MEMORIAL


Saints Joachim and Anne
Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary


“Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” (Matthew 13:36.)

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

“Now, having discoursed sufficiently to the multitudes in parables, he sends them away and goes to his own house, where his disciples come to him. His disciples did not go with those he sent away. As many as are more genuine hearers of Jesus first follow him, then having inquired about his house, are permitted to see it. Having come, they saw and stayed with him for all that day, and perhaps some of them even longer. In my opinion, such things are implied in the Gospel according to John. And if then, unlike the multitudes whom he sends away, we wish to hear Jesus and go to the house and receive something better than the multitudes did, let us become friends of Jesus, so that as his disciples come, we may also come to him when he goes into the house. And having come, let us inquire about the explanation of the parable, whether of the tares of the field, or of any other.” (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


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By their fruits you will know them


Saint John Damascene
(Priest and Father of the Church)

An excerpt from
On the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

MEMORIAL:
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


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 these verses 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: 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

 

 


ORDINARY TIME


— The Lord’s Day —


Week 17: Sunday


Pondering Jesus’ victorious Word


εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

Jesus was praying in a certain place,
and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.” (Luke 11:1-4).”


θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

“Matters which are so immense and so beyond humanity, so surpassing and exceeding our perishable nature that they are impossible for those of a rational and mortal class to comprehend, have, in the vast and immeasurable grace which is poured from God toward humanity, become, by the will of God, comprehensible through Jesus Christ, the minister of boundless grace to us, and through the collaborating Spirit.” This is how Origen of Alexandria – also known as Origen Adamantius, thus the original ‘man of steel’ – begins his treatise On Prayer (third century) that involves a constant reference to and commentary upon The Lord’s Prayer.

Rembrandt’s Face of Jesus

Known for his prayerful and insightful commentaries on Sacred Scripture, Origen most probably would have composed this translation of the sacred prayer as the basis for his work:

“Father, let your name be hallowed,
let your Kingdom come.
Give us our supersubstantial (or superessential) bread daily.
And release us from our sins, as we ourselves release all indebted to us.
And do not bring us into testing.”

As Origen begins his commentary on The Lord’s Prayer, he is intrigued by the question posed by one of the disciples: “teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” Jesus’ disciple would certainly know about prayer from the Synagogue experience. Psalms as well as the ritual prayers chanted on various festivals together with domestic feasts such as Passover gave Jewish people of Jesus’ day familiarity with prayer. The disciple then who asks about being schooled in Jesus’ way of prayer recognizes that there is something different about the way Jesus Himself prays. Origen notes: “Since the discussion of prayer is such a task that the illumination of the Father is needed, as well as the teaching of the firstborn Word and the inner working of the Spirit, so that it is possible to think and to speak worthily on such a topic, as a man (for of myself I do not claim capacity for prayer) I am entreating the Spirit before I begin to discuss prayer, so that a discourse which is full and spiritual might be granted to us, and that the prayers which are recorded in the Gospels may be clarified.” For Origen, a fundamental difference that marks the uniqueness of The Lord’s Prayer is its grounding in the life of the Divine Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This Prayer is about communion flowing from a graced relationship providing the one who prays all that is needed for the relationship.

The Evangelist Luke’s recording of this ‘short prayer’ with its powerful imperative petitions does offer much for Christian living. We can begin to be schooled in the ways of prayer by voicing these words of Jesus slowly, giving time to reflect on the words we are using. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers an in-depth commentary on The Lord’s Prayer as well. We call upon the Holy Spirit this day, for ‘we know not how to pray’ and ask for the grace to pray as Jesus did and be drawn into the depths of the Father’s love.









ORDINARY TIME


Week 17: Sunday


“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you...” (Luke 11:9.)

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

“He who believes that the mouth of Jesus cannot lie would hesitate a moment to be persuaded to pray, when he says, “Ask, and it will be given you … for everyone who asks, receives.” When we ask for the living bread, the good Father certainly gives him (and not the stone that his adversary wishes to give to Jesus and his disciples for food) to those who have received the Spirit of sonship from the Father.48 The Father gives a good gift, raining it down from heaven for those who ask him.” (On Prayer, 10.)


Collect
O God,
protector of those who hope in You,
without whom nothing has firm foundation,
nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance Your mercy upon us
and grant that, with You as our ruler and guide,
we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now
to those that ever endure.
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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I rejoice exceedingly in all my tribulations


(Bishop and Father of the Church)

An excerpt from Homily 14

ORDINARY TIME Week 17: Sunday

Again Paul turns to speak of love, softening the harshness of his rebuke. For after convicting and reproaching them for not loving him as he had loved them, breaking away from his love and attaching themselves to troublemakers, he again takes the edge off the reproach by saying: Open your hearts to us, that is, love us. He asks for a favor which will be no burden to them but will be more profitable to the giver than to the receiver. And he did not use the word “love” but said, more appealingly: Open your hearts to us.

Who, he said, has cast us out of your minds, thrust us from your hearts? How is it that you feel constraint with us? For, since he has said earlier: You are restricted in your own affection, he now declares himself more openly and says: Open your heart to us, thus once more drawing them toward him. For nothing so much wins love as the knowledge that one’s lover desires most of all to be himself loved.

For I said before, he tells them, that you are in our hearts to die together or live together. This is love at its height, that even though in disfavor, he wishes both to die and to live with them. For you are in our hearts, not just somehow or other, but in the way I have said. It is possible to love and yet to draw back when danger threatens; but my love is not like that.

I am filled with consolation. What consolation? That which comes from you because you, being changed for the better, have consoled me by what you have done. It is natural for a lover both to complain that he is not loved in return and to fear that he may cause distress by complaining too much. Therefore, he says: I am filled with consolation, I rejoice exceedingly.

It is as if he said, I was much grieved on your account, but you have made it up for me in full measure and given me comfort; for you have not only removed the cause for any grief but filled me with a richer joy.

Then he shows the greatness of that joy by saying not only I rejoice exceedingly but also the words which follow: in all my tribulations. So great, he says, was the delight that you gave me that it was not even dimmed by so much tribulation, but overcame by its strength and keenness all those sorrows which had invaded my heart, and took away from me all awareness of them.

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 16: Saturday


“He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field...” (Matthew 13:24.)

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

“Consider now, if in addition to what we have already recounted, you can otherwise take the good seed to be the children of the kingdom, because whatever good things are sown in the human soul, these are the offspring of the kingdom of God. They have been sown by God the Word who was in the beginning with God.1 Wholesome words about anything are children of the kingdom.” (Commentary on Matthew, 10.)


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


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Our heart is enlarged


Saint John Chrysostom
(Bishop and Father of the Church)

An excerpt from Homily on II Corinthians

ORDINARY TIME Week 16: Saturday

Our heart is enlarged. For as heat makes things expand, so it is the work of love to expand the heart, for its power is to heat and make fervent. It is this that opened Paul’s lips and enlarged his heart. For I do not love only in words; he means, but my loving heart too is in unison with my words; and so I speak with confidence, without restraint or reserve. There was nothing more capacious than the heart of Paul, for he loved all the faithful with as intimate a love as any lover could have for a loved one, his love not being divided and lessened but remaining whole and entire for each of them. And what marvel is it that his love for the faithful was such, since his heart embraced the unbelievers, too, throughout the whole world?

So he did not just say, “I love you,” but with greater emphasis: Our mouth is open, our heart is enlarged; we hold you all in it, and not only that, but with room for you to move freely. For those who are loved enter fearlessly into the heart of their lover. And therefore he says: You are not constrained because of us, but you are constrained in your own affections. See how this reproach is tempered with much forbearance, as is the way with those who love much. For he did not say: You do not love me, but you do not love me in the same measure; for he did not want to charge them more harshly.

Indeed one may see with what a wonderful love for the faithful he is always inflamed, as one finds proof of it in all his writings. To the Romans he says: I desire to see you, and I have often planned to come to you, and if by any means at last I may succeed in reaching you. To the Galatians he says: My little children, with whom I am again in labor; to the Ephesians: For this reason I bend my knees on your behalf; and to the Thessalonians: What is my hope and my crown of glory? Is it not yourselves? For he used to say that he carried them about in his heart and in his chains.

Again he writes to the Colossians: I want you to know how greatly I strive for you and for all who have not seen my face; and to the Thessalonians: Like a nurse taking care of her children, being desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the Gospel but also our own selves. So too he says: You are not restricted by us. And so Paul does not merely say that he loves them but also that they love him, so that in this way he may draw them to him. Indeed, to the Corinthians he bears witness of this love when he says: Titus came, telling us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me.

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


Saint Mary of Magdala


“Scarcely had I passed them, when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.” (Song of Songs 3:4.)

Saint Gregory of Nyssa (part 2 of the background of Saint Gregory of Nyssa is found here) offers the following insight on this verse from today’s First Reading:

“The chamber is indeed the heart that becomes an acceptable dwelling of God when it returns to that state which it had in the beginning made by “her who conceived me.” We would be correct by understanding “mother” as the first cause of our being.” (Homily on the Song of Songs, 6.)

Consider pondering the Lord's Word from the Song of Songs as well as St Gregory of Nyssa's Homilies on the Song of Songs



Collect
O God, whose Only Begotten Son
entrusted Mary Magdalene before all others
with announcing the great joy of the Resurrection,
grant, we pray,
that through her intercession and example
we may proclaim the living Christ
and come to see him reigning in your glory.
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