Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

Ordinary Time, Sundays 22-31, Year B

1997, 2000, 2003

Select liturgy here

SUNDAYS 22 - 24

SUNDAYS 25 - 27

SUNDAYS 28 - 31

 


SUNDAYS 22 - 24


TWENTY-SECOND Sunday

Deuteronomy 4, 1-2; 6-8; Psalm 15; James 1, 17-18. 21-22. 27;

St. Mark 7, 1-8. 14-15. 21-23

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Empty is the reverence they do me because they teach as dogmas mere human precepts." (Mk 7: 7)

Outrage over animal experimentation and silence in the face of the human holocaust of abortion. Proliferation of the sexist and abortifacient Depo Provera, Norplant and pill as millions languish in ignorance of the methods of natural birth regulation, the most effective and healthiest means of spacing or delaying births. Though more Americans go to church services each week than go to sports events in an entire year such reverence is empty while mere human precepts are taught as dogmas and the eternal laws of God are spurned and ignored.

The false gospel of "niceness" condemns those who speak out against the glorification of fornication, whether homosexual or heterosexual. A human precept, that of never offending anyone under any circumstances to seek human respect, has been transformed into a commandment, while God's law of chastity is ignored. The false gospel of the culture of death enshrines the evil "choice" of one human being to murder another in the womb, while God's eternal commandment "thou shalt not kill" is forgotten.

There will be no forgetting on the day of judgment, for then the secrets of all hearts will be revealed. On that day there will be no concealing the "wicked designs that come from the deep recesses of the heart: acts of fornication, theft, murder, adulterous conduct, greed, maliciousness, deceit, sensuality, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, an obtuse spirit." (Mk 7: 21-22) It is such actions as these of which Christ says: "This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me." (Mk 7:6) Their cry of rebellion is like that of the devil: "I will not serve."

The Jewish people and their spiritual leaders viewed Jesus as a rabbi. (Cf. Jn 11:28; 3:2; Mt 22:23-24, 34-36) He often argued within the framework of rabbinical interpretation of the law. (Cf. Mt 12:5; 9:12; Mk 2: 23-27; Lk 6: 6-9; Jn 7: 22-23) Yet Jesus could not help but offend the teachers of the Law, for he was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people "as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." (Mt. 7:28-29) In Jesus, the same Word of God, that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes. (Cf. Mt 5:1) Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: "You have heard it was said to the men of old...But I say to you..."(Mt 5: 33-34) With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the Pharisees that were "making void the word of God." (Mk 7:13; cf. 3:8) (CCC 581)

Christ commanded the Apostles "go teach all nations". (Mt 28:19-20) They do so today in the Church and in her teaching authority, the Magisterium. To turn a deaf ear to the teaching Church is to turn a deaf ear to Jesus Christ the Lord for he said to the Apostles and to their successors, the pope and his brother bishops in union with him, "He who hears you, hears me."

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also paragraphs 582, 2196 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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TWENTY-THIRD Sunday

Isaiah 35, 4-7; Psalm 146; James 2, 1-5; St. Mark 7, 31-37

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech...And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears , and he spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly." (St. Mark 7. 32-35.)

The Gospels are filled with the evidence of the sacramental system initiated by Christ. As incarnate God he uses physical reality, the gifts of God's creation, as signs to bear the grace of supernatural life. All of creation is wrapped up in the proclamation of redemption.

In his preaching the Lord Jesus often makes use of the signs of creation to make known the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. (Cf. St. Luke 8. 10.) He performs healings and illustrates his preaching with physical signs or symbolic gestures. (Cf. St. John 9:6; St. Mark 7:33 ff.; 8:22 ff.) He gives new meaning to the deeds and signs of the Old Covenant, above all to the Exodus and the Passover, (Cf. St. Luke 9:31; 22:7-20.) for he himself is the meaning of all these signs. (CCC 1151)

In the Baptismal ritual the priest continues this ordering of creation as a sign of salvation when he repeats the blessing "Ephphatha! Be opened!" over the ears and mouth of the newly baptized child. May the Lord open our ears to truly hear the Gospel and our mouths to proclaim our faith to the glory of God the Father.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy"---Father Cusick

(See also paragraphs 1151 and 1504 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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TWENTY-FOURTH Sunday

Isaiah 50, 4-9; Psalm 116; James 2, 14-18; St. Mark 8, 27-35

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Church has pored over the Holy Scriptures for nearly two thousand years, and has received the Old Testament from the Jewish people, who themselves have loved and studied the Word of God from the time of Abraham around 1700 BC. Jesus himself interpreted the Scriptures for us, so tat we might fully understand that he is Messiah and Lord. His Lordship is established by his victory over sin in his suffering, Passion, death and Resurrection.

The Church remains faithful to the interpretation of "all the Scriptures" that Jesus gave both before and after his Passover: "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Lk 24:26-27, 44-45) Jesus' sufferings took their historical, concrete form from the fact that he was "rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes," who handed "him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified." (Mk 8:31; Mt 20:19) (CCC 572)

Faith can therefore try to examine the circumstances of Jesus' death, faithfully handed on by the Gospels (Cf. Dei Verbum 19) and illuminated by other historical sources, the better to understand the meaning of the Redemption. (CCC 573)

We look to the Scriptures where the Lord reveals himself so as to nurture our relationship with him. Read and ponder the Scriptures daily, particularly in the sacred Liturgy where Christ truly speaks to us again and again if we will hear him.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

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SUNDAYS 25 - 27


TWENTY-FIFTH Sunday

Wisdom 2, 12. 17-20; Psalm 54:3-5, 6-8; James 3, 16 - 4, 3; St. Mark 9, 30-37

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The way in which a people welcomes the least among them determines their own goodness.

When the Apostles, giving in to pride, begin to argue among themselves as to who among them is the greatest, the Lord calls a child into their midst and thus begins to teach them the contradiction of the Christian life: "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." Every one who would be saved must welcome and love the smallest unborn child, the least of the poor, the abandoned, the rejected.

This humility and selflessness is a necessity of life in Christ because authentic charity will never fail to inspire it. One cannot love others in the proper way unless one is first prepared to disregard oneself enough to care for and love others by serving them before one serves oneself, by seeing to others' needs before one seeks to satisfy ones' own needs.

Charity is evidence of the indwelling of God himself in the person of the Holy Trinity, for "love has been poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

Christ died out of love for us, while we were still"enemies." (Rom 5:10) The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself. (Cf. Mt 5:44; Lk 10:27-37; Mk 9:37; Mt 25:40, 45)

The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: "charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1`Cor 13:4-7) (CCC 1825)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also paragraphs 474 and 557 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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TWENTY-SIXTH Sunday

Numbers 11, 25-29; Psalm 19: 8, 10, 12-14; James 5, 1-6; St. Mark 9, 38-43. 45. 47-48

Some think that the preaching of the Church should not include the mention of hell. The Church requires the priest or deacon to preach on the text of te Scriptures, and in our Gospel not only does the Lord mention the existence of hell, he goes on to describe this state of final and everlasting separation from the love and goodness of God. The Church, in faithfulness to the Lord, teaches about the existence of hell and preaches about it because the Lord himself spoke of its existence.

To have a distaste for the discussion of hell or the reality of evil is the choice of the individual. We are called, though, not merely to be good such that we have a distaste for evil or for speaking about it; we are made to be holy as God is holy, and therefore to be satisfied not merely with being good but, much more, to long to be saints. The saints faced the reality of hell by taking responsibility for their moral choices and for availing themselves of Christ's mercy in Confession and the Eucharist on a frequent basis.

The Lord teaches the people in our Gospel about the reality of hell in order to inform them that they must take responsibility for their actions and realize that they can choose to be eternally separated from God and all that is good. He teaches that free and wholehearted service to the poor, the hungry and the thirsty are the good works which reflect interior holiness. He teaches that scandalizing those whose faith is weak is a mortal sin, punishable by the greatest of penalties. We are to avoid sin and scandal by rejecting the near occasions of sin. And if we fail to root sin out of our lives, it is by our own choice that we "go to hell, to the unquenchable fire."

Jesus often speaks of Gehenna, of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. (Cf. Mt 5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50; Mk 9:43-48) Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather...all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"(Mt 13:41-42) and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!" (Mt 25:41) (CCC 1034)

  There is no middle way: we either go to heaven, perhaps by way of a purification from our attachment to sin, called purgatory, or we are consigned to hell "where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." These are words of love, given to us while there is still time to reform our lives.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also paragraphs 1034 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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The "Gospel of Nice" or the "Gospel of Christ"
By Father Kevin M. Cusick

In our times has arisen a false Gospel, the "gospel of Nice" which has won many hearts and minds to its misguided ethic. Among those are many who mistake such for a kind of Christianity. To think that assuaging the feelings of others is most important, kinder or more loving for others than seeking their salvation, is not truly love at all.

The "Gospel of Nice" never mentions "hell" because it might hurt another's feelings and never corrects another for fear of losing human respect or friendship. Such a false ethic values external conformity to God's Laws over internal assent to the truth with the intellect and will. A false irenicism seeks an illusory peace by placing God's will for the salvation of all mankind second to pleasing the human craving for approval or pursuing the desires of the human will run amok.

The Church's mission given by the Lord is very clear: the salvation of souls is the highest law of the Church. This end guides every other decision in the life of the Church. Along with this are the means given by Christ to the Church for her role in the world. Scripture and Tradition stand together as the sources of Revelation, the truth which guides the Church in matters of faith and morals.

Some think that the preaching of the Church should not include the mention of hell. The Church requires the priest or deacon to preach on the text of the Scriptures, and in our Gospel not only does the Lord mention the existence of hell, he goes on to describe the pain of this state of final and everlasting separation from the love and goodness of God. The Church, in faithfulness to the Lord, teaches about the existence of hell and preaches about it because the Lord himself spoke of its existence.

To have a distaste for the discussion of hell or the reality of evil is a natural inclination. The Gospel, however, is about the natural transformed by and informed by the supernatural. In order to "come to full stature" in the Lord we must go beyond nature with its wants and needs and know clearly what is evil so as to reject it and to love what is God so as to accept and do it. We are called, not merely to be good such that we have a distaste for evil and for speaking about it; we are made to be holy as God is holy, and therefore to be satisfied not merely with being good but, much more, to long to be saints. The saints faced the reality of hell by taking responsibility for theit moral choices and for availing themselves of Christ's mercy in Confession and the Eucharist on a frequent basis.

The Lord teaches the people in His Gospel about the reality of hell in order to inform them that they must take responsibility for their actions and realize that they can choose to be eternally separated from God and all that is good. He teaches that free and wholehearted service to the poor, the hungry and the thirsty are the good works which reflect interior holiness. He teaches that scandalizing those whose faith is weak is a mortal sin, punishable by the greatest of penalties. We are to avoid sin and scandal by rejecting the near occasions for sin. Every intention of sorrow for past sin should include a firm intention to avoid the people, places and things that have led us to sin in the past. And if we fail to root sin out of our lives, it is by our own choice that we "go to hell, to the unquenchable fire."

Jesus often talks of Gehenna, of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and to be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. (Cf. Mr. 5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50;; Mk 9:43-48) Jesus solemnly proclaims that He "will send his angels, and they will gather all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire." (Mt 13:41-42) and that he will pronounce the condemnation: 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!' (Mt 25:41)" (CCC 1034)

The Church teaches the truth of Christ. There is no middle way: we either go to heaven, perhaps by way of a purification from our attachment to sin, called purgatory, or we are consigned to hell "where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." These are words of love, given to us while there is still time to reform our lives.

(See also paragraph 1034 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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TWENTY-SEVENTH Sunday

Genesis 2, 18-24; Psalm 128; Hebrews 2, 9-11; St. Mark 10, 2-16

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Church in the United States grants more annulments each year than are granted in the rest of the world combined. It is legitimate to question these numbers and many are doing so. Human error, misjudgment and insincerity are constant factors in such a sensitive area. But aside from this, Christ's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, that it is exclusive and for life, stands and is built upon the truth that there is no such thing as marriage without the entire and sincere gift of self, man for woman and woman for man.

The married couple forms "the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent." (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes 48, 1) Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. The covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble. (Cf. Code of Canon Law, 1056) "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." (Mk 10:9; cf. Mt 19:1-12; 1 Cor 7:10-11) (CCC 2364)

It is because of this truth, that God has made marriage the total gift of self at each moment and unto death, that Pope Paul VI spoke for Christ when he taught in the document Humanae Vitae, (HV), that every use of artificial contraception is a moral evil.

By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man's exalted vocation to parenthood." (Cf. Humanae Vitae 12) (CCC 2369) Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. (HV 16) These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil." (HV 14) (CCC 2370)

There can be no total gift of self without the mutual giving of fertility.

Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God, (Cf. Eph 3:14; Mt 23:9) (CCC 2367) A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of births. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality: When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart. (GS 50, 2) (CCC 2368)

Marriage "until death do us part" begins with the total giving of spouses in each marital act. Only such love is open to the grace of God by which marriage is made faithful, generous and life-long.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also CCC 699, 1244, 1261, 1627, 1639, 1650, 2380, 2382)

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SUNDAYS 28 - 31


TWENTY-EIGHTH Sunday
Wisdom 7, 7-11; Psalm 90, 12-17; Hebrews 4, 12-13; St. Mark 10, 17-30
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Called away from the world and all it holds and called to God. These are detachment and vocation, constants in each of our lives.
We are called away from some things in our world, as the Lord called the rich young man away from his possessions. We are called toward the Lord Jesus, to follow him unreservedly, as the young man was unable to do when he walked away in sadness from the Lord who beheld him with love.
Our vocations differ, whether to be priests and religious or laity, single or married. In order to respond wholeheartedly to each of these callings some things must be left behind so that one can make room for God in one's heart and mind.
Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them "renounce all that [they have]" for his sake and that of the Gospel. (Lk 14:33; cf. Mk 8:35.) Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. (Cf. Lk 21:4) The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven. (CCC 2544).
The gift of vocation is for one's own sanctity and others, that all may see God. All are to practice some form of detachment in their use of the things of this world, for the God who gave this world and all it holds calls us to himself by means of these things.
All Christ's faithful are to "direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty." (LG 42, art. 3) (CCC 2545)
"How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God." (Mk 10, 23)
The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods. (Lk 6, 24) "Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven." (St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. in monte.) Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow. (Cf. Mt 6:25-34) Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God. (CCC 2547)
Peter began to say to him, "Lo, we have left everything to follow you." Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life." (Mk 10, 28-30)
Married men and women leave behind the pursuit of wealth and material things to love and support their chidlren should God so bless them. Priests leave behind wife and family to work singleheartedly for the Kingdom. Men and women religious renounce all personal money and property as well as marriage in order to follow Christ most perfectly in this life.
Let us pray for all that they may follow their vocations with generosity and joy, and for ourselves that we may hear the Lord when he calls us and be prepared to generously follow him.
I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also CCC 1618, 1858, 2728. )

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TWENTY-NINTH Sunday

Isaiah 53, 10-11; Psalm 33, 4-5, 18-20, 22; Hebrews 4, 14-16; St. Mark 10, 35-45

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When you pray, do you "ask for the world"? Don't stop there, ask for heaven as well!

James and John approach the Lord boldly: "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." Our Lord's invites them, "What do you want me to do for you?" They have repeatedly experienced his supernatural powers and they have deep faith that he can grant their greatest wish: not only a place in the next world, but nothing less than seats at his right and his left in the kingdom!

St. Teresa of Avila teaches the proper attitude for us as we approach the Lord with our requests: "His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us; it is not for us to advise him what to give us, for he can rightly reply that we know not what we ask. "(Mansions, II, 8)

Our focus in prayer is properly the Kingdom, to seek the coming of the Kingdom as our Lord taught us. But the door to the heavenly reign is through suffering and service. The Lord will be glorified in heaven because he is the suffering Servant, whose suffering is the perfect offering which will take away the sin of the world. When we pray for a high place in heaven, how little we realize that we are also asking for a share in the cup of the Lord's suffering and baptism into his servanthood. Jesus is the Lamb of God and we are blessed to be worthy to receive him, to be"called to the Supper of the Lamb". (The Communion Rite in the Order of Mass.)

St. John the Baptist hailed the Lord as the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for sins. The priest does the same in the liturgy, as he holds the consecrated host aloft and repeats the proclamation of the Baptist, inviting all to adore the Eucharistic Lord.

After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (Jn 1:29; cf. Lk 3:21; Mt 3:14-15; Jn 1:36) By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel's redemption at the first Passover. (Isa 53:7, 12; cf. Jer 11:19; Ex 12:3-14; Jn 19:36; 1 Cor 5:7) Christ's whole life expresses his mission: "to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mk 10:45) (CCC 608)

If we share the desire of James and John for a high place in heaven, to be a great saint, perhaps our first prayer should be for the grace to accept our own share in the Lord's suffering, to accept the crosses that are given to us, not merely the ones we choose for ourselves. This is to be servants in imitation of the Lord and for his sake, not seeking a return but seeing in Christian dignity its own reward and the vocation to be "other Christs".

This dignity is expressed in readiness to serve, in keeping with the example of Christ, who 'came not to be served but to serve.' If, in the light of this attitude of Christ's, 'being a king' is truly possible only by 'being a servant', then 'being a servant' also demands so much spiritual maturity that it must really be described as 'being a king.' In order to be able to serve others worthily and effectively we must be able to master ourselves, possess the virtues that make this mastery possible. (John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, 21).

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also paragraph 608 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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THIRTIETH Sunday

Jeremiah 31, 7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5, 1-6; St. Mark 10, 46-52

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ walks the streets of the ancient city of Jericho in our Gospel, already thousands of years old in his own day. With his disciples and a great crowd following him, our Lord is leaving the city and Bartimaeus the blind beggar calls out to him in dire need: "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" His prayer, of abasement before the divine Goodness, teaches us to recognize our own utter neediness before almighty God. The blind, the handicapped, all those who labor under physical suffering are blessed, for they have a constant reminder before their eyes of their complete dependence upon God and of the primary need for forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. The gift of prayer is given so that we might respond with honesty to God, with unclouded recognition that every one of us is a Bartimaeus, suffering from blindness, physical or spiritual, and that we need the mercy of God to enlighten us, give us the true vision to see ourselves as we are and to accept the mercy and life of God to fill our emptiness. Our Christian love draws us in prayer and in life to make an effective offering of self, after the Lord's example. (CCC 459)

In the living tradition of prayer, each Church proposes to its faithful, according to its historic, social, and cultural context, a language for prayer: words, melodies, gestures, iconography. The Magisterium of the Church (Cf. DV 10) has the task of discerning the fidelity of these ways of praying to the tradition of apostolic faith; it is for pastors and catechists to explain their meaning, always in relation to Jesus Christ. (CCC 2663)

There is no other way of Christian prayer than Christ. Whether our prayer is communal or personal, vocal or interior, it has access to the Father only if we pray "in the name" of Jesus. The sacred humanity of Jesus is therefore the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father. (CCC 2664)

But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: "Jesus," "YHWH saves." (Cf. Ex 3: 14; 33: 19-23; Mt 1: 21) The name "Jesus" contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray "Jesus" is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him. (Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20) (CCC 2666)

This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners." It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light. (Cf. Mk 10: 46-52; Lk 18:13) By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior's mercy. (CCC 2667)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also CCC 548, 2616.)

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THIRTY-FIRST Sunday

Deuteronomy 6, 2-6; Psalm 18; Hebrews 7, 23-28; St. Mark 12, 28-34

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ reveals the eternal desire of God to engage us most intimately, in the depths of our hearts, in the whole of our minds, with every fiber of our strength. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mk 12, 30)

St. Francis de Sales aids us in our meditation.

Would it not have sufficed to publish a permission giving us leave to love him?...; he makes a stronger declaration of his passionate love of us, and commands us to love him with all our power, lest the consideration of his majesty and our misery, which make so great a distance and inequality between us, or some other pretext, divert us from his love. In this he well shows that he did not leave in us for nothing the natural inclination to love him, for to the end it may not be idle, he urges us by his general commandment to employ it, and that this commandment may be effected, he leaves no living man without furnishing him abundantly with all means requisite thereto." (Treatise on the love of God, book 2, chap. 8).

Many may command our obedience in this life, but none shall command us so sweetly: to love infinite Love. And never shall any return what is commanded as God ever does. He commands us and invites us not only to love, that prize which we most desire in this life, but by loving now to look forward to eternal enjoyment the infinite fires of a love which burns higher, brighter and greater than any love this world can offer.

How is this love of God fulfilled? How do we begin to make a return to God of the infinite and redeeming love revealed in Christ Jesus? In a very practical way. A way that is open to every man and woman. The "Way" of Christ in the keeping of the commandments. The first of the Ten Commandments calls us to the love of God and the other nine give us practical guidance as to how we think, and speak and act in love of God every day.

God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the "ten words." The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God. (CCC 2083)
The Roman Catechism: "The first commandment embraces faith, hope, and charity. When we say 'God' we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent...Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us? Hence the formula God employs in the Scripture at the beginning and end of his commandments: 'I am the LORD.' " (CCC 2086)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

See also CCC 129, 202, 228, 575, 2196,
(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/