Skip to comments.[Catholic Caucus] The Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost (Gueranger)
Posted on 09/16/2018 12:01:49 AM PDT by CMRosary
THE GOSPEL, which is now assigned to the Mass of the seventeenth Sunday, has given it the name of the Sunday of the love of God, dating, that is, from the time when the Gospel of the cure of the dropsy and of the invitation to the wedding-feast, was anticipated by eight days. Previously, even, to that change, and from the very first, there used to be read on this seventeenth Sunday, another passage from the New Testament which is no longer found in this serial of Sundays: it was the Gospel which mentions the difficulty regarding the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees proposed to our Lord.
MASS.—The judgments of God are always just, whether it be, in his justice, humbling the proud or, in his mercy, exalting the humble. This day last week, we saw this Sovereign disposer of all things allotting to each his place at the divine banquet. Let us recall to mind the behavior of the guests and the respective treatment shown to the humble and the proud. Adoring these judgments of our Lord, let us sing our Introit; and as far as regards our own selves, let us throw ourselves entirely upon his mercy.
The most hateful of all the obstacles which divine love has to encounter upon earth is the jealousy of Satan, who endeavors, by an impious usurpation of his own, to rob God of the possession of our souls—souls, that is, which were created by and for Him alone. Let us unite with holy Church in praying, in the Collect, for the supernatural assistance we require for avoiding the foul contact of the hideous serpent.
The other Collects, as in the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost.
The Church, by thus giving the words from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, again takes up the subject so dear to her—the dignity of her children. She beseeches them to correspond, in a becoming manner, to their high Vocation. This Vocation, this Call, which God gives us is, as we have been so often told, the call, or invitation, made to the human family, that it would come to the sacred nuptials of the divine Union; it is the Vocation given to us to reign in heaven with the Word, who had made himself our Spouse, and our Head. The Gospel read to us eight days ago, which was formerly the one appointed for this present Sunday, and what thus brought into close connection with our Epistle—that Gospel, we say, finds itself admirably commented by these words of St. Paul to the Ephesians, and it, in turn, throws light on the Apostle’s words about the Vocation. When thou art INVITED to a Wedding (“cum VOCATUS fueris”) sit down in the lowest place! These were our Lord’s words to us last Sunday; and now, we have the Apostle saying to us: Walk worthy of the VOCATION in which ye are CALLED, yes, walk in that VOCATION with all humility!
Let us now attentively hearken to our Apostle, telling us what we must do, in order to prove ourselves worthy of the high honor offered to us by the Son of God. We must practice, among other virtues, these three—humility, mildness, and patience. These are the means for gaining the end that is so generously proposed to us. And what is this end? It is the unity of that immense body, which the Son of God makes his own, by the mystic nuptials he vouchsafes to celebrate with our human nature. This Man-God asks one condition from those whom he calls, whom he invites, to become, through the Church, his Bride, bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. This one condition is that they maintain such harmony among them that it will make one body and one spirit of them all, in the bond of peace. “Bond most glorious!” cries out St. John Chrysostom, “bond most admirable, which unites us all mutually with one another, and then, thus united, unites us with God.” The strength of this bond is the strength of the Holy Spirit himself, who is all holiness and love; for it is that Holy Spirit who forms these spiritual and divine ties; He it is who, with the countless multitude of the Baptised, does the work which the soul does in the human body, that is, it gives it life, and it unites all the members into oneness of person. It is by the Holy Ghost that young and old, poor and rich, men and women, distinct as all these are in other respects, are made one, fused, so to say, in the fire which eternally burns in the blessed Trinity. But in order that the flame of infinite love may thus draw into its embrace our regenerated humanity, we must get rid of selfish rivalries and grudges and dissentions which, so long as they exist among us, prove us to be carnal, and therefore, that we are unfit material for either the divine flame to touch, or for the Union which that flame produces. According to the beautiful comparison of St. John Chrysostom—when fire lays hold of various species of wood which have been thrown into it, if it find the fuel properly dry, it makes one burning pile of all the several woods; but if they are damp and wet, it cannot act on them separately nor reduce the whole to one common blaze: so is it in the spiritual order; the unhealthy humidity of the passions neutralizes the action of the sanctifying Spirit; and Union, which is both the means and end of love, becomes an impossibility.
Let us, therefore, bind ourselves to our brethren by that blessed link of charity which, if it fetters at all, fetters only our bad tempers; but in all other respects, it dilates our hearts by the very fact of its giving free scope to the Holy Ghost to lead them safely to the realization of that one hope of our common vocation and calling—which is to unite us to God by love. Of course, charity, even with the Saints, is, so long as they are on this earth, a laborious virtue; because even with the best, grace seldom restores to a perfect equilibrium the faculties of man which were put out of order by original sin. From this it follows that the weakness of human nature will sometimes show themselves, either by excess or by deficiency; and when these weaknesses do crop up, it is not only the saint himself is humbled by their getting the better of him, but as he is well aware, they who live with him have to practice kindness and patience towards him. God permits all this in order to increase the merit of us all, and make us long more and more for heaven. For it is there alone that we shall find ourselves not only totally, but without any effort, in perfect harmony with our fellow men; and this because of the perfect peaceful submissiveness to our entire being under the absolute sway of the thrice holy God, who will then be all to all. In that happy land, it will be God himself will wipe away the tears of his elect for their miseries will all be gone; and their miseries will be gone because their whole being will be renovated, because united with Him, who is its infinite source. The eternal Son of God having then conquered, in each member of his mystical Body, the hostile powers and death itself, will appear, in the fullness of the mystery of his Incarnation, as the true Head of humanity, sanctified, restored, and developed in Him. He will rejoice at seeing how, by the workings of the sanctifying Spirit, there has been wrought the destined degree of perfection in each of the several parts of that marvellous Body, which He vouchsafed to aggregate to Himself by the bond of love; and all this in order that he might eternally celebrate, in a choir composed of himself, the Incarnate Word, and all creation, the glory of the ever adorable Trinity. How will not the sweetest music of earth be then surpassed! How will not our most perfect choirs seem to us then to have been almost like the noise of children singing out of tune, compared with the concord and harmony of that eternal song! Let us get ourselves ready for that heavenly concert. Let us put our voices in order, by now attuning our hearts to that plenitude of love, which alas! is not often enjoyed here below, but which we should ever be trying to realize, by that patiently supporting the faults of our brethren and ourselves, which the Epistle so earnestly impresses upon us.
One would almost say that, in the ecstasy of her delight, at hearing these few sounds of heaven’s music brought to her by such a singer as her Apostle—our Mother the Church feels herself carried away far beyond time, and boldly joins a short song of her own to that of her Jesus and his Paul. Yes, it looks like it, for by way of conclusion to the text of our Epistle, she adds an ardent expression of praise, which is not in the original; and thus she forms a kind of doxology to the inspired words of her apostolic Chanter.
We now know the priceless gifts brought to our earth by the Man-God. Thanks to the prodigies of power and love achieved by the divine Word and the sanctifying Spirit—the soul of the just man is a little heaven on earth. In this strong appreciation of marvels, which have made the christian people be chosen by God as his own—his own inheritance—let us sing our Gradual and Alleluia the happiness of the Christian people, chosen by God for His own inheritance.
The Man-God allowed temptation to approach his sacred person in the desert; he disdained not to sustain the attacks which the devil’s spiteful cunning has, from the world’s first beginning, been suggesting to him as the surest means of working man’s perdition. Our Jesus permitted the demon thus to tempt him, in order that he might show his faithful servants how they are to repel the assaults of the wicket spirit. Today our adorable Master, who would be a model to his children in all their trials, is represented to us as having to content not with Satan’s perfidy, but with the hypocrisy of his bitterest enemies, the Pharisees. They seek to ensnare him in his speech, just as the representatives of the world, which he has condemned, will do to his Church, and that in all ages, right to the end of time. But as her divine Spouse triumphed, so will she, for he will enable her to continue his work upon earth, and amidst the same temptations and the same snares. She is ever to come off with victory by maintaining a most inviolable fidelity to God’s law and truth. The tools of Satan, who are the heretics and the princes of this world, chafing at the restraint put by christianity on their ambition and lust, will always be studying how best to outwit the guardian of the divine oracles, by their captious propositions or questions. When necessity requires her to speak, she is quite ready; for as Bride of that divine Word, who is his Father’s eternal and substantial utterance, what can she be but a voice, either announce him on earth, or sing him in heaven? That word of hers, endowed as it is with the power and penetration of God himself, will not only never be taken by surprise, but like a two-edged sword, it will generally go much deeper than the crafty questioners of the Church anticipated; it will not only refute their sophistry, it will also expose the hypocrisy and wickedness of their intentions. By their sacrilegious attempts, they will have gained nothing but disgrace and shame, and the mortification of having occasioned a fresh luster to Truth by the new light in which it has been put, and of having procured a clearer knowledge of dogma or morals for the devoted children of the Church.
It was thus with the Pharisees of today’s Gospel. As the Homily upon it tells us, they wanted to see if Jesus, who had declared himself to be God, would not consequently make some addition to the commandment of divine love; and if he did, they would be justified in condemning him as having tried to change the letter of the law in its greatest commandment. Our Lord disappoints them. He met their question by giving it a longer answer than they had asked for; that is, having first recited the text of the great commandment as given in the Scripture, he continued the quotation, and by so doing, showed them that he was not ignorant of the intention which had induced them to question him: he continued the quotation by reminding them of the second commandment, which is like unto the first—the commandment, that is, of love of the neighbor, and that condemned their intended crime of deicide. Thus were they convicted of loving neither their neighbor nor God himself, for the first commandment cannot be observed if the second, which flows from and completes it, be broken.
But our Lord does not stop there; he obliges them to acknowledge, at least implicitly, the divinity of the Messiah. He puts a question, in His turn, to them, and they answer it by saying, as they were obliged to do, that the Christ was to be of the family of David; but if he be his Son, how comes it that David calls himself "his Lord," just as he calls God himself, as we have it in the 109th Psalm, where he celebrates the glories of the Messiah? The only possible explanation is that the Messiah, who in due time and as Man, was to be born of David’s house, was God, and Son of God, even before time existed, according to the same Psalm: From my womb, before the day-star, I begot thee. This answer would have condemned the Pharisees, so they refuse to give it; but their silence was an avowal; and before very long, the eternal Father’s vengeance upon these vile enemies of his Son will fulfill the prophecy of making them his footstool in blood and shame: that time is to be the terrible day when the justice of God will fall upon the deicide city.
Let us Christians, out of contempt for Satan, who stirred up the expiring Synagogue to thus lay snares for the Son of God—let us turn these efforts of hatred into an instruction which will warm up our love. The Jews, by rejecting Christ Jesus, sinned against both of the commandments which constitute charity, and embody the whole law; and we, on the contrary, by loving that same Jesus, fulfill the whole law.
This Jesus of ours is the brightness of eternal glory; one by nature with the Father and the Holy Ghost; he is the God whom the first commandment bids us love; and it is in Him also that the second has its truest and adequate application. For not only is he as truly Man as he is truly God, but he is the Man by excellence, the perfect Man, on whose type, and for whom, all other men were formed; he is the model and brother to all of them; he is, at the same time, the leader, who governs them as their King, and offers them to God as their High Priest; he is the Head, who communicates to all the members of the human family both beauty and life and movement and light; he is the Redeemer of that human family, when it fell, and on that account, he is, twice over, the source of all right and the ultimate and highest motive, even when not the direct Object, of every love that deserves to be called love, here below. Nothing counts with God, excepting so far as it has reference to this Jesus. As St. Augustine says, God only loves men inasmuch as they either are, or may one day become, members of his Son; it is his Son that he loves in them: thus he loves with one same love, though not equally, both his Word, and the Flesh of his Word, and the members of his Incarnate Word. Now, Charity is love—love such as it is in God, communicated to us creatures by the Holy Ghost. Therefore, what we should love, by charity, both in our own selves and in others is the divine Word, as either being or, as another expression of the same St. Augustine adds, “that it may be” in others and in ourselves.
Let us take care, also, as a consequence of this same truth, not to exclude any human being from our love, excepting the damned, who are thereby absolutely and eternally cut off from the body of the Man-God. Who can boast that he has the Charity of Christ, if he do not embrace his Unity? The question is St. Augustine’s again. Who can love Christ without loving, with Him, the Church, which is his Body? without loving all his members? What we do, be it to the least or be it to the worthiest—be it of evil or of good—it is to Him we do it, for he tells us so. Then let us love our neighbor as ourselves because of Christ, who is in each of us, and gives to us all union and increase in Charity.
That same Apostle who says: The end of the law is charity, says also: The end of the law is Christ; and we now see the harmony existing between these two distinct propositions. We understand also the connection there is between the word of the Gospel: On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets, and that other saying of our Lord: Search the Scriptures, for the same are they that give testimony of me. The fullness of the law, which is the rule of men’s conduct, is in Charity, of which Christ is the end, just as the Object of the revealed Scriptures is no other than the Man-God, who embodies in his own adorable unity, for us his followers, all moral teaching and all dogma. He is our faith and our love, “the end of all our resolutions,” says St. Augustine; “for all our efforts tend but to this—to perfect ourselves in Him; and this is our perfection, to reach Him: having reached Him, seek no farther, for he is your End.” The holy Doctor gives us, when we have reached this point, the best instruction as to how we are to live in the divine Union: “Let us cling to One, let us enjoy One, let us all be one in Him;” hæreamus Uni, fruamur Uno, permaneamus unum.
The beautiful Anthem for today’s Offertory, separated as we now have it from the Verses which formerly accompanied it, does not suggest why, in the earliest ages, it was assigned to this Sunday. We subjoin these Verses to the Anthem, which has been retained. The second concludes with the announcement of the arrival of the Prince of the heavenly Hosts, who is coming to the aid of God’s people. This gives the desired explanation; and it becomes all the clearer when remember that this Sunday begins the week of the great Archangel in the Antiphonary published, from the most ancient manuscripts, by the blessed Thomasi; and that the following Sunday is there designated as the first Sunday after Saint Michael (post Sancti Angeli).
Forgiveness of our past sins, and preservation from future ones—these are the effects produced by the Holy Sacrifice. Let us pray for them, in the Secret, together with the Church.
It is while assisting at these great Mysteries that the christian soul in the enthusiasm of her love presents to her God her promises and her engagements. Let her, then, give herself unreservedly to the God who overwhelms her with his favors; but while thus giving free vent to the holy emotions which she so justly feels, let her not forget that He who hides himself, out of consideration for our weakness, under the eucharistic veil, is the Most High, who is terrible to the kings of the earth, and an avenger of infidelity to what is vowed.
The other Secrets, as in the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost.
It is the very holiness of God that, in this divine Sacrament, comes for the purpose of curing our vices and fortifying our faltering steps in the road which leads to eternity. In the prayer of the Post-communion, let us yield our souls to his almighty influence.
The other Postcommunions, as in the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost.
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