The Gospel

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Jerome

Saint Thomas Aquinas : Our title of glory: the Son of Man delivered into the hands of men

Book of Ecclesiastes 11,9-10.12,1-8.

Rejoice, O young man, while you are young and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes; Yet understand that as regards all this God will bring you to judgment. Ward off grief from your heart and put away trouble from your presence, though the dawn of youth is fleeting. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come And the years approach of which you will say, I have no pleasure in them; Before the sun is darkened. and the light, and the moon, and the stars, while the clouds return after the rain; When the guardians of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, And the grinders are idle because they are few, and they who look through the windows grow blind; When the doors to the street are shut, and the sound of the mill is low; When one waits for the chirp of a bird, but all the daughters of song are suppressed; And one fears heights, and perils in the street; When the almond tree blooms, and the locust grows sluggish and the caper berry is without effect, Because man goes to his lasting home, and mourners go about the streets; Before the silver cord is snapped and the golden bowl is broken, And the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the broken pulley falls into the well, And the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, all things are vanity!

Psalms 90,3-6.12-14.17.

But humans you return to dust, saying, "Return, you mortals!"
A thousand years in your eyes are merely a yesterday. Before a watch passes in the night,
you have brought them to their end; They disappear like sleep at dawn; they are like grass that dies.
It sprouts green in the morning; by evening it is dry and withered.
Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Relent, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!
Fill us at daybreak with your love, that all our days we may sing for joy.
May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 9,43-45.

And all were astonished by the majesty of God. While they were all amazed at his every deed, he said to his disciples, Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men. But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Dominican theologian, Doctor of the Church

Our title of glory: the Son of Man delivered into the hands of men

Saint Paul said: “May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Gal 6:14) See, says Saint Augustine, where the wise according to the world believed he had found shame, the apostle Paul discovered a treasure; what to the other seemed folly, for him became wisdom (1 Cor 1:17f.) and a title of glory.

For each person draws glory from what makes him great in his own eyes. If he believes that he is a great person because he is wealthy, he glories in his goods. The person who sees greatness for himself only in Jesus Christ, places his glory in Jesus alone. That is the case for the apostle Paul: “The life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me.” (Gal 2:20) Also, he glories only in Christ, and above all in the cross of Christ. That is because all the motives for glory that a person might have are gathered together in the cross.

There are people who glory in the friendship of the great and powerful. Paul needed only the cross of Christ to discover there the most obvious sign of God’s friendship. “It is precisely in this that God proves his love for us: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) No, there is nothing that shows better God’s love for us than the death of Christ. Saint Gregory exclaimed: “Oh inestimable testimony of love! In order to redeem the slave, you handed over the Son.”

Today the Church celebrates : Sts. Cosmas & Damian

Saint Isaac the Syrian : Herod wanted to see Jesus

Book of Ecclesiastes 1,2-11.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays. The sun rises and the sun goes down; then it presses on to the place where it rises. Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north, the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds. All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full. To the place where they go, the rivers keep on going. All speech is labored; there is nothing man can say. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear filled with hearing. What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, "See, this is new!" has already existed in the ages that preceded us. There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them.

Psalms 90,3-6.12-14.17.

But humans you return to dust, saying, "Return, you mortals!"
A thousand years in your eyes are merely a yesterday. Before a watch passes in the night,
you have brought them to their end; They disappear like sleep at dawn; they are like grass that dies.
It sprouts green in the morning; by evening it is dry and withered.
Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Relent, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!
Fill us at daybreak with your love, that all our days we may sing for joy.
May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 9,7-9.

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, "John has been raised from the dead"; others were saying, "Elijah has appeared"; still others, "One of the ancient prophets has arisen." But Herod said, "John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see him.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Isaac the Syrian (7th century), Monk in Nineveh, near Mosul in present-day Iraq
Spiritual discourses 1st series, no,20

Herod wanted to see Jesus

How can created beings contemplate God? The vision of God is so terrible that Moses himself said that he feared and trembled. For when the glory of God appeared on Mount Sinai (Ex 20), the mountain smoked and trembled with fear under the impact of the revelation; the animals that drew near the slopes died. The children of Israel prepared; they purified themselves for three days, following the order of Moses, so as to be worthy to hear God’s voice and to see his revelation. But when the time came, they could neither take on the vision of his light nor receive the strength of his thundering voice.

But now that by his coming he has poured forth his grace onto the world, he did not come down in an earthquake or in fire or by announcing himself with a terrible and strong voice, but rather like the dew on the fleece (Judg 6:37), like a drop falling gently onto the earth. He came among us in another form. For he covered his greatness with the veil of the flesh. He made a treasure of this flesh. He lived among us in that flesh, which his will had formed for himself in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, so that when we saw him as belonging to our human race and living among us, we might not be troubled by fear in contemplating him. That is why those who have surrounded themselves with the garment in which the Creator appeared, that is this body with which he covered himself, have put on Christ himself (Gal 3:27). For they wanted to carry in their inner person (Eph 3:16) the same humility with which Christ revealed himself to his creation and lived in it, as he reveals himself now to his servants. Instead of the garment of external honor and glory, they have clothed themselves with this humility.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Sts. Cosmas & Damian

John Paul II: “He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God”

Book of Proverbs 30,5-9.

Every word of God is tested; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Add nothing to his words, lest he reprove you, and you be exposed as a deceiver. Two things I ask of you, deny them not to me before I die: Put falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; (provide me only with the food I need;) Lest, being full, I deny you, saying, "Who is the LORD?" Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God.

Psalms 119,

Lead me from the way of deceit; favor me with your teaching.
Teaching from your lips is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.
Your word, LORD, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens.
I keep my steps from every evil path, that I may obey your word.
Through your precepts I gain insight; therefore I hate all false ways.
Falsehood I hate and abhor; your teaching I love.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 9,1-6.

He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (the sick). He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them." Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Commentary of the day :

John Paul II
Redemptoris missio § 30

“He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God”

Our own time, with humanity on the move and in continual search, demands a resurgence of the Church's missionary activity. The horizons and possibilities for mission are growing ever wider, and we Christians are called to an apostolic courage based upon trust in the Spirit. He is the principal agent of mission!
The history of humanity has known many major turning points which have encouraged missionary outreach, and the Church, guided by the Spirit, has always responded to them with generosity and farsightedness. Results have not been lacking... We celebrated the millennium of the evangelization of Russia and the Slav peoples, and... the five hundredth anniversary of the evangelization of the Americas. Similarly, there have been recent commemorations of the centenaries of the first missions in various countries of Asia, Africa and Oceania. Today the Church must face other challenges and push forward to new frontiers, both in the initial mission ad gentes and in the new evangelization of those peoples who have already heard Christ proclaimed. Today all Christians, the particular churches and the universal Church, are called to have the same courage that inspired the missionaries of the past, and the same readiness to listen to the voice of the Spirit.

Today the Church celebrates : Sts. Cosmas & Damian

Saint Augustine : Mary, mother of Christ, mother of the Church

Book of Proverbs 21,1-6.10-13.

Like a stream is the king's heart in the hand of the LORD; wherever it pleases him, he directs it. All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes, but it is the LORD who proves hearts. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Haughty eyes and a proud heart-- the tillage of the wicked is sin. The plans of the diligent are sure of profit, but all rash haste leads certainly to poverty. He who makes a fortune by a lying tongue is chasing a bubble over deadly snares. The soul of the wicked man desires evil; his neighbor finds no pity in his eyes. When the arrogant man is punished, the simple are the wiser; when the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge. The just man appraises the house of the wicked: there is one who brings down the wicked to ruin. He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard.

Psalms 119,

Happy those whose way is blameless, who walk by the teaching of the LORD.
Make me understand the way of your precepts; I will ponder your wondrous deeds.
The way of loyalty I have chosen; I have set your edicts before me.
Give me insight to observe your teaching, to keep it with all my heart.
Lead me in the path of your commands, for that is my delight.
I will keep your teachings always, for all time and forever.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 8,19-21.

Then his mother and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you." He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
On holy virginity, 5

Mary, mother of Christ, mother of the Church

He who is the fruit of one holy Virgin is the glory and honor of all the other holy virgins; for like Mary, they are themselves the mothers of Christ if they do the will of his Father. The glory and happiness of Mary in being the mother of Jesus Christ shines forth above all in the Lord’s words: “Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is brother and sister and mother to me.” (Mt 12:50)

Thus he shows the spiritual relationships, which attach him to the people whom he redeemed. His brothers and sisters are the holy men and women who partake with him in the heavenly inheritance. His mother is the entire Church, because by God’s grace, she brings forth the members of Jesus Christ, that is to say, those who are faithful to him. His mother is also every holy soul that does the will of his Father and whose fruitful charity is made manifest in those whom it brings forth for him until he himself is formed in them (Gal 4:19)…

Mary is certainly the mother of the members of the Body of Christ, that is to say, our mother, because in her charity she cooperated in bringing forth in the Church the faithful who are the members of this divine head, whose mother she truly is according to the flesh.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Bl. Herman the Cripple, St. Finbar

Saint John Chrysostom : The lamp on the lamp stand

Book of Proverbs 3,27-34.

Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in your power to do it for him. Say not to your neighbor, "Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give," when you can give at once. Plot no evil against your neighbor, against him who lives at peace with you. Quarrel not with a man without cause, with one who has done you no harm. Envy not the lawless man and choose none of his ways: To the LORD the perverse man is an abomination, but with the upright is his friendship. The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but the dwelling of the just he blesses; When he is dealing with the arrogant, he is stern, but to the humble he shows kindness.

Psalms 15,2-5.

Whoever walks without blame, doing what is right, speaking truth from the heart;
Who does not slander a neighbor, does no harm to another, never defames a friend;
Who disdains the wicked, but honors those who fear the LORD; Who keeps an oath despite the cost,
lends no money at interest, accepts no bribe against the innocent. III Whoever acts like this shall never be shaken.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 8,16-18.

No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away."

Commentary of the day :

Saint John Chrysostom (around 345-407), Bishop of Antioch, then of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church
Homily 15 on St. Matthew

The lamp on the lamp stand

“Men do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket.” Through these words, Jesus again encourages his disciples to lead an irreproachable life by advising them to constantly watch over themselves, because they are placed in the sight of all humankind like athletes in a stadium, who are seen by the whole world (1 Cor 4:9).

He told them: “Don’t tell yourselves: ‘Now we can stay sitting here quietly, we are hidden in a little corner of the world,’ for you will be visible to all humankind, like a city on top of a mountain (Mt 5:14), like a light in the house that has been placed on the lamp stand… I have lit the light of your torch, but it’s up to you to see to its upkeep, not just to your personal advantage, but also in the interest of all who will see it and who through it will be led to the truth. The worst wickedness won’t put a shadow over your light if you live with the vigilance of those who are called to bring the whole world to good. Thus, may you respond to the sanctity of your ministry by your life so that God’s grace might be announced everywhere.”

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Twenty-fifth Sunday in ordinary time, St. Pacific of San Severino, Our Lady of Ransom

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon : “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”

Book of Wisdom 2,17-20.

Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him."

Psalms 54,3-8.

O God, by your name save me. By your strength defend my cause.
O God, hear my prayer. Listen to the words of my mouth.
The arrogant have risen against me; the ruthless seek my life; they do not keep God before them. Selah
God is present as my helper; the Lord sustains my life.
Turn back the evil upon my foes; in your faithfulness, destroy them.
Then I will offer you generous sacrifice and praise your gracious name, LORD,

Letter of James 3,16-18.4,1-3.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 9,30-37.

They left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise." But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon (from around 130 to around 208), Bishop, Theologian and Martyr
Against the Heresies, IV, 38, 1-2

“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”

Could God not have made the human person perfect right from the beginning? For God, who has always been identical with himself and who is not created, everything is possible. But because the existence of the created beings began after God’s, they are necessarily inferior to God who made them… Thus, since they are created, they are not perfect. When they have just been born, they are small children, and as small children, they are neither accustomed to nor have they had practice in perfect conduct… Thus, God could give perfection to the human person right from the beginning, but the human person was incapable of receiving this perfection, for he / she was only a small child.

And that is why, in the last times when our Lord gathered up all things in him (Eph 1:10), he came to us, not in his power, but in such a way that we were able to see him. For he could have come to us in his inexpressible glory, but we were not yet able to bear the greatness of his glory … Although the Word of God was perfect, with humankind he became a small child, not for himself, but because of the state of childhood in which was humankind.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Constantius, St Pio de Petrelcina (Padre Pio).

Saint Gregory the Great : Bearing fruit through perseverance

First Letter to the Corinthians 15,35-37.42-49.

But someone may say, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back?" You fool! What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind; So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one. So, too, it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living being," the last Adam a life-giving spirit. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

Psalms 56,10-14.

My foes turn back when I call on you. This I know: God is on my side.
God, I praise your promise;
in you I trust, I do not fear. What can mere mortals do to me?
I have made vows to you, God; with offerings I will fulfill them,
Once you have snatched me from death, kept my feet from stumbling, That I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 8,4-15.

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to him, he spoke in a parable. A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold." After saying this, he called out, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear." Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, "Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that 'they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.' This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Gregory the Great (around 540-604), Pope, Doctor of the Church
Homilies on the Gospel, 1,15

Bearing fruit through perseverance

Be watchful so that the word you have received might resonate in the depth of your heart and dwell there. Take care that the seed not fall upon the path for fear that the evil spirit might come and take the word away from your memory. Take care that the rocky soil does not receive the seed and produce good actions that are lacking the roots of perseverance. For many rejoice when they hear the word and prepare to undertake good works. But when trials have hardly begun to assail them, they give up what they had undertaken. Thus, the rocky soil lacked water, so much so that the wheat germ could not bear the fruit of perseverance.

But the good earth gives fruit through patience. Let us understand by this that our good works can be of value, if we patiently bear the trouble caused by our neighbor. Moreover, the more we advance towards perfection, the more we have to endure trials. Once our soul has abandoned the love of the present world, the hosti lity of this world increases. That is why we see many toiling under a heavy burden (Mt 11:28) although their works are good… But according to the word of the Lord, “they bear fruit through their constancy” by bearing these trials humbly, so much so that after having toiled, they will be invited to enter into the peace of heaven.

Today the Church celebrates : St. Thomas of Villanova

John Paul II: “Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women”

First Letter to the Corinthians 15,12-20.

But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Psalms 17,1.6-8.15.

A prayer of David. Hear, LORD, my plea for justice; pay heed to my cry; Listen to my prayer spoken without guile.
I call upon you; answer me, O God. Turn your ear to me; hear my prayer.
Show your wonderful love, you who deliver with your right arm those who seek refuge from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings
I am just--let me see your face; when I awake, let me be filled with your presence.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 8,1-3.

Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

Commentary of the day :

John Paul II
Mulieris Dignitatem § 16

“Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women”

The fact of being a man or a woman involves no limitation here, just as the salvific and sanctifying action of the Spirit in man is in no way limited by the fact that one is a Jew or a Greek, slave or free, according to the well-known words of Saint Paul: "For you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).

This unity does not cancel out diversity. The Holy Spirit, who brings about this unity in the supernatural order of sanctifying grace, contributes in equal measure to the fact that "your sons will prophesy"(Jl 3,1) and that "your daughters will prophesy". "To prophesy" means to express by one's words and one's life "the mighty works of God" (Acts 2: 11), preserving the truth and originality of each person, whether woman or man. Gospel "equality", the "equality" of women and men in regard to the "mighty works of God" - manifested so clearly in the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth - constitutes the most obvious basis for the dignity and voca tion of women in the Church and in the world. Every vocation has a profoundly personal and prophetic meaning. In "vocation" understood in this way, what is personally feminine reaches a new dimension: the dimension of the "mighty works of God", of which the woman becomes the living subject and an irreplaceable witness.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Mattew

Irenaeus of Lyons : Saint Matthew, one of the four evangelists

Letter to the Ephesians 4,1-7.11-13.

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ,

Psalms 19,2-5.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft.
One day to the next conveys that message; one night to the next imparts that knowledge.
There is no word or sound; no voice is heard;
Yet their report goes forth through all the earth, their message, to the ends of the world. God has pitched there a tent for the sun;

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

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

Commentary of the day :

Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130 – c. 208), bishop and martyr
Against Heresies c. Book III, 11, 8-9

Saint Matthew, one of the four evangelists

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. There are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, and the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and her "pillar and ground" (1 Tm 3, 15) is the Gospel and the Spirit of life; therefore it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. The Word, the Shaper of all things, who sits upon the cherubim and upholds all things (Ps 79, 2;He 1,3), who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit. David says, when entreating his manifestation, "You that sit between the cherubim, shine forth."(Ps 79,2) For the cherubim, too, were four-faced (Ez 1,6), and their faces were images of the dispensation of the Son of God.

For, as Scripture says, "The first living creature was like a lion," (Rev 4 ,7) symbolizing his effectual working, his leadership, and royal power; “the second was like a calf”, signifying his sacrificial and priestly order; but "the third had, as it were, the face as of a man,"-an evident description of his coming as a human being; "the fourth was like a flying eagle," pointing out the gift of the Spirit hovering with its wings over the Church. And therefore the Gospels of John, Luke, Matthew, and Mark are in accord with these living things, among which Christ Jesus is seated…

Such was the form of the living creatures, so was also the character of the Word of God himself: the Word of God himself conversed with the patriarchs before Moses in accordance with his divinity and glory; but for those under the law he instituted a priestly and liturgical service. Afterwards, being made man for us, he sent the gift of the Spirit over all the earth, protecting us with his wings (Ps 16,8)…These things being so, all who reject th e form the Gospel has taken – that is, those who say the Gospels should be more or fewer in number – are futile, ignorant, and presumptuous.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Andrew Kim Taegon & St. Paul Chong Hasang

St Bernard of Clairvaux : The ignorance of those who refuse to turn to God

First Letter to the Corinthians 12,31.13,1-13.

Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Psalms 33,2-5.12.22.

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.
Sing to God a new song; skillfully play with joyful chant.
For the LORD'S word is true; all his works are trustworthy.
The LORD loves justice and right and fills the earth with goodness.
Happy the nation whose God is the LORD, the people chosen as his very own.
May your kindness, LORD, be upon us; we have put our hope in you.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 7,31-35.

Then to what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, 'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.' For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is vindicated by all her children."

Commentary of the day :

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), Cistercian monk and doctor of the Church
Commentary on the Song of Songs, Sermon 38

The ignorance of those who refuse to turn to God

The apostle Paul says that there are some who have no knowledge of God (1 Co 15,34). My opinion is that all those who lack knowledge of God are those who refuse to turn to him. I am certain that they refuse because they imagine this kindly disposed God to be harsh and severe, this merciful God to be callous and inflexible, this lovable God to be cruel and oppressive. So it is that wickedness plays false to itself, setting up for itself an image that does not represent God as he truly is.

What are you afraid of, you men of little faith? That he will not pardon your sins? But with his own hands he has nailed them to the cross. That you are used to soft living and your tastes are fastidious? But he is aware of our weakness. That a prolonged habit of sinning binds you like a chain? But the Lord loosens the shackles of prisoners. Or perhaps that angered by the enormity and frequency of your sins he is slow to extend a helping hand? But where sin abounded, grace became supe rabundant (Ro 5,20). Are you worried about clothing and food and other bodily necessities so that you hesitate to give up your possessions? But he knows that you need all these things(Mt 6,32). What more can you wish? What else is there to hold you back from the way of salvation? This is what I say: you do not know God, yet you will not believe what we have heard. I should like you to believe those whom experience has taught.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Joseph & Companions

Saint Augustine : “Young man, I bid you get up.”

First Letter to the Corinthians 12,12-14.27-31.

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

Psalms 100,1-5.

A psalm of thanksgiving. Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
worship the LORD with cries of gladness; come before him with joyful song.
Know that the LORD is God, our maker to whom we belong, whosepeople we are, God's well-tended flock.
Enter the temple gates with praise, its courts with thanksgiving. Give thanks to God, bless his name;
good indeed is the LORD, Whose love endures forever, whose faithfulness lasts through every age.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 7,11-17.

Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, "Do not weep." He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, "A great prophet has arisen in our midst," and "God has visited his people." This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
Sermon 98

“Young man, I bid you get up.”

Let no one who is Christian doubt that even now dead people rise. Certainly, every human being has eyes by which he can see dead people rising in the way this widow’s son whom we just heard about in the gospel rose. But not everyone can see people who are spiritually dead rise. For that, it is necessary to have already risen interiorly. It is greater to raise someone who is to live forever than to raise someone who will have to die again.

The young man’s mother, this widow, was transported with joy at seeing her son rise. Our mother the Church also rejoices when she sees her children’s spiritual resurrection every day. The widow’s son was dead with the death of the body; but these latter are dead with the death of the soul. People wept tears over the visible death of the former; but people were not concerned by the invisible death of the latter; they didn’t even see it. The only one who did not remain indifferent is the one who knew these deaths; only the one who could give life back to them knew these deaths. For if the Lord had not come to raise the dead, the apostle Paul would not have said: “Awake, O sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Eph 5:14)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Joseph of Cupertino

Saint Francis of Assisi: “I am not worthy to have you enter my house.”

First Letter to the Corinthians 11,17-26.33.

In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact that your meetings are doing more harm than good. First of all, I hear that when you meet as a church there are divisions among you, and to a degree I believe it; there have to be factions among you in order that (also) those who are approved among you may become known. When you meet in one place, then, it is not to eat the Lord's supper, for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk. Do you not have houses in which you can eat and drink? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and make those who have nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I do not praise you. For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

Psalms 40,7-10.17.

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.
To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart!"
I announced your deed to a great assembly; I did not restrain my lips; you, LORD, are my witness.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. May those who long for your help always say, "The LORD be glorified."

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 7,1-10.

When he had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, "He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Francis of Assisi
First Rule, 17

“I am not worthy to have you enter my house.”

In the love that is God, I beg all my brothers – those who preach, those who pray, those who work manually, clerics and lay brothers – to make every effort towards being humble in all things; not to glorify themselves, to find their joy or to become interiorly proud because of good words and good actions, which God sometimes says or does in them or through them. According to the Lord’s word: “Do not rejoice… in the fact that the devils are subject to you.” (Lk 10:20) Let us be firmly convinced of the fact that of ourselves we have only faults and sins. Let us rather rejoice in trials when, in our soul and in our body, we have to bear all kinds of tribulations in this world for eternal life.

Brothers, let us thus beware of all pride and vainglory; let us beware of the wisdom of this world and of selfish prudence. The person who is enslaved by his selfish tendencies puts a great deal of effort into making speeches, but much less into passing on to action. Instead of seek ing the interior religion and sanctity of the spirit, he desires an external religion and sanctity that are very visible to the eyes of human beings. It is of them that the Lord said: “You can be sure of this much, they are already repaid.” (Mt 6:2) On the contrary, the person who is docile to the Lord’s spirit wants to humiliate what is selfish, vile and abject in the flesh. He puts great effort into being humble and patient, purely simple and in true peace of spirit. What he always desires above everything is filial fear of God, the wisdom of God, and the love of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Today the Church celebrates : St. Robert Bellarmine

Saint Augustine : “You are not judging by God’s standards but by man’s.”

Book of Isaiah 50,4-9.

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; And I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let him confront me. See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong? Lo, they will all wear out like cloth, the moth will eat them up.

Psalms 116,1-6.8-9.

I love the LORD, who listened to my voice in supplication,
Who turned an ear to me on the day I called.
I was caught by the cords of death; the snares of Sheol had seized me; I felt agony and dread.
Then I called on the name of the LORD, "O LORD, save my life!"
Gracious is the LORD and just; yes, our God is merciful.
The LORD protects the simple; I was helpless, but God saved me.
For my soul has been freed from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

Letter of James 2,14-18.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 8,27-35.

Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets." And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said to him in reply, "You are the Messiah." Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." 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.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
Sermon 96

“You are not judging by God’s standards but by man’s.”

When the Lord commits the person wanting to follow him to renounce himself, we think his commandment is difficult and hard to hear. But if the one who commands us helps us to fulfill it, his commandment is neither difficult nor painful… And that other word that the Lord spoke is also true: “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Mt 11:30) For love sweetens what might be painful in the precepts. We all know what marvels love can accomplish… What rigors have people endured, what unworthy and intolerable living conditions have they borne so as to be able to possess the object of their love! …Why be surprised that the person who loves Christ and who wants to follow him renounces himself in order to love him? For if the human person loses himself by loving himself, there is no doubt that he will find himself by renouncing himself…

Who would refuse to follow Christ to the dwelling place of perfect happiness, of supreme peace and of eternal tranquilit y? It is good to follow him there. But we have to know the way in order to arrive… The path seems to you to be covered with rough patches, it puts you off, you don’t want to follow Christ. Walk behind him! The path, which men have laid out is rugged, but it was made level when Christ walked upon it while returning to heaven. So who would refuse to go forward towards glory?

Everyone likes to rise up in glory, but humility is the ladder that must be climbed in order to get there. Why do you lift up your foot higher than yourself? Do you want to fall down instead of go up? Begin with this ladder. It will already make you go up. The two disciples who said: “Lord, see to it that we sit, one at your right and the other at your left, when you come into your glory,” paid no attention to this degree of humility. They aimed for the summit and did not see the ladder. But the Lord showed them the ladder. So what did he answer? “Can you drink the cup I shall drink? (Mk 10:38) You who desire to reach the height of honors, can you drink the chalice of humility?” That is why he did not limit himself to saying in a general way: “May he renounce himself and follow me”, but rather, he added: “May he take up his cross and follow me.”

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Cornelius

Saint Augustine : Building on the rock

First Letter to the Corinthians 10,14-22.

Therefore, my beloved, avoid idolatry. I am speaking as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I am saying. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. Look at Israel according to the flesh; are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? So what am I saying? That meat sacrificed to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything? No, I mean that what they sacrifice, (they sacrifice) to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to become participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger? Are we stronger than he?

Psalms 116,12-13.17-18.

How can I repay the LORD for all the good done for me?
I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.
I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 6,43-49.

A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' but not do what I command? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
Sermon 179

Building on the rock

Brothers, the apostle Saint James spoke to people who were zealous for the word of God, saying: “Act on this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves.” (Jas 1:22) You would neither be fooling the Author of the word nor the one announcing it; you would be fooling yourselves… And it would be very useless if the preacher announced the word of God outside and didn’t first of all listen to it within himself in order to put it into practice…

Who puts the word into practice interiorly? The person who keeps himself from evil desire. Who observes it exteriorly? The one who is “sharing… (his) bread with the hungry.” (Isa 58:7) Our neighbor sees what we do, but God alone is witness to why we are doing it. So “act on this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves.” You will neither deceive God nor his minister. I cannot read in your heart, but God, who plumbs the heart, sees what human beings cannot see. He sees your zeal in listen ing, your thoughts, your resolutions, the progress you make through his grace, your attentiveness in prayer, the requests you make of him so as to obtain what you are lacking, and your thanksgiving so as to thank him for his blessings…

Think upon this, brothers! If it is praiseworthy to listen to the word, how much more is it praiseworthy to put it into practice. If you don’t listen to it, you are living in negligence and you won’t build anything. If you listen to it without putting it into practice, you will build nothing but ruins. Where this is concerned, the Lord gave us a good comparison: “Anyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like the wise man who built his house on rock.” To listen and to put into practice means building on the rock… To listen without putting into practice means building on sand. To refuse even to listen means that nothing is built.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Catherine of Genoa

Saint Bonaventure : “There is your mother.”

Letter to the Hebrews 5,7-9.

In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,

Psalms 31,2-6.15-16.20.

In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice deliver me;
incline your ear to me; make haste to rescue me! Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me.
You are my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake lead and guide me.
Free me from the net they have set for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God.
But I trust in you, LORD; I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hands; rescue me from my enemies, from the hands of my pursuers.
How great is your goodness, Lord, stored up for those who fear you. You display it for those who trust you, in the sight of all the people.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 2,33-35.

The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274), Franciscan, Doctor of the Church
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, Conference VI, 15-21

“There is your mother.”

The glorious Virgin paid our ransom as a courageous woman who loved with the compassionate love of Christ. In Saint John it is said: “When a woman is in labor she is sad that her time has come.” (Jn 16:21) The Blessed Virgin did not feel the pain that precedes childbirth because she did not conceive following the sin of Eve, against whom the curse was spoken. She felt her pain later: she gave birth under the cross. The other women know bodily pain, she felt that of the heart. The others suffer from a physical change; she from compassion and love.

The Blessed Virgin paid our ransom as a courageous woman who loved the world and above all the Christian people with merciful love. “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” (Isa 49:15) This can make us understand that the entire Christian people has come forth from the womb of the glorious Virgin. What a loving Mother we have! Let us take our Mother as our model and let us follow her i n her love. She had compassion for souls to such an extent that she counted all material loss and every physical suffering as nothing. “(We) have been purchased … at a great price.” (1 Cor 6:20)

Today the Church celebrates : Triumph of the Holy Cross, Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Saint Theodore the Studite : The cross, tree of life

Book of Numbers 21,4-9.

From Mount Hor they set out on the Red Sea road, to by-pass the land of Edom. But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!" In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. Then the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses, "Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover." Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered.

Psalms 78,1-2.34-38.

A maskil of Asaph. Attend, my people, to my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in story, drawing lessons from of old.
When he slew them, they began to seek him; they again inquired of their God.
They remembered that God was their rock, God Most High, their redeemer.
But they deceived him with their mouths, lied to him with their tongues.
Their hearts were not constant toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant.
But God is merciful and forgave their sin; he did not utterly destroy them. Time and again he turned back his anger, unwilling to unleash all his rage.

Letter to the Philippians 2,6-11.

Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 3,13-17.

No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Theodore the Studite (759-826), Monk in Constantinople

The cross, tree of life

How beautiful is the sight of the cross! Its beauty is not a mingling of evil and good, like in former times the tree in the Garden of Eden. It is entirely admirable, “good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.” (Gen 3:6) It is a tree that gives life and not death, light and not blindness. It makes people enter Eden and not leave it. This tree upon which Christ went up like a king on his triumphant chariot, has lost the devil who had power over death, and has rescued the human race from enslavement to the tyrant. On this tree, like an elite fighter, the Lord, wounded in his hands, his feet and his divine side, healed the wounds of sin, that is to say, our nature that was wounded by Satan.

After being put to death by means of the wood, we have found life by means of the wood. After being deceived by means of the wood, we have driven back the deceitful serpent by means of the wood. What surprising exchanges! Life instea d of death, immortality instead of corruption, glory instead of shame. Rightly did the apostle Paul exclaim: “May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Gal 6:14)… Beyond all wisdom, this wisdom, which blossomed on the cross, rendered stupid the pretences of the wisdom of this world (1 Cor 1:17f.)…

By the cross, death was killed and Adam was returned to life. By the cross, all the apostles were glorified, all the martyrs were crowned, all the saints sanctified. By the cross, we have put on Christ and been stripped of the old man (Eph 4:22). By the cross, we have been brought back as Christ’s sheep and have been gathered together in the sheepfold on high.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. John Chrysostom

Isaac of the Star : “Blest are you who are weeping.”

First Letter to the Corinthians 7,25-31.

Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that. I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.

Psalms 45,11-12.14-17.

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;
All glorious is the king's daughter as she enters, her raiment threaded with gold;
In embroidered apparel she is led to the king. The maids of her train are presented to the king.
They are led in with glad and joyous acclaim; they enter the palace of the king.
The throne of your fathers your sons will have; you shall make them princes through all the land.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 6,20-26.

And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.

Commentary of the day :

Isaac of the Star (? – around 1171), Cistercian monk
Sermon 2 for the Feast of All Saints, 13-20

“Blest are you who are weeping.”

“Blest are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled.” (Mt 5:5) With that word, the Lord wants to let us hear that tears are the path of joy. By way of desolation, a person goes to consolation; in losing one’s life, one finds it, in rejecting it, one possesses it, in hating it, one loves it, in despising it, one keeps it (Mt 16:24f.). If you want to know yourself and to control yourself, enter into yourself and do not seek outside… Enter into yourself, sinner, return to where you are in your heart… The person who enters into himself will discover himself in the distance, like the prodigal son, in an unfamiliar region, in a strange land, where he will sit and weep when he remembers his father and his country (Lk 15:17)?…

“Adam, where are you?” (Gen 3:9). Perhaps still in the shadow so as not to see yourself. You are sewing leaves of vanity together to cover your shame, looking at what is around you and what belongs to you… Look inside, look at yours elf… Go into yourself, sinner, return to your soul. See and weep over this soul that is prone to vanity, to agitation, and that cannot free itself from its captivity… It is obvious, brothers, we live outside of ourselves, we forget ourselves every time we become dissipated in fun or distractions, when we enjoy ourselves with what is futile. And that is why Wisdom is always concerned with inviting us to the house of repentance rather than to the house of festivities, that is to say, calling a person who was outside of himself back to himself by saying: “Blest are you who are weeping,” and in another passage: “Woe to you who laugh now.”

My brothers, let us groan in the presence of the Lord whose goodness leads him to forgive; let us turn towards him “with fasting and weeping and mourning,” (Joel 2:12) so that one day… his consolation might give joy to our souls. For blessed are they who weep, not because they weep, but because they will be consoled. The weep ing is the way; the consolation is the beatitude.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Bl. Apollinaris

Saint Augustine : “He spent the night in communion with God.”

First Letter to the Corinthians 6,1-11.

How can any one of you with a case against another dare to bring it to the unjust for judgment instead of to the holy ones? Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you unqualified for the lowest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? Then why not everyday matters? If, therefore, you have courts for everyday matters, do you seat as judges people of no standing in the church? I say this to shame you. Can it be that there is not one among you wise enough to be able to settle a case between brothers? But rather brother goes to court against brother, and that before unbelievers? Now indeed (then) it is, in any case, a failure on your part that you have lawsuits against one another. Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you inflict injustice and cheat, and this to brothers. Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Psalms 149,1-6.9.

Hallelujah! Sing to the LORD a new song, a hymn in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker, the people of Zion rejoice in their king.
Let them praise his name in festive dance, make music with tambourine and lyre.
For the LORD takes delight in his people, honors the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in their glory, cry out for joy at their banquet,
With the praise of God in their mouths, and a two-edged sword in their hands,
To execute the judgments decreed for them-- such is the glory of all God's faithful. Hallelujah!

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 6,12-19.

In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
Letter to Proba on Prayer, 9-10

“He spent the night in communion with God.”

When the apostle Paul says: “Present your needs to God,” (Phil 4:6) that does not mean that we make them known to God, for he knows them even before they exist; it means rather that we will know whether our prayers are good by our patience and perseverance before God and not by prattling before men… Thus it is not forbidden or useless to pray a long time when this is possible, that is to say, when it does not prevent other good and necessary occupations; moreover, in doing these, we must always pray by desire, as I have said.

For if a person prays for a long time, it is not a rattling prayer (Mt 6:7), as some people think. Talking abundantly is one thing, loving for a long time is another. For it is written that the Lord himself “spent the night in prayer” and that he “prayed with all the greater intensity.” (Lk 22:44) He wanted to give us an example by praying for us in time, he who with his Father hears our prayers in eternity.

&n bsp;It is said that the monks in Egypt say frequent but very short prayers that are thrown like arrows, so as to prevent that the vigilant attention needed by those who pray become relaxed and dissolute by being prolonged too much… Prayer does not have to include many words, but much supplication; thus, it can be prolonged with fervent attention… To pray a lot means to knock for a long time and with all our heart at the door of him to whom we are praying (Lk 11:5f.). For prayer consists more in groaning and tears than in discourse and words.

Today the Church celebrates : St. Adelphus

Saint Athanasius : A healing on the Sabbath, a symbol of the fulfillment of creation

First Letter to the Corinthians 5,1-8.

It is widely reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans--a man living with his father's wife. And you are inflated with pride. Should you not rather have been sorrowful? The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst. I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed, in the name of (our) Lord Jesus: when you have gathered together and I am with you in spirit with the power of the Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not appropriate. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Psalms 5,5-7.12.

You are not a god who delights in evil; no wicked person finds refuge with you;
the arrogant cannot stand before you. You hate all who do evil;
you destroy all who speak falsely. Murderers and deceivers the LORD abhors.
Then all who take refuge in you will be glad and forever shout for joy. Protect them that you may be the joy of those who love your name.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 6,6-11.

On another sabbath he went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up and stand before us." And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" Looking around at them all, he then said to him, "Stretch out your hand." He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Athanasius (295-373), Bishop of Alexandria, Doctor of the Church
Against the Pagans

A healing on the Sabbath, a symbol of the fulfillment of creation

This world is very good as it was made and as we see it, because God wants it thus. No one could doubt this. If creation were in disorder, if the universe developed haphazardly, one could doubt that affirmation. But since the world was made with wisdom and knowledge, in a reasonable way, since it is decorated with every beauty, the one who presides over it and who organized it is necessarily none other than the Word of God…

Because this Word is the good word of the God of goodness, it is the Word that drew up the order of all things and united contraries with contraries, making of them one single harmony. It is he, “the power of God and the wisdom of God,” (1 Cor 1:24), who causes the heavens to turn and who hangs up the earth without resting it on anything (Heb 1:3). The sun gives light to the earth by means of the light, which it receives from him, and the moon receives its measure from its light. Through him, the water is hung in the clouds, rain gives water to the earth, the sea keeps to its limits, the earth is covered with plants of every kind (cf. Ps 104)…

The reason why this Word, the Word of God, came to creatures is truly admirable… The nature of created beings is transitory, weak, mortal; but because the God of the universe is good and excellent by nature, he loves humankind… So seeing that of itself, all of created nature passes and dissolves, in order to avoid that and so that the universe might not return to nothingness…, God does not abandon it to the fluctuations of its nature. In his goodness, by his Word, he governs and maintains all of creation… Thus it does not suffer the lot that would belong to it if the Word did not preserve it, that is to say annihilation. “He is the image of the Invisible God, the first-born of all creatures. In him everything was created… things visible and invisible… It is he who is head of … the church.” (Col 1:15-18)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Twenty-third Sunday in ordinary time, St. Nicholas of Tolentino

John Tauler : "He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

Book of Isaiah 35,4-7.

Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water; The abode where jackals lurk will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus.

Psalms 146,7-10.

secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free;
the LORD gives sight to the blind. The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD protects the stranger, sustains the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked.
The LORD shall reign forever, your God, Zion, through all generations! Hallelujah!

Letter of James 2,1-5.

My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Sit here, please," while you say to the poor one, "Stand there," or "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 7,31-37.

Again he left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, "Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!") And (immediately) the man's ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, "He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and (the) mute speak."

Commentary of the day :

John Tauler (1300-1361), Dominican.
Second Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity (Sermon 49)

"He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

It is very important to understand what makes men deaf. From the time that the first man opened his ears to the voice of the Enemy, he became deaf and all of us after him, so that we cannot hear or understand the sweet voice of the Eternal Word. Yet we know that the Eternal Word is still so unutterably near to us inwardly, in the very principle of our being, that not our humanity itself, our own nature, our own thoughts, nor anything that can be named or said or understood, is so near or planted so deep within us as the Eternal Word. It is ever speaking in us; but we do not hear it because of the deep deafness that has come upon us… Man’s faculties are so benumbed that he has become dumb, and does not know his own self. If he desired to speak of what is within him, he could not, for he does not know how it stands with him, nor can be discern his own ways and works…

What is this deeply hurtful whispering of the Enemy? It is every disordered image or suggestion that starts up in your mind, whether belonging to your creaturely desires and wishes, or this world and every thing that belongs to it; whether it be wealth, reputation, even friends or relations, or your own nature, or whatever lays hold of your imagination. Through all these things he has his access to your soul…

Now when our Lord comes and puts his finger into man’s ear and touches his tongue, how eloquent will he become!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Peter Claver

Pope Benedict XVI: "The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." (Lk 6:5)

First Letter to the Corinthians 4,9-15.

For as I see it, God has exhibited us apostles as the last of all, like people sentenced to death, since we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and human beings alike. We are fools on Christ's account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world's rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment. I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Psalms 145,17-21.

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.
You satisfy the desire of those who fear you; you hear their cry and save them.
You, LORD, watch over all who love you, but all the wicked you destroy.
My mouth will speak your praises, LORD; all flesh will bless your holy name forever.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 6,1-5.

While he was going through a field of grain on a sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?" Jesus said to them in reply, "Have you not read what David did when he and those (who were) with him were hungry? (How) he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions." Then he said to them, "The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath."

Commentary of the day :

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

"The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." (Lk 6:5)

The Eucharist is an essential part of Sunday… On Easter morning, first the women and then the disciples had the grace of seeing the Lord. From that moment on, they knew that the first day of the week, Sunday, would be his day, the day of Christ the Lord. The day when creation began became the day when creation was renewed. Creation and redemption belong together.

That is why Sunday is so important. It is good that today, in many cultures, Sunday is a free day, and is often combined with Saturday so as to constitute a "week-end" of free time. Yet this free time is empty if God is not present.

Dear friends! Sometimes, our initial impression is that having to include time for Mass on a Sunday is rather inconvenient. But if you make the effort, you will realize that this is what gives a proper focus to your free time. Do not be deterred from taking part in Sunday Mass, and help others to discover it too. This is because the Eucharist releases the joy that we need so much, and we must learn to grasp it ever more deeply, we must learn to love it. Let us pledge ourselves to do this - it is worth the effort! Let us discover the intimate riches of the Church's liturgy and its true greatness: it is not we who are celebrating for ourselves, but it is the living God himself who is preparing a banquet for us.