Sunday, September 25, 2016

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

In the gospel for today, Jesus tells the parable of the rich man "dressed in purple and fine linen," and Lazarus, the beggar "covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table." The beggar dies and is carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom, while the rich man is in the torments of hell. At Vigils this morning, we have a reading from St. John Chrysostom (c. 349 – 407), Archbishop of Constantinople, who preached eloquently against the abuse of wealth:
It is worthwhile enquiring why the rich man saw Lazarus in Abraham’s arms, and not in the company of some other righteous person. The reason is that Abraham was hospitable, and so the sight of Lazarus with Abraham was meant to reproach the rich man for his own inhospitality. Abraham used to pursue even passers-by and drag them into his home, whereas the rich man disregarded someone lying in his own doorway. Although he had within his grasp so great a treasure, such an opportunity to win salvation, he ignored the poor man day after day....

And this is true of you also. If you show much eagerness in welcoming some famous and distinguished person you do nothing remarkable; often the high rank of a guest compiles even reluctant host to show every sign of courtesy. But we do something truly great and admirable when we given a most courteous welcome to all, even the outcasts of society or people of humble condition.... And so Abraham also, knowing this, did not ask who travellers were or where they came from, as we do today, but simply welcomed them all. Anyone wishing to show kindness should not inquire into other people’s lives, but has only to alleviate their poverty and supply their needs, as Christ commanded when he said: Imitate your Father in heaven, who makes his sun rise on good and bad alike, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.
Lazarus at the Rich Man's door, illumination from the Codex Aureus of Echternach (11th c.)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

In today's gospel from Luke 16:1-13, Jesus relates the parable of the unjust steward. In his homily during Mass in the Chapel of Santa Marta on November 15, 2013, Pope Francis commented on this parable:
Parable of the Unjust Steward, Marinus van Reymerswaele
The Lord speaks to us again about the spirit of the world, about worldliness: how this worldliness works and how perilous it is. In his prayer after the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, Jesus besought the Father not to allow his disciples to fall into worldliness.... 
Some of you might say: "But this man [the unjust steward] only did what everyone does!" No, not everyone! Some company administrators, public administrators, government administrators … but perhaps not many. It’s an attitude of taking short cuts, of taking the easy road to earn a living.
But it is a serious sin, Pope Francis explained, "because it is so against our dignity... That dignity by which we are united through our work."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

In today's Gospel (Luke 15:1-32) the Pharisees and scribes criticize Jesus for welcoming sinners and eating with them. He responds by telling the well-known parable of the lost sheep. What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it.  Here's part of commentary on the story by St. Peter Chrysologus:
Christ the Good Shepherd
(Exeter Cathedral mosaic)
Finding something we have lost gives us a fresh joy, and we are happier at having found the lost object then we should have been had we never lost it. This parable, however, is concerned more with divine tenderness and compassion than with human behavior, and it expresses a great truth. Humans are too greedy to forsake things of value for love of anything inferior. That is something only God can do. For God not only brought what was not to into being, but he also went after what was lost while still protecting what he left behind, and found what was lost without losing what he had in safe keeping....
Brothers and sisters, Christ sought us on earth; let us seek him in heaven. He has borne us up to the glory of his divinity; let us bear him in our bodies by holiness. As the Apostle says: Glorify and bear God in your bodies. That person bears God in his body whose bodily activities are free from sin.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.... Whoever does not renounce his possessions cannot be my disciple, says Jesus in today's gospel (Luke 14: 25-33). In a commentary read at Vigils this morning, St. John Cassian (c. 360-433) speaks of this renunciation:
This forgetfulness will be achieved when, dead with Christ to the elemental spirits of this world, we contemplate as the Apostle says, not the things that are seen but those that are unseen, for what is seen is temporal but what is unseen is eternal.
It will be achieved when it in our hearts we leave this temporal and visible house and turn the eyes of our mind toward that in which we shall live for ever; when, though living in the world, we cease to follow the spirit of the world in order to fight for the Lord, proclaiming by our holy way of life that, as the Apostle says, “our homeland is in heaven.”