Saturday, February 23, 2019

7th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

In his General Audience on September 21, 2016, Pope Francis commented on today's Gospel of the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:7, 20-38). We reprint some of his words here, but the entire talk is well worth reading and praying over.
Sermon on the Mount, by Carl Bloch (detail)
We have heard the passage from the Gospel of Luke (6:36-38) that inspired the motto of
this extraordinary Holy Year: Merciful like the Father. The complete phrase reads: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (v. 36). It is not a catchphrase, but a life commitment....
If we look at the history of salvation, we see that the whole of God’s revelation is an unceasing and untiring love for mankind: God is like a father or mother who loves with an unfathomable love and pours it out abundantly on every creature. Jesus’ death on the Cross is the culmination of the love story between God and man. A love so great that God alone can understand it. It is clear that, compared to this immeasurable love, our love will always be lacking. But when Jesus calls us to be merciful like the Father, he does not mean in quantity! He asks his disciples to become signs, channels, witnesses of his mercy.
The Church can be nothing other than a sacrament of God’s mercy in the world, at every time and for all of mankind. Every Christian, therefore, is called to be a witness of mercy, and this happens along the path of holiness. Let us think of the many saints who became merciful because they allowed their hearts to be filled with divine mercy. They embodied the Lord’s love, pouring it into the multiple needs of a suffering humanity. Within the flourishing of many forms of charity you can see the reflection of Christ’s merciful face.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

How many of us remember World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada way back in 2002? Pope - now St. - John Paul addressed the young people and spoke of the Beatitudes outlined in today's Gospel (Luke 6:27, 33-36). The "Sermon on the Mount," he said, marks out the map of this journey:

Mosaic, Sermon on the Mount
The eight Beatitudes are the road signs that show the way. It is an uphill path, but he has walked it before us. He said one day: "He who follows me will not walk in darkness" (Jn 8:12). And at another time he added: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (Jn 15:11).
It is by walking with Christ that we can achieve joy, true joy! Precisely for this reason he again repeats the proclamation of joy to you today: "Blessed are they ..." Now that we are about to welcome his glorious Cross, the Cross that has accompanied young people on the roadways of the world, let this consoling and demanding word echo in the silence of your hearts: "Blessed are they. . ."

Gathered around the Lord’s Cross, we look to him: Jesus did not limit himself to proclaiming the Beatitudes, he lived them! Looking at his life anew, re-reading the Gospel, we marvel: the poorest of the poor, the most gentle among the meek, the person with the purest and most merciful heart is none other than Jesus. The Beatitudes are nothing more than the description of a face, his face!
At the same time, the Beatitudes describe what a Christian should be: they are the portrait of Jesus’ disciple, the picture of those who have accepted the Kingdom of God and want their life to be in tune with the demands of the Gospel. To these Jesus speaks, calling them "blessed". The joy promised by the Beatitudes is the very joy of Jesus himself: a joy sought and found in obedience to the Father and in the gift of self to others.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Today's Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday's. Jesus has just read the passage from Isaiah: He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. He now addresses the synagogue and says,"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Icon of Christ Pantocrator,
c. 6th century
St. Cyril of Alexandria, the great Bishop and Doctor of the Church, commenting on Isaiah, writes about blindness, poverty, and the Lord's healing power:
Desiring to win over the whole world and bring its inhabitants to God the Father, raising all things to a higher condition and, in a sense, renewing the face of the earth, the Lord of the universe took the form of a servant and brought the good news to the poor. This, he said, was why he had been sent.
Now by the poor we may understand those who were then deprived of all spiritual blessings and who lived in the world without hope and without God, as scripture says....
To the brokenhearted Christ promises healing and release, and to the blind he gives sight. For those who worship created things, and say to a piece of wood, “You are my father,” and to a stone, “You gave me birth,” thus failing to recognize him who is really and truly God, are they not blind? Are not their hearts devoid of the spiritual and divine light?
To these the Father sends the light of true knowledge of God. Having been called by faith, they know God, or rather, they are known by him. They were children of night and of darkness, but they have become children of light. The Day has shone upon them, the Sun of Righteousness has risen, the Morning Star has appeared in all its brilliance.