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Image: Wikimedia Commons

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

Among the truths which faith teaches us, there are several which all ought to know and believe explicitly, namely, the existence of God; the Mystery of the Holy Trinity; the Mystery of the Redemption of mankind by the Incarnation and death of Jesus Christ, and the future state of reward and punishment.

There are things which every Catholic is also bound to know by the express command either of God or of the Church. These things are: 1.) The three most ordinary Catholic prayers, namely, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles’ Creed; and also, at least in substance, 2.) The Commandments of God; 3.) The Precepts of the Church; 4.) The Doctrine of the Sacraments, and especially of these three which are necessary to everyone, namely, Baptism, Penance, and the Holy Eucharist; 5.) The duties and obligations of one’s state in life.

It is a mortal sin for a Catholic to be ignorant of these things, if it be through his own willfulness or neglect.

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Christ the King (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal 1962:

The royalty of Christ rests upon a twofold basis. He is our King by right of birth and by right of conquest. The first refers us to the personality of the Son of God, whereby, in His divine nature as God and by virtue of the hypostatic union, He is the sovereign Lord and Master. The second places before us the God-Man coming down on earth to rescue fallen man from the slavery of Satan, and by the labors and sufferings of His life, and passion, and death, to win a glorious victory for us over sin and hell.

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, Who in Thy beloved Son, the King of the whole world, hast willed to restore all things, mercifully grant that all the families of nations now kept apart by the wound of sin, may be brought under the sweet yoke of His rule: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

Epistle (Col. 1:12-20)

Christ is the King of the Church, and the Peacemaker through His Blood.

Brethren: Giving thanks to God the Father, Who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His Blood, the remission of sins; Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and in Him. And He is before all, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the Church, Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He may hold the primacy: Because in Him, it hath well pleased the Father, that all fullness should dwell; And through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Gospel (Jn. 18:33-37)

Christ proclaims His kingly dignity and power.

At that time: Pilate said to Jesus: “Art thou the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered: “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of Me?” Pilate answered: “Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered Thee up to me: what hast Thou done?” Jesus answered: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence.” Pilate therefore said to Him: “Art thou a king then?” Jesus answered: “Thou sayest that I am a King. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth My voice.”

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Jesus and Pharisees (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

17th Sunday after Pentecost

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal 1962:

The Liturgy reminds us today of the great commandment of charity towards God and our neighbor: “The precept is twofold,” declares St. Augustine, “but charity is one.” We love God above all and our neighbor for His sake.

Collect

Da, quaésumus, Dómine, pópulo two diabólica vitáre contágia: et te solum Deum pura mente sctári. Per Dóminum.

Grant, O Lord, unto Thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the devil, and with pure minds to follow Thee, the only God. Through our Lord.

Epistle (Eph 4:1-6)

The unity of our faith, like the unity of the Persons of the Most Holy Trinity, imposes on us the duty of being united in the bonds of charity.

Brethren: I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called. With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity, careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one Spirit, as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all; Who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel (Mt. 22:34-46)

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew:

At that time the Pharisees came to Jesus, and one of them, a doctor of the law, asked Him, tempting Him: “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the law?” Jesus said to him: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.” And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying: “What think you of Christ? whose son is he?” They say to him: “David’s.” He saith to them: “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” And no man was able to answer Him a word; neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions.

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St John Chrysostom (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

We cannot Serve God and Money

In today’s Gospel, our Lord tells us what we should understand as a self-evident truth: we cannot serve two masters. Specifically, He says we cannot love God while at the same time loving money. This is not to say that money or wealth is inherently evil, however when we worship it as a god, it always leads to our doom. As St. Paul warns us, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plague men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:9-10).

How often do we deny money is our god, yet our actions reveal otherwise? Whenever we desire the latest fashion, the latest electronic gadget, the newest car, the fanciest house, do we not through our very actions worship money as out god? When we seek fame and fortune for its own sake, we forsake our one and true Lord and Master.

To put it plainly: when we make money our lord and master, we are in mortal danger of banishment from the service of Christ. God is infinite and perfect love, yet true love is not easy and what we are called to return to God in love is not easy. St. John Chrysostom clearly tells us this when he writes, “I now say again to you, what I am always saying: that Christ urges His hearers to obedience to His words, both by means of what is profitable to them, and by what is painful; like a good physician, pointing out the disease that comes through neglect, and the good health that will come through obedience to His directions.”[1]

What does it profit us more as we are being eaten with the cancer of sin: to believe everything is fine and we should not trouble ourselves with it or to understand we are inflicted with a painful and deadly disease? Is it not better to know of the disease, no matter how painful, so that we might recognize it and fight it? Our Lord tells us the Truth: if we pretend there is no disease, we condemn ourselves to the fires of hell – for we must never forget that it is not God who sends us to hell, but we ourselves who do so through the actions and choices of our own free will. No, God does not send us to hell, but it is He alone who reaches out His hand in friendship and love to pull us up from the abyss of our own damnation. Without Him we have only death, but with Him we have only life.

Again, it is not wealth itself which is our enemy; it is our relationship to money which can make us master over it or slave to it. St. John Chrysostom recalls to mind here the example of Job:

Job was indeed rich. But he was no slave of mammon. He possessed riches and ruled them, as a master, not a slave. He held all he had as though he were the steward of another man’s riches. And not only did he not rob others of what belonged to them, he gave what was his to those in need…And so he did not grieve when he lost them. But the rich now are not like this, but rather in a state worse than any slave, and as though paying tribute to some tyrant. For the minds of such men become a sort of stronghold, held by money; and from there each day money sends out its commands, commands that are fulfilled by the violation of justice, and decency; and there is no one who does not obey.[2]

Our Lord implores us to take heart: “Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they?” Now, Jesus is not calling on us to be lazy and slothful, with a “the Lord will provide” attitude; instead He reminds us that God provides all that we are and all that we ever will be. We must trust in Him for our ultimate nourishment and our ultimate life comes from a life in, through, and with the Holy Trinity.

We are called to take heart and to not lose our faith amongst the anxieties of the world: “If then God takes such care of the creatures He has made for our sake, how much more will He not provide for our own needs? If He cares for the servants, how much more will He not care for the masters? … He did not say we are not to sow, but that we are not to be solicitous. Neither did He say we were not to work, but that we must never be fainthearted, now wear ourselves out with anxieties. He commanded us to eat; but not to be over-concerned about it.”[3]

Our Lord calls us, in love, to follow Him on the difficult path: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Lk. 9:23-25)

Yet, our Lord, in His infinite and perfect love, understands we cannot instantly become Christ-like. We approach Him as pilgrims on a journey, some faster and some slower than others, yet all on the same path. As we see this message in today’s Gospel, St. John Chrysostom writes of Christ’s lesson to us:

For you now however, it is enough to learn not to be grasping, that almsgiving is a beautiful thing, to know also that you must give to others a share of what is yours. If you do this well, Beloved, you will soon go on to higher things…Meanwhile therefore let us put away all excessive luxury, and be content with what is fitting and moderate; and let us learn to acquire by honest labour all we are to possess…

Therefore keeping before our mind those degrees of self discipline which have been set before us, let us strive to attain at least to those midway on the road, so that we may be delivered from the wrath to come and, drawing ever nearer, may come at last to the very crown of all blessings; and may it be given to each one of us to attain to this, by the grace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom be glory and honour for ever. Amen.[4]

+JMJ


[1] M. F. Toal (ed), The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Volume 4 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 102.

[2] Ibid., 103.

[3] Ibid., 105.

[4] Ibid., 107.

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You cannot serve God and mammon.

14th Sunday After Pentecost

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal 1962:

Christian people should attend to their temporal interests without exaggerated preoccupation, for such anxiety offends God Who is our Father in heaven. We cannot serve two masters: the flesh and the spirit, at the same time. But let us serve the spirit given to us by the Holy Ghost, Who makes us lean towards the supernatural life.

Collect

Custodi, Dómine, quaésumus, Ecclésiam tuam propitiatióne perpétua: et quia sine te lábitur humána mortálita, tuis simper auxiliis et abstrahátur a nóxiis, et ad salutária dirgátur. Per Dóminum nostrum.

Favor Thy Church unceasingly, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and keep her safe: and because apart from Thee frail man is wont to fall, may she by Thy help be every withdrawn from harm and guided in good. Through our Lord.

Epistle (Gal. 5:16-24)

Let us walk in the spirit and we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The flesh makes us commit all manner of sins.

Brethren: Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences.

Gospel (Mt. 6:24-33)

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew:

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not solicitous therefore, saying, “What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed?” For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.

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The Venerable Bede (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The Fathers of the Church are particularly adept at “unpacking” the allegorical meaning of Sacred Scripture. The great Father and Doctor of the Church, St. Bede the Venerable, proves no exception as he reveals the meaning of today’s Gospel.

St. Bede tells us the ten lepers represent those “having no true knowledge of faith” who “profess a variety of heretical teachings.” These people do not hide their ignorance, but loudly proclaim it as the height of knowledge, even taking pride in what they say. Since even false doctrine contains an element of truth, St. Bede says this disordered mixing of truth and falsehoods “resemble the leprosy that spots and blemished the human body with patches of true and false colour.” We are warned that such people must be excluded from the Church and placed far off so that they might change their ways and loudly cry out to Jesus.

For those who do wish to be saved, will cry out to the Lord and will humble themselves to call Him their Master. It is in this acknowledgement of their estrangement and a return to the true teachings of Jesus that they find healing.

Of those healed by Jesus, it is only the lepers, notes St. Bede, whom Jesus directs to show themselves to the priests. This is because the Jewish priesthood prefigured the Royal Priesthood of Christ, which is the Church, His mystical Body. If those who are “discolored” with the stain of false teaching are to find salvation, they must renounce their false beliefs and return home to their Lord and His House, the Church.

As for the one healed man who returns, St. Bede says, “This one who went back giving glory to God is a figure of the one Church, in devout humility before Christ. He falling down before the feet of the Lord, gives fitting thanks. For he truly gives thanks to God who repressing the thoughts of his own presumption, is humbly aware of how weak he is in himself; he who attributes no virtue to himself; who confesses that the good he does, is due to the mercy of his Creator.”

We should note as well that we’re told the elect fall on their faces, while the wicked fall backwards. “The wicked therefore, since they do not see into what they are falling, are said to fall backwards, for they rush headlong where they cannot now see what will then happen to them. But the just fall as it were upon their faces; for moved by fear, they humble themselves: of their own will they throw themselves down amid things visible, that they may be raised up amid things visible.”

The number ten holds significance as well. It is a number which signifies unity. One joined to nine represents a unity. Thus, the nine need the one to become the unity of ten. However, the one does not need the nine since one is a unity in itself. “For this reason as the one who gave thanks is approved and praised as a sign of the One Church, so the nine who did not give thanks, now rejected, are shut out from the communion of oneness. And so shall others like them remain imperfect in the number of the nine. And rightly does the Saviour ask where are they; as though He knew them not. For, with God, to know is to choose; not to know, is to reject.”

St. Bede says, “As to the body, it is easy to see that a man may have no leprosy; and yet he may not be of sound of soul. But in the light of this miracle, it troubles the mind to know how one who is thankless can be said to be made clean? But it is now easy to see, that this also can happen that someone within the society of the Church may know her true and pure doctrine, and may interpret it all in accord with the Catholic rule of faith; he may distinguish the creature from the Creator, and by this show that he is free as it were from leprosy, from the spots of lies, and nevertheless by ungrateful to God and Lord Who made him clean, because uplifted in pride, he has not thrown himself down in loving humility to give thanks, and so has become like those of whom the Apostle said: When they knew God, they have not glorified Hum as God or given thanks (Rom i. 21). Saying, they knew God, Paul shows that they have been made clean of leprosy; yet he goes on to call them ungrateful.”

Thus, we find he who humbles himself at the feet of the Lord, professing his own unworthiness, is told to rise and be on his way, comforted by the Word of God to grow in his perfection. He is saved not through his accord, but by the grace he receives from God through his faith: “For if faith made him whole who had hurried back to give thanks to his Saviour and to the One Who had made him clean, unfaith has brought spiritual ruin to those who, receiving favours from God, fail to return and give Him glory.”

Our faith must not only grown through humility, but we must also undertake the works of faith which follow, “which makes whole those who believe, and give glory to the Father Who is in heaven. Amen.”

+JMJ

Source: M. F. Toal (ed). The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Volume 4. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000.

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Jesus and the Ten Lepers (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

The Liturgy shows us that by faith we put all out hope in Jesus, for He is our refuge; and we ask for the virtue of charity, which renders us lovers of the Divine Law, and practitioners of it. Let us pray for an increase of faith, hope, and charity.

Collect

Omnipotens sempitérne Deus, da nobis fidei, spei, et caritátis augméntum: et, ut mereámur ássequi quod promittis, fac nos amáre quod praécipis. Per Dóminum nostrum.

Almighty and everlasting God, give to us an increase of Faith, Hope, and Charity: and that we may deserve to obtain what Thou dost promise, make us love what Thou dost command. Through our Lord.

Epistle (Gal. 3:16-22)

The Apostle of the Gentiles shows that the Mosaic Law is not the law which gives holiness of souls, since, before the Law, Abraham, father of the Hebrews, was sanctified in his faith in Jesus. All Jews or pagans, therefore, who enter into the Church and put their faith in the merits of the Passion of Christ will be saved.

Brethren: To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not: And to his seeds, as of many: but as of one: And to thy seed, which is Christ. Now this I say, that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years, doth not disannul, to make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise. Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one. Was the law then against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Gospel (Lk. 17:11-19)

Our Divine Redeemer heals ten lepers, both Jews and Samaritans, who have recourse to Him. “Arise, they faith hath made thee whole.” Through His Church our Lord gives back health to the souls, Jews and Gentiles, who have recourse to Him.

At that time, as Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered into a certain town, there met Him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off, and lifted up their voice, saying: “Jesus, master, have mercy on us.” Whom when He saw, He said: “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And it came to pass, as they went, they were made clean. And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God. And he fell on his face before His feet, giving thanks: and this was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, “Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine? There is no one found to return and give glory to God, but this stranger.” And He said to him: “Arise, go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole.”

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