Saturday, July 27, 2019

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. The Lord’s Prayer, which St. Thomas Aquinas calls “the most perfect of prayers,” is at the heart of today's Gospel (Luke 11: 1-13). St. Augustine tells us that “I do not think you will find any holy prayer in Scripture that is not contained and included in the Lord’s Prayer.” Ask, and it will be given to you, Our Lord continues, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

This morning's Vigil’s reading on prayer is from a homily by St. Bede the Venerable:
Praying Hands (Albrecht Dürer)
We should consider most seriously and attentively what these words of the Lord may mean for us, for they warn that not the idle and feckless but those who ask, seek, and knock will receive, find, and have the door opened to them. We must therefore ask for entry into the kingdom by prayer, seek it by upright living, and knock at its door by perseverance. Merely to ask verbally is not enough; we must also diligently seek to discover how to live so as to be worthy of obtaining what we ask for. We know this from our Savior’s words: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my heavenly Father.

There is a need, then, for constant and unflagging prayer. Let us fall upon our knees with tears before our God and Maker; and that we may deserve a hearing, let us consider carefully how he who made us wishes us to live, and what he has commanded us to do. Let us seek the Lord and his strength; let us constantly seek his face.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Today's Gospel, taken from Luke 10: 38-42, tells a familiar story: Martha receives Jesus into her house, and is annoyed when her sister Mary sits at Jesus's feet, listening to him. “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work my myself?” Jesus responds by telling Martha that “you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

The two women are often used as symbols of the active and contemplative life. Here's a commentary on them by St. Gregory the Great:
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (Johannes Vermeer)
These two lives are well symbolised by the two women Martha and Mary.... Note carefully that the part of Martha was not blamed, but that of Mary was praised. He didn’t say that Mary had chosen the good part: he said it was the best, in order to show that Martha’s part was still good. He made it clear what he meant by the “best” part of Mary when he specified that it would not be taken away from her. For the active life comes to an end with the death of the body.
...On the other hand, we must realise that although it is normal and good for the active life to pass over into the contemplative life, often the soul is driven from contemplation to active works of charity. Precisely the contemplative vision calls us back to activity, for it understands that the labor of good works must never be abandoned while we are in this life.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

The parable of the Good Samaritan: how familiar this story is to us! Even the secular world uses it as an example of charity to our neighbor: someone who does a good deed is called a "Good Samaritan." And even the largest organization of recreational vehicles in the world is called the "Good Sam Club," and its members are called "Good Sammers!"

Origen's homily on St. Luke's Gospel talks about Jesus, the "guardian of souls,"
Parable of the Good Samaritan (Rossano Gospels, 6 c.)
who showed mercy to the man who fell into the hands of brigands was a better neighbor to him than were either the law or the prophets, and he proved this more by deeds than by words. Now the saying: Be imitators of me as I am of Christ makes it clear that we can imitate Christ by showing mercy to those who have fallen into the hands of brigands. We can go to them, bandage their wounds after pouring in oil and wine, place them on our own mount, and bear their burdens. And so the Son of God exhorts us to do these things, in words addressed not only to the teacher of the law but to all of us: Go and do likewise. If we do, we shall gain eternal life in Christ Jesus, to whom belongs glory power for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

This Sunday's Gospel (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20) continues the theme of vocation: The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Pope Francis's message for the 2014 World Day of Prayer for Vocations includes the following words:
Peasant woman binding sheaves,
 Vincent van Gogh (1889)

... Every vocation, even within the variety of paths, always requires an exodus from oneself in order to centre one’s life on Christ and on his Gospel. Both in married life and in the forms of religious consecration, as well as in priestly life, we must surmount the ways of thinking and acting that do not conform to the will of God.
Let us dispose our hearts therefore to being “good soil”, by listening, receiving and living out the word, and thus bearing fruit. The more we unite ourselves to Jesus through prayer, Sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the Sacraments celebrated and lived in the Church and in fraternity, the more there will grow in us the joy of cooperating with God in the service of the Kingdom of mercy and truth, of justice and peace. And the harvest will be plentiful, proportionate to the grace we have meekly welcomed into our lives.