Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

OPENING PRAYER

 Dedication to Jesus

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

Amen.

COLLECT

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

look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters,

that those who believe in Christ

may receive true freedom

and an everlasting inheritance.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Ez 33:7-9

 Thus says the LORD:

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

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

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

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

the wicked shall die for his guilt,

but I will hold you responsible for his death.

But if you warn the wicked,

trying to turn him from his way,

and he refuses to turn from his way,

he shall die for his guilt,

but you shall save yourself.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

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

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;

let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

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

Come, let us bow down in worship;

let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For he is our God,

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

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

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,

as in the day of Massah in the desert,

Where your fathers tempted me;

they tested me though they had seen my works.”

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

READING II

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2 Rom 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:

Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;

for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;

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

and whatever other commandment there may be,

are summed up in this saying, namely,

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love does no evil to the neighbor;

hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Mt 22:36.

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

4 Rom 13:9-10.

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

6 Rom 13:8-10.

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

8 Rom 13:8.

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

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

GOSPEL

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Mt 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If your brother sins against you,

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

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

If he does not listen,

take one or two others along with you,

so that ‘every fact may be established

on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

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

If he refuses to listen even to the church,

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

Amen, I say to you,

Again, amen, I say to you,

if two of you agree on earth

about anything for which they are to pray,

it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.

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

there am I in the midst of them.”

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Mt 16:19.

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

3 Cf. Mt 18:18.

4 SC 7; Mt 18:20.

5 Rom 8:34; cf. LG 48.

6 Mt 18:20.

7 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

8 SC 7.

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

10 LG 22 # 2.

11 Cf. Mt 18:16.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

The Birthday of Mary

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of the Church:

Grant to us, Thy servants,

we beseech Thee, O Lord,

the gift of heavenly grace;

that to those for whom the delivery

of the Blessed Virgin

was the commencement of salvation,

the commemoration of her nativity

may give increasing peace.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,

that never was it known

that anyone who fled to your protection,

implored your help

or sought your intercession,

was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence,

I fly unto you,

O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.

To you I come,

before you I stand,

sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word incarnate,

despise not my petitions,

but, in your mercy,

hear and answer me.

Amen.

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

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me. 
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ OPENING PRAYER Carry Your Cross Take up your cross, the Savior said, If you would my disciple be; Deny yourself,…
— Read on benedicamusdominoblog.com/2017/08/31/twenty-second-sunday-in-ordinary-time-a/

Posted in Catholic

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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

Prayer to St. Peter

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

COLLECT

O God, who cause the minds of the faithful

to unite in a single purpose,

grant your people to love what you command

and to desire what you promise,

that, amid the uncertainties of this world,

our hearts may be fixed on that place

where true gladness is found.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

unashamedcatholic – A Catholic Just posting about the faith.

Is 22:19-23

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

I will thrust you from your office

and pull you down from your station.

On that day I will summon my servant

Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;

I will clothe him with your robe,

and gird him with your sash,

and give over to him your authority.

He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

and to the house of Judah.

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

when he opens, no one shall shut

when he shuts, no one shall open.

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

to be a place of honor for his family.”

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

READING II

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

Rom 11:33-36

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL

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

MT 16: 13-20

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

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 DV 5; cf. DS 377; 3010.

3 Mt 16:16.

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

5 Cf. Mt 16:16-23.

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

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

8 Acts 2:36.

9 Mt 16:16-17.

10 Gal 1:15-16.

11 Acts 9:20.

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

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

14 Mt 16:18.

15 I Pt 2:4.

16 Cf. Lk 22:32.

17 Mt 16:19.

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

19 Cf. Mt 18:18.

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

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

22 Cf. Jn 2:18-22.

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

24 AG 1; cf. Mt 16:15.

25 Mt 28:19-20.

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

27 LG 22 # 2.

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

29 LG 22 # 2.

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS

Peter the Rock

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

His Holiness Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Saint Peter

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

 

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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

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

OPENING PRAYER

MATINS. Quem terra, pontus, sidera

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

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

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

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

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

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

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

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

body and soul into heavenly glory,

grant we pray,

that, always attentive to the things that are above,

we may merit to be sharers of her glory.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

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

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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

God’s temple in heaven was opened,

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

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

with the moon under her feet,

and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

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

Then another sign appeared in the sky;

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

and on its heads were seven diadems.

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

and hurled them down to the earth.

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

to devour her child when she gave birth.

She gave birth to a son, a male child,

destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.

Her child was caught up to God and his throne.

The woman herself fled into the desert

where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have salvation and power come,

and the Kingdom of our God

and the authority of his Anointed One.”

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 45:10, 11, 12, 16

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

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

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

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

forget your people and your father’s house.

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

So shall the king desire your beauty;

for he is your lord.

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

They are borne in with gladness and joy;

they enter the palace of the king.

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

READING II

ResurrectionIcon3

1 Cor 15:20-27

Brothers and sisters:

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

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

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

but each one in proper order:

Christ the first-fruits;

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

then comes the end,

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

when he has destroyed every sovereignty

and every authority and power.

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

The last enemy to be destroyed is death,

for “he subjected everything under his feet.”

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 I Cor 15:20-22.

4 Heb 6:5.

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

6 Rom 14:9.

7 Eph 1:20-22.

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

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

10 LG 49; cf. Eph 4:16.

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

12 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

13 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

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

15 Cf. Lk 4:5-6.

16 1 Cor 15:24-28.

GOSPEL

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Lk 1:39-56

Mary set out

and traveled to the hill country in haste

to a town of Judah,

where she entered the house of Zechariah

and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,

and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,

cried out in a loud voice and said,

“Blessed are you among women,

and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me,

that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

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

the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

Blessed are you who believed

that what was spoken to you by the Lord

would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

the promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months

and then returned to her home.

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

APPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Lk 1:45.

3 Cf. Lk 1:48.

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

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

6 Jn 20:28,21:7.

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

8 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 Cf. In 11:52.

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

17 Jn 1:6.

18 Lk 1:15, 41.

19 Cf. Lk 1:68.

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

21 Zeph 3:14,17a.

22 Rev 21:3.

23 Lk 1:41, 48.

24 Lk 1:45.

25 Cf. Gen 12:3.

26 Lk 1:43.

27 Lk 1:38.

28 Cf. Jn 19:27.

BENEDICTUS

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to our Lady, Assumed in Heaven

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

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

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

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

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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A | BENEDICAMUS DOMINO

‘Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” OPENING PRAYER  Be Still & Know That I am God! (Psalm 46)                                                                            St. Francis de Sales If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point…
— Read on benedicamusdominoblog.com/2017/08/09/nineteenth-sunday-in-ordinary-time-a/

Posted in Catholic

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Prayer Before Mass

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

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

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

COLLECT

Draw near to your servants, O Lord,

and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness,

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

you may restore what you have created

and keep safe what you have restored.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

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

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

READING I

Ex 16:2-4, 12-15

The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

The Israelites said to them,

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

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

But you had to lead us into this desert

to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the LORD said to Moses,

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

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

thus will I test them,

to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.

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

and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,

so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.

In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,

and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert

were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.

On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?”

for they did not know what it was.

But Moses told them,

“This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

APPLICATION

In spite of all the miracles that God worked to set the Israelites free from the slavery of Egypt, they were still far from trusting him. When their food supplies had run out and no food seemed available in the desert region where they were, they murmured against Moses and against God. They thought God was going to let them die of starvation. “Would it not have been far better to have remained reasonably well-fed slaves in Egypt rather than starve as freemen out here?” they said. As yet they did not realize that God had a loving Father’s interest in them, that he intended to bring them into the land of Canaan, as promised to Abraham and his descendants. This he was doing in order to put his eternal plan for man’s salvation—the incarnation – into action later on.

God did not reprimand them for their lack of trust in him, he knew they were as yet poorly formed spiritually. Instead, he immediately promised to provide for their bodily needs. That evening he would provide meat for them to eat and next morning they would be able to find a bread-like food in sufficient quantity to supply each day’s needs. This provision of meat and bread-like food was a miracle of God’s kindness for the people he had chosen to be the ancestors of his divine Son in his human nature. The two items of food were in themselves natural to the region – the quails were passing over the Sinai desert for six months every year, and the “manna” came naturally from the tamarisk trees. What was miraculous was the large number of quails which landed around the camp, and also the regular, abundant supply of the tamarisk product which was available each day.

Each day the people rejoiced for a while at the turn of events. They had an abundant fresh supply, but some months later they again murmured and complained against God: they longed for variety as they had only the same manna all the time (Nb. 11: 5). They were surely an ungrateful, a stiff-necked, stubborn people, and nothing short of the infinite patience of God could have put up with them and continued to care for them. This he did, more for our sakes than for theirs. And it’s here that this story of God’s compassion has a lesson for us. Everything that God did in the Old Testament was in preparation for the New, in which his eternal plan for all men was put into operation. He chose Abraham so that from him would come Jesus “according to the flesh.” He looked after Abraham’s descendants and eventually established them as a people in the promised land. They were the people he had chosen to keep his name and his knowledge alive on earth, while all other peoples were serving empty idols. This Chosen People failed him again and again, but in spite of their disloyalty, he preserved a remnant of Abraham’s descendants in Judah until the “fullness of time” had come—the time for sending his divine Son as an on earth.

This miraculous feeding of the Israelites in the desert therefore was an act of mercy for such ungrateful people. It was also, and more importantly, a step in the preparation for the immensely greater act of our elevation to sonship with himself – brought about by the incarnation. Think of it! God was planning for our eternal salvation over three thousand two hundred years ago when he saved the Israelites from starvation in the desert of Sinai! Consider how much we take our religion for granted; how little we esteem the privilege that is ours; what little thought do we give to all that God did in order to make us Christians.

God has no need of us in heaven; he is infinitely happy without us, but because of his infinite goodness he wants to share his heaven with us and therefore he has been making arrangements from the beginning of time to enable us to get there. But he does need our cooperation. He created us, as St. Augustine says, without our consent but he cannot bring us to heaven without our consent. Unfortunately, there are some men who will not cooperate in providing for their own eternal happiness. Let us not be of their number. Let us look back on history today, and see all that God has done for us in order to make us eternally happy. Let us thank him and make a sincere and heartfelt resolve to be faithful to his teaching in future, to follow the path he has appointed for us to lead us to him.

Thanks be to the good Lord for feeding the Israelites in Sinai, and for having had our eternal welfare in mind when he came to their aid! 

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

What we have heard and know,

and what our fathers have declared to us,

We will declare to the generation to come

the glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength

and the wonders that he wrought.

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

He commanded the skies above

and opened the doors of heaven;

he rained manna upon them for food

and gave them heavenly bread.

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

Man ate the bread of angels,

food he sent them in abundance.

And he brought them to his holy land,

to the mountains his right hand had won.

The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

READING II

Eph 4:17, 20-24

Brothers and sisters:

I declare and testify in the Lord

that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,

in the futility of their minds;

that is not how you learned Christ,

assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him,

as truth is in Jesus,

that you should put away the old self of your former way of life,

corrupted through deceitful desires,

and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,

and put on the new self,

created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

APPLICATION 

St. Paul had to remind the Ephesians what Christianity meant. They were men and women who were close to the time of Christ, They had seen the many miracles worked by their Apostle and father in the faith. He was a saintly man and their teacher, if they needed a reminder. How much more do we Christians of today need such a reminder? This is the very reason that these words of St. Paul are read to us today: to remind us that we are Christians, that we are new men. We have a new outlook on life and therefore our way of living should not conform to the pagan ethos of our day, but should show to the world than we are sons of God. How many Christians today are doing that? How many of Christ’s followers are bearing the true witness to him?

The western world, that is, all Europe and the Americas, is nominally Christian. However, for a large percentage of the citizens of these lands Christianity is only a label not a way of life. Many millions of these people have never learned the truth which is Jesus, they have not been taught the Christian faith. Other millions have learned the truths of the faith, in a modified form perhaps, but are not willing to carry out their Christian duties. The Eastern and Western schisms, the Greek and the Protestant revolts, can be blamed for much of this religious decay—but not for all of it by any means. There are many millions of unbaptized in the Christian countries of Europe which never had an Orthodox or Protestant infiltration. Laxity on the part of parents, and neglect of their duty on the part of pastors down through the years, have led such countries into this sorry state.

Africa and Asia are two continents with about two thirds of the world’s population. They have still much pagan territory—and this after nineteen centuries of Christianity! There have been great efforts made by devout individuals and by dedicated groups but, by and large, the Christian countries have neglected their obligation of bringing the light of faith to their pagan fellowmen. The result would appear to be that what they were unwilling to share with their pagan neighbors, they also neglected for themselves.

Before we begin to take the mote out of our neighbors’ eyes, let us make sure that we have not a beam in our own. Are we exemplary Christians, are we living up to the tenets and obligations of our faith? Are we just in our dealings with all men, truthful, chaste in thought, word and deed; are we, above all, charitable to our neighbor, carrying out the spiritual and corporal works of mercy wherever and whenever we can? Do we give a good example of what a Christian ought to be to those in our own homes and to all our fellowman we meet during the course of the day? Not many of us can give a definite yes to all of these questions. God will, however, be merciful to us if our intention is to be good Christians—even though we may fail now and then in our efforts. Where there is good will and a good intention God will make allowances. If they fail, through your fault, you cannot but fail yourselves. If they refuse to follow your teaching and example, pray often and with fervor for them. You want the best for them in this world and the next. There are many openings in this life, there is only one entrance, however, to happiness in the next—the, gate of heaven. If they miss that, they have missed everything.

Let us all have a good look at our consciences today. We are Christians and should be proud of it. But to be true Christians, we must play our part, we must carry out our Christian duties. We must remember that we are now sons of God, brothers of Christ, and our lives must be in keeping with this great dignify which Christ has won for us; we must live in righteousness and holiness. 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.1

CCC 1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”2

CCC 1695 “Justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God,”3 “sanctified. .. [and] called to be saints,”4 Christians have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.5 This “Spirit of the Son” teaches them to pray to the Father6 and, having become their life, prompts them to act so as to bear “the fruit of the Spirit”7 by charity in action. Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation.8 He enlightens and strengthens us to live as “children of light” through “all that is good and right and true.”9

CCC 2475 Christ’s disciples have “put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”10 By “putting away falsehood,” they are to “put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander.”11

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

2 Eph 4:22, 24.

3 2 Cor 6:11.

4 1 Cor 1:2.

5 Cf. 1 Cor 6:19.

6 Cf. Gal 4:6.

7 Gal 5:22, 25.

8 Cf. Eph 4:23.

9 Eph 5:8, 9.

10 Eph 4:24.

11 Eph 4:25; 1 Pet 2:1.

GOSPEL

Jn 6:24-35

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,

they themselves got into boats

and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

And when they found him across the sea they said to him,

“Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered them and said,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

you are looking for me not because you saw signs

but because you ate the loaves and were filled.

Do not work for food that perishes

but for the food that endures for eternal life,

which the Son of Man will give you.

For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

So they said to him,

“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”

Jesus answered and said to them,

“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

So they said to him,

“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?

What can you do?

Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat.?

So Jesus said to them,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;

my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven

and gives life to the world.”

So they said to him,

“Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them,

“I am the bread of life;

whoever comes to me will never hunger,

and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

APPLICATION 

The multiplication of the loaves which fed five thousand men was bound to recall to the minds of the multitude the bread from heaven which God had given to their ancestors in the desert. That it should do so was Christ’s secondary intention in working the miracle; his first intention was to feed those hungry people. Next day when the crowds gathered around him again in Capernaum, hoping for another free meal rather than looking for religious instruction, he openly accused them of their worldliness. While they knew and admitted that he was the second Moses, the prophet from God (see last Sunday’s gospel), and while they had heard him speak frequently of the new kingdom of God (see Mk. 5), their thoughts were still entirely worldly. The politically-minded wanted him to throw out the Romans and set up a new kingdom of David; the others were content with all the material benefits he could give them at the moment. Things spiritual and the everlasting life were far from their thoughts.

Christ told them how wrong their attitude to life was. They were concentrating all their thoughts and efforts on the things of this life, they should rather have given thought to the future life. Instead of looking for earthly bread which had real though transitory value, they should have looked for the bread which would bring them eternal life—“the food which endures.” He could give them this; they had God’s guarantee and seal for it—God sent him on earth so that men would accept him and believe in his message. They demanded further proofs; and referred to the manna given to their fathers in the desert. He answered them: the manna given to their fathers was not bread from heaven, it was earthly food which preserved earthly life, but God was now giving the true bread from heaven—Christ himself. He had come down from heaven; he was divine, and was to give them eternal life, if only they would believe in him.

Acceptance of Christ as God’s intermediary with men was the first essential step on the road to eternal life. “It is my Father’s will that whosoever sees (that is acknowledges him as Son of God) the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day” (6: 40). Christ went on then in this discourse, as we shall see during the next three Sundays, to foretell the gift of the Eucharist wherein he gives himself as the spiritual food to all those who believe in him. The act of faith, the act of accepting him as God’s envoy, God’s Son in fact, is already the beginning, the first step, toward the eternal life he came to give us.

In today’s reading we hear of the lack of faith of those Galileans, of their utter worldliness and lack of interest in their future life. We may be inclined to judge them severely. But we must not forget that as Jews they knew almost nothing about the future life. It was only with the full revelation given by Christ, that men learned of God’s wonderful plan for them. Thank God, we have this full knowledge today; we know that this life is only a period of preparation, a few years during which we can make ourselves worthy to enter the real kingdom of God in heaven. We know that Christ was God’s divine Son, who took our human nature in order to make us his brothers and therefore sons of God. We know that heaven is awaiting us, if only we accept Christ here and follow his teaching. Surely, we are infinitely more fortunate than were the Galileans we read about today!

Do we appreciate our good fortune; do we live up to the teaching which we know is true? Do we ever allow ourselves to get immersed in worldly affairs—forgetting that this earth is not our home, that we are only passing through? Unfortunately, many Christians do act in this manner. While they have the name of “followers of Christ,” they are not following him, they have chosen the path of worldliness and earthly interests which will lead to a dead end. Have an honest, sincere look at your own Christianity today. Your eternity, the unending ages that come after your death, will depend on how you spend your fleeting years on this earth.

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

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 423 We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He ‘came from God’,1 ‘descended from heaven’,2 and ‘came in the flesh’.3 For ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. .. And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.’4

CCC 698 The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. “The Father has set his seal” on Christ and also seals us in him.5 Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible “character” imprinted by these three unrepeatable sacraments

CCC 728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.6 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,7 to the Samaritan woman,8 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.9 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer10 and with the witness they will have to bear.11

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,12 and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called “typological” because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the “figures” (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled.13 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,14 as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven.”15

CCC 1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal.16 Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”17 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.18

CCC 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but. .. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”19 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”20 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.21

1 Jn 13:3.

2 Jn 3:13; 6:33.

3 1 Jn 4:2.

4 Jn 1:14,16.

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

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

7 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.

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

9 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.

10 Cf. Lk 11:13.

11 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.

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

13 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

14 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

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

16 Cf. Jn 6:27.

17 2 Cor 1:21-22; cf. Eph 1:13; 4,30.

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

19 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4.

20 Am 8:11.

21 Cf. Jn 6:26-58.

BENEDICTUS

Breaking of Bread

Ultimately, the Church draws her life from the Eucharist, from this real, self-giving presence of the Lord.  Without this ever-new encounter with him, she would necessarily wither… Anyone who repeatedly exposes himself to it and confides in it will be changed.  You cannot walk constantly with the Lord, cannot ever anew pronounce these tremendous words, This is my Body and my Blood,  you cannot touch the Body of the Lord again and again, without being affected by him and challenged by him, being changed and led by him.  We may of course lag behind him, and will again and again lag immeasurably far behind, but in the long run there are really only two possibilities: either to shake off the Eucharist, with the enormous demands and power it sets up in life, or to surrender to it, to hold fast to it.  Anyone who holds fast to the Lord will not be abandoned by him.  Anyone who grapples with him calmly and patiently, humbly and sincerely, will be led by him; he will never be denied his light…  Christ genuinely shared himself out, gave himself with the torn-up bread, so that his life might be ours: that is the incredible event that occurs ever anew.  Herein lies the great significance of the Eucharist, and that is why it is no game, but quite real.  When death comes onstage the game is at an end.  Man is set before the truth.  But only when this encounter reaches right down unto death can true hope arise for man.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer after Holy Communion

Soul of Christ, sanctify me. 

Body of Christ, save me. 

Blood of Christ, inebriate me. 

Water flowing from the side of Christ, purify me. 

Passion of Christ, comfort me. 

O good Jesus, hear me. 

Hide me within Thy wounds. 

Never permit me to be separated from Thee. 

From the malignant enemy defend me. 

At the hour of my death call me, 

And cause me to come to Thee, 

That with the Saints and the Angels, 

I may praise Thee For everlasting ages.

Amen.

 

Posted in Catholic

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

Good Shepard Christ.jpg

“When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Prayer for the Salvation of the World

Father, hear our prayers for the salvation of the world.

Grant Mercy to all souls that turned away from You.

Open their hearts and minds with Your light.

Gather Your children from the east and the west, from the north and the south.

Have mercy O God on those who do not know You.

Bring them out of darkness into Your light.

You are our saving God Who leads us in our salvation.

Protect us from evil.

Bless and praise You O Lord, hear our prayers and answer us.

You, our Savior, are the hope of all the ends of the Earth and the distant seas.

May Your way be known upon Earth; among all nations Your salvation.

We put the world in Your hands; fill us with Your love.

Grant us peace through Christ, our Lord. Amen

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 I

s_jeremiah.jpg

Jer 23:1-6

Woe to the shepherds

who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,

says the LORD.

Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,

against the shepherds who shepherd my people:

You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.

You have not cared for them,

but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.

I myself will gather the remnant of my flock

from all the lands to which I have driven them

and bring them back to their meadow;

there they shall increase and multiply.

I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them

so that they need no longer fear and tremble;

and none shall be missing, says the LORD.

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,

when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;

as king he shall reign and govern wisely,

he shall do what is just and right in the land.

In his days Judah shall be saved,

Israel shall dwell in security.

This is the name they give him:

“The LORD our justice.”

APPLICATION

In the midst of the misfortunes and afflictions which were about to engulf his people—afflictions and misfortunes brought on them especially by their religious and civic leaders—Jeremiah had words of consolation and encouragement. Bright and happy days were in store for them. Some would return from the exile and live in peace in their homeland under more God-fearing leaders. But it is to the messianic age, to Christ’s day, that the thoughts of the prophet were especially turned. The great day would come when the new Chosen People would have a king who would be justice itself, a king to keep them loyal to God, a shepherd to care for their real interests. As psalm 22 puts it: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. He guides me along the right path, he is true to his name … In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.”

Both Jeremiah and the psalmist were looking into the future and beheld the coming of Christ and the age of the new Chosen People. That these are messianic prophecies is clear from the fact that our Divine Lord himself applied the title of the true shepherd to himself: “I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep” (Jn. 10: 14-15).

We today are indeed fortunate to be living in the Christian era. We have seen the messianic prophecies fulfilled; we know that Christ has come and changed our world. We know that we are the sheep of his chosen flock, the members indeed of his mystical body. We know that he has put us on the right path, on the road to heaven and that as faithful Shepherd he is, ever watching over us, moving us on when we are inclined to nibble at the forbidden grass by the road-side, bringing us back on his own shoulders when we stray from the path and get caught up in the briars and brambles of earthly attractions.

We Christians know all of this, but do we really appreciate what the good God has done for us? By sending his Son on earth as man, he made us heirs to heaven, brothers of Christ and adopted sons of himself. Heaven is now our destination, our only real purpose in life. Everything else is absolutely secondary and only of transitory importance. Yet how many there are who let these things of secondary importance get such a hold on them that they forget or ignore their one and only purpose in life? They allow the transitory things of this life to hold them back from reaching the endless life of heaven.

To help us to see the utter folly of such Christians let us suppose, for a moment, a poor man who had a great desire to go to Lourdes. He was given a free ticket with all expenses paid. He set out joyfully, say from Chicago. His first stop was New York. Here he became enchanted with the hustle and bustle of the great city’s life. He visited many movie pictures and stage productions and spent so much time that he missed the pilgrim ship for which he was booked. He had not enough to pay for a ticket to Europe on another ship and so he missed seeing Lourdes. He ended his days in misery in New York, no longer enchanted by its attractions but driven to despair by the utter emptiness of what it had to offer. That man’s fate was but a shadow of the irreparable loss of the Christian who lets the attractions of this world keep him from heaven.

He may find his days, his mind and his hands full of interesting worldly affairs, but he should realize that every time the clock strikes he is an hour nearer to his earthly end. After that what is there for him? What explanation can he offer when he arrives empty-handed and totally unprepared at the judgement seat? He cannot plead ignorance; he cannot plead lack of time; he could have provided for all of his earthly needs, while providing at the same time for his eternal future. He allowed himself to get so immersed in the things of this world that he gave no thought to his future. It has happened before and it will happen again. It can happen to us unless we frequently take a good look at our way of living and honestly and sincerely measure our daily doings by the standard of the Gospel. If frequently during life we judge ourselves and our actions with all sincerity we need not fear the judgement after death.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

CCC 2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.”2 By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,”3 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.”4 He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”5

1 DV 2; cf. Eph 1:9; 2:18; 2 Pt 1:4.

2 Isa 9:5.

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

4 Eph 2:14.

5 Mt 5:9.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

In verdant pastures he gives me repose;

beside restful waters he leads me;

he refreshes my soul.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk in the dark valley

I fear no evil; for you are at my side

with your rod and your staff

that give me courage.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me

in the sight of my foes;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me

all the days of my life;

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

for years to come.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

READING II

Christ the Peacekeeper.jpg

Eph 2:13-18

Brothers and sisters:

In Christ Jesus you who once were far off

have become near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he who made both one

and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,

abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims,

that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two,

thus establishing peace,

and might reconcile both with God,

in one body, through the cross,

putting that enmity to death by it.

He came and preached peace to you who were far off

and peace to those who were near,

for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

APPLICATION

“He came and preached peace.” In these five words, St. Paul sums up the, ministry of Christ on earth. He preached peace. He laid down the foundations of peace. He reconciled men with God their Creator and Father, and reconciled men with one another. He taught men to be brotherly toward one another. When questioned by one of the Pharisees as to which was the most important of the commandments, he answered: “Love God with all your heart, all your strength and alI your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” The two together are the essence of true religion “on these two depend the whole law and the prophets.”

Long before Christ came on earth, the prophets had described the kingdom which he was to establish as a kingdom of peace. He was called the Prince of Peace (Is. 9); in his kingdom there would never again be war “men would turn their swords into plowshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war” (Is. 2; see also Is. 11; Ag. 2: 8-10; Zech. 9: 10). These prophecies, however, were not fulfilled in the kingdom that Christ set up on this earth, nor was that intended. The prophets were speaking of the final kingdom, the completion of Christ’s work in heaven. There the perfect peace will prevail; there man will truly love his fellowman and all men will love God.

Christ did lay the foundations for peace between men and between nations even on this earth. He made us all his brothers; he made all men, no matter what their race or color, God’s adopted sons and therefore members of the one, family. But we must not forget that while Christ laid solid and secure foundations, the walls of the building were to be built of mortal, fallible men who could abuse the gift of freewill with which they were endowed. If all men kept the two great commandments, loving God with all their heart and loving their neighbor as themselves, peace would naturally follow. Such an if, however, is a capital “IF,” for unfortunately, there will always be among us those who will fail to keep these basic commandments to the letter, and therefore there will always be violations of peace.

While we regret that even our fellow-Christians can and do break these commandments and act contrary to the teaching of their faith, we must not be scandalized at this nor must we say that Christ’s teaching has failed. Christ laid the foundations for peace; he encouraged his followers to live in peace; he wished them, this peace, but even Christ could not force man’s freewill. He, being God, foresaw that the Christian peace which should reign in our world would be broken many times. Yet, his forgiveness was ever available, to those who failed to keep his law, and his grace and divine assistance were there to help all who suffered because of the violation of his law.

There will always be some who will be a menace and a threat to peace, because they have forgotten that God is their Father. Consequently, they do not look on their neighbor as their brother. There is still a majority of God-loving and neighbor-loving men and women among us, not only in the Christian Church but outside of it also, who want peace. It is up to them to make their voices heard before God, first of all their daily, fervent prayers for peace; and then also in the councils of state where human decisions are taken.

We can all do more for the preservation of peace on earth than perhaps we realize. All true lovers of God and neighbor should instill this same love in their children so that they will grow up inspired by respect for the two greatest commandments–they will be peace-lovers. In our street, in our town, in our country, by word, by example and by prayer we can do much to spread love for the peace which flows from love of neighbor and love of God. If we turned our protest-marches, which so often are not inspired by true, love of peace, into prayer-marches we might see better results. “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of,” said Tennyson long ago. He was but repeating what Christ had said centuries before: “ask and you shall receive.” Peace in one’s conscience, peace in one’s home, peace with one’s neighbors, peace between nations is one of the noblest causes to which one can dedicate one’s energies and prayers. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”

GOSPEL

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Mk 6:30-34

The apostles gathered together with Jesus

and reported all they had done and taught.

He said to them,

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

People were coming and going in great numbers,

and they had no opportunity even to eat.

So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.

People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.

They hastened there on foot from all the towns

and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,

his heart was moved with pity for them,

for they were like sheep without a shepherd;

and he began to teach them many things.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072218.cfm

APPLICATION

In these few verses St. Mark very strongly brings out the compassion, the human understanding of Jesus for man. He first planned to give his Apostles a well-earned rest. They had evidently worked hard while out on their mission and a few days rest would restore their lost energy. He himself, too, must have been hard-pressed, preaching and dealing with the crowds. In the absence of the Apostles he had no one to help him–he too needed a rest. He, therefore. planned that he and they should go to a quiet corner of the Sea of Galilee where there was no village and where, therefore, they would not be disturbed.

The desire of the crowds, however, to see him and to hear him speak upset these plans. The people got to the quiet spot first. There they were waiting when the boat pulled to shore. He could have sent them away, but again his human compassion took over. Seeing these simple people of Galilee so anxious to hear about God and his mercy, he let them stay and began to preach the good news of forgiveness and hope to them. For the most part they were simple, unlettered villagers, shepherds and fishermen. They knew a little about the Law of Moses but only a little. There was no one but the local rabbi to teach them and the local rabbis were not very educated at the time. The doctors of the law, the great theologians were all in Jerusalem where they got the respect and the financial reward which they felt they merited. Hence the people of the country were more or less forgotten and neglected. They were, as our Lord described them, ” like sheep without a shepherd,” wandering about half-lost.

They were certainly fortunate, however, in finding the true shepherd who would lead them to the eternal pastures. Not only would he now sacrifice his rest to come to their aid but he would, later on, lay down his life for them and for all of us. We, like those poor people of Galilee, have so much to be grateful for. The compassionate Christ has had pity on us too, and has brought us into his fold. He knows all our infirmities and all our human weaknesses, and he is ever-ready to have pity on us and pardon us. Those people of Galilee were not saints, they were ordinary, run-of-the-mill, not over religious people. They cheated one another; they were often uncharitable to one another; they were not always chaste and pure; they prayed very little and perhaps only when they wanted some material benefit. Yet our Lord had compassion on them.

This should give us great confidence, great encouragement. Christ has not changed: he is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has the same compassion for us that he had for those Galileans; we too are often like sheep without a shepherd wandering half-lost through life. He is ever calling us to come to himself so that he will lead us to safe pastures. If only we would listen to his merciful call! Today’s Gospel is one such call : it goes out to every member of this congregation who has been lax in his or her religious life up to now. Christ wants us back on the high-road to heaven. All we have to do is to break with the past, with the earthly things that kept us from God. We can set out as freemen to follow Christ. He has left to his Church the holy sacrament of penance in which he guarantees us complete and entire remission of all past sins if we confess them with true sorrow. Let us not think that our sins are too big to be forgiven, that Christ could not have compassion on us because of our dreadful past. We can remember those Galileans; many of them were sinners as we are and he had compassion on them. He came to call sinners, he tells us. Let us answer his call today–tomorrow might be too late.

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

BENEDICTUS

Following, Believing, Loving

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

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for World Peace (1978)

Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle; the strength to be forgiving; the patience to be understanding; and the endurance to accept the consequences of holding to what we believe to be right.

May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred.

We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence, a new world where fear shall no longer lead men to commit injustice, nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.

Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy to the task of making peace, praying always for the inspiration and the power to fulfill the destiny for which we and all men were created. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Catholic

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Sower ent out to Sow.jpeg

 

‘Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.  But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

OPENING PRAYER

When you begin to read or listen to the Holy Scriptures, pray to God thus:

Lord Jesus Christ, open the ears and eyes of my heart so that I may hear Thy words and understand them, and may fulfill Thy will.”

Always pray to God like this, that He might illumine your mind and open to you the power of His words. Many, having trusted in their own reason, have turned away into deception.”

  • St. Ephraim the Syrian

COLLECT

O God, who show the light of 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

to 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 live and reign with You in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Lorenzo_Monaco_-_The_Prophet_Isaiah_-_WGA13590-572535215f9b589e34ba2936.jpeg

Is 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:

Just as from the heavens

the rain and snow come down

and do not return there

till they have watered the earth,

making it fertile and fruitful,

giving seed to the one who sows

and bread to the one who eats,

so shall my word be

that goes forth from my mouth;

my word shall not return to me void,

but shall do my will,

achieving the end for which I sent it.

APPLICATION

The word of God which came to the chosen people through the prophets, and the divinely inspired writers, came out of God’s loving interest in his people. He wanted to prepare them for the inheritance, the real “promised land,” that, when the messianic age (the “fullness of time”) came, would be theirs, provided their lives on earth were lived as they should be.

This word of God, this advice and admonition sent through his prophets, though valuable and Godlike, was but a type or shadow of the real Word of God, his divine Son, who came on earth to bring all men to heaven. He carried out the allotted task. He fulfilled his Father’s will to the letter, even when this meant a life of suffering and death on a cross on Calvary. He was, in fact, raised from the dead, and returned to heaven victorious, the leader of an innumerable host which will follow him until this earth ceases to be.

As Christians, we are united to the Word of God who became flesh. We are members of his body, the Church. We are his brothers, and with him co-heirs of heaven. God the Father intended all these privileges for us, and Christ, God the Son, earned them for us. The least we can do in return for such favors is to try to be worthy of them, by being loyal to our Christian vocation, and by ever remaining close in love to our Father and to his Son, our brother. To help us live the true Christian life, we still have also the word of God, spoken through the prophets and the inspired writers of the Old and New Testaments. We have in other words, the Holy Bible, the book of books, which, if read with attention and devotion, will not fail to inspire and move us to be grateful and loyal to our divine benefactors, the three Persons of the blessed Trinity.

Every Christian home should have the Holy Bible as one of its most useful and treasured possessions. It should not be an ornament on a book-shelf. It should be read, a page or two daily, by every member of the family. The new rite of Mass gives us three readings from the Bible each Sunday and feast day. These readings have been selected with great care, and each reading has a message, or lesson, for each one of us, to inspire us to greater love of God and of our Christian vocation. We should listen attentively to this “word of God.” He is speaking to us through these means. These sacred writings have been preserved down through the centuries for our benefit.

Let us thank out Father in heaven, who deigns to speak to us through the sacred writings, his “inspired word.” Let us respect these writings and use them for edification and eventual sanctification but greater ground still for our gratitude is the living Word of God who raised us up from being mere mortals to the status of adopted son-ship, by means of his Word, his Son, who became flesh and dwelt among us for a time, in order to bring us in to heaven for all eternity.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

You have visited the land and watered it;

greatly have you enriched it.

God’s watercourses are filled;

you have prepared the grain.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows,

breaking up its clods,

Softening it with showers,

blessing its yield.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

You have crowned the year with your bounty,

and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;

The untilled meadows overflow with it,

and rejoicing clothes the hills.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

The fields are garmented with flocks

and the valleys blanketed with grain.

They shout and sing for joy.

The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

READING II

Creation_2003.jpeg

Rom 8:18-23

Brothers and sisters:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing

compared with the glory to be revealed for us.

For creation awaits with eager expectation

the revelation of the children of God;

for creation was made subject to futility,

not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,

in hope that creation itself

would be set free from slavery to corruption

and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;

and not only that, but we ourselves,

who have the first-fruits of the Spirit,

we also groan within ourselves

as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 280 Creation is the foundation of “all God’s saving plans,” the “beginning of the history of salvation”1 that culminates in Christ. Conversely, the mystery of Christ casts conclusive light on the mystery of creation and reveals the end for which “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”: from the beginning, God envisaged the glory of the new creation in Christ.2

CCC 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.3 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.4 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.5 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,6 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.7

CCC 671 Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by the King’s return to earth.8 This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover.9 Until everything is subject to him, “until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God.”10 That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him:11 Marana tha! “Our Lord, come!”12

CCC 735 He, then, gives us the “pledge” or “first fruits” of our inheritance: the very life of the Holy Trinity, which is to love as “God [has] loved us.”13 This love (the “charity” of 1 Cor 13) is the source of the new life in Christ, made possible because we have received “power” from the Holy Spirit.14

CCC 1046 For the cosmos, Revelation affirms the profound common destiny of the material world and man:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. .. in hope because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay. .. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.15

CCC 1721 God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise. Beatitude makes us “partakers of the divine nature” and of eternal life.16 With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ17 and into the joy of the Trinitarian life.

CCC 1741 Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. “For freedom Christ has set us free.”18 In him we have communion with the “truth that makes us free.”19 The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”20 Already we glory in the “liberty of the children of God.”21

CCC 2572 As a final stage in the purification of his faith, Abraham, “who had received the promises,”22 is asked to sacrifice the son God had given him. Abraham’s faith does not weaken (“God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering.”), for he “considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead.”23 And so the father of believers is conformed to the likeness of the Father who will not spare his own Son but will deliver him up for us all.24 Prayer restores man to God’s likeness and enables him to share in the power of God’s love that saves the multitude.25

CCC 2630 The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church’s petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day. Christian petition, what St. Paul calls {“groaning,” arises from another depth, that of creation “in labor pains” and that of ourselves “as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”26 In the end, however, “with sighs too deep for words” the Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”27

1 GCD 51.

2 Gen 1:1; cf. Rom 8:18-23.

3 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

4 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.

5 Rom 8:21.

6 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.

7 Cf. Rom 5:12.

8 Lk 21:27; cf. Mt 25:31.

9 Cf. 2 Th 2:7.

10 LG 48 # 3; cf. 2 Pt 3:13; Rom 8:19-22; I Cor 15:28.

11 Cf. I Cor 11:26; 2 Pt 3:11-12.

12 1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:17,20.

13 1 Jn 4: 12; cf. Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:21.

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

15 Rom 8:19-23.

16 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Jn 17:3.

17 Cf. Rom 8:18.

18 Gal 5:1.

19 Cf. In 8:32.

20 2 Cor 17.

21 Rom 8:21.

22 Heb 11:17.

23 Gen 22:8; Heb 11:19

24 Rom 8:32.

25 Cf. Rom 8:16-21.

26 Rom 8:22-24.

27 Rom 8:26.

APPLICATION

God’s creation of the world was an act of sheer benevolence. He wished to share his own infinite perfection and happiness with creatures, who could enjoy that perfection and happiness because of the superior gifts with which he endowed them. These creatures were men–the human race. All the other creatures, the inanimate kingdom, plant kingdom, and animal kingdom were intended for man’s service while he was on this earth. Man was the masterpiece of God’s creative action, and was to be the master of all the lesser creatures.

God’s eternal plan for making man a sharer in his own eternal happiness was to be brought about by the extraordinary act of divine love and condescension which we call the Incarnation. God the Son was to become man, unite our human created nature with his divinity, in the historical Jesus Christ, and thus raise man to brotherhood with Christ and sonship of God the Father.

This act of divine love was for all mankind, for the millions who lived and died before Christ came on earth, as well as for the billions who have lived and will live on earth after his coming. Men sinned before he came, men sinned and will sin after his coming, but Christ’s death on the cross made infinite atonement to his Father, the good God whom men had offended, so that, if only the sinner repents, all sins are wiped out by God.

Heaven is thus open to all men of good-will. God, who is Love, has infinite ways of reaching the hearts of sinners and bringing them to repentance. But we Christians, who are fully acquainted with all that God has done for us, are obliged to do all in our power to make this loving God, and his plans for their eternal happiness, known to those who are still ignorant of him. Any Christian, who really appreciates what God has done for him, will feel compelled, out of gratitude, to help to bring this knowledge to God’s other sons who are still in the darkness of paganism, old or new, but who are God’s adopted children even though they are not aware of the fact.

Fidelity and true loyalty to the Christian life and teaching, which it is our privilege to have, are prime factors in helping to spread among those who do not yet possess it, the knowledge of God and his plans for all men. Fervent prayer for the conversion of sinners is another means within the reach of all of us, and a very effective means. Instead of that novena for the health of some relative or for some temporal need which seems so important, let us offer it for the conversion of some unbelievers or sinners that we know, and God will prove himself big enough and generous enough to grant us both requests. When we find life difficult, and cross laid upon cross, let us not forget what St. Paul tells us today: “the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” What are a few years of pain of body or mental unhappiness, when compared with an eternity of peace and happiness in the world to come? We are exiles returning home, and we have to work our passage or earn our way. But we are certain of reaching our happy home, if we work that passage diligently and patiently and cheerfully.

GOSPEL

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Mt 13:1-9

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.

Such large crowds gathered around him

that he got into a boat and sat down,

and the whole crowd stood along the shore.

And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:

A sower went out to sow.

And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,

and birds came and ate it up.

Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.

It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,

and when the sun rose it was scorched,

and it withered for lack of roots.

Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.

But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit,

a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/071617.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 29 But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God” (GS 19 § 1) can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man.1 Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call.2

CCC 546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching.3 Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.4 Words are not enough, deeds are required.5 The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?6 What use has he made of the talents he has received?7 Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”.8 For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.9

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.10 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.”11 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.”12

1 GS 19 § 1.

2 Cf. GS 19-21; Mt 13:22; Gen 3:8-10; Jon 1:3.

3 Cf. Mk 4:33-34.

4 Cf. Mt 13:44-45; 22:1-14.

5 Cf. Mt 21:28-32.

6 Cf. Mt 13:3-9.

7 Cf. Mt 25:14-30.

8 Mt 13:11.

9 Mk 4:11; cf. Mt 13:10-15.

10 Cf. Mk 1:16-20; 3:13-19; Mt 13:10-17; Lk 10:17-20; 22:28-30.

11 Jn 15:4-5.

12 Jn 6:56.

APPLICATION

Christ’s description of his audience, that day in Galilee, is unfortunately as true today as it was then. His message of salvation has been preached to a great part of the world’s population, but the proportion of those who accept it and live up to it, is about the same today as it was then.

There are millions of men and women today, in what was once Christian Europe, who are like the seed sown on the unplowed path. They refuse to accept the message, they have no thought for their future, they are content to end in the grave after their few years of misery and hardship on this planet.

There are others who see the truth and the consolation of the Christian gospel, but when it comes to making sacrifices for it, they give up. The message did not sink into their hearts and minds. They are like the seed which fell on rocky ground because the faith had no deep roots in their lives. Others again, and they are legion, are like the seed that fell among the briars and thorns. They accepted the faith and it took root in them but later on, “the cares of the world and the delight in riches chokes the word and it proves unfruitful,”–these are our Lord’s own words.

The last class of Christians, are like the seed sown on good soil. They not only accept Christ and his teaching, but they live up to it, and, come what may, they are faithful to it. These will produce fruit and will earn for themselves eternal happiness.

Each one of us can look into his own conscience today and discover to which class he or she belongs. The fact that we are here, shows that at least we are still Christians; so we do not belong to the first class–the gospel seed did not fall on the hardened path. But what of the other classes? Are some of us perhaps, like the seed that fell on the rocky ground? While Christianity makes no very difficult demand we are all for it, but when it demands mortification, the curbing of passion, real sacrifices for our neighbor, do we forget our Christian calling then and ignore its precepts? And how does our type of Christianity stand up to the temptations of the world–the desire to get all the enjoyment we can out of this life, licit or illicit, breaking God’s commandments weekly or maybe daily? Are we chasing after wealth and power, using all our energies to rise in the world to be above our neighbor by fair or foul means? If the above are our aims in life, our Christianity has been or is being choked out of us.

Let us hope that we all can number ourselves among those Christians who have sown their Christian faith in good soil and who will produce the fruit of eternal life. If we are truly honest with ourselves, the vast majority of us can say that there is a little streak of the stony and thorny ground in our hearts. Our courage must come from the fact that we have a merciful Father, who understands us and who is ever ready to pardon all past faults, if we humbly repent of them.

There are millions of saints in heaven today, enjoying eternal happiness, who had some, if not all, of our present failings. We, too, can be with them one day, provided we do what they did. They repented sincerely and remained God’s close friends, until he called them to himself. May the merciful God give us the grace to imitate them while we yet have time.

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 they 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 freedom from work, that freedom which is a gift of 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

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and our strength,

an ever-present help in distress.

Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken

and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,

Though its waters rage and foam

and mountains totter at its surging.

Streams of the river gladden the city of God,

the holy dwelling of the Most High.

God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken;

God will help it at break of day.

Though nations rage and kingdoms totter,

he utters his voice and the earth melts.

*The LORD of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Come and see the works of the LORD,

who has done fearsome deeds on earth;

Who stops wars to the ends of the earth,

breaks the bow, splinters the spear,

and burns the shields with fire;

Be still and know that I am God!

I am exalted among the nations,

exalted on the earth.”

The LORD of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Posted in Catholic

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A


“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

OPENING PRAYER 

Prayer of St Benedict (480-547)

Image result for icon st. benedict

Gracious and holy Father,
 please give me:

Intellect to understand you;
 reason to discern you;
 diligence to seek you;
 wisdom to find you;
 a spirit to know you;
 a heart to meditate upon you; 
ears to hear you;
 eyes to see you;
 a tongue to proclaim you;
 a way of life pleasing to you;
 patience to wait for you; 
and perseverance to look for you.

Grant me 
a perfect end,
 your holy presence, blessed resurrection, and life everlasting.  Amen.

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 live and reign with God the Father in the unity 

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

PalmSunday-04.jpg

Zec 9:9-10

Thus says the LORD:

Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,

shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king shall come to you;

a just savior is he,

meek, and riding on an ass,

on a colt, the foal of an ass.

He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,

and the horse from Jerusalem;

the warrior’s bow shall be banished,

and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.

His dominion shall be from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 559 How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”.1 Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”.2 Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth.3 And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds.4 Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”,5 is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.

1 Lk 1:32; cf. Mt 21:1-11; Jn 6:15.

2 Ps 24:7-10; Zech 9:9.

3 Cf. Jn 18:37.

4 Cf. Mt 21:15-16; cf. Ps 8:3; Lk 19:38; 2:14.

5 Cf. Ps 118:26.

APPLICATION 

The fulfillment of the age-old messianic prophecies in the person of Christ, is one of the proofs that Christ was the Messiah–the anointed king, priest and prophet–whom God had promised to send to the Chosen People. Only God can foresee contingent future events, that is, events that need not happen. I can foresee that if I set my alarm clock for 7 a.m. and wind it, it will ring at 7 a.m., but I cannot foresee that I shall be involved in a car-crash next week. The prophets of the Old Testament, illuminated by God, foretold many things concerning the future Messiah. These things were fulfilled in Christ and in no one else. Therefore, he was the one God had promised. These very prophecies were given by God beforehand so that his Messiah would be recognized when he came. And they were referred to by Christ as proofs that he was the promised Messiah (Lk. 24: 25-27).

Yet, so many of the Chosen People who knew the prophecies and saw them fulfilled in Christ, refused to accept him as such. Today’s prophecy is an evident case of this. How can one explain such blindness of intellect and such stubbornness of will? Humanly speaking, God had a difficult time dealing with his Chosen People, and yet he never once deserted them or departed from the promise he had first given to Abraham, and repeated century after century until the “fulness of time” came, and Christ appeared on earth. He fulfilled his promise to them, even though they had again and again proved themselves utterly unworthy of his kindness.

We wonder which should amaze us most: the ingratitude, the hardness of heart, the utter worldliness of the Jews, or the infinite mercy and patience of God, who not only spared and tolerated such a people, but actually loved them to the end. He did not desert them. It was they who deserted him. “He came unto his own but his own received him not” (Jn. 1 : 11).

We have a problem nearer home which can occupy our intellects more profitably than that of the meanness of the Jews toward their loving and merciful God. While the leaders of the Jews rejected Christ as an impostor and a blasphemer, our ancestors–the Gentile nations–accepted him gladly as their Redeemer and as the Son of God, who had become man and who came on earth to bring them to heaven. This is still our faith, and it is still the one and only true explanation of man’s life on this earth. We are here to prepare ourselves to merit heaven, the eternal life which Christ has earned for us. That life is the only explanation of why God created us, and the only answer to the human capabilities and natural desires that he instilled in our human nature. God raised us above all his other creatures, because he intended us to pass from this life to a future, everlasting state where perpetual joy and happiness would be our lot.

This is the meaning of the Christian faith which we profess–but how deeply does this conviction really sink into the hearts and minds of the millions who call themselves Christians? If it had sunk into the minds of the leaders of the Christian nations how could one nation be at war with another? How could injustices be rife within a Christian nation if we loved God and loved our neighbor, as the two basic commandments of the Christian faith prescribed? And to come still nearer home: how deeply does our Christian faith affect our daily actions and dealings with our fellowman? Like many of the Jews on Palm Sunday, who shouted, “Hosanna to the son of David,” but who on Good Friday morning were clamoring for Christ’s crucifixion, we too will sing “Hosanna” and “glory to God in the highest” on Sunday, but on Monday morning, we are ready to cheat our employer or our employees! Selfishness takes over and God is forgotten and our neighbor ceases to be our brother.

Thank God, this is not true of most of us. But it is true of far too many, and that is why our world, which was once Christian and is still nominally Christian, is a world of stress and strife where Christian is out to cheat Christian, and nation is out to subdue nation by force of arms, or by political maneuvers.

Can we do nothing about this? Of course we can! We can make our voices heard. But before we preach, we must make sure that we ourselves are practicing what we preach. We must show, by the manner of our daily lives, that getting to heaven is incomparably more important than getting on well, justly or unjustly, in this life.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

I will extol you, O my God and King,

and I will bless your name forever and ever.

Every day will I bless you,

and I will praise your name forever and ever.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is good to all

and compassionate toward all his works.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,

and let your faithful ones bless you.

Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your might.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is faithful in all his words

and holy in all his works.

The LORD lifts up all who are falling

and raises up all who are bowed down.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

READING II

icon-of-the-holy-paraclete

2 Rom 8:9, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:

You are not in the flesh;

on the contrary, you are in the spirit,

if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.

Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,

the one who raised Christ from the dead

will give life to your mortal bodies also,

through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Consequently, brothers and sisters,

we are not debtors to the flesh,

to live according to the flesh.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,

but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,

you will live.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.1 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.2

CCC 693 Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise,3 the Spirit of adoption,4 the Spirit of Christ,5 the Spirit of the Lord,6 and the Spirit of God7 – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.8

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

CCC 989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.16 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.17

CCC 990 The term “flesh” refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality.18 The “resurrection of the flesh” (the literal formulation of the Apostles’ Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our “mortal body” will come to life again.19

1 Acts 3:15; Rom 8:11; I Cor 15:20; cf. Heb 13:20.

2 Cf. I Pt 3:18-19.

3 Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13.

4 Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.

5 Rom 8:9.

6 2 Cor 3:17.

7 Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40.

8 1 Pet 4:14.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 Cf. Jn 6:39-40.

17 Rom 8:11; cf. 1 Thess 4:14; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:10-11.

18 Cf. Gen 6:3; Ps 56:5; Isa 40:6.

19 Rom 8:11.

APPLICATION 

By baptism we were made adopted sons of God, because Christ, in becoming God-Incarnate, made us his brothers. We, therefore, share in the divine life and receive the spirit of God. The first effect of this indwelling of the Spirit in us, is what theologians call, sanctifying grace. As long as we retain this state of grace, we are living in union with the Blessed Trinity, and are moving daily closer to our eternal inheritance. This eternal inheritance is for all men, because Christ’s Incarnation was decreed from all eternity so that all men could live forever after their life-span on this earth. People who, through no fault of their own, have not been able to receive baptism or to know of the Christian faith, will be provided for by God, whose power is infinite. St. Paul is writing to Christian converts in this letter and deals only with them.

The man who knowingly and willingly rejects Christ and his teaching, either by refusing to learn of it when he could, or by refusing to live up to his teaching once accepted, cannot expect and will not get, that eternal life of happiness. This is a truth that should make all of us stop and think. We are Christians by baptism, but are we living according to the Christian rule of life? Are we, at this moment, living in union with the Blessed Trinity, through the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit within us?

Though we may be struggling along with many minor lapses in our lives every day, if we are not conscious of any serious offense against God, the answer is yes, because we wipe out those minor lapses every time we make an act of love of God and beg his pardon for our mistakes and weaknesses. But if we have sinned seriously and have not yet repented of such serious offenses, then we have not the grace of the Holy Spirit in us and we shall have lost our inheritance in heaven if death finds us in this state.

Here it is well to call to mind the infinite mercy of God. St. Paul, as we said, is speaking of the ideal Christian, and therefore does not speak of repentance as he does elsewhere. Christ, our loving Savior, while asking us to carry our cross and follow him daily on the road of self-mortification, knew full well for he was God as well as man, that even the best could fail at times. He therefore left us a sacrament, which can wipe out even grave sins, provided we receive it with true repentance. This sacrament of God’s mercy–the Sacrament of Penance–not only wipes out our sins but brings back, to dwell within us once more, the Holy Spirit with his sanctifying grace. And besides, as every instructed Christian knows, if because of circumstances we cannot receive this sacrament, a fervent act of contrition will produce the same effects.

A Christian who continues living a sinful life, without a thought for his eternal welfare, is living in a fool’s paradise if he persuades himself that he will get “time yet” for confessing his sins to a priest or to say a fervent act of contrition, and thus put things right with God. Death is always sudden and unexpected, even for one who has spent months ill in hospital. In ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, the desire to live, which is innate in us because we were destined by God for an eternal life, will push the thought of death out of one’s mind.

There is one way to remove all the worry as to how death will find us, and that is, to follow St. Paul’s advice: to live always ready for death. This is not easy for many of us, but when we think of what is at stake–all eternity in happiness or in misery–it is a small premium to pay for so great a reward. 

GOSPEL

Related image

Mt 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,

for although you have hidden these things

from the wise and the learned

you have revealed them to little ones.

Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father.

No one knows the Son except the Father,

and no one knows the Father except the Son

and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am meek and humble of heart;

and you will find rest for yourselves.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/070917.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

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

CCC 153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “my Father who is in heaven”.5 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’”6

CCC 240 Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”7

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.”8 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.9 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”.10

CCC 459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”11 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to him!”12 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”13 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.14

CCC 473 But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God’s Son expressed the divine life of his person.15 “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.”16 Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father.17 The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.18

CCC 544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;19 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”20 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.21 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.22 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.23

CCC 1615 This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses.24 By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ.25 This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

CCC 1658 We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live – often not of their choosing – are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.’”26

CCC 2603 The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes.27 His exclamation, “Yes, Father!” expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father’s “good pleasure,” echoing his mother’s Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.28

CCC 2701 Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master’s silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.29

CCC 2779 Before we make our own this first exclamation of the Lord’s Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn “from this world.” Humility makes us recognize that “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,” that is, “to little children.”30 The purification of our hearts has to do with paternal or maternal images, stemming from our personal and cultural history, and influencing our relationship with God. God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area “upon him” would be to fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter into his mystery as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us.

The expression God the Father had never been revealed to anyone. When Moses himself asked God who he was, he heard another name. The Father’s name has been revealed to us in the Son, for the name “Son” implies the new name “Father.”31

CCC 2785 Second, a humble and trusting heart that enables us “to turn and become like children”:32 for it is to “little children” that the Father is revealed.33

[The prayer is accomplished] by the contemplation of God alone, and by the warmth of love, through which the soul, molded and directed to love him, speaks very familiarly to God as to its own Father with special devotion.34

Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us. .. and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask. .. What would he not give to his children who ask, since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?35

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

2 Jn 14:1.

3 Jn 1:18.

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

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

6 DV 5; cf. DS 377; 3010.

7 Mt 11-27.

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

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

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

11 Mt 11:29; Jn 14:6.

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

13 Jn 15:12.

14 Cf. Mk 8:34.

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

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

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

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

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

20 Mt 5:3.

21 Cf. Mt 11:25.

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

23 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

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

25 Cf. Mt 19:11.

26 FC 85; cf. Mt 11:28.

27 Cf. Mt 11:25-27 and Lk 10:21-23.

28 Cf. Eph 1:9.

29 Cf. Mt 11:25-26; Mk 14:36.

30 Mt 11:25-27.

31 Tertullian De orat. 3: PL 1, 1155.

32 Mt 18:3.

33 Cf. Mt 11:25.

34 St. John Cassian, Coll. 9, 18 PL 49, 788c.

35 St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. in monte 2, 4, 16: PL 34, 1276.

APPLICATION 

Do we really appreciate the fact that we are Christians, that we know, through Christ’s revelation, that the God of heaven, the infinite Creator of the universe, has deigned to call himself our Father, and gives us the right to call him Father? Through that same Christian revelation we also know that he is infinitely merciful and cares for each single one of us more than any human father can care for his child. That he not only put us into this world and provides for us here, but that when our days here come to an end, he has prepared an everlasting abode for us, in his kingdom of peace and happiness.

Think for a moment what our world, or the people in it, were like before Christ came on earth. Ninety-seven percent of those then on earth adored false gods and offered sacrifices to idols made of wood or stone. Idolatry often made life on earth unbearable and gave no hope whatsoever of any after-life. The remaining three per cent was made up of the Chosen People who had a very limited knowledge of the true God. He had shown mercy and kindness toward them, but they feared him rather than loved him. With rare and notable exceptions, they served him out of self-interest, to get from him temporal gifts, rather than out of real gratitude and love. Their relationship to him was more like that of slaves toward their masters than that of children toward a kind and loving Father. Their life was earth-centered and their ambitions were worldly. He had revealed little or nothing to them about a life after death. The prophets spoke of a great, happy and prosperous age which was to come, when God would send his Messiah, but the most they could hope for in the way of a future life or immortality, was to live on in their descendants, so that, to be childless was one of their greatest disasters.

Pagans and Jews had the same hardships of life to face as we have, and even greater ones. They earned their daily bread with the sweat of brow and body. Their illnesses were more frequent and less bearable than ours, for they had not the medical helps that we have. Death came to young and old then as it does now, but for them it was a final parting from loved ones, and no hope of a future happy meeting served to lighten their sorrow. All their crosses were crushing weights, sent to make life more miserable. Life on earth was passed in gloom and darkness and there was no shining star in the heavens to beckon them on or give them hope.

Surely God is good to us, to put us into this world at this day and age, and give us the light of faith, and the knowledge of God and of his loving plans for us, which make the burdens of this life so relatively light and even so reasonable for us. We still have to earn our bread. We still have sickness and pains. We still have death stalking the earth, but unlike the people before Christ we now see a meaning to all these trials.

The yoke of Christ is not really a yoke but a bond of love, which joins us to him, and through him, to our loving Father in heaven. The rule of life which he asks us to keep, if we are loyal followers of his, is not a series of prohibitions and dont’s. It is rather a succession of sign-posts on the straight road to heaven, making our journey easier and safer. He does, ask us to carry our cross daily, that is, to bear the burden of each day’s duty, but once the cross is grasped firmly and lovingly it ceases to be a burden.

Ours is a world which is in an all-out search for new idols. It is a world which has left the path marked out by Christ, and forgotten or tried to forget, that man’s life does not end with death. To be a Christian and to have the light of faith to guide our steps in this neo-pagan darkness, is surely a gift, and a blessing from God, for which we can never thank him enough. Thank you, God, for this gift. Please give us the grace and the courage to live up to it and to die in the certainty that we shall hear, as we shut our eyes on the light of this world, the consoling words, “come you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you.”

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

BENEDICTUS

Becoming a Seer and a Pathfinder

By a long and difficult journey, which began in a cave near Subiaco, the man Benedict has climbed up the mountain and finally up the tower. His life has been an inner climb, step by step, up the “vertical ladder.” He has reached the tower and, then, the “upper room,” which from the time of the Acts of the Apostles has been understood as a symbol of being brought together and drawn up, rising up out of the world of making and doing. He is standing at the window – he has sought and found the place where he can look out, where the wall of the world has been opened up and he can gaze into the open. He is standing. In monastic tradition, someone standing represents a man who has straightened himself up from being crouched and doubled up and is thus, not only able to stare at the earth, but he has achieved upright status and the ability to look up. Thus he becomes a seer. It is not the world that is narrowed down but the soul that is broadened out, being no longer absorbed in the particular, no longer looking at the trees and unable to see the wood, but now able to view the whole. Even better, he can see the whole because he is looking at it from on high, and he is able to gain this vantage point because he has grown inwardly great… He has to stand at the window. He must gaze out. And then the light of God can touch him; he can recognize it and can gain from it the true overview… Those great men who, by patient climbing and by the repeated purification they have received in their lives, have become seers and, therefore, pathfinders for the centuries are also relevant to us today.

An Example of Enduring to the End

Saint Gregory presented Saint Benedict as a “luminous star” in order to point the way out of the “black night of history.” In fact, the Saint’s work and particularly his Rule were to prove heralds of an authentic spiritual leaven which, in the course of the centuries, far beyond the boundaries of his country and time, changed the face of Europe following the fall of the political unity created by the Roman Empire, inspiring a new spiritual and cultural unity, that of the Christian faith shared by the peoples of the continent. This is how the reality we call “Europe” came into being.

St. Benedict…lived…completely alone for three years in a cave which has been the heart of a Benedictine monastery called the Sacro Speco (Holy Grotto) since the early Middle Ages. The period in Subiaco, a time of solitude with God, was a time of maturation for Benedict. It was here that he bore and overcame the three fundamental temptations of every human being: the temptation of self-affirmation and the desire to put oneself at the center, the temptation of sensuality and, lastly, the temptation of anger and revenge. In fact, Benedict was convinced that only after overcoming these temptations would he be able to say a useful word to others about their own situations of neediness. Thus, having tranquilized his soul, he could be in full control of the drive of his ego and thus create peace around him. Only then did he decide to found his first monasteries in the Valley of the Anio, near Subiaco. (Magnificat July 11,2014)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER 

Image result for icon st. benedict

Novena to Saint Benedict – Feast day July 11th

Glorious Saint Benedict, sublime model of virtue, pure vessel of God’s grace! Behold me humbly kneeling at your feet. I implore you in your loving kindness to pray for me before the throne of God.

To you I have recourse in the dangers that daily surround me.

Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and to my neighbor.

Inspire me to imitate you in all things.

May your blessing be with me always, so that I may see and serve Christ in others and work for His kingdom.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces which I need so much in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life.

Your heart was always full of love, compassion and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. You never dismissed without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to you.

I therefore invoke your powerful intercession, confident in the hope that you will hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I earnestly implore.

{mention your petition}

Help me, great Saint Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven.

Amen.

Posted in Catholic

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”


OPENING PRAYER

Prayer To Saint Joseph For The Whole Church
O Glorious Saint Joseph,
you were chosen by God
to be the foster father of Jesus,
the most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin,
and the head of the Holy Family.
You have been chosen by Christ’s Vicar
as the heavenly Patron and Protector
of the Church founded by Christ.
Protect the Sovereign Pontiff
and all bishops and priests united with him.
Be the protector of all who labour for souls
amid the trials and tribulations of this life;
and grant that all peoples of the world
may be docile to the Church
without which there is no salvation.
Dear Saint Joseph,
accept the offering I make to you.
Be my father, protector,
and guide in the way of salvation.
Obtain for me purity of heart
and a love for the spiritual life.
After your example,
let all my actions be directed
to the greater glory of God,
in union with the Divine Heart of Jesus,
the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
and your own paternal heart.
Finally, pray for me that I may share
in the peace and joy of your holy death.
Amen
COLLECT
O God, who through the grace of adoption
chose us to be children of light,
grant, we pray,
that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error
but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth.
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
Elisja.jpg
1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21
The LORD said to Elijah:
You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah,
as prophet to succeed you.”
Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,
as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;
he was following the twelfth.
Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,
Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,
and I will follow you.”
Elijah answered, “Go back!
Have I done anything to you?”
Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;
he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,
and gave it to his people to eat.
Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.1 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.2 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.3 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.
1 Cf. Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16.
2 Cf. Ps 2:2; Acts 4:26-27.
3 Cf. Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21.
APPLICATION
God’s ways are indeed mysterious to us. Elijah, whom he had sent to Israel (the breakaway northern kingdom) did heroic work there to preserve the knowledge of the true God. It was a period when pagan infiltration was at its strongest under King Achab and his wicked wife, Queen Jezebel, a pagan from Tyre. God called a successor for Elijah, who carried on his great work and it is due to these two men of God that the ordinary people of Israel preserved, more or less, the true faith. This was so, notwithstanding the efforts of their rulers during the ninth century B.C. to introduce paganism.
Why does God allow evil in the world he created? Why does he create men whom he knew would spread their evil influence? Through their example and their power, which they so often succeed in acquiring, they make the eternal salvation of thousands, even of millions of their fellowman, most difficult, if not impossible.
This is a question which has troubled the minds of many down through the ages. It would be so easy for God not to create men whom he knows will lead evil lives and cause so many others to follow them in their evil ways. Would not our religious life today, and our faithful service of God, be so much easier and better if there were not so many practical (and to a less harmful degree, theoretical) atheists amongst us, and so many promoters of sin and its occasions?
Yet, any sane, sound-thinking man will have to admit that surely the all-intelligent God knows what is best for his world. Man has intelligence and free will, the gifts of God which raise him above all other earthly creatures. Yet he is liable to abuse these gifts and offend his Creator. The animals do not sin, because they lack these gifts. Neither can they know God, nor have they the possibility of enjoying an eternal heaven in his company. If God denied us intelligence and free will, the only way of preventing sin, then we, like the animals, could never earn or enjoy heaven.
Furthermore, would our religious life, our respect for God and for his laws be really better and more sincere, if we had no opposition? The example of countries and peoples who suffered persecutions from the opponents of the faith in the past (and this is true of parts of our world still today) would seem to prove the opposite. The early Church spread rapidly through the Roman empire, not only in spite of violent persecutions, but because of them. “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”
Today we live in a world which seems in theory and in practice to be moving more and more away from God. Unfortunately, as always, some of the leaders of this secularism and this disrespect for and negation of God’s rights and claims, are or were men in positions of authority. This makes the scandal and the evil infection all the more widespread. However, we still trust in the all-wise God who knows all the thoughts and the doings of men–he has his purpose in allowing this state of affairs to exist in his Church and in the world. We shall understand it in the next life. During our years here below let us do our own part, and then we can safely leave the rest to God.
Elijah and Elisha, and the thousands of others which their active apostolate influenced, might never have been saints in heaven today, if God had not permitted paganism to be introduced into Israel by its sinful rulers. Our modern semi-paganism, too, will produce more active love for and service of God amongst the faithful and make saints of many who might otherwise have led a lukewarm, half-hearted Christian life.
God preserved the Chosen People of the Old Testament in spite of the apostasy and wickedness of many of them, until the time was right to send his Son amongst us. He will preserve his Church, the kingdom of his Son, Christ, notwithstanding the apostasy and opposition of so many he wished to save, until the last of the human race has left this earth. Let us do our part not only for our own salvation, but also for the salvation of those very ones who are opposing God and his Church. We can safely leave the outcome to God. It is in his all-wise, all-powerful hands.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.”
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
READING II
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Gal 5:1, 13-18
Brothers and sisters:
For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.
But do not use this freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement,
namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
But if you go on biting and devouring one another,
beware that you are not consumed by one another.
I say, then: live by the Spirit
and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
these are opposed to each other,
so that you may not do what you want.
But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.1
CCC 1741 Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. “For freedom Christ has set us free.”2 In him we have communion with the “truth that makes us free.”3 The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”4 Already we glory in the “liberty of the children of God.”5
CCC 2515 Etymologically, “concupiscence” can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the “flesh” against the “spirit.”6 Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins.7
CCC 2744 Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin.8 How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?
Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy. .. For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin.9
Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.10
CCC 2819 “The kingdom of God [is] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”11 The end-time in which we live is the age of the outpouring of the Spirit. Ever since Pentecost, a decisive battle has been joined between “the flesh” and the Spirit.12
Only a pure soul can boldly say: “Thy kingdom come.” One who has heard Paul say, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies,” and has purified himself in action, thought and word will say to God: “Thy kingdom come!”13
1 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.
2 Gal 5:1.
3 Cf. In 8:32.
4 2 Cor 17.
5 Rom 8:21.
6 Cf. Gal 5:16, 17, 24; Eph 2:3.
7 Cf. Gen 3:11; Council of Trent: DS 1515.
8 Cf. Gal 5:16-25.
9 St. John Chrysostom, De Anna 4, 5: PG 54, 666.
10 St. Alphonsus Liguori, Del gran Mezzo della preghiera.
11 Rom 14:17.
12 Cf. Gal 5:16-25.
13 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. myst. 5, 13: PG 33, 1120A; cf. Rom 6:12.
APPLICATION
We are no longer troubled by Judaizers or by anyone trying to force us to keep the practices of the Mosaic law. This trouble lasted for only one generation in the early Church. We are, however, surrounded on all sides today, by the other seduction against which St. Paul warns us–the call to give “free rein to the flesh.”
Freedom from all authority, freedom to do as we will with our lives, freedom from any restraint, divine or human, is the new gospel of the permissive society. But in fact it is not new. It is the old paganism of the pre-Christian era in an even more pernicious form. The old pagans had respect for their gods. They had respect for their social laws and for social authority. The new pagans have no gods but themselves. There are no social laws or no authority which they respect. They are the supreme arbiters of all their actions; they are responsible to nobody or to no power but to their own selves.
This insidious doctrine has not come from the peoples of Africa and Asia who have not yet heard the Christian message. It comes from countries that once were Christian but which gradually lost the sense of Christianity and the true meaning of its good news. There are millions of men and women today who are ignorant of, or else ignore, their true purpose in life. The only meaning they evidently find for being a few short years on this earth is to get all the pleasure, power and plenty they can out of it. That pleasure, power and plenty, however, is very restricted and limited. Their philosophy, if it could possibly be called that, must of necessity lead once more to the law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest, until in a short while one more strong than themselves comes along.
A permissive society is not a society in any sense of the word. A society means a group of people living in harmony, working together for the common good of each and all its members. Rules must be drawn up and obeyed. Leaders with the right to interpret these rules and to command their execution must be in command. Each individual’s person and, rights must be respected and protected, regardless of age or position. While democracy and freedom of speech for each member is to be commended, the obligation on each member of the society to think seriously and cogitate carefully on all the implications of all decisions to be taken, is all the greater.
This true form of democracy, and freedom to express considered and carefully weighed opinions, is not the norm that governs the agitators for the permissive society. They want freedom for themselves only. They do not care if others have to suffer as long as they get their own freedom to do what they will. Hence their advocacy of pre-marital sex relations, facile divorce, abortion and euthanasia, among other crimes, against human society. The unborn, the weak, the old, are hindrances to their pleasure and plenty, and so must be eliminated!
Needless to say, St. Paul, when warning his converts to keep the animal-man in check, could not foresee such incredible abuses of human reasoning, and such a depth of selfishness even in animal-man. He is reminding us Christians that we must be an example to our fellowman in the society in which we live, and that example must be shown especially in our real love for our fellowman. We must be ready to help our neighbor in his need, not only when doing so is not too inconvenient, but even when it puts us to grave inconvenience. We must do for him what we would wish to be done to ourselves. We would all surely be convinced that the greatest help a neighbor could give us would be to put us back on the right road to eternal life if we had strayed from the path.
Many of our neighbors today are in dire need of help to find their true bearings on the sea of this life. We can and must help them by prayer, and ask God to give them light and direction. We can sometimes get in a quiet word of advice at the opportune moment. We can and we must openly express our total rejection of any and every suggested legislation proposed and sponsored by the permissive groups denying the right of the weaker members. Such legislation would be destructive of all rational human society. Rationality will prevail. God still rules his world.
GOSPEL
OIP-1
Lk 9:51-62
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,
I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;1 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”2 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.3 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.4 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.5
1 Lk 4:18; cf. 7:22.
2 Mt 5:3.
3 Cf. Mt 11:25.
4 Cf. Mt 21:18; Mk 2:23-26; Jn 4:6 1; 19:28; Lk 9:58.
5 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.
APPLICATION
Among the various incidents gathered together by Luke in these verses of his gospel we have read today, perhaps the lesson that should strike all of us most is his insistence on total dedication on the part of his true followers to his service. We cannot be for Christ and against him at the same time. “He who gathers not with me, scatters,” he himself said. We are followers of Christ since our baptism. In theory this is the fact, but in practice how real is this fact for many of us? Are we really following Christ during the twenty-four hours of every day of our lives? Are our eyes always fixed on the true future which awaits us? Are we prepared to plow a straight furrow no matter what snags or obstacles may be on our way? How few of us can answer “yes, we are,” to these straight questions?
We have, of course, explanations ready at hand for our forgetfulness, our laxity, our earthly entanglements. We are tied down by family and a hundred other earthly cares. Our days, our weeks, our year are so fully occupied that we find it hard to spare even a short hour on Sundays to give to God. This answer shows a misunderstanding of what Christ demands of us. He knows his followers must live for a few years in this world and must, for the most part, struggle to earn a living for themselves during that period. But it is by living this earthly life properly, by being loyal to spouse and family, by earning one’s living honestly, by living not only peacefully but helpfully with one’s neighbors, that we are living our Christian life.
The man who keeps within the limits that Christian law lays down for him, while working his way through this life, is a true follower of Christ and is on the road to heaven, plowing a straight furrow. He may not have much time for prayer, and each morning he may rush off to work. But God understands half-sentences and even single words. At night he needs recreation and relaxation, and God does not expect long prayers from him–if he has worked honestly and has given the example of true Christianity to his fellow-workers, he has honored God all day. He has prayed well. A few words of thanks to God, a request for pardon for all the mistakes made since morning, before lying down to sleep at night, will give such a man nothing to fear should God call him to judgement during the night hours.
If we only realized how reasonable God’s demands are, and how every demand he makes on us is for our own benefit and not his, we would be a little more generous in our response to his calls. He does not need us–we need him. We could slip in a few more short prayers during the day; we could find more time to take a true interest in the eternal and less in the temporal. We could manage to give a helping hand and a word of encouragement to a needy neighbor. Yes, all of us could do a lot more to show to Christ and to the world that we are following him gladly and honestly. We are not looking back while plowing our Christian furrow.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.
BENEDICTUS
The Destiny of Those Who were Called
The destiny of those who were “called” would henceforth be closely bound to that of Jesus.  An apostle is one who is sent, but even before that he is an “expert” on Jesus.  This very aspect is highlighted by the Evangelist John from Jesus’ very first encounter with the future apostles…  The meeting takes place on the banks of the Jordan.  The presence of the future disciples, who, like Jesus, also came from Galilee to receive the baptism administered by John, sheds light on their spiritual world.  They were men who were waiting for the kingdom of God, anxious to know the Messiah whose coming had been proclaimed as imminent.  It was enough for John the Baptist to point out Jesus to them as the Lamb of God, to inspire in them the desire for a personal encounter with the Teacher.  The lines of Jesus’ conversation with the first two future Apostles are most expressive.  To his question “What do you seek?”, they replied with another question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  Jesus answer was an invitation: “Come and see.”  Come, so that you will be able to see.  The Apostles’ adventure began as an encounter of people who are open to one another.  For the disciples, it was the beginning of a direct acquaintance with the Teacher, seeing where he was staying and starting to get to know him.  Indeed, they were not to proclaim an idea, but to witness to a person.  Before being sent out to preach, they had to “be” with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him.  On this basis, evangelization was to be no more than the proclamation of what they felt and an invitation to enter into the mystery of communion with Christ.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
CLOSING PRAYER
At The Foot Of The Cross Prayer
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
I will go to the altar of God.
To God who gives joy to my youth.
Judge me, O God,
and take up my cause against the nation that is not holy.
Free me from the unjust and deceitful man.
For You, O God, are my strength,
why have You cast me off?
And why do I walk in sorrow,
while the enemy troubles me?
Send forth Your light and Your truth,
they have led me,
and brought me to Your holy hill,
and to Your dwelling.
I will go to the altar of God,
to God who gives joy to my youth.
To You, O God, my God,
I will give praise upon the harp,
why are you sad, O my soul?
And why do you trouble me?
Hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
the salvation of my countenance and my God.
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 Catholic

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Christ_Taking_Leave_of_the_Apostles.jpg

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

COLLECT

Father, guide and protector of your people,

grant us an unfailing respect for your name,

and keep us always in your love.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

READING I

acc01d18a16a04c5ddfe71d32a5ac837.jpg

Jer 20:10-13

Jeremiah said:

“I hear the whisperings of many:

‘Terror on every side!

Denounce! let us denounce him!’

All those who were my friends

are on the watch for any misstep of mine.

‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,

and take our vengeance on him.’

But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:

my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.

In their failure they will be put to utter shame,

to lasting, unforgettable confusion.

O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,

who probe mind and heart,

let me witness the vengeance you take on them,

for to you I have entrusted my cause.

Sing to the LORD,

praise the LORD,

for he has rescued the life of the poor

from the power of the wicked!”

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

For your sake I bear insult,

and shame covers my face.

I have become an outcast to my brothers,

a stranger to my children,

Because zeal for your house consumes me,

and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

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.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

“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.

Let the heavens and the earth praise him,

the seas and whatever moves in them!”

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

READING II

venice_torcello_cathedral.jpg

Rom 5:12-15

Brothers and sisters:

Through one man sin entered the world,

and through sin, death,

and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—

for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world,

though sin is not accounted when there is no law.

But death reigned from Adam to Moses,

even over those who did not sin

after the pattern of the trespass of Adam,

who is the type of the one who was to come.

But the gift is not like the transgression.

For if by the transgression of the one the many died,

how much more did the grace of God

and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ

overflow for the many.

CCC 388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story’s ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to “convict the world concerning sin”,2 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.

CCC 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.3 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.4 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.5 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,6 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.7

CCC 402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”8 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”9

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”10 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.11 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”12

CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,13 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”14 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.15 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.16 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”17

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.18 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.19 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.20

1 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.

2 Jn 16:8.

3 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

4 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.

5 Rom 8:21.

6 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.

7 Cf. Rom 5:12.

8 Rom 5:12,19.

9 Rom 5:18.

10 I Pt 1:18-20.

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

12 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

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

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

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

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

17 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.

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

19 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

20 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

APPLICATION

St. Paul is speaking of some of the immediate effects of Christian salvation, as brought to mankind by Christ. St. Paul stresses the fact that Christ through his death not only conquered sin but poured out divine grace so abundantly and lavishly on mankind, making them his brothers and therefore sons of God, that there is no comparison between the world redeemed by Christ’s death and the world of sin which prevailed up to then.

GOSPEL

Image result for Roman Catholic pantocrator icon

Mt 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:

“Fear no one.

Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,

nor secret that will not be known.

What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;

what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;

rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy

both soul and body in Gehenna.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?

Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.

Even all the hairs of your head are counted.

So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Everyone who acknowledges me before others

I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

But whoever denies me before others,

I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

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

CCC 305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children’s smallest needs: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ”What shall we eat?“ or ”What shall we drink?“… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”2

CCC 363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.3 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,4 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.5 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”6 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”7

CCC 1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.”8 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”9

CCC 2145 The faithful should bear witness to the Lord’s name by confessing the faith without giving way to fear.10 Preaching and catechizing should be permeated with adoration and respect for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

2 Mt 6:31-33; cf. 10:29-31.

3 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.

4 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.

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

6 Mt 13:41-42.

7 Mt 25:41.

8 LG 42; cf. DH 14.

9 Mt 10:32-33.

10 Cf. Mt 10:32; 1 Tim 6:12.

APPLICATION

What our Lord said to His Apostles applies to all Christians in the practice of their faith. By the very fact of living our faith openly and fully we are apostles by example. If we are always truthful and faithful to our promises, if we are honest in all our dealings, if as employers we pay a just wage and treat those working for us not as “hands” but as whole men and women, if as employees we give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, if we live chaste lives whether in single life or in marriage, we are true Christians. Above all, if we have true love of God and show our appreciation of all that he has done for us, and if we prove that love, by helping his other children, our neighbors, we are a light shining in the darkness, because we are helping others to see the true meaning of the Christian religion.

This true light is needed more today perhaps than ever before. Our world is three quarters pagan or neo-pagan. The neo-pagans are those who once were Christians but abandoned their religion, sometimes through their own fault, but more often than not, because of the bad example they were given by their fellow Christians. These are worse off spiritually than the pagans who have never heard of Christ or the true God. These latter have at least some idols, some ancestral deities, to whom they pay respect. The neo-pagans have only themselves to venerate, and they can find little spiritual uplift in this form of religion.

A large majority of today’s teenagers, in most so-called Christian countries, have come to despise, or at least to neglect, the religion of their ancestors. In most cases the cause of this is that Christianity was never really put into practice in their own homes. There are cases of very black sheep coming out of very white Christian homes, but these are cases of weak personality—they prefer to follow the mob rather than try to force their way against it. On the whole, the decline of religion among today’s youth is due to bad example from their elders.

In today’s gospel message, our Lord is asking each one of us to be a fearless apostle. We will be, if we live up to our religion at home and abroad. “Have no fear of men,” He tells us, “don’t mind what your fellowmen think of you, if you object to obscene language in your work-place. Don’t fear what will be thought of you if you say your grace before and after meals in a public restaurant or hotel. Don’t take that extra drink just because your companions at the party might ridicule your control …”

These acts and many others like them, may seem trivial to some but they are giving testimony to the faith that is in us. Those who scoff at such things at first, may begin later to look into their own hearts, and come to realize what it is to be a man of principle. Eventually they may become men of principle themselves.

Let us remember our Lord’s promise “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”

Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan, O.F.M.

BENEDICTUS

The Destiny of Those Who were Called

The destiny of those who were “called” would henceforth be closely bound to that of Jesus. An apostle is one who is sent, but even before that he is an “expert” on Jesus. This very aspect is highlighted by the Evangelist John before Jesus very first encounter with the future apostles… The meeting takes place on the banks of the Jordan. The presence of the future disciples, who, like Jesus, also came from Galilee to receive the baptism administered by John, sheds light on their spiritual world. They were men who were waiting for the kingdom of God, anxious to know the Messiah whose coming had been proclaimed as imminent. It was enough for John the Baptist to point out Jesus to them as the Lamb of God, to inspire in them the desire for a personal encounter with the Teacher. The lines if Jesus’ conversation with the first two future Apostles are most expressive. This his question “What do you seek?”, they replied with another question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus answer was an invitation: “Come and see.” Come, so that you will be able to see. The Apostles’ adventure began as an encounter of people who are open to one another. For the disciples, it was the beginning of a direct acquaintance with the Teacher, seeing where he was staying and starting to get to know him. Indeed, they were not to proclaim an idea, but to witness to a person. Before being sent out to preach, they had to “be” with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him. On this basis, evangelization was to be no more than the proclamation of what they felt and an invitation to enter into the mystery

Christ_Taking_Leave_of_the_Apostles.jpg

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

COLLECT

Father, guide and protector of your people,

grant us an unfailing respect for your name,

and keep us always in your love.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

READING I

acc01d18a16a04c5ddfe71d32a5ac837.jpg

Jer 20:10-13

Jeremiah said:

“I hear the whisperings of many:

‘Terror on every side!

Denounce! let us denounce him!’

All those who were my friends

are on the watch for any misstep of mine.

‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,

and take our vengeance on him.’

But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:

my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.

In their failure they will be put to utter shame,

to lasting, unforgettable confusion.

O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,

who probe mind and heart,

let me witness the vengeance you take on them,

for to you I have entrusted my cause.

Sing to the LORD,

praise the LORD,

for he has rescued the life of the poor

from the power of the wicked!”

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

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

For your sake I bear insult,

and shame covers my face.

I have become an outcast to my brothers,

a stranger to my children,

Because zeal for your house consumes me,

and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

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.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

“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.

Let the heavens and the earth praise him,

the seas and whatever moves in them!”

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

READING II

venice_torcello_cathedral.jpg

Rom 5:12-15

Brothers and sisters:

Through one man sin entered the world,

and through sin, death,

and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—

for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world,

though sin is not accounted when there is no law.

But death reigned from Adam to Moses,

even over those who did not sin

after the pattern of the trespass of Adam,

who is the type of the one who was to come.

But the gift is not like the transgression.

For if by the transgression of the one the many died,

how much more did the grace of God

and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ

overflow for the many.

CCC 388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story’s ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to “convict the world concerning sin”,2 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.

CCC 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.3 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.4 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.5 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,6 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.7

CCC 402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”8 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”9

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”10 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.11 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”12

CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,13 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”14 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.15 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.16 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”17

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.18 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.19 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.20

1 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.

2 Jn 16:8.

3 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

4 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.

5 Rom 8:21.

6 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.

7 Cf. Rom 5:12.

8 Rom 5:12,19.

9 Rom 5:18.

10 I Pt 1:18-20.

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

12 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

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

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

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

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

17 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.

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

19 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

20 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

APPLICATION

St. Paul is speaking of some of the immediate effects of Christian salvation, as brought to mankind by Christ. St. Paul stresses the fact that Christ through his death not only conquered sin but poured out divine grace so abundantly and lavishly on mankind, making them his brothers and therefore sons of God, that there is no comparison between the world redeemed by Christ’s death and the world of sin which prevailed up to then.

GOSPEL

Image result for Roman Catholic pantocrator icon

Mt 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:

“Fear no one.

Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,

nor secret that will not be known.

What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;

what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;

rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy

both soul and body in Gehenna.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?

Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.

Even all the hairs of your head are counted.

So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Everyone who acknowledges me before others

I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

But whoever denies me before others,

I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

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

CCC 305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children’s smallest needs: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ”What shall we eat?“ or ”What shall we drink?“… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”2

CCC 363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.3 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,4 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.5 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”6 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”7

CCC 1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.”8 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”9

CCC 2145 The faithful should bear witness to the Lord’s name by confessing the faith without giving way to fear.10 Preaching and catechizing should be permeated with adoration and respect for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

2 Mt 6:31-33; cf. 10:29-31.

3 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.

4 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.

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

6 Mt 13:41-42.

7 Mt 25:41.

8 LG 42; cf. DH 14.

9 Mt 10:32-33.

10 Cf. Mt 10:32; 1 Tim 6:12.

APPLICATION

What our Lord said to His Apostles applies to all Christians in the practice of their faith. By the very fact of living our faith openly and fully we are apostles by example. If we are always truthful and faithful to our promises, if we are honest in all our dealings, if as employers we pay a just wage and treat those working for us not as “hands” but as whole men and women, if as employees we give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, if we live chaste lives whether in single life or in marriage, we are true Christians. Above all, if we have true love of God and show our appreciation of all that he has done for us, and if we prove that love, by helping his other children, our neighbors, we are a light shining in the darkness, because we are helping others to see the true meaning of the Christian religion.

This true light is needed more today perhaps than ever before. Our world is three quarters pagan or neo-pagan. The neo-pagans are those who once were Christians but abandoned their religion, sometimes through their own fault, but more often than not, because of the bad example they were given by their fellow Christians. These are worse off spiritually than the pagans who have never heard of Christ or the true God. These latter have at least some idols, some ancestral deities, to whom they pay respect. The neo-pagans have only themselves to venerate, and they can find little spiritual uplift in this form of religion.

A large majority of today’s teenagers, in most so-called Christian countries, have come to despise, or at least to neglect, the religion of their ancestors. In most cases the cause of this is that Christianity was never really put into practice in their own homes. There are cases of very black sheep coming out of very white Christian homes, but these are cases of weak personality—they prefer to follow the mob rather than try to force their way against it. On the whole, the decline of religion among today’s youth is due to bad example from their elders.

In today’s gospel message, our Lord is asking each one of us to be a fearless apostle. We will be, if we live up to our religion at home and abroad. “Have no fear of men,” He tells us, “don’t mind what your fellowmen think of you, if you object to obscene language in your work-place. Don’t fear what will be thought of you if you say your grace before and after meals in a public restaurant or hotel. Don’t take that extra drink just because your companions at the party might ridicule your control …”

These acts and many others like them, may seem trivial to some but they are giving testimony to the faith that is in us. Those who scoff at such things at first, may begin later to look into their own hearts, and come to realize what it is to be a man of principle. Eventually they may become men of principle themselves.

Let us remember our Lord’s promise “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”

Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan, O.F.M.

BENEDICTUS

The Destiny of Those Who were Called

The destiny of those who were “called” would henceforth be closely bound to that of Jesus. An apostle is one who is sent, but even before that he is an “expert” on Jesus. This very aspect is highlighted by the Evangelist John before Jesus very first encounter with the future apostles… The meeting takes place on the banks of the Jordan. The presence of the future disciples, who, like Jesus, also came from Galilee to receive the baptism administered by John, sheds light on their spiritual world. They were men who were waiting for the kingdom of God, anxious to know the Messiah whose coming had been proclaimed as imminent. It was enough for John the Baptist to point out Jesus to them as the Lamb of God, to inspire in them the desire for a personal encounter with the Teacher. The lines if Jesus’ conversation with the first two future Apostles are most expressive. This his question “What do you seek?”, they replied with another question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus answer was an invitation: “Come and see.” Come, so that you will be able to see. The Apostles’ adventure began as an encounter of people who are open to one another. For the disciples, it was the beginning of a direct acquaintance with the Teacher, seeing where he was staying and starting to get to know him. Indeed, they were not to proclaim an idea, but to witness to a person. Before being sent out to preach, they had to “be” with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him. On this basis, evangelization was to be no more than the proclamation of what they felt and an invitation to enter into the mystery of communion with Christ.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

(St. John 1.1-14)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the Light, that all men might believe through Him. He was not the Light, but was to give testimony of the Light. That was the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (here all kneel)

AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US,

and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Thanks be to God.

of communion with Christ.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

(St. John 1.1-14)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the Light, that all men might believe through Him. He was not the Light, but was to give testimony of the Light. That was the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (here all kneel)

AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US,

and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Thanks be to God.

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