Saturday, December 29, 2018

Feast of the Holy Family

The Feast of the Holy Family, which honors Jesus, Mary and Joseph, is relatively recent: it was instituted by Pope Leo XIII in 1893 and it commemorates the Holy Family's life at Nazareth. The holiness of their ordinary lives is held up as a model for all Christian families. In his Wednesday audience of December 29, 2011, Pope-emeritus Benedict spoke of the feast:
Nativity, Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674)
The house of Nazareth is a school of prayer where we learn to listen, to meditate, to penetrate the deeepest meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God, drawing our example from Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
And in 1964 on the Feast of the Holy Family, Blessed (Pope) Paul VI spoke these beautiful words at Nazareth:
The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus — the school of the Gospel....
First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us, besieged as we are by so many uplifted voices, the general noise and uproar, in our seething and over-sensitised modern life. May the silence of Nazareth teach us recollection, inwardness, the disposition to listen to good inspirations and the teachings of true masters. May it teach us the need for and the value of preparation, of study, of meditation, of personal inner life, of the prayer which God alone sees in secret.
Next, there is a lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character. Let us learn from Nazareth that the formation received at home is gentle and irreplaceable. Let us learn the prime importance of the role of the family in the social order.
May the Holy Family grant peace and unity to all the families of the world! 





Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Feast of Christmas, Year C

 We wish our friends and all the world a joyful, blessed feast of the Birth of Christ.

Nativity Illumination from a Bible Historiale, central France, 1403-1404. British Library, Harley 4382.

"Today," says St. Augustine,
Truth has sprung up from the earth; Christ is born in the flesh. We must celebrate this day of joy as worthily as we can. It's a day which of its nature impels us to consider also the everlasting day, so we must not fail to turn our minds to that also: with hope that cannot be shaken, we should yearn for gifts that are eternal.
...Let us all together then, perfectly united in mind and heart, celebrate today the birthday of the Lord. Let us celebrate with chaste hearts and holy affections the day on which Truth sprang up from the earth. Does anyone think lightly of this Truth, if it sprang up from the earth? Let him consider that in order that it might come from the earth, it first came down from heaven. He who is this Truth came down in order to raise us up. Let us then learn to be rich in the one who became poor for our sake. Let us accept freedom from the one who for our sake accepted the form of a slave. In the one who for our sake sprang up from the earth, let us in turn take possession of heaven.
May the peace of which the angels sang fill our hearts and all the world!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

4th Sunday of Advent, Year C

The Fourth Sunday of Advent - so close to Christmas! Let us accompany Mary and Joseph in our hearts as they journey to Bethlehem. Let us go forth to greet Christ, as the 12th century Cistercian abbot Guerric of Igny exhorts us:
Our King and Savior is coming; let us run to meet him! "Good news from afar country," in the words of Solomon, "is like cold water to a thirsty soul" and to announce the coming of our Savior and the reconciliation of the world, together with the good things of the life to come, is to bring good news indeed.
"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good tidings and publish peace!"
Such messengers truly bear a refreshing draught to the soul that thirsts for God; with their news of the Savior’s coming, they joyfully draw and offer us water from the springs of salvation.... Let us too arise with joy and run in spirit to meet our Savior. Hailing him from afar, let us worship him, saying: Come, Lord, "save me and I shall be saved!" Come and "show us your face, and we shall all be saved. We have been waiting for you; be our help in time of trouble." This was how the prophets and saints of old ran to meet the Messiah, filled with immense desire to see with their eyes, if possible, what they already saw in spirit.
We must look forward to the day, so soon to come, on which we celebrate the anniversary of Christ’s birth. Scripture itself insists on the joy which must fill us—a joy which will lift our spirit out of itself in longing for his coming, impatient of delay as it strains forward to see even now what the future holds in store.

Lord, open our hearts to your grace. Through the angel’s message to Mary we have learned to believe in the incarnation of Christ your Son: lead us by his passion and cross to the glory of his resurrection.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C

This Sunday's gospel continues the theme of St. John the Baptist, the voice crying in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." The people wonder if John himself is the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah. St. Augustine comments:
Since it is difficult to distinguish the voice and the word, John himself was thought to be Christ. The voice was taken to be the Word. But the voice admitted his identity, lest he might displease the Word. I am not the Christ, he said, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. In reply to, Who are you? he said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way of the Lord, is as though he said: I cry out to lead him into your heart – but he will not condescend to come where I am leading, unless you prepare the way. 
What does to prepare the way mean, except to pray as you ought, to be humble-minded? Take an example of humility from John himself. He is thought to be the Christ, but he says he is not what people think. He does not use the mistake of others to feed his own pride. Suppose he had said: I am the Christ. How easily would he have been believed, since that was what people were thinking before he spoke! But he did not say it. He acknowledged who he was, distinguished himself from Christ, humbled himself.
 O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation, and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C

Today's Gospel reading is taken from Luke 3:1-6. It tells of St. John the Baptist proclaiming a baptism of repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. John is the "voice in the wilderness" foretold by Isaiah, the herald who urges us to prepare our hearts for the Savior during this Advent season, as we wait for the Lord's coming.

In his Commentary on St. Luke's Gospel, Origen writes:
We read in the prophet Isaiah: “A voice cries out in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord. Build him a straight highway.” A way by land? Could the Word of God travel such a road? Is it not rather a way within ourselves that we have to prepare for the Lord? Is it not a straight and level highway in our hearts that we are to make ready? Surely this is the way by which the Word of God enters, a way that exists in the spaciousness of the human body. The human heart is vast, broad, and capacious, if only it is pure.
[I]f what contains so much is not small, let a way be prepared in it for the Lord, a straight highway along which the Word and Wisdom of God may advance. Prepare a way for the Lord by living a good life and guard that way by good works. Let the Word of God move in you unhindered and give you a knowledge of his coming and of his mysteries. To him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

1st Sunday of Advent, Year C

On this First Sunday of Advent, as we prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of Our Savior, we offer for your meditation this extract from the Advent Sermons of St. Bernard:
It is surely right that you should celebrate our Lord’s coming with all your hearts, and that the greatness of the consolation which his Advent brings us should fill you with joy. Indeed one can only be amazed at the depth of his self-abasement, and stirred up to new fervor by the immensity of his love. But you must not think of his first coming only, when he came to seek and save what was lost; remember that he will come again and take us to himself. It is my desire that you should be constantly meditating upon this twofold advent, continually turning over in your minds of all that he has done for us in the first, and all that he promises to do in the second.
When our Savior comes he will change our lowly bodies into the likeness of his glorious body, provided that our hearts have been changed and made humble as his was. This is why he said: Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart. We may note from this text that humility is twofold: that is intellectual humility and a humility of one’s whole disposition and attitude, here called the heart. By the first we recognize that we are nothing; we can learn this much of ourselves from our own weakness. The second enables us to trample the glory of the world under our feet, and this we learn from him who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. When the people desired to make him a king, he fled from them; but when they wanted to make him undergo the shame and ignominy of the cross, he gave himself up to them of his own free will.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Solemnity of Christ the King Year B

We wish you every blessing on this feast of Christ the King! Here is part of Pope Francis's homily from last year:
The Gospel teaches what Jesus’ kingdom requires of us: it reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged. This is the great parable of the final judgement in Matthew 25. The King says: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (25:34-36). The righteous will ask him: when did we do all this? And he will answer them: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about his kingdom. The one who accomplishes these works shows that he has welcomed Christ’s sovereignty, because he has opened his heart to God’s charity. In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters. Upon this will depend our entry into, or exclusion from, the kingdom of God: our belonging to the one side or the other. Through his victory, Jesus has opened to us his kingdom. But it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now, by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who ask for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity. If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus himself and his Gospel.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

33rd Sunday of OT, Year B

As we approach the end of the liturgical year and the Church reflects on the Last Days, these words of Pope Francis are a great reminder to us of the goal of our journey on earth:
Christ Pantokrator, Hagia Sophia, Constantinople
The Lord Jesus is not only the destination of our earthly pilgrimage, but also a constant presence in our lives; he is also beside us, he always accompanies. That’s why, when we speak of the future and project ourselves toward it, it is always in order to lead us back to the present. He counters the false prophets, the fortune-tellers who predict that the end of the world is near; he sets himself against fatalism.... 
In our days, too, there is no lack of natural and moral disasters, nor of adversities and difficulties of every kind. Everything passes, the Lord reminds us; he alone, his Word remains as the light that guides and encourages our steps. He always forgives us because he is at our side. We need only look at him and he changes our hearts. May the Virgin Mary help us to trust in Jesus, the firm foundation of our life, and to persevere with joy in his love.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B

Today's gospel, from Mark 12:38-44, tells of the poor widow who casts two coins, all she had, into the temple treasury. Jesus, comparing her to the wealthy donors, says "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on."

The reading at Vigils this morning is taken from a letter written by a saint who followed this example. St. Paulinus, Bishop of Nola (ca. 354-431 AD) was a wealthy Roman aristocrat who, after his conversion to Christianity, renounced a political career, gave away his property and fortune to the poor. Here's part of his letter:
Widow's Mite, Sant'Appollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (6th c.)
Call to mind the widow who forgot herself in her concern for the poor, and, thinking only of the life to come, gave away all her means of subsistence, as the judge himself bears witness. Others, he says, have given of their superfluous wealth. But she, possessed of only two small coins and more needy perhaps than many of the poor – though in spiritual riches she surpassed all the wealthy – she thought only of the world to come, and had such a longing for heavenly treasure that she gave away, all at once, whatever she had that was derived from the earth and destined to return there.
Let us then invest with the Lord what he has given us, for we have nothing that does not come from him: we are dependent upon him for our very existence. And we ourselves particularly, who have a special and a greater debt, since God not only created us but purchased us as well – what can we regard as our own when we do not possess even ourselves? ... So let us give back to the Lord the gifts he has given us; let us give to him who receives in the person of every poor man or woman. Let us give gladly, I say, and great joy will be ours when we receive his promised reward.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

31st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In today's Gospel (Mark 12:28b-34), Jesus gives us the two great commandments: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.... You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In his Treatise on the Love of God, St Francis de Sales says that:
Good Samaritan (1890), Vincent Van Gogh
Because God created us in his own image and likeness, he ordained that our love for one another should be in the image and likeness of the love we owe him, our God.... What is our reason for loving God? God himself is the reason we love him; we love him because he is the supreme and infinite goodness. What is our reason for loving ourselves? Surely because we are the image and likeness of God. And since all men and women possess this same dignity we love them as ourselves, that is, as holy and living images of the Godhead.
It is as such that we belong to God through a kinship so close and a dependence so lovable that he does not hesitate to call himself our Father, and to name us his children. It is as such that we are capable of being united to him in the fruition of his sovereign goodness and joy. It is as such that we receive his grace and that our spirits are associated with his most Holy Spirit and rendered, in a sense, “sharers in the divine nature.”

Sunday, October 28, 2018

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

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!
Blind Man of Bethsaida, Armenian ms. Glajor Gospels (ca. 1301-1325) UCLA
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 mist of ignorance 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 21, 2018

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.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

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 II 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 7, 2018

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

Friday, September 28, 2018

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

In today's reading, taken from chapter 9 of the Gospel of St. Mark, Jesus tells his disciples, "Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward."

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well,
Wall painting from the Church of St, Mary, Ethiopia (13th c.)
A cup of water! What a simple, easy thing to give. And yet our Lord says that it will not go unrewarded. Pseudo-Chrysostom, an early Church writer says about this:
Every man must care for others, no one is too poor. Even the gift of a cup of cold water will obtain a reward; for it is not the value of the gift, but the dignity of those who receive it, and the feelings of the giver, which makes a work worthy of reward.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, "Don't look for big things, just do small things with great love.... The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love." May God help us in our daily lives to find our eternal reward through such simple acts of love!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

In today's Gospel, from Mark 9:30-37, the disciples are arguing about who among them is the greatest. It's pretty encouraging that even those closest to Jesus during his lifetime, those whom he taught, had their priorities upside down! Jesus responds by telling them, "Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all."

Here's a commentary on this passage by St. Theophylact (1050-1107 AD), bishop of Ohrid in Bulgaria:
Jesus washing Peter's feet by Ford Maddox Brown, detail (1852-6)
He came to Capernaum, and after the entering the house he questioned the disciples: “What were you arguing about on the way?” Now the disciples still saw things from a very human point of view, and they had been quarrelling amongst themselves about which of them was the greatest and the most esteemed by Christ. Yet the Lord did not restrain their desire for pre-eminent honor; indeed he wishes us to aspire to the most exalted rank. He does not however wish us to seize the first place, but rather to win the highest honor by humility.
He stood a child among them because he wants us to become childlike. A child has no desire for honor; it is not jealous, and it does not remember injuries. And he said: “If you become like that, you will receive a great reward, and if, moreover, for my sake, you honor others who are like that, you will receive the kingdom of heaven; for you will be receiving me, and in receiving me you receive the one who sent me. You see then what great things humility, together with simplicity and guilelessness, can accomplish. It causes both the Son and the Father to dwell in us, and with them of course comes the Holy Spirit also.



Saturday, September 15, 2018

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In today's Gospel, Our Lord tells his disciples that "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it." Here is part St. Caesarius of Arles' beautiful commentary on this Gospel:
Vincenzo Catena
Christ bearing the Cross (c. 1520/30)
"As well as telling us to renounce ourselves, our Lord and Savior said that we must take up our cross and follow him. What does it mean to take up one’s cross? Bearing every annoyance patiently. That is following Christ. When someone begins to follow his way of life and his commandments, that person will meet resistance on every side. He or she will be opposed, mocked, even persecuted, and this not only by unbelievers but also by people who to all appearances belong to the body of Christ, though they are really excluded from it by their wickedness; people who, being Christians only in name, never stop persecuting true Christians.

If you want to follow Christ, then, take up his cross without delay. Endure injuries, do not be overcome by them. If we would fulfil the Lord’s command: If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me, we must strive with God’s help to do as the Apostle says: As long as we have food and clothing, let this content us.  Otherwise, if we seek more material goods than we need and desire to become rich, we may fall prey to temptation. The devil may trick us into wanting the many useless and harmful things that plunge people into ruin and destruction. May we be free from this temptation to the protection of our Lord, lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen."

Sunday, September 9, 2018

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus has just healed the man born deaf and mute. The crowd says of Jesus, “He has done all things well. He has made the deaf hear and the dumb speak.” St. Lawrence of Brindisi, the 16th century Capuchin and Doctor of the Church, comments:

Christ healing a Deaf-Mute, Bibliothèque national de France, 14th c.
"He has done all things well." The law says that all God did was good; the gospel says he has done all things well. Doing a good deed is not quite the same as doing it well. Many do good deeds but fail to do them well. The deeds of hypocrites, for example, are good, but they are done in the wrong spirit, with a perverse and defective intention.
Everything God does, however, is not only good but is also done well. "The Lord is just in all his ways and holy in all his deeds." With wisdom you have done them all: that is to say, most wisely and well. So "he has done all things well," they say.
Now if God has done all his good works and done them well for our sake, knowing that we take pleasure in goodness, why I ask do we not endeavor to make all our works good and to do them well, knowing that such works are pleasing to God? So even in this present life we shall be happy, this world will be an earthly paradise for us; with the Hebrews we shall feast on heavenly manna in the desert of this life, if only we follow Christ’s example by striving to do everything well, so that "he has done all things well" may be said of each one of us.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

22nd Sunday of OT, Year B

Todays gospel reading is taken from chapter seven of Mark. The Pharisees have just asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” Jesus replies, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

St. Irenaeus, the second century bishop and Father of the Church, wrote about this:
Faith, Hope and Charity,
by Karp Zolotaryov (1685)
That [love of God] is the first and greatest commandment, the second being love of our neighbor, the Lord taught by saying that the whole of the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. He himself brought no greater commandment than this but he renewed this same commandment by bidding his disciples love God with their whole heart, and their neighbour as themselves.
Paul also says that love is the fulfilment of the law. When all other charisms fail, faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of all is love. Knowledge is of no avail without the love of God, nor is understanding of mysteries, faith, or prophecy. Without love all are vain and profitless. Love on the other hand perfects a person, and one who loves God is perfect both in this world and the next, for we shall never stop loving God – the longer we gaze upon him the more our love for him will grow.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

This week's Sunday Gospel reading is from John 6:60-69. After Jesus has fed the crowd of five thousand he tells them that he is the Bread of Life: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” After that, many of his disciples left him. He turns and asks the twelve apostles, “Will you also leave me?” Peter responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria from 412-444 A.D, comments on this passage:
Jesus and St. Peter, Miraculous Draught of Fishes,
detail from a tapestry by Raphael
To whom shall we go? 
Peter asks. In other words, “Who else will instruct us the way you do?” Or, “To whom shall we go to find anything better?” You have the words of eternal life; not hard words, as those other disciples say, but words that will bring us to the loftiest goal, unceasing, endless life removed from all corruption.
These words surely make quite obvious to us the necessity for sitting at the feet of Christ, taking him as our one and only teacher, and giving him our constant and undivided attention. He must be our guide who knows well how to lead us to everlasting life. Thus, thus shall we ascend to the divine court of heaven, and entering the church of the first born, delight in blessings passing all human understanding.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

20th Sunday of OT, Year B

Commenting on today's Gospel, Pope Francis said:
These Sundays the Liturgy is offering us, from the Gospel according to John, Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life, which He himself is, just as the Sacrament of the Eucharist is. Today’s passage (Jn 6:51-58) presents the final part of this discussion, and refers to several of those who were scandalized because Jesus said: “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:54)....
Last Supper, Jaume Huguet (ca. 1470)
Regarding the Holy Mass, one sometimes hears this objection: “Of what use is Mass? I go to Church when I feel like it, and I pray better in solitude”. But the Eucharist is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual exercise, it is not a simple commemoration of what Jesus did at the Last Supper. We say, in order to fully understand, that the Eucharist is “a remembrance”, that is, a gesture which renders real and present the event of Jesus’ death and resurrection: the bread really is his Body given up for us, the wine really is his Blood poured out for us.
The Eucharist is Jesus himself who gives himself entirely to us. Nourishing ourselves of Him and abiding in Him through Eucharistic Communion, if we do so with faith, transforms our life, transforms it into a gift to God and to our brothers and sisters.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

19th Sunday of OT, Year B

At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

This Sunday’s Gospel,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said,
Last Supper miniature from a Psalter c1220-40
is the concluding part and culmination of Jesus’ discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum, after he had the previous day fed thousands of people with only five loaves and two fish. Jesus reveals the meaning of that miracle; namely, that the time of the promise has been fulfilled: God the Father, who fed the Israelites with manna in the desert, now sent him, the Son, as the true Bread of life, and this bread is his flesh, his life, offered in sacrifice for us. 
In listening to this discourse, the people understood that Jesus was not a Messiah as they wanted, one who aspired to an earthly throne. He did not look for a consensus to conquer Jerusalem: indeed, He willed to go up to the Holy City in order to share the fate of the prophets: to give His life for God and for the people. The loaves, broken for thousands of people, would not result in a triumphal procession but would foreshadow the sacrifice of the Cross, in which Jesus would become Bread, his body and blood offered in expiation. Jesus offered the discourse in order to disillusion the crowds and, above all, to provoke a decision in His disciples. In fact, many among them, from that time on, no longer followed Him. 
Dear friends, let us allow ourselves once again to be astonished by Christ’s words: He, the grain of wheat thrown into the furrows of history, is the first fruits of a new humanity, freed from the corruption of sin and death. And let us rediscover the beauty of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which expresses all of God’s humility and holiness: He makes himself little — God becomes little — a fragment of the universe, to reconcile all things in His love. May the Virgin Mary, who gave the world the Bread of life, teach us to always live in profound union with him.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

18th Sunday of OT, Year B

This Sunday the liturgy continues the reading of chapter six of the Gospel according to John ( (Jn 6:24-35). The people who were present at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes last week now go in search of Jesus, who tells them, “I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” Here's a commentary by Pope Francis:

They had not understood that that bread, broken for so many, for the multitude, was the expression of the love of Jesus himself. They had given more meaning to that bread than to its donor. Before this spiritual blindness, Jesus emphasizes the necessity of going beyond the gift, to discover, come to know the donor. God himself is both the gift and the giver. Thus from that bread, from that gesture, the people can find the One who gives it, who is God. He invites them to open up to a perspective which is not only that of the daily need to eat, dress, achieve success, build a career. Jesus speaks of another food. He speaks of a food which is incorruptible and which is good to seek and gather. He exhorts: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you” (v. 27). That is to say, seek salvation, the encounter with God.
With these words, he seeks to make us understand that, in addition to physical hunger man carries within him another hunger—all of us have this hunger—a more important hunger, which cannot be satisfied with ordinary food. It is a hunger for life, a hunger for eternity which He alone can satisfy, as he is “the bread of life” (v. 35). Jesus does not eliminate the concern and search for daily food. No, he does not remove the concern for all that can make life more progressive. But Jesus reminds us that the true meaning of our earthly existence lies at the end, in eternity, it lies in the encounter with Him, who is gift and giver. He also reminds us that human history with its suffering and joy must be seen in a horizon of eternity, that is, in that horizon of the definitive encounter with Him. And this encounter illuminates all the days of our life.
... This “Bread of Life” is given to us with a task, namely, that we in our turn satisfy the spiritual and material hunger of our brothers, proclaiming the Gospel the world over. With the witness of our brotherly and solidary attitude toward our neighbour, we render Christ and his love present amid mankind.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

17th Sunday of OT, Year B

The multiplication of the loaves and fishes recorded in today's Gospel (John 6:1-15) includes an important detail: a young boy supplies five barley loaves and two fish. Not much to feel such a large crowd. But Jesus uses them to work the miracle.

Like the disciples in this scene, often in life we may feel that something is beyond our powers: we want to be generous, to love, but feel inadequate. Here's part of an Angelus talk Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave on this subject:
The Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, Petrus Comestor's Bible Historiale, 1372
A boy’s presence is also mentioned in the scene of the multiplication. On perceiving the problem of of feeding so many hungry people, he shared the little he had brought with him: five loaves and two fish (cf. Jn 6:9). The miracle was not worked from nothing, but from a first modest sharing of what a simple lad had brought with him. Jesus does not ask us for what we do not have. Rather, he makes us see that if each person offers the little he has the miracle can always be repeated: God is capable of multiplying our small acts of love and making us share in his gift....

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord to enable us to rediscover the importance of feeding ourselves not only on bread but also on truth, on love, on Christ, on Christ’s Body, taking part faithfully and with profound awareness in the Eucharist so as to be ever more closely united with him. Indeed, “It is not the Eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it. Christ nourishes us by uniting us to himself; he draws us into himself.”

Let us pray that the bread necessary for a dignified life may never be lacking and that inequalities may be demolished, not with the weapons of violence but rather with sharing and with love.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

16th Sunday of OT, Year B

They went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.... When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:32, 34).

At the Mass with the Papal inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI on April 24, 2005, he gave a deeply moving homily on the ministry of the pope. Its themes of desert and of the Good Shepherd are a fitting commentary on today's Gospel:
Jesus the Good Shepherd, tomb of Pius IX,
Saint Lawrence outside the Walls
The pastor must be inspired by Christ’s holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth’s treasures no longer serve to build God’s garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction. 
The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.
We suffer on account of God’s patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

15th Sunday of OT, Year B

Today's Gospel recounts Jesus' sending out his disciples two by two. They are "to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. "In virtue of their baptism," says Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, “all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples.”
Jesus sends out his disciples (10th c. fresco)
Buckle Church, Goreme, Cappadocia
Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41).... So what are we waiting for?
... Each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are. All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives. In your heart you know that it is not the same to live without him; what you have come to realize, what has helped you to live and given you hope, is what you also need to communicate to others. Our falling short of perfection should be no excuse; on the contrary, mission is a constant stimulus not to remain mired in mediocrity but to continue growing.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

14th Sunday of OT, Year B

In this week's Gospel from Mark (6:1-6), we see the profound lack of faith of Jesus's native people. As a result, Christ works very few miracles in their midst. Pope Benedict XVI, in a homily below, reflects on this scene and reinforces the relationship between faith and divine power.
Jesus preaching at Nazareth, unidentified icon
This reaction is understandable because familiarity at the human level makes it difficult to go beyond this in order to be open to the divine dimension. That this son of a carpenter was the Son of God was hard for them to believe. Jesus actually takes as an example the experience of the prophets of Israel, who in their own homeland were an object of contempt, and identifies himself with them. Due to this spiritual closure Jesus “could do no mighty work there [Nazareth], except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them” (Mk 6:5). 
In fact Christ’s miracles are not a display of power but signs of the love of God that is brought into being wherever it encounters reciprocated human faith. Origen writes: “as in the case of material things there exists in some things a natural attraction towards some other thing, as in the magnet for iron... so there is an attraction in such faith towards the divine power” (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 10, 19).

Saturday, June 30, 2018

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

The beautiful Gospel for today (Mark 5:21-43) tells of the story of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” How comforting these words are! Pope Frances speaks of this Gospel and how we all face death:
Raising of Jairus' daughter,
Codex Egberti, c. 980-993, Reichenau Abbey
We are all small and defenceless before the mystery of death. However, what a grace if at that moment we safeguard in our heart the little flame of faith! Jesus takes us by the hand, as he took Jairus’ daughter by the hand, and repeats once again: “Talitha cumi”; “Little girl, arise!” He will say this to us, to each one of us: “Arise, rise again!”.

I invite you, now, to close your eyes and think about that moment: of our death. Each of us think about our own death, and imagine that moment that will come, when Jesus will take us by the hand and tell us: “Come, come with me, arise”. There, hope will end and reality will abide, the reality of life. Think hard: Jesus himself will come to each of us and take us by the hand, with his tenderness, his meekness, his love. Each one repeat Jesus’ words in your heart: “Arise, come. Arise, come. Arise, rise again!”.

This is our hope in the face of death. For those who believe, it is a door that is thrust open wide; for those who doubt it is a glimmer of light that filters through an exit that is not quite completely closed. But for all of us it will be a grace, when this light, of the encounter with Jesus, illuminates us.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Solemnity of St. John the Baptist

Today the Church celebrates the the Solemnity of the great forerunner of Christ, St. John the Baptist. This great witness to Jesus, this great martyr, is an example to us all for many reasons. Here is part of a moving homily by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in which he talks about the place of prayer in his life.
St. John the Baptist, De Gray Book of Hours
We see this great figure, this force in the Passion, in resistance to the powerful. We wonder: what gave birth to this life, to this interiority so strong, so upright, so consistent, spent so totally for God in preparing the way for Jesus? The answer is simple: it was born from the relationship with God, from prayer, which was the thread that guided him throughout his existence. John was the divine gift for which his parents Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for so many years; a great gift, humanly impossible to hope for, because they were both advanced in years and Elizabeth was barren; yet nothing is impossible to God. The announcement of this birth happened precisely in the place of prayer, in the temple of Jerusalem, indeed it happened when Zechariah had the great privilege of entering the holiest place in the temple to offer incense to the Lord. 
John the Baptist’s birth was also marked by prayer: the Benedictus, the hymn of joy, praise and thanksgiving which Zechariah raises to the Lord and which we recite every morning in Lauds, exalts God’s action in history and prophetically indicates the mission of their son John: to go before the Son of God made flesh to prepare his ways. 
The entire existence of the Forerunner of Jesus was nourished by his relationship with God, particularly the period he spent in desert regions. The desert regions are places of temptation but also where man acquires a sense of his own poverty because once deprived of material support and security, he understands that the only steadfast reference point is God himself. John the Baptist, however, is not only a man of prayer, in permanent contact with God, but also a guide in this relationship. The Evangelist Luke, recalling the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, the Our Father, notes that the request was formulated by the disciples in these words: “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his own disciples.”

Sunday, June 17, 2018

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In today's Gospel (Mark 4:26-34), Jesus says that "...the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed." Any gardener knows what a miracle of creation a seed is: from a tiny object, sometimes scarcely visible to the eye, a large plant grows, given the proper environment. In this commentary St. Peter Chrysologus says that:
The Sower, (1888) Vincent van Gogh
Christ is the kingdom of heaven. Sown like a mustard seed in the garden of the Virgin's womb, he grew up into the tree of the cross whose branches stretch across the world. Crushed in the mortar of the passion, its fruit has produced seasoning enough for the flavoring and preservation of every living creature with which it comes in contact.

As long as a mustard seed remains intact, its properties lie dormant; but when it is crushed they are exceedingly evident. So it was with Christ; he chose to have his body crushed, because he would not have his power concealed....
Such then is the mustard seed which Christ sowed in his garden. When he promised a kingdom to the partriarchs the seed took root in them; with the prophets it sprang up, with the apostles it grew tall, in the Church it became a great tree putting forth innumerable branches laden with gifts. And now you too must take the wings of the psalmist’s dove, gleaming gold in the rays of divine sunlight, and fly to rest for ever among those sturdy, fruitful branches. No snares are set to trap you there; fly off, then, with confidence and dwell securely in its shelter.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

10th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

This Sunday's first reading (Gen 3:9-15) brings us to the garden of our first parents, the place of their transgression; here we see the context for Christ's coming to undo the sin of Adam, to reverse the curse of death. As Jesus preaches the coming of the kingdom of God against the earthly kingdom of Satan in the Gospel of Mark (3:20-35), so too does the ancient Greek homilist in his 5th century text below:
Adam & Eve in Paradise, painted wood ceiling, Michaeliskirche (12th c.)
The signs of the Lord's resurrection are obvious: deception has ceased, envy has been banished, strife is despised. Peace is held in honor and war has been done away with. No longer do we reproach the Adam who was fashioned first; instead we glorify the second Adam. No longer do we reproach Eve for transgressing God's command: instead we bless Mary for being the Mother of God. No longer do we avert our eyes from the wood of the tree: instead we carry the Lord's cross.
We no longer fear the serpent: instead we revere the Holy Spirit. We no longer descend into the earth: instead we reascend into heaven. We are no longer exiles from paradise: instead we live in Abraham's bosom. We no longer hear, “I have made your day like night”: instead, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we sing: “This is the day which the Lord has made: let us keep it with gladness and rejoicing.”


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Feast of Corpus Christi, Year B

On this great Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, we offer for your reflection part of a homily give by Pope Francison this feast in 2015:
Manuscript illumination, ca. 1320
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.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Trinity Sunday, Year B

As we honor the Holy Trinity this Sunday, we look to the Fathers of the Church to enlighten us on such a sublime subject. St. Athanasius, in the sermon below, describes the intimacy of relationship among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the way in which they share the divine life with us!
Book miniature of Rublev's Trinity (Unknown painter)
Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.
This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost Sunday, Year B

The beautiful thirteenth century sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritu, is sung at Mass on Pentecost Sunday, but it's a wonderful prayer for any day of the year. Here's an English translation.

From the Hours of John of Berry, c. 1405/10 (British Library)
Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.

Come, father of the poor,
come, giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart. 

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Without your grace,
there is nothing in us,
nothing that is not harmful.

Cleanse that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled,
correct what goes astray.

Give to your faithful,
those who trust in you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Grant the reward of virtue,
grant the deliverance of salvation,
grant eternal joy.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

7th Sunday of Easter, Year B

When the moment was at hand for Jesus to leave his disciples, Guerric of Igny says,
Ascension of Christ, 15th c. Italian, State Library of Victoria
He seemed overwhelmed by the depth of his affection for them, and unable to disguise the overflowing tenderness which until then he had hidden from them. 
Hence the words of the evangelist: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” He laid bare the whole strength of his love for his friends, before pouring himself out like water for his enemies. Handing over to them the sacrament of his body and blood, he instituted the celebration of the eucharist.
It is hard to say which was the more wonderful, his power or his love, in devising this new means of remaining with them, to console them for his departure. In spite of the withdrawal of his bodily presence, he would remain not only with them but in them, by virtue of this sacrament.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments," our Lord declares to his disciples in this week's Gospel from John (14:15-21). Just as Christ loved us unto death, so also are we called to do the same. The life and martyrdom of St. Thomas More (1478-1535) is a poignant reflection of Christ's love and an example of profound fidelity to God; he was willing to oppose the spiritual supremacy of the king of England in favor of the true supremacy of the bishop of Rome. In one of More's meditations, he reveals that the love of Christ is indeed the truest, highest love, the only love worthy of imitation.
Let us deeply consider the love of our Savior Christ who so loved his own unto the end that for their sakes he willingly suffered that painful end, and therein declared the highest degree of love that can be.
For, as he himself says: “A greater love no one has than to give his life for his friends.” This is indeed the greatest love that ever anyone had. But yet had our Savior a greater, for he gave his for both friend and foe.
Who can in adversity be sure of many of his friends when our Savior himself was, at his capture, left alone and forsaken by his? When you go forth who will go with you? 
Now, since our Lord has so loved us, for our salvation, let us diligently call for his grace that in return for his great love we be not found ungrateful.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Easter, Christ the True Vine, Year B

I am the true vine, Jesus says in today's Gospel, you are the branches (John 15:1-8). Think of it: a vine and branches are one plant, with the same life-giving sap flowing through it. The branches depend on the vine for life and nourishment.

Here's part of a commentary on this Gospel by St. Augustine:
Christ the True Vine, anonymous, before 20th c.I 
If you dwell in me, said Jesus, and my words dwell in you, you will ask for whatever you desire and it will be yours. Can a person dwelling in Christ desire anything out of harmony with Christ? The very fact that people dwell in their Savior must mean that they have no desire that is opposed to their salvation. And yet we do indeed desire one thing insofar as we are in Christ, and another insofar as we are still in this world.
Because of our sojourn here below, a thought sometimes steals into our ignorant minds to ask for something which cannot be good for us. But this many not be, if we are dwelling in Christ. He does what we ask only if it is for our good. To dwell in him, therefore, is to have his words dwelling in us; whatever we desire we shall then ask for, and it will be given to us.