Friday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Friday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time [II]
James 5:9-12  +  Mark 10:1-12
May 20, 2016

“He crowns you with kindness and compassion.” [Psalm 103:4]

One of my brothers-in-law is a deacon in the Coptic Orthodox Church.  During the more than thirty years that he and my sister have been married I’ve had several opportunities to witness the Coptic Divine Liturgy.  Those experiences have shaped my understanding and celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in the Roman rite of the Catholic Church.

One of the verses of today’s Responsorial Psalm evoked a memory from those celebration of the Coptic Divine Liturgy.  During each of my nieces’ weddings, the bride and groom were literally crowned, and vested in royal garments (resembling copes).  This wedding ritual points to the royal mission of Christ in which bride and groom share in a unique way through Holy Matrimony.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm speaks to the royal mission in which every Christian shares by virtue of his baptism.  In Psalm 103 the Psalmist proclaims to his own soul that the Lord “crowns [the soul] with kindness and compassion.”  St. Augustine’s translation is:  “He crowns you in His pity and mercy.”  The Doctor of Grace rhetorically asks those listening:  “You began to be arrogant, did you, when you heard those first words, ‘He crowns you’?”

St. Augustine continues:  You say, “‘how important I am:  that I acquitted myself well in the fight [against evil]!’  But in whose strength did you contend?  Your own, yes, but supplied by Him.  It is evident that you are wrestling, and because you will overcome, you will be crowned; but consider who overcame in the first place, making you a victor after Him.  ‘Be glad,’ [Jesus] said, ‘for I have overcome the world’.[1]

“We were vanquished in ourselves, but victors in Him.  He therefore puts the wreath[, that is, the crown of victory,] on you, because He crowns His own gifts, not your merits.”

[1] John 16:33.