Saturday, June 12, 2021

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.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Feast of the Sacred Heart, Year B

On this feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we offer this meditation given by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Christ's mercy and love: 


Sacred Heart Charles Bosseron Chambers
Together let us pause to contemplate the pierced heart of the Crucified One. Just now we heard once again, in the brief reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, that “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ... raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-6). To be “in” Jesus Christ is already to be seated in heaven. The very core of Christianity is expressed in the heart of Jesus; in Christ the revolutionary “newness” of the Gospel is completely revealed and given to us: the Love that saves us and even now makes us live in the eternity of God. As the Evangelist John writes: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:16). God’s heart calls to our hearts, inviting us to come out of ourselves, to forsake our human certainties, to trust in him and, by following his example, to make ourselves a gift of unbounded love.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

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 Francis on 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.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

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.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

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.
Come, Holy Spirit,
From the Hours of John of Berry, c. 1405/10 (British Library)

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.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

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.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Feast of the Ascension, Year B

Today we reach the fortieth day after Easter Sunday and we celebrate the feast of the Lord’s ascension into heaven. (Many Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States transfer the solemnity to the following Sunday.) Think of it: Our Lord’s mission on earth has been fulfilled, but he is leaving his Church to carry on his work of salvation. And yet he said, “I will not leave you orphans.” St. Augustine has these powerful words to say about this moment:
Ascension of the Lord, Drogo Sacramentary
As he was about to ascend, he spoke the last words he was to utter on earth. At the moment of going up to heaven, the head commended to our care the members he was leaving on earth, and so departed. No longer will you find Christ speaking on earth; in the future he will speak from heaven. Why will he speak from heaven? Because his members are being trampled underfoot on earth. He spoke to Saul the persecutor from above, saying: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? I have ascended to heaven, but I still remain on the earth. Here at the Father’s right hand I sit, but there I still hunger and thirst and am without shelter’.