Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“He [Jesus] said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21-22)

In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous Ancient Christian Writer (ACW) offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:

“The image of God is not depicted on gold but is imaged in humanity. The coin of Caesar is gold; that of God, humanity. Caesar is seen in his currency; God, however, is known through human beings. And so give your wealth to Caesar but reserve for God the sole innocence of your conscience, where God is beheld. For the hand of Caesar has crafted an image by likenesses and lives each year by renewable decree. However, the divine hand of God has shown his image in ten points.

What ten points? From five carnal ones and five spiritual ones through which we see and understand what things are useful under God’s image. So let us always reflect the image of God in these ways:

I do not swell up with the arrogance of pride;
nor do I droop with the blush of anger;
nor do I succumb to the passion of avarice;
nor do I surrender myself to the ravishes of gluttony;
nor do I infect myself with the duplicity of hypocrisy;
nor do I contaminate myself with the filth of rioting;
nor do I grow flippant with the pretension of conceit;
nor do I grow enamored of the burden of heavy drinking;
nor do I alienate by the dissension of mutual admiration;
nor do I infect others with the biting of detraction;
nor do I grow conceited with the vanity of gossip.

Rather, instead,
I will reflect the image of God in that I feed on love;
grow certain on faith and hope;
strengthen myself on the virtue of patience;
grow tranquil by humility;
grow beautiful by chastity;
am sober by abstention;
am made happy by tranquility;
and am ready for death by practicing hospitality.

It is with such inscriptions that God imprints his coins with an impression made neither by hammer nor by chisel but has formed them with his primary divine intention. For Caesar required his image on every coin, but God has chosen man, whom he has created, to reflect his glory.” (Incomplete Work on Matthew, «Homily 40»)



Collect
Almighty ever-living God,
grant that we may always conform our will to Yours
and serve Your majesty in sincerity of heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen





Let us exercise our desire in prayer



Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from The Letter to Proba (Letter 130)

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why in our fear of not praying as we should, do we turn to so many things, to find what we should pray for? Why do we not say instead, in the words of the psalm: I have asked one thing from the Lord, this is what I will seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to see the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit his temple. There, the days do not come and go in succession, and the beginning of one day does not mean the end of another; all days are one, simultaneously and without end, and the life lived out in these days has itself no end.

So that we might obtain this life of happiness, he who is true life itself taught us to pray, not in many words as though speaking longer could gain us a hearing. After all, we pray to one who, as the Lord himself tells us, knows what we need before we ask for it.

Why he should ask us to pray, when he knows what we need before we ask him, may perplex us if we do not realize that our Lord and God does not want to know what we want (for he cannot fail to know it) but wants us rather to exercise our desire through our prayers, so that we may be able to receive what he is preparing to give us. His gift is very great indeed, but our capacity is too small and limited to receive it. That is why we are told: Enlarge your desires, do not bear the yoke with unbelievers.

The deeper our faith, the stronger our hope, the greater our desire, the larger will be our capacity to receive that gift, which is very great indeed. No eye has seen it; it has no color. No ear has heard it; it has no sound. It has not entered man’s heart; man’s heart must enter into it.

In this faith, hope and love we pray always with unwearied desire. However, at set times and seasons we also pray to God in words, so that by these signs we may instruct ourselves and mark the progress we have made in our desire, and spur ourselves on to deepen it. The more fervent the desire, the more worthy will be its fruit. When the Apostle tells us: Pray without ceasing, he means this: Desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is nothing if not eternal, and ask it of him who alone is able to give it.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 






Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time



“I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8.)

Saint Cyprian of Carthage comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“In the Gospel, the Lord speaks saying, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me, even I will deny him.” He does not deny him who denies or acknowledge him who acknowledges. The gospel cannot be firm in part and waver in part. Either both must be strong or both must lose the force of truth. If those who deny will not be guilty of a crime, those who acknowledge him will not receive the reward of virtue. If he crowns the faith that has conquered, he must punish the treachery that has been conquered. If the gospel can be broken, the martyrs can be of no benefit. If the gospel cannot be broken, they who become martyrs, according to the gospel, cannot act contrary to the gospel. Most beloved brothers and sisters, let no one defame the dignity of the martyrs. Let no one destroy their glories and crowns. The strength of an uncorrupted faith is sound. No one can say or do anything against Christ whose hope, faith, virtue and glory are entirely in Christ. They who have performed the commands of God cannot be the authors of anything done by the bishops contrary to the command of God. ” (The Lapsed, 20.)




Collect
May Your grace, O Lord, we pray,
at all times go before us and follow after
and make us always determined
to carry out good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.



Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen


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I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last



Second Vatican Council

An excerpt from Gaudium et Spes, 40 & 45.

Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week in ordinary Time

The way in which the earthly and the heavenly city interpenetrate each other can be recognized only by faith; of a history always troubled by sin until the glory of the sons of God is fully revealed.

As she pursues her appointed goal of bringing salvation to men, the Church not only communicates the divine life to mankind but also in some measure reflects the light of that life over the whole world. She does this especially through her work of restoring and enhancing the dignity of the human person, of strengthening the fabric of human society, and of enriching the daily activity of men with a deeper meaning and importance. The Church believes that in this way she can make a great contribution, through individual members and the community as a whole, toward bringing a greater humanity to the family of man and to its history.

While the Church helps the world and herself receives much from the world, she has one object in view: the coming of God’s kingdom and the salvation of the whole human race. Every good that the people of God in the course of its earthly pilgrimage can confer on the family of men derives from the fact that the Church is the universal sacrament of salvation, revealing, and at the same time bringing into operation, the mystery of God’s love for man.

The Word of God, through whom all things were made, was himself made flesh so that as perfect man he might save all men and bring all things into unity. The Lord is the final end of human history, the point toward which the aspirations of history and civilization are moving, the focus of the human race, the joy of all hearts and the fulfillment of their desires. He it is whom the Father raised from the dead, lifted up on high and set at his right hand, appointing him judge of the living and the dead. In his Spirit we have been brought to life and gathered into unity, and so make our pilgrim way toward the goal of human history, a goal in complete harmony with the loving plan of God to make all things one in Christ, the things in heaven and the things on earth.

The Lord himself says: See, I am coming soon; I bring my recompense with me, to give to everyone what his deeds deserve. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 

 





Friday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time



“Meanwhile, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. He began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven — that is, the hypocrisy — of the Pharisees...” (Luke 12:1.)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“Being angry at this reproof, it says they began to urge him vehemently. This means to attack him with cunning, oppose him and show their hatred of him. They also tried, it says, to silence him about many things. What again is the meaning of their silencing him? It is that they required him to answer immediately and without consideration their wicked questions, expecting that he would fall and say something objectionable. They did not know that he was God. They despised him, were proud and disrespectful. Christ told his friends, that is, his disciples, to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and scribes, meaning by leaven their false pretense. Hypocrisy is hateful to God and humanity. It does not bring a reward, and it is utterly useless for the salvation of the soul. It is rather the cause of its damnation. Although sometimes it may escape detection for a little while, before long, it is sure to be uncovered and bring disgrace on them. It is like an unattractive woman when she is stripped of that external embellishment which she produced by artificial means.” (Commentary on Luke, Homily 86)



Collect
May Your grace, O Lord, we pray,
at all times go before us and follow after
and make us always determined
to carry out good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.



Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen


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In every place there is sacrifice and a clean oblation offered to my name



Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from his The City of God (Book 10)

Friday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Every work that effects our union with God in a holy fellowship is a true sacrifice; every work, that is, which is referred to that final end, that ultimate good, by which we are able to be in the true sense happy. As a consequence even that mercy by which aid is given to man is not a sacrifice unless it is done for the sake of God. Sacrifice, though performed or offered by man, is something divine; that is why the ancient Latins gave it this name of “sacrifice,” of something sacred. Man himself, consecrated in the name of God and vowed to God, is therefore a sacrifice insofar as he dies to the world in order to live for God. This too is part of mercy, the mercy that each one has for himself. Scripture tells us: Have mercy on your soul by pleasing God.

Works of mercy, then, done either to ourselves or to our neighbor and referred to God are true sacrifices. Works of mercy, however, are performed for no other reason than to free us from wretchedness and by this means to make us happy (and we cannot be happy except through the good of which Scripture speaks: It is good for me to cling to God). It clearly follows that the whole redeemed city, that is, the assembly and fellowship of the saints, is offered to God as a universal sacrifice through the great high priest, who in the nature of a slave offered even himself for us in his passion, in order that we might be the body of so great a head. He offered this nature of a slave; he was offered in that nature, because in that nature he is the mediator, in that nature he is the high priest, in that nature he is the sacrifice.

The Apostle urges us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, and as our spiritual worship, and not to follow the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds and hearts, so that we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect, the total sacrifice that is ourselves. By the grace of God that has been given me, he says, I say to all who are among you: Do not think more highly of yourselves than you should, but judge yourselves with moderation according to the measure of faith God has given to each of you. As we have in the same body many members, yet all the members do not have the same functions, we are many, but are one body in Christ; we are each of us members of one another, having different gifts according to the grace that has been given us.

This is the sacrifice of Christians, the many who are one body in Christ. This is the sacrifice which the Church celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, that sacrament known to the faithful; in that sacrament it is made clear to the Church that in the sacrifice she offers, she herself is offered.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 






Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs



“Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed...” (Luke 11:47.)

Saint Ephrem the Syrian offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel Proclamation:

“He said, “That all the blood of the just may come on you,” because they killed the Avenger of the righteous ones’ deaths. The vengeance for their deaths is sought from their hands. One who kills the judge is indeed a friend of murderers, because in killing the judge, he has suppressed vengeance and opened the way for murderers. The Lord also said, “From the blood of Abel, the righteous one, to the blood of Zechariah,” and not only until then but even until this day. Although still among them, he did not avenge his own blood until after they killed him, lest they say that it had been predetermined that he do this. He pronounced the sentence of judgment in relation to the righteous who had gone before, so that they might respect the righteous who were to follow. He gave them an opportunity to do penance for having put him to death, although according to the law, there could be no opportunity for repentance for one who murders the prophets. The law says, “Let the one who kills die,” and not, “See if he does penance, and then pardon him.” He gave them an opportunity to do penance, if they had wished, for having put him to death.” (Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron, 18.)


Collect
O God,
Who chose to manifest the blessed hope
of Your eternal Kingdom by the toil of
Saints John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and
their companions and
by the shedding of their blood,
graciously grant that through their intercession
the faith of Christians
may be strengthened day by day.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen








May I die only for you, Jesus, who willingly died for me



Jesuits Missionaries

An excerpt from his Spiritual Diaries
Saint John de Brébeuf

Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs

For two days now I have experienced a great desire to be a martyr and to endure all the torments the martyrs suffered.

Jesus, my Lord and savior, what can I give you in return for all the favors you have first conferred on me? I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name. I vow before your eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, before your most holy Mother and her most chaste spouse, before the angels, apostles and martyrs, before my blessed fathers Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier - in truth I vow to you, Jesus my savior, that as far as I have the strength I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if some day you in your infinite mercy should offer it to me, your most unworthy servant.

I bind myself in this way so that for the rest of my life I will have neither permission nor freedom to refuse opportunities of dying and shedding my blood for you, unless at a particular juncture I should consider it more suitable for your glory to act otherwise at that time. Further, I bind myself to this so that, on receiving the blow of death, I shall accept it from your hands with the fullest delight and joy of spirit. For this reason, my beloved Jesus, and because of the surging joy which moves me, here and now I offer my blood and body and life. May I die only for you, if you will grant me this grace, since you willingly died for me. Let me so live that you may grant me the gift of such a happy death. In this way, my God and savior, I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!

My God, it grieves me greatly that you are not known, that in this savage wilderness all have not been converted to you, that sin has not been driven from it. My God, even if all the brutal tortures which prisoners in this region must endure should fall on me, I offer myself most willingly to them and I alone shall suffer them all.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 






See, I will save my people



Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Treatise 26 on John

Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

No one comes to me unless the Father draws him. Do not think that you are drawn against your will; the will is drawn also by love. We must not be afraid of men who weigh words but are far from understanding what belongs above all to divine truth. They may find fault with this passage of Scripture and say to us: “How can I believe of my own free will if I am drawn to believe?” I answer: “It is not enough that you are moved by the will, for you are drawn also by desire.”

What does this mean, to be drawn by desire? Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. The heart has its own desires; it takes delight, for example, in the bread from heaven. The poet could say: “Everyone is drawn by his own desire,” not by necessity but by desire, not by compulsion but by pleasure. We can say then with greater force that one who finds pleasure in truth, in happiness, in justice, in everlasting life, is drawn to Christ, for Christ is all these things.

Are our bodily senses to have their desires, but not the will? If the will does not have its desires, how can Scripture say: The children of men will find their hope under the shadow of your wings, they will drink their fill from the plenty of your house, and you will give them drink from the running stream of your delights, for with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we shall see light.

Show me one who loves; he knows what I mean. Show me one who is full of longing, one who is hungry, one who is a pilgrim and suffering from thirst in the desert of this world, eager for the fountain in the homeland of eternity; show me someone like that, and he knows what I mean. But if I speak to someone without feeling, he does not understand what I am saying.

You have only to show a leafy branch to a sheep, and it is drawn to it. If you show nuts to a boy, he is drawn to them. He runs to them because he is drawn, drawn by love, drawn without any physical compulsion, drawn by a chain attached to his heart. “Everyone is drawn by his own desire.” This is a true saying, and earthly delights and pleasures, set before those who love them, succeed in drawing them. If this is so, are we to say that Christ, revealed and set before us by the Father, does not draw us? What does the soul desire more than truth? Why then does the soul have hungry jaws, a spiritual palate as it were, sensitive enough to judge the truth, if not in order to eat and drink wisdom, justice, truth, eternal life?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, that is, here on earth. They shall be satisfied, that is, in heaven. Christ says: I give each what he loves, I give each the object of his hope; he will see what he believed in, though without seeing it. What he now hungers for, he will eat; what he now thirsts for, he will drink to the full. When? At the resurrection of the dead, for I will raise him up on the last day.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 






Feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist



“Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.” (Luke 10:4.)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“When preaching to people everywhere the Word that he spoke and calling the inhabitants of the whole earth to salvation, he requires them to travel about without purse, bag or shoes. They are to travel rapidly from city to city and from place to place. Let no one say that the object of his teaching was to make the holy Apostles refuse the use of the ordinary articles of equipment. What good or what harm would it do them to have shoes on their feet or go without them? By this command, he does wish them to learn and to attempt to practice that they must lay all thought of their livelihood on him. They must call to mind the saint who said, “Cast your care on the Lord, and he will feed you.” He gives what is needful for life to the saints.” (Commentary on Luke, Homily 62)



Collect
Lord God, who chose Saint Luke
to reveal by his preaching and writings
the mystery of your love for the poor,
grant that those who already
glory in your name
may persevere as one heart and one soul
and that all nations
may merit to see your salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.



Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen


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