The Gospel

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Saint Raymond Nonnatus

John Paul II: “You must be prepared in the same way.”

First Letter to the Corinthians 1,1-9.

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus (Christ). God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalms 145,2-7.

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.
They speak of your fearsome power and attest to your great deeds.
They publish the renown of your abounding goodness and joyfully sing of your justice.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 24,42-51.

Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is long delayed,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Commentary of the day :

John Paul II

“You must be prepared in the same way.”

“Keep your eyes open, for you know not the day when your Lord will come.” These words remind me of the last call that will come when the Lord desires. I want to respond to it, and I want everything that makes up my life on earth to prepare me for this moment. I don’t know when it will come, but like everything, I also place that moment into the hands of my Master’s Mother: Totus Tuus. I leave everything and everyone with whom my life and my vocation have associated me in these same maternal hands. Above all, I leave the Church in her hands, as well as my nation and the whole of humanity. I thank each one. I ask each one for forgiveness. I also ask that people pray so that God’s mercy will prove to be greater than my weakness and my unworthiness (March 6, 1979)…

Each person must always count on the possibility of death. And he must be ready to present himself before the Lord and Judge – who is at the same time the Redeemer and Father. So I too constantly take this into consideration, entrusting this decisive moment to the Mother of Christ and of the Church – to the Mother of my hope…

Once again, I want to entrust myself totally to the Lord’s will. He will decide when and how my earthly life and my pastoral ministry are to come to an end. In my life and in my death, Totus Tuus, through the Immaculate. I accept this death already today, and I hope that Christ will give me grace for the last passage, that is to say, my Passover. I also hope that he will make it useful to the supreme cause that I try to serve: the salvation of humankind, the protection of the human family and in it, of all nations and peoples (among them, I turn in a particular way towards my earthly homeland); useful to the people whom he has particularly entrusted to me, to the life of the Church, to the glory of God himself (March 1, 1980).

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Saint Jeanne Jugan, Saint Fiacre

Epistle of Barnabas : Turn away from hypocrisy and evildoing

Second Letter to the Thessalonians 3,6-10.16-18.

We instruct you, brothers, in the name of (our) Lord Jesus Christ,to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us. For you know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us. In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat. May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. This greeting is in my own hand, Paul's. This is the sign in every letter; this is how I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

Psalms 128,1-2.4-5.

A song of ascents. Happy are all who fear the LORD, who walk in the ways of God.
What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be happy and prosper:
Just so will they be blessed who fear the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion, all the days of your life That you may share Jerusalem's joy

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 23,27-32.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets' blood.' Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!

Commentary of the day :

Epistle of Barnabas (about 130)
§ 18, 20 & 21, translated by J.B. Lightfoot

Turn away from hypocrisy and evildoing

There are two ways of teaching and of power, the one of light and the other of darkness; and there is a great difference between the two ways… But the way of the Black One is crooked and full of a curse. For it is a way of eternal death with punishment wherein are the things that destroy men's souls--idolatry, boldness, exhalation of power, hypocrisy, doubleness of heart, adultery, murder, plundering, pride, transgression, treachery, malice…, covetousness, absence of the fear of God; persecutors of good men, hating the truth…, paying no heed to the widow and the orphan…, not pitying the poor man…, oppressing him that is afflicted…

It is good therefore to learn the ordinances of the Lord, as many as have been written above, and to walk in them. For he that does these things shall be glorified in the kingdom of God; whereas he that chooses their opposites shall perish together with his works. For this cause is the resurrection, for this the reco mpense. I entreat you: keep amongst you those to whom you may do good. Fail not.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : The Beheading of John the Baptist

John Paul II: Witnesses of truth in front of the power of evil

Book of Jeremiah 1,17-19.

But do you gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you. Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them; For it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, A pillar of iron, a wall of brass, against the whole land: Against Judah's kings and princes, against its priests and people. They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

Psalms 71,1-6.15.17.

In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue and deliver me; listen to me and save me!
Be my rock and refuge, my secure stronghold; for you are my rock and fortress.
My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of the violent.
You are my hope, Lord; my trust, GOD, from my youth.
On you I depend since birth; from my mother's womb you are my strength; my hope in you never wavers.
My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds, day after day your acts of deliverance, though I cannot number them all.
God, you have taught me from my youth; to this day I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 6,17-29.

Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias's own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore (many things) to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Commentary of the day :

John Paul II
Homily for the Commemoration of the witnesses to the faith in the XXth century, 7th May 2000

Witnesses of truth in front of the power of evil

“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:11-12). How well these words of Christ fit the countless witnesses to the faith in the last century, insulted and persecuted, but never broken by the power of evil!
Where hatred seemed to corrupt the whole of life leaving no escape from its logic, they proved that “love is stronger than death” (Sg 8,6). Within terrible systems of oppression which disfigured man, in places of pain, amid the hardest of privations, through senseless marches, exposed to cold and hunger, tortured, suffering in so many ways, they loudly proclaimed their loyalty to Christ crucified and risen...
Countless numbers refused to yield to the cult of the false gods of the twentieth century and were sacrificed by Communism, Nazism, by the idolatry of State or race. Many others fell in the course of ethnic or tribal wars , because they had rejected a way of thinking foreign to the Gospel of Christ. Some went to their death because, like the Good Shepherd, they decided to remain with their people, despite intimidation. On every continent and throughout the entire twentieth century, there have been those who preferred to die rather than betray the mission, which was theirs. Men and women Religious lived their consecration to the shedding of blood. Men and women believers died offering their lives for love of their brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and the weakest. Many women lost their lives in order to defend their dignity and purity. “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12:25).

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Twenty-first Sunday in ordinary time, St. Monica

Pope Benedict XVI: “You have the words of eternal life”

Book of Joshua 24,1-2.15-18.

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges and their officers. When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people: "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: In times past your fathers, down to Terah, father of Abraham and Nahor, dwelt beyond the River and served other gods. If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." But the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods. For it was the LORD, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples through whom we passed. At our approach the LORD drove out (all the peoples, including) the Amorites who dwelt in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God."

Psalms 34,2-3.16-23.

I will bless the LORD at all times; praise shall be always in my mouth.
My soul will glory in the LORD that the poor may hear and be glad.
The LORD has eyes for the just and ears for their cry.
The LORD'S face is against evildoers to wipe out their memory from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears and rescues them from all distress.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.
Many are the troubles of the just, but the LORD delivers from them all.
God watches over all their bones; not a one shall be broken.
Evil will slay the wicked; those who hate the just are condemned.
The LORD redeems loyal servants; no one is condemned whose refuge is God.

Letter to the Ephesians 5,21-32.

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 6,60-69.

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Commentary of the day :

Pope Benedict XVI
Homily, celebration Eucharistic on the occasion of the WW World Youth Day, Sunday, 21 August 2005

“You have the words of eternal life”

Let us return once more to the Last Supper. The new element to emerge here was the deeper meaning given to Israel's ancient prayer of blessing, which from that point on became the word of transformation, enabling us to participate in the "hour" of Christ. Jesus did not instruct us to repeat the Passover meal, which in any event, given that it is an anniversary, is not repeatable at will. He instructed us to enter into his "hour".

We enter into it through the sacred power of the words of consecration - a transformation brought about through the prayer of praise which places us in continuity with Israel and the whole of salvation history, and at the same time ushers in the new, to which the older prayer at its deepest level was pointing. The new prayer - which the Church calls the "Eucharistic Prayer" - brings the Eucharist into being. It is the word of power which transforms the gifts of the earth in an entirely new way into God's gift of himself, and it draws us into this process of transformation. That is why we call this action "Eucharist", which is a translation of the Hebrew word beracha - thanksgiving, praise, blessing, and a transformation worked by the Lord: the presence of his "hour". Jesus' hour is the hour in which love triumphs. In other words: it is God who has triumphed, because he is Love.

Jesus' hour seeks to become our own hour and will indeed become so if we allow ourselves, through the celebration of the Eucharist, to be drawn into that process of transformation that the Lord intends to bring about. The Eucharist must become the centre of our lives.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Martha

Saint Paschas Radbert : “If I washed your feet – I who am Teacher and Lord – then you must wash each other’s feet.” (Jn 13:14)

Book of Ezekiel 43,1-7.

Then he led me to the gate which faces the east, and there I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. I heard a sound like the roaring of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. The vision was like that which I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and like that which I had seen by the river Chebar. I fell prone as the glory of the LORD entered the temple by way of the gate which faces the east, but spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court. And I saw that the temple was filled with the glory of the LORD. Then I heard someone speaking to me from the temple, while the man stood beside me. The voice said to me: Son of man, this is where my throne shall be, this is where I will set the soles of my feet; here I will dwell among the Israelites forever. Never again shall they and their kings profane my holy name with their harlotries and with the corpses of their kings (their high places).

Psalms 85,9-14.

I will listen for the word of God; surely the LORD will proclaim peace To his people, to the faithful, to those who trust in him.
Near indeed is salvation for the loyal; prosperity will fill our land.
Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven.
The LORD will surely grant abundance; our land will yield its increase.
Prosperity will march before the Lord, and good fortune will follow behind.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 23,1-12.

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Paschas Radbert (? – around 849), Benedictine monk
Commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew, 10:23

“If I washed your feet – I who am Teacher and Lord – then you must wash each other’s feet.” (Jn 13:14)

“Who humbles himself shall be exalted.” Christ not only told his disciples not to let themselves be called masters and not to love the places of honor at table or any other honor, but in his person, he himself gave the example and model of humility. Whereas the name of master is given him not through kindness but by his natural right, for “in him everything continues in being” (Col 1:17), by taking on flesh, he communicated a teaching to us, which leads us all to true life, and because he is greater than we, he “reconciled us with God.” (Rom 5:10) As if he were telling us: Do not love the highest honors, do not desire to be called masters, just as “I seek no glory for myself; there is one who seeks it.” (Jn 8:50) Keep your eyes fixed on me, “for the Son of Man has come, not to be served by others, but to serve, to give his own life as a ransom for the many.” (Mt 20:28)

Most certainly, in this passage of the gospel, the Lord is not only teaching his disciples, but also the heads of the Churches, commanding everyone not to allow themselves to be driven by greed in seeking honors. On the contrary, may “anyone who aspires to greatness” be the first to become like him, “serving the needs of all.” (Mt 20:26-27)

Today the Church celebrates : St. Louis

Saint Teresia Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein] : “Happy the man… (who) delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night.” (Ps 1:1-2)

Book of Ezekiel 37,1-14.

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones. He made me walk among them in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were! He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? "Lord GOD," I answered, "you alone know that." Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD. I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone. I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them. Then he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army. Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They have been saying, "Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off." Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.

Psalms 107,2-9.

Let that be the prayer of the LORD'S redeemed, those redeemed from the hand of the foe,
Those gathered from foreign lands, from east and west, from north and south.
Some had lost their way in a barren desert; found no path toward a city to live in.
They were hungry and thirsty; their life was ebbing away.
In their distress they cried to the LORD, who rescued them in their peril,
Guided them by a direct path so they reached a city to live in.
Let them thank the LORD for such kindness, such wondrous deeds for mere mortals.
For he satisfied the thirsty, filled the hungry with good things.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 22,34-40.

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them (a scholar of the law) tested him by asking, Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Teresia Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein] (1891-1942), Carmelite, Martyr, Co-patroness of Europe
The History and Spirit of Carmel

“Happy the man… (who) delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night.” (Ps 1:1-2)

What does “the law of the Lord” mean? Psalm 118 [119] … is filled with the desire to know the law of the Lord and to let oneself by guided by it during one’s entire life. It is very possible that the psalmist was thinking there of the law of the Old Covenant. Getting to know it really did demand life-long study and fulfilling it demanded an effort of the will that also lasted one’s whole life. But the Lord has freed us from the yoke of this law. We can consider the law of the New Covenant to be the great commandment of love, which includes all of the law and the prophets, as he said. Perfect love of God and of one’s neighbor would certainly be a worthy object to be studied over a whole lifetime.

But better still, we understand the law of the New Covenant to be the Lord Jesus himself, since his life is for us the model of the life we have to live. Thus, we fulfill our rule if we constantly keep before our eyes the image of the Lord Jesus so as to become like him. The Gospel is the book, which we will never have finished studying. But we don’t find the Lord only in the accounts of those who witnessed his life. He is present to us in the most Blessed Sacrament, and the hours of adoration before the supreme Good, attentive listening to the voice of the God of the Eucharist are both “meditation of the law of the Lord” and a “vigil in prayer”. However, the highest degree is reached when “the law dwells in the midst of our heart” (Ps 40:11).

Friday, August 25, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Bartholomew

Philoxenes of Mabbug : “Come, see for yourself.”

Book of Revelation 21,9-14.

One of the seven angels who held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, (the names) of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Psalms 145,10-13.17-18.

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,
Making known to all your power, the glorious splendor of your rule.
Your reign is a reign for all ages, your dominion for all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in every word, and faithful in every work.
You, LORD, are just in all your ways, faithful in all your works.
You, LORD, are near to all who call upon you, to all who call upon you in truth.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 1,45-51.

Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth." But Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him." Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Commentary of the day :

Philoxenes of Mabbug (? – around 523), Bishop in Syria
Homilies, no. 4, 76-79

“Come, see for yourself.”

Jesus renewed the call addressed to Abraham for the holy apostles. And their faith resembled that of Abraham. For just as Abraham obeyed as soon as he was called (Gen 12), so the apostles left to follow Jesus as soon as he called them and they heard him… They didn’t become disciples by means of long teaching, but simply by having heard the word of faith. Because faith was alive, as soon as it heard the living voice, it obeyed life. They immediately ran after him without delay. And we see by this that they were disciples in their heart even before they were called.

That is how faith acts when it has remained simple. It does not receive teaching through arguments. But just as a healthy and pure eye receives without reasoning or working the sun’s rays that are sent to it, and that it perceives the light as soon as it is open… in the same way, those who have natural faith recognize the voice of God as soon as they hear it. The light of his word rises up in them; they joy fully run towards it and receive it, as our Lord said in the Gospel: “My sheep hear my voice… and they follow me.” (Jn 10:27)

Today the Church celebrates : St. Rose of Lima

Saint John Chrysostom : “You too go along to my vineyard.”

Book of Ezekiel 34,1-11.

Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, in these words prophesy to them (to the shepherds): Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep? You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured. You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered and wandered over all the mountains and high hills; my sheep were scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them. Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have been given over to pillage, and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast, for lack of a shepherd; because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep; because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD: I swear I am coming against these shepherds. I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep so that they may no longer pasture themselves. I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths. For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

Psalms 23,1-6.

A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me;
you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name.
Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.
You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 20,1-16.

The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.' So they went off. (And) he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o'clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.' When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.' When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.' He said to one of them in reply, 'My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? (Or) am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?' Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Commentary of the day :

Saint John Chrysostom (around 345-407), Bishop of Antioch, then of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church
Homilies on Saint Matthew, no. 64

“You too go along to my vineyard.”

It is obvious that this parable is addressed both to people who have been virtuous since their youth and to people who become so only in their old age: to the former, to preserve them from pride and to stop them from reproaching the people of the eleventh hour; and to the latter, to teach them that they can deserve the same salary in a short time. The Savior had just spoken about giving up wealth, about scorn for all goods, about virtues, which require a big heart and courage. For that, the zeal and energy of a youthful soul are necessary. So the Lord rekindles in them the flame of charity, strengthens their sentiments, and shows them that even those who came last receive the whole day’s salary.

All of Jesus’ parables - those about the virgins, the fishing net, the thorns, the barren tree – invite us to show our virtue in our actions. He speaks little about dogmas because they don’t require much effort. But he often speaks about life. Or rather, he talks about it all the time because, since life is a constant combat, the effort is also constant.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Queenship of Mary

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon : “Come and follow me.”

Book of Ezekiel 28,1-10.

Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre: Thus says the Lord GOD: Because you are haughty of heart, you say, "A god am I! I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!"-- And yet you are a man, and not a god, however you may think yourself like a god. Oh yes, you are wiser than Daniel, there is no secret that is beyond you. By your wisdom and your intelligence you have made riches for yourself; You have put gold and silver into your treasuries. By your great wisdom applied to your trading you have heaped up your riches; your heart has grown haughty from your riches-- therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have thought yourself to have the mind of a god, Therefore I will bring against you foreigners, the most barbarous of nations. They shall draw their swords against your beauteous wisdom, they shall run them through your splendid apparel. They shall thrust you down to the pit, there to die a bloodied corpse, in the heart of the sea. Will you then say, "I am a god!" when you face your murderers? No, you are a man, not a god, handed over to those who will slay you. You shall die the death of the uncircumcised at the hands of foreigners, for I have spoken, says the Lord GOD.

Deut 32,26-28.30.35-36.

"I would have said, 'I will make an end of them and blot out their name from men's memories,'
Had I not feared the insolence of their enemies, feared that these foes would mistakenly boast, 'Our own hand won the victory; the LORD had nothing to do with it.'"
For they are a people devoid of reason, having no understanding.
"How could one man rout a thousand, or two men put ten thousand to flight, Unless it was because their Rock sold them and the LORD delivered them up?"
Against the day of vengeance and requital, against the time they lose their footing?" Close at hand is the day of their disaster and their doom is rushing upon them!
Surely, the LORD shall do justice for his people; on his servants he shall have pity. When he sees their strength failing, and their protected and unprotected alike disappearing,

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 19,23-30.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible." Then Peter said to him in reply, "We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon (around 130 - around 208), Bishop, Theologian and Martyr
Against the Heresies, Book IV, 14,1

“Come and follow me.”

Abraham became God’s friend because he followed the Word of God, God’s call, spontaneously and freely in the generosity of his faith (Jas 2:23). The Word of God, perfect since the beginning, did not acquire Abraham’s friendship for himself because of a lack. “Before Abraham came to be, I am.” (Jn 8:58) But it was so that he who is good could give Abraham eternal life… In the beginning, it was also not because he needed man that God formed Adam, but so as to have someone to whom to give his blessings.

It was also not because he needed our service that he commanded us to follow him, but in order to procure salvation for us. For to follow the Lord means to participate in salvation, just as following the light is to participate in the light. When people are in the light, it is not they who illumine the light and make it shine, but they are illumined and made to shine by it… God gives his blessings to those who serve him because they serve him, and to those who follow him because they follow him; but he does not receive any benefit from them, for he is perfect and has no need.

If God seeks man’s service, it is so that he who is good and merciful can give his blessings to those who persevere in his service. For even though God needs nothing, the human person needs communion with God. The glory of the human being is to persevere in God’s service. That is why the Lord told his disciples: “It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you” (Jn 15:16), thus showing that … for having followed the Son of God, they were glorified by him: “Father, all those you gave me I would have in my company where I am, to see this glory of mine.” (Jn 17:24)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Pius X

St. Teresa of Avila :

"If you wish to be perfect”

Book of Ezekiel 24,15-24.

Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, by a sudden blow I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes, but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears. Groan in silence, make no lament for the dead, bind on your turban, put your sandals on your feet, do not cover your beard, and do not eat the customary bread. That evening my wife died, and the next morning I did as I had been commanded. Then the people asked me, "Will you not tell us what all these things that you are doing mean for us?" I therefore spoke to the people that morning, saying to them: Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will now desecrate my sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride, the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul. The sons and daughters you left behind shall fall by the sword. You shall do as I have done, not covering your beards nor eating the customary bread. Your turbans shall remain on your heads, your sandals on your feet. You shall not mourn or weep, but you shall rot away because of your sins and groan one to another. Ezekiel shall be a sign for you: all that he did you shall do when it happens. Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.

Deut 32,18-21.

You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you, You forgot the God who gave you birth.
When the LORD saw this, he was filled with loathing and anger toward his sons and daughters.
'I will hide my face from them," he said, "and see what will then become of them. What a fickle race they are, sons with no loyalty in them!
"Since they have provoked me with their 'no-god' and angered me with their vain idols, I will provoke them with a 'no-people'; with a foolish nation I will anger them.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 19,16-22.

Now someone approached him and said, "Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?" He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He asked him, "Which ones?" And Jesus replied, " 'You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother'; and 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" The young man said to him, "All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Commentary of the day :

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-82), Spanish Carmelite nun, Doctor of the Church
Interior Castle, Mansion 3, Chapter 1 (

"If you wish to be perfect”

O Jesus! can any one declare that he does not desire this great blessing, especially after he has passed through the chief difficulties? No; no one can! We all say we desire it, but there is need of more than that for the Lord to possess entire dominion over the soul. It is not enough to say so, any more than it was enough for the young man when our Lord told him what he must do if he desired to be perfect…

Enter then, enter, my daughters, into your interior; pass beyond the thought of your own petty works, which are no more, nor even as much, as Christians are bound to perform: let it suffice that you are God's servants, do not pursue so much as to catch nothing. Think of the saints, who have entered the Divine Presence, and you will see the difference between them and ourselves. Do not ask for what you do not deserve, nor should we ever think, however much we may have done for God, that we merit the reward of the saints, for we have offended Him. Oh, humility, humility! I know not why, but I am always tempted to think that persons who complain so much of aridities must be a little wanting in this virtue…Let us try ourselves, my sisters, or let our Lord try us; He knows well how to do so (although we often pretend to misunderstand Him)…

If we turn our backs on Him and go away sorrowfully like the youth in the Gospel when He tells us what to do to be perfect, what can God do? for He must proportion the reward to our love for Him. This love, my daughters, must not be the fabric of our imagination; we must prove it by our works. Yet do not suppose that our Lord has need of any works of ours; He only expects us to manifest our goodwill…if we continue in it… doubtless, by persevering in this poverty and detachment of soul, we shall obtain all for which we strive. But, mark this - it must be on one condition - that we `hold ourselves for unprofitable servants.’ (Luke 12:48)

Today the Church celebrates : Twentieth Sunday in ordinary time, St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Pope Benedict XVI:

“My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink”

Book of Proverbs 9,1-6.

Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns; She has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table. She has sent out her maidens; she calls from the heights out over the city: "Let whoever is simple turn in here; to him who lacks understanding, I say, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.

Psalms 34,2-3.10-15.

I will bless the LORD at all times; praise shall be always in my mouth.
My soul will glory in the LORD that the poor may hear and be glad.
Fear the LORD, you holy ones; nothing is lacking to those who fear him.
The powerful grow poor and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Who among you loves life, takes delight in prosperous days?
Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Letter to the Ephesians 5,15-20.

Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord. And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another (in) psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 6,51-58.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Commentary of the day :

Pope Benedict XVI
Homily, celebration Eucharistic on the occasion of the WW World Youth Day, Sunday, 21 August 2005

“My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink”

"This is my Body, given in sacrifice for you. This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood".What is happening? How can Jesus distribute his Body and his Blood? By making the bread into his Body and the wine into his Blood, he anticipates his death, he accepts it in his heart, and he transforms it into an action of love. What on the outside is simply brutal violence - the Crucifixion - from within becomes an act of total self-giving love. This is the substantial transformation which was accomplished at the Last Supper and was destined to set in motion a series of transformations leading ultimately to the transformation of the world when God will be all in all (cf. I Cor 15: 28).

In their hearts, people always and everywhere have somehow expected a change, a transformation of the world. Here now is the central act of transformation that alone can truly renew the world: violence is transformed into love, and death into life. Since this act transmutes death into love, death as such is already conquered from within, the Resurrection is already present in it. Death is, so to speak, mortally wounded, so that it can no longer have the last word.

This first fundamental transformation of violence into love, of death into life, brings other changes in its wake. Bread and wine become his Body and Blood. But it must not stop there; on the contrary, the process of transformation must now gather momentum. The Body and Blood of Christ are given to us so that we ourselves will be transformed in our turn. We are to become the Body of Christ, his own Flesh and Blood. We all eat the one bread, and this means that we ourselves become one. In this way, adoration, as we said earlier, becomes union. God no longer simply stands before us as the One who is totally Other. He is within us, and we are in him. His dynamic enters into us and then seeks to spread outwards to others until it fills the world, so that his love can truly become the dominant measure of the world.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. John Eudes

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta : “Let the children come to me… The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Book of Ezekiel 18,1-10.13.30-32.

Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, what is the meaning of this proverb that you recite in the land of Israel: "Fathers have eaten green grapes, thus their children's teeth are on edge"? As I live, says the Lord GOD: I swear that there shall no longer be anyone among you who will repeat this proverb in Israel. For all lives are mine; the life of the father is like the life of the son, both are mine; only the one who sins shall die. If a man is virtuous--if he does what is right and just, if he does not eat on the mountains, nor raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel; if he does not defile his neighbor's wife, nor have relations with a woman in her menstrual period; if he oppresses no one, gives back the pledge received for a debt, commits no robbery; if he gives food to the hungry and clothes the naked; if he does not lend at interest nor exact usury; if he holds off from evildoing, judges fairly between a man and his opponent; if he lives by my statutes and is careful to observe my ordinances, that man is virtuous--he shall surely live, says the Lord GOD. But if he begets a son who is a thief, a murderer, or who does any of these things lends at interest and exacts usury--this son certainly shall not live. Because he practiced all these abominations, he shall surely die; his death shall be his own fault. Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, each one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD. Turn and be converted from all your crimes, that they may be no cause of guilt for you. Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord GOD. Return and live!

Psalms 51,12-15.52,18-19.

A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.
I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 19,13-15.

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

Commentary of the day :

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), Foundress of the Missionary Sisters
No Greater Love

“Let the children come to me… The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

This is the path of trusting love:
- to give oneself in a way that is absolute, unconditional and unchanging to God our Father, even when everything seems doomed to failure;
- to see only him as our rampart and help;
- to refuse doubt and discouragement, to abandon all our anxieties and concerns to the Lord, and to continue to go forward in perfect freedom;
- to dare to be free of all fear of obstacles, knowing that “nothing is impossible with God” (Lk 1:37);
- to count on our heavenly Father for everything in a spontaneous movement of abandonment, like that of children, remaining convinced of our radical nothingness, but nevertheless sure of his paternal goodness, if necessary with boldness

Friday, August 18, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Jane Frances de Chantal

John Paul II: “The two shall become as one”

Book of Ezekiel 16,59-63.

For thus speaks the Lord GOD: I will deal with you according to what you have done, you who despised your oath, breaking a covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl, and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you. Then you shall remember your conduct and be ashamed when I take your sisters, those older and younger than you, and give them to you as daughters, even though I am not bound by my covenant with you. For I will re-establish my covenant with you, that you may know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be covered with confusion, and that you may be utterly silenced for shame when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord GOD.

Is 12,2-6.

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,
and say on that day: Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 19,3-12.

Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?" He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate." They said to him, "Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?" He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery." (His) disciples said to him, "If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." He answered, "Not all can accept (this) word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."

Commentary of the day :

John Paul II
Talk to the Synod on Family Life (October 1980), §5

“The two shall become as one”

Before his death, on the very threshold of the paschal mystery, Christ prayed, saying: “Father most holy, protect them with your name which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (Jn 17:11) In so doing, he also asked, maybe in a very special way, for the unity of spouses and of families. He prayed for the unity of his disciples, for the unity of the Church. And Saint Paul compared the mystery of the Church with marriage (Eph 5:32). Thus, the Church not only gives the family a part in her care, but in a certain sense, she also considers the family to be her model. In the love of Christ, her Spouse, who loved us even unto death, the Church contemplates husbands and wives who have promised to love one another throughout their lives until death. And she considers it to be her singular obligation to protect that love.

Marriage is a sacrament. Those who were baptized in the name of the Lord are also married in his name. Their love is a participation in God’s love. He is its source. The marriage of Christian couples is like the image here on earth of the marvel of God’s life, a life, which is the loving and fruitful communion of the three persons in one single God, and of God’s covenant with the Church in Christ. Christian marriage is a sacrament of salvation; for each member of the family, it is the path to sanctity.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Hyacinth

Saint Faustina Kowalska : “Should you not have dealt mercifully with your fellow servant, as I dealt with you?”

Book of Ezekiel 12,1-12.

Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house. Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on, prepare your baggage as though for exile, and again while they are looking on, migrate from where you live to another place; perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime while they are looking on; in the evening, again while they are looking on, you shall go out like one of those driven into exile; while they look on, dig a hole in the wall and pass through it; while they look on, shoulder the burden and set out in the darkness; cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel. I did as I was told. During the day I brought out my baggage as though it were that of an exile, and at evening I dug a hole through the wall with my hand and, while they looked on, set out in the darkness, shouldering my burden. Then, in the morning, the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that rebellious house, ask you what you were doing? Tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD: This oracle concerns Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel within it. I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them; as captives they shall go into exile. The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole that he has dug in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.

Psalms 78,56-59.61-62.

But they tested, rebelled against God Most High, his decrees they did not observe.
They turned back, deceitful like their ancestors; they proved false like a bow with no tension.
They enraged him with their high places; with their idols they goaded him.
God heard and grew angry; he rejected Israel completely.
He gave up his might into captivity, his glorious ark into the hands of the foe.
God abandoned his people to the sword; he was enraged against his heritage.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 18,21-35.19,1.

Then Peter approaching asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.' Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart." When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), Religious
Small Diary, p. 163 (1937)

“Should you not have dealt mercifully with your fellow servant, as I dealt with you?”

Oh my God, most Holy Trinity, I want to adore your mercy through each breath of my being, each beat of my heart, each beat of my pulse. I want to be entirely transformed into your mercy and thus to be a living reflection of you, Lord. May the greatest of your divine attributes, your unfathomable mercy, be poured out onto my neighbor through my soul and through my heart.

Help me, Lord, so that my eyes will be merciful, so that I never suspect or judge according to appearances, but that I discern the beauty in my neighbor’s soul and that I come to his help. Help me, Lord, so that my ear will be merciful, so that I bend to the needs of my neighbor and do not remain indifferent to his pain and groaning. Help me, Lord, so that my tongue is merciful, so that I never say anything bad about my neighbor, but that I have a word of consolation and forgiveness for each person. Help me, Lord, so that my hands are merciful and filled with good works, so that I know how to do good to my neighbor and to take upon myself the heaviest and most displeasing tasks. Help me, Lord, so that my feet are merciful, so that I hasten to help my neighbor while overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is to serve my neighbor.

Help me, Lord, so that my heart is merciful, so that I feel all my neighbor’s suffering. I will not refuse to give my heart to anyone. I will sincerely frequent even those of whom I know that they will abuse of my kindness. And as for me, I will lock myself into the most merciful heart of Jesus. I will remain silent about my own suffering. May your mercy rest in me, Lord.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Stephen

Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican:

"There am I in the midst of them"

Book of Ezekiel 9,1-7.10,18-22.

Then he cried loud for me to hear: Come, you scourges of the city! With that I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate which faces the north, each with a destroying weapon in his hand. In their midst was a man dressed in linen, with a writer's case at his waist. They entered and stood beside the bronze altar. Then he called to the man dressed in linen with the writer's case at his waist, saying to him: Pass through the city (through Jerusalem) and mark an X on the foreheads of those who moan and groan over all the abominations that are practiced within it. To the others I heard him say: Pass through the city after him and strike! Do not look on them with pity nor show any mercy! Old men, youths and maidens, women and children--wipe them out! But do not touch any marked with the X; begin at my sanctuary. So they began with the men (the elders) who were in front of the temple. Defile the temple, he said to them, and fill the courts with the slain; then go out and strike in the city. Then the glory of the LORD left the threshold of the temple and rested upon the cherubim. These lifted their wings, and I saw them rise from the earth, the wheels rising along with them. They stood at the entrance of the eastern gate of the LORD'S house, and the glory of the God of Israel was up above them. these were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar, whom I now recognized to be cherubim. Each ohad four faces and four wings; something like human hands were under their wings. Their faces looked just like those I had seen by the river Chebar; each one went straight forward.

Psalms 113,1-6.

Hallelujah! Praise, you servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD both now and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the LORD be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD; above the heavens God's glory.
Who is like the LORD, our God enthroned on high,
looking down on heaven and earth?

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 18,15-20.

If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

Commentary of the day :

Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican
Sacrosanctum Concilium, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, § 7

"There am I in the midst of them"

Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross" (20), but especially under the eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes (21). He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).

Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father. Ri ghtly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy…, the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which .s the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Saint John of Damascus : The ark of the New Covenant enters the heavenly Temple (1 Kings 8; Rev 11:19)

Book of Revelation 11,19.12,1-6.10.

Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.

Psalms 45,10-12.16.

Daughters of kings are your lovely wives; a princess arrayed in Ophir's gold comes to stand at your right hand.
Listen, my daughter, and understand; pay me careful heed. Forget your people and your father's house,
that the king might desire your beauty. He is your lord;
They are led in with glad and joyous acclaim; they enter the palace of the king.

First Letter to the Corinthians 15,20-26.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death,

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 1,39-56.

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Commentary of the day :

Saint John of Damascus (around 675-749), Monk, Theologian, Doctor of the Church
2nd Homily on the Dormition, 2,3

The ark of the New Covenant enters the heavenly Temple (1 Kings 8; Rev 11:19)

Today, the holy and living ark of the living God, the one whose womb carried her own Creator, rests in the Lord’s temple, a temple not built by human hands. David, her ancestor and God’s relative, dances for joy (2 Sam 7:14); the angels dance in unison, the archangels applaud, and the powers of the heavens sing her glory…

She who enabled true life to spring forth for everyone, how could she fall into the power of death? Certainly, as a daughter of the old Adam, she submitted to the sentence that was pronounced against him, for her Son, who is Life itself, did not shy away from it. But as the mother of the living God, it is just that she be raised up to him… How could she who received in her womb Life itself, without beginning or end, not be alive for all eternity? In times past, the first parents of our mortal race, drunk with the wine of disobedience…, with a heavy spirit because of the intemperance of sin, fell asleep in the sleep of death. The Lord had chased and ex iled them from the paradise of Eden. Now she who did not commit any sin and who bore the child of obedience to God and to the Father, how could paradise not welcome her, not joyfully open its doors to her? … Since Christ, who is Life and Truth, said: “Where I am, there will my servant be” (Jn 12:26), how could his mother, all the more so, not share in his dwelling place? …

So now “that the heavens are rejoicing”, may all the angels acclaim her. “Let the earth rejoice,” (Ps 96:11), let human beings leap for joy. Let the air resound with songs of joy; let the night reject its darkness and its cloak of mourning… For the living city of the Lord, the God of powers is exalted. From the sanctuary of Zion, kings bring invaluable gifts (Ps 68:30). Those whom Christ established as princes over all the earth, the apostles, escort the Mother of God, ever a virgin, into the Jerusalem on high, which is free and our mother (Gal 4:26).

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday of the Nineteenth week in Ordinary Time: Today the Church celebrates : St Maximilian Kolbe

Saint Ambrose : By his Passion, Christ paid our debts for us.

Book of Ezekiel 1,2-5.24-28.

On the fifth day of the month, the fifth year, that is, of King Jehoiachin's exile, the word of the LORD came to the priest Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar.--There the hand of the LORD came upon me. As I looked, a stormwind came from the North, a huge cloud with flashing fire (enveloped in brightness), from the midst of which (the midst of the fire) something gleamed like electrum. Within it were figures resembling four living creatures that looked like this: their form was human, Then I heard the sound of their wings, like the roaring of mighty waters, like the voice of the Almighty. When they moved, the sound of the tumult was like the din of an army. (And when they stood still, they lowered their wings.) Above the firmament over their heads something like a throne could be seen, looking like sapphire. Upon it was seated, up above, one who had the appearance of a man. Upward from what resembled his waist I saw what gleamed like electrum; downward from what resembled his waist I saw what looked like fire; he was surrounded with splendor. Like the bow which appears in the clouds on a rainy day was the splendor that surrounded him. Such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I had seen it, I fell upon my face and heard a voice that said to me:

Psalms 148,1-2.11-14.

Hallelujah! Praise the LORD from the heavens; give praise in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels; give praise, all you hosts.
You kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all who govern on earth;
Young men and women too, old and young alike.
Let them all praise the LORD'S name, for his name alone is exalted, majestic above earth and heaven.
The LORD has lifted high the horn of his people; to the glory of all the faithful, of Israel, the people near to their God. Hallelujah!

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 17,22-27.

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day." And they were overwhelmed with grief. When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?" Yes, he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?" When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him, "Then the subjects are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Ambrose (around 340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church
Commentary on Psalm 48:14-15

By his Passion, Christ paid our debts for us.

Which person is so powerful as to offer some atonement for himself in addition to that which Christ offered when he alone reconciled the world with God through his own blood? Is there a greater victim, a more generous sacrifice, a better advocate than Jesus, who interceded for the sins of all and who gave his life for our redemption?

Thus, no other atonement or ransom is demanded of any of us, since the ransom for everyone is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone reconciled us with the Father. He fulfilled his task to the end, for he took upon himself our suffering, and he said: “Come to me, all you who… find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.” (Mt 11:28)… Thus, the human person will give nothing in atonement for his redemption, for he has been washed of sin once and for all by the blood of Christ. But that is not to say that he is freed from making an effort to observe the precepts of life and not to wander away from the Lord’s commandments. So long as he is alive, he will labor, and he will persevere in that so as to live eternally, for fear lest he die the death although he has already been redeemed from death.

Today the Church celebrates : Nineteenth Sunday in ordinary time, Ss Pontian and Hyppolitus

John-Paul II:

"The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

1st book of Kings 19,4-8.

and went a day's journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death: "This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers." He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. He looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, "Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!" He got up, ate and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

Psalms 34,2-9.

I will bless the LORD at all times; praise shall be always in my mouth.
My soul will glory in the LORD that the poor may hear and be glad.
Magnify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the LORD, who answered me, delivered me from all my fears.
Look to God that you may be radiant with joy and your faces may not blush for shame.
In my misfortune I called, the LORD heard and saved me from all distress.
The angel of the LORD, who encamps with them, delivers all who fear God.
Learn to savor how good the LORD is; happy are those who take refuge in him.

Letter to the Ephesians 4,30-32.5,1-2.

And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. (And) be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 6,41-51.

The Jews murmured about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven," and they said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: 'They shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

Commentary of the day :

John-Paul II
Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 11

"The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Church has received the Eucharist from Christ her Lord not as one gift – however precious – among so many others, but as the gift par excellence, for it is the gift of himself, of his person in his sacred humanity, as well as the gift of his saving work. Nor does it remain confined to the past, since “all that Christ is – all that he did and suffered for all men – participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times”(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1085).

When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord's death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and “the work of our redemption is carried out” (Lumen Gentium 3). This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ offered it and returned to the Father only after he had left us a means of sharing in it as if we had been present there. Each member of the faithful can thus take part in it and inexhaustibly gain its fruits. This is the faith from which generations of Christians down the ages have lived. The Church's Magisterium has constantly reaffirmed this faith with joyful gratitude for its inestimable gift. I wish once more to recall this truth and to join you, my dear brothers and sisters, in adoration before this mystery: a great mystery, a mystery of mercy. What more could Jesus have done for us? Truly, in the Eucharist, he shows us a love which goes “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1), a love which knows no measure.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Euplius

St. Cyril of Jerusalem :

“Increase our faith”

Book of Habakkuk 1,12-17.2,1-4.

Are you not from eternity, O LORD, my holy God, immortal? O LORD you have marked him for judgment, O Rock, you have readied him for punishment! Too pure are your eyes to look upon evil, and the sight of misery you cannot endure. Why, then, do you gaze on the faithless in silence while the wicked man devours one more just than himself? You have made man like the fish of the sea, like creeping things without a ruler. He brings them all up with his hook, he hauls them away with his net, He gathers them in his seine; and so he rejoices and exults. Therefore he sacrifices to his net, and burns incense to his seine; For thanks to them his portion is generous, and his repast sumptuous. Shall he, then, keep on brandishing his sword to slay peoples without mercy? I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, And keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint. Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision Clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. Wealth, too, is treacherous: the proud, unstable man--

Psalms 9,8-13.

The LORD rules forever, has set up a throne for judgment.
It is God who governs the world with justice, who judges the peoples with fairness.
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who honor your name trust in you; you never forsake those who seek you, LORD.
Sing hymns to the LORD enthroned on Zion; proclaim God's deeds among the nations!
For the avenger of bloodshed remembers, does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 17,14-20.

When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him, and said, "Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him." Jesus said in reply, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me." Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" He said to them, "Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Commentary of the day :

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-350), Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church
Catechetical Lecture 5, 10-11 (

“Increase our faith”

For the name of Faith is in the form of speechs one, but has two distinct senses. For there is one kind of faith, the dogmatic, involving an assent of the soul on some particular point: and it is profitable to the soul, as the Lord says: ‘Whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life’ (John 5:24)…

But there is a second kind of faith, which is bestowed by Christ as a gift of grace. ‘For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing’ (1Co 12:2-9). This faith then which is given of grace from the Spirit is not merely doctrinal, but also works things above man's power. For whoever has this faith, shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove. For whenever any one shall say this in faith, believing that it comes to pass, and shall not doubt in his heart, then he receive s the grace.
And of this faith it is said, ‘If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed’. For just as the grain of mustard seed is small in size, but fiery in its operation, and though sown in a small space has a circle of great branches, and when grown up is able even to shelter the fowls; so, likewise, faith in the swiftest moment works the greatest effects in the soul. For, when enlightened by faith, the soul has visions of God, and as far as is possible beholds God, and ranges round the bounds of the universe, and before the end of this world already beholds the Judgment, and the payment of the promised rewards.