Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time



“I say to you, something greater than the temple is here ...” (Matthew 12:6.)

Saint Hilary of Poitiers offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel proclamation:

“Christ also reminded them of another prophecy so that they might learn that all things that were spoken of previously were accomplished in him through the law, that the priests in the temple broke the sabbath without offense, clearly revealing that Jesus himself was the temple. In him salvation was given to the Gentiles through the teaching of the apostles, while the people who were bound by the law wandered about faithlessly, so that he himself might be greater than the sabbath. Evangelical faith lived in Christ transcends the law.” (On Matthew, 12.)


Collect
O God,
Who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary
to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.
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





To the newly baptized on the Eucharist



Bishop and Great Latin Father of the Church

An excerpt from his treatise, On the Mysteries

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Fresh from the waters and resplendent in these garments, God’s holy people hasten to the altar of Christ, saying: I will go in to the altar of God, to God who gives joy to my youth. They have sloughed off the old skin of error, their youth renewed like an eagle’s, and they make haste to approach that heavenly banquet. They come and, seeing the sacred altar prepared, cry out: You have prepared a table in my sight. David puts these words into their mouths: The Lord is my shepherd and nothing will be lacking to me. He has set me down there in a place of pasture. He has brought me beside refreshing water. Further on, we read: For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I shall not be afraid of evils, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff have given me comfort. You have prepared in my sight a table against those who afflict me. You have made my head rich in oil, and your cup, which exhilarates, how excellent it is.

It is wonderful that God rained manna on our fathers and they were fed with daily food from heaven. And so it is written: Man ate the bread of angels. Yet those who ate that bread all died in the desert. But the food that you receive, that living bread which came down from heaven, supplies the very substance of eternal life, and whoever will eat it will never die, for it is the body of Christ.

Consider now which is the more excellent: the bread of angels or the flesh of Christ, which is indeed the body that gives life. The first was manna from heaven, the second is above the heavens. One was of heaven, the other is of the Lord of the heavens; one subject to corruption if it was kept till the morrow, the other free from all corruption, for if anyone tastes of it with reverence he will be incapable of corruption. For our fathers, water flowed from the rock; for you, blood flows from Christ. Water satisfied their thirst for a time; blood cleanses you for ever. The Jew drinks and still thirsts, but when you drink you will be incapable of thirst. What happened in symbol is now fulfilled in reality.

If what you marvel at is a shadow, how great is the reality whose very shadow you marvel at. Listen to this, which shows that what happened in the time of our fathers was but a shadow. They drank, it is written, from the rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. All this took place as a symbol for us. You know now what is more excellent: light is preferable to its shadow, reality to its symbol, the body of the Giver to the manna he gave from heaven.

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

 

 



Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time



“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves...” (Matthew 11:29.)

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

“You are to “take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” You are not learning from me how to refashion the fabric of the world, nor to create all things visible and invisible, nor to work miracles and raise the dead. Rather, you are simply learning of me: “that I am meek and lowly in heart.” If you wish to reach high, then begin at the lowest level. If you are trying to construct some mighty edifice in height, you will begin with the lowest foundation. This is humility. However great the mass of the building you may wish to design or erect, the taller the building is to be, the deeper you will dig the foundation. The building in the course of its erection rises up high, but he who digs its foundation must first go down very low. So then, you see even a building is low before it is high and the tower is raised only after humiliation.” (Sermon 69)




Collect
O God, Who show the light of Your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the Right Path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever
is contrary to the Name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.
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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Instruction on the postbaptismal rites



Bishop and Great Latin Father of the Church

An excerpt from his treatise, On the Mysteries

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

After this you went up to the priest. Consider what followed. Was it not what David spoke of when he said: Like oil on the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron? This is the oil spoken of also by Solomon: Your name is oil poured out, so that the maidens loved you and attracted you. How many souls, reborn today, have loved you, Lord Jesus, and have said: Draw us after you; we shall make haste to follow you, in the fragrance of your garments, to breathe the fragrance of resurrection.

Understand why this is done: Because the eyes of the wise man are in his head. The oil flows down on the beard, that is, on the grace of youth; it flows on Aaron’s beard, in order to make you a chosen race, a race of priests, bought at a great price. We are all anointed with spiritual grace to share in God’s kingdom and in priesthood.

Then you received white garments as a sign that you had cast off the clothing of sin and put on the chaste covering of innocence, as the psalmist prophesied: You will sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be cleansed, you will wash me and I shall be made whiter than snow. One who is baptized is seen to be made clean in terms of the law and of the Gospel. In terms of the law, because Moses used a bunch of hyssop to sprinkle the blood of the lamb; in terms of the Gospel, because Christ’s garments were white as snow when in the Gospel he revealed the glory of his resurrection. The sinner who is forgiven is made whiter than snow. The Lord promised the same through Isaiah: If your sins are as scarlet, I will make them white as snow.

Wearing the garments given her in the rebirth by water, the Church says, in the words of the Song of Songs: I am black but beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem. Black because of the frailty of humanity, beautiful through grace; black because she is made up of sinners, beautiful through the sacrament of faith. When they see these garments the daughters of Jerusalem cry out in wonder: Who is this who comes up, all in white? She was black, how is she suddenly made white?

When Christ sees his Church clothed in white—for her sake he himself had put on filthy clothing, as you may read in the prophecy of Zechariah—when he sees the soul washed clean by the waters of rebirth, he cries out: How beautiful you are, my beloved, how beautiful you are; your eyes are like the eyes of a dove, for it was in the likeness of a dove that the Holy Spirit came down from heaven.

Remember, then, that you received a spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of holy fear. Keep safe what you received. God the Father sealed you, Christ the Lord strengthened you and sent the Spirit into your hearts as the pledge of what is to come, as you learned in the reading from the Apostle.

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

 

 



Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time



“All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27.)

Saint Jerome offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel proclamation:

“The Father entrusts. The Son receives. What is entrusted? All things have been entrusted to the Son, but this does not mean cosmically heaven and earth and the elements and the rest of nature which God himself made and established. Rather, it refers personally to the people who have access to the Father through the Son and who were formerly rebellious but afterward began to know God.” (Commentary on Matthew, 2.)



Collect
O God,
Who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary
to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.
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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Water does not sanctify without the Holy Spirit



Bishop and Great Latin Father of the Church

An excerpt from his treatise, On the Mysteries

Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

You were told before not to believe only what you saw. This was to prevent you from saying: Is this the great mystery that eye has not seen nor ear heard nor man’s heart conceived? I see the water I used to see every day; does this water in which I have often bathed without being sanctified really have the power to sanctify me? Learn from this that water does not sanctify without the Holy Spirit.

You have read that the three witnesses of baptism—the water, the blood and the Spirit—are one. This means that if you take away one of these the sacrament of baptism is not conferred. What is water without the cross of Christ? Only an ordinary element without sacramental effect. Again, without water there is no sacrament of rebirth. Unless a man is born again of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. The catechumen believes in the cross of the Lord with which he too is signed, but unless he is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he cannot receive the forgiveness of sins or the gift of spiritual grace.

The Syrian Naaman bathed seven times under the old law, but you were baptized in the name of the Trinity. You proclaimed your faith in the Father—recall what you did—and the Son and the Spirit. Mark the sequence of events. In proclaiming this faith you died to the world, you rose again to God, and, as though buried to sin, you were reborn to eternal life. Believe, then, that the water is not without effect.

The paralytic at the pool was waiting for someone. Who was this if not the Lord Jesus, born of a virgin? At his coming it is not a question of a shadow healing an individual, but Truth himself healing the universe. He is the one whose coming was expected, the one of whom God the Father spoke when he said to John the Baptist: He on whom you see the Spirit coming down from heaven and resting, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. He is the one witnessed to by John: I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven as a dove and resting on him. Why did the Spirit come down as a dove if not to let you see and understand that the dove sent out by holy Noah from the ark was a figure of this dove? In this way you were to recognize a type of this sacrament.

Is there any room left for doubt? The Father speaks clearly in the Gospel: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; the Son too, above whom the Holy Spirit showed himself in the form of a dove; and also the Holy Spirit, who came down as a dove. David too speaks clearly: The voice of the Lord is above the waters; the God of glory has thundered; the Lord is above the many waters. Again, Scripture bears witness for you that fire came down from heaven in answer to Gideon’s prayers, and that when Elijah prayed, God sent fire which consumed the sacrifice.

Do not consider the merits of individuals but the office of the priests. If you do look at merits, consider the merits of Peter and also of Paul in the same way as you consider the merits of Elijah; they have handed on to us this sacrament which they received from the Lord Jesus. Visible fire was sent upon them to give them faith; in us who believe an invisible fire is at work. That visible fire was a sign, our invisible fire is for our instruction. Believe then that the Lord Jesus is present when he is invoked by the prayers of the priests. He said: Where two or three are gathered, there I am also. How much more does he give his loving presence where the Church is, where the sacraments are!

You went down into the water. Remember what you said: I believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Not: I believe in a greater, a lesser and a least. You are committed by this spoken understanding of yours to believe the same of the Son as of the Father, and the same of the Holy Spirit as of the Son, with this one exception: you proclaim that you must believe in the cross of the Lord Jesus alone.

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

 

 



Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time



“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes...” (Matthew 11:21.)

Saint Jerome offers the following insight on this verses from today’s Gospel Proclamation:

“Our Savior laments Chorazin and Bethsaida, cities of Galilee, because after such great miracles and acts of goodness they did not repent. Even Tyre and Sidon, cities that surrendered to idolatry and other vices, are preferred to them. Tyre and Sidon are preferred for the reason that although they trampled down the law, still Chorazin and Bethsaida, after they transgressed natural and written law, cared little for the miracles that were performed among them. If we ask where it is written that our Lord performed miracles in Chorazin and Bethsaida, we read above: “And he went around to all the towns and villages, curing every infirmity” and the rest. Thus among the other towns and villages it must be judged that the Lord performed miracles in Chorazin and Bethsaida as well.” (Commentary on Matthew, 2.)



Collect
O God, Who show the light of Your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the Right Path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever
is contrary to the Name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.
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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All this was a sign of what was to come



Bishop and Great Latin Father of the Church

An excerpt from his work, On the Mysteries

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

The Apostle teaches you that our fathers were all covered by the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. Further, Moses in his canticle says: You sent your spirit, and the sea overwhelmed them. You observe that in this crossing by the Hebrews there was already a symbol of holy baptism. The Egyptian perished; the Hebrew escaped. What else is the daily lesson of this sacrament than that guilt is drowned, and error destroyed, while goodness and innocence pass over unharmed?

You are taught that our fathers were covered by the cloud, a cloud of blessing that cooled the fire of bodily passions. A cloud of blessing: it is with a cloud of blessing that the Holy Spirit overshadows those whom he comes to visit. The Holy Spirit came at last upon the Virgin Mary, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her, when she conceived for all mankind him who is redemption. This great miracle was prefigured through Moses. If then the Spirit was prefigured, is he not now present in truth, for Scripture tells you that the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ?

Marah was a spring of bitter water. When Moses threw wood into it, its water became sweet. Water, you see, is of no avail for future salvation without the proclamation of the Lord’s cross. But when it has been consecrated through the saving mystery of the cross, it is then ready for use in the laver of the Spirit and in the cup of salvation. Therefore, as Moses in his role of prophet threw wood into the spring of Marah, so also the priest sends out into the fountain of baptism the proclamation of the Lord’s cross and the water becomes sweet, ready for the giving of grace.

Do not then believe only what the eyes of your body tell you. What is not seen is here more truly seen, for what is seen belongs to time but what is not seen belongs to eternity. What is not comprehended by the eyes but is seen by the mind and the soul is seen in a truer and deeper sense.

Finally, learn from the readings we have gone through from the books of the Kings. Naaman was a Syrian; he was a leper, and could not be healed by anyone. Then a girl from among the captives said that there was a prophet in Israel who could cleanse him from the disease of leprosy. Taking gold and silver, we are told, he went to see the king of Israel. The king, on learning the reason for his coming, rent his garments, saying that it was really to find an excuse against him, for what he was being asked was beyond the power of a king.

Elisha, however, told the king to send the Syrian to him, and he would learn that there was a God in Israel. When he came, Elisha ordered him to bathe seven times in the river Jordan. Then Naaman began to reflect that the rivers of his own country had better waters, and that he had often bathed in them, and never been cleansed of his leprosy. This gave him pause, and he refused to obey the prophet’s instructions. But on the advice and persuasion of his servants he yielded and bathed, and was instantly made clean. He realized then that it is not waters that make clean but grace.

Here was a man who doubted before being made whole. You are already made whole, and so ought not to have any doubt.

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

 

 



Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time



“Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Matthew 10:41.)

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

“This passage has a deeper meaning. One who has properly extracted the meaning of the apostle’s writing, and has not misunderstood it is receiving the apostle as well as Christ who speaks and dwells in the apostle and is the source of the apostle’s teaching. And since the divine mind of the Father is also in the Son, one who receives the word “of wisdom” and everything that is Christ is receiving God the Father of all things. The first part refers mystically to the new covenant, the last part to the old covenant. And if one believes that the prophets spoke wisely, not from their own understanding but because they were moved by the Holy Spirit, when one receives the meaning in them he possesses the prophetic Spirit and quite reasonably receives a prophet’s reward. And if one who understands righteousness and unrighteousness (and does not live unrighteously himself) receives a righteous person, that one is not only hospitable but righteous in addition. That one receives a righteous person’s reward. ” (Fragment 218)




Collect
O God,
Who show the light of Your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject
whatever is contrary to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does It honor.
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









We are born again of water and the Holy Spirit



Bishop and Great Latin Father of the Church

An excerpt from his work, On the Mysteries

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

What did you see in the baptistry? Water certainly, but not water alone. You see the Levites ministering there, the high priest asking questions and consecrating. First of all, the Apostle taught you that we must fix our eyes, not on the things that are seen but on the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are for a time, but the things that are unseen are eternal. In another place you may read that the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, can be understood through the things that have been created, and his everlasting power and godhead can be known through his works. The Lord himself says: If you do not believe me, believe at least my works. Then believe that the presence of the godhead is there. You believe in its activity, and refuse to believe in its presence? How could there be activity if there were no presence beforehand?

Consider how ancient the mystery is, prefigured as it was in the creation of the world itself. In the very beginning, when God made heaven and earth, the spirit, God tells us, moved over the waters. Was the spirit not active as he moved over the waters? When the prophet tells you that by the word of the Lord the heavens were established, and by the spirit of his mouth all their array, realize that the spirit was active in this making of the world. The fact that he moved over the waters, and the fact that he was active, both rest on prophetic testimony. Moses tells us that the spirit moved over the waters; David testifies that the spirit was active.

Listen to another testimony. All flesh had become corrupt because of its sins. God said: My spirit will not remain in men, for they are flesh. God thus shows that the spiritual grace is repelled by uncleanness of the flesh and by the stain of more serious sin. So God resolved to restore the gift he had given. He sent the flood and ordered Noah, the righteous man, into the ark. When the flood began to subside Noah sent first a raven, then a dove, which, as we read, came back with an olive branch. You see water, you see wood, you look on a dove, and you hesitate to believe the mystery?

The water is that in which the flesh is dipped, to wash away all its sin. In it all wickedness is buried. The wood is that to which the Lord Jesus was fastened when he suffered for us. The dove is the one in whose likeness the Holy Spirit descended, as you have learned from the New Testament: the Spirit who breathes into you peace of soul, tranquility of mind.

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