The Gospel

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Today the Church celebrates : Founders of the Orders of Servites

John Paul II: Contemplating and following the Transfigurated

Letter to the Hebrews 11,1-7.

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible. By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain's. Through this he was attested to be righteous, God bearing witness to his gifts, and through this, though dead, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and "he was found no more because God had taken him." Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen, with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household. Through this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

Psalms 145(144),2-3.4-5.10-11.

Every day I will bless you; I will praise your name forever.
Great is the LORD and worthy of high praise; God's grandeur is beyond understanding.
One generation praises your deeds to the next and proclaims your mighty works.
They speak of the splendor of your majestic glory, tell of your wonderful deeds.
All your works give you thanks, O LORD and your faithful bless you.
They speak of the glory of your reign and tell of your great works,

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 9,2-13.

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant. Then they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" He told them, "Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things, yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him."

Commentary of the day :

John Paul II, pope from 1978 to 2005
Vita Consecrata, § 75 - Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Contemplating and following the Transfigurated

He continually calls new disciples to himself, both men and women, to communicate to them, by an outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), the divine agape, his way of loving, and to urge them thus to serve others in the humble gift of themselves, far from all self-interest. Peter, overcome by the light of the Transfiguration, exclaims: "Lord, it is well that we are here" (Mt 17:4), but he is invited to return to the byways of the world in order to continue serving the Kingdom of God:

"Come down, Peter! You wanted to rest up on the mountain: come down. Preach the word of God, be insistent both when it is timely and when it is not; reprove, exhort, give encouragement using all your forbearance and ability to teach. Work, spend yourself, accept even sufferings and torments, in order that, through the brightness and beauty of good works, you may possess in charity what is symbolized in the Lord's white garments" (Saint Augustine, Sermon 78:6).

The fact that consecrated persons fix their gaze on the Lord's countenance does not diminish their commitment on behalf of humanity; on the contrary, it strengthens this commitment, enabling it to have an impact on history, in order to free history from all that disfigures it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Today the Church celebrates : St. Onesimus

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI]: “Let him follow in my steps”

Book of Genesis 11,1-9.

The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words. While men were migrating in the east, they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, "Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire." They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth." LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men had built. Then the LORD said: "If now, while they are one people, all speaking the same language, they have started to do this, nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do. Let us then go down and there confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says." Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world. It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth.

Psalms 33(32),10-11.12-13.14-15.

The LORD foils the plan of nations, frustrates the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever, wise designs through all generations.
Happy the nation whose God is the LORD, the people chosen as his very own.
From heaven the LORD looks down and observes the whole human race,
Surveying from the royal throne all who dwell on earth.
The one who fashioned the hearts of them all knows all their works.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 8,34-38.9,1.

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." He also said to them, "Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power."

Commentary of the day :

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI]
Meditation for Holy Week, 1969 - Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

“Let him follow in my steps”

Like the Church itself, the sacraments of the Church are the fruit of the dying grain of wheat (Jn 12:24). In order to receive them, we must enter into the movement from which they themselves come. That movement consists in losing oneself, without which it is impossible to find oneself: “Whoever would preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will preserve it.” This word of the Lord is the fundamental formula for a Christian life. When all is said and done, to believe is to say “yes” to this holy adventure of “losing oneself”. In its quintessence, faith is nothing other than true love. Thus, Christian life receives its characteristic form from the cross. The Christian opening to the world, which today is so extolled, can find its true model only in the Lord’s open side (Jn 19:34), the expression of that radical love, which alone is able to save.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Today the Church celebrates : St John the Almsgiver

Letter to the Hebrews 10,1-10.

Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year. Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, once cleansed, would no longer have had any consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is only a yearly remembrance of sins, for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. For this reason, when he came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. Then I said, 'As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God.'" First he says, "Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in." These are offered according to the law. Then he says, "Behold, I come to do your will." He takes away the first to establish the second. By this "will," we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Psalms 40,2.4.7-8.10.11.

I waited, waited for the LORD; who bent down and heard my cry,
And put a new song in my mouth, a hymn to our God. Many shall look on in awe and they shall trust in the LORD.
sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require;
so I said, "Here I am; your commands for me are written in the scroll.
I announced your deed to a great assembly; I did not restrain my lips; you, LORD, are my witness.
Your deed I did not hide within my heart; your loyal deliverance I have proclaimed. I made no secret of your enduring kindness to a great assembly.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 3,31-35.

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, "Your mother and your brothers (and your sisters) are outside asking for you." But he said to them in reply, "Who are my mother and (my) brothers?" And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. (For) whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Today the Church celebrates : St. Anthony the Abbot

Melito : «Grieved at their hardness of heart»

Letter to the Hebrews 7,1-3.15-17.

This "Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High," "met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings" and "blessed him." And Abraham apportioned to him "a tenth of everything." His name first means righteous king, and he was also "king of Salem," that is, king of peace. Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so, not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. For it is testified: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

Psalms 110,

A psalm of David. The LORD says to you, my lord: "Take your throne at my righthand, while I make your enemies your footstool."
The scepter of your sovereign might the LORD will extend from Zion. The LORD says: "Rule over your enemies!
Yours is princely power from the day of your birth. In holy splendor before the daystar, like the dew I begot you."
The LORD has sworn and will not waver: "Like Melchizedek you are a priest forever."

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 3,1-6.

Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up here before us." Then he said to them, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Commentary of the day :

Melito (?-about 195), bishop of Sardis
Easter Homily, § 71-73

«Grieved at their hardness of heart»

It is he, the slaughtered lamb; he, the lamb who does not open his mouth; he, who was born of Mary, the graceful lamb. He is the one who was taken from the flock and lead to death...

He was put to death. And where was he put to death? In the heart of Jerusalem. Why? Because he cured its lame, cleansed its lepers, brought its blind back to light, and risen its dead (Lk 7,22). This is why he suffered. It is written in the Law and the Prophets: “They repaid me evil for good. I am abandoned. They meditated evil against me. Let us tie the just, they would say, for he is unbearable to us” (Ps 37,21; Jer 11,19).

Why have you committed this nameless crime? You dishonored the one who had honored you, you humiliated the one who had exalted you, you denied the one who had recognized you, you rejected the one who had called you, you killed the one who gave you life...He had to suffer, but not because of you. He had to be humiliated, but not by you. He had to be judged, but not by you. He had to be crucified, but not by your hand. Why did you not beg God with this prayer: “O Master, if your son has to suffer, if this is your will, may he suffer, but not because of me”.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Today the Church celebrates : St Benet Biscop

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1,40-45.

A leper came to him (and kneeling down) begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Today the Church celebrates : St Peter Orsoelo

Saint Cyprian : «Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed»

Letter to the Hebrews 2,14-18.
Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life. Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham; therefore, he had to become like his brothers in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Psalms 105,1-2.3-4.6-7.8-9.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name; make known among the peoples his deeds!
Sing praise, play music; proclaim all his wondrous deeds!
Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Rely on the mighty LORD; constantly seek his face.
You descendants of Abraham his servant, offspring of Jacob the chosen one!
The LORD is our God who rules the whole earth.
He remembers forever his covenant, the pact imposed for a thousand generations,
Which was made with Abraham, confirmed by oath to Isaac,

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1,29-39.
On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you." He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Cyprian (about 200-258), bishop of Carthage and martyr
The Lord's Prayer, 29-30

«Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed»

The Lord did not content himself to teach us to pray only with his words, but he also gave us his example. We often see him in prayer; he gives us the example we must follow. It is written: “he went off to a lonely place, in the desert to pray”. And elsewhere: “he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God” (Lk 6,12). If already the one who was without sin prayed in this way, all the more reason for us sinners to pray like this. If he spent the night in prayer, all the more reason for us to pray constantly and to be, us as well, always on watch.

The Lord prayed and interceded not for himself – for which sin would he, the innocent, need to ask to be forgiven? – but he prayed for our sins. This is proved to be true when he tells Peter: “Remember that Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail” (Lk 22,31-32). Later on he prayed the Father for all of us, when he says: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you” (Jn 17,20-21).

Oh, how great are the mercy and goodness of God, in favor of our salvation! He did not content himself to redeem us through his blood, but he also beforehand wished to pray for us. But take notice of the desire of the one who prays: as the Father and the Son are one, that we too may live in unity.

Today the Church celebrates : St. Adrian of Canterbury

Baudoin de Ford : «Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!"

Letter to the Hebrews 2,5-12.
For it was not to angels that he subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. Instead, someone has testified somewhere: "What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, subjecting all things under his feet." In "subjecting" all things (to him), he left nothing not "subject to him." Yet at present we do not see "all things subject to him," but we do see Jesus "crowned with glory and honor" because he suffered death, he who "for a little while" was made "lower than the angels," that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering. He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them "brothers," saying: "I will proclaim your name to my brothers, in the midst of the assembly I will praise you";

Psalms 8,2.5.6-7.8-9.
O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! You have set your majesty above the heavens!
What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet:
All sheep and oxen, even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1,21-28.
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Commentary of the day :

Baudoin de Ford (?-about 1190), Cistercian abbot
Homily on Hebrews 4,12; PL 204, 451-453

«Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!"

“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4,12). With these few words the apostle shows those who seek Christ – he who is the Word, the strength and the wisdom of God - all the greatness, the strength and the wisdom of the Word of God...When one preaches this Word of God, by preaching it, it confers to words listened to exteriorly the power of his Word, perceived interiorly. That being the case, the dead can then be raised (Lk 7,22) and this sign can make other new children too raise up to Abraham (Mt 3,9). Therefore this Word is living. Living in the heart of the Father, living on the lips of the preacher, and living in the hearts filled with fire and love. And since it is a living Word, no doubt that it is also effective.

It is effective as it creates the world, it governs it and it redeems it. What could be stronger or more effective than this word? “Who can tell the mighty deeds of the Lord, proclaim in full God's praise?” (Ps 105,2). This Word is effective because of the things it operates; it reveals itself also through predication. For it never returns to God void, but it always does his will, achieving the end for which he had sent it (Is 55,11).

The Word is therefore effective, and sharper than a two-edged sword, when it is received with faith and love. In fact, is anything impossible to the one who believes? And is anything rigorous for the one who loves?