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.