meeting Christ in the liturgy library

Season of PENTECOST

18th through 24th Sundays after Pentecost

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18th Sunday after Pentecost

19th Sunday after Pentecost

20th Sunday after Pentecost

21st Sunday after Pentecost

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

23rd Sunday after Pentecost

Last Sunday after Pentecost

 

18th Sunday after Pentecost

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1. 4-8; Gospel: St. Matthew 9. 1-8

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When the people bring a paralytic to Jesus, he sees their faith, not merely in his ability to heal but in his divine power by which he is able to heal. They encounter God and consent to his omnipotence. And so, pleased with their faith, he condescends to use his power to answer their wishes. "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." But unexpectedly, he heals first not the paralysis, but the true cause of the malady: the state of sin from which all disease and suffering flows.

Upon hearing this, some of the scribes accuse the Lord of blasphemy.

Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God-inwardly or outwardly-words of hatred, reproach or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one's speech; in misusing God's name. St. James condemns those "who blaspheme that honorable name [of Jesus] by which you are called." (James 2:7) The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ's Church, the saints, and sacred things. It is also blasphemous to make use of God's name to cover up criminal practices, to reduce peoples to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death. The misuse of God's name to commit a crime can provoke others to repudiate religion.

Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin. (CCC 2148)

The lack of faith of the scribes, who do not encounter God in Christ, forces them to conclude that Christ is sinfully invoking the name and power of God for himself and so compound their sin.

Lord, may we ever encounter you fully as God and man and so receive the many blessings in the healing and power of faith.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy"---Father Cusick ( Publish with permission.) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


19th Sunday after Pentecost 

Epistle: Ephesians 4. 23-28; Gospel: St. Matthew 22. 1-14

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our response as we hear Christ's parable of the king and the wedding feast is one of consternation. How can it be that anyone would refuse the king's invitation to his wedding banquet? What possible reason could there be for spurning such a condescension?

The kingdom of God is infinitely greater than even the greatest of wedding banquets. And yet our King's invitations are rejected every time his Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are rejected. "He who hears you, hears me." Christ sends these and so many others to invite us to share in Redemption now so that the heavenly wedding banquet of the Lamb may be ours when we die. If we should decide now that we truly desire the Kingdom, that we will follow the truths taught by Christ's Vicar, our Holy Father, and all those in union with him, then Christ makes clear, we will not succeed unless we give all by embracing the whole truth.

Jesus' invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. (Cf. Mk 4:33-34) Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. (Cf. Mt 13:44-45; 22:1-14) Words are not enough; deeds are required. (Cf. Mt 21:28-32) The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? (Cf. Mt 13:3-9) What use has he made of the talents he has received? (Cf. Mt 25:14-30) Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven"(Mt 13:11) For those who stay outside everything remains enigmatic. (Mk 4:11; cf. Mt 13:10-15) (CCC 546)

All or nothing. Christianity is not a compromise, it is a relationship of love. Can we say that we love the Lord, that he is truly "Lord", if we hold back any thing from him? Divine love is demanding, but the infinite joy and happiness of the reward of the kingdom is the "pearl of great price" for which we must pay with nothing less than all that we have to give.

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

(See also CCC 796.)

( Publish with permission.) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


20th Sunday after Pentecost

Epistle: Ephesians 5. 15-21; Gospel: St. John 4. 46-53

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The man in today's Gospel is a court-official, probably in the service of King Herod. Capharnaum was a town with a custom post where a man with rank would serve. He is a character much like the centurion, who approaches Christ with the faith, however weak, the Lord demands of those who would draw near to him. It was such Galilean cities as Capharnaum that Christ condemned for their slowness to believe, despite the many miracles they demanded of the Lord and which they never tired of seeing.

Faith, not miracles, is the sign that God is with us and blesses us. Faith does not spend its energies running after miracles and apparitions in far places, but entrusts itself in quiet and joyful confidence to God wherever called to live out the Gospel.

Faith is a personal act--the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith. (CCC 166)

  This carrying on and handing on of the faith with and through others is the grace of the Church, Christ's Body through which all grace comes into the world. This includes the grace of faith.

It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes, and sustains my faith. Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord: "Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you," as we sing in the hymn "Te Deum"; with her and in her, we are won over and brought to confess: "I believe," "We believe." It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life in Christ by Baptism. In the Rituale Romanum, the minister of Baptism asks the catechumen: "What do you ask of God's Church?" And the answer is: "Faith." What does faith offer you?" "Eternal life." (Roman Ritual, Rite of baptism of adults.) (CCC 168)

Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation." (Faustus of Riez, De Spiritu Sancto 1, 2:PL 62, 11) Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith. (CCC 169)

However marvelous the cure gained by approaching Jesus, more marvelous by far is the miracle of faith, which moves the man or woman to approach almighty God with confidence in His power and love. Listen to St. John Chrysostom:

"Here was a robust faith [in the case of this official]; therefore Jesus made him the promise, so that we might learn from this man's devotion; his faith was as yet imperfect, and he did not clearly realize that Jesus could effect the cure at a distance; thus, the Lord, by not agreeing to go down to the man's house, wished us to learn the need to have faith" (Hom. on St. John, 35).

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

  ( Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


21st Sunday after Pentecost

Epistle: Ephesians 6. 10-17; Gospel: St. Matthew 18. 23-35

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Church, the Body of Christ on earth, is one. Christ prayed that "they all be one" in his priestly prayer in the Gospel according to St. John.

Today, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Christ teaches that this oneness among his faithful is the authentic witness to His Lordship. Such unity comes about among all the Church's members through forgiveness. Peter asks the Lord, "How many times must I forgive my neighbor?" A good student of the Old Testament, he proposes the biblically perfect number seven. The Lord then reveals what true perfection will be among the men and women who truly seek the kingdom. They will forgive not seven times, but seventy-times seven times. They will forgive time and time again, time without numbering, without counting. Just as the Church of Christ is the reign of peace, so the kingdom is lacking where there is violence.

Lack of forgiveness is at the root of the abominable murders and warfare that have afflicted the world from the time of Cain and Abel. We are sickened by the stories of angry violence, of murder, of beatings, even within families. Media relentlessly reports parents murdering children, and children murdering parents. We confront now the horrors of partial-birth abortions, and abortifacient contraception, where the unborn child is not forgiven for being alive. Our bishops have asked that we practice the penitential fast from meat on Fridays in reparation for this particular form of violence.

In so many cases today, the unhappiness and horrors in the world exist because the key to a peaceful life remains a hidden treasure. As we pray in the Our Father: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." The forgiveness of the Lord, made possible through his passion, death and resurrection, and the peace which is its fruit, becomes something we experience, in a powerful and continuing way, through our practice of forgiving each other.

The witness of the Church is this forgiving love: "see how they love one another." The peace of God between neighbors is interconnected with the peace among men who love God. The Catechism reminds us: "Thus the Lord's words on forgiveness, the love that loves to the end (Jn 13:1) become a living reality. The parable of the merciless servant, which crowns the Lord's teaching on ecclesial community, ends with these words: 'So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.' (Mt. 18:23-25) It is there, in fact, "in the depths of the heart," that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession." (CCC 2843)

We are freed from passion and anger, with which we allow our injuries to imprison us, by the transforming power of forgiveness. We forgive in Christ, and in Christ we regain the peace and serenity that were robbed from us when we failed to forgive.

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

(See also CCC 2843.)

(Publish with permission. ) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


22nd Sunday after Pentecost

Epistle: Philippians 1. 6-11; Gospel: St. Matthew 22. 15-21

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Church and State. God and Caesar.

"Is it lawful to pay tax to the emperor or not?" Jesus is the focus of a hatred so great in today's Gospel, that the Pharisees, nationalists, and Herodians, sympathizers with Rome, have put aside their mutual antipathy and joined in an effort to entrap him and arouse the people against him. They think they've found the perfect ruse. Get Jesus to oppose taxes and earn the anger of the Romans and their minions. Get him to support taxes and arouse the ire of the nationalists. The object: eliminate this troublemaker from their midst.

As he does so often in the Scriptures, our Lord leaves his opponents and attackers stunned by his responses. He masterfully recognizes their "bad faith", while teaching, as only God can, the truth that they, as desperately as all mankind, need to hear. At first glance, one might think that Christ displays his wisdom only in throwing a plum to both sides in the national dispute. The Romans want their taxes, while the Jews want their religion and recognition of the kingship of God. Above and beyond this, our Lord speaks to them, and to men of every age, who become ensnared in competing loyalties and forget that kingship belongs to God omnipotent. Men rule at God's good pleasure. "You would have no power...unless it had been given you from above." (Jn 19:11) Jesus Christ is universal king; men are blessed to share in his authority.

We have in our own day an abundance of conflicts between Church and state. Is a matter political or religious? If it's deemed political, many believe, the Church should have nothing to say. Attempts to muzzle God go back to the beginning of salvation history. The prophets were put to death for speaking God's truth long before the Pharisees and Herodians tried to entrap and silence Christ.

The abortion issue, many say, is a political issue, and therefore a matter for Caesar alone. Men of God, it is said, should be silent. Human life , in fact, is a moral issue, and when the laws of men are immoral, attacking the laws of God and the sacredness of human life, than Godly men should shout from every rooftop, priests should preach from every pulpit, every believing man and woman should speak out and protest. "Render...to God the things that are God's." All human life is sacred, from the hands of the creator. "For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful, wonderful are thy works!" (Psalm 139) When Caesar's laws are an abomination before God, then it is Caesar who must change.

Whether opposing the culture of death or any tyranny of the political order, the Christian gives first allegiance to the laws of God. "The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.' (Mt 22:21) 'We must obey God rather than men.' (Acts 5:29)

'When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel.' (Gaudium et spes, 74) (CCC 2242)

If a child was trapped under a car, an upright man would plow through any opposition to save the life of that child. Any infant lying helpless under the bloody scalpel of a doctor-turned-murderer deserves no less. Pray for those engaged in peaceful, prayerful and non-violent protest against abortion. Pray also for those who heroically risk imprisonment, beatings and torture to meet and counsel mothers and fathers on sidewalks everywhere to turn their hearts away from the temptation to murder their children.

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

(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


23rd Sunday after Pentecost

Epistle: Philippians 3. 17-21, 4. 1-3; Gospel: St. Matthew 9. 18-26

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We touch the hem of the Lord's garment in the sacraments. In them the Incarnation is wonderfully continued in or own day.

"To accomplish so great a work"--the dispensation or communication of his work of salvation--"Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of the minister, 'the same now offering, through the ministry of priests who formerly offered himself on the cross,' but especially in the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anyone baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised "where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.' " (SC 7; Mt 18:20) (CCC 1088)

We meet Christ in the liturgy.

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

(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


Last Sunday after Pentecost

Epistle: Colossians 1. 9-14; Gospel: St. Matthew 24. 15-35

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ's horrifying foretelling of the Abomination of Desolation, the destruction of the most sacred Jewish place, the Temple, in 70 AD, of the destruction of the Jewish people and of their flight from the violence and rapine of the Romans, strikes fear in us even today. We know that we are as vulnerable and as weak as the Jewish people were, and we fear the violence of men and of nature just as they did. In Christ can be found the only source for calming these fears. Only in him can our souls find rest amidst the misfortunes, loss and violence that is part of this world. The fall of Jerusalem is a sign of the suffering of Christians, over and over again in persecution, false prophets and seers, and false messiahs who will lead others to perdition until Christ comes again. Worldly loss and destruction is a symbol of a far greater loss: eternal life through unrepentant embrace of sin.

St. John Chrysostom helps us to learn the lesson of the fig tree, that sign of the Lord's coming as Judge of the living and dead and the world by fire..

Here he also foretells a spiritual spring and a calm which, after the storm of the present life, the righteous will experience; whereas for sinners there will be a winter after the spring they have had...But this was not the only reason why he put before them the parable of the fig tree, to tell them of the interval before his coming: he wanted to show them that his word would assuredly come true. As sure as the coming of spring is the coming of the Son of man" (Hom. on St. Matthew, 77).

"This generation" (v. 34) refers first of all the people alive at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. Because this event is a symbol of the end of the world the term applies to us as well. St. John Chrysostom explains:

...the Lord was speaking not only of the generation then living, but also of the generation of the believers; for he knows that a generation is distinguished not only by time but also by its mode of religious worship and practice: this is what the Psalmist means when he says that 'such is the generation of those who seek him' (Ps 24:6) (Hom. on St, Matthew, 77)

The tradition of our faith handed down in the authority and truth of the Holy Spirit is our security in dark times, preserving us from the turbulence and tragedy of chasing after false prophets, false seers and false signs. The sign of the Eucharist, flowing from the Sacrifice of the Cross, the security of the grace of the Sacraments, and the certain teachings of the Scriptures guide our way in uncertain and dangerous times. If we follow Christ in the light cast upon our pathway by his Church, then we shall see him come with joy and anticipation, rather than fear.

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24: 29-31)

The cross, according to St. John Chrysostom, is the great "sign of the Son of man". (v. 30)

"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32) The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, "entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands...but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." (Heb 9:24) There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he "always lives to make intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him." (Heb 7:25) As "high priest of the good things to come" he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven. (Heb 9:11; cf. Rev 4:6-11) (CCC 662)

The Lord quotes the prophet Daniel who foretold his coming in glory.

Being seated at the Father's right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah's kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel's vision concerning the Son of man: "To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." (Dan 7:14) After this event the apostles became witnesses of the "kingdom [that] will have no end." (Nicene Creed) (CCC 664)

If we abide in faith, hope and love we will abide with peace in times of destruction and error. Let us go with fervor and adoration to the font of these graces in the Son of man, present in the Eucharist and the sacramental life. Let us hear him speak to us in the proclamation of his word and the teaching of his Church.

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

(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/