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.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Feast of the Epiphany, Year B

Blessed Feast of the Epiphany! This day’s liturgical celebration (from the Greek epiphania, “manifestation,” of Christ, that is) has many layers: the Adoration of the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, and the first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana. The feast is so rich in meaning that it’s difficult to choose from among the wealth of commentaries, let alone edit out sections of the one selected. We hope this commentary by from St. Basil the Great isn’t too long, but we couldn't bear to cut any of it! Perhaps you might read parts of it throughout the coming week:
Journey & Adoration of the Magi
Codex Bruschal, ca 1220
The star came to rest above the place where the child was. At the sight of it the wise men were filled with great joy and that great joy should fill our hearts as well. It is the same as the joy the shepherds received from the glad tidings brought by the angels. Let us join the wise men in worship and the shepherds in giving glory to God. Let us dance with the angels and sing: To us is born this day a savior who is Christ the Lord. The Lord is God and he has appeared to us, not as God which would have terrified us in our weakness, but as a slave in order to free those living in slavery. Could anyone be so lacking in sensibility and so ungrateful as not to join us in our gladness, exultation, and radiant joy? This feast belongs to the whole universe. It gives heavenly gift to the earth, it sends archangels to Zechariah and to Mary, it assembles a choir of angels to sing, Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Stars cross the sky, wise men journey from pagan lands, earth receives its savior in a cave. Let there be no one without a gift to offer, no one without gratitude as we celebrate the salvation of the world, the birthday of the human race. Now it is no longer, Dust you are and to dust you shall return, but “You are joined to heaven and into heaven you shall be taken up.” It is no longer, In sorrow you shall bring forth children, but, “Blessed is she who has borne Emmanuel and blessed the breast that nursed him.” For a child is born to us, a son is given to us, and dominion is laid upon his shoulder.

Come, join the company of those who merrily welcome the Lord from heaven. Think of shepherds receiving wisdom, of priests prophesying, of women who are glad of heart, us Mary was when told by the angel to rejoice and as Elizabeth was when John leapt in her womb. Anna announced the good news; Simeon took the child in his arms. They worshipped the mighty God in a tiny baby, not despising what they beheld but praising his divine majesty.
Like light through clear glass the power of the Godhead shone through that human body for those whose inner eye was pure. Among such may we also be numbered, so that beholding his radiance with unveiled face we too may be transformed from glory to glory by the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honor and power for endless ages. Amen.