Sunday, September 18, 2016

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

In today's gospel from Luke 16:1-13, Jesus relates the parable of the unjust steward. In his homily during Mass in the Chapel of Santa Marta on November 15, 2013, Pope Francis commented on this parable:
Parable of the Unjust Steward, Marinus van Reymerswaele
The Lord speaks to us again about the spirit of the world, about worldliness: how this worldliness works and how perilous it is. In his prayer after the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, Jesus besought the Father not to allow his disciples to fall into worldliness.... 
Some of you might say: "But this man [the unjust steward] only did what everyone does!" No, not everyone! Some company administrators, public administrators, government administrators … but perhaps not many. It’s an attitude of taking short cuts, of taking the easy road to earn a living.
But it is a serious sin, Pope Francis explained, "because it is so against our dignity... That dignity by which we are united through our work."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

In today's Gospel (Luke 15:1-32) the Pharisees and scribes criticize Jesus for welcoming sinners and eating with them. He responds by telling the well-known parable of the lost sheep. What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it.  Here's part of commentary on the story by St. Peter Chrysologus:
Christ the Good Shepherd
(Exeter Cathedral mosaic)
Finding something we have lost gives us a fresh joy, and we are happier at having found the lost object then we should have been had we never lost it. This parable, however, is concerned more with divine tenderness and compassion than with human behavior, and it expresses a great truth. Humans are too greedy to forsake things of value for love of anything inferior. That is something only God can do. For God not only brought what was not to into being, but he also went after what was lost while still protecting what he left behind, and found what was lost without losing what he had in safe keeping....
Brothers and sisters, Christ sought us on earth; let us seek him in heaven. He has borne us up to the glory of his divinity; let us bear him in our bodies by holiness. As the Apostle says: Glorify and bear God in your bodies. That person bears God in his body whose bodily activities are free from sin.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.... Whoever does not renounce his possessions cannot be my disciple, says Jesus in today's gospel (Luke 14: 25-33). In a commentary read at Vigils this morning, St. John Cassian (c. 360-433) speaks of this renunciation:
This forgetfulness will be achieved when, dead with Christ to the elemental spirits of this world, we contemplate as the Apostle says, not the things that are seen but those that are unseen, for what is seen is temporal but what is unseen is eternal.
It will be achieved when it in our hearts we leave this temporal and visible house and turn the eyes of our mind toward that in which we shall live for ever; when, though living in the world, we cease to follow the spirit of the world in order to fight for the Lord, proclaiming by our holy way of life that, as the Apostle says, “our homeland is in heaven.”

Sunday, August 28, 2016

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

All  who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

In today's gospel (Luke 14: 1, 7-14), Jesus eats at the house of Simon the Pharisee and sees that the guests chose the places of honor. St. Bruno, Bishop of Segni and Abbot of Montecassino, comments:
Every day the Lord makes a wedding feast, for every day he unites faithful souls to himself, some coming to be baptized, others leaving this world for the kingdom of heaven.... Whoever you maybe who still desire the first place here – go and sit in the last place. Do not be lifted up by pride, inflated by knowledge, elated by nobility, but the greater you are the more you must humble yourself in every way, and you will find grace with God. In his own time he will say to you: Friend, go up higher, and then you will be honoured by it all who sit at table with you....
In the Church, then, the first seat, or the highest place, is to be sought not by ambition but by humility; not by money but by holiness.
Christ in the Home of Simon the Pharisee, Peter Paul Rubens (1618-20)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough (Luke 13:24).

On this Sunday three years ago Pope Francis addressed the audience at the Angelus in St. Peter's Square and spoke about today's Gospel:

This gate is Jesus himself. He is the gateway to salvation. He leads us to the Father. And the gate that is Jesus is never closed, this gate is never closed, it is always open and open to everyone, without distinction, without exclusions, without privileges. Because, you know, Jesus does not exclude anyone.

I want to say emphatically: don't be afraid to pass through the gate of faith in Jesus, to let Him enter more and more into our lives, to go out of our selfishness, our being closed in, our indifference toward others. Because Jesus illuminates our life with a light that never goes out.... Certainly, it is a narrow gate, the gate of Jesus, not because it is a torture chamber. No, not because of that! But because it asks us to open our hearts to Him, to recognize ourselves as sinners, in need of His salvation, His forgiveness, His love, needing the humility to accept His mercy and to be renewed by Him.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

I have come to cast fire upon the earth. These words of Jesus to his disciples in this Sunday's Gospel are interpreteted by Blessed Denis the Carthusian in this spiritual sense:

Christ with sword,
(Visoki Dečanki, Kosovo, 14th c.)
In other words, I have come down from the highest heaven and appeared to men and women through the mystery of the incarnation in order to light the fire of divine love in human hearts. And how I wish it were already ablaze! How I wish it were already kindled, fanned into flame by the Holy Spirit, and leaping forth in good works. 
The way to attain the perfection of divine love is then stated. Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? In other words: Do not imagine that I have come to offer people a sensual, worldly, and unruly peace that will enable them to be united in their vices and achieve earthly prosperity. No, I tell you, I have not come to offer that kind of peace, but rather division – a good, healthy kind of division, physical as well as spiritual. Love for God and desire for inner peace will set those who believe in me at odds with wicked men and women, and make them part company with those who would turn them from their course of spiritual progress and from the purity of divine love, or who attempt to hinder them. 
Good, interior, spiritual peace consists in the deposit the mind in God, and in a rightly ordered harmony. To bestow this peace was the chief reason for Christ’s coming. This inner peace flows from love. It is an unassailable joy of the mind in God, and it is called peace of heart. It is the beginning and a kind of foretaste of the peace of the saints in heaven – the peace of eternity.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

In today’s Gospel (Luke 12: 32-48), Jesus talks to the disciples about being prepared for the coming of the Lord. Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms.... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Here’s a commentary on the passage by St. Gregory of Nyssa:
Bronze oil lamp (North African ca. 400 AD design) by Frank Egan
When the Lord says Let your loins be girded and your lamps lit, he is warning us to stay awake; for a light shining in one’s eyes drives away sleep, and a tightly-fastened belt also makes sleep difficult, as the discomfort prevents relaxation. But the real meaning of the parable is perfectly clear: if a person girded with temperance lives in the light of a clear conscience before God. And so, with the light of truth shining, the soul stays awake and is not deceived. It does not dally with illusive dreams.
If following the guidance of the Word we attain this goal, our lives will in a way be like those of the angels.... Just as they, living lives far removed from sin and error, are ready to receive the Lord at his coming, so we also should keep watch at the entrance of our houses, and prepare ourselves to obey him when he comes to our door and knocks. Blessed, he says, are those servants whom the master finds so doing when he comes.