Sunday, November 5, 2017

31st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

A beautiful but demanding Gospel is presented to us this Sunday in Matthew (23:1-12). Jesus strongly rebukes the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, pride and egoism; likewise, we are challenged by our Lord to look at our own duplicity of heart. In short, Jesus asks: are we seeking ourselves, our reputation, prestige or honor, or God and his glory? In a homily by Paschasius Radbertus written in the 9th century, the importance of humility is stressed, in imitation of Christ himself:
Washing of Feet (ca. 1305), Giotto
Christ is called master, or teacher, by right of nature rather than by courtesy, for all things subsist through him. Through his incarnation and life upon earth we are taught the way to eternal life. Our reconciliation with God is dependant on the fact of his being greater than we are. Yet, having told his disciples not to allow themselves to be called master, or to love seats of honour and things of that kind, he himself set an example and was a model of humility. It is as though he said: Even as I do not seek my own glory (though there is One who seeks it), so neither must you love to be honoured above others, or to be called master. Look at me: The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life for many....

Those who delight in serving and caring for others are the ones who humble themselves so as to be exalted by God. Note that it is not those whom the Lord exalts who will be humbled, but those who exalt themselves, and similarly it is those who of their own accord humble themselves who will be exalted by the Lord.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Feast of the Transfiguration

On this Feast of the Transfiguration, here are some words from Pope St. John Paul II:
Transfiguration of Christ by Fra Angelico (1440-1442)
Today, the Eucharist which we are preparing to celebrate takes us in spirit to Mount Tabor together with the Apostles Peter, James and John, to admire in rapture the splendour of the transfigured Lord. In the event of the Transfiguration we contemplate the mysterious encounter between history, which is being built every day, and the blessed inheritance that awaits us in heaven in full union with Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. 
We, pilgrims on earth, are granted to rejoice in the company of the transfigured Lord when we immerse ourselves in the things of above through prayer and the celebration of the divine mysteries. But, like the disciples, we too must descend from Tabor into daily life where human events challenge our faith. On the mountain we saw; on the paths of life we are asked tirelessly to proclaim the Gospel which illuminates the steps of believers.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

7th Sunday of Eastertide, Year I

As we near the feast of Pentecost, the sending of the Holy Spirit, the sublime prayer of Jesus to his Father at the Last Supper (John 17:20-21) is given us as the gospel reading: Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.

That unity of charity which is the mark of a Christian is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Here are some words of St. Augustine, taken from his commentary of the First Letter of St. John:
Descent of the Holy Spirit, Syriac Rabulla Gospel (6th c.)
Whoever carries out his commandment abides in God and God in him. And we can tell that we are dwelling in him by the Spirit he has given us. If you find charity in yourself, you have the Spirit of God to give you understanding, a thing most necessary.
How can we know whether or not we have received the Holy Spirit? Let each one question his own heart. If he loves his brothers then the Spirit of God dwells in him. Let him examine and test himself in God’s sight, to discover whether he harbors in his heart a love of peace and unity, a love of the Church as it extends throughout the length and breadth of the world. Let him not look for love only of the brother who is present, for we have many whom we do not see, but with whom we are united in the Spirit.
There is nothing strange in that. They are not all here with us, but we all belong to the one Body and have a single Head in heaven. So then, if you would know whether you have received the Spirit, ask your own heart: do you perhaps have the outward sign of the sacrament without the virtue of the sacrament? Ask your heart: if the love of your brothers is there, you can be at peace. There can be no love without the Holy Spirit, for Paul cries out to us: The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit he has given us.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow Jesus tells his disciples (Matt. 6:24-34): they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? How comforting these words are! Do not be anxious. God will take care of us.

Here's a lovely mediatation on this Gospel by St. John Chrysostom:
If spiritual things hold first place in our lives, material needs will cause us no concern, for God in his goodness will give them to us in abundance. On the other hand, if we devote ourselves entirely to earthly pursuits and neglect our spiritual life, if we are always concerned with what this life has to offer without any care for our souls, then we shall forfeit not only spiritual graces but worldly profit as well.
God wishes us, then, to be free from every anxiety regarding temporal affairs, and to have all possible leisure for the things of the Spirit. He says: “Your part is to seek spiritual blessings, and I myself will provide amply for your material needs. Look at the birds in the sky. They neither sow nor reap nor gather crops into barns, and yet your Father feeds them.” In other words, “If I take such care of irrational birds as to supply them with all they need without ploughing or sowing, I will take much greater care of you who are endowed with reason, if only you make up your minds to put spiritual things before temporal ones. If I made these creatures for your sake, as well as the whole of creation, and if I take such care of them, of what great care will I not deem you worthy – you for whom I created all of this?”

Sunday, January 29, 2017

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

Matthew tells us in the gospel this morning that Jesus went up onto a mountain and taught his disciples (Matthew 5:1-12). The Sermon on the Mount, as it's called, records his words: Blessed are the poor in spirit ... Blessed are the meek ... the merciful ... the pure in heart.... In one of this morning's long readings at Vigils, we hear part of a homily by St. Chromatius on this gospel:
Sermon on the Mount, Carl Bloch (detail)
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the children of God. You can see how great the merit of peacemakers is, when they are no longer called servants but children of God. This reward is fully justified, since the lover of peace loves Christ, the author of peace, to whom Paul the Apostle even gives ‘peace’ as a name: He is our peace, he says. Someone who does not love peace goes in pursuit of discord, for he loves its author, the devil. In the beginning the devil caused discord between God and the human race by leading the first man to violate God’s precept. The reason why the Son of God came down from heaven was to condemn the devil, the author of discord, and to make peace between God and the human race by reconciling its members to God and making God propitious to them.

We must therefore become peacemakers so that we may deserve to be called children of God. Without peace, we lose the name not only of children but even of servants, since the apostle says to us: Love peace, for without it none of us can be pleasing to God.