Sunday, October 25, 2015

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Blind Man of Bethsaida, from the Armenian ms. Glajor Gospels (ca. 1301-1325) UCLA



















In today's gospel (Mark 10: 46-52), St. Mark recounts Jesus' healing of the blind beggar Bartimaeus. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" the beggar cries. Rebuked by the crowd, Bartimaeus cries out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" and Jesus asks him, "What do you want me to do for you?" Rabbi, let me recover my sight," he replies, and when Jesus says to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well," he recovers his sight.

In his beautiful Exhortation to the Greeks, St. Clement of Alexandria talks about blindness, light and dark, and receiving Christ the Light into our minds and hearts. It's a long passage, but it's so moving we're posting it in its entirety. If you use it for lectio divina this week, we suggest you read a paragraph a day. It's worth it!
The commandment of the Lord shines clearly, enlightening the eyes. Receive Christ, receive power to see, receive your light, “that you may plainly recognise both God and man”. More delightful than gold and precious stones, more desirable than honey and the honeycomb is the Word that has enlightened us. How could he not be desirable, he who illumined minds buried in darkness, and endowed with clear vision “the light-bearing eyes” of the soul?
“Despite the other stars, without the sun the whole world would be plunged in darkness.” So likewise we ourselves, had we not known the Word and been enlightened by him, should have been no better off than plump poultry fattened in the dark, simply reared for death. Let us open ourselves to the light, then, and so to God. Let us open ourselves to the light, and become disciples of the Lord. For he promised his Father: I will make known your name to my brothers and sisters, and praise you where they are assembled.
Sing his praises, then, Lord, and make known to me your Father, who is God. Your words will save me, your song instruct me. Hitherto I have gone astray in my search for God; but now that you light my path, Lord, and I find God through you, and receive the Father from you, I become co-heir with you, since you were not ashamed to own me as your brother.
Let us, then, shake off forgetfulness of truth, shake off the and darkness that dims our eyes, and contemplate the true God, after first raising this song of praise to him: “All hail, O Light!” For upon us buried in darkness, imprisoned in the shadow of death, a heavenly light has shone, a light of a clarity surpassing the sun’s, and of a sweetness exceeding any this earthly life can offer. That light is eternal life, and those who receive it live. Night, on the other hand, is afraid of the light, and melting away in terror gives place to the day of the Lord. Unfailing light has penetrated everywhere, and sunset has turned into dawn. This is the meaning of the new creation; for the Sun of Righteousness, pursuing his course through the universe, visit all alike, in imitation of his Father, who makes his sun rise upon all, and bedews everyone with his truth.
He it is who has changed sunset into dawn and death into life by his crucifixion; he it is who has snatched the human race from perdition and exalted it to the skies. Transplanting what was corruptible to make it incorruptible, transforming earth into heaven, he, God’s gardener, points the way to prosperity, prompt his people to good works, “reminds them how to live” according to the truth, and bestows on us the truly great and divine heritage of the Father, which cannot be taken away from us. He deifies us by his heavenly teaching, instilling his laws into our minds, and writing them on our hearts. What are the laws he prescribes? That all, be they of high estate or low, shall know God. And I will be merciful to them, God says, and I will remember their sin no more.












Sunday, October 18, 2015

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

In this Sunday's gospel (Mark 10: 35-45), the disciples are again vying for first place. James and John ask Jesus, "Grant to us that we may sit, one on your right hand and one on your left hand, in your glory." Our Lord responds in part, "Whosoever would be great among you shall be your minister, and whosoever would be first among you, shall be servant of all. For the Son of Man also came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

The papal title "Servant of the Servants of God" is derived from this text. Pope Gregory the Great, pope from 590-604 AD, was the first to use this designation frequently. His successor Pope Francis, made these remarks about Christ's humility in a homily to the poor and prison inmates in the Cathedral of Cagliari:
Love is free. Charity, love is life choice, it is a way of being, a way of life, it is a path of humilty and of solidarity. There is no other way for this love: to be humble and in solidarity with others....this is the way, humility and solidarity. Why? ... It was JesusHe said it! And we want to take this path. Christ's humility is not moralism or a feeling. Christ's humility was realit is the choice of being small, of staying with the lowliest and with the marginalized, staying among all of us sinners. Be careful, this is not an ideology! It is a way of being and a way of life that comes from love and from God's heart.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

In today's reading from Mark 10: 17-30, the rich young man asks Jesus, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" and Jesus answers: “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

In his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, St. John Paul says about this gospel:
Before answering the question, Jesus wishes the young man to have a clear idea of why he asked his question. The ‘Good Teacher’ points out to him – and to all of us – that the answer to the question, “What good must I do to have eternal life?” can only be found by turning one’s mind and heart to the ‘One’ who is good: “No one is good but God alone.” Only God can answer the question about what is good, because he is the Good itself. 
To ask about the good, in fact, ultimately means to turn towards God, the fullness of goodness. Jesus shows that the young man’s question is really a religious question, and that the goodness that attracts and at the same time obliges man has its source in God, and indeed is God himself. God alone is worthy of being loved “with all one’s heart, and with all one’s soul, and with all one's mind.” He is the source of man’s happiness. Jesus brings the question about morally good action back to its religious foundations, to the acknowledgment of God, who alone is goodness, fullness of life, the final end of human activity, and perfect happiness.
Christ and the Rich Young Man, by Heinrich Hoffman (Riverside Church)


Sunday, October 4, 2015

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

In the beginning of today's gospel reading, taken from Mark 10: 2-16, Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees about divorce. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” In part of his his response, he quotes from Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

This image of marriage is a symbol of Christ and the Church. Jacob Serugh, a Syriac poet-theologian who died in 521 AD comments on this image in a vivid homily:
Wives are not united to their husbands as closely as the Church is to the Son of God. What husband but our Lord ever died for his wife, and what bride ever chose a crucified man as her husband? Who ever gave his blood as a gift to his wife except the One who died on the cross and sealed the marriage bond with his wounds? Who was ever seen lying dead at his own wedding banquet with his wife at his side seeking to console herself by embracing him? At what other celebration, at what other feast is the bridegroom’s body distributed to the guests in the form of bread?
Death separates wives from their husbands, but in this case it is death that unites the bride to her beloved. He died on the cross, bequeathed his body to his glorious spouse, and now every day she receives and consumes it at his table. She consumes it under the form of bread, and under the form of the wine that she drinks, so that the whole world may know that they are no longer two but one.
May Christ the Bridegroom, who gave his life so that we might have life, unite us ever more closely to himself!

Icon of Christ, the Bridegroom and Mary, the Bride Church, from Sacro Speco