Thursday, May 30, 2019

Ascension, Year C

On this feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we offer you this meditation from a homily by Pope St. Leo the Great:

Ascension, Hours of Alice de Reydon
These days, dearly beloved, between the Resurrection of the Lord and his Ascension provided the opportunity to confirm great mysteries, to reveal great secrets. In these days the Holy Spirit was poured into all the Apostles by the breath of the Lord; and to blessed Peter above all the others, after the keys of the king­dom, the care of the Lord’s sheep is entrusted. Through all this time which went by be­tween the Resurrection of the Lord and his Ascension, the providence of God took thought for this: that they should recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as truly risen, who was truly born, truly suffered, and truly died....
Since the Ascension of Christ is our elevation, and since, where the glory of the Head has preceded its, there hope for the body is also invited, let us exult, dearly beloved, with worthy joy and be glad with a holy thanksgiving. Today we are estab­lished not only as possessors of Paradise, but we have even pen­etrated the heights of the heavens in Christ, prepared more fully for it through the indescribable grace of Christ which we had lost through the ill will of the devil. Those whom the violent enemy threw down from the happiness of our first dwelling, the Son of God has placed, incorporated within him­self, at the right hand of the Father, the Son of God who lives and reigns with God the Father Almighty and with the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

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 18, 2019

5th Sunday of Easter, Year C

“I give you a new commandment," Jesus says in today's Gospel, "love one another.” In his commentary on St. John's Gospel, St. Cyril of Alexandria comments:
Christ Pantokrator (St. Catherine's, 6th c.)
But how, we might ask, could he call this commandment new? ... Do you not see what is new in Christ's love for us? The law commanded people to love their brothers and sisters as they love themselves, but our Lord Jesus Christ loved us more than himself. 
He who was one in nature with God the Father and his equal would not have descended to our lowly estate, nor endured in his flesh such a better death for us, not submitted to the blows given him by his enemies, to the shame, the derision, and all the other sufferings that could not possibly be enumerated; nor, being rich, would he have become poor, had he not loved us far more than himself. 
It was indeed something new for love to go as far as that!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

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, May 4, 2019

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.