ORDINARY TIME


Week 13: Sunday


“You shall also anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.” (1 Kings 19:16.)

Saint Ephrem the Syrian offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel proclamation:

“Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.” As I have already said, “the sound of a sweet word” which comes after the storm and the fire divulged this good news. And what follows this manifestation fits perfectly with this context: Elijah, who had so far fled from Jezebel the queen, is now sent to anoint the kings and to hallow the prophets. And he anoints Hazael as king of Aram with his word; Jehu, son of Namsi, as king of Israel, judge of Ahab and avenger of innocent blood with oil; and Elisha [as prophet] with his mantle. Now, since the Lord had decided that those who had been condemned by Elijah because of their rebellion should receive the just retribution for their iniquity, their condemnation was prepared in this way: a part of the people would be punished by Hazael, king of Aram, whereas Ahab and Jezebel would receive their condemnation from Jehu; finally, if anything had been overlooked by them, Elisha would accomplish the task through the authority that the Lord had given him. And the people truly deserved punishment for not turning from their error. Even after learning the truth through the great and obvious signs that Elijah had performed, they did not abandon the worship of Baal. Also the sins of Ahab and Jezebel were great, well known and evident, and both of them had to be harshly punished for that reason. And since Jezebel had appointed new priests of Baal, her god, in order to replace those who had been killed by Elijah, it was necessary that they received the same punishment as their predecessors.

In addition, other reasons obliged Elijah to raise Elisha to the dignity of prophet exactly at that time when he was about to leave this world: first, in order to assist him in the time of affliction; second, in order to confirm through his word the event of the kidnapping of his master and his ascension to heaven because nobody had ever heard anything like that before. Therefore [Elijah elevated Elisha to the dignity of prophet] in order to cut short the lies of the priests of Baal who could not commend the works of Elijah, their persecutor, and tried with all their might to persuade the people with false words that the disciples of Elijah had entirely invented the kidnapping of their master and pretended that God had raised him to heaven.” (On the First Book of Kings, 19.)


Collect
O God,
who through the grace of adoption
chose us to be children of light,
grant, we pray,
that we may not be wrapped
in the darkness of error
but always be seen to stand
in the bright light of truth.
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








We proclaim Christ to the whole world


(Bishop of Rome)

An excerpt from a Homily

Ordinary Time Week 13: Sunday

Not to preach the Gospel would be my undoing, for Christ himself sent me as his apostle and witness. The more remote, the more difficult the assignment, the more my love of God spurs me on. I am bound to proclaim that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of him we come to know the God we cannot see. He is the firstborn of all creation; in him all things find their being. Man’s teacher and redeemer, he was born for us, died for us, and for us he rose from the dead.

All things, all history converges in Christ. A man of sorrow and hope, he knows us and loves us. As our friend he stays by us throughout our lives; at the end of time he will come to be our judge; but we also know that he will be the complete fulfillment of our lives and our great happiness for all eternity.

I can never cease to speak of Christ for he is our truth and our light; he is the way, the truth and the life. He is our bread, our source of living water who allays our hunger and satisfies our thirst. He is our shepherd, our leader, our ideal, our comforter and our brother.

He is like us but more perfectly human, simple, poor, humble, and yet, while burdened with work, he is more patient. He spoke on our behalf; he worked miracles; and he founded a new kingdom: in it the poor are happy; peace is the foundation of a life in common; where the pure of heart and those who mourn are uplifted and comforted; the hungry find justice; sinners are forgiven; and all discover that they are brothers.

The image I present to you is the image of Jesus Christ. As Christians you share his name; he has already made most of you his own. So once again I repeat his name to you Christians and I proclaim to all men: Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, Lord of the new universe, the great hidden key to human history and the part we play in it. He is the mediator—the bridge, if you will—between heaven and earth. Above all he is the Son of man, more perfect than any man, being also the Son of God, eternal and infinite. He is the son of Mary his mother on earth, more blessed than any woman. She is also our mother in the spiritual communion of the mystical body.

Remember: [it] is Jesus Christ I preach day in and day out. His name I would see echo and re-echo for all time even to the ends of the earth.





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

 

 


ORDINARY TIME


Week 12: Saturday


“The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8.)

Saint Augustine of Hippo comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed during today’s Mass:

“When the Lord promised to go to the centurion’s house to heal his servant, the centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” By viewing himself as unworthy, he showed himself worthy for Christ to come not merely into his house but also into his heart. He would not have said this with such great faith and humility if he had not already welcomed in his heart the One who came into his house. It would have been no great joy for the Lord Jesus to enter into his house and not to enter his heart. For the Master of humility both by word and example sat down also in the house of a certain proud Pharisee, Simon, and though he sat down in his house, there was no place in his heart. For in his heart the Son of Man could not lay his head.” (Sermon 62)




Collect
Grant, O Lord,
that we may always revere
and love Your holy name,
for You never deprive of Your guidance
those You set firm
on the foundation of Your love.
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. Amen.



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


Top





God can be found in man’s heart



(Bishop and Father of the Church)

An excerpt from On the Beatitudes, Homily 6

Ordinary Time, Week 12: Saturday

In our human life bodily health is a good thing, but this blessing consists not merely in knowing the causes of good health but in actually enjoying it. If a man eulogizes good health and then eats food that has unhealthy effects, what good is his praise of health when he finds himself on a sickbed? Similarly, from the Lord’s saying: Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God, we are to learn that blessedness does not lie in knowing something about God, but rather in possessing God within oneself.

I do not think these words mean that God will be seen face to face by the man who purifies the eye of his soul. Their sublime import is brought out more clearly perhaps in that other saying of the Lord’s: The kingdom of God is within you. This teaches us that the man who cleanses his heart of every created thing and every evil desire will see the image of the divine nature in the beauty of his own soul. I believe the lesson summed up by the Word in that short sentence was this: You men have within you a desire to behold the supreme good. Now when you are told that the majesty of God is exalted above the heavens, that his glory is inexpressible, his beauty indescribable, and his nature transcendent, do not despair because you cannot behold the object of your desire. If by a diligent life of virtue you wash away the film of dirt that covers your heart, then the divine beauty will shine forth in you.

Take a piece of iron as an illustration. Although it might have been black before, once the rust has been scraped off with a whetstone, it will begin to shine brilliantly and to reflect the rays of the sun. So it is with the interior man, which is what the Lord means by the heart. Once a man removes from his soul the coating of filth that has formed on it through his sinful neglect, he will regain his likeness to his Archetype, and be good. For what resembles the supreme Good is itself good. If he then looks into himself, he will see the vision he has longed for. This is the blessedness of the pure in heart: in seeing their own purity they see the divine Archetype mirrored in themselves.

Those who look at the sun in a mirror, even if they do not look directly at the sky, see its radiance in the reflection just as truly as do those who look directly at the sun’s orb. It is the same, says the Lord, with you. Even though you are unable to contemplate and see the inaccessible light, you will find what you seek within yourself, provided you return to the beauty and grace of that image which was originally placed in you. For God is purity; he is free from sin and a stranger to all evil. If this can be said of you, then God will surely be within you. If your mind is untainted by any evil, free from sin, and purified from all stain, then indeed are you blessed, because your sight is keen and clear. Once purified, you see things that others cannot see. When the mists of sin no longer cloud the eye of your soul, you see that blessed vision clearly in the peace and purity of your own heart. That vision is nothing else than the holiness, the purity, the simplicity and all the other glorious reflections of God’s nature, through which God himself is seen.






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

 

 


SOLEMNITY


Nativity of
Saint John the Baptist


“He made my mouth like a sharp-edged sword, concealed me, shielded by his hand. He made me a sharpened arrow, in his quiver he hid me.” (Isaiah 49:2)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“If anyone has been able to hold in the breadth of his mind and to consider the glory and splendor of all those things created in him, he will be struck by their very beauty and transfixed by the magnificence of their brilliance or, as the prophet says, “by the chosen arrow.” And he will receive from him the saving wound and will burn with the blessed fire of his love.” (Commentary on the Song of Songs, Prologue)


Collect
O God,
Who raised up Saint John the Baptist
to make ready a nation
fit for Christ the Lord,
give your people, we pray,
the grace of spiritual joys
and direct the hearts of all the faithful
into the way of salvation and peace.
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. Amen.


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





The voice of one crying in the wilderness


(Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church)

An excerpt from Sermon 293

SOLEMNITY:
Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

The Church observes the birth of John as a hallowed event. We have no such commemoration for any other fathers; but it is significant that we celebrate the birthdays of John and of Jesus. This day cannot be passed by. And even if my explanation does not match the dignity of the feast, you may still meditate on it with great depth and profit.

John is born of a woman too old for childbirth; Christ was born of a youthful virgin. The news of John’s birth was met with incredulity, and his father was struck dumb. Christ’s birth was believed, and he was conceived through faith.

Such is the topic, as I have presented it, for our inquiry and discussion. But as I said before, if I lack either the time or the ability to study the implications of so profound a mystery, he who speaks within you even when I am not here will teach you better; it is he whom you contemplate with devotion, whom you have welcomed into your hearts, whose temples you have become.

John, then, appears as the boundary between the two testaments, the old and the new. That he is a sort of boundary the Lord himself bears witness, when he speaks of the law and the prophets up until John the Baptist. Thus he represents times past and is the herald of the new era to come. As a representative of the past, he is born of aged parents; as herald of the new, he is declared to be a prophet while still in his mother’s womb. For when yet unborn, he leapt in his mother’s womb at the arrival of blessed Mary. In that womb he had already been designated a prophet, even before he was born; it was revealed that he was to be Christ’s precursor, before they ever saw one another. These are divine happenings, going beyond the limits of our human fraility. Eventually he is born, he receives his name, his father’s tongue is loosened. See how these events reflect reality.

Zechariah is silent and loses his voice until John, the precursor of the Lord, is born and restores his voice. The silence of Zechariah is nothing but the age of prophecy lying hidden, obscured, as it were, and concealed before the preaching of Christ. At John’s arrival, it becomes clear when the one who was being prophesied is about to come. The release of Zechariah’s voice at the birth of John is a parallel to the rending of the veil at Christ’s crucifixion. If John were announcing his own coming, Zechariah’s lips would not have been opened. The tongue is loosened because a voice is born. For when John was preaching the Lord’s coming he was asked: Who are you? And he replied: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. The voice is John, but the Lord in the beginning was the Word. John was a voice that lasted only for a time; Christ, the Word in the beginning, is eternal.





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

 

ORDINARY TIME


Week 12: Thursday


“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?” (Matthew 7:22.)

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

“There may be some who, in the beginning, believed rightly and assiduously labored at virtue. They may have even worked miracles and prophesied and cast out demons. And yet later they are found turning aside to evil, to self-assertive deception and desire. Of these Jesus remarks that he “never knew them.” He ranks them as equivalent to those who were never known by him at all. Even if they at the outset had lived virtuously, they ended up condemned. God knows those whom he loves, and he loves those who single-mindedly believe in him and do the things that please him.” (Fragment 88)



Collect
Grant, O Lord,
that we may always revere
and love your holy name,
for you never deprive of your guidance
those you set firm
on the foundation of your love.
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. Amen.



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


Top





God is an inaccessible rock


(Bishop and Father of the Church)

An excerpt from On the Beatitudes, Homily 6

Ordinary Time, Week 12: Thursday

Consider the feelings of a man who looks down into the depths of the sea from the top of a mountain. This is similar to my own experience when the voice of the Lord from on high, as from a mountaintop, reached the unfathomable depths of my intellect. Along the seacoast, you may often see mountains facing the sea. It is as though they had been sliced in two, with a sheer drop from top to bottom. At the top a projection forms a ledge overhanging the depths below. If a man were to look down from that ledge, he would be overcome by dizziness. In this same way my soul grows dizzy when it hears the great voice of the Lord saying: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

The vision of God is offered to those who have purified their hearts. Yet, no man has seen God at any time. These are the words of the great Saint John and they are confirmed by Saint Paul’s lofty thought, in the words: God is he whom no one has seen or can see. He is that smooth, steep and sheer rock, on which the mind can find no secure resting place to get a grip or lift ourselves up. In the view of Moses, he is inaccessible. In spite of every effort, our minds cannot approach him. We are cut off by the words: No man can see God and live. And yet, to see God is eternal life. But John, Paul and Moses, pillars of our faith, all testify that it is impossible to see God. Look at the dizziness that affects the soul drawn to contemplating the depths of these statements. If God is life, then he who does not see God does not see life. Yet God cannot be seen; the apostles and prophets, inspired by the Holy Spirit, have testified to this. Into what straits is man’s hope driven!

Yet God does raise and sustain our flagging hopes. He rescued Peter from drowning and made the sea into a firm surface beneath his feet. He does the same for us; the hands of the Word of God are stretched out to us when we are out of our depth, buffeted and lost in speculation. Grasped firmly in his hands, we shall be without fear: Blessed are the pure of heart, he says, for they shall see God.



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

 

 

ORDINARY TIME


Week 12: Wednesday


“Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:17.)

In commenting on these verses from today’s Gospel, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“Even though Jesus seems to make virtually the same point a second time, it is hardly redundant. For in the second time around he prevents anyone from concluding, “The evil tree bears evil fruit, but it also bears good fruit, so as to make it difficult to recognize an evil tree, because the crop is of two kinds.” No. Jesus says, “This is not so. For the evil tree bears only evil fruits and would never bear good fruits. So also it is the same way with the opposite kind of tree.”

What then? Is there no such thing as a good person who becomes corrupt? Or a corrupt person who becomes good? Isn’t life full of many examples of such reversals? But the Messiah is not saying that the evil person is incapable of changing or that the good person will never fail in anything. But he is saying that so long as a person is living in a degenerate way, he will not be able to generate good fruit. For he may indeed change to virtue, being evil, but while continuing in wickedness, he will not bear good fruit.

What then? Did not David, even though good, bear evil fruit? No, because he did not bear evil fruit while remaining good but while being changed. For if indeed he had remained continually good as he had been, he would not have produced the bad fruit. For it surely was not while abiding in the habits of excellence that he had the audacity to do the very things that he had the audacity to do.” (The Gospel of Matthew: Homily, 23.)



Collect
Grant, O Lord,
that we may always revere
and love Your holy name,
for You never deprive of Your guidance
those You set firm
on the foundation of Your love.
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. Amen.



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

 






True, perfect and eternal friendship


(Abbot)

An excerpt from On Spiritual Friendship

Ordinary Time Week 12: Wednesday

Jonathan, outstanding among all young men, took no heed of his royal lineage or his hope of the throne, but allied himself with David the servant and made him his equal in friendship before the Lord. The king had made David a fugitive, forced him to hide in the desert, and condemned him to death. And yet Jonathan preferred David to himself, exalting him, humbling himself. You, he said, will be king and I will follow after you.

What a splendid picture of true friendship! What an astonishing situation! Here was the king, raging against his servant and stirring up the whole country as if David were aiming at the crown. He accuses the priests of treason and puts them to death on a mere suspicion. He combs and searches woods and valleys, besieges the mountains and rocky crags with troops, and every man is sworn to wreak vengeance upon the source of the king’s indignation. Only Jonathan, who alone should have had greater cause for envy, thought it right to resist his father. Putting himself at the service of his friend, he offered help and advice in his time of need. Jonathan set friendship above a kingdom. You are to be the king, he said, and I will be second to you. And still the father tried to incite his son to envy David. He covered him with abuse and frightened him by threatening to deprive him of the kingdom and strip him of his rank.

Even when the king pronounced sentence of death upon David, Jonathan still did not desert his friend. Why should David die? How has he sinned? What has he done? When he risked his life and killed the Philistine, you rejoiced. Why then should he die? So maddened was the king at these words that he tried to pin Jonathan to the wall with his spear, heaping upon him further abuse and threats: Bastard son of a wayward woman, he screamed, I know well that, to your undoing and that of your shameful mother’s, you love him. With this he spewed forth the full measure of his venom over Jonathan and uttered the words that were his final attempt to arouse bitter envy and jealous ambition: As long as the son of Jesse lives, your kingdom shall never be established.

Who would not be moved to envy by these words? Whose love, whose favor, whose abiding friendship would not be corrupted, weakened and destroyed by such an utterance? But in his great love, this young man kept faith with his friend. He was steadfast in the face of threats, unmoved by insults; forgetting renown, he thought only of service. He spurned a kingdom for the sake of friendship. You, he said, will be king, and I will be second to you.

This is what truly perfect, stable and lasting friendship is, a tie that envy cannot spoil, nor suspicion weaken, nor ambition destroy. A friendship so tempted yielded not an inch, was buffeted but did not collapse. In the face of so many insults, it remained unshaken. Go, therefore, and do likewise.



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