Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: Sunday Mass Readings, 02-23-14, Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted on 02/22/2014 9:12:32 PM PST by Salvation
February 23, 2014
Reading 1 Lv 19:1-2, 17-18
The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.
“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.”
Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
R/ (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R/ The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R/ The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R/ The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R/ The Lord is kind and merciful.
reading 2 1 Cor 3:16-23
Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.
Let no one deceive himself.
If any one among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,
for it is written:
God catches the wise in their own ruses,
The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are vain.
So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,
Paul or Apollos or Cephas,
or the world or life or death,
or the present or the future:
all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.
Gospel Mt 5:38-48
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
From: Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Moral and Religious Duties
 “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.  And you
shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am
 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired ser-
vant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.  You shall not curse
the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I
am the LORD.
 “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or
defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour.  You
shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not
stand forth against your neighbour: I am the LORD.
 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your
neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him.  You shall not take vengeance or
bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your
neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
19:1-37. The holiness asked of the Israelites is much more than merely ritual ho-
liness. As in 20:26, the exhortation made to them is based on the highest possi-
ble reason—the fact that the Lord is holy. The injunction to honor parents, as also
the obligation to keep the sabbath and the prohibition on idolatry, are command-
ments of the Decalogue already spelt out in Exodus 20:3-4, 12; 21:15, 17. The
rules about peace offerings were covered in Leviticus 7:11-15, and the rules to
protect the weaker members of society are repeated on a number of occasions
(cf. 23:22; Deut 24:19.22).
Verse 2 (”You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy”: cf. also 20:26) and
v. 18 (”you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” :cf. also 19:33-34)
sum up the entire ethic of Leviticus and indeed of the whole Law of God. Jesus
himself says this, as reported in Matthew 22:34-40 (parallel texts in Mk 12:28-31
and Luke 10:25-28): “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Saddu-
cees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to
test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And he said to
him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second
is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments
depend all the law and the prophets’ “ (Mt 22:34-40).
19:1-8. Our Lord refers to the criteria about perjury in his Sermon on the Mount,
in which he rejects the prevalent abuse of swearing by holy things such as hea-
ven, earth or the holy city for no good reason (cf. Mt 5:33-37). Jesus’ teaching on
this point is that all one need do is simply tell the truth, without any oath to back
up one’s words. St James reminds Christians of that same teaching (cf. Jas 5:
12). The blind and the deaf (v. 14) are to be respected out of fear of the Lord: any
harm done them he regards as done to himself. Fraternal correction is a practice
which Jesus will put on a higher plane (cf. Mt 18:15f). He does the same for love
of neighbor. For one thing, one’s neighbor is not just members of the Jewish peo-
ple or sojourners in Judea: for Christ everyone we meet is our neighbor, irrespec-
tive of his religion or race. And it is not just a matter of loving others as oneself,
but of loving them as Christ loved us (cf. Jn 15:12).
19:13. The social teaching of the Church, which is part of moral theology and is
based on Revelation and on reason enlightened by faith, is summed up on the
subject of the just wage by the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “A just wage
is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice (cf
Lev 19:13; Deut 24:14-15; Jas 5:4), In determining fair pay both the needs and
the contributions of each person must be taken into account. ‘Remuneration for
work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for
himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level, taking
into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and
the common good’ (”Gaudium Et Spes”, 67). Agreement between the parties is
not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages” (no. 2434).
19:15. “Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to
give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the ‘virtue of
religion’. Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to
establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard
to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sac-
red Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of
his conduct toward his neighbor. ‘You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to
the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor’ (Lev 19:15)”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1807).
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.
Please FReepmail me to get on/off the Alleluia Ping List.
From: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Apostolic Ministry (Continuation)
 Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in
this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom
of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craf-
tiness,”  and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”
 So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours,  whether Paul or
Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all
are yours;  and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
16-17. These words apply to the individual Christian, and to the Church as a
whole (cf. note on 1 Corinthians 3:9). The simile of the Church as God’s temple,
frequently used by St. Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16), shows
that the Holy Trinity dwells in the soul in grace. As Leo XIII reminds us, by means
of grace God dwells in the just soul as in a temple, in a special and intimate man-
ner” (”Divinum Illud Munus” 10). Although this indwelling is attributed to the Holy
Spirit (cf. John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19), it really comes about through the pre-
sence of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, because all actions of God
which terminate outside God Himself (activities “ad extra”) are to be seen as ac-
tions of the one, unique divine nature.
This sublime mystery which we could never have suspected, was revealed by Je-
sus Christ Himself: “The Spirit of truth [...] dwells with you, and will be in you [...].
If a man loves me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him, and We will
come to him, and make Our home with him” (John 14:17-23). Although this is a
matter which we never plumb in this life, some light is thrown on it if we remem-
ber that “the Divine Persons are said to inhabit as much as they are present to
intellectual creatures in a way that transcends human comprehension, and are
known and loved (cf. “Summa Theologiae”, I, q. 43, a. 3) by them, yet in a way
that is unique, purely supernatural, and in the deepest sanctuary of the soul”
(Pius XII, “Mystici Corporis, Dz-Sch”, 35).
Reflection on this wonderful fact will help us to realize how extremely important
it is to live in the grace of God, and to have a horror of mortal sin, which “des-
troys God’s temple,” depriving the soul of God’s grace and friendship.
Moreover, through this indwelling a human being begins to receiving an inkling
of what the Beatific Vision — Heaven — will be like, for “this admirable union [of
indwelling] differs only by virtue of man’s [present] condition and state from union
whereby God fills the blessed [in Heaven]” (”Divinum Illud Munus”, 11).
The presence of the Trinity in the soul in grace invites the Christian to try to have
a more personal and direct relationship with God, whom we can seek at every mo-
ment in the depths of our souls: “Get to know the Holy Spirit, the Great Stranger,
on whom depends your sanctification. Don’t forget that you are God’s temple. The
Advocate is in the center of your soul: listen to Him and be docile to His inspira-
tions” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 57).
18-20. As an application of his teaching about true wisdom, St Paul shows Chris-
tians that the worst kind of foolishness is that of thinking one is wise when one in
fact is not. He uses two biblical quotations (Job 5:13; Ps 94:11 ) as a gloss to
prove that an exclusively human approach is always doomed to failure.
Christians, therefore, are wiser the more they identify their desires with the plan
God has for each; that is, the more supernatural their outlook on life is: “We
must learn to acquire the divine measure of things, never losing our supernatural
outlook, and realizing that Jesus makes use also of our weaknesses to reveal his
glory. So, whenever your conscience feels the stirrings of self-love, of weariness,
of discouragement, or the weight of your passions, you must react immediately
and listen to the Master, without letting the sad truth about our lives frighten us,
because as long as we live our personal failings will always be with us” (St. J.
Escriva, “Friends of God”, 194).
21-23. One consequence of the defective wisdom which St Paul spoke about in
the preceding verses is the Corinthians’ desire to seize on one particular teacher.
They have forgotten that all ministers are there to serve the faithful (v. 5). In fact,
the Apostle tells them, it is not only the teachers that are theirs: “all things are
yours.” This clearly emphasizes the great dignity involved in being a Christian:
by being an adoptive son of God, a brother of Jesus Christ, the Christian has a
share in Christ’s lordship over the universe (cf. 1 Cor 15:24-28), and is the mas-
ter of all creation (cf. 2 Cor 6:10), through which he should move with a certain
proprietorial feeling, called as he is to live in the freedom of the glory of the sons
of God (cf. Rom 8:21), a freedom which God has won for him (cf. Gal 4:31). Hu-
man factions and dissensions of the type that have arisen among the Corinthians
show that they have forgotten all this and therefore their sense of vocation has be-
come impoverished. The Christian belongs to Christ alone: he has only one mas-
ter, Christ. “Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth”, St John of the Cross ex-
plains; “mine are the people, the righteous are mine and the Mother of God, and
all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, for Christ is mine and all
for me. What, then, do you ask for and seek, my soul? All this is yours, and it is
all for you. Do not despise yourself, do not despise the crumbs that fall from your
Father’s table” (”A Prayer of the Soul Enkindled by Love”).
The Apostle’s words also remind us of the love and respect that man should have
for created things, which God has entrusted to him (cf. Vatican II, “Gaudium Et
Spes”, 37). “The world is not evil,” St. J. Escriva reminds us “for it has come from
God’s hands; it is his creation; Yahweh looked upon it and saw that it was good
(cf. Gen 1:7ff). We ourselves, mankind, make it evil and ugly with our sins and in-
fidelities [...] our age needs to give back to matter and to the most trivial occurren-
ces and situations their noble and original meaning. It needs to restore them to
the service of the Kingdom of God, to spiritualize them, turning them into a means
and an opportunity for a continuous meeting with Jesus Christ [...]. It is understan-
dable that the Apostle should write: ‘all things are yours, you are Christ’s and
Christ is God’s (1 Cor 3:22-23). We have here an ascending movement which the
Holy Spirit, infused in our hearts, wants to call forth from this world, upwards from
the earth to the glory of the Lord” (”Conversations”, 114-115).
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.
From: Matthew 5:38-48
Jesus and His Teaching, the Fulfillment of the Law (Continuation)
 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate
your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who
persecute you.  So that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven;
for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the
just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward
have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you salute
only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the
Gentiles do the same?  You, therefore, must be perfect, as your Heavenly
Father is perfect.”
38-42. Among the Semites, from whom the Israelites stemmed, the law of ven-
geance ruled. It led to interminable strife, and countless crimes. In the early
centuries of the chosen people, the law of retaliation was recognized as an ethi-
cal advance, socially and legally: no punishment could exceed the crime, and
any punitive retaliation was outlawed. In this way, the honor of the clans and
families was satisfied, and endless feuds avoided.
As far as New Testament morality is concerned, Jesus establishes a definitive
advance: a sense of forgiveness and absence of pride play an essential role.
Every legal framework for combating evil in the world, every reasonable defense
of personal rights, should be based on this morality. The three last verses refer
to mutual charity among the children of the Kingdom, a charity which presup-
poses and deeply imbues justice.
43. The first part of this verse — “You shall love your neighbor” — is to be found in
Leviticus 19:18. The second part — “hate your enemy” —is not to be found in the
Law of Moses. However, Jesus’ words refer to a widespread rabbinical interpre-
tation which understood “neighbors” as meaning “Israelites”. Our Lord corrects
this misinterpretation of the Law: for Him everyone is our neighbor (cf. the parable
of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37).
43-47. This passage sums up the teaching which precedes it. Our Lord goes so
far as to say that a Christian has no personal enemies. His only enemy is evil as
such — sin — but not the sinner. Jesus Himself puts this into practice with those
who crucified Him, and He continues to act in the same way towards sinners
who rebel against Him and despise Him. Consequently, the saints have always
followed His example — like St. Stephen, the first martyr, who prayed for those
who were putting him to death. This is the apex of Christian perfection — to love,
and pray for, even those who persecute us and calumniate us. It is the distin-
guishing mark of the children of God.
46. “Tax collectors”: the Roman empire had no officials of its own for the collec-
tion of taxes: in each country it used local people for this purpose. These were
free to engage agents (hence we find reference to “chief tax collectors”: cf. Luke
19:2). The global amount of tax for each region was specified by the Roman au-
thorities; the tax collectors levied more than this amount, keeping the surplus
for themselves: this led them to act rather arbitrarily, which was why the people
hated them. In the case of the Jews, insult was added to injury by the fact that
the chosen people were being exploited by Gentiles.
48. Verse 48 is, in a sense, a summary of the teaching in this entire chapter, in-
cluding the Beatitudes. Strictly speaking, it is quite impossible for a created be-
ing to be as perfect as God. What our Lord means here is that God’s own perfec-
tion should be the model which every faithful Christian tries to follow, even though
he realizes that there is an infinite distance between himself and his Creator.
However, this does not reduce the force of this commandment; it sheds more
light on it. It is a difficult commandment to live up to, but along with this we must
take account of the enormous help grace gives us to go so far as to tend towards
divine perfection. Certainly, perfection which we should imitate does not refer to
the power and wisdom of God, which are totally beyond our scope; here the con-
text seems to refer primarily to love and mercy. Along the same lines, St. Luke
quotes these words of our Lord: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”
(Luke 6:36; cf. note on Luke 6:20-49).
Clearly, the “universal call to holiness” is not a recommendation but a command-
ment of Jesus Christ.
“Your duty is to sanctify yourself. Yes, even you. Who thinks that this task is on-
ly for priests and religious? To everyone, without exception, our Lord said: ‘Be ye
perfect, as My Heavenly Father is perfect’” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 291). This
teaching is sanctioned by chapter 5 of Vatican II’s Constitution “Lumen Gentium”,
where it says (40): “The Lord Jesus, divine teacher and model of all perfection,
preached holiness of life (of which He is the author and maker) to each and every
one of His disciples without distinction:’You, therefore, must be perfect, as your
Heavenly Father is perfect’ [...]. It is therefore quite clear that all Christians in any
state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection
of love, and by this holiness a more human manner of life is fostered also in earth-
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.
Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18 ©
The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:
‘“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.
‘“You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’
Psalm 102:1-4,8,10,12-13 ©
The Lord is compassion and love.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.
The Lord is compassion and love.
It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion.
The Lord is compassion and love.
The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.
The Lord is compassion and love.
As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.
As a father has compassion on his sons,
the Lord has pity on those who fear him.
The Lord is compassion and love.
1 Corinthians 3:16-23 ©
Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.
Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are; or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.
If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.
Whenever anyone obeys what Christ has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.
Matthew 5:38-48 ©
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.
‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
We thank you, God our Father, for those who have responded to your call to priestly ministry.
Accept this prayer we offer on their behalf: Fill your priests with the sure knowledge of your love.
Open their hearts to the power and consolation of the Holy Spirit.
Lead them to new depths of union with your Son.
Increase in them profound faith in the Sacraments they celebrate as they nourish, strengthen and heal us.
Lord Jesus Christ, grant that these, your priests, may inspire us to strive for holiness by the power of their example, as men of prayer who ponder your word and follow your will.
O Mary, Mother of Christ and our mother, guard with your maternal care these chosen ones, so dear to the Heart of your Son.
Intercede for our priests, that offering the Sacrifice of your Son, they may be conformed more each day to the image of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Saint John Vianney, universal patron of priests, pray for us and our priests
This icon shows Jesus Christ, our eternal high priest.
The gold pelican over His heart represents self-sacrifice.
The border contains an altar and grapevines, representing the Mass, and icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.
Melchizedek: king of righteousness (left icon) was priest and king of Jerusalem. He blessed Abraham and has been considered an ideal priest-king.
St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests.
1. Sign of the Cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
2. The Apostles Creed: I BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
3. The Lord's Prayer: OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
4. (3) Hail Mary: HAIL Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen. (Three times)
5. Glory Be: GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Fatima Prayer: Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.
Announce each mystery, then say 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, 1 Glory Be and 1 Fatima prayer. Repeat the process with each mystery.
End with the Hail Holy Queen:
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears! Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus!
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Final step -- The Sign of the Cross
The Glorious Mysteries
(Wednesdays and Sundays)
1.The Resurrection (Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-29) [Spiritual fruit - Faith]
2. The Ascension (Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11) [Spiritual fruit - Christian Hope]
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13) [Spiritual fruit - Gifts of the Holy Spirit]
4. The Assumption [Spiritual fruit - To Jesus through Mary]
5. The Coronation [Spiritual fruit - Grace of Final Perseverance]
St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle
Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the devil;
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
Cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.
From an Obama bumper sticker on a car:
"Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8"
PLEASE JOIN US -
Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. The month of February has been primarily asociated with the Holy Family, probably due to the feast of Our Lord's presentation at the temple, celebrated on February 2. At the very outset of Christ's work on earth, God showed the world a family in which, as Pope Leo XIII teaches, "all men might behold a perfect model of domestic life, and of all virtue and holiness." The harmony, unity, and holiness which characterized this holy Family make it the model for all Christian families.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph most kind, Bless us now and in death's agony.
FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE HOLY FAMILY
Grant unto us, Lord Jesus, ever to follow the example of Thy holy Family, that in the hour of our death Thy glorious Virgin Mother together with blessed Joseph may come to meet us and we may be worthily received by Thee into everlasting dwellings: who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY FAMILY
O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, who having come to enlighten the world with Thy teaching and example, didst will to pass the greater part of Thy life in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an example for all Christian families, graciously receive our family as it dedicates and consecrates itself to Thee this day. Do Thou defend us, guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear, true peace, and concord in Christian love: in order that, by conforming ourselves to the divine pattern of Thy family, we may be able, all of us without exception, to attain to eternal happiness.
Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us, by thy kindly intercession make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and obtain for us His graces and blessings.
O Saint Joseph, most holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, assist us by thy prayers in all our spiritual and temporal necessities; that so we may be enabled to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and thee, for all eternity.
Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be, three times.
IN HONOR OF THE HOLY FAMILY
O God, heavenly Father, it was part of Thine eternal decree that Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, should form a holy family with Mary, His blessed mother, and His foster father, Saint Joseph. In Nazareth home life was sanctified, and a perfect example was given to every Christian family. Grant, we beseech Thee, that we may fully comprehend and faithfully imitate the virtues of the Holy Family so that we may be united with them one day in their heavenly glory. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954
Holy Family Chaplet
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, be with me in my last hour.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul
in peace with you.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse. Amen.
Say 3 Our Father's, 3 Hail Mary's, and 3 Glory be's.
THE HOLY FAMILY
GOD our Heavenly Father, You call all peoples to be united as one family in worshipping You as the one and true God. You willed that Your Son become man, giving Him a virgin mother and a foster father to form the Holy Family of Nazareth.
WE pray: may the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, image and model of every human family unit walk in the spirit of Nazareth and grow in the understanding of its particular mission in society and the Church. May our families be living cells of love, faithfulness and unity, thus reflecting God's covenant with humanity and Christ's redeeming love for His Church.
JESUS, Mary and Joseph protect our families from all evil; keep us, who are away from home, one in love with our dear ones.
Imitating the Holy Family: Four Traits that Make It Possible
[Catholic Caucus] On the Holy Family [Angelus]
Biblical Teachings on Marriage and Family. A Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Recovering Gods Plan for Marriage and Family: A Sermon on the Feast of the Holy Family
Why were you looking for me?" (On the Feast of The Holy Family)
U.S. Postal Service Issues Holy Family Forever Stamp
On Prayer in the Life of the Holy Family
The Holy Family - held together by Love through all their problems [Ecumenical]
Feast of the Holy Family: The Christian Family is a Domestic Church
Chesterton on "The Human Family and the Holy Family"
Joseph, Mary and Jesus: A Model Family
ADVICE TO PARENTS by Saint Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)
The Holy Family
St. Joseph as Head of the Holy Family (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
Feast of the Holy Family
Feast of the Holy Family (Dom Guéranger OSB)
The Feast of the Holy Family
The Holy Family vs. The Holy Innocents: A Christmas season reflection [Catholic Caucus]
Vatican creche to place Holy Family in Joseph's carpentry workshop
The Redemption and Protection of the Family [Feast of the Holy Family]
Study Backs Tradition of Loreto House - Stones in Altar Match Those in Nazareth, It Says
Unraveling Jesus' mystery years in Egypt
Gaudis Church of the Holy Family to be ready for worship in 2008
Imitating the Holy Family; Four Traits that Make It Possible
Lots of Graphics: Post your favorite image of the St. Mary and Child, the Holy Family...
Universal: That the Church and society may respect the wisdom and experience of older people.
For Evangelization: That priests, religious, and lay people may work together with generosity for evangelization.
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A
Commentary of the day
Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), Founder of the Friars Minor
Admonitions, 9-10 (trans. ©Classics of Western Spirituality)
"But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil"
The Lord says: “Love your enemies.” That person truly loves his enemy who is not upset at any injury which is done to himself, but out of love of God is disturbed at the sin of the other's soul. And let him show his love for the other by his deeds.
Many people, when they sin or receive an injury, often blame the Enemy or some neighbor. But this is not right, for each one has the real enemy in his own power; that is, the body through which he sins. Therefore blessed is that servant who, having such an enemy in his power, will always hold him captive and wisely guard himself against him, because as long as he does this, no other enemy, seen or unseen, will be able to harm him.
| Sunday, February 23, 2014
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
|Just A Minute (Listen)
Some of EWTN's most popular hosts and guests in a collection of one minute inspirational messages. A different message each time you click.
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr
St. Polycarpus, engraving by Michael Burghers, ca 1685
St. Polycarp was converted to Christianity by St. John the Evangelist. He was later ordained Bishop of Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey). He was about eighty-six when the Roman proconsul urged him to renounce Christ and save his life. St. Polycarp said, "For eighty-six years I have served him and he has never wronged me. How can I reounce the King who has saved me?"
Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003
God of all creation,
who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp
a place in the company of the Martyrs,
grant, through his intercession,
that, sharing with him in the chalice of Christ,
we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life.
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.
First Reading: Revelation 2:8-11
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 'The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death."
Gospel Reading: John 15:18-21
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on My account, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
Related links on the New Advent website:
|English: Douay-Rheims||Latin: Vulgata Clementina||Greek NT: Byzantine/Majority Text (2000)|
|38.||You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.||Audistis quia dictum est : Oculum pro oculo, et dentem pro dente.||ηκουσατε οτι ερρεθη οφθαλμον αντι οφθαλμου και οδοντα αντι οδοντος|
|39.||But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other:||Ego autem dico vobis, non resistere malo : sed si quis te percusserit in dexteram maxillam tuam, præbe illi et alteram :||εγω δε λεγω υμιν μη αντιστηναι τω πονηρω αλλ οστις σε ραπισει επι την δεξιαν [σου] σιαγονα στρεψον αυτω και την αλλην|
|40.||And if a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him.||et ei, qui vult tecum judicio contendere, et tunicam tuam tollere, dimitte ei et pallium :||και τω θελοντι σοι κριθηναι και τον χιτωνα σου λαβειν αφες αυτω και το ιματιον|
|41.||And whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two,||et quicumque te angariaverit mille passus, vade cum illo et alia duo.||και οστις σε αγγαρευσει μιλιον εν υπαγε μετ αυτου δυο|
|42.||Give to him that asketh of thee and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away.||Qui petit a te, da ei : et volenti mutuari a te, ne avertaris.||τω αιτουντι σε διδου και τον θελοντα απο σου δανεισασθαι μη αποστραφης|
|43.||You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy.||Audistis quia dictum est : Diliges proximum tuum, et odio habebis inimicum tuum.||ηκουσατε οτι ερρεθη αγαπησεις τον πλησιον σου και μισησεις τον εχθρον σου|
|44.||But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you:||Ego autem dico vobis : Diligite inimicos vestros, benefacite his qui oderunt vos, et orate pro persequentibus et calumniantibus vos :||εγω δε λεγω υμιν αγαπατε τους εχθρους υμων ευλογειτε τους καταρωμενους υμας καλως ποιειτε τοις μισουσιν υμας και προσευχεσθε υπερ των επηρεαζοντων υμας και διωκοντων υμας|
|45.||That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.||ut sitis filii Patris vestri, qui in cælis est : qui solem suum oriri facit super bonos et malos : et pluit super justos et injustos.||οπως γενησθε υιοι του πατρος υμων του εν [τοις] ουρανοις οτι τον ηλιον αυτου ανατελλει επι πονηρους και αγαθους και βρεχει επι δικαιους και αδικους|
|46.||For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this?||Si enim diligitis eos qui vos diligunt, quam mercedem habebitis ? nonne et publicani hoc faciunt ?||εαν γαρ αγαπησητε τους αγαπωντας υμας τινα μισθον εχετε ουχι και οι τελωναι το αυτο ποιουσιν|
|47.||And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this?||Et si salutaveritis fratres vestros tantum, quid amplius facitis ? nonne et ethnici hoc faciunt ?||και εαν ασπασησθε τους φιλους υμων μονον τι περισσον ποιειτε ουχι και οι τελωναι ουτως ποιουσιν|
|48.||Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.||Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut et Pater vester cælestis perfectus est.||εσεσθε ουν υμεις τελειοι ωσπερ ο πατηρ υμων ο εν τοις ουρανοις τελειος εστιν|
Feast Day: February 23
Died: 155 at Smyrna
Patron of: against dysentery, against earache
Feast Day: February 23
Born: (around)69 : : Died: 155
St. Polycarp became a Christian when the followers of Jesus were still few. In fact, Polycarp was a disciple of one of the first apostles, St. John. He was also a friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
All that Polycarp learned from St. John he taught to others and he was a well respected Christian leader. He was a new kind of Christian for his time. He was not a Jew and did not know the Old Testament Scriptures; instead he knew well the customs and beliefs of the Apostles.
Polycarp became a priest and then bishop of Smyrna in present-day Turkey. He was Smyrna's bishop for many years and the Christians loved their holy and brave shepherd. The Churches in Asia Minor chose St. Polycarp to go on their behalf and discuss with Pope Anicetus an important matter - the date of the Easter celebration in Rome.
During that time Christians faced torture and death under Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Polycarp was shown to his enemies by a traitor. When his captors came to arrest him, he invited them first to share a meal with him.
Then he asked them to let him pray a while. The judge tried to force Bishop Polycarp to curse Jesus and save himself from death. "For eighty-six years I have served Jesus Christ," answered the saint, "and he has never done me any wrong. How can I curse my King who died for me?"
The soldiers tied St. Polycarp's hands behind his back and placed him on a burning pile but the fire did not harm him. One of the soldiers then stabbed a dagger into his heart and killed him. And so, in the year 155, Polycarp died a martyr.
He went to be forever with his Divine Master Jesus Christ whom he had served so bravely.
Did God will the death of his only Son?
The violent death of Jesus did not come about through tragic external circumstances. Jesus was "delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). So that we children of sin and death might have life, the Father in heaven "made him to be sin who knew no sin" (2 Cor 5:21). The magnitude of the sacrifice that God the Father asked of his Son, corresponded to the magnitude of Christ's obedience: "And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour" (Jn 12:27). On both sides, God's love for men proved itself to the very end on the Cross.
In order to save us from death, God embarked on a dangerous mission: He introduced a "medicine of immortality" (St. Ignatius of Antioch) into our world of death - his Son Jesus Christ. The Father and the Son were inseparable in this mission, willing and yearning to take the utmost upon themselves out of love for man. God willed to make an exchange so as to save us forever. He wanted to give us his eternal life, so that we might experience his joy, and wanted to suffer our death, our despair, our abandonment, our death, so as to share with us in everything. So as to love us to the end and beyond. Christ's death is the will of the Father but not his final word. Since Christ died for us, we can exchange our death for his life. (YOUCAT question 98)
Dig Deeper: CCC section (571-573) and other references here.
Part 1: The Profession of Faith (26 - 1065)
Section 2: The Profession of the Christian Faith (185 - 1065)
Chapter 2: I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God (422 - 682)
Article 4: "Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried" (571 - 630)
Paragraph 2: Jesus Died Crucified (595 - 623)
II. CHRIST'S REDEMPTIVE DEATH IN GOD'S PLAN OF SALVATION ⇡
"Jesus handed over according to the definite plan of God" ⇡
Jesus' violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God's plan, as St. Peter explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: "This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God."393 This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God.394
Cf. Acts 3:13.
To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."395 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.396
"He died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" ⇡
The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of "the righteous one, my Servant" as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin.397 Citing a confession of faith that he himself had "received", St. Paul professes that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures."398 In particular Jesus' redemptive death fulfills Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering Servant.399 Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God's suffering Servant.400 After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.401
Cf. Mt 20:28.
Cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-45.
"For our sake God made him to be sin" ⇡
Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers... with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake."402 Man's sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.403 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God "made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."404
Jesus did not experience reprobation as if he himself had sinned.405 But in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our name from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"406 Having thus established him in solidarity with us sinners, God "did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all", so that we might be "reconciled to God by the death of his Son".407
Cf. Jn 8:46.
God takes the initiative of universal redeeming love ⇡
By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us is one of benevolent love, prior to any merit on our part: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins."408 God "shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."409
At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes no one: "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."410 He affirms that he came "to give his life as a ransom for many"; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us.411 The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer."412
III. CHRIST OFFERED HIMSELF TO HIS FATHER FOR OUR SINS ⇡
Christ's whole life is an offering to the Father ⇡
The Son of God, who came down "from heaven, not to do [his] own will, but the will of him who sent [him]",413 said on coming into the world, "Lo, I have come to do your will, O God." "And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."414 From the first moment of his Incarnation the Son embraces the Father's plan of divine salvation in his redemptive mission: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work."415 The sacrifice of Jesus "for the sins of the whole world"416 expresses his loving communion with the Father. "The Father loves me, because I lay down my life", said the Lord, "[for] I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father."417
The desire to embrace his Father's plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus' whole life,418 for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his Incarnation. And so he asked, "And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour."419 And again, "Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?"420 From the cross, just before "It is finished", he said, "I thirst."421
"The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world" ⇡
After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world".422 By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel's redemption at the first Passover.423 Christ's whole life expresses his mission: "to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."424
Jesus freely embraced the Father's redeeming love ⇡
By embracing in his human heart the Father's love for men, Jesus "loved them to the end", for "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."425 In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men.426 Indeed, out of love for his Father and for men, whom the Father wants to save, Jesus freely accepted his Passion and death: "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord."427 Hence the sovereign freedom of God's Son as he went out to his death.428
1) To look to the Cross. "Love your enemies: a realistic command?
Is it really possible to love our enemies, and love them while they manifest their hostility and enmity, their hatred, and their aversion? Is it humanly possible to put into practice this command of Christ? Love for enemies seems madness to common reason. Does that mean that our salvation is in madness? Love for our enemies resembles the hate for ourselves. Does that mean that we get to the beatitude only if we hate ourselves?
Why does Jesus ask us to love our enemies, a task that exceeds human capacities?
"In fact, Christ's proposal is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore we can overcome this situation only countering it with more love, more kindness " (see Benedict XVI).
It is not easy, but, Pope Francis said during the Mass celebrated on the morning of Thursday, September 12, in the chapel of Santa Marta, it is possible, it is enough to contemplate Jesus' suffering and the suffering humanity and live with Jesus a life hidden in God.
To understand and to do so we have to take seriously the invitation of the Apostle Paul, Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:5) Put on then, as Gods chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.(Col 3, 12-13).
In order to love everyone in the love of Christ, including our enemies, the way is to fasten our eyes on Christ on the Cross, and so learn to feel how Jesus felt and to conform our way of thinking, deciding and acting with Jesus feelings. If we take this road, we live well and take the right path. In the contemplation of the crucified love, well have the confirmation that Jesus loves us. This love is a great tenderness and a consolation for us; it is a comfort and also a great responsibility day by day. It is love that is given to us and that we cannot get with study or practice: it is a free gift from God that we must responsibly make to bear fruit.
The world - and we in the world - condemns and executes; namely it eliminates every enemy. The world goes to war toward the enemy to the point of his annihilation. But Christ tells us to love our enemies, and His Word is truth. It is reality. This Word of love here and now is fulfilled in us, God's enemies always busy to eliminate our enemies losing along the way patience, forgiveness and love. We, full of sins, are infinitely loved and beloved by God, rich in mercy.
The Christian is led by the Gospel to see in himself the enemy loved by God and for whom Christ died: this is the basic experience of faith from which the spiritual path that leads to love for the enemy can rise! Paul writes: But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." (Rom 5:8-10).
Our life lost, is redeemed and fulfilled in His forgiveness. His open arms are even today our refuge and our perfection. We are therefore perfect and complete only in His hidden wounds of love (cf. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux). It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move.(Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 12). Pierced by His mercy we ourselves become His wounds open to the world, a sign of salvation, life and forgiveness for all people. Our daily wounds combined with His wounds are a perfection that saves the world.
2) To look from the Cross.
There, nailed to our cross we are perfect. There where no one greets us, there where the sun hides and the rain runs away, there where the world erases the unrighteous, the children of the heavenly Father give life, freely and because of a loving faith.
There where the world hates, the disciples of the Love, love. Our life is fulfilled on the Cross. We are crucified with Him. "Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift. Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which rivers of living water flow (cf. Jn 7:37-38). Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God (cf. Jn 19:34). (Benedict XVI, Deus caritas Est 7). It is He alive in us that loves every man and comes into us in last place, the servant of this generation to open Heaven to every enemy who by His blood has been turned into a friend. Moreover, every enemy is a brother in the eyes of Christ. As it was for us just a moment ago, or yesterday, or shall be tomorrow.
So we learn to look at the other, at our neighbor not any more just with our eyes and with our good intentions, but we look from the Cross, from the point of view of Jesus Christ.
His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave. (Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 18). The eyes of God, who loves all giving to all what they need without distinction of any kind, are Jesus' eyes laid on this humanity through our own eyes.
There is a beautiful insight of Berdiaeff: "In the beginning God said to Cain: What have you done to your brother Abel? On the last day He will not turn to Cain but to Abel saying What have you done to your brother Cain? Abel will not rise for revenge, but to guard Cain. The new earth will be when the victims will take care of their executioners. This is the heart of God ". With his infinite love for us Christ did so for us.
To learn from him we must go to Calvary and watch the Redeemer on the Cross, and then we must get on the cross next to him and look from his point of view. To this love we arrive through a process and through asceticism. Love is not spontaneous: it requires discipline, asceticism, a fight against the instinct of anger and against the temptation of hate. So we will arrive to the responsibility of those who have the courage to exercise fraternal correction denouncing constructively the evil committed by others. Love for the enemy must not be mistaken with complicity with the sinner.
Those who do not hold a grudge and do not seek revenge, but correct the brother are in fact also able to forgive. Forgiveness is the mysterious maturity of faith and love for which the offended freely chooses to waive his right against those who has already stepped on his own just rights. The one who forgives sacrifices a legal relationship in favor of a relationship of grace.
For this to be possible, it is essential that next to the command to love our enemies there is prayer for persecutors and intercession for the opponents, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Mt 5:44) If we do not accept each other (and in particular that the other has become our enemy, contradicts us, opposes us and slanders us) in prayer learning to see with the eyes of God in the mystery of his person and of his vocation, we will never get to love him. But it must be clear that the love of the enemy is a matter of deep faith, of intelligence of the heart, of inner richness, of love for the Lord, and not simply of good will.
This love, to which God calls us, is a love that does not rely ultimately on human resources but it is the gift of God which is obtained by trusting solely and unreservedly in his merciful goodness.
Here is the newness of the Gospel that changes the world without making any noise. Here is the heroism of the "little ones" who believe in the love of God and spread it even at the cost of their life. Christ is the first in this love for the enemies and the martyrs have imitated Him loving to the end. However, lets keep in mind that the consecrated life is in this respect a bloodless but daily martyrdom. In the Ordo Virginum people are called to martyrdom without the shedding of blood. They live a life totally dedicated to faithfulness to God and intercession for the sinners that think to be the enemies of Christ, who instead loves them and calls upon them the mercy of the Father. In the concealment of a life simple as that of Our Lady of Nazareth, they show that it is possible to imitate the eminent example of the Mother of Christ in whom God was the protagonist and whose virginity was the expression also physical of her total openness to the plan of God. The vocation of these women is to humbly pray and work to bring peace to the Earth, to reconcile the hostile brothers, to resurrect Abel, and to bring Cain back the love.
Roman Rite - Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - February 23, 2014
Lv 19, 1-2.17-18, Ps 103, 1 Cor 3.16 to 23, 5.38 to 48 Mt
Love your enemies
To Christ our sins are like dust.
Saint Augustine of Hippo
Homily 1 on the First Epistle of John ( 1:9)
And in this, says he, we do know Him, if we keep His commandments. (1 John 2:3-4) What commandments? He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But still you ask what commandments? But whoso, says he, keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. (1 John 2:5) Let us see whether this same commandment be not called love. For we were asking, what commandments, and he says, But whoso keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Mark the Gospel, whether this be not the commandment: A new commandment, says the Lord, give I unto you, that you love one another. (John 13:34) In this we know that we are in Him, if in Him we be perfected. Perfected in love, he calls them: what is perfection of love? To love even enemies, and love them for this end, that they may be brethren. For not a carnal love ought ours to be. To wish a man temporal good, is good; but though that fail, let the soul be safe. Do you wish life to any that is your friend? You do well. Do you rejoice at the death of your enemy? You do badly. But haply both to your friend the life you wish him is not for his good, and to your enemy the death you rejoice at has been for his good. It is uncertain whether this present life be profitable to any man or unprofitable: but the life which is with God without doubt is profitable. So love your enemies as to wish them to become your brethren; so love your enemies as that they may be called into your fellowship. For so loved He who, hanging on the cross, said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34) For he did not say, Father let them live long, me indeed they kill, but let them live. He was casting out from them the death which is for ever and ever, by His most merciful prayer, and by His most surpassing might. Many of them believed, and the shedding of the blood of Christ was forgiven them. At first they shed it while they raged; now they drank it while they believed. In this we know that we are in Him, if in Him we be made perfect. Touching the very perfection of love of enemies, the Lord admonishing, says, Be therefore perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) He, therefore, that says he abides in Him, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.(1 John 2:6 ) How, brethren? What does he advise us? He that says he abides in Him, i.e., in Christ, ought himself also so to walk even as He walked. Haply the advice is this, that we should walk on the sea? That be far from us! It is this then that we walk in the way of righteousness. In what way? I have already mentioned it. He was fixed upon the cross, and yet was He walking in this very way: this way is the way of charity, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. If, therefore, you have learned to pray for your enemy, you walk in the way of the Lord.
Praying for our enemies
Fr. Robert J. Wagner
We are all familiar with the Gospel teaching to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. However, it is fruitful to dwell on what it tells us about God’s love for us and how that love needs to transform how we treat our neighbors, especially those who hurt us.
Betrayal, cruelty and violence exist all around us. Likely we and our loved ones have suffered from someone else’s unjust actions. So how do we respond to those who purposefully harm us or our family? Perhaps we seek retribution through various channels, legal if necessary. We may also avoid talking to the offending party and his or her family and friends. Likely, we also hold on to the anger we feel toward that person and struggle to forgive the sin that caused so much pain.
These reactions may seem just. We were hurt; the other deserves the same. However, this attitude causes and maintains division in our lives and results in broken relationships and lasting animosity. This discord can even spread to our loved ones and last for generations if left unresolved. How many of our extended families are divided by grudges remaining from sins committed decades ago?
This resentment is a burden, yet we still are tempted to cling to an unresolved injustice and ache until it is resolved to our satisfaction. So when Jesus says to turn the other cheek, it may seem impossible. How can I love my enemy when they have not asked for forgiveness? How can I repay evil done against me with charity? Where is the justice?
As children of our heavenly Father, Jesus asks us to see the situation differently, to see as the One who “makes His sun rise on the bad and the good” (Mt 5:45) sees. God pours out His blessing on all of us, and His desire is that we all join Him in eternal life. Our God desires the sinner. He is the Shepherd who searches for the lost sheep, the Divine Physician who comes to heal the broken. Since we are all sinners, this is great news. God creates us in His own image, sends His Son to save us by dying on the cross, forgives us over and over and over again, and never gives up on us even when we may give up on Him. His unending love for each of us is the greatest gift we have, and at the end of our lives on earth, it is the only gift that we will want.
Of course, this love God has for us — the love that gives us eternal meaning — is also offered to our neighbors, even our neighbors who sin against us. God seeks our enemy’s salvation the same as He seeks ours. He wants us all to freely choose to be forgiven and saved, no matter how great their sin. Jesus shows us this on the cross when He looks upon those who hung Him there and says, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they do” (Lk 23:34).
Yes, God desires the salvation of every person, and as children of God, so should we. This means we seek to forgive before being asked and to offer mercy before seeking justice. However, we cannot do this on our own. We need the grace of God to see and act as God desires, to be “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). Therefore, Jesus says, “Pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44), knowing that uniting our enemies in the love of God will not only transform them, it will transform us as well.
In heaven there are no grudges, only perfect love. By praying for those who sin against us, we prepare ourselves, and our enemies, for eternal life. Father, forgive them. Father, forgive us.
Fr. Wagner is Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde’s secretary.
In today’s Gospel the Lord is teaching us, by his grace, to break the cycle of retribution and hatred. When someone harms me I may well experience anger. And in my anger I may well seek to get back at the offender. If I do that, then Satan has two victories and brought the anger and retribution to a new level. And most likely the one who originally harmed me will take exception to my retribution and inflict more harm on me. And so the cycle continues and escalates. Satan loves this.
Break the Cycle – But the Lord has dispatched us on to the field to turn the game around and break the cycle of retribution and hatred. In effect the “play” he wants us to execute is the “it ends with me” play.
Don’t Play on Satan’s Team – To simply hate those who hate me and get back at those who harm me is to work for Satan, to play on his team. Why do that?
To advance the ball for Jesus is to break the cycle of retribution and hatred by taking the hit and not returning it. By loving our enemy, we break the cycle of hate. By refusing retribution, we rob Satan of a double victory.
Recall the words of Dr. Martin Luther King:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction….The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. (From Strength to Love, 1963)
Christ, living in us, wants to break the cycle.
The Necessity of Grace – Recall as well a point made in last Sunday’s reflection that these antitheses are pictures of the transformed human person. Jesus is describing here what happens to a person in whom he has begun to live, through his Holy Spirit. As such the verses that follow are a description before they are prescription. Jesus is not merely saying, “Stop being so thin-skinned, so easily offended, and so retaliatory. Stop hating people.” If that were the case we could easily be discouraged by these verses or merely write them off as some impossible ideal. No, the Lord is doing something far greater than giving us moralisms. He is describing what will increasingly happen to us as his grace transforms us.
With this in mind, let’s look at the particulars in Three Sections.
I. Regarding Retaliation The first of the antitheses reads:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
Behind this text is the gift from the Lord of a generous heart. Ps 118:32 says In the ways of your precepts I run O Lord for you have enlarged my heart. It takes a large heart not retaliate, to go the extra mile, to give alms. The transformed mind and heart which Jesus gives is like this. It is a large heart, able to endure personal slights, and attacks, to refuse to retaliate. A large heart that easily lets go of personal possessions in pursuit of a higher goal. This is the essential vision of this antithesis.
That said, there are surely many questions that arise out of these sayings of Jesus. Most of these questions, however, emerge from seeing the Sermon as legal prescription rather than a descriptive example. Nevertheless, these are important questions.
To answer some of these questions, we do well to recall that the Lord is speaking to us as individuals. Therefore, the State, which has an obligation to protect the innocent from foes within and without, may be required to use force to repel threats. Further, the State has an obligation to secure basic justice and may therefore be required to assign punishment for crimes committed. This has been the most common Catholic understanding of this text.
Pacifists, however, differ with the traditional approach and see in this antithesis of Jesus a prohibition of all restraint of evil through any physical repulsion. This would preclude, for most of them, any recourse to the use of military and any use of armed police.
In answer to this, it will be noted that Scripture does not condemn military service in any explicit sense. Nor does it deny the right of the State to confer punishment. Consider some of the following New Testament references:
Hence the New Testament does seem to accept that the state does have punitive powers for the common good.
But don’t miss the main point of Jesus – The more likely understanding of this antithesis is that Jesus speaks to us as individuals and testifies that, to the degree that we are transformed, we will not seek to retaliate or avenge personal injuries. Rather, due to our relationship with God the Father we will be content to leave such matters to God. As scripture testifies: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19) Further and even more importantly, to the degree that Jesus lives in us we will simply be less easily offended at all. This is because our sense of our dignity is rooted in him, not what some mere mortal thinks, says or does.
Jesus goes on to give four examples of what he means by us becoming less vengeful and retaliatory:
1. When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. – Being struck with the back of the hand was in ancient times (even now) a sign of disrespect. There is an intended humiliation when one strikes us on the cheek. But take note what Jesus does here! In the ancient world one struck with the left hand and this meant that being struck on one’s right cheek was to be struck with the inside of the hand. But, in turning the other cheek one would then be struck with the outside of the hand of the striker. This was an even worse indignity in the ancient world! But for the Christian in whom Christ is really living: who can really dishonor me? God is the source of my dignity, and no one can take it from me. By this grace I can let it pass since I have not, in fact, been stripped of my dignity. The world did not give me my dignity and the world cannot take it away. From this perspective Jesus is not offering us merely the grace to endure indignity, but the grace not to suffer or experience indignity at all.
2. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. – It was forbidden in ancient times to take the tunic of a person in pledge for a loan. Thus Jesus would seem to be using this example as a symbol for our rights. There are some people who are forever standing on their rights to this or that. They clutch their privileges and will not let them go even if the common good would require it. They will militantly go to law rather than suffer any infringement upon them. The true Christian thinks more of duties than rights, more of responsibilities than privileges. All this personal honor stuff etc. is unimportant when Christ lives in us. There are, to be sure, some rights necessary for the completion of our duties or for meeting our basic needs. It is unlikely Jesus has this in mind to forbid. But, as a general rule, Jesus is indicating that we can be freed of our obsession over “my rights,” “my dignity,” and also “my stuff.” We can be increasingly freed of anger when someone might even think to touch anything that is “mine.” The more we are detached from earthly possessions the less we get anxious or angry when these mere things are somehow threatened or used without our permission, or when our highly refined and dainty sense of our rights are trampled upon.
3. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. - It was legal for a Roman solider to press a person into service for one mile to carry things etc. Here too, some might be bent out of shape over such indignities. Jesus offers us a generous heart that will go the extra mile. Jesus came as the servant of all and as one who came to serve rather than be served. To the degree that he lives in us, we will willingly serve and not feel slighted that someone might have asked us to do something. Neither will we cop the “why me” attitude that commonly afflicts the ungenerous soul. The key gift here is a generous heart even when others do not always justly assign us our work or appreciate our efforts. This is of little concern for us since we work for God.
4. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. – Here too many questions arise related to indiscriminate giving. In some cases it may not be the wise thing to give money simply because someone asks. But don’t miss the main point here. The bottom line is that, when Jesus lives in us, we will be more generous. We will give cheerfully and assist others gladly. We will not be bent out of shape that someone has asked us for help. We may not always be able to help but our generous heart will not begrudge the beggar and we will remain cheerful in his presence and treat him or her with respect.
Here then is a description of a transformation of the mind and heart. We will view things differently. Not be so easily bent out of shape, retaliatory, vengeful. We will be more patient, more generous, less grasping, more giving. This is what happens when we live in a transformative relationship with Jesus.
II. Radical Requirement – to Love one’s enemy:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?
Here is the acid test, the hallmark of a true Christian: the love of one’s enemy. Note that Lord links this to being a true child of God. Why? Because God loves everyone and gives gifts of sun and rain to all. If then we are a “chip off the old block,” we will do the same. Anybody loves those who love them. But a Christian is fulfilling the Law and exceeding it.
If Christ lives in us then we will love even our enemy. Recall that Jesus loved us even when we hated him and killed him: And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34) Further: While we were his enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (Rom 5:10)
We should be careful not to make love an abstraction. The Lord is talking about a real transformation of our hearts here. Sometimes we say dopey things like, “You don’t have to like everyone but you have to love them.” This turns love into something of an abstraction. God doesn’t just love me, he even likes me. The Lord is talking about a deep love that wills good things for the enemy. And more than willing good things, even works toward them.
We are called to have a compassion, understanding, even affection for those who hate us and will us evil. We may wonder how this can happen in us. How can we have affection for those who hate us?! Yet it can be so when Christ lives his life in us. We will good and do good to them who hate us just as Jesus did.
It is also important not to sentimentalize this love. Jesus loved his enemies (us) but did not coddle us. He spoke the truth to the Scribes and Pharisees of his day often forcefully and uncompromisingly. We are called to a strong love which wants the truth for everyone. Yet this testimony is also given with understanding and true (not false) compassion.
III. Remarkable Recapitulation - Finally the Lord says,
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Here is the fundamental summary, the recapitulation: God-like perfection! Nothing less will do. How could there be anything less when Christ lives his life in us? To the degree that he lives in us and the old Adam dies, we become perfect. This is the state of the Saints in Heaven: they have been made perfect. Christ’s work in them is complete. The Greek word here is ôÝëåéüò (Teleios) which means complete or perfect. Thus, the emphasis here is on the completion of a work in us more than a mere excellence in performance. Hence Paul writes to the Philippians: And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:6)
This sentence also serves as an open-ended conclusion to the antitheses. Almost as if Jesus says, These have only been a few examples I have given you. The point is to be perfect, complete in every way, totally transformed in your mind, heart and behavior.
And thus we return to the original theme, It ends with me. In these final two antitheses the Lord wants to break the cycle of anger, retribution and violence. He wants the downward spiral of hatred and vengeance to end with me. When, on account of his grace I do not retaliate, I break the cycle. When I do not escalate the bitterness or return spite, when I refuse to allow hate to take possession of me, the cycle ends with me. Only God can do this for me.
But He does do it. I promise you in the Lord Jesus Christ that the Lord can deliver usfrom anger, wrath, vengefulness, pettiness and the like. I promise you because he is doing it in me. I do not boast, I am only saying what the Lord has done. I have been largely delivered from my anger which once was a major struggle. It is not any longer. I did not deliver myself. Jesus did. The promise the Lord here is true. Only God can do it. And He has said it, and he will do it, if we let him.
This song says, I Look to you. After all my strength is gone, in you I can be strong. I look to you!
38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'
39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also;
40 and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;
41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus brings God's law to perfection (continued). Lask week's reading presents four pairs of antitheses, showing that Jesus does not abolish the law but makes it perfect. This week's reading continues with two more pairs of antitheses on the same theme. The images aim to express an overall spirit of perfection rather than set specific rules.
Sunday, February 23
Liturgical Color: Violet
Today is the Memorial of St. Polycarp,
bishop and martyr. As a child, Polycarp
was brought to the faith by St. John the
Evangelist. Some 86 years later, he was
martyred by Roman officials for refusing
to deny his faith.
Daily Readings for:February 23, 2014
(Readings on USCCB website)
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.
· Ordinary Time: February 23rd
· Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Old Calendar: Sexagesima Sunday
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well.
Ordinarily today is the feast of St. Polycarp of Smyrna, bishop and martyr. His feast is superseded by the Sunday liturgy.
The first reading is taken from the Book of Leviticus 19:1-2. 17-18. Today, we hear one of the rules of conduct which are set out in chapter 19; that of love of neighbor. Other rules included reverence for parents, observance of the Sabbath, avoidance of idolatry, upon harvesting leaving some of the grain in the fields for the poor, and the practice of justice and charity in social dealings.
The second reading is from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 3:16-23. As we work our way through the first part of 1st Corinthians, last week we heard Saint Paul tell of the true wisdom of God. This week he again addresses the divisions in the people of God and reminds the Corinthians (and us) who we really belong to.
The Gospel is taken from St. Matthew (5:38-48). The lesson we have to learn from today's gospel hardly needs any emphasizing. We must, if we are truly Christian, forgive those who offend or injure us. We must love all men, whether they be friends or enemies. G. K. Chesterton says : "We are commanded to love our neighbors and our enemies; they are generally the same people." This is very true for all of us. It is very easy for me to love (in a theoretical way) all Japanese, Chinese, Russians and most Europeans–they never come in contact with me and never tread on my corns. But it is my neighbors, those among whom I live and work, who are liable to injure me and thus become my enemies.
Charity begins at home, because it is here that it can and should be learned and practiced. It is first and foremost necessary for Christian peace in the home. Husband and wife must learn to understand and tolerate each other's imperfections and faults. If one offends in what the other would regard as something serious, the offended one should not demand an apology but should show forgiveness before the other has humbly to apologize. No two persons in the world, not even identical twins, can agree on all things, so it is vain and unrealistic to expect even one's married partner to agree with one in all points. Christian charity alone can cover the multitude of faults of both partners.
If there is peace and harmony between husband and wife, as there will be if both are truly charitable, the children will learn too to be understanding and forgiving. Such a home will be a truly happy home even if it has little of the world's riches.
Our charity must spread from the home to our neighbors–to all those with whom we have contact. It is easy to get on with most people, but in every neighborhood and in every village or town there will always be those who are difficult. There will be the dishonest, the tale-bearers, the quarrelsome, the critic of everyone and everything. It is when we have dealings with such people that all our Christian charity is necessary. Most likely we will never be able to change their ways of acting, but charity will enable us to tolerate their faults and will move us to pray for their eternal welfare.
Life for many, if not for most people, has many dark, gloomy and despairing moments. The man or woman who is moved by true Christian charity can bring a beam of sunshine, a ray of hope, into the lives of these people. Fr. Faber in a booklet on kindness has a poem which we could all learn and practice with great profit for ourselves and for a neighbor in need of kindness. He says:
"It was but a sunny smile,
And little it cost in the giving,
But it scattered the night like the morning light
And made the day worth living.
It was but a kindly word,
A word that was lightly spoken,
et not in vain for it chilled the pain
Of a heart that was nearly broken.
It was but a helping hand,
And it seemed of little availing,
But its clasp was warm, it saved from harm
A brother whose strength was failing."
Try the sunny smile of true love, the kindly word of Christian encouragement, the helping hand of true charity, and not only will you brighten the darkness and lighten the load of your brother but you will be imitating in your own small way the perfect Father of love who is in heaven.
Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Be perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Perfect? Isn’t that impossible? Let’s take a look.
Before Jesus spoke these words, a workable system was already in place: “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Deuteronomy 19:21). This system was based on a kind of justice that helped to limit retribution. No double or triple damage claims were allowed. I couldn’t kill someone if he simply stole my camel. The most he would have to do is lose one of his camels to make everything “even.” But Jesus wanted more than this equal-retribution approach. He wanted mercy to become the law of the land.
This new standard can seem unfair because it involves turning the other cheek, going an extra mile, and loving our enemies. We don’t always do this with our family members; how are we supposed to do it with people who hate us?
When we are at odds with someone, unforgiveness is usually at the heart of the matter. So Jesus calls us to forgive. Of course, he doesn’t expect us to feel the same amount of affection for everyone. But he does want us to treat everyone, even our enemies and those who have hurt us, as God treats them: with compassion, mercy, and patience. He wants us to pray for them and to wish them well.
This kind of love not only releases grace to the other person; it also releases God’s grace upon us. Recent psychological studies back this up, in fact. They show that holding unforgiveness can lead to depression. It can fill us with resentment, make us cynical, and even affect our physical health. But people who practice forgiveness tend to be healthier and more at peace. So the more we try to follow Jesus’ teaching, the more we benefit as well!
Do you want to be perfect? Try your best to forgive. It may seem impossible, but with God’s help, all things are possible.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your mercy and peace!”
Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
(Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18; Psalm 103:1-4,8,10,12-13; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48)
1. In the first reading from Leviticus 19, the Lord commands us to: “Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy.” He then provides some commands on how to be holy including: “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart” and “You shall love your enemy as yourself.” How are you doing in living up to these commands? What steps can you take to do better?
2. In the Responsorial Psalm, we hear these words regarding the Lords forgiveness and mercy: “He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills” and “He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.” In what ways have you experienced the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy?
3. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that we are “the temple of God” and “the Spirit of God dwells in you.” He goes on to say that “the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” What role does the Holy Spirit, the love of God poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5), play in how you love and forgive others?
4. The Gospel reading presents us with these daunting commands: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” In what way is it necessary to personally know and experience the Lord’s love and forgiveness, in order to love, forgive, and pray for those who have wronged you? How has this impacted your own ability to forgive others as the Lord has forgiven you?
5. The meditation ends with these words: “Do you want to be perfect? Try your best to forgive. It may seem impossible, but with God’s help, all things are possible.” Jesus’ command to be perfect appears right after he explains how to treat our enemies. Why do you think that how we treat our enemies can help us move toward that daunting goal of perfection?
6. Take some time now to pray that you would experience more deeply your heavenly Father’s transforming love and to pray for the grace to forgive your enemies. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.
JESUS CAME TO PERFECT THE LAW
(A biblical refection on THE 7th ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A], 23 February 2014)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:38-48
First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18; Psalms: Psalm 103:1-4,10,12-13; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
The Scripture Text
You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have you cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt 5:38-48 RSV)
Jesus contrasted His message about relationships with the old code of the law. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Matthew 5:38) may seem inhuman to us but, in fact, it represented moral progress. Without this law, vengeance sometimes demands a punishment greater than the injury received.
Jesus wanted His listeners to understand His teachings as further progress in the law: He did not come to abolish the law but to perfect it. The way God things and loves becomes more clearly reflected in the law as it progresses from the constraints of retaliation (only an eye for an eye) to the demands of unconditional love: He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:10). Rather, He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
Jesus calls us to genuine, loving forbearance of those who hurt us; to generosity that goes the extra mile, seeking to give rather than to protect or conserve; to forgiveness that is not inhibited by our hurt at being wronged. Instead of dwelling on how impossibly high such a calling seems, let us thank God for the times when love has triumphed in us and we have forgiven others, when we have borne a hurt without a grudge, or generously given our time and energy to serve others. For most people, such triumphs of grace are commoner than they think, and each one brings joy to our Lord and eternal reward for ourselves.
Notwithstanding past triumphs, we all know that there is much room for progress in our love. How can we advance to genuine concern for our detractors, to sincere forgiveness when our hurts are so real? How can we love when there is no possibility of reward? It is a mistake to allow the difficulty of love, or our many failures, to lessen our obligation. Instead we can look confidently to the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Constantly He is working to make His temple a place of beauty and love. He is in us as the love of God.
Already, then, there is love for our enemies, unconditional forgiveness, infinite forbearance and great generosity within us.
Short Prayer: Holy Spirit, God, You are the source of all love. Humbly, I beg You to demonstrate in me Your power to love. Amen.
Daily Marriage Tip for February 23, 2014:
Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. (Ps 103:8) In these words, God gives married couples a blueprint for life together! Are you slow to anger
or quick to find fault? Would your spouse say you are abounding in kindness? Ask the Lord for help to love your spouse as [
February 23, 2014
First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
Psalm:103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13
Second Reading:1 Corinthians 3:16-23 Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:38-48
Catechism of the Catholic Church: §§ 1693, 1825, 1933, 1968, 2013, 2054, 2262, 2303, 2443, 2608, 2844
Your duty is to sanctify yourself. Yes, even you. Who thinks that this task is only for priests and religious? To everyone, without exception, our Lord said: `Be ye perfect, as My Heavenly Father is perfect.' -St Josemaria Escriva
Can Anyone Tell if I am a Believer?
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 23, 2014
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? From Matthew 5:38-48
The demands that Jesus makes in this gospel certainly seem radical. Here, Jesus seems to be saying things such as if someone sues you, give them twice as much as they ask. If someone wants to borrow your coat, give them a shirt as well. How do we live this in real terms? Jesus is simply stating a great truth of our faith: there is no setback that God cannot work to good, nothing we have given up for him that will not be repaid. If the Lord is our friend and our salvation, what can anyone really do to us? A good way to look at this might be, "Is there anything about my life that is different than the way others around me live? What is it about my life that makes me a Christian? Can you tell?” One of my favorite illustrations of this passage is a story St. Therese of Lisieux relates in her splendid autobiography, The Story of a Soul. Monks and nuns regularly gather for recreation; this is time they are required to spend together as a community, and also at meals. Well, even religious usually would prefer to speak and sit with people they like! But what I always find remarkable is that St. Therese would regularly sit down with that nun who was cranky, or the one who would criticize her behind her back, or the one that no one could please, the nun everyone else avoided. Now that is real sanctity!
God rarely offers us opportunities to do great things for him or others. A life of faith usually consists of small sacrifices done well, using wisely the circumstances and people we find ourselves in or with daily. Let's turn this around for a moment. What if Jesus had said something like this: If you are coming to coffee and donuts after Mass, and the only people you say hello to are people you know and like, what possible merit is there in that? Even pagans greet their friends!
But what does radical Christianity call for? Can I greet the stranger I see coming to Mass here, or the person I don’t know at coffee and donuts? Now that's real Christianity! It seems very mundane, but things like this are often where God wishes us to make a difference in the lives of others.
Posted by Dr. Scott Hahn on 02.21.14 |
We are called to the holiness of God. That is the extraordinary claim made in both the First Reading and Gospel this Sunday.
Yet how is it possible that we can be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect?
Jesus explains that we must be imitators of God as his beloved children (Eph. 5:1–2).
As God does, we must love without limit—with a love that does not distinguish between friend and foe, overcoming evil with good (see Rom. 12:21).
Jesus himself, in his Passion and death, gave us the perfect example of the love that we are called to.
He offered no resistance to the evil—even though he could have commanded twelve legions of angels to fight alongside him. He offered his face to be struck and spit upon. He allowed his garments to be stripped from him. He marched as his enemies compelled him to the Place of the Skull. On the cross he prayed for those who persecuted him (see Matt. 26:53–54, 67; 27:28, 32; Luke 23:34).
In all this he showed himself to be the perfect Son of God. By his grace, and through our imitation of him, he promises that we too can become children of our heavenly Father.
God does not deal with us as we deserve, as we sing in this week’s Psalm. He loves us with a Father’s love. He saves us from ruin. He forgives our transgressions.
He loved us even when we had made ourselves his enemies through our sinfulness. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (see Rom. 5:8).
We have been bought with the price of the blood of God’s only Son (see 1 Cor. 6:20). We belong to Christ now, as St. Paul says in this week’s Epistle. By our baptism, we have been made temples of his Holy Spirit.
And we have been saved to share in his holiness and perfection. So let us glorify him by our lives lived in his service, loving as he loves.
"But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute . . ."
Sunday Word: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/022314.cfm
(Listen to video above from Jesus of Nazareth)
Lev 19: 1-2, 17-18
1 Cor 3: 16-23
Mt 5: 38-48
Anger management classes are very beneficial to those who have trouble containing their negative emotions – the uncontrolled urge to lash out verbally or in the worst cases, to inflict physical harm. While most of us loose our cool now and then, for those who simply cannot check their temper, there are practical steps that can be taken.
Some say, “Count to 10.” That’s actually not bad advice because it offers an opportunity to step back and take a breath before we say or do something we would greatly regret.
Regular exercise or any form of physical activity is a great stress reliever. Learning to not take things personally or so seriously all of the time is also a wonderful way to grow emotionally and frankly become more pleasant to be around.
But, with all the practical steps, would anyone say: Love those who give you no reason to love them. Rather than seeking punishment that equals the crime, offer forgiveness and no further resistance to injury. Love your enemy.
Our gut will answer, that’s foolish. Should we not resist evil? Don’t we have a right to defend ourselves? Why should I love the one who does harm to me? If my home is broken in to or my loved ones harmed, why would I not seek some form of justice? To all of these questions we would want a reasonable answer of “yes.”
Yet, Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount, our Gospels for the last few Sundays, and this Sunday in particular, present us with both an ethical and moral challenge. If we simply take them literally, they make Jesus sound over the top to say the least. Is he really advising us to be doormats or wimpy sissys? Of course not. He certainly wasn’t in the face of opposition.
But, there is a transforming element about heroic love. This is not love for your enemies in the sense of having warm and fuzzy feelings about them. Our natural response, which essentially is primal in our development, is to defend ourselves against further harm. That may mean some form of retaliation in order to stop the aggressor.
But, as followers of Jesus, as Christian men and women, our task is to transform the world around us. To live by higher moral principles which present an alternative way to live based upon mercy, compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation and charity after the example of Jesus’ himself. To love our enemy is to be like God. To seek no harm to them based upon “an eye for an eye” but rather to hope for their conversion to a better way of life. The point of punishment is not to inflict harm but to bring about a change in behavior. The power of charity in the face of hostility is to be like God who seeks the conversion of all that he touches and to bring us back on the mark.
Fr. Robert Barron, well-known Catholic speaker, speaks about “divinization.” Jesus is inviting us into his life, the Father’s way of loving. He is calling the human race to be transformed into a new relationship with God and with each other. To be like God is to be perfect, “. . . just as your heavenly Father is perfect” as we hear at the end of our Gospel this Sunday.
But, the human heart does not naturally offer love and forgiveness. We are not perfect people but we do have the capability of acting in a heroic way. Virtue is something that we must practice and as hatred is easily spread everywhere so too must love have no limits.
To be perfect as our heavenly Father is to rise above our natural inclination to seek revenge, demand justice, write someone off as hopeless, turn the cold shoulder or hand them the silent treatment, avoid them all together, or plot some sort of harm to be inflicted on them in retaliation.
If I seek the higher, not easy path, that Jesus offers, through his grace I can become divinized or transformed or “holy” as “the Lord your God” is holy, as we hear in our first reading this Sunday from Leviticus.
And the further part is that such heroic love has the power to transform not just “me” but also the aggressor through the example I give. Isn’t this a better way to live? St. Paul reminds us that the greatest of all virtues is love. Not a love filled with gushy feelings but a love that is used as a weapon of grace in response to hatred.
Can this be national policy between warring countries? Most would probably think that foolish since the level of hostility, unforgiveness, deception, suspicion, greed, selfishness, and self-interest is so strong. Sadly, we must defend ourselves through brute force at times but should never be the first to fire. That’s another discussion indeed.
So, the application of Jesus’ teaching must be made one person at a time; one married couple at a time; one family at a time; values imbued into business policies and practices one at a time; one institution of education at a time; one parish at a time, and so on. May God’s grace, always available to us, not be waiting in the wings for us to begin our God-like behavior. For our sharing in the Holy Eucharist is a sharing in the life of the One who made the ultimate sacrifice of self-sacrificing love for the good of humanity.
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.
(Collect: Roman Missal)
"Sermon on the Mount" by Gustave Dore
A Scriptural Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, February 23, 2014 | Carl E. Olson
• Lev 19:1-2, 17-18
• Psa 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
• 1 Cor 3:16-33
• Matt 5:38-48
“To be perfect,” the priest said in concluding his homily, “means that you should be the best policeman, or fireman, or Indian chief, that you can be.” I sat, rather perplexed, in a parish I occasionally visited for daily Mass. However well intentioned the priest was in his remarks, it seemed to me that he was shying away from the direct and difficult words in the Gospel reading: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Those words, without a doubt, are among the most challenging in the entire Bible, and yet I suspect they might also be among the most avoided and ignored. A more well-known and oft-quoted statement, which opens today’s Gospel reading from the Sermon on the Mount, is this: “When someone strikes you on your right check, turn the other one as well.” We’ve all heard many homilies about turning the other cheek, and it is undoubtedly a challenging thing to consider, let alone put into practice.
The same is also true of the other commands given by Jesus in this section: to give one’s cloak (an outer garment) to the man who sues for one’s tunic (the inner garment); to carry a load a second mile for the man—likely a Roman soldier, in the immediate context—who demands a mile of service; to love and pray for one’s enemies and persecutors. Each of these leads up to the command to be perfect, which is the climax and summation of this first part of the great Sermon.
What, then, to make of it? Monsignor Ronald Knox, in a sermon titled, “Our Retaliation”, provided a basic insight that is most helpful, saying that “the difference between the old law and the new law is that the old law issues a series of commandments which have got to be obeyed, whereas the new law instills into Man’s heart a spirit of active charity which ought to make commandments unnecessary for him.” The old law was given to a people in need of teaching about the proper limits of justice and retaliation, summed up in the saying, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” So a foundational principle of morality is learning where the lines are drawn, of learning what is sinful and contrary to the good.
But even the old law pointed to something much greater, as we hear in today’s first reading: “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus goes to the essential heart of the old law and reveals it afresh and completed, possible only through his authority and interpretation. Yet it goes beyond even that, for the Son of God lived the new law to perfection. He did not resist the betrayal of an evil man, he turned the other cheek when struck by soldiers, he was violently stripped of his garments, and he prayed for his persecutors as he died: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
Vatican II’s “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” reflecting at length on the “universal call to holiness”, says, “The Lord Jesus, the divine Teacher and Model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and everyone of His disciples of every condition. He Himself stands as the author and consumator of this holiness of life: ‘Be you therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect’.” It then remarks that those who are justified in Christ through baptism “truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature.”
The Greek word for “perfect” is “teleios”, which means full and complete, and refers to moral perfection. It is, in other words, a call to holiness. God, who is all-holy, has created man so he can share—by the gift of grace—in his perfect, holy, and divine life. Our temporal vocations as policemen and such are important, but our everlasting vocation is to be a complete child of God.
(This "Opening the Word" column originally appeared in the February 20, 2011, issue of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)
Home from the Liturgical Thirty Years War
Sunday, 23 February 2014 08:34
With Serenity and Humility
A few people have asked me if my personal assessment of “the reform of the reform” means that, somehow, I have decided to shun the vast majority of Catholics who continue to worship using the rites and texts in the current reformed liturgical books. Nothing could be further from my mind and heart. I am well aware that in dioceses and parishes all over the globe an immediate reviviscence of the older liturgical forms is not realistic. It will, I think, happen slowly but inexorably, as new generations discover, here and there, thriving centres of traditional Catholic worship in which, as Joseph Ratzinger once said, “beauty is at home”, and in which the mysteries of the faith are transmitted with integrity, with serenity, and with profound humility. Such centres will, I believe, over time, exercise an attractive, not a coercive, force over parishes and other religious communities, drawing them freely to re–engage with the Church’s traditional liturgical rites.
The Privilege of Liminality
I write, of course, as a monk and not as a parish priest. Monasteries take root, flower, and bear fruit in a liminal territory that begins where the secular city ends and that stretches into the uncharted vastness of the desert. The immerited privilege of this sacred liminality allows monks the space and the freedom to reclaim, preserve, and transmit elements of the liturgical tradition that may, for the time being, remain remote and inaccessible to ranks upon ranks of generous priests engaged in the care of souls.
A Weary Veteran Lately Come Home
After having devoted nearly forty years to a worthy “reform of the reform”; after having taught and defended the Novus Ordo Missae to the best of my ability; after having composed — to a certain acclaim, even from a dean of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Liturgy — an entire monastic antiphonal in modal plainchant for the French liturgical texts; after having composed hundreds of plainchant settings for the Proper of the Mass in the vernacular; after having fought mightily for the restoration of the Proper Chants of the Mass; after having argued to the point of exhaustion for an intelligent obedience to the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani; after having poured myself out in lectures and in preaching to priests, seminarians, and religious, I am obliged to conclude that I could have better spent my time and my energy humbly carrying out the traditional liturgy such as I discovered it — and such as I so loved it — in the joy of my youth. I say this not with bitterness but with the seasoned resignation of a weary veteran lately come home from an honourable defeat in the liturgical Thirty Years War.
Good Neighbours All the Same
I respect those priests and layfolk who continue to believe in “the reform of the reform”. I honour their devotion and perseverance but, from where I stand and at this point in my life, I think their energy misplaced. Life is short. I can no longer advise others to devote the most productive years of their life to patching up a building that was, manifestly, put up with haste during a boom in frenzied construction; it has shifting foundations, poor insulation, defective fixtures, and a leaky roof. Right next door, there is another old house, comely, solidly built, and in good repair. It may need a minor adjustment here or there, but it is a house in which one feels at home and in which it is good to live, and it is there that I choose to live out my days. If others choose to live in the “fix–up” next door, I can only wish them well, confident that we can live as good neighbours all the same, with frequent chats over the fence in the back garden, exchanging insights, and perhaps even learning something from one another.
One the things I have learned over the past forty years, and this amidst the taedium of much dura et aspera, is that monks (and nuns) who profess the contemplative life gained nothing from changing the forms, content, and language of the sacred liturgy. Liturgical change swept through monasteries like a hurricane, leaving the most pitiful destruction in its wake. Did the so–called liturgical renewal in monasteries give rise to an increase in vocations? Did it generate a more generous commitment to the touchstones of sound monastic observance? Did it foster a greater zeal for the Opus Dei? Few monasteries have recovered from the ensuing decades of liturgical unrest. Even Thomas Merton, when first he caught wind of imminent liturgical changes, warned of the the danger menacing the enclosed contemplative life. In 1964 he wrote to Dom Ignace Gillet, then Abbot General of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance:
This is what I think about the Latin and the chant: They are masterpieces, which offer us an irreplaceable monastic and Christian experience. They have a force, an energy, a depth without equal. All the proposed English offices are very much impoverished in comparison–besides, it is not at all impossible to make such things understood and appreciated. Generally I succeed quite well in this, in the novitiate, with some exceptions, naturally, who did not understand well. But I must add something more serious. As you know, I have many friends in the world who are artists, poets, authors, editors, etc. Now they are well able to appreciate our chant and even our Latin. But they are all, without exception, scandalized and grieved when I tell them that probably this Office, this Mass will no longer be here in ten years. And that is the worst. The monks cannot understand this treasure they possess, and they throw it out to look for something else, when seculars, who for the most part are not even Christians, are able to love this incomparable art.
Bare Ruin’d Choirs
The liturgical reforms of the 1960s and 70s wrenched the interior of life of more than one monk off its axis. The blessed monotony of the psalter, repeated week after week in familiar accents borne aloft on a plainsong at once sturdy and lightsome, gave way to distributions of a vernacular psalter over two, three, and even four weeks, in flagrant violation both of the Rule of Saint Benedict and even of the objective laws of anthropology. I shall never forget the anguish generated by trying to invent new psalm tones suited to the vernacular, all the while clinging desperately in my heart to the chants of the Antiphonale Monasticum that had taken root there. Memories of the traditional liturgy persisted, through the winter of my discontent, like the lovely blossoms of the crocus, in trying to pierce the frozen crust that had been laid over my hortus conclusus. The “bare ruin’d choirs” of so many abbeys today attest, sadly, to the inward wreckage wrought by liturgical innovation, even when carried out, as it usually was, with the best intentions, and out of a skewed notion of uncritical obedience to what was misrepresented as “the mind of the Church”.
I say misrepresented because, although Pope Paul VI wavered on liturgical questions, sided, in some matters, with the most iconoclastic reformists, and even authorised the most dubious innovations, Sacrosanctum Concilium itself, (particularly when read through the lens of Mediator Dei, as it must be in order to be understood correctly) and certain of the same Pontiff’s more personal pronouncements called for something quite different from what became the order of the day. For instance, Pope Paul VI, in writing Sacrificium Laudis to the superiors of clerical religious of men in August 1966, did not shrink from calling them to obedience in matter close to his own heart:
In present conditions, what words or melodies could replace the forms of Catholic devotion which you have used until now? You should reflect and carefully consider whether things would not be worse, should this fine inheritance be discarded. It is to be feared that the choral office would turn into a mere bland recitation, suffering from poverty and begetting weariness, as you yourselves would perhaps be the first to experience. One can also wonder whether men would come in such numbers to your churches in quest of the sacred prayer, if its ancient and native tongue, joined to a chant full of grave beauty, resounded no more within your walls. We therefore ask all those to whom it pertains, to ponder what they wish to give up, and not to let that spring run dry from which, until the present, they have themselves drunk deep.
Of course, the Latin language presents some difficulties, and perhaps not inconsiderable ones, for the new recruits to your holy ranks. But such difficulties, as you know, should not be reckoned insuperable. This is especially true for you, who can more easily give yourselves to study, being more set apart from the business and bother of the world. Moreover, those prayers, with their antiquity, their excellence, their noble majesty, will continue to draw to you young men and women, called to the inheritance of our Lord. On the other hand, that choir from which is removed this language of wondrous spiritual power, transcending the boundaries of the nations, and from which is removed this melody proceeding from the inmost sanctuary of the soul, where faith dwells and charity burns – We speak of Gregorian chant – such a choir will be like to a snuffed candle, which gives light no more, no more attracts the eyes and minds of men.
In any case, beloved Sons, the requests mentioned above concern such grave matters that We are unable to grant them, or to derogate now from the norms of the Council and of the Instructions noted above. Therefore we earnestly beseech you that you would consider this complex question under all its aspects. From the good will which we have toward you, and from the good opinion which we have of you, We are unwilling to allow that which could make your situation worse, and which could well bring you no slight loss, and which would certainly bring a sickness and sadness upon the whole Church of God. Allow Us to protect your interests, even against your own will. It is the same Church which has introduced the vernacular into the sacred liturgy for pastoral reasons, that is, for the sake of people who do not know Latin, which gives you the mandate of preserving the age-old solemnity, beauty and dignity of the choral office, in regard both to language, and to the chant.
Obey, then, these prescriptions sincerely and calmly. It is not an excessive love of old ways that prompts them. They derive, rather, from Our fatherly love for you, and from Our concern for divine worship.
The Old Passion for Things Once Loved
This compelling mandate met, not with filial obedience, but, in most quarters, with indifference and with a dismissive hubris. Even today, forty–eight years later, there are monasteries where the clear mandate of Sacrificium Laudis is utterly unknown. I no longer dream of making an active contribution, however humbly, to a restoration of the sacred liturgy. I am, for the most part, content to return quietly to my choir stall, day after day, and hour after hour, there to chant the changeless praises of the unchanging God. I am, it is true, bone–weary of bloody campaigns in the liturgical Thirty Years War; there are, nonetheless, moments when, to my own surprise, the old passion for things once loved, then lost, and now regained, blazes up and compels me to write.
|A Step beyond Justice|
Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I wish to open my heart and let your Gospel message penetrate me and change my life. I believe that you love me and that you died for me; yet when tested by the demands of the Gospel, my faith and generosity waver. Nevertheless, once more I confess my faith in you and my determination to work to please you alone.
Petition: Jesus, teach me true charity!
1. Revenge or Justice. “An eye for an eye…” - Revenge has a tantalizing attraction. Oh, how we enjoy those movies where the down-and-out hero suddenly gets the upper hand, pays back all of the evil the villain has been inflicting on others, and justice prevails. But is this really justice? Jesus speaks clearly: “But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.” Our virtue must go beyond that of the Scribes and the Pharisees.
2. Perfect Justice. Christ invites us to go beyond the “tit-for-tat” mentality: “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” Jesus is not trying to teach us passivism; rather, he is inviting us to discover that love is the perfection of justice. Humility and forgiveness are the pillars of this radically new mentality. Only in the light of these can we hope to build true and enduring peace in the world, amongst those around us and even within ourselves.
3. Self-giving Love: Fulfillment of this attitude is not merely to avoid direct retaliations but rather to form a generous and magnanimous heart which knows how to give itself without ever giving up. Jesus gave not only his tunic and cloak, but all of his clothes to those who were to crucify him (cf. John 19:23). Jesus walked the extra mile, which brought him to the top of Calvary (cf. John 19:17). Jesus promised salvation to the criminal who asked him to remember him (cf. Luke 23:42-43).
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you are God. You came down from heaven to teach me how to love, but I have such a hard time loving those around me and even loving myself sometimes. By your almighty grace, help me to be more like you, to forgive and to give myself to others so that I can help make their lives just a bit happier.
Resolution: I will perform one small act of charity today: thinking or speaking well of someone, or offering myself to help someone.
Jesus told His followers to “be perfect.” Is that even possible?
Gospel (Read Mt 5:38-48)
In His extended teaching to His followers in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called them to a remarkable way of life. It is helpful to understand the historical context for this session on the mountain. In the Old Testament, when Moses assembled the Israelites at Mt. Sinai after their deliverance from Egypt, God came down on the mountain to meet with them in a physical presence of fire, smoke, and loud thunder. He “spoke” the Ten Commandments to His people, giving them a radically new way to live. It was “new” in the sense that no nation had codified behavior like this, but, in fact, it was how God originally designed man to live, before the Fall. In that sense, it was primordially ancient. When Jesus sat with His followers and taught them, He fulfilled that Old Testament typology as He gave them the new (yet ancient) Law of Love, made possible in the New Covenant He would seal in His own blood. What would it require of them?
As Jesus begins to unfold this Law of Love, we can see how radical it is. He quotes the Old Testament maxim, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (see Ex 21:24). This law was given to limit retribution for a wrong, not to incite it. Jesus tells His followers to forget about retribution and vengeance. In fact, He asks the unthinkable of them: “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.” Why?
Quoting another Old Testament maxim, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,” Jesus gets to the heart of what is new in the Law of Love. He tells His disciples that the goal of life in the kingdom of God is much larger than simply efficiently managing human relations: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.” Now, the focus is becoming clearer. The goal of the Ten Commandments was to rescue God’s people from pagan degradation, both spiritual and moral, and restore them to the life of man God intended in the Garden. In the new Law of Love, we see that Jesus has come in order to restore the image and likeness of God in man, Who is Himself Perfect Love.
This is not simply a new set of rules. The kind of life Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount will require an entirely new dynamic in life, a completely new heart and mind. How can mere mortals “offer no resistance to the one who is evil” and love their enemies? Jesus points the way by reminding us that God “makes His sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” At the heart of the universe lies God’s mercy, which will be fully revealed when Jesus offers Himself on the Cross. This life of the kingdom of God is God’s life in us—the Holy Spirit, Who turns us inside out, writes God’s Law of Love in our hearts, and is the power we need to live it.
This means that Jesus’ exhortation to “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” is not a crushing, impossible burden. It is the way to fulfill our destiny—the image and likeness of God in us. Our job is to choose it.
Possible response: Lord Jesus, it is amazing to me that perfection in love is now possible in my life. Please help me keep my focus there today.
First Reading (Read Lev 19:1-2, 17-18)
God’s law, right from the beginning, called His people to be like Him: “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” It also included love of neighbor: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The problem in Israel was that the people couldn’t keep God’s law. Over and over again, throughout the centuries of their history, they struggled to be faithful to God. By Jesus’ day, “love of neighbor” was tightly restricted to “love of your fellow Jews.” The outsiders (public sinners, Samaritans, Gentiles) were hated. God’s Law did not stir up mercy in the hearts of His people. There was nothing wrong with the Law; the problem was in their hearts of stone.
Jesus came to teach His people that unless they were born again, they could never enter the kingdom of God (see Jn 3:3-5). That rebirth would come through water and the Holy Spirit, baptism. In the Church, God now calls all His people everywhere to “be holy,” to be true children of our Father. He has made the impossible now possible.
Will we believe Him and choose well?
Possible response: Heavenly Father, help me choose mercy today instead of judgment, criticism, resentment, or retaliation.
Psalm (Read Ps 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13)
Here is a beautiful meditation on the loving kindness and mercy of God: “Not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes.” The psalmist extols the care God gives us: pardon, healing, redemption, a crown (a crown!). Jesus revealed to us, for all time, our true relationship with God: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” If we want to be perfect, if we want to be holy, we will want to be like God Himself: “The Lord is kind and merciful.”
Possible response: The psalm is, itself, a response to our other readings. Read it again prayerfully to make it your own.
Second Reading (Read 1 Cor 3:16-23)
In this section of his epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul uses a building metaphor to describe how the Church is now the new Temple of the New Covenant, by virtue of her mystical union with Christ. He addresses himself to all believers, beginning with spiritual leaders but including all of us inasmuch as we are all called to “build up” the Church in love (see 1 Cor 14:4; Eph 4:11-16; 1 Thess 5:11). In verses prior to our reading, St. Paul gives an outline for the Temple-building metaphor. The foundation of the Temple is, of course, Jesus. Careful builders on this foundation will receive a heavenly reward (see 3:14); careless builders will pass through purging fires on their way to salvation (see 3:15). In today’s verses, he gives the final scenario for his building metaphor: destructive workers will themselves be destroyed (3:17).
In all this, we see clearly that it is the Holy Spirit Who makes us God’s holy Temple. The life Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount has now been made possible by the presence of God’s own Spirit within us. This has turned the world’s wisdom on its head, which has always bought the lie from the Serpent that human greatness and liberation can be achieved without God. St. Paul doesn’t want believers to get entangled in the world’s wisdom in the Church: “So let no one boast about human beings.” In Christ, individual personalities are not to cause division, because “all belong to you and you to Christ, and Christ to God.” This is simply a different way of emphasizing what Jesus came to do for mankind. He has made us one with the One Who made us, as well as one with each other. The choice to live this truth—to be careful builders on the One foundation of Christ—is ours.
Possible response: Lord Jesus, help me choose unity today—in my family, in the Church, in this world that belongs to You.
February 23, 2014
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
Leviticus! The Lectionary avoids Leviticus like the plague. This reading from Leviticus is one of only two in the whole 3-year lectionary cycle for Sundays. Most Bible readers avoid Leviticus too. Who wants to read about how ancient animal sacrifices were supposed to be conducted or how the Israelites dealt with lepers? Yet Leviticus has at its core a powerful focus on loving, covenant faithfulness, on clinging close to the Lord even in the most mundane of our daily tasks.
The passage chosen for today’s reading is actually two snippets from the same chapter. There’s a gap of about 15 verses between them. The first snippet starts Leviticus 19; it announces the Lord’s authority as revealed through Moses. It contains one of the two key teachings of the chapter: “Be holy as I am holy.” (St. Peter quotes this teaching in 1 Peter 1:15.) The point is that our lives should be patterned after God’s life. That our seeking after holiness finds its goal in God’s own holiness.
Since Vatican II, the Church has repeatedly emphasized the “universal call to holiness,” that all Christians, whether priests, religious, or laity, are called to union with God in Christ. We are all called by Jesus to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48 – in the Gospel reading for today). The holiness we are talking about is not a selfish religiosity, but an entering into the love and life of God. It is freedom from our selfishness, our sinfulness, and freedom for a loving union with God. This kind of spiritual perfection, personal holiness, cannot be restricted to mere obedience to a moral law code. Rather, it should be defined in terms of relationship. Holiness is about deeper and deeper union with God, about a more intimate experience of God’s love and a more complete giving of oneself to him. What might begin with humble obedience finds its destination in the radical freedom of love.
Leviticus 19 focuses on what holiness looks like in day-to-day living. It expands on the Ten Commandments and emphasizes especially what our relationships with other people should look like. It highlights honesty in speech, fair dealing with others, and paying just wages to workers. It also warns against partiality and favoritism. It rejects slanderous, lying talk. The point of all these prescriptions is to reveal what holiness really is, how it pays off in our regular activities. A holy person is trustworthy and won’t defraud you, while an unholy person might. A holy person won’t lie to you or lie about you or treat you unfairly. All these teachings affect our daily dealings much more closely than esoteric theological speculation. Leviticus is very practical here, when it comes to explaining how to be holy like God is holy.
Now the second snippet selected for today (Lev 19:17-18) teaches us not to “hate” our brothers and sisters. Jesus also teaches not to hate others, even our enemies, but to love them (Matt 5:43-44). Hatred is really the exact opposite of love. If love is about wanting the good of the other, then hatred is about wishing evil on others. Hatred not only harms the person being hated, but harms the hater as well since it distorts his soul, causing him to desire evils contrary to nature. Holiness is all about love, so hatred is directly opposed to holiness. Hatred also includes a kind of definitive judgment of another person, where one has given up hope for the other person and has decided to reject that person’s life as not worth living and so wish evil upon him or her. Both Leviticus and Jesus teach us not to reject another person in this way, not to hold hate in our hearts.
While hate is forbidden, sometimes we are called upon to “reprove” another person, that is, to remind another person of his or her moral obligations, to point out where he or she is failing. Even the New Testament supports occasional reproof, or moral exhortation (e.g. Luke 17:3; 1 Tim 5:20; 2 Tim 4:3). But reproving a person is not the same thing as taking vengeance on another person. Reproof involves warning a person about their conduct, while vengeance involves punishing a person for their actions. While punishment can justly be administered by the courts, we are not permitted to take out personal vendettas against other people. We can’t “go rogue” and take justice into our own hands. The Bible reserves vengeance to God. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:19 RSV). In addition, Leviticus teaches us not to nurse grudges against other people. A grudge, or an attitude of hate-filled unforgiveness, can destroy a relationship and damage the soul of the grudge-bearer.
Last, but not least, Leviticus 19 sums up all of the commandments about holy conduct toward others in the phrase: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18 RSV). This simple principle, which Jesus quotes and promotes (Matt 19:19, 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27), is central to God’s law. The greatest commandment is to love God, but Jesus labels this commandment to love our neighbor as the second greatest commandment. Why? Because it summarizes all of the laws about relating to other people. If we love others as we love ourselves, we will never lie to them, defraud them, harm them, hate them, or treat them unfairly. All the teachings about relating to others in Leviticus 19 and in the whole Bible can be summed up in this one commandment.
It’s surprising, isn’t it, that Jesus gets some of his best material from Leviticus?
Language: English | Español
|Life Jewels (Listen)
A collection of One Minute Pro-Life messages. A different message each time you click.
What happened at the Last Supper?
Jesus washed the feet of his apostles on the evening before his death; he instituted the Eucharist and founded the priesthood of the New Covenant.
Jesus showed his consummate love in three ways: He washed his disciples' feet and showed that he is among us as one who serves (cf. Lk 22:27). He symbolically anticipated his redeeming Passion by speaking these words over the gifts of bread and wine: "This is my body which is given for you" (Lk 22:19ff). In this way he instituted the Holy Eucharist. When Jesus commanded the apostles, "Do this in remembrance of me" (1 Cor 11:24b), he made them priests of the New Covenant. (YOUCAT question 99)
Dig Deeper: CCC section (610-611) and other references here.