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(Liturgy of Week 13, Tuesday, Year I)
Jesus' raising the dead to life was remarkable, and his healing of the woman afflicted with a hemorrhage was remarkable, but the prophets had also healed the sick, the blind and the lame and the prophets had also raised the dead. These raisings and healings were a return to, or restoration of, mere earthly existence. There is more!
There is something more offered to us in Jesus that sets him completely apart as the Christ. These miraculous events portend the same reality, whether coming through the prophets or Christ: eternal life. Our resurrection will be possible only in and with the divine person of Jesus Christ. We must be in bodily union with him if we wish to be raised as he was from the dead to the glorified state of resurrection.
Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: "I am the Resurrection and the life." It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood. Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life, announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the "sign of Jonah," the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day. CCC 994
He took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
-- Mt 8:5-17
Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases." But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the "sin of the world," of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.
-- CCC 1505
(Holy water font in the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls symbolizes the exorcism of grace in Christ which "drives out demons" and brings healing to body and soul.)
(Celebrating the Year of Saint Paul: the facade of the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls, Rome.)
"Teacher, do you not care if we perish?"
"Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?" (Mark 4: 38. 40)
Storms or no storms, in tempest and in peace, we must live by faith. The greatest test of faith is the confidence of belief in God through the fear brought by the terrors of darkness and the tempests of temptation. Faith is given by God precisely to sustain our weakness by divine power through the difficulties life will bring.
"Now, however, 'we walk by faith, not by sight'; (2 Corinthians 5:7) we perceive God as 'in a mirror, dimly' and only 'in part.' (1 Corinthians 13:12) Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice, and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it." (CCC 164)
"Perfect faith casts out all fear." The saints and martyrs, the witnesses, including the Apostles who feared the storm and the seas, are the ones to whom we look to learn how to be men and women of faith, even while enduring the temptations and doubts that flesh is heir to.
"It is then that we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who 'in hope...believed against hope'; (Romans 4:18) to the Virgin Mary, who, in 'her pilgrimage of faith,' walked into the 'night of faith' (Lumen Gentium 58; John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater 18) in sharing the darkness of her son's suffering and death; and to so many others: 'Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.' (Hebrews 12:1-2)" (CCC 165)
Faith is the gift of God, and through this virtue he enables us to call upon him in every circumstance, from desperation to joy, in tragedies and in blessings. Christ commanded us to "pray always." Prayer is the necessary means of union with God in every circumstance: "It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise. (Cf. Matthew 28:20; Luke 8:24) Our time is in the hands of God:
'It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop,...while buying or selling,...or even while cooking.' (St. John Chrysostom, Ecloga de oratione 2: PG 63, 585)" (CCC 2743)
"Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin. (Cf. Galatians 5:16-25) How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?
'Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy...For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin.' (St. John Chrysostom, De Anna 4, 5: PG 54, 666)
'Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.' (St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Del gran mezzo della preghiera.)
Prayer and Christian life are inseparable, for they concern the same love and the same renunciation, proceeding from love; the same filial and loving conformity with the Father's plan of love; the same transforming union in the Holy Spirit who conforms us more and more to Christ Jesus; the same love for all men, the love with which Jesus has loved us. 'Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he [will] give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.' (Origen, De orat. 12:PG 11, 452C)" (CCC 2744)
The greatest prayer, the sacramental liturgy of the Church, is the place where prayer and love meet perfectly. "In the sacramental liturgy of the Church, the mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit proclaims, makes present, and communicates the mystery of salvation, which is continued in the heart that prays. The spiritual writers sometimes compare the heart to an altar. Prayer internalizes and assimilates the liturgy during and after its celebration. Even when it is lived out 'in secret,' (Cf. Matthew 6:6) prayer is always prayer of the Church; it is a communion with the Holy Trinity. (GILH 9)" (CCC 2655)
The best antidote to fear is the heart at prayer, confident of the mercy of God and the nearness of salvation in the sacramental life.
I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick
Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)
his righteousness endures forever.
The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
You are being enriched in every way for all generosity,
which through us produces thanksgiving to God.
-- 2 Cor 9:6-11
I say this not by way of command,
but to test the genuineness of your love
by your concern for others.
For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that for your sake he became poor although he was rich,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
-- 2 Cor 8:1-9
In economic matters, respect for human dignity requires the practice of the virtue of temperance, so as to moderate attachment to this world's goods; the practice of the virtue of justice, to preserve our neighbor's rights and render him what is his due; and the practice of solidarity, in accordance with the golden rule and in keeping with the generosity of the Lord, who "though he was rich, yet for your sake . . . became poor so that by his poverty, you might become rich."
-- CCC 2407
NOTA BENE: The world bombards the Christian, already rich, with the lie that he is poor. "You need this, you need that; you need to look like this and you need to live here or there." Lies from the Father of Lies. You are already rich, and you will become richer when you share the treasure of Christ with the poor: those without love, without peace.
(Celebrating the Year of Saint Paul: View in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls of archaeological excavations to the foundations of earlier church on the site.)
In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, "Abba, Father!"
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.
The Lord said to my lord,
'Sit at my right hand
until I place your enemies under your feet.'
David himself calls him 'lord';
so how is he his son?"
The great crowd heard this with delight.
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these."
-- Mk 12:28-34
In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and 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.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
-- CCC 2196
"Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD..." (Dt 6:4; Mk 12:29). "The supreme being must be unique, without equal. . . If God is not one, he is not God" (Tertullian, Adv. Marc., 1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274).
-- CCC 228
(Celebrating the Year of Saint Paul. The Apostle likely walked the Roman forum, pictured here, the center of the life of the empire and key to understanding the challenges faced by the first Christians, many of whom were martyred like Paul and the Apostle Peter for witnessing to their Faith in Jesus Christ. Photo by author.)
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation. When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss. Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.' When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.
When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.
He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.'
When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.