Saturday, September 18, 2021

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

In today's Gospel, from Mark 9:30-37, the disciples are arguing about who among them is the greatest. It's pretty encouraging that even those closest to Jesus during his lifetime, those whom he taught, had their priorities upside down! Jesus responds by telling them, "Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all."

Here's a commentary on this passage by St. Theophylact (1050-1107 AD), bishop of Ohrid in Bulgaria:
Jesus washing Peter's feet by Ford Maddox Brown, detail (1852-6)
He came to Capernaum, and after the entering the house he questioned the disciples: “What were you arguing about on the way?” Now the disciples still saw things from a very human point of view, and they had been quarrelling amongst themselves about which of them was the greatest and the most esteemed by Christ. Yet the Lord did not restrain their desire for pre-eminent honor; indeed he wishes us to aspire to the most exalted rank. He does not however wish us to seize the first place, but rather to win the highest honor by humility.
He stood a child among them because he wants us to become childlike. A child has no desire for honor; it is not jealous, and it does not remember injuries. And he said: “If you become like that, you will receive a great reward, and if, moreover, for my sake, you honor others who are like that, you will receive the kingdom of heaven; for you will be receiving me, and in receiving me you receive the one who sent me. You see then what great things humility, together with simplicity and guilelessness, can accomplish. It causes both the Son and the Father to dwell in us, and with them of course comes the Holy Spirit also.



Saturday, September 11, 2021

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In today's Gospel, Our Lord tells his disciples that "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it." Here is part St. Caesarius of Arles' beautiful commentary on this Gospel:
Vincenzo Catena
Christ bearing the Cross (c. 1520/30)
"As well as telling us to renounce ourselves, our Lord and Savior said that we must take up our cross and follow him. What does it mean to take up one’s cross? Bearing every annoyance patiently. That is following Christ. When someone begins to follow his way of life and his commandments, that person will meet resistance on every side. He or she will be opposed, mocked, even persecuted, and this not only by unbelievers but also by people who to all appearances belong to the body of Christ, though they are really excluded from it by their wickedness; people who, being Christians only in name, never stop persecuting true Christians.

If you want to follow Christ, then, take up his cross without delay. Endure injuries, do not be overcome by them. If we would fulfil the Lord’s command: If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me, we must strive with God’s help to do as the Apostle says: As long as we have food and clothing, let this content us.  Otherwise, if we seek more material goods than we need and desire to become rich, we may fall prey to temptation. The devil may trick us into wanting the many useless and harmful things that plunge people into ruin and destruction. May we be free from this temptation to the protection of our Lord, lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen."

Saturday, September 4, 2021

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus has just healed the man born deaf and mute. The crowd says of Jesus, “He has done all things well. He has made the deaf hear and the dumb speak.” St. Lawrence of Brindisi, the 16th century Capuchin and Doctor of the Church, comments:

Christ healing a Deaf-Mute, Bibliothèque national de France, 14th c.
"He has done all things well." The law says that all God did was good; the gospel says he has done all things well. Doing a good deed is not quite the same as doing it well. Many do good deeds but fail to do them well. The deeds of hypocrites, for example, are good, but they are done in the wrong spirit, with a perverse and defective intention.
Everything God does, however, is not only good but is also done well. "The Lord is just in all his ways and holy in all his deeds." With wisdom you have done them all: that is to say, most wisely and well. So "he has done all things well," they say.
Now if God has done all his good works and done them well for our sake, knowing that we take pleasure in goodness, why I ask do we not endeavor to make all our works good and to do them well, knowing that such works are pleasing to God? So even in this present life we shall be happy, this world will be an earthly paradise for us; with the Hebrews we shall feast on heavenly manna in the desert of this life, if only we follow Christ’s example by striving to do everything well, so that "he has done all things well" may be said of each one of us.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

22nd Sunday of OT, Year B

Todays Gospel reading is taken from chapter seven of Mark. The Pharisees have just asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” Jesus replies, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

St. Irenaeus, the second century bishop and Father of the Church, wrote about this:
Faith, Hope and Charity,
by Karp Zolotaryov (1685)
That [love of God] is the first and greatest commandment, the second being love of our neighbor, the Lord taught by saying that the whole of the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. He himself brought no greater commandment than this but he renewed this same commandment by bidding his disciples love God with their whole heart, and their neighbour as themselves.
Paul also says that love is the fulfilment of the law. When all other charisms fail, faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of all is love. Knowledge is of no avail without the love of God, nor is understanding of mysteries, faith, or prophecy. Without love all are vain and profitless. Love on the other hand perfects a person, and one who loves God is perfect both in this world and the next, for we shall never stop loving God – the longer we gaze upon him the more our love for him will grow.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

This week's Sunday Gospel reading is from John 6:60-69. After Jesus has fed the crowd of five thousand he tells them that he is the Bread of Life: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” After that, many of his disciples left him. He turns and asks the twelve apostles, “Will you also leave me?” Peter responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria from 412-444 A.D, comments on this passage:
Jesus and St. Peter, Miraculous Draught of Fishes,
detail from a tapestry by Raphael
To whom shall we go? 
Peter asks. In other words, “Who else will instruct us the way you do?” Or, “To whom shall we go to find anything better?” You have the words of eternal life; not hard words, as those other disciples say, but words that will bring us to the loftiest goal, unceasing, endless life removed from all corruption.
These words surely make quite obvious to us the necessity for sitting at the feet of Christ, taking him as our one and only teacher, and giving him our constant and undivided attention. He must be our guide who knows well how to lead us to everlasting life. Thus, thus shall we ascend to the divine court of heaven, and entering the church of the first born, delight in blessings passing all human understanding.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Since this Sunday falls on August 15, we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. Here are some thoughts from Pope Francis:

Assumption of the Virgin, Titian
What does our Mother advise us? Today in the Gospel the first thing she says is: “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk 1:46). Accustomed to hearing these words, perhaps we no longer pay attention to their meaning. To “magnify” literally means “to make great”, to enlarge. Mary “aggrandises the Lord”: not problems, which she did not lack at the time, but the Lord. How often, instead, we let ourselves be overwhelmed by difficulties and absorbed by fears! Our Lady does not, because she puts God as the first greatness of life. From here the Magnificat springs forth, from here joy is born: not from the absence of problems, which come sooner or later, but joy is born from the presence of God who helps us, who is near us. Because God is great. And, above all, God looks on the lowly ones. We are His weakness of love: God looks on and loves the lowly.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

19th Sunday of OT, Year B

At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

This Sunday’s Gospel,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said,
Last Supper miniature from a Psalter c1220-40
is the concluding part and culmination of Jesus’ discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum, after he had the previous day fed thousands of people with only five loaves and two fish. Jesus reveals the meaning of that miracle; namely, that the time of the promise has been fulfilled: God the Father, who fed the Israelites with manna in the desert, now sent him, the Son, as the true Bread of life, and this bread is his flesh, his life, offered in sacrifice for us. 
In listening to this discourse, the people understood that Jesus was not a Messiah as they wanted, one who aspired to an earthly throne. He did not look for a consensus to conquer Jerusalem: indeed, He willed to go up to the Holy City in order to share the fate of the prophets: to give His life for God and for the people. The loaves, broken for thousands of people, would not result in a triumphal procession but would foreshadow the sacrifice of the Cross, in which Jesus would become Bread, his body and blood offered in expiation. Jesus offered the discourse in order to disillusion the crowds and, above all, to provoke a decision in His disciples. In fact, many among them, from that time on, no longer followed Him. 
Dear friends, let us allow ourselves once again to be astonished by Christ’s words: He, the grain of wheat thrown into the furrows of history, is the first fruits of a new humanity, freed from the corruption of sin and death. And let us rediscover the beauty of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which expresses all of God’s humility and holiness: He makes himself little — God becomes little — a fragment of the universe, to reconcile all things in His love. May the Virgin Mary, who gave the world the Bread of life, teach us to always live in profound union with him.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

18th Sunday of OT, Year B

This Sunday the liturgy continues the reading of chapter six of the Gospel according to John ( (Jn 6:24-35). The people who were present at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes last week now go in search of Jesus, who tells them, “I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” Here's a commentary by Pope Francis:
Christ with the Host, Paulo di san Leocadio
They had not understood that that bread, broken for so many, for the multitude, was the expression of the love of Jesus himself. They had given more meaning to that bread than to its donor. Before this spiritual blindness, Jesus emphasizes the necessity of going beyond the gift, to discover, come to know the donor. God himself is both the gift and the giver. Thus from that bread, from that gesture, the people can find the One who gives it, who is God. He invites them to open up to a perspective which is not only that of the daily need to eat, dress, achieve success, build a career. Jesus speaks of another food. He speaks of a food which is incorruptible and which is good to seek and gather. He exhorts: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you” (v. 27). That is to say, seek salvation, the encounter with God.
With these words, he seeks to make us understand that, in addition to physical hunger man carries within him another hunger—all of us have this hunger—a more important hunger, which cannot be satisfied with ordinary food. It is a hunger for life, a hunger for eternity which He alone can satisfy, as he is “the bread of life” (v. 35). Jesus does not eliminate the concern and search for daily food. No, he does not remove the concern for all that can make life more progressive. But Jesus reminds us that the true meaning of our earthly existence lies at the end, in eternity, it lies in the encounter with Him, who is gift and giver. He also reminds us that human history with its suffering and joy must be seen in a horizon of eternity, that is, in that horizon of the definitive encounter with Him. And this encounter illuminates all the days of our life.
... This “Bread of Life” is given to us with a task, namely, that we in our turn satisfy the spiritual and material hunger of our brothers, proclaiming the Gospel the world over. With the witness of our brotherly and solidary attitude toward our neighbour, we render Christ and his love present amid mankind.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

17th Sunday of OT, Year B

The multiplication of the loaves and fishes recorded in today's Gospel (John 6:1-15) includes an important detail: a young boy supplies five barley loaves and two fish. Not much to feel such a large crowd. But Jesus uses them to work the miracle.

Like the disciples in this scene, often in life we may feel that something is beyond our powers: we want to be generous, to love, but feel inadequate. Here's part of an Angelus talk Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave on this subject:
The Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, Petrus Comestor's Bible Historiale, 1372
A boy’s presence is also mentioned in the scene of the multiplication. On perceiving the problem of of feeding so many hungry people, he shared the little he had brought with him: five loaves and two fish (cf. Jn 6:9). The miracle was not worked from nothing, but from a first modest sharing of what a simple lad had brought with him. Jesus does not ask us for what we do not have. Rather, he makes us see that if each person offers the little he has the miracle can always be repeated: God is capable of multiplying our small acts of love and making us share in his gift....

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord to enable us to rediscover the importance of feeding ourselves not only on bread but also on truth, on love, on Christ, on Christ’s Body, taking part faithfully and with profound awareness in the Eucharist so as to be ever more closely united with him. Indeed, “It is not the Eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it. Christ nourishes us by uniting us to himself; he draws us into himself.”

Let us pray that the bread necessary for a dignified life may never be lacking and that inequalities may be demolished, not with the weapons of violence but rather with sharing and with love.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

16th Sunday of OT, Year B

They went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.... When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:32, 34).

At the Mass with the Papal inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI on April 24, 2005, he gave a deeply moving homily on the ministry of the pope. Its themes of desert and of the Good Shepherd are a fitting commentary on today's Gospel:
Jesus the Good Shepherd, tomb of Pius IX,
Saint Lawrence outside the Walls
The pastor must be inspired by Christ’s holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth’s treasures no longer serve to build God’s garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction. 
The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.
We suffer on account of God’s patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Solemnity of St. Benedict

We wish you all a blessed Feast of our Holy Father St. Benedict!

Today, along with other Benedictines, we celebrate the feast of our Holy Father St. Benedict. Here's a reflection from a Brief by Blessed Paul VI, who declared St. Benedict the Patron of Europe:
Saint Benedict has the reputation of being the messenger of peace, the maker of unity, the master of civilization, and especially the herald of Christianity and the author of monasticism in the West. When darkness seemed to be spreading over Europe after the fall of the Roman empire, he brought the light of dawn to shine upon this continent. For with the cross, the book, and the plough, Christian civilization was carried, principally through him and his sons, to the peoples who lived in those lands which stretch from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, and from Ireland to the plains of Poland.
St Benedict healing a leper.
Fresco fragment from the lower church of San Crisogono, Rome
With the cross, that is, with the law of Christ, he strengthened and developed the institutions of private and social life. Through the “Work of God,” that is, through the careful and assiduous conduct of prayer, he taught that divine worship was of the greatest importance in the social order. And so he sealed that spiritual unity of Europe in which the various nations of different ethnic origins and languages felt themselves to be united into the one people of God. And so this unity, learnt from so great a master, which the sons of Saint Benedict so faithfully strove to achieve, became the principal element in that period of history called the middle ages. All men of good will in our times must strive to recover that unity, which, as Saint Augustine says, is “the form of all beauty,” and which alas has been lost in the vicissitudes of history.
With the book, that is, with the culture of the mind, this venerable patriarch from whom so many monasteries have drawn their name and their spirit spread his doctrine through the old classics of literature and the liberal arts, preserved and passed on to posterity by them with so much care.
And lastly, with the plough, that is, through agriculture, he changed the waste and desert lands into orchards and delightful gardens; and joining work with prayer in the spirit of those words ora et labora, he restored the dignity of human labor. 
Not without reason, then, did Pope Pius XII call Saint Benedict the “Father of Europe,” for he inspired the peoples of this continent with the love of order upon which their social life depends. We pray he may look upon Europe, and by his prayer achieve even greater things in years to come.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

14th Sunday of OT, Year B

In this week's Gospel from Mark (6:1-6), we see the profound lack of faith of Jesus's own people. As a result, Christ works very few miracles in their midst. Pope Benedict XVI, in a homily below, reflects on this scene and reinforces the relationship between faith and divine power.
Jesus preaching at Nazareth, unidentified icon
This reaction is understandable because familiarity at the human level makes it difficult to go beyond this in order to be open to the divine dimension. That this son of a carpenter was the Son of God was hard for them to believe. Jesus actually takes as an example the experience of the prophets of Israel, who in their own homeland were an object of contempt, and identifies himself with them. Due to this spiritual closure Jesus “could do no mighty work there [Nazareth], except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them” (Mk 6:5). 
In fact Christ’s miracles are not a display of power but signs of the love of God that is brought into being wherever it encounters reciprocated human faith. Origen writes: “as in the case of material things there exists in some things a natural attraction towards some other thing, as in the magnet for iron... so there is an attraction in such faith towards the divine power” (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 10, 19).

Saturday, June 26, 2021

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

The beautiful Gospel for today (Mark 5:21-43) tells of the story of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” How comforting these words are! Pope Frances speaks of this Gospel and how we all face death:
Raising of Jairus' daughter,
Codex Egberti, c. 980-993, Reichenau Abbey
We are all small and defenceless before the mystery of death. However, what a grace if at that moment we safeguard in our heart the little flame of faith! Jesus takes us by the hand, as he took Jairus’ daughter by the hand, and repeats once again: “Talitha cumi”; “Little girl, arise!” He will say this to us, to each one of us: “Arise, rise again!”.

I invite you, now, to close your eyes and think about that moment: of our death. Each of us think about our own death, and imagine that moment that will come, when Jesus will take us by the hand and tell us: “Come, come with me, arise”. There, hope will end and reality will abide, the reality of life. Think hard: Jesus himself will come to each of us and take us by the hand, with his tenderness, his meekness, his love. Each one repeat Jesus’ words in your heart: “Arise, come. Arise, come. Arise, rise again!”.

This is our hope in the face of death. For those who believe, it is a door that is thrust open wide; for those who doubt it is a glimmer of light that filters through an exit that is not quite completely closed. But for all of us it will be a grace, when this light, of the encounter with Jesus, illuminates us.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Gospel of Christ calming the storm at sea (Mk 4:35-41; Mt 8:23-27) is a stunning account of Jesus' divine power over all of creation. In a moment, with a single command, the winds and waves are subdued. St. Augustine, in the following sermon, writes of Christ's power within us---a power to calm the storms of daily life. We only need call him to mind and "awaken" his grace-bestowing presence.
From the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Philanthropinon

When you have to listen to abuse, that means you are being buffeted by the wind; when your anger is roused, you are being tossed by the waves. So when the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperiled, your heart is taking a battering. On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate; but the joy of revenge brings with it another kind of misfortune – shipwreck. Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. 
What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence. Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him. Now what was your desire? You wanted to get your own back. You have forgotten that when Christ was being crucified he said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Christ, the sleeper in your heart, had no desire for vengeance in his. Rouse him, then, call him to mind."

Saturday, June 12, 2021

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In today's Gospel (Mark 4:26-34), Jesus says that "...the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed." Any gardener knows what a miracle of creation a seed is: from a tiny object, sometimes scarcely visible to the eye, a large plant grows, given the proper environment. In this commentary St. Peter Chrysologus says that:
The Sower, (1888) Vincent van Gogh
Christ is the kingdom of heaven. Sown like a mustard seed in the garden of the Virgin's womb, he grew up into the tree of the cross whose branches stretch across the world. Crushed in the mortar of the passion, its fruit has produced seasoning enough for the flavoring and preservation of every living creature with which it comes in contact.

As long as a mustard seed remains intact, its properties lie dormant; but when it is crushed they are exceedingly evident. So it was with Christ; he chose to have his body crushed, because he would not have his power concealed....
Such then is the mustard seed which Christ sowed in his garden. When he promised a kingdom to the partriarchs the seed took root in them; with the prophets it sprang up, with the apostles it grew tall, in the Church it became a great tree putting forth innumerable branches laden with gifts. And now you too must take the wings of the psalmist’s dove, gleaming gold in the rays of divine sunlight, and fly to rest for ever among those sturdy, fruitful branches. No snares are set to trap you there; fly off, then, with confidence and dwell securely in its shelter.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Feast of the Sacred Heart, Year B

On this feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we offer this meditation given by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Christ's mercy and love: 


Sacred Heart Charles Bosseron Chambers
Together let us pause to contemplate the pierced heart of the Crucified One. Just now we heard once again, in the brief reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, that “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ... raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-6). To be “in” Jesus Christ is already to be seated in heaven. The very core of Christianity is expressed in the heart of Jesus; in Christ the revolutionary “newness” of the Gospel is completely revealed and given to us: the Love that saves us and even now makes us live in the eternity of God. As the Evangelist John writes: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:16). God’s heart calls to our hearts, inviting us to come out of ourselves, to forsake our human certainties, to trust in him and, by following his example, to make ourselves a gift of unbounded love.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Feast of Corpus Christi, Year B

On this great Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, we offer for your reflection part of a homily give by Pope Francis on this feast in 2015:
Manuscript illumination, ca. 1320
In the Last Supper, Jesus gives His Body and his Blood by means of the bread and the wine, to leave us the memorial of His sacrifice of infinite love. With this viaticum full to overflowing with grace, the disciples have everything they need for their long journey through history, to extend the kingdom of God to everyone. Light and strength will be for them the gift that Jesus made of Himself, sacrificing Himself voluntarily on the Cross. This Bread of Life has come down to us! The Church is in unending awe before this reality – an awe that endlessly nourishes contemplation, adoration, memory. This is seen in a beautiful text of today’s Liturgy, the Responsory of the second reading of the Office of Readings, which says: “See in this bread the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and in this cup the blood which flowed from His side. Take His body, then, and eat it; take His blood and drink it, and you will become His members. The body of Christ is the bond which unites you to him: eat it, or you will have no part in him. The blood is the price he paid for your redemption: drink it, lest you despair of your sinfulness.”

We ask ourselves what it means today, to be torn from Him, to despair – as cowards – of our sinfulness?
We are torn from Him when we are not obedient to the Word of the Lord, when we do not live brotherhood between us, when we race to occupy the first places, when we do not find the courage to witness to charity, when we are unable to offer hope. The Eucharist allows us to be not torn from Him, for it is the bond of communion, is the fulfillment of the Covenant, a living sign of the love of Christ who humbled and annihilated Himself for us, that we might remain united. By participating in the Eucharist and by feeding on it, we are inserted into a way that does not admit divisions. The Christ present in our midst, in the signs of bread and wine, requires that the power of love exceed every laceration, and at the same time that it become communion with the poor, support for the weak, fraternal attention to those who are struggling to carry the weight of everyday life.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Trinity Sunday, Year B

As we honor the Holy Trinity this Sunday, we look to the Fathers of the Church to enlighten us on such a sublime subject. St. Athanasius, in the sermon below, describes the intimacy of relationship among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the way in which they share the divine life with us!
Book miniature of Rublev's Trinity (Unknown painter)
Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.
This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Pentecost Sunday, Year B

The beautiful thirteenth century sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritu, is sung at Mass on Pentecost Sunday, but it's a wonderful prayer for any day of the year. Here's an English translation.
Come, Holy Spirit,
From the Hours of John of Berry, c. 1405/10 (British Library)

send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.

Come, father of the poor,
come, giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart. 

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Without your grace,
there is nothing in us,
nothing that is not harmful.

Cleanse that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled,
correct what goes astray.

Give to your faithful,
those who trust in you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Grant the reward of virtue,
grant the deliverance of salvation,
grant eternal joy.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

7th Sunday of Easter, Year B

When the moment was at hand for Jesus to leave his disciples, Guerric of Igny says,
Ascension of Christ, 15th c. Italian, State Library of Victoria
He seemed overwhelmed by the depth of his affection for them, and unable to disguise the overflowing tenderness which until then he had hidden from them. 
Hence the words of the evangelist: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” He laid bare the whole strength of his love for his friends, before pouring himself out like water for his enemies. Handing over to them the sacrament of his body and blood, he instituted the celebration of the eucharist.
It is hard to say which was the more wonderful, his power or his love, in devising this new means of remaining with them, to console them for his departure. In spite of the withdrawal of his bodily presence, he would remain not only with them but in them, by virtue of this sacrament.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Feast of the Ascension, Year B

Today we reach the fortieth day after Easter Sunday and we celebrate the feast of the Lord’s ascension into heaven. (Many Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States transfer the solemnity to the following Sunday.) Think of it: Our Lord’s mission on earth has been fulfilled, but he is leaving his Church to carry on his work of salvation. And yet he said, “I will not leave you orphans.” St. Augustine has these powerful words to say about this moment:
Ascension of the Lord, Drogo Sacramentary
As he was about to ascend, he spoke the last words he was to utter on earth. At the moment of going up to heaven, the head commended to our care the members he was leaving on earth, and so departed. No longer will you find Christ speaking on earth; in the future he will speak from heaven. Why will he speak from heaven? Because his members are being trampled underfoot on earth. He spoke to Saul the persecutor from above, saying: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? I have ascended to heaven, but I still remain on the earth. Here at the Father’s right hand I sit, but there I still hunger and thirst and am without shelter’.




Saturday, May 8, 2021

6th Sunday of Easter, Year B

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” our Lord declares to his disciples in this week's Gospel from John (14:15-21). Just as Christ loved us unto death, so also are we called to do the same. The life and martyrdom of St. Thomas More (1478-1535) is a poignant reflection of Christ's love and an example of profound fidelity to God; he was willing to oppose the spiritual supremacy of the king of England in favor of the true supremacy of the bishop of Rome. In one of More's meditations, he reveals that the love of Christ is indeed the truest, highest love, the only love worthy of imitation.
Let us deeply consider the love of our Savior Christ who so loved his own unto the end that for their sakes he willingly suffered that painful end, and therein declared the highest degree of love that can be.
For, as he himself says: “A greater love no one has than to give his life for his friends.” This is indeed the greatest love that ever anyone had. But yet had our Savior a greater, for he gave his for both friend and foe.
Who can in adversity be sure of many of his friends when our Savior himself was, at his capture, left alone and forsaken by his? When you go forth who will go with you? 
Now, since our Lord has so loved us, for our salvation, let us diligently call for his grace that in return for his great love we be not found ungrateful.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

5th Sunday of Easter, Christ the True Vine, Year B

I am the true vine, Jesus says in today's Gospel, you are the branches (John 15:1-8). Think of it: a vine and branches are one plant, with the same life-giving sap flowing through it. The branches depend on the vine for life and nourishment.

Here's part of a commentary on this Gospel by St. Augustine:
Christ the True Vine, anonymous, before 20th c.I 
If you dwell in me, said Jesus, and my words dwell in you, you will ask for whatever you desire and it will be yours. Can a person dwelling in Christ desire anything out of harmony with Christ? The very fact that people dwell in their Savior must mean that they have no desire that is opposed to their salvation. And yet we do indeed desire one thing insofar as we are in Christ, and another insofar as we are still in this world.
Because of our sojourn here below, a thought sometimes steals into our ignorant minds to ask for something which cannot be good for us. But this many not be, if we are dwelling in Christ. He does what we ask only if it is for our good. To dwell in him, therefore, is to have his words dwelling in us; whatever we desire we shall then ask for, and it will be given to us.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

4th Sunday of Easter, Year B (Good Shepherd Sunday)

In the Gospel for this Good Shepherd Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Easter (Jn 10:11-18), we learn that Christ is the Good Shepherd, and his faithful followers are the “sheep” who will hear the shepherd's voice. And what is this voice of Christ saying? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger. Basil of Seleucia, in his homily below, reveals the direct link between our compassion for our neighbor and God's compassion toward us:
Good Shepherd mural (detail), Duncan Grant
Lincoln Cathedral, England. (1958)
The Gospel says that “all nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people from one another, as the Good Shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left, and he will say to those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'”
Win the judge over by gifts before you come to trial. Provide him with grounds for showing clemency, give him some reason to acquit you.... Christ will accept even the gift of the poor and for a small gift grant remission of long punishment. Let us put out the fire with mercy and avert the sentence that hangs over us by showing love for one another. Let us be compassionate toward one another and forgiving, as God has forgiven us in Christ.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B


This Sunday's Gospel (Lk 24:35-48) tells of the encounter two disciples have with the Risen Lord. When he appeared to them they were "startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost." Jesus says, "Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." He shows them his hands and his feet and they are incredulous for joy and amazed.

Here's a meditation from a homily by St. Augustine:
Supper at Emmaus, Matthias Stom
Christ rose from the tomb with his wounds healed, though their scars remained. He knew it would be good for his disciples if he retained the scars, for those scars would heal the wound in their hearts.
What wound do I mean? The wound of disbelief; for even when he appeared before their eyes and showed them his true body, they still took him for a disembodied spirit. So he showed himself to his disciples.
When we say “himself,” what precisely do we mean? We mean Christ as head of his Church.
He foresaw the Church extending throughout the world, a vision his disciples could not yet share. However, in showing them the head, he was promising them the body too.
We too find ourselves in a situation not unlike theirs: we can see something which was not visible to them, while they could see something not visible to us. We can see the Church extending throughout the world today, something that was withheld from them, but Christ, who in his human body was perceptible to them, cannot be seen by us.

And just as they, seeing his human flesh, were enabled to believe in his mystical body, so now we, seeing his mystical body, should be able to believe in the head. Just as the sight of the risen Christ helped the disciples to believe in the Church that was to follow, so the spectacle of that same Church helps to confirm our faith in the resurrection of Christ.

Sunday within the Octave of Easter, Year B



This Sunday's Gospel tells the story of Doubting Thomas: the Apostle Thomas is not present with the other disciples when Jesus appears to them. So he refuses to believe them and says: "U
nless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later Jesus appears to them again and tells Thomas: “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Pope Francis commented on this gospel:
The disbelief of Saint Thomas.
Detail of ivory dyptic, ca. 500 AD., Milan Cathedral.
In the redeeming contact with the wounds of the Risen One, Thomas showed his own wounds, his own injuries, his own lacerations, his own humiliation; in the print of the nails he found the decisive proof that he was loved, that he was expected, that he was understood. He found himself before the Messiah filled with kindness, mercy, tenderness. This was the Lord he was searching for, he, in the hidden depths of his being, for he had always known He was like this. And how many of us are searching deep in our heart to meet Jesus, just as He is: kind, merciful, tender! For we know, deep down, that He is like this. Having rediscovered personal contact with Christ who is amiable and mercifully patient, Thomas understood the profound significance of his Resurrection and, intimately transformed, he declared his full and total faith in Him exclaiming: “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). Beautiful, Thomas’ expression is beautiful!


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter

A most holy and blessed Easter to all!

This meditation is from taken from an Easter sermon by Guerric of Igny:
The Empty Tomb, British Library

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.  And you also, if you watch daily at the threshold of wisdom, fixing your eyes on the doorway and, like the Magdalen, keeping vigil at the entrance to his tomb, you also will find what she found. You will know that what was written of wisdom was written of Christ: She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. Anyone who rises early to seek her will have no trouble; he will find her sitting at his gates. 
While it was still dark Mary had come to watch at the tomb, and she found Jesus whom she sought standing there in the flesh. But you must know him now according to the spirit, not according to the flesh, and you can be sure of finding his spiritual presence if you seek him with a desire like hers, and if he observes your persevering prayer. Say then to the Lord Jesus, with Mary’s love and longing: 
My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks for you. Make the psalmist’s prayer your own as you say: O God, my God, I watch for you at morning light; my soul thirsts for you. Then see if you do not also find yourselves singing with them both: In the morning fill us with your love; we shall exult and rejoice all our days.


Friday, April 2, 2021

Good Friday, Year C

This Good Friday, we remember especially in prayer all those who have suffered and died during this last year, especially those affected by the pandemic. May Christ the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, receive them into his loving embrace.

This meditation is from a sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus (ca. 400-450):
Lamentation , Giotto (1304-1306)
It is by dying that your shepherd proves his love for you. When danger threatens his sheep and he sees himself unable to protect them, he chooses to die rather than to see calamity overtake his flock. What am I saying? Could Life himself die unless he chose to? Could anyone take life from its author against his will? He himself declared: “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again; no one takes it from me.” To die, therefore, was his own choice; immortal though he was, he allowed himself to be put to death.
By allowing himself to be taken captive, he overpowered his opponent; by submitting he overcame him; by his own execution he penalized his enemy, and by dying he opened the door to the conquest of death for his whole flock. And so the Good Shepherd lost none of his sheep when he laid down his life for them; he did not desert them, but kept them safe; he did not abandon them but called them to follow him, leading them by the way of death through the lowlands of this passing world to the pastures of life.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Holy Thursday, Year I

On this sacred day commemorating the Last Supper of the Lord, we offer this reflection from St. Augustine:
In this way Christ showed that as he suffered for our sake in his mortal body in order to ransom us from eternal death and prepare our way to the heavenly kingdom, so, in order to have us as his companions in eternal life, he would be willing to undergo the same things daily for us whenever we celebrated the sacramental reenactment of these sacred mysteries. For this reason he told his disciples: “Take this, all of you; this is my body, and this the chalice of my blood which is shed for all for the forgiveness of every sin. Whenever you receive it, you do so in memory of me.”
On the altar, therefore, Christ is present; there he is slain, there he is sacrificed, there his body and blood are received. Christ who on this Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper day gave his disciples the bread and the cup is the same Christ who today consecrates these elements. It is not the man who handles the sacramental species who consecrates Christ's body and blood; it is Christ himself, who was crucified for you. By the lips of the priest the words are pronounced; the body and blood are consecrated by the power and grace of God.
And so in all things let the purity of our mind and thought be evident, for we have a pure and holy sacrifice and must train our souls in a corresponding holiness. Having done all that needs to be done, we may then celebrate these sacred mysteries with all simplicity. Let us therefore approach Christ's altar in a fitting manner, so that we may be counted worthy to share eternal life with Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Palm Sunday, Year B

Blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week from us all! This is a thought from Bl. Guerric of Igny about Christ's entry into Jerusaem in the and his Passion:
Christ's entry into Jerusalem (detail from sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, 359 AD)
In the one they compete to lay their clothes in his path, in the other he is stripped of his own clothes. In the one he is welcomed to Jerusalem as a just king and savior, in the other he is thrown out of the city as a criminal, condemned as an impostor.

In the one he is mounted on an ass and accorded every mark of honor; in the other he hangs on the wood of the cross, torn by whips, pierced with wounds, and abandoned by his own.

If, then, we want to follow our leader without stumbling through prosperity and through adversity, let us keep our eyes upon him, honored in the procession, undergoing ignominy and suffering in the passion, yet unshakably steadfast in all such changes of fortune.




Saturday, March 20, 2021

5th Sunday of Lent, Year B

This week we are presented with a powerful gospel text (John 12:20-33) with the simple and clear imagery of a grain of wheat. "If a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it yields a rich harvest," says Christ. It is a striking and confronting message, and yet Jesus reassures us that a self-sacrificing death will yield an abundance of life. St. Cyril of Alexandria adds that we do not do this in isolation, but as many members of one body. He writes:

Christ became like one of us; he sprang from the holy Virgin like a spike of wheat from the ground. Indeed, he spoke of himself as a grain of wheat when he said: “I tell you truly, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains as it was, a single grain; but if it dies its yield is very great.” And so, like a sheaf of grain, the first fruits, as it were, of the earth, he offered himself to the Father for our sake.

For we do not think of a spike of wheat in isolation, any more than we do of ourselves. We think of it rather as part of a sheaf, which is a single bundle made up of many spikes. The spikes have to be gathered into a bundle before they can be used, and this is the key to the mystery they represent, the mystery of Christ who, though one, appears in the image of a sheaf to be made up of many, as in fact he is.

Spiritually, he contains in himself all believers. “As we have been raised up with him,” writes Saint Paul, “so we have also been enthroned with him in heaven.” He is a human being like ourselves, and this has made us one body with him, the body being the bond that unites us. We can say, therefore, that in him we are all one, and indeed he himself says to God, his heavenly Father: “It is my desire that as I and you are one, so they also may be one in us.”

Saturday, March 13, 2021

4th Sunday of Lent, Year B

As the Church approaches Holy Week, we are given Jesus's words to Nicodemus, recorded by St. John (3:14-21): For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. St. John Chrysostom reflects in a homily on this great love of God for humanity, a love that was revealed in the self-sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our redemption. This love should inspire awe and gratitude in us, for it reveals the very nature of who God is: love itself.

St. John Chrysostom says:
Crucifix, Paolo Veneziano (ca. 1350)
Although we praise our common Lord for all kinds of reasons, we praise and glorify him above all for the cross. It fills us with awe to see him dying like one accursed.

It is this death for people like ourselves that Paul constantly regards as the sign of Christ’s love for us. He passes over everything else that Christ did for our advantage and consolation and dwells incessantly on the cross. “The proof of Gods love for us,” he says, “is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.”

Then in the following sentence he gives us the highest ground for hope: “If when we were alienated from God, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son, how much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life!”

...What wonder, indeed, if Paul rejoices and glories in the cross, when the Lord himself spoke of his passion as his glory. “Father,” he prayed, “the hour has come: glorify your Son.”

Saturday, March 6, 2021

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B

Today's Gospel, taken from John 2:13-25, tells the dramatic story of Jesus driving the moneychangers from the temple. “God’s temple is holy,”  and, says St. Augustine:
Expulsion of the Money changers from the Temple, Giotto
You are that temple: all you who believe in Christ and whose belief makes you love him. Real  belief in Christ means love of Christ: it is not the belief of the demons who believed without loving and therefore despite their belief said: “What do you want with us, Son of God?” No; let our belief be full of love for him we believe in, so that instead of saying: “What do you want with us,” we may rather say: We belong to you, you have redeemed us. 
To pray in God’s temple we must pray in the peace of the Church, in the unity of the body of Christ, which is made up of many believers throughout the world. When we pray in this temple our prayers are heard, because whoever prays in the peace of the Church prays in spirit and in truth.
The temple of God, this body of Christ, this assembly of believers, has but one voice, and sings the psalms as though it were but one person. If we wish, it is our voice; if we wish, we may listen to the singer with our ears and ourselves sing in our hearts. But if we choose not to do so it will mean that we are like buyers and sellers, preoccupied with our own interests.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

2nd Sunday of Lent (Gospel of the Transfiguration), Year B

On this Second Sunday of Lent, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain and is transfigured before their eyes. Here are some words about this event by Pope Francis: 

Transfiguration, Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Decani, Kosovo 
Jesus shows the Apostles how he is in Heaven: glorious, luminous, triumphant, victorious. He does this in order to prepare them to withstand the Passion, the scandal of the Cross, because they could not understand that Jesus was to die as a criminal; they could not understand it. They thought that Jesus was a liberator, but as earthly liberators are, those who win in battle, those who are always triumphant. But Jesus’ path is a different one: Jesus triumphs through humiliation, the humiliation of the Cross. But seeing that this would be a scandal for them, Jesus shows them what happens afterwards, what happens after the Cross, what awaits us, all of us: this glory and this Heaven. And this is really beautiful! It is really beautiful because Jesus — and listen carefully to this — always prepares us for trial; in one way or another, but this is the message: he always prepares us. He gives us the strength to go forward in times of trial and to overcome them with his strength. Jesus never forsakes us in the trials of life...
We can glean the second thing from the Word of God: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mk 9:7). This is the message the Father gives to the Apostles. Jesus’ message is preparing them by showing them his glory; the Father’s message is: “Listen to him”. There is no moment in life that cannot be fully lived by listening to Jesus. In beautiful moments, let us stop and listen to Jesus; in difficult moments, let us stop and listen to Jesus. This is the way. He will tell us what we have to do. Always.

 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

1st Sunday of Lent, Year II

This first Sunday of Lent, as we begin our journey to the Paschal Mystery of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection, the Church gives us as the Gospel Mark's account of Our Lord's temptation by the devil at the beginning of his public ministry. Here are some words on Luke's temptation account by Pope Francis:

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ash Wednesday, Year B


Here is a little reflection from Mother Mary Elizabeth:
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Today is Ash Wednesday. It is always a very important time for us here and for the entire world. It is the beginning of an annual Lenten retreat that God takes the world on in order to try to recenter our focus and get our priorities more in line with the true reality: God and our eternal life. We get so caught up by things that won’t matter next week, let alone in a year or ten!

We also include this passage of Isaiah, is taken from the liturgy of the day:
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own,
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

The story of Jesus's healing the leper in today's Gospel (Mark 1: 40-45) is a source of great hope for us all, especially during these difficult days of the pandemic. Paschasius Radbertus (785–865), the Benedictine abbot and theologian, encourages us to trust in God's mercy and forgiveness:
Jesus heals the leper (XII-XIII s. mosaic)
Cathedral of Monreale, Sicilia
However great our sinfulness, each one of us can be healed by God every day. We have only to worship him with humility and love, and wherever we are to say with faith: Lord, if you want to you can make me clean. It is by believing from the heart that we are justified, so we must make our petitions with the utmost confidence, and that the slightest doubt of God’s power.
If we pray with a faith springing from love, God’s will need be in no doubt. He will be ready and able to save us by an all-powerful command. He immediately answered the leper’s request, saying: I do want to. Indeed, no sooner had the leper begun to pray with faith than the Savior’s hand began to cure from his leprosy.


Saturday, February 6, 2021

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B



This Sunday's gospel (Mark 1: 29-39) recounts Jesus's healing of Peter's mother-in-law, who was sick with a fever. Christ did not enter Peter's house, says St. John Chrysologus,
to obtain sustenance for himself, but to restore vitality to another. God wants human beings, not human goods. He desires to bestow what is heavenly, not to acquire anything earthly. Christ came to seek not our possessions but us. 
As soon as Jesus crossed the threshold he saw Peter’s mother in law lying ill in bed with a fever. On entering the house he immediately saw what he had come for.... At a glance he saw her desperate plight, and at one stretched out his hands to perform their divine work of healing; nor would he sit down to satisfy his human needs before he had made it possible for the stricken woman to rise up and serve her God. So he took her by the hand, and the fever left her. Here you see how fever loosens its grip on a person whose hand is held by Christ’s; no sickness can stand its ground in the face of the very source of health. Where the Lord of life has entered, that is no room for death.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Today's Gospel (Mk 1:21-28) sees Our Lord curing a man with an unclean spirit. The crowd is amazed and wonders who this man is who teaches with such authority. In his Parochial and Plain Sermons, St. John Henry Newman writes about the revelation of Jesus to humankind:
Rembrandt, Head of Christ
Those who look towards him for teaching, who worship and obey him, will by degrees see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in his face, and will be changed into the same image from glory to glory.”

And thus it happens that people of the lowest class and the humblest education may know fully the ways and works of God; fully, that is, as human beings can know them; far better and more truly than the most sagacious of this world from whom the gospel is hidden.

Religion has a store of wonderful secrets which cannot be communicated to others, but which are most pleasant and delightful to know. “Call on me,” says God by the prophet, “and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things of which you have no knowledge.” This is no mere idle boast, but a fact which all who seek God will find to be true, though they cannot perhaps clearly express their meaning.



Saturday, January 16, 2021

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In today’s Gospel (Jn 1:35-42) John the Baptist points Jesus out to his disciples as “the Lamb of God.” They respond by following him. The following reflection on the passage was given by Pope Francis at his Angelus talk. Here's a link to the original talk if you'd like to read the full text.

The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew by Caravaggio
Thus it is for us: the One whom we have contemplated in the Mystery of Christmas, we are now called to  follow in daily life. Therefore, today’s Gospel passage introduces us perfectly into Ordinary Liturgical Time, a time that helps to invigorate and affirm our journey of faith in ordinary life, in a dynamic that moves between epiphany and sequela, between manifestation and vocation.

... Only a personal encounter with Jesus engenders a journey of faith and of discipleship. We will be able to experience many things, to accomplish many things, to establish relationships with many people, but only the appointment with Jesus, at that hour that God knows, can give full meaning to our life and render our plans and our initiatives fruitful.

It is not enough to build an image of God based on the words that are heard; one must go in search of the divine Master and go to where he lives. The two disciples ask Jesus, “where are you staying?” (v. 38). This question has a powerful spiritual meaning: it expresses the wish to know where the Lord lives, so as to abide with him. The life of faith consists in the wish to abide in the Lord, and thus in a continuing search for the place where he lives.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Baptism of the Lord, Year B

Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord today, and the last day of the Christmas season. This feast is marked with the Father speaking his love for his own beloved Son at his baptism by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Originally part of the feast of Epiphany, it was only in 1955 that Pope Pius XII instituted a separate liturgical celebration of the Baptism. 

In Rome a new custom was started by St. (Pope) John Paul II for the Pope to baptize babies in the Sistine Chapel on this day. Here's part of a homily that his successor, Pope Benedict, gave to the parents at this ceremony in 2007:
Baptism of Christ, British Library
(ms. illumination, England, 13th century)
These children of yours, whom we will now baptize, are not yet able to collaborate, to manifest their faith. For this reason, your presence, dear fathers and mothers, and yours, dear godfathers and godmothers, acquires a special value and significance. Always watch over your little ones, so that they may learn to know God as they grow up, love him with all their strength and serve him faithfully. May you be their first educators in faith, offering together with your teaching also the examples of a coherent Christian life. Teach them to pray and to feel as living members of the concrete family of God, of the Ecclesial Community. 
... Above all, do not forget that it is your witness, it is your example, that has the greatest effect on the human and spiritual maturation of your children's freedom. Even caught up in the sometimes frenetic daily activities, do not neglect to foster prayer, personally and in the family, which is the secret of Christian perseverance.
Let us entrust these children and their families to the Virgin Mother of Jesus, Our Savior, presented in today's liturgy as the beloved Son of God: may Mary watch over them and accompany them always, so that they can fully carry out the project of salvation which God has for each one. Amen.