Saturday, May 21, 2022

6th Sunday of Easter, Year C

The Gospel for today is a continuation of Jesus's farewell discourse to his disciples at the Last Supper" My Father and I will come to him, and we will make our home with him.
The Trinity, Andrei Rublev, ca. 1411 or 1425-27
It seems to me, commented St. Bernard, that when the psalmist said to God: You make your dwelling in the holy place, you who are Israel’s praise, he had no other heaven in mind than the hearts of the saints.  The apostle expresses it quite clearly: Christ lives in our hearts through faith, he tells us.
It is necessary for a soul to grow and be enlarged until it is capable of containing God within itself. But the dimensions of a soul are in proportion to its love, as the apostle confirms when he urges the Corinthians to widen their hearts in love. Although the soul, being spiritual, cannot be measured physically, grace confers on it what nature does not bestow. It expands spiritually as it makes progress toward human perfection, which is measured by nothing less than the full stature of Christ, and so it grows into a temple sacred to the Lord.
Love, then, is the measure of the soul. Souls are large that love much, small that love little; while as for the soul that has no love at all, such a soul is itself nothing. Without love, says Saint Paul, I am nothing.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

5th Sunday of Eastertide, Year C

Today's Gospel recounts some of Jesus's words at the Last Supper. I give you a new commandment, he says, love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

How moving and how challenging this commandment is! St. Cyril of Alexandria comments:
Christ commands us to love as he did, putting neither reputation, nor wealth, not anything whatever before love of our brothers and sisters. If need be we must even be prepared to face death for our neighbor's salvation as did our Savior's blessed disciples and those who followed in their footsteps. To them the salvation of others mattered more than their own lives and they were ready to do anything or to suffer anything to save souls that were perishing. I die daily, said Paul. Who suffers weakness without my suffering too? Who is made to stumble without my heart blazing with indignation?
The Savior urged us to practice this love that transcends the law as the foundation of true devotion to God. He knew that only in this way could we become pleasing in God's eyes, and that it was by seeking the beauty of the love implanted in us by himself that we should attain to the highest blessings.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

4th Sunday of Easter, Year C

The Church continues to rejoice over Our Lord's resurrection. In a Vigils reading, Christ is risen! cries St. Maximus of Turin in his Easter homily:

He has burst open the gates of hell and let the dead go free; he has renewed the earth through the members of his Church now born again in Baptism, and has made it blossom afresh with men brought back to life. His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven, which stand wide open to receive those who rise up from the earth. Because of Christ’s Resurrection the thief ascends to Paradise, the bodies of the blessed enter the holy city, and the dead are restored to the company of the living; there is an upward movement in the whole of creation, each element raising itself to something higher. We see the underworld restoring its victims to the upper regions, earth sending its buried dead to heaven, and heaven presenting the new arrivals to the Lord. In one and the same movement our Savior’s Passion raises men from the depths, lifts them up from the earth, and sets them in the heights....
The Harrowing of Hell, from the Barberini Exultet Roll, ca. AD 1087
And so, my friends, each of us ought surely to rejoice on this holy day. Let no one, conscious of his sinfulness, withdraw from our common celebration, nor let anyone be kept away from our public prayer by the burden of guilt. Sinner one may indeed be, but no one must despair of pardon on this day which is so highly privileged; for if a thief could receive the grace of Paradise, how could a Christian be refused forgiveness?

Saturday, April 30, 2022

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year C

In the Gospel for today's liturgy Jesus appears to his disciples after his resurrection. Three times he asks St. Peter, who denied him three times, Do you love me?

St. Augustine of Hippo comments:
We may wonder what advantage there could be for Christ in Peter’s love for him. If Christ loves you, you profit, not Christ; and if you love him, again the advantage is yours, not his. But wishing to show us how we should demonstrate our love for him, Christ the Lord made it plain that it is by our concern for his sheep. Do you love me? he asked. I do love you. Then feed my sheep. Once, twice, and a third time the same dialogue was repeated. To the Lord’s one and only question, Peter had no other answer than I do love you. And each time the Lord gave Peter the same command: Feed my sheep. Let us love one another then, and by so doing we shall be loving Christ.
But listen to John’s words: If you do not love the brother that you can see, how can you love the God you cannot see? It is by loving the sheep that you show your love for the shepherd, for the sheep are the members of the shepherd. Indeed, it was to make the sheep members of his own body that the Lord became one of them himself, that he allowed himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter, and that he allowed the Baptist to point him out and say to him: Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Surely a crushing burden for a lamb! But that lamb possessed tremendous strength. Do you wish to know how much strength was in this lamb? Because the lamb was crucified, the lion was overcome. If he could vanquish the devil by his own death, think with what power he is able to rule the world! May nothing, then, ever be dearer to us than Christ the Lord; let us love him with all our hearts.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

2d Sunday of Easter

This Sunday's Gospel tells the story of Doubting Thomas: the Apostle Thomas is not present with the other disciples when Jesus appears to them. So he refuses to believe them and says: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later Jesus appears to them again and tells Thomas: “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Pope Francis commented on this gospel:
The disbelief of Saint Thomas.
Detail of ivory dyptic, ca. 500 AD., Milan Cathedral.
In the redeeming contact with the wounds of the Risen One, Thomas showed his own wounds, his own injuries, his own lacerations, his own humiliation; in the print of the nails he found the decisive proof that he was loved, that he was expected, that he was understood. He found himself before the Messiah filled with kindness, mercy, tenderness. This was the Lord he was searching for, he, in the hidden depths of his being, for he had always known He was like this. And how many of us are searching deep in our heart to meet Jesus, just as He is: kind, merciful, tender! For we know, deep down, that He is like this. Having rediscovered personal contact with Christ who is amiable and mercifully patient, Thomas understood the profound significance of his Resurrection and, intimately transformed, he declared his full and total faith in Him exclaiming: “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). Beautiful, Thomas’ expression is beautiful!


Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter Sunday, Year C

A most holy and blessed Easter to all! This is from an Easter sermon by Guerric of Igny:
15th c. illumination, BL MS Kings 5
"While it was still dark Mary Magdalene had come to watch at the tomb, and she found Jesus whom she sought standing there in the flesh. But you must know him now according to the spirit, not according to the flesh, and you can be sure of finding his spiritual presence if you seek him with a desire like hers, and if he observes your persevering prayer. Say then to the Lord Jesus, with Mary’s love and longing: 'My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks for you.'"

Friday, April 15, 2022

Good Friday

This Good Friday, we remember especially in prayer all those who have suffered and died during this last year, especially those affected by the war and violence. May Christ the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, receive them into his loving embrace.

This meditation is from a sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus (ca. 400-450):
Lamentation, Giotto (1304-1306)
It is by dying that your shepherd proves his love for you. When danger threatens his sheep and he sees himself unable to protect them, he chooses to die rather than to see calamity overtake his flock. What am I saying? Could Life himself die unless he chose to? Could anyone take life from its author against his will? He himself declared: “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again; no one takes it from me.” To die, therefore, was his own choice; immortal though he was, he allowed himself to be put to death.
By allowing himself to be taken captive, he overpowered his opponent; by submitting he overcame him; by his own execution he penalized his enemy, and by dying he opened the door to the conquest of death for his whole flock. And so the Good Shepherd lost none of his sheep when he laid down his life for them; he did not desert them, but kept them safe; he did not abandon them but called them to follow him, leading them by the way of death through the lowlands of this passing world to the pastures of life.