Once again – visit this tender story of Jesus with Martha and Mary. We know from John’s gospel that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus – here, Luke may be telling us about the beginnings that relationship. It is from John that we learn that this “certain village” is Bethany.
To better understand the dynamics of this scene it helps to have some understanding of the importance of hospitality in the Jewish culture of this time. Hospitality to travelers was a religious obligation – it was God’s way of caring for those who must travel. Hospitality would include lodging, food, water for man and animals and to be given in as spirit of welcome and genuine kindness. Luke does not tell us exactly who of Jesus’ disciple may have joined him – but Martha clearly felt the pressure facing her.
Those of you who have been the hosts for major family gatherings know what it’s like. But remember, Martha could not simply go to the freezer and fridge for what she will need, or call “Skip-the-Dishes.” Preparations of food where new from scratch every day. But here is Mary, siting at Jesus feet; a place only for disciples, a place that was not allowed for women. Martha seeing her sister Mary neglecting her religious obligations of hospitality, sitting among the men where she should not be, and leaving her to do all the preparations complains to Jesus; “do you not care . . . tell her to help me!” The way Jesus repeats Martha’s name no doubt was a tender expression.
But now for Martha and for all Jesus’ disciples to come, a new obligation is given superseding all else – that of devoted attention to every word that Jesus speaks. Recall Jesus’ response to the Devil’s temptation in the desert: "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Harvesting from the world’s abundant resources for our daily needs is a real necessity. But to understand who provided them for us, what they are meant for, and how to use them wisely and well must take priority. When people of this world neglect to seek first the Wisdom from God, the negative consequences will surely be evident in a disordered world – a reality quite evident in our world today.
Here in the liturgy of the Mass we have a perfect model laid out.
We come seeking the Lord our God.
We listen attentively to the Wisdom of God revealed to us in the Liturgy of the Word
We come to the Lord’s table to have or hearts transformed by entering into communion with the God’s Divine Will.
We go forth, to invite others into this Divine hospitality of salvation by our service to them.
We come as Mary's' and we go forth as Martha's'.
Sunday, 21 July 2019
Sunday, 14 July 2019
The three Evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke include this encounter with Jesus and the Scribe and the Pharisee in their gospels. Mark’s version suggests that the scribe questioning Jesus is impressed with Jesus’ teaching and wants to see if he and Jesus agree on the popular question of which is the most important of the commandments.
But in Matthew as well as Luke, our gospel text for today, those questioning Jesus are trying to discredit Jesus’ teaching with trick questions about the commandments. First, they ask a popular question, ‘which is the most important commandment of the law’, and Jesus’ answer seems to agree with theirs. So, they try to entangle Jesus in the highly disputed question of ‘who is my neighbour’. It’s Luke who includes the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Jesus’s answer.
There are some important lessons here for us Catholics who may consider ourselves to be truly devout believers because we go to church every Sunday no matter what. The Priest and the Levite in Jesus’ parable are no doubt on their way to fulfill their obligations of service at the temple or returning from doing so. But to do so they must be ritually clean. Coming into contact with blood would make them ritually unclean and unable to perform their religious duties in the temple. So they pass by the bleeding victim laying on the side of the road.
Our coming here to Mass on Sunday is a most profound religious act of which there is no greater. But we must come with hearts that are worthy. Consider these words of Jesus,
“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” Mtt. 5:23-24
Our religious practice must come from hearts that are humble and true. John, in his first letter asks how you can say you love God whom you have never seen when you fail to love your brother or sister right before your eyes. (1 John. 4:20) Jews at the time of Jesus’s parable hated the Samaritans for not following all the prescripts of the Law. But in Jesus’ parable it was the Samaritan who got it right, who fulfilled the essence of the Law.
As we come seeking God’s forgiveness here before the altar of God today, let us ask that our hearts be filled with forgiveness and reconciliations for others. Our world is plagued by brokenness and division. It needs healers not haters. The Samaritan got it. Am I getting it?
Saturday, 6 July 2019
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name." Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.” Lk. 10:17
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a new book of Pope Francis’s teachings on the history of the devil, “his empty promises and works” and “how we can actively combat him.”
Titled Rebuking the Devil, the book is meant for a wide audience and “shows us how to recognize the tricks of the enemy, avoid his traps and defeat his efforts through the power of God in Jesus Christ,” said a May 29 USCCB news release.
“In this important book, Pope Francis tells us how to use powerful tools of spiritual combat against the devil,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Communications.
Those tools, he said, include “the word of God, adoration of God in the Blessed Sacrament, participation in the sacraments, fasting, prayer and the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, through the most holy rosary.”
“We must recognize that there is a devil who is alive and active, but there is also a shield against him through the power of Jesus Christ!” Burbidge said. CRUX.
Sunday, 30 June 2019
"As they were going along the road, someone said to Jesus,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
It’s true to say fewer and fewer are saying that today. Our being here today suggest we are trying to say I will follow you Lord, but do we fully appreciate the implications of what we are saying? Jesus wants us to come and follow – but also to understand the implications of saying I will – there will be a cost and it’s important that we understand what that cost entails. So in the gospel passage today Jesus gives us three lessons on what “following Jesus” really means.
LESSON #1: As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
This world is not our true home – we are just passing through to somewhere else – we’re going home. True we need shelter, food and clothing, and other necessities of life – but we must not over pack. If we make these things the centre of our heart’s desire; bigger and better houses, more and more wealth to purchase things to make us happy; in short, to make here and now the goal of our hearts, Jesus and time and eternity will pass us by and we end up being left behind come eternity.
LESSON #2. To another Jesus said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
The culture we live in and the expectations and demands it places upon its own must always take second place to what our true vocation in life really is; living a holy life and being a witness to a higher calling, God’s Kingdom of heaven. Our culture is now dominated by a secular world view – secular culture makes the rules – but our lives must always challenge these secular values by the way we live by the Word of God, not the worlds.
LESSON #3. Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Simply put, half a Catholic just won’t do. Today’s society champions the right to choose, to choose what you like, what attracts you, what you say is right for you. To each his own. More and more we see religious people apply this way of thinking to their religious life. “I like to go to Mass once and a while, but not every Sunday, it’s a busy world, I have so much to do – family, friends, obligations others expect of me.” “And the Church has some good suggestions for living but there are too many doctrines and dogmas to accept. After all, I have the right to choose what I will do with my life.”
This is the way of thinking of a divided heart. "No one can serve two masters, because either he will hate one and love the other or be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and (the world) riches!" Mtt. 6:24.
Let us take these three lessons to heart today – let us ask how well we understand their implications for our lives.
Sunday, 23 June 2019
Two months ago, in the liturgy of Holy Thursday we celebrated the institution of the Sacred Eucharist, the Mass. Today’s feast of Corpus Christi, was established to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist emphasizing the joy of the Eucharist being the body and blood of Jesus Christ through the mystery of Transubstantiation.
The origins of this feast began in Liège, a Belgium city, toward the end of the 12thcentury. In the city there were groups of women, known as the Norbertine canonesses, who lived together and devoted their lives to prayer and to charitable works. One of them, Juliana of Liège, had a vision of Christ in which she was instructed to plead for the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi. The vision was repeated for the next 20 years but she kept it a secret. When she eventually relayed it to her confessor, he relayed it to the bishop. So in 1246 the Bishop ordered a celebration of Corpus Christi to be held in the diocese each year thereafter on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.
Pope Pius V revised the General Roman Calendar and Corpus Christi was one of only two "feasts of devotion" that he kept, the other being Trinity Sunday and it remains to this day.
This feast is all about the real and true presences of Jesus, body, soul, and divinity in the elements of the Eucharist. This has been a part of the Church’s belief beginning from the Last Supper but understanding just how this happens has been a developing work over time. The Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215 spoke of the bread and wine as "transubstantiated" into the body and blood of Christ and this was later elaborated on by St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as other medieval theologians. In the end in remains a Divine mystery to our understanding.
Martin Luther was not a fan of the Feast of corpus Christi. He wrote: "I am to no festival more hostile ... than this one. Because it is the most shameful festival. At no festival are God and his Christ more blasphemed, than on this day, and particularly by the procession. For then people are treating the Blessed Sacrament with such ignominy that it becomes only play-acting and is just vain idolatry." He also rejected the theology of transubstantiation.
So what of this mystery of the real presence today and devotions to the Blessed Sacrament? Many remember the time when Mass could not be said after 12 noon. So during Lent, on Wed. Fri. and Sun. evenings devotions with benediction of the blessed sacrament was norm. Exceptions to this restriction began with Pope Pius XII, and with the new liturgy of the 60’s evening mass was common. So in Lent Mass replaced devotions in most parishes.
The Mass and the reception Holy Communion rightfully hold the highest place in our devotion, but other forms of Eucharistic devotion have an important place in deepening our communion with Christ. At the heart of today’s feast of Corpus Christi is the wondrous mystery of Jesus’ real presence, body, soul, and divinity in the elements of the Eucharist. May we never lose sight of this. May our devotion to this mystery grow ever stronger.
Wednesday, 19 June 2019
St. Cyprian, a Church Father was bishop of Carthage and a notable Early Christian writer of Berber descent, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education. Martyred September 14, 258 AD, Carthage, Tunisia
The following is a link to St. Cyprian's treatise on the Our Father. This treatise is read in the Office of Readings this week.
Here is the ***LINK***
Sunday, 16 June 2019
When you look back on the history of the human race you find that in every age people understood well that everything that exists must have had a creator; every age that is except this age. Within the scientism of our age there are those who insist that everything in the universe just spontaneously happened on its own.
However, knowing who the creator of all things, who is called God, truly is has been a long work in progress. History is full of gods that man put forward to describe who God is; some of whom are still today thought of as true gods. Knowing who God is, is impossible for mere humans to discover on their own. As his first letter, John points out “that no one can see God”. God, who is beyond sight, must reveal Himself to us.
And so, our Jewish-Christian tradition has been that long historical experience of God revealing who he is to us. First God is seen as having the nature of a father, the giver and protector of all life. Then in the New Testament, Jesus is revealed as the Son of God. Finally, Jesus reveals that there is a third person, the Holy Spirit, who comes to take us up into the very life of God.
In the early generations of the Church, these revelations were pondered and studied, not without conflicting opinions. Then, in the year 325 AD, that is Anno Domini, the year of the Lord, not of the Common Era; the bishops of the Church gathered in the City of Nicaea to discuss and define who God truly is. From this Council of Nicaea we now have the Nicaean Creed in which we profess our faith.
In 1 John 4: we read: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you will know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is already in the world at this time.
Today the big problem facing Christianity has more to do with whether God exists at all. Atheism is strong today.
John continues: Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. The one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the very start. This is why the Son of God was revealed, to destroy the works of the devil. vs. 7-8
Little children, let us love not in word and speech, but in action and truth. And by this we will know that we belong to the truth, and will assure our hearts in His presence: If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and He knows all things. vs. 18-19
Saturday, 8 June 2019
Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Unlike the tongues of flame of Pentecost, the sacramental signs that indicate to us that the graces have been given are: +Laying On of Hands +Water +Anointing with Oil. For many people these sacraments are separated in time; such as baptism as infants and confirmation in the teen years.
As Pope John Paul II taught in his APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION, ON CATECHESIS IN OUR TIME (#19), the graces of the sacraments remain with us, as it were, in potential, awaiting our response and cooperation. I have seen many people, myself included, experience the awakening of the grace of the sacraments while participating in special circumstances like retreats, renewal movements etc. In the case of the Charismatic Renewal movement, this awakening was often accompanied by the classic manifestations referred to in the scriptures.
The Feast of Pentecost is a most appropriate opportunity for us to seek such renewal and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council with a prayer interceding for a [ "New Pentecost within the Church" ]. The renewal movements that followed in the 70's, often referred to their experience as receiving the "Grace of Renewal".
Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a major feature in many of the Posts in this blog. Use [ Search This Blog ] on the side panel to get links to these earlier references. The Page: [ Special Series Index Page ] links to a thirteen post series on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Page [ Prayer for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit ] addresses this directly.
The focus of the feast of Pentecost is often centred on the gifts of the Holy Spirit: the 7 gifts enumerated in Isaiah Ch. 11 or the 9 Gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12: – and there are the fruits of the Spirit.
But our first focus of Pentecost is on the person of the Holy Spirit and the radical transformation that happens to us when we receive the Holy Spirit into our beings.
In Gal. 2: Paul describes it in this way.
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And that which I now live in the flesh, I live through faith from the Son of God, the One having loved me and having given up Himself for me.”
A new Spirit has taken over as the living principle animating what was once my doing alone.
This is what is called “the Life of the Spirit” – the spiritual life.St. Paul lays out the nature of this new Life in the Spirit for us in Romans 8.
“Before the indwelling of the Holy Spirit it was my bodily needs and worldly desire that are controlling my life.”But with the coming of the Spirit that all changes. In verse 9: Paul tells us.
“You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit gives you life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you." Rom. 8:
In Gal. 5:16 Paul describes this in more detail:
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another.”The following are some prayers of the liturgies for Pentecost.
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that the splendor of your glory
may shine forth upon us
and that, by the bright rays of the Holy Spirit,
the light of your light may confirm the hearts
of those born again by your grace.
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.
Prayer after Communion
May these gifts we have consumed
benefit us, O Lord,
that we may always be aflame with the same Spirit,
whom you wondrously poured out on your Apostles.
Through Christ our Lord.
Pentecost Day, Prayer
O God, who by the mystery of today’s great feast
sanctify your whole Church in every people and nation,
pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit
across the face of the earth
and, with the divine grace that was at work
when the Gospel was first proclaimed,
fill now once more the hearts of believers.
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For, bringing your Paschal Mystery to completion,
you bestowed the Holy Spirit today
on those you made your adopted children
by uniting them to your Only Begotten Son.
This same Spirit, as the Church came to birth,
opened to all peoples the knowledge of God
and brought together the many languages of the earth
in profession of the one faith.
Therefore, overcome with paschal joy,
every land, every people exults in your praise
and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts,
sing together the unending hymn of your glory,
as they acclaim:
Prayer after Communion
O God, who bestow heavenly gifts upon your Church,
safeguard, we pray, the grace you have given,
that the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out upon her
may retain all its force
and that this spiritual food
may gain her abundance of eternal redemption.
Monday, 3 June 2019
Wednesday, 29 May 2019
Sunday, 26 May 2019
This past week, Wednesday through Friday, the First Reading was taken from chapter 15 of Acts of the Apostle. This passage is known as the account of the first Council of the Church, the Council of Jerusalem. The first issue facing the infant Church dealt with the observance of Jewish Law and the new converts from the ranks of the Gentiles. Was it necessary for Gentile converts to be circumcised and keep the observance of the Jewish law or not? Keep in mind that the disciples of Jesus who form the beginning of the Church were Jews and continued to observe the Law, which required all males to be circumcised.
But now the Holy Spirit was being poured out upon Gentile people who after hearing the preaching of the Apostles were being baptized in the Holy Spirit and were manifesting all the same gifts of the Spirit the Jewish Christians had received. A strong faction known as the “Party of the Circumcision” demand Gentles to observe the full Law. But St. Paul and those with him, who where witnessing the mighty work of the Holy Spirit among the Gentiles, stood strongly opposed to the Party of the Circumcision. And so we have here the gathering of the Church leaders to resolve the issue in what became known as the Council of Jerusalem, the first Council.
Throughout the history of the Church major issue with conflicting positions continue to arise, and it has been the work of Church Councils to resolve them. The Church has never shied away from dealing with conflicting issues that arise because of the promise Jesus made to his disciple:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matt. 28:16-20
I find this remark, “… some doubted”, to be very significant here. It will always be a challenge for each generation of the Church to get their head around the full mystery of what God is doing in the church and in the world. But Jesus' final word “I am with you always, to the end of the age”, is key to having a certain and confident trust. Jesus continues to remain in his Church molding, leading, guiding it every step of the way.
Just as there was at this very moment of the “Great Commissioning of the Church” there was some who doubt, the Spirit continues to lead the Church ever forward, protecting it from harmful error, until the fullness of the mystery has been revealed. We have experienced a major or ecumenical council in our time, the Second Vatican Council. But now some are doubting, doubting whether the council was inspired by the Holy Spirit; or whether the Council is now being misinterpreted by some factions within the Church. This continues to be how the Holy Spirit works in the Church, challenging us to an ever-deeper faith. In two weeks, we will celebrate Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. We pray as did Pope John XXIII, for new and ever more powerful Pentecost to come upon the Church.
Sunday, 19 May 2019
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He ...will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." Rev. 21:1-5
... + ...
John, in his gospel account of the events that would take us into the passion and death of Jesus, during the Last Supper, describes this chilling scene, Jesus handing Judas a piece of bread. “So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. AND IT WAS NIGHT.” John 13:30
Night, with its absence of light, is John’s way of describing the human condition without God’s presence and guiding light.
In Genesis 1 we read: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And seeing that the light was good, God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.”
Jesus said in John, "As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4
Having a living, active faith in Jesus is often described as walking in the “Light of Christ”. I am the light of the world Jesus tells us. But there are times in our faith journey when a dark shadow overtakes us, and we find ourselves floundering in the darkness of confusion and error.
St. Ignatius talks about such times in his Spiritual Exercises. He points out that when we deliberately choose to sin, we bring such darkness upon ourselves; intentionally cutting ourselves off from God’s grace.
But there are other times when it is God who hides his light from us. He does this so that we will intensify our search for his truth, thus gaining an even deeper faith and a more secure walk with him.
Ignatius directs how we should respond in these times of darkness. First, realize that true peace of heart is not constructed from the things of this world nor the people with whom we interact. True peace comes directly from God and him alone. God wants us to learn how to distinguish between these two realities. People and things are imperfect at the best of times and they can also be the cause of the worst of times.
When we make the things of this world the source of our peace and happiness, we are building our house on sand. “When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”. These are Jesus’ words in his parable in Matthew 7. (We can really appreciate the imagery of this parable today by just by looking at the pictures in the weather reports.)
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the torrents raged, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because its foundation was on the rock.…”
The rock is Faith, faith built on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Yet so many today have little or no connection to this rock nor do they build their life on it. Today’s second reading tells us that heaven is not on earth. God’s plan is for a new heaven and a new earth, this earth is only for a time.
So, where and on what are you building that place in which your heart will dwell?
Sunday, 12 May 2019
Most of us modern urban dwellers like know very little about raising sheep – their natural behaviour etc. But in Jesus’ time it would be quite different, most people would be familiar with sheep and shepherds and the way shepherding worked. So it would be a natural image for Jesus to use as a comparison to himself – the good shepherd.
Flocks of sheep belonged to different owners but the grazing pastures were common ground, land for many different shepherds to use, all out grazing together. But this had an important benefit, safety for all the sheep – many eyes overseeing their protection.
One practice the shepherds used was at night to herd all the sheep into one common gated shelter to protect them from dangers of the night. But how to sort out the shepherd’s sheep from all the others in the enclosure - sheep all look the same? No problem, the sheep were all imprinted on only their shepherds voice and no other. In the morning each shepherd would stand at the gate and with his distinct voice he would call out to the sheep and only his sheep would come out and follow him.
This was a perfect way, commonly known, for Jesus to teach how important it was for them to imprint on his voice, the message of the gospel. God’s plan for salvation for the world was not to kill off unbelievers so only true believers remained. The plan was to imprint the message of the gospel on the hearts of people and then gather them together and lead them home to the Father.
Is there any better way to characterize this age we live in today, the age of mass communication, endless number of voices calling out to us to follow them just turn on the TV and see right away all the many voices. The question put before us in today’s liturgy of the word, who’s voice am I hearing and following? Jesus wants us to understand there is only one voice that is proclaiming the truth of eternal life – his voice.
Sunday, 5 May 2019
From the Office of Readings: SECOND READING
From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope
CHRIST LIVES IN HIS CHURCH
My dear brethren, there is no doubt that the Son of God took our human nature into so close a union with himself that one and the same Christ is present, not only in the firstborn of all creation, but in all his saints as well. The head cannot be separated from the members, nor the members from the head. Not in this life, it is true, but only in eternity will God be all in all, yet even now he dwells, whole and undivided, in his temple the Church. Such was his promise to us when he said: See, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.
And so all that the Son of God did and taught for the world’s reconciliation is not for us simply a matter of past history. Here and now we experience his power at work among us. Born of a virgin mother by the action of the Holy Spirit, Christ keeps his Church spotless and makes her fruitful by the inspiration of the same Spirit. In baptismal regeneration she brings forth children for God beyond all numbering. These are the sons of whom it is written: They are born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
In Christ Abraham’s posterity is blessed, because in him the whole world receives the adoption of sons, and in him the patriarch becomes the father of all nations through the birth, not from human stock but by faith, of the descendants that were promised to him. From every nation on earth, without exception, Christ forms a single flock of those he has sanctified, daily fulfilling the promise he once made: I have other sheep, not of this fold, whom it is also ordained that I shall lead; and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
Although it was primarily to Peter that he said: Feed my sheep, yet the one Lord guides all the pastors in the discharge of their office and leads to rich and fertile pastures all those who come to the rock. There is no counting the sheep who are nourished with his abundant love, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the sake of the good shepherd who died for them.
But it is not only the martyrs who share in his passion by their glorious courage; the same is true, by faith, of all who are reborn through baptism. That is why we are to celebrate the Lord’s paschal sacrifice with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The leaven of our former malice is thrown out, and a new creature is filled and inebriated with the Lord himself. For the effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive. As we have died with him, and have been buried and raised to life with him, so we bear him within us, both in body and in spirit, in everything we do.