Tuesday, June 30, 2020

9th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

Sunday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time Year A: Matthew 7: 21-27

A READING FROM A HOMILY BY PHILOXENUS OF MABBUG

This saying of our Master obliges us to be diligent not only in hearing God’s word, but also in obeying it. We do well to listen to the law, because it moves us to good works; it is a good thing to read and meditate on Scripture, because our inmost thoughts are thus purified from all evil; what to be assiduous in reading, listening to and meditating on the law of God without doing what it sees is a wickedness that the Spirit of God has already condemned, forbidding those guilty of it even to pick up the holy book in their unclean hands. God is said to the sinner: Do not touch the book of my commandments, because you have taken my covenant on your lips, but have hated correction and cast my words behind you.
Bell Rock Lighthouse, Illustration by Miss Stevenson

Assiduous readers who do no good works are accused of their very reading, and merit a more severe condemnation because each day they scorn and despise what they have heard that day. They are like dead people, corpses without souls. The dead will not hear thousands of trumpets and horns sounding in their ears; in the same way souls dead in sin, minds that have forgotten

God’s disciples need to have firmly anchored in their souls the remembrance of their Master, Jesus Christ, and to think of him date and night. They must learn where to begin, and how and where to construct the rooms in their buildings, and how to bring those buildings to completion. Otherwise all the passers-by will mock them, as our Lord said about the man who set out to build a tower and could not finish it.

The foundation is already laid, as St Paul said: it is Jesus Christ our God. If anyone builds on this foundation with gold or silver or precious stones, or with wood or straw or stubble, his work will be brought to light, because fire will reveal it and test the quality of each one’s work.

Good habits and righteousness in all its beauty are what Paul compared to gold, silver, and precious stones. Faith is like gold; temperance, fasting, abstinence, and the other good works are like silver; while the precious stones are peace, hope, pure and holy thoughts, and spiritual understanding that contemplates God and the grandeur of his being, and keeps silence, trembling before the inexplicable, uncommunicable mysteries of the Godhead.


Philoxenus of Mabbug, Hom. 1: SC 44, 27-31 (from Christ our Light 2)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

“Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward,” Jesus says in today's gospel (Mt. 10: 37-42). What a small thing a cup of cold water is! But it is the small things in our day-to-day existence that help make life livable. Pope Francis knows this! Here's part of his homily given at the conclusion of World Meeting of Families in 2015. If you'd like to read the whole talk - well worth it! - you'll find it here.
These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children, by siblings. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to [grow in] faith.

Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, he wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of his own living and active presence in our world.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

“Do not be afraid,” Jesus tells us in today's gospel (Matthew 10: 26-33). “You are worth more than many sparrows.” If God cares for a single, simple bird, how much more does he care for us? Even the hairs on our heads are counted. This trust in God's loving care is the perfect response to fear, no matter what form fear may take in our lives.

Julian of Norwich, an English solitary who lived in the late fourteenth century, wrote these wise words on trust in God:
During our lifetime here we have in us a marvellous mixture of both wellbeing and woe. We have in us our risen Lord Jesus Christ, and we have in us the wretchedness and the harm of Adam’s falling. Dying, we are constantly protected by Christ, and by the touching of his grace we are raised to true trust in salvation. And we are so afflicted in our feelings by Adam’s falling in various ways, by sin and by different pains, and in this we are made dark and so blind that we can scarcely accept any comfort. But in our intention we wait for God, and trust faithfully to have mercy and grace; and this is his own working in us, and in his goodness he opens the eye of our understanding, by which we have sight, sometimes more and sometimes less, according to the ability God gives us to receive....
And even so, when this sweetness is hidden, we fall again into blindness, and so in various ways into woe and tribulation. But then this is our comfort: that we know in our faith that by the power of Christ who is our protector we never assent to [spiritual and bodily sin], but we complain about it, and endure in pain and in woe, praying until the time that he shows himself again to us. And so we remain in this mixture all the days of our life; but he wants us to trust that he is constantly with us in three ways. He is with us in heaven, true man in his own person, drawing us up. And he is with us on earth, leading us. And he is with us in our soul, endlessly dwelling, ruling and guarding.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Corpus Christi, Year A

Today we celebrate the great solemnity of Corpus Christithe Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. (The US Conference of Catholic Bishops allows us the option to move it from Thursday, in order that more of the faithful can celebrate it.)
Last Supper,.14th c. Dominican gradual. (Karlsruhe, Germany.)

This is a great feast day! It is the day we thank God for the gift Jesus gave us of the Eucharist. On the night before he died he instituted this Sacrament that allows us to be one with him in a sublime and mysterious way. Our union with Jesus in Holy Communion is beyond our imagination and it yet it is not our imagination; the whole of Jesus - body, blood, soul and divinity - is present within us. He hears our deepest thoughts, love, worries and desires with all the interest, concern and love that only a parent or lover has for another but even more. How blessed we are!

St. Thomas Aquinas, who composed the liturgy for this day, wrote the beautiful sequence Lauda Sion salvatorem. Here it is sung by the Benedictine monks of Clervaux, and here's an English translation.

And finally, here is a reflection of this great feast from  St. Thomas himself:
No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion. 
It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfilment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Holy Trinity, Year I

Blessed Feast of the Holy Trinity! This great mystery is beyond our understanding, yet God longs for us to know how deeply he loves us as the individuals we are. Pope Francis, reflecting on the unity of the Trinity, said that “The relationship between Jesus and the Father is the 'womb' of the link between Christians. If we are rooted in that womb, in this burning fire of love which is the Trinity, we can become able to possess one heart alone and one soul alone, because the love of God scorches our selfishness, judgments and divisions.”

Icon of the Trinity, Andrei Rublev (1425)
As our country struggles for unity and peace these days, Pope Francis' words take on special significance:
Our being created in the image and likeness of God-Communion calls us to understand ourselves as beings-in-relationship and to live interpersonal relations in solidarity and mutual love.

Such relationships play out, above all, in the sphere of our ecclesial communities, so that the image of the Church as icon of the Trinity is ever clearer. But also in every social relationship, from the family to friendships, to the work environment: they are all concrete occasions offered to us in order to build relationships that are increasingly humanly rich, capable of reciprocal respect and disinterested love.

The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity invites us to commit ourselves in daily events to being leaven of communion, consolation and mercy. In this mission, we are sustained by the strength that the Holy Spirit gives us: he takes care of the flesh of humanity, wounded by injustice, oppression, hate and avarice.
We pray that the deep love and relationship that is within God may bear fruit in all our lives and relationships!