Sunday, February 18, 2018

1st Sunday of Lent, Year II

This first Sunday of Lent, as we begin our journey to the Paschal Mystery of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection, the Church gives us as the Gospel Mark's account of his temptation by the devil at the beginning of his public ministry. Here's a commentary on it by John Justus Landsberg (1489/90-1539), the Carthusian spiritual writer:
Temptation of Christ on the Mountain,
Duccio di Buoninsegna (d. c. 1319)
Everything the Lord Jesus decided to do, everything he chose to endure, was ordained by him for our instruction, our correction, and our advantage; and since he knew that the teaching and consolation we should derive from it all was far from negligible, he was loath to let slip any opportunity that might profit us. 
And so when he was led out into the wilderness there is no doubt that his guide was the Holy Spirit whose intention was to take him to a place where he would be exposed to temptation, a place where the devil would have the audacity to accost him and put him to the test. 
The circumstances were so greatly in the devil’s favor that he was prompted to capitalize on them: here was Jesus alone, at prayer, physically worn out by fasting and abstinence. A chance indeed to find out whether this man really was the Christ, whether or not he was the Son of God.
From this episode therefore our first lesson is that human life on earth is a life of warfare, and the first thing Christians must expect is to be tempted by the devil. As Scripture tells us, we have to be prepared for temptation, for it is written: “When you enter God’s service, prepare your soul for an ordeal.”

Sunday, February 11, 2018

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B


The story of Jesus's healing the leper in today's Gospel (Mark 1: 40-45) is a source of great hope for us all. Paschasius Radbertus (785–865), the Benedictine abbot and theologian, encourages us to trust in God's mercy and forgiveness:
Jesus heals the leper (XII-XIII s. mosaic)
Cathedral of Monreale, Sicilia
However great our sinfulness, each one of us can be healed by God every day. We have only to worship him with humility and love, and wherever we are to say with faith: Lord, if you want to you can make me clean. It is by believing from the heart that we are justified, so we must make our petitions with the utmost confidence, and that the slightest doubt of God’s power.
If we pray with a faith springing from love, God’s will need be in no doubt. He will be ready and able to save us by an all-powerful command. He immediately answered the leper’s request, saying: I do want to. Indeed, no sooner had the leper begun to pray with faith than the Saviour’s hand began to cure from his leprosy.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B




Today's gospel (Mark 1: 29-39) recounts Jesus's healing of Peter's mother-in-law, who was sick with a fever. Christ did not enter Peter's house, says St. John Chrysologus,
to obtain sustenance for himself, but to restore vitality to another. God wants human beings, not human goods. He desires to bestow what is heavenly, not to acquire anything earthly. Christ came to seek not our possessions but us. 
As soon as Jesus crossed the threshold he saw Peter’s mother in law lying ill in bed with a fever. On entering the house he immediately saw what he had come for.... At a glance he saw her desperate plight, and at one stretched out his hands to perform their divine work of healing; nor would he sit down to satisfy his human needs before he had made it possible for the stricken woman to rise up and serve her God. So he took her by the hand, and the fever left her. Here you see how fever loosens its grip on a person whose hand is held by Christ’s; no sickness can stand its ground in the face of the very source of health. Where the Lord of life has entered, that is no room for death.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Accordingly the blessed apostle draws a contrast between Moses and Christ to our comfort. “The Law,” he says, “was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” In him God is fully and truly seen, so that he is absolutely the way, and the truth, and the life. All our duties are summed up for us in the message he brings us.

Those who look towards him for teaching, who worship and obey him, will by degrees see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in his face, and will be changed into the same image from glory to glory.”

John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons

Rembrandt, Head of Christ

Sunday, January 21, 2018

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In today’s gospel, beloved, we heard the exhortation to repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. We must recognize the greatness of God’s love for us; so generous is it that he is willing to be appeased by the amends we make for our evil deeds, provided only that we freely admit them before he has himself condemned them. Yet no matter how many wounds our human nature has sustained, we’re never justified in given ourselves over to despair, for the Lord is magnanimous enough to pour out his compassion abundantly on all who need it.
From a Sermon by St. Caesarius of Arles

Detail of St. Mary Magdalene kissing the feet of Jesus, by Mattana.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

From John’s disciples Jesus summoned two to follow him, and one of them, Andrew, led his brother Peter to him also. According to the spiritual sense, it is clear what it means to follow the Lord. You follow the Lord if you imitate him. You follow the Lord, if, insofar as human weakness allows, you do not abandon those examples of humility that, as a human being, the Son of God demonstrated. You follow the Lord if, by showing yourself to be a companion of his sufferings, you painstakingly long to attain communion in his resurrection and ascension.

From St. Bede’s Homilies on the Gospels

The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew by Caravaggio

Monday, January 8, 2018

Feast of the Baptism

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.

Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received—though not in its fullness—a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

From a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop (330-389 AD)