The 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
I Kings 19:16,19-21  +  Galatians 5:1,13-18  +  Luke 9:51-62
June 26, 2016

“He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem….”

All over the Wichita Diocese, many priests this past week were “on the road again”, to use the words of Willie Nelson, moving to new residences and taking up new assignments within the diocese.  However, while Mr. Nelson just couldn’t wait to get on the road again, most of our priests had mixed feelings about uprooting themselves and beginning again in a new part of the diocese.  Those mixed feelings come from, on the one hand, wanting to be faithful to the bishop’s plan for the diocese, and knowing from experience that change brings blessings eventually.  On the other hand, change is difficult, and the longer a priest had been in his previous assignment, the harder it is to leave.

We priests should count our blessings, though.  In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus explains to a would-be disciple that “‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head.’”  Most rectories, by contrast, have not only very fine mattresses, but pretty good recliners, as well (for mid-afternoon meditation)! Continue reading

Thursday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Sirach 48:1-14  +  Matthew 6:7-15
June 16, 2016

“…all gods are prostrate before Him.” [Psalm 97:7]

In the modern culture that surrounds us, the word “prostrate” has many negative connotations.  By contrast, within Catholic culture during the rite of ordination the ordinand lays prostrate on the ground.  He re-lives this ritual action every year on Good Friday, when at the beginning of the service he makes the same action.

Of course, there is at least one significant difference between those two acts of prostration within the Sacred Liturgy.  The Good Friday service commences in silence, and we might compare that silence to the silence in Garden of Gethsemani, as Jesus looked forward to what was about to happen to Him, similar to how the priest laying on the ground is mindful of the rites that will transpire throughout the course of the service, liturgically making present the sacred mysteries of Jesus’ Passion and Death. Continue reading

Friday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
I Kings 19:9,11-16  +  Matthew 5:27-32
June 10, 2016

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.”

“[Jesus] then goes on to correct the error of the Pharisees, declaring, “Whoso looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery already with her in his heart.” For the commandment of the Law, “Thou shalt not lust after thy neighbour’s wife,” [Ex 20:17] the Jews understood of taking her away, not of committing adultery with her.”

“For there are three things which make up a sin; suggestion either through the memory, or the present sense; if the thought of the pleasure of indulgence follows, that is an unlawful thought, and to be restrained; if you consent then, the sin is complete.  For prior to the first consent, the pleasure is either none or very slight, the consenting to which makes the sin.  But if consent proceeds on into overt act, then desire seems to be satiated and quenched. And when suggestion is again repeated, the contemplated pleasure is greater, which previous to habit formed was but small, but now more difficult to overcome.” Continue reading

Thursday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
I Kings 18:41-46  +  Matthew 5:20-26
June 9, 2016

“…you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:20]

Saint Augustine of Hippo states that:  “This expression, the kingdom of heaven, so often used by our Lord, I know not whether any one would find [it] in the books of the Old Testament.  It belongs properly to the New Testament revelation, kept for His mouth whom the Old Testament figured as a King that should come to reign over His servants.  This end, to which its precepts were to be referred, was hidden in the Old Testament, though even that had its saints who looked forward to the revelation that should be made.”

“For almost all the precepts which the Lord gave, saying, ‘But I say unto you,’ are found in those ancient books.  But because they knew not of any murder, besides the destruction of the body, the Lord shews them that every evil thought to the hurt of a brother is to be held for a kind of murder.” Continue reading

Wednesday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
I Kings 18:20-39  +  Matthew 5:17-19
June 8, 2016

“They multiply their sorrows who court other gods.” [Psalm 16:4]

Transcendence lies at the heart of the authentic spiritual life.  The Church’s teachings about “divinization”—teachings readily found in the Eastern Fathers, and becoming more appreciated in the West today—help us understand that God calls human persons to transcendence.  That’s not to say that the Christian ceases to be human in coming to share in the divinity of Christ.  We are not meant to transcend our human nature itself, any more than the Glorified and Ascended Christ sheds His human nature.  Nonetheless, the saint transcends his fallen human nature as he comes to share in a divinized humanity.

By contrast, every sin is a diminishment of the person who commits it.  The saint transcends, while the sinner descends.  The descent of the sinner is what the Psalmist describes in Psalm 16 when he sings:  “They multiply their sorrows who court other gods.” Continue reading

Tuesday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
I Kings 17:7-16  +  Matthew 5:13-16
June 7, 2016

“O Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!” [Psalm 4:7]

In yesterday’s Responsorial the Psalmist sang, “I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me?” [1]  St. Augustine helped us distinguish between the mountain that we’re climbing, and the light that illumines the mountain.  Today’s Responsorial, from Psalm 4, helps us fix our gaze upon this light.

“O Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!”  In the Creed, we profess that God the Son is “Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.”  This language describing the Father and Son as “light” is mysterious, even though the New Testament, most especially in the prologue of St. John’s Gospel account, uses the imagery of light to describe God. Continue reading

Monday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
I Kings 17:1-6  +  Matthew 5:1-12
June 6, 2016

“I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me?” [Psalm 121:1]

Today’s Responsorial is the entirety of Psalm 121, the second of the fifteen “Songs of Ascents”.  At the beginning of his exposition of Psalm 121, Saint Augustine of Hippo reminds us that these fifteen psalms “deal with our upward climb….  The ascent[, step by step,] is made in our hearts as we mount toward God through the valley of weeping, which symbolizes the humility of our very distressed condition.  The ascent can succeed for us only if we are first of all humbled and remember that it is from this valley that our climb must begin.”  Today’s Responsorial sings in the context of this climb. Continue reading

The 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
I Kings 17:17-24  +  Galatians 1:11-19  +  Luke 7:11-17
June 5, 2016

“A great prophet has arisen in our midst….”

Back here again in Ordinary Time, we might take up a very plain topic:  prayer.  How to pray?  What’s the best manner in which to pray?  How can someone improve his prayer?

Consider those questions from two perspectives:  your own perspective, and God’s perspective.  One very valid description of prayer is God and the believer gazing on each other.  For that matter, that’s what Heaven is about:  the believer eternally beholding the Beatific Vision of God, and God beholding His beloved child. Continue reading

Thursday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
2 Timothy 2:8-15  +  Mark 12:28-34
June 2, 2016

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.” [Psalm 25:5]

Yesterday I was tempted to continue the homily, about the “Songs of Ascents”, with a quotation from C. S. Lewis.  But the quote in question—which comes from his book titled Reflections on the Psalms—also relates well to today’s Responsorial Psalm, so consider this quote about the art of teaching:

“It often happens that two schoolboys can solve difficulties in their work for one another better than the master can.  When you took the problem to a master, as we all remember, he was very likely to explain what you understood already, to add a great deal of information which you didn’t want, and say nothing at all about the thing that was puzzling you. Continue reading