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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C




This Sunday's Gospel (Luke 12:13-21) tells the parable of the Rich Fool, who stores up his crops and goods in barns, never thinking that he can't take them into eternity with him. “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?”

In a General Audience on October 20, 2004, St. (Pope) John Paul II spoke about covetousness and wealth:
“In his riches, man lacks wisdom: he is like the beasts that are destroyed” (Psalm 49[48]: 13). In other words, untold wealth is not an advantage, far from it! It is better to be poor and to be one with God.... A profound blindness takes hold of man if he deludes himself that by striving to accumulate material goods he can avoid death. Not for nothing does the Psalmist speak of an almost animal-like “lack of understanding.”
...The rich man, clinging to his immense fortune, is convinced that he will succeed in overcoming death, just as with money he had lorded it over everything and everyone. But however vast a sum he is prepared to offer, he cannot escape his ultimate destiny. Indeed, like all other men and women, rich and poor, wise and foolish alike, he is doomed to end in the grave, as happens likewise to the powerful, and he will have to leave behind on earth that gold so dear to him and those material possessions he so idolized.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. The Lord's Prayer, which St. Thomas Aquinas calls "the most perfect of prayers," is at the heart of today's Gospel (Luke 11: 1-13). St. Augustine tells us that "I do not think you will find any holy prayer in Scripture that is not contained and included in the Lord's Prayer." Ask, and it will be given to you, Our Lord continues, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

This morning's Vigils reading on prayer is from a homily by St. Bede the Venerable:
Praying Hands (Albrecht Dürer)
We should consider most seriously and attentively what these words of the Lord may mean for us, for they warn that not the idle and feckless but those who ask, seek, and knock will receive, find, and have the door opened to them. We must therefore ask for entry into the kingdom by prayer, seek it by upright living, and knock at its door by perseverance. Merely to ask verbally is not enough; we must also diligently seek to discover how to live so as to be worthy of obtaining what we ask for. We know this from our Savior’s words: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my heavenly Father.

There is a need, then, for constant and unflagging prayer. Let us fall upon our knees with tears before our God and Maker; and that we may deserve a hearing, let us consider carefully how he who made us wishes us to live, and what he has commanded us to do. Let us seek the Lord and his strength; let us constantly seek his face.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Today's gospel, taken from Luke 10: 38-42, tells a familiar story: Martha receives Jesus into her house, and is annoyed when her sister Mary sits at Jesus's feet, listening to him. “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work my myself?” Jesus responds by telling Martha that “you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

The two women are often used as symbols of the active and contemplative life. Here's a commentary on them by St. Gregory the Great:
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (Johannes Vermeer)
These two lives are well symbolised by the two women Martha and Mary.... Note carefully that the part of Martha was not blamed, but that of Mary was praised. He didn’t say that Mary had chosen the good part: he said it was the best, in order to show that Martha’s part was still good. He made it clear what he meant by the “best” part of Mary when he specified that it would not be taken away from her. For the active life comes to an end with the death of the body.
...On the other hand, we must realise that although it is normal and good for the active life to pass over into the contemplative life, often the soul is driven from contemplation to active works of charity. Precisely the contemplative vision calls us back to activity, for it understands that the labor of good works must never be abandoned while we are in this life.