Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time



“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No,” that you may not incur condemnation.” (James 5:12.)

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

“Let the witness of our life be stronger than an oath, and if some shameless person dares to ask an oath from you, let your yes be yes and your no be no, instead of swearing an oath. James forbids us to swear by heaven or by earth for this reason, that we should not give the creation more value than it has by deifying it. For those who swear, swear by something greater than themselves, as the apostle says.” (Catena)



Collect
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to you.
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


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Exult, my soul, in the Lord



Bishop

An excerpt from Commentary on Ecclesiastes

Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Come, eat your bread in gladness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for your works have been pleasing to God. If we would interpret this text in its obvious and ordinary sense, it would be correct to call it a righteous exhortation, in which Ecclesiastes counsels us to embrace a simple way of life and to be led by doctrines which involve a genuine faith in God. Then we may eat our bread in gladness and drink our wine with a cheerful heart. We will not fall into slanderous speech nor be involved in anything devious; rather we should think that which is right, and, insofar as we can, we should help the poor and destitute with mercy and generosity, truly dedicated to those pursuits and good deeds which please God.

But a spiritual interpretation of the text leads us to a loftier meaning and teaches us to take this as the heavenly and mystical bread, which has come down from heaven, bringing life to the world, and to drink a spiritual wine with a cheerful heart, that wine which flowed from the side of the true vine at the moment of his saving passion. Of this the Gospel of our salvation says: When Jesus had taken bread and had blessed it, he said to his holy disciples and apostles, Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you for the forgiveness of sins; and in like manner, he took the cup and said, All of you, drink of this: this is my blood of the new covenant, which will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. For whoever eats this bread and drinks this mystical wine enjoys true happiness and rejoices, exclaiming: You have put gladness into my heart.

Indeed, I think this is the bread and this is the wine that is referred to in the book of Proverbs by God’s subsistent Wisdom, Christ our Savior, saying: Come, eat my bread and drink the wine I have mixed for you, hereby referring to our mystical sharing in the Word. For those worthy to receive this are ever clothed in the works of light, which shine like a bright light as the Lord says in the Gospel: Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. And, indeed, oil appears to flow continually over their heads, the oil that is the Spirit of truth, guarding and preserving them from all the harm of sin.

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 Seventh Week in Ordinary Time



“You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.” (James 5:5.)

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

“What then? Has luxury been condemned? It certainly has — so why do you continue to strive for it? A man has made bread, but the excess has been trimmed away. A man has made wine, but the excess has been cut off there also. God desires that we should pray not for impure food but for souls set free from excess. For everything that God has created is good, and nothing which has been received with thanks is to be despised.” (Catena)




Collect
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to you.
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 unfathomable depths of God



Abbot

An excerpt from Intruction 1 on Faith

Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

God is everywhere in his immensity, and everywhere close at hand. As he says of himself: I am a God close at hand, not a God far off. The God we seek is not one who dwells at a distance from us, for we have him present with us, if only we are worthy. He dwells in us as the soul in the body, if only we are sound members of his, if we are dead to sin. Then in very truth he dwells in us, the one who said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. If we are worthy of his presence with us, then in truth we are made alive by him as his living members. As the Apostle says: In him we live and move and have our being.

Who, I ask, will search out the Most High in his own being, for he is beyond words or understanding? Who will penetrate the secrets of God? Who will boast that he knows the infinite God, who fills all things, yet encompasses all things, who pervades all things, yet reaches beyond all things, who holds all things in his hand, yet escapes the grasp of all things? No one has ever seen him as he is. No one must then presume to search for the unsearchable things of God: his nature, the manner of his existence, his selfhood. These are beyond telling, beyond scrutiny, beyond investigation. With simplicity, but also with fortitude, only believe that this is how God is and this is how he will be, for God is incapable of change.

Who then is God? He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God. Do not look for any further answers concerning God. Those who want to understand the unfathomable depths of God must first consider the world of nature. Knowledge of the Trinity is rightly compared with the depth of the sea. Wisdom asks: Who will find out what is so very deep? As the depths of the sea are invisible to human sight, so the Godhead of the Trinity is found to be beyond the grasp of human understanding. If any one, I say, wants to know what he should believe he must not imagine that he understands better through speech than through belief; the knowledge of God that he seeks will be all the further off than it was before.

Seek then the highest wisdom, not by arguments in words but by the perfection of your life, not by speech but by the faith that comes from simplicity of heart, not from the learned speculations of the unrighteous. If you search by means of discussions for the God who cannot be defined in words, he will depart further from you than he was before. If you search for him by faith, wisdom will stand where wisdom lives, at the gates. Where wisdom is, wisdom will be seen, at least in part. But wisdom is also to some extent truly attained when the invisible God is the object of faith, in a way beyond our understanding, for we must believe in God, invisible as he is, though he is partially seen by a heart that is pure.

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 Seventh Week in Ordinary Time



“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit —” (James 4:13.)

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

“Some people go on endless journeys for the sake of business and the profits which they can make thereby, enduring even sea travel for their sake. Some fight in order to get some advantage over others by increasing their power. Still others fatten their purses by cheating and by extortion, bringing down fire and brimstone on their heads.” (Catena)



Collect
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to you.
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


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Seek the things that are above



Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from Commentary on Ecclesiastes

Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Every man to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot, and to take pleasure in his labor—that man has received a gift from God. For he will not notice the days of his life as they pass because God has filled his heart with joy. Compare him with the man who is anxious about his wealth and is full of vexation as he hoards up possessions that perish. Our text says that it is better to take delight in what you have. The first man at least has some pleasure in what he has, while the second suffers from excessive anxiety. And the reason is that the ability to enjoy riches is a gift from God; he does not count the days of his life, for God allows him to enjoy life; without sadness or anxiety, he is filled with delight of the moment. However, it is better to understand the text with the Apostle as referring to God’s gift of spiritual food and drink; man is to contemplate goodness in his works, for it takes great work and study for us to contemplate true good. And this is our lot: to rejoice in study and work. This is a good goal, but not completely good until Christ is revealed in our lives.

All the work of a man is to satisfy his mouth, yet his spirit will be hungry. For what has a wise man more than a fool, except the knowledge of how to live? All that men work for in this world is consumed by their mouths, chewed up by their teeth, and passed into the stomach for digestion. And even when something delights the taste, the pleasure lasts only as long as he can taste it.

But after all this, the mind of the eater gets no satisfaction, for he will want to eat again, and neither wise man nor fool can live without food, and even a poor man seeks nothing more than to keep his body alive and not die of starvation. Or again, it may be because the spirit gains nothing useful from feeding the body. Food is common to the wise and the foolish alike, and for the poor man food is wealth.

However, it is better to understand the text as referring to the man in Ecclesiastes, who is learned in the sacred Scripture, and knows that neither mouth nor spirit is satisfied so long as he still desires learning. In this the wise man has advantage over the fool. For if he knows himself to be poor (and the poor are called blessed in the Gospel), he strives to understand the important things in life, and he walks the straight and narrow way which leads to life. He is poor in wickedness, and he knows where Christ, who is our life, is to be found.



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 Seventh Week in Ordinary Time



“... But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.” (Mark 9:32.)

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

“It is remarkable how, when Peter had been rebuked, and Moses and Elijah had discoursed, and had seen the glory of what was coming, and the Father had uttered a voice from above, and so many miracles had been done, and the resurrection was right at the door (for he said, he should by no means abide any long time in death, but should be raised the third day), even after all that they did not fathom what was happening. Rather they were troubled, and not merely troubled, but exceedingly mournful. Now this arose from their being ignorant as yet of the force of his sayings.

If ignorant, how could they be sorrowful? Because they were not altogether ignorant. They knew that he was soon to die, for they had continually been told about it. But just what this death might mean, they did not grasp clearly, nor that there would be a speedy recognition of it, from which innumerable blessings would flow. They did not see that there would be a resurrection. This is why they grieved.” (The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 58.)





Collect
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to You.
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

 






There is a time to be born, and a time to die



Bishop and Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Homily on Ecclesiastes, Homily 6

Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

There is a time to be born and a time to die. The fact that there is a natural link between birth and death is expressed very clearly in this text of Scripture. Death invariably follows birth and everyone who is born comes at last to the grave.

There is a time to be born and a time to die. God grant that mine may be a timely birth and a timely death! Of course no one imagines that the Speaker regards as acts of virtue our natural birth and death, in neither of which our own will plays any part. A woman does not give birth because she chooses to do so; neither does anyone die as a result of his own decision. Obviously, there is neither virtue nor vice in anything that lies beyond our control. So we must consider what is meant by a timely birth and a timely death.

It seems to me that the birth referred to here is our salvation, as is suggested by the prophet Isaiah. This reaches its full term and is not stillborn when, having been conceived by the fear of God, the soul’s own birth pangs bring it to the light of day. We are in a sense our own parents, and we give birth to ourselves by our own free choice of what is good. Such a choice becomes possible for us when we have received God into ourselves and have become children of God, children of the Most High. On the other hand, if what the Apostle calls the form of Christ has not been produced in us, we abort ourselves. The man of God must reach maturity.

Now if the meaning of a timely birth is clear, so also is the meaning of a timely death. For Saint Paul every moment was a time to die, as he proclaims in his letters: I swear by the pride I take in you that I face death every day. Elsewhere he says: For your sake we are put to death daily and we felt like men condemned to death. How Paul died daily is perfectly obvious. He never gave himself up to a sinful life but kept his body under constant control. He carried death with him, Christ’s death, wherever he went. He was always being crucified with Christ. It was not his own life he lived; it was Christ who lived in him. This surely was a timely death – a death whose end was true life.

I put to death and I shall give life, God says, teaching us that death to sin and life in the Spirit is his gift, and promising that whatever he puts to death he will restore to life again.


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 the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church



“Then He [Jesus] said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home...” (John 19:27.)

Saint Gregory the Great comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“The virgin mother, when wine was lacking, wanted Jesus to do a miracle. She was at once answered, “Woman, what have I to do with you?” as if to say plainly, The fact that I can do a miracle comes to me from my Father, not my mother. For it was from the nature of his Father that he could do miracles but from the nature of his mother that he could die. When he was on the cross, then, in dying he acknowledged his mother whom he commended to the disciple, saying, “Behold your mother.” And so, when he says, “Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come,”26 he is in effect saying, In the miracle, which I did not from your nature, I do not acknowledge you. When the hour of death shall come, however, I shall acknowledge you as my mother, since it is from you that I can die.” (Letter 10)



Collect
O God, Father of mercies,
Whose Only Begotten Son,
as He hung upon the Cross,
chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother,
to be our Mother also,
grant, we pray,
that with her loving help
Your Church may be more fruitful day by day
and, exulting in the holiness of her children,
may draw to her embrace
all the families of the peoples.
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 is our head and the wise man keeps his eyes upon him



Bishop and Father of the Church

An excerpt from Homily on Ecclesiastes, Homily 5

Ordinary Time, Week 7: Monday

We shall be blessed with clear vision if we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, for he, as Paul teaches, is our head, and there is in him no shadow of evil. Saint Paul himself and all who have reached the same heights of sanctity had their eyes fixed on Christ, and so have all who live and move and have their being in him.

As no darkness can be seen by anyone surrounded by light, so no trivialities can capture the attention of anyone who has his eyes on Christ. The man who keeps his eyes upon the head and origin of the whole universe has them on virtue in all its perfection; he has them on truth, on justice, on immortality and on everything else that is good, for Christ is goodness itself.

The wise man, then, turns his eyes toward the One who is his head, but the fool gropes in darkness. No one who puts his lamp under a bed instead of on a lamp stand will receive any light from it. People are often considered blind and useless when they make the supreme Good their aim and give themselves up to the contemplation of God, but Paul made a boast of this and proclaimed himself a fool for Christ’s sake. The reason he said, We are fools for Christ’s sake was that his mind was free from all earthly preoccupations. It was as though he said, “We are blind to the life here below because our eyes are raised toward the One who is our head.”

And so, without board or lodging, he traveled from place to place, destitute, naked, exhausted by hunger and thirst. When men saw him in captivity, flogged, shipwrecked, led about in chains, they could scarcely help thinking him a pitiable sight. Nevertheless, even while he suffered all this at the hands of men, he always looked toward the One who is his head and he asked: What can separate us from the love of Christ, which is in Jesus? Can affliction or distress? Can persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger or death? In other words, “What can force me to take my eyes from him who is my head and to turn them toward things that are contemptible?”

He bids us follow his example: Seek the things that are above, he says, which is only another way of saying: “Keep your eyes on Christ.”


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