Saturday, November 27, 2021

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 20, 2021

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 on this feast in 2014:
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 13, 2021

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B


Tympanum of Christ seated in glory, Notre Dame Cathedral

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. Mark 13:26

Today is the next-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year, before Christ the King. The readings focus on the last days: "Know that he is nigh, even at the doors.... This generation shall not pass away, until all these things are accomplished."

St. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), a monk of Mount Athos and later Archbishop of Thessaloniki in Greece speaks of the Last Judgement:
All those who hold to true faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and show proof of their faith by good works, guarding themselves from sins or cleansing themselves from their stains by confession and repentance; who practice the virtues opposed to those sins—temperance, chastity, love, almsgiving, justice, and fair dealing—all these, I say, will rise again to hear the king of heaven himself saying to them: "Come, my Father’s blessed ones, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world."
So will they reign with Christ, receiving as their inheritance that heavenly kingdom which cannot be shaken, living for ever in the ineffable light that knows no evening and is interrupted by no night, having fellowship with all the saints who have lived from the beginning of time, and enjoying delights beyond description in Abraham’s embrace, where all pain has fled away, and all grief and groaning.
Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God, the constant gladness of being devoted to you, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good. ~ Collect at Mass

Saturday, November 6, 2021

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, October 30, 2021

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.”

Saturday, October 23, 2021

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.












Saturday, October 16, 2021

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.