the very ones who need help, advice and encouragement. They need it from one who has not their particular weakness of character. I must do all I can to save them from their own folly.

Our excuses for not helping our neighbor, who is every man of any description without distinction of race, creed or color, may sound plausible to us now. But will we dare repeat them on the judgement day? When describing the judgement scene, our Lord told certain people that they were being excluded from heaven because they refused to help him when he was in need. They cried out in consternation: “Lord when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked and did not come to your aid?” His answer was: “you saw my neighbor, my ‘little ones.’ my friends, in need and you did not help.”

Today, with so much social provision for the less fortunate in most countries, we are not called on so often to exercise the corporal works of mercy. Never before, however, was there more need for sincere Christians to carry out the spiritual works of mercy. We are living in a world which is growing daily further and further away from God. We find people in every walk of life whose one purpose is to get all they can out of their few short years here on earth. They completely ignore or forget that their real purpose in life is to get to heaven.

Of course, we cannot go out and preach the truths of faith to these people on every street corner. Even if we did they would not listen to us. There are many other more effective ways of getting a neighbor to see his mistakes, if we but take the trouble. Start by taking an interest in your neighbor, in his work, his family, his recreations. Show by your way of living and by your outlook on life that God is never far from your thoughts. Show that your concern is more with the future life than with the present one. The neighbor will bring up the question of religion, not you. When he does, be ready to give him a simple explanation of what makes you live and act as you do. You will not win him over immediately. You may not win him over at all. But you will have sown a seed which will blossom forth somewhere, some day.

Where there is true love of God, there will be true love of neighbor. There must be. That love will find a way into the heart of the neighbor. Resolve, today, to be a Good Samaritan, especially towards those who are injured spiritually and who will not reach heaven unless you give them a helping hand. Never forget that it is the Lord who is with you doing nine-tenths of the work, while you strive to help a neighbor spiritually or physically. What you did to your neighbor, to “one of his little ones,” you did to him, and he will not forget it when your hour of judgement comes.

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

BENEDICTUS

How Love is Possible

Love of neighbor is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or know. This can only take place on the basis of an estimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern. This I can offer them not only through the organizations intended for such purposes, accepting it perhaps as a political necessity. Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities: I can give them the look of love which they crave… If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be “devout” and to perform my “religious duties,” then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely “proper,” but loveless. Only my readiness to encounter my neighbor and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me.

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.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=433

Posted in Catholic

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – c

Image result for go and make disciples of all men icon

      “Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.”

OPENING PRAYER

Petitions to St. Peter and St. Paul

Feast day June 29th

O holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, I choose you this day and forever to be my special patrons and advocates; thee, Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles, because thou art the Rock, upon which Almighty God hath built His Church; thee, Saint Paul, because thou wast fore-chosen by God as the Vessel of election and the Preacher of truth in the whole world. Obtain for me, I pray you, lively faith, firm hope, and burning love; complete detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, attention in prayer, purity of heart, a right intention in all my works, diligence in fulfilling the duties of my state of life, constancy in my resolutions, resignation to the will of God and perseverance in the grace of God even unto death; that so, by means of your intercession and your glorious merits, I may be able to overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and may be made worthy to appear before the chief and eternal Shepherd of souls, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth for endless ages, to enjoy His presence and love Him forever. Amen.

http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Peter%20and%20Paul%20popup.html

COLLECT

O God, who in the abasement of your Son

have raised up a fallen world,

fill your faithful with holy joy,

for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin

you bestow eternal gladness.

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 INew Jerusalem

Is 66:10-14c

Thus says the LORD:

Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,

all you who love her;

exult, exult with her,

all you who were mourning over her!

Oh, that you may suck fully

of the milk of her comfort,

that you may nurse with delight

at her abundant breasts!

For thus says the LORD:

Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,

and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.

As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,

and fondled in her lap;

as a mother comforts her child,

so will I comfort you;

in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

When you see this, your heart shall rejoice

and your bodies flourish like the grass;

the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 239 By calling God “Father”, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood,1 which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard:2 no one is father as God is Father.

CCC 370 In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.3

1 Cf. Isa 66:13; Ps 131:2.

2 Cf. Ps 27:10; Eph 3:14; Isa 49:15.

3 Cf. Is 49:14-15; 66: 13; Ps 131:2-3; Hos 11:1-4; Jer 3:4- 19.

APPLICATION

These words of the prophet encouraged the returned exiles to rebuild the city and to continue hoping for the Messianic days in which, according to all the prophets, there would be a new Jerusalem and a new world of peace and plenty for all.

The prophecy was never fulfilled in the earthly capital of Palestine. They were never intended to be fulfilled there. They are already partially fulfilled in Christ’s messianic kingdom on earth, but it is only in his heavenly kingdom that they will be really and truly fulfilled.

The Church which Christ established is the new Jerusalem on earth. It is the capital and the home of all races and all nations. It has the means to lead and direct all mankind to the everlasting “Jerusalem which is above.” It has the sacraments, actions with effective power given it by Christ, by means of which men can become citizens of the new kingdom, can be nourished on their heaven-ward journey, can be cleansed from any stains they bring on themselves through sin. The sacraments are as well special helps for the particular mode of life which they elect to live in this kingdom. They have, also, appointed leaders to whom God has promised the assistance of his Holy Spirit. These leaders can safely and without fear of error lead their people through the obstacles and hindrances of this world to their heavenly home above.

Surely, we Christians can rejoice and exult over our new Jerusalem. It has all we need to speed us on our way. But it is only a mode of transport. Whilst we can feel safe and absolutely secure on board the barque of Peter, to change the metaphor, we are still on a voyage which of its very nature entails some strains and stresses. We are not all good seamen. Most of us are land-lubbers who dread the sea. God, however, knew this when he invited us to join the ship. He has his sick-bay on board to renew the health and the spirits of the sea-sick members.

If we stay on board, the barque of Peter will bring us safely to our new and everlasting home notwithstanding, nay, maybe in most cases because of, the many hardships we have to endure on the voyage.

The heavenly Jerusalem awaits us all. There we shall find a life of plenty, a life to fulfill all our desires, a life of perfect security, as comfortable and as happy and as carefree as the suckling, babe on its mother’s bosom. That life will have no end. Together with this personal happiness of each one of us, there will be the enjoyment of the company of the Blessed Trinity, the glorified human nature of Christ, our blessed Mother and all our fellow creatures who received the same gracious gift of eternal salvation from God, which we ourselves received.

What are all the earthly joys and pleasures that ever were or ever will be, compared with the joys and the happiness of heaven? What is earthly life at its best and its longest when compared to an eternal life? Which shall I choose–could I hesitate even for an instant?

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,

sing praise to the glory of his name;

proclaim his glorious praise.

Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,

sing praise to your name!”

Come and see the works of God,

his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

He has changed the sea into dry land;

through the river they passed on foot;

therefore let us rejoice in him.

He rules by his might forever.

Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare

what he has done for me.

Blessed be God who refused me not

my prayer or his kindness!

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

READING IIa7c08eaab84808e8be7d581354d80058

Gal 6:14-18

Brothers and sisters:

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,

through which the world has been crucified to me,

and I to the world.

For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision,

but only a new creation.

Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule

and to the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make troubles for me;

for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,

brothers and sisters. Amen.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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.”1

CCC 1460 The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, “provided we suffer with him.”2

The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of “him who strengthens” us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ. .. in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth “fruits that befit repentance.” These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father.3

1 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Cf. Rom 6:34; Col 2:12.

2 Rom 8:17; Rom 3:25; 1 Jn 2:1-2; cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1690.

3 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1691; cf. Phil 4:13; 1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17; Gal 6:14; Lk 3:8.

APPLICATION

If only we all could, at all times, be like St. Paul and appreciate and realize what being a Christian is, the difference it has made in our relationship with God and the new, proper outlook it gives us on life! The pagan who has not yet heard of the true God, or of the marvelous dignity he conferred on man when he sent his own divine Son to become one of us so that we could become one with him, has yet some ray of light to brighten the gloom of life, through his belief in his ancestral gods and through the graces God can and does send him. But yet he is lacking so much that we already have.

Compared with the pagan whose education is minimal or non-existent and who seldom reflects on life and its purpose, how much more distressing and insoluble must be the meaning of life for the educated man of our western world who has denied the existence of God! He is bound to reflect frequently on life and its brevity. But he has cast from him the one solution to all of life’s enigmas by denying the existence of a personal God, who has created all things and plans and provides for all his creation.

It is no wonder that such disbelievers in God and a future life rush headlong into pleasure-seeking or/and into the acquisition of this world’s goods. They see nothing to satisfy the normal intellectual aspirations of every intelligent person in this world. Theirs is a vain attempt to fill with temporal substitutes, which can last but a few short years, the vacuum created by their godless philosophy. They are trying to empty the ocean with a sea-shell!

These words are said not in derision but in sadness. Every true follower of Christ who knows, and has experienced, God’s infinite love for his human creatures, must and does wish and pray that all his human children will come to know their loving heavenly Father. He wants them all in heaven. He wants and expects us to help in bringing them there. The pagans whom we can help by co-operating with the missionary societies of the Church are numerous. Our godless neighbors can be helped in divers ways. Love will find a way. If we really love God and our neighbor who is out of contact with God, we shall find a way to get them to meet.

The good example of our own Christian life is the best incentive to move others to think of their way of living and of its many unanswered riddles. We should pray, for a short while maybe, but fervently and often, for the grace of light for our neighbor who is blind to things spiritual. Such a prayer, if motivated by pure charity and free from all taint of selfishness, will not be left unanswered. God still loves his prodigal sons, even when they are loudly and joyfully celebrating his death. He is looking for only the smallest opening to pour his grace into their hearts. Your small prayer may soon produce that little opening.

A third duty incumbent on all of us is to learn all we can about God’s wonderful gift of Christianity to mankind. We Christians take too much for granted. We do not learn enough about our religion. We should be able to stand up and defend our faith if an occasion arises. This demands previous study. There are books available. There are study circles within the easy reach of most of us. We should avail ourselves of these helps and thus be able charitably and kindly to correct one who is making (unknowingly perhaps) false statements about things religious. Many an erring child of God has been quietly led back to the heavenward road by a few simple explanations of the Christian faith given during an argument by a sincere follower of Christ.

GOSPELimages-4

LK 10:1-9

At that time the Lord

appointed seventy-two

others whom he sent ahead

of him in pairs to every town

and place he intended to

visit.

He said to them,

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;

so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.

Go on your way;

behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.

Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;

and greet no one along the way.

Into whatever house you enter, first say,

‘Peace to this household.’

If a peaceful person lives there,

your peace will rest on him;

but if not, it will return to you.

Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,

for the laborer deserves his payment.

Do not move about from one house to another.

Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,

eat what is set before you,

cure the sick in it and say to them,

‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070316.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

CCC 787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.4 Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. .. I am the vine, you are the branches.”5 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”6

CCC 2122 “The minister should ask nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by the competent authority, always being careful that the needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments because of their poverty.”7 The competent authority determines these “offerings” in accordance with the principle that the Christian people ought to contribute to the support of the Church’s ministers. “The laborer deserves his food.”8

CCC 2611 The prayer of faith consists not only in saying “Lord, Lord,” but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father.9 Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.10

1 Cf. Mk 3:14-15.

2 Cf. Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30; Rev 21:12-14.

3 Cf. Mk 6:7; Lk 10:1-2; Mt 10:25; Jn 15:20.

4 Cf. Mk 1:16-20; 3:13-19; Mt 13:10-17; Lk 10:17-20; 22:28-30.

5 Jn 15:4-5.

6 Jn 6:56.

7 CIC, can. 848.

8 Mt 10:10; cf. Lk 10:7; 2 Cor 9:5-18; 1 Tim 5:17-18.

9 Cf. Mt 7:21.

10 Cf. Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2; Jn 4:34.

APPLICATION

God’s ways of dealing with us mortals are amazing when we think over them. He calls on men to help him bring themselves and their fellowman to heaven, when he could do this far more effectively himself without any help from man. The Son of God when he was on earth, could have worked some extraordinary signs or miracles which would have made the whole Roman empire, as well as the Jews, sit up and take notice. He could have stayed longer on earth, and could have preached his gospel in Greece and Rome. He could have converted the leading lights in the empire, and thus have made the spread of his gospel so much easier and quicker.

Instead, he chose weak, human creatures who spent years doing work which he could have done in a month or less. Today’s gospel story is an example of this method. One half-hour of Christ in the towns and villages, in which these seventy-two disciples spent some weeks, would have been far more efficacious. He could have brought those people to his feet by one word of command. Yet, he still depends on mere humans to bring the good news of his gospel to their fellowmen, and to bring these fellowmen to heaven. Instead of this slow and often unsuccessful method, he himself could have appeared for a short period over each country in the world and addressed the people. He could have proved to them by a startling miracle or two that it was he. He could have made it clear that unless human beings carried out his commands for the rest of their lives, he had power to see to it that the remainder of the life of those who disobeyed would be very brief indeed.

I seem to remember, a Sunday or two ago, hearing James and John the “Sons of Thunder,” expounding some similar idea. They asked him to call down fire from heaven on some unfortunate Samaritans. Yes, God and Christ, who is God’s divine Son, could do all the things suggested. God’s ways are not our ways. Thank God for that too. He could, without the slightest difficulty, force all men to accept his gospel and live according to it. Men have done harder things when a powerful fellowman was standing over them. What would they not do if their Creator and Lord was standing menacingly over them?

The fact is, of course, that God wants no forced-laborers in heaven. He wants free citizens, who have elected to go there of their own free will. Nor would those men, forced to live the gospel through fear of the all-powerful Master, earn heaven by this kind of obedience. It is because God wants all men in heaven that he leaves each one absolutely free to choose the path that leads there. Only thus can men enjoy heaven. He has marked that path clearly and vividly for all who wish to see. He has placed marked human guides (his pastors) along the way to help the weak and warn travelers of possible wrong turnings.

In other words, he has dealt with us humans in a very human way. He acts, even with his prodigal sons, as a loving father, ever ready to help them as he would help those who remain at home near him. He is almost readier still to welcome back the spendthrifts and wastrels, and lay on a home-coming party for them.

Plaintively, rather than authoritatively, he tells us all in today’s lesson that he needs more helpers to help their fellowmen. This is not only a loving call to the priesthood and the religious life. It is a call to all true Christians. He needs guides on the long road to heaven. The layman or laywoman who is traveling that road can be, and is, as good a guide as the priest or religious. This call from the loving heart of Christ is intended today as much for them as for priests and religious. Up to now, how much have I done to help Christ bring men to heaven? It is time I began, if hitherto I have done nothing in this very important matter. I may be very keen on getting to heaven, but I may be a long time waiting if I arrive alone at the gate! No one can get to heaven unless he loves God. No one can love God unless he loves his neighbor. No one can love his neighbor, and look on without concern while that neighbor is wandering miles from the road which Christ has marked out as the road to heaven. If I am a true Christian, I am thereby a disciple also. I am called on today to do the work of a disciple.

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

BENEDICTUS

Christ is the Answer

We ourselves have this very deep certainty that Christ is the answer and that without the concrete God, the God with the Face of Christ, the world destroys itself; and there is growing evidence that a closed rationalism, which thinks that human beings can rebuild the world better on their own, is not true. On the contrary, without the restraint of the true God, human beings destroy themselves. We see this with our own eyes. We ourselves must have a renewed certainty: he is the Truth; only by walking in his footsteps do we go in the right direction, and it is in this direction that we must walk and lead others. In all our suffering, not only should we keep our certainty that Christ really is the Face of God, but we should also deepen this certainty and the joy of knowing it and thus truly be ministers of the future of the world, of the future of every person. We should deppen this certainty in a personal relationship with the Lord because certainty can also grow with rationsl considerations. A sincere reflection that is also rationally convincing but becomes personal, strong, and demanding by virtue of a friendship lived personally, every day, with Christ, truly seems to me to be very important.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER2619e73e15243ea552471df681b6e4f6

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Pope Leo XIII

O Glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.

Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven.

That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions.

In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

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

Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.

The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David.

Let thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.

As we have hoped in thee.

O Lord, hear my prayer.

And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us pray.

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

Amen.

The prayer was taken from The Raccolta, 1930, Benziger Bros., pp. 314-315.

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