Saturday, November 28, 2020

1st Sunday of Advent, Year B

"Watch! Stay awake!," declares Christ in the Gospel for this First Sunday of Advent (Mk 13:33-37). We are called to shake off the sloth that drags us down so that we may eagerly await him and desire the things of heaven. Godfrey of Admont explains further how to spend these holy days of the Advent season:
Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock,
 stained glass detail, Geneva, Indiana
Take heed, watch, and pray, the Scripture says. By these words our Lord and Saviour admonished not only his disciples whom he was addressing in the flesh; by these same words he also made clear to us what we must do, and how we should keep watch. The three parts of this saying plainly show how all destined to be saved, who forget what lies behind them and desire to press on toward what lies ahead, can attain the summit of perfection which is their goal. [...]
Take heed, watch, and pray our text says; meaning, take heed by understanding what is right; watch by doing what is good; and pray by desiring what is eternal. And the following words show clearly why they must be so very heedful, watchful, and prayerful. You do not know, the text says, when the time will be. So since we are ignorant of the time of this great visitation, we must be always watching and praying; that is to say, for the grace of so great a visitation we must prepare the innermost recesses of our hearts by vigilant effort.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Christ the King, Year A

The Last Judgment,
 Rogier van der Weyden (1446-52)
The Solemnity of Christ the King is the final Sunday of Ordinary Time, which closes the liturgical year with a profound and powerful act of worship. As the seasons of the church year mirror the entire drama of salvation, this last week draws our attention to the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. The Gospel from Matthew (25:31-46) reminds us that our eternal destiny begins with this life, and is shaped by our efforts to love God and all whom we encounter. What great joy is in store, and for all eternity! St. Hippolytus describes this in detail:
As the holy gospel clearly proclaims, the Son of Man will gather together all nations. He will separate people one from another, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep he will place at his right hand, the goats at his left. Then he will say to those at his right: Come, my Father’s blessed ones, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Come, you lovers of poor people and strangers. Come, you who fostered my love, for I am love. Come, you who shared peace, for I am peace.
Come, my Father’s blessed ones, inherit the kingdom prepared for you who did not make an idol of wealth, who gave alms to the poor, help to orphans and widows, drink to the thirsty, and food to the hungry. Come, you who welcomed strangers, clothed the naked, visited the sick, comforted prisoners, and assisted the blind. Come, you who kept the seal of faith unbroken, who were swift to assemble in the churches, who listened to my Scriptures, longed for my words, observed my law day and night, and like good soldiers shared in my suffering because you wanted to please me, your heavenly King. Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Look, by kingdom is ready, paradise stands open, my immortality is displayed in all its beauty. Come now, all of you, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.... Enjoy forever the gifts of my heavenly Father, and of the most holy and life-giving Spirit. What tongue can describe those blessings? Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, not human heart conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

The Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25:14-30) is a story that Christ uses to challenge and encourage us. It is a call to be zealous for God, to be resourceful in our ways of serving him and to avoid fear. As St. Augustine says in a homily: Love makes all, the hardest and most distressing things, altogether easy, and almost nothing. Indeed, loving God enables us to use the gifts we have been given to bear much fruit for the Kingdom. Here, St. John Chrysostom reflects on this week's Gospel:
Parable of the Talents, A. N. Mironov (2013)
In the parable of the talents the Master entrusted money to his servants and then set out on a journey. This was to help us understand how patient he is, though in my view this story also refers to the resurrection. Here it is a question not of a vineyard and vine dressers, but of all workers. The Master is addressing everyone, not only rulers, or the Jews.
Those bringing him their profit acknowledge frankly what is their own, and what is their Master’s. One says: Sir, you gave me five talents; another says: You gave me two, recognising that they had received from him the means of making a profit. They are extremely grateful, and attribute to him all their success.
What does the Master say then? Well done, good and faithful servant (for goodness shows itself in concern for one’s neighbour). Because you have proved trustworthy in managing a small amount, I will give you charge of a greater sum: come and share your Master’s joy.


Saturday, November 7, 2020

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

"Stay awake," says Christ in this week's Gospel passage from Matthew (25:1-13). In short, our Lord exhorts us to be spiritually alert, vigilant and eager for his coming. While we know he will come again at the end of the ages, we are called to be ready to welcome Jesus who comes lovingly into our lives at every moment. Pope Francis expounds further on this Gospel:
Five Foolish Virgins, France (12th century)
The Bridegroom is the Lord, and the time of waiting for his arrival is the time he gives to us, to all of us, before his Final Coming with mercy and patience; it is a time of watchfulness; a time in which we must keep alight the lamps of faith, hope and charity, a time in which to keep our heart open to goodness, beauty and truth. It is a time to live in accordance with God, because we do not know either the day or the hour of Christ’s return.

What he asks of us is to be ready for the encounter — ready for an encounter, for a beautiful encounter, the encounter with Jesus, which means being able to see the signs of his presence, keeping our faith alive with prayer, with the sacraments, and taking care not to fall asleep so as to not forget about God. The life of slumbering Christians is a sad life, it is not a happy life. Christians must be happy, with the joy of Jesus. Let us not fall asleep!