Saturday, April 23, 2016

5th Sunday of Eastertide, Year C

Today's Gospel recounts some of Jesus's words at the Last Supper. I give you a new commandment, he says, love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

How moving and how challenging this commandment is! St. Cyril of Alexandria comments:
Christ commands us to love as he did, putting neither reputation, nor wealth, not anything whatever before love of our brothers and sisters. If need be we must even be prepared to face death for our neighbor's salvation as did our Savior's blessed disciples and those who followed in their footsteps. To them the salvation of others mattered more than their own lives and they were ready to do anything or to suffer anything to save souls that were perishing. I die daily, said Paul. Who suffers weakness without my suffering too? Who is made to stumble without my heart blazing with indignation?
The Savior urged us to practice this love that transcends the law as the foundation of true devotion to God. He knew that only in this way could we become pleasing in God's eyes, and that it was by seeking the beauty of the love implanted in us by himself that we should attain to the highest blessings.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

4th Sunday of Easter, Year C

The Church continues to rejoice over Our Lord's resurrection. In a Vigils reading, Christ is risen! cries St. Maximus of Turin in his Easter homily:

He has burst open the gates of hell and let the dead go free; he has renewed the earth through the members of his Church now born again in Baptism, and has made it blossom afresh with men brought back to life. His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven, which stand wide open to receive those who rise up from the earth. Because of Christ’s Resurrection the thief ascends to Paradise, the bodies of the blessed enter the holy city, and the dead are restored to the company of the living; there is an upward movement in the whole of creation, each element raising itself to something higher. We see the underworld restoring its victims to the upper regions, earth sending its buried dead to heaven, and heaven presenting the new arrivals to the Lord. In one and the same movement our Savior’s Passion raises men from the depths, lifts them up from the earth, and sets them in the heights....
The Harrowing of Hell, from the Barberini Exultet Roll, ca. AD 1087
And so, my friends, each of us ought surely to rejoice on this holy day. Let no one, conscious of his sinfulness, withdraw from our common celebration, nor let anyone be kept away from our public prayer by the burden of guilt. Sinner one may indeed be, but no one must despair of pardon on this day which is so highly privileged; for if a thief could receive the grace of Paradise, how could a Christian be refused forgiveness?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year C

In the Gospel for today's liturgy Jesus appears to his disciples after his resurrection. Three times he asks St. Peter, who denied him three times, Do you love me?

St. Augustine of Hippo comments:
We may wonder what advantage there could be for Christ in Peter’s love for him. If Christ loves you, you profit, not Christ; and if you love him, again the advantage is yours, not his. But wishing to show us how we should demonstrate our love for him, Christ the Lord made it plain that it is by our concern for his sheep. Do you love me? he asked. I do love you. Then feed my sheep. Once, twice, and a third time the same dialogue was repeated. To the Lord’s one and only question, Peter had no other answer than I do love you. And each time the Lord gave Peter the same command: Feed my sheep. Let us love one another then, and by so doing we shall be loving Christ.
But listen to John’s words: If you do not love the brother that you can see, how can you love the God you cannot see? It is by loving the sheep that you show your love for the shepherd, for the sheep are the members of the shepherd. Indeed, it was to make the sheep members of his own body that the Lord became one of them himself, that he allowed himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter, and that he allowed the Baptist to point him out and say to him: Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Surely a crushing burden for a lamb! But that lamb possessed tremendous strength. Do you wish to know how much strength was in this lamb? Because the lamb was crucified, the lion was overcome. If he could vanquish the devil by his own death, think with what power he is able to rule the world! May nothing, then, ever be dearer to us than Christ the Lord; let us love him with all our hearts.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Second Sunday of Easter, Year C (Divine Mercy Sunday)

On this Sunday in Saint Peter's Square last year, Pope Francis commented on the day's Gospel of Doubting Thomas:
The Incredulity of St. Thomas, Caravaggio (1603)
... In the redeeming contact with the wounds of the Risen One, Thomas showed his own wounds, his own injuries, his own lacerations, his own humiliation; in the print of the nails he found the decisive proof that he was loved, that he was expected, that he was understood. He found himself before the Messiah filled with kindness, mercy, tenderness. This was the Lord he was searching for, he, in the hidden depths of his being, for he had always known He was like this. And how many of us are searching deep in our heart to meet Jesus, just as He is: kind, merciful, tender! For we know, deep down, that He is like this. Having rediscovered personal contact with Christ who is amiable and mercifully patient, Thomas understood the profound significance of his Resurrection and, intimately transformed, he declared his full and total faith in Him exclaiming: “My Lord and my God!” Beautiful, Thomas’ expression is beautiful! 
...Like Thomas we are called to contemplate, in the wounds of the Risen One, Divine Mercy, which overcomes all human limitations and shines on the darkness of evil and of sin.... Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. Let us keep our gaze turned to Him, who always seeks us, waits for us, forgives us; so merciful, He is not afraid our our wretchedness. In his wounds He heals us and forgives all of our sins.