Sunday, June 28, 2015

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Gospel of Christ raising the daughter of Jairus, Year B

From a Sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus:

Every gospel reading, Beloved, is most helpful both from our present life and for the attainment of the life to come. Today’s reading, however, sums up the whole of our hope, banishing all grounds for despair.

My daughter has just died. Do come. What he means is that the warmth of life still remains, there are still indications that her soul has not departed, her spirit is still in this world, the head of the house still has a daughter, the underworld is still unaware of her death. Come quickly and hold back the departing soul!

Christ raises the daughter of Jairus, Yelena Cherkasova
In his ignorance the man assumed that Christ would not be able to raise his daughter unless he actually laid his hand on her.  So when Christ reached the house and saw the mourners lamenting as though the girl were dead, he declared that she was not dead but sleeping, in order to move their understanding minds to faith and convince them that one can rise from death more easily than from sleep.

The girl is not dead, he told them, but asleep. And indeed, for God death is nothing but sleep, since he can raise the dead to life more quickly than we can rouse a sleeper. He can restore life-giving warmth to limbs grown cold in death sooner than we can impart vigour to bodies sunk in slumber. Listen to the Apostle: In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead will rise. He used an image because it was impossible to express the speed of the resurrection in words. How could he explain its swiftness verbally when divine power outstrips the very notion of swiftness? How could time enter the picture when an eternal gift is given outside of time? Time implies generation, but eternity excludes time.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

From a Sermon by St. Augustine, on the Gospel of Christ calming the storm at sea:

With the Lord’s help I want to speak to about today’s reading from the holy gospel, and to urge you in his name not to let your faith lie dormant in your hearts when you are buffeted by the winds and waves of this world. The Lord Christ’s power is by no means dead, nor is it asleep. Do you think the Almighty was overcome by sleep in the boat against his will? If you do, then Christ is asleep in your hearts. If he were indeed keeping watch within you, then your faith too would be vigilant. The Apostle, remember, speaks of Christ dwelling in your hearts through faith.

From the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Philanthropinon,
Ioannina, Greece, ca. 1531
When you have to listen to abuse, that means you are being buffeted by the wind; when your anger is roused, you are being tossed by the waves. So when the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperiled, your heart is taking a battering. On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate; but the joy of revenge brings with it another kind of misfortune – shipwreck. Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence. Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him. Now what was your desire? You wanted to get your own back. You have forgotten that when Christ was being crucified he said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Christ, the sleeper in your heart, had no desire for vengeance in his. Rouse him, then, call him to mind. (To remember him is to recall his words; to remember him as to recall his commands.) Then, when he is awake within you, you will ask yourself, “Whatever kind of wretch am I to be thirsting for revenge? Who am I to threaten another? Suppose I were to die before I am avenged! Suppose I were to take leave of my body breathing out threats, inflamed with rage and thirsting for that vengeance which Christ himself never sought; would he not refuse to receive me? He who said, Give and it shall be given you; forgive and you will be forgiven, would indeed declined to acknowledge me. So I will curb my anger and restore peace to my heart.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Feast of the Sacred Heart, Year B

Sacred Heart, by Charles Bosseron Chambers (1882-1964)
From a Sermon by St. Augustine:

Here you all are now, ready to come to the sacred font where you will be washed clean in baptism and made new by being born again in the saving waters. When you come up from the font, you will be without sin. All the things that burden you from your past will be blotted out. Your sins will be like the Egyptians who pursued the Israelites – they pursued them only as far as the Red Sea. Now what does “as far as the Red Sea” mean? As far as the baptismal font, which has been consecrated by the cross and the blood of Christ. It is called the Red Sea because of its ruddy hue. And do you not see the stain of blood upon those who belong to Christ? Look with the eyes of faith. When you see the cross, visualize the blood also. When you see the body hanging on the cross, contemplate the blood streaming from it. Christ’s side was pierced with a lance, and our ransom poured out. This is the reason why baptism, that is to say the water into which you are dipped, is signed by the cross of Christ; it is as if you were crossing over the Red Sea. Your sins are your enemies; they pursue you, but only as far as the sea.

When you enter the font you escape from them. They are wiped out, just as the Egyptians were engulfed by the waves while the Israelites escaped dry-shod. What does the Scripture say? Not one of them remained. Whether your sins are many or few, great or small, not the least one of them remains.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Feast of Corpus Christi, Year B

Manuscript illumination, ca. 1320
From Pope Francis' homily on the Feast of Corpus Christi, 2015:

In the Last Supper, Jesus gives His Body and his Blood by means of the bread and the wine, to leave us the memorial of His sacrifice of infinite love. With this viaticum full to overflowing with grace, the disciples have everything they need for their long journey through history, to extend the kingdom of God to everyone. Light and strength will be for them the gift that Jesus made of Himself, sacrificing Himself voluntarily on the Cross. This Bread of Life has come down to us! The Church is in unending awe before this reality – an awe that endlessly nourishes contemplation, adoration, memory. This is seen in a beautiful text of today’s Liturgy, the Responsory of the second reading of the Office of Readings, which says: “See in this bread the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and in this cup the blood which flowed from His side. Take His body, then, and eat it; take His blood and drink it, and you will become His members. The body of Christ is the bond which unites you to him: eat it, or you will have no part in him. The blood is the price he paid for your redemption: drink it, lest you despair of your sinfulness.”

We ask ourselves what it means today, to be torn from Him, to despair – as cowards – of our sinfulness?

We are torn from Him when we are not obedient to the Word of the Lord, when we do not live brotherhood between us, when we race to occupy the first places, when we do not find the courage to witness to charity, when we are unable to offer hope. The Eucharist allows us to be not torn from Him, for it is the bond of communion, is the fulfillment of the Covenant, a living sign of the love of Christ who humbled and annihilated Himself for us, that we might remain united. By participating in the Eucharist and by feeding on it, we are inserted into a way that does not admit divisions. The Christ present in our midst, in the signs of bread and wine, requires that the power of love exceed every laceration, and at the same time that it become communion with the poor, support for the weak, fraternal attention to those who are struggling to carry the weight of everyday life.