Optional Memorial: Pope Saint John XXIII

“After he had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat.” (Luke 11:37.)

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

“The Pharisee invites him to an entertainment for his own purpose. The Savior of all submits to this for providence’s sake. He made the matter an opportunity of giving instruction, not consuming the time of their meeting in the enjoyment of food and delicacies but in the task of making those who were assembled there more virtuous. The dull Pharisee himself supplied an occasion for his speech, “because he wondered,” it says, “that he did not wash before dinner.” Did he wonder at him as having done something of which he approved, as being especially worthy of the saints? This was not his view. How could it be? On the contrary, he was offended because although he had the reputation of a righteous man and a prophet, he did not conform himself to their unreasonable customs.

Our argument is this. “O foolish Pharisee, you boast much of your knowledge of the sacred Scriptures. You are always quoting the law of Moses. Tell us where Moses gave you this commandment? What commandment ordained by God requires people to wash before eating? The waters of sprinkling were indeed given by the command of Moses for the cleansing of bodily uncleanness, as being a type of the baptism which really is holy and cleansing, even that in Christ. Those who were called to the priesthood were also bathed in water. The divine Moses bathed Aaron and the Levites. The law thereby declared by means of the baptism enacted in type and shadow that even its priesthood did not have what is sufficient for sanctification. On the contrary, it needs divine and holy baptism for the true cleansing.” (Commentary on Luke, Homily 83)

Almighty ever-living God,
Who chose blessed John the Twenty-third
to preside over Your whole people
and benefit them by word and example,
keep safe, we pray, by his intercession,
the shepherds of Your Church
along with the flocks entrusted to their care,
and direct them
in the way of eternal salvation.
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