Friday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Friday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Exodus 11:10—12:14  +  Matthew 12:1-8
July 19, 2019

   “This day shall be a memorial feast for you….”   

During Lent we hear many passages in the Sacred Liturgy about the Exodus of ancient Israel.  During these days of Ordinary Time in which we are hearing of Moses’ vocation, there is more hop-scotching through these narratives.  From yesterday’s to today’s weekday Mass, we jump from Moses in front of the burning bush to the final of the ten plagues by which God forced the hand of Pharaoh.

The majority of today’s First Reading is the Lord speaking, instituting the sacred Passover.  Much of what the Lord says seems “merely” instructive, giving details about how to celebrate the Passover.  Saints of the Church have looked deeply into these details and made many insightful observations about how these instructions for celebrating the Passover relate to theological truths of our Judaeo-Christian tradition.  But here, focus on the last sentence that the Lord speaks in today’s First Reading.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution.”  From this single sentence packed with religious meaning, consider only the last phrase.  The Passover is “a perpetual institution.”  How do we as Christians understand this?  The Passover was transformed by the Messiah, on the evening before He was crucified, into the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  Read today’s passage from Exodus, and all the Lord’s particular instructions, with this in mind.

OT 15-5 YEAR I

Thursday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Thursday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Exodus 3:13-20  +  Matthew 11:28-30
July 18, 2019

   God replied, “I am who am.”   

We often take for granted the power of names.  Two examples can illustrate this simple truth.  Many of us had the experience when little of our parents calling us by our full name:  first, middle, and last.  This was generally not a good thing.  Secondly, when someone is angry with you, it’s a very powerful expression of anger when that person calls out your name in anger.  Hearing your name called out in anger can easily rattle you.

At the same time, the use of names can also be a strong force for good.  Reflect on the use of one’s full name (or at least, one’s first and middle names) at one’s baptism, and the taking of an additional name at Confirmation, and the holy custom of a bride taking her husband’s surname to express the unity created by God through Holy Matrimony.

As important as human names are, the divine Name is infinitely more important.  It’s not much of a stretch to say that of all the Commandments, the Second is the least understood, and the one most often broken by Christians.  In today’s First Reading, God gives the gift of His Holy Name to Moses.  He entrusts it to them to use rightly.

There are only two valid reasons to speak the name of God (including the Holy Name of Jesus):  for prayer, and for teaching.  Any other use is sinful, because any other use is “in vain”.  It’s obvious to us that speaking the Name of “God” or “Jesus” in anger is sinful.  But so is speaking these names casually:  that is, to express boredom, impatience, and/or frustration.  Christians have the obligation to teach this to their children and grandchildren, in part by turning off media that violate this commandment.

OT 15-4 YEAR I

Wednesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Wednesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12  +  Matthew 11:25-27
July 17, 2019

   “Come no nearer!  Remove the sandals from your feet….”   

Both the First Reading and the Gospel Reading today proclaim the power of divine revelation.  Jesus in today’s Gospel Reading makes an exclamation to His Father, something rare in the four Gospel accounts.  During this exclamation, Jesus says, “no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Reflect on Jesus’ exclamation in light of today’s First Reading.  This week we’re hearing some of the most profound readings of the Old Testament.  The origin of Moses’ vocation has been a treasure-trove for saints who’ve wanted to explore the riches of the Christian Faith.  Today’s passage from Moses’ “vocation story” proclaims the “what and how” of God revealing Moses’ vocation.  What do Jesus’ words today have to do with Moses’ “vocation story”?

In today’s passage from Exodus, God the Son wishes to reveal His Father.  That might seem an odd claim.  Nowhere does the God who speaks in the third chapter of Exodus say that He is either God the Father or God the Son.  There is, of course, no notion of “God the Son” in the Old Testament.

Nonetheless, we can begin today to consider how God the Son wishes to reveal the Father to Moses by considering that God is calling Moses—through Moses’ vocation to liberate Israel—to be His son.  In this, Moses’ fidelity or infidelity to his vocation can be measured by the degree to which Moses’ thoughts, words and actions correspond to those of Jesus Christ in His vocation.  Reflect on this in the coming days as we continue to hear from Exodus at weekday Mass.


Tuesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Tuesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Exodus 2:1-15  +  Matthew 11:20-24
July 16, 2019

   …she said, “I drew him out of the water.”   

Today’s First Reading gives us the “origin story” of Moses.  The Bible does not tell us the names of Moses’ parents, but the first sentence of today’s passage reveals that both of them were of the house of Levi.  The Levites were the priestly tribe of Israel.  Right off the bat, this foreshadows something important about the role that Moses will play in salvation history.

Likewise, Moses is put by his mother into the river.  In a sense, his mother has observed the Pharaoh’s evil command to throw every boy into the river, but his mother uses papyrus, bitumen and pitch to prevent her son from drowning.  The Pharaoh’s daughter adopts the son and makes him her own, naming him Moses, which literally means, “I drew him out of the water.”

Although it might first seem odd, here the Pharaoh’s daughter’s actions reflect God’s saving action, especially as He begets and names Christians through the waters of baptism.  These waters represent both the destructive power of sin and the cleansing power of grace.

The last section of today’s First Reading leaps forward to Moses’ youth.  The actions and interactions here foreshadow Moses’ role in salvation history.  In the conflict between Egypt and Israel, Moses defends his native people.  Yet Moses is forced to flee as a consequence of his defense.  Nonetheless, this flight is part of God’s Providence, as Moses’ flight leads God’s People to the land for which they were born.

OLMC apparition-of-the-virgin-to-st-simon-stock-tiepolo-giovanni-battista
Today is the optional memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Apparition of the Virgin to St. Simon Stock
by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696—1770)

St. Bonaventure, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

St. Bonaventure, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Exodus 1:8-14,22  +  Matthew 10:34—11:1
July 15, 2019

   The Egyptians, then, dreaded the children of Israel and reduced them to cruel slavery….   

Today we begin at weekday Mass to hear from the Book of Exodus.  We’ll continue to hear from this book for about three weeks.  Today’s passage from Exodus is from its first chapter.  Moses does not appear.  What we hear today forms the backdrop for his entrance.

The “whole cruel fate of slaves” is described at length.  While we in our modern day might consider the description of the Israelites’ slavery very sad, it seems at a remove from our culture of affluence and independence.  At least, this might seem so until we take this historical description and apply it to the Christian spiritual life.  By doing this, we can see what Exodus tells us here as an illumination of the slavery to which sin subjects the sinner.

In order to ensure the success of his regime of slavery, the Pharaoh at the end of today’s passage issues a command.  Every boy born to the Hebrews is to be thrown into the river.  This river historically foreshadows the Red Sea, in which the Egyptian power over the Israelites is destroyed.  But the river spiritually foreshadows the waters of Baptism, in which the power of sin over Christians is destroyed.  In the light of this double foreshadowing, we begin to see how Moses himself foreshadows Jesus.

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Deut 30:10-14  +  Col 1:15-20  +  Lk 10:25-37
July 14, 2019

“And who is my neighbor?” 

In the year of Our Lord 529, Saint Benedict laid the foundation for one of the greater monasteries in the history of the Catholic Church.  Monte Cassino, southeast of Rome, is both very accessible and very easy to spot as you journey towards it.  It sits on the crest of a small mountain, surrounded on three sides by valleys.

One of Father Benedict’s most famous rules for his monks is that “in the person of the stranger, Christ is served”.  Every person who knocks on the doors of a monastery is to be treated as if it were Jesus himself knocking on the door.  Every year on July 11th, the Church celebrates one of the feast days of Saint Benedict, the father of monastic life in the West.  St. Benedict exemplified in his life the invitation that Christ is making to the lawyer in today’s Gospel passage.  Christ makes this same invitation to you and me.

Members of the Benedictine religious order, like all members of religious orders, take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  The Benedictines, however, also take a fourth vow which distinguishes them:  the vow of stability.

Benedictines are “tied” both to each other and to the stranger who finds them.  That is what the parable of the Good Samaritan is about:  being tied, being bound, being wedded to others.

We might imagine what was in this lawyer’s mind as he asked Jesus what he must “do to inherit eternal life”.  Likewise, it’s easy to guess what sort of answer he was hoping to hear when he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Most likely he wanted Jesus to say something like:  “Anyone within a one-mile radius is your neighbor.”  In that case, the lawyer would have moved into a deserted area where he could buy four square miles, so that he could plant his house in the middle and have no one any closer than a mile to him.  In other words, the passage implies that the lawyer asked his question in order to isolate himself from others.  But Jesus’ parable only forces him—and us—into even closer contact with others.  Jesus does this by telling His parable about the Good Samaritan.

To us today, the phrase “good Samaritan” is a common part of our Western culture.  A “good Samaritan” is someone who helps another in need.  This phrase, however, didn’t have that sort of meaning within the culture in which Jesus and the lawyer lived.  To them, the phrase “good Samaritan” was an oxymoron, like talking about a “square circle” or a “good devil”.  The idea of a “good Samaritan” was inconceivable to Jewish people of Jesus’ day, because the Samaritans were sworn enemies of anyone like Jesus who worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem.  The idea that a Samaritan would help someone going down to Jerusalem was beyond belief.

So the brief moral of this parable is that the person who’s looking to limit his love doesn’t know what love is really about.  Putting limits upon whom we “have to love” is like saying that God loves some persons, but not others.  But we know that God loves everyone, even if you and I do not always love everyone.  We need to realize, then:  if God loves someone, we should also, since we’re supposed to live in the Image and likeness of God.  If there’s someone whom we do not love, that says that we’re not living our lives in the same way that God does.

click HERE to watch Jeff Cavins’ reflection for this liturgical Sunday (6:13)

click HERE to read a reflection for this Sunday by the Pontifical Household preacher,
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa

click HERE to watch the homily of Archbishop Anthony Fisher, O.P. for this Sunday (13:26)

+     +     +

click HERE to read Pope Francis’ 2016 Angelus address for this Sunday

click HERE to read Pope Emeritus Benedict’s 2007 Angelus address for this Sunday

click HERE to read St. John Paul II’s reflection upon the Good Samaritan in his 1984 apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris

OT 15-0C

Saturday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Saturday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Genesis 49:29-32; 50:15-26  +  Matthew 10:24-33
July 13, 2019

   “…not one [sparrow] falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.”   

Jesus preaches today about Our Father’s providential knowledge and will.  God knows all things.  We know this abstractly, but perhaps we fail to consider all that this truth of our Faith means. Continue reading

Friday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Friday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Genesis 46:1-7,28-30  +  Matthew 10:16-23
July 12, 2019

   “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves….”   

Jesus was always realistic during His earthly life.  So it’s no surprise that He says to His Apostles, “I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves”.   His words were true in the first century, and are so also today. Continue reading

St. Benedict of Norcia

St. Benedict of Norcia
Genesis 44:18-21,23b-29;45:1-5  +  Matthew 10:7-15
July 11, 2019

   “Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.”   

One of the items on my “bucket list” is to spend a considerable amount of time writing about The City of God by St. Augustine of Hippo.  He lived in a cultural setting similar to ours.  The book is a contrast between the City of God and the city of man.  His comparison of the two leads to many reflections on the nature of divine Providence.  Many of these reflections consider how God chooses to bring moral good out of moral evil. Continue reading