Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time



“The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away...” (Matthew 13:20-21.)

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

“Not all the Gospel writers use the same terms in reporting this parable. Matthew wrote of “the evil one,” Mark of “Satan,” and Luke of “the devil.” The phrases “by the wayside” and “in the path” are not quite the same thing. Weigh in the allusion of the statement “I am the way.” Both Matthew and Mark say, most felicitously, that the word was sowed “on stony ground,” not upon a “stone.”

Now to all that which is “by the wayside,” the words “those who do not understand” apply. But to the good ground these words apply: “This is he who hears the word and understands it.” Perhaps then those seeds that fall “on stony ground” and those that fall “among thorns” fall between the people without knowledge and those who understand. This then is an exhortation to meditate diligently upon the faculty of perception. If the seed of the one who is dense is snatched away, the seed of intellect ought to be taken up and covered in the ground of memory, so that it may spread forth roots and may not be found naked or snatched away by the spirits of wickedness.” (Fragment 291)




Collect
Show favor, O Lord, to Your servants
and mercifully increase the gifts of Your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,
they may be ever watchful
in keeping Your commands.
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









Christ died for all



Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from his work, The Confessions,  Book 10.

Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

The true Mediator was he whom you revealed to humble men in your secret mercy, and whom you sent so they might learn that same humility by following his example. This was the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who intervened between sinful mortals and the immortal Just One, himself mortal like men, and like God, just. Thus, since life and peace are the compensation for righteousness, he could, by a justice united with God, annul the death of sinners now justified, since he willed to share death with them.

Good Father, how you loved us, sparing not your only Son but delivering him up for us sinners! How you loved us, for whose sake he, thinking it no robbery to be equal with you, was made subject to death on the cross. He alone, free among the dead, had the power to lay down his life and the power to take it up again. For our sake he became in your sight both victor and victim—victor, indeed, because he was victim. For our sake, too, he became before you both priest and sacrifice—priest, indeed, because he was a sacrifice, changing us from slaves to sons by being your Son and serving us.

Rightly then have I firm hope that you will heal all my infirmities through him who sits at your right hand and intercedes for us. Otherwise I should despair. For great and numerous are these infirmities of mine, great indeed and numerous, but your medicine is mightier. We might have thought your Word remote from any union with man, and so have despaired of ourselves, if he had not become flesh and dwelt among us.

Crushed by my sins and the weight of my misery, I had taken thought in my heart and contemplated flight into the desert. But you stopped me and gave me comfort with the words: Christ died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them.

Behold, Lord, I cast upon you my concern that I may live and I shall meditate on the wonders of your law. You know my ignorance and my weakness; teach me and heal me. Your only Son, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, redeemed me with his blood. Let not arrogant men speak evil of me. For I meditate on my ransom, and I eat it and drink it and try to share it with others; though poor I want to be filled with it in the company of those who eat and are filled and they shall praise the Lord who seek him.

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 Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time



“With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive.” (Matthew 13:14.)

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

“After this, lest any one should suppose his words to be a mere accusation and lest people should say, “Being our enemy he is bringing these charges and calumnies against us,” Jesus introduces the prophet Isaiah. The prophet pronounced the same judgment as Jesus himself: “With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, ‘You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive.’” So it is the prophet himself who accuses them with the same precise point. He did not say “You see not” but “You shall indeed see but never perceive.” He did not say “You do not hear” but “You shall indeed hear but never understand.” So they first inflicted the loss on themselves, by stopping their ears, by closing their eyes, by making their heart fat. For they not only failed to hear but also “heard heavily,” and they did this, he said, “lest they should turn for me to heal them.” Thus he described their aggravated wickedness and their determined defection from him. But he said this to draw them closer to him, and to provoke them and to signify that if they would convert he would heal them. It is much as if one should say, “He would not look at me, and I thank him; for if he had given me even a glance, I would straightway have given in.” He spoke in this way to signify how he would wish to have been reconciled. He implied that both their conversion was possible and that upon their repentance they might be saved. It was not for his own glory alone, but for their salvation, that he was doing all things.

For if it had not been his will that they should hear and be saved, he would have remained silent and would not have spoken in parables. But now in this very manner he stirs them up, even by speaking under a veil. “For God does not will the death of the sinner but that he should turn to him and live.” (The Gospel of Matthew: Homily, 45.)




Collect
Show favor, O Lord, to your servants
and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,
they may be ever watchful
in keeping your commands.
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 sealed with the glory of your face

Bishop and Great Latin Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Explanation of the Psalms

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Why do you turn away your face? We think that God is turning his face away from us when we find ourselves in such distress that our senses are clouded in darkness and we cannot see the glory of him who is truth. We are convinced that if God would pay attention to our condition and be pleased to visit our souls, nothing could plunge us in gloom. If a person's face is more enlightening than other parts of his body—so that when we look at someone we either see him as a stranger or recognize him as someone we know, whom our glance will not allow to pass unrecognized—how much more does the face of God enlighten those on whom he directs his gaze.

In his usual way Saint Paul has something striking to say on this subject. He employs his gift for making Christ better understood to bring him closer to us through the use of appropriate ideas and expressions. He tells us: God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, has caused light to shine in our hearts, so that we might receive the revelation of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. We know, then, the place where Christ is shining within us. He is the eternal splendor enlightening our minds and hearts. He was sent by the Father to shine on us in the glory of his face, and so enable us to see what is eternal and heavenly, where before we were imprisoned in the darkness of this world.

There should be no need for me to speak of Christ when even Peter the apostle said to the man born lame: Look at us. He looked at Peter and was enlightened by the grace of faith. He would not have received healing had he not believed with faith.

Such was the glory possessed by the apostles. Yet Zacchaeus, hearing the Lord Jesus was passing by, climbed a tree, for he was small in stature and could not see him because of the crowd. He saw Christ and discovered the light. He saw Christ and gave up what was his own, though he was a man who took what belonged to others.

Why do you turn away your face? We may say it in another way. Even if, Lord, you turn your face away from us, yet we are sealed with the glory of your face. Your glory is in our hearts and shines in the deep places of our spirit. Indeed, no one can live if you should turn away your face.

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 necessity of a silent heart ...



“Jesus taught us how to pray, and He also told us to learn from Him to be meek and humble of heart. Neither of these can we do unless we know what silence is. Both humility and prayer grow from an ear, mind, and tongue that have lived in silence with God, for in the silence of the heart God speaks.” By differentiating between exterior silence and interior silence, we see that although exterior silence promotes interior silence, silence of speech, gesture, or activity finds its full meaning in the search for God. This search is truly possible only in a silent heart...” (Saint Teresa of Calcutta, No Greater Love).






Silence and mortification ...



“After our first efforts, however, we may also notice that silence does not entirely belong to us. For once we have passed through the door of prayer, we discover an agitated crowd of thoughts, feelings, and aversions that we have great difficulty in quieting. These noisy, stubborn multitudes bog down our soul. We can decide to pray and realize that it is impossible to remain concentrated on our interior life. We are distracted by a thousand disturbing things. The interior racket makes all silence impossible. The slightest of passions that has troubled our heart before a prayer can ruin that moment of silence. Noise triumphs, and silence flees. How can we come to master our own interior silence? The only answer lies in asceticism, self-renunciation, and humility. If man does not mortify himself, if he stays as he is, he remains outside of God...” (Robert Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence).






Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary



"On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.” (Matthew 13:1.)

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

When Jesus then is with the multitudes, he is not in his house, for the multitudes are outside of the house, and it is an act that springs from his love of humanity to leave the house and to go away to those who are not able to come to him.” (Commentary on Matthew, 10.)


Collect
O Lord, God of our Fathers,
who bestowed on
Saints Joachim and Anne this grace,
that of them should be born
the Mother of your incarnate Son,
grant, through the prayers of both,
that we may attain the salvation
you have promised to your people.
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





By their fruits you will know them



Priest and Father of the Church

An excerpt from his work, On the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Anne was to be the mother of the Virgin Mother of God, and hence nature did not dare to anticipate the flowering of grace. Thus nature remained sterile, until grace produced its fruit. For she who was to be born had to be a first-born daughter, since she would be the mother of the first-born of all creation, in whom all things are held together.

Joachim and Anne, how blessed a couple! All creation is indebted to you. For at your hands the Creator was offered a gift excelling all other gifts: a chaste mother, who alone was worthy of him.

And so rejoice, Anne, that you were sterile and have not borne children; break forth into shouts, you who have not given birth. Rejoice, Joachim, because from your daughter a child is born for us, a son is given us, whose name is Messenger of great counsel and universal salvation, mighty God. For this child is God.

Joachim and Anne, how blessed and spotless a couple! You will be known by the fruit you have borne, as the Lord says: By their fruits you will know them. The conduct of your life pleased God and was worthy of your daughter. For by the chaste and holy life you led together, you have fashioned a jewel of virginity: she who remained a virgin before, during and after giving birth. She alone for all time would maintain her virginity in mind and soul as well as in body.

Joachim and Anne, how chaste a couple! While safeguarding the chastity prescribed by the law of nature, you achieved with God’s help something which transcends nature in giving the world the Virgin Mother of God as your daughter. While leading a devout and holy life in your human nature, you gave birth to a daughter nobler than the angels, whose queen she now is. Girl of utter beauty and delight, daughter of Adam and mother of God, blessed the loins and blessed the womb from which you come! Blessed the arms that carried you, and blessed your parents’ lips, which you were allowed to cover with chaste kisses, ever maintaining your virginity. Rejoice in God, all the earth. Sing, exult and sing hymns. Raise your voice, raise it and not be afraid.

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 James, Apostle



“Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28.)

In commenting on this verse from today’s Gospel, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“He says, “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” It is as if he were saying, “I willed not even to stop at death but even in death gave my life as a ransom. For whom? For enemies. For you. If you are abused, my life is given for you. It is for you. Me for you.”

So you need not be too picky if you suffer the loss of your honor. No matter how much it is lowered, you will not be descending as far as your Lord descended. And yet the deep descent of one has become the ascent of all. His glory shines forth from these very depths. For before he was made man, he was known among the angels only. But after he was made man and was crucified, so far from lessening that glory, he acquired further glory besides, even that from his personal knowledge of the world.

So fear not then, as though your honor were put down. Rather, be ready to abase yourself. For in this way your glory is exalted even more, and in this way it becomes greater. This is the door of the kingdom. Let us not then go the opposite way. Let us not war against ourselves. For if we desire to appear great, we shall not be great but even the most dishonored of all.

Do you see how everywhere Jesus encourages them by turning things upside down? He gives them what they desire but in ways they did not expect. In the preceding passages we have shown this in many instances. He acted this way in the cases of the covetous and of the proud. So you can see why he asks whether we are giving our alms to be seen by others. To enjoy glory? Do not do this for glory, and you will enjoy it more. Why do you lay up treasures? To be rich? Try laying up no treasures, and then you will be rich. And in this case, why do you set your heart on sitting in the first place? That you may have the honor before others? Try choosing the last place; then you will enjoy the first. That is how things work in the kingdom. If it is your will to become great, then do not seek greatness and you will become great.” (The Gospel of Matthew: Homily, 65.)





Collect
Almighty ever-living God,
who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles
by the blood of Saint James,
grant, we pray,
that your Church
may be strengthened by his confession of faith
and constantly sustained by his protection.
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

 






Sharers in the suffering of Christ



Saint John Chrysostom
Bishop and Father of the Church

An excerpt from Sermon 65 (On Matthew)

Feast of Saint James, Apostle

The sons of Zebedee press Christ: Promise that one may sit at your right side and the other at your left. What does he do? He wants to show them that it is not a spiritual gift for which they are asking, and that if they knew what their request involved, they would never dare make it. So he says: You do not know what you are asking, that is, what a great and splendid thing it is and how much beyond the reach even of the heavenly powers. Then he continues: Can you drink the cup which I must drink and be baptized with the baptism which I must undergo? He is saying: “You talk of sharing honors and rewards with me, but I must talk of struggle and toil. Now is not the time for rewards or the time for my glory to be revealed. Earthly life is the time for bloodshed, war and danger.”

Consider how by his manner of questioning he exhorts and draws them. He does not say: “Can you face being slaughtered? Can you shed your blood?” How does he put his question? Can you drink the cup? Then he makes it attractive by adding: which I must drink, so that the prospect of sharing it with him may make them more eager. He also calls his suffering a baptism, to show that it will effect a great cleansing of the entire world. The disciples answer him: We can! Fervor makes them answer promptly, though they really do not know what they are saying but still think they will receive what they ask for.

How does Christ reply? You will indeed drink my cup and be baptized with my baptism. He is really prophesying a great blessing for them, since he is telling them: You will be found worthy of martyrdom; you will suffer what I suffer and end your life with a violent death, thus sharing all with me. But seats at my right and left are not mine to give; they belong to those for whom the Father has prepared them. Thus, after lifting their minds to higher goals and preparing them to meet and overcome all that will make them desolate, he sets them straight on their request.

Then the other ten became angry at the two brothers. See how imperfect they all are: the two who tried to get ahead of the other ten, and the ten who were jealous of the two! But, as I said before, show them to me at a later date in their lives, and you will see that all these impulses and feelings have disappeared. Read how John, the very man who here asks for the first place, will always yield to Peter when it comes to preaching and performing miracles in the Acts of the Apostles. James, for his part, was not to live very much longer; for from the beginning he was inspired by great fervor and, setting aside all purely human goals, rose to such splendid heights that he straightway suffered martyrdom.

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