Saturday, August 12, 2017

Dominica X post Pentecosten: "Thank God I am not like other men"

From the Holy Gospel according to Luke
Luke 18:9-14
At that time: Jesus spoke this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the Temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. And so on.

Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
Serm 36 of the Word of the Lord
The Pharisee might at least have said: "I am not as many men are." But what meaneth "other men"? All other men except himself. "I," said he, "am righteous; others are sinners." "I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers," and then he took occasion, from the neighborhood of the publican, to plume himself "or even," quoth he, "as this publican." "I am alone," he thought, "that publican" is one of the others. Mine own righteousness maketh the gulf between me and the wicked, such as he is.

Sunday 19A: "Why did you doubt?"


"Lord, save me!"

Peter, frightened by the wind and the waves, cries out desperately for help in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter fourteen, verses twenty-two to thirty-three. Christ had granted Peter the power to walk on the water, but giving in to his fear, the apostle had begun to sink. "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?"

Peter found himself overwhelmed by the natural elements which threatened him as a storm. There is however something far worse: the threat of losing God forever.

There is a mystery here, that our faith is a gift from God for salvation, but at the same time, our faith is a cooperation with God; we freely choose to believe. And we can also choose to doubt and fall into fear as did Peter. The tempest which provoked his cry for help is a symbol of the life storms that threaten our perseverance in faith.

There is a grace by which we weather life's storms. Fortitude is the virtue of which Peter stood in need at his moment of temptation.

“Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. ‘The Lord is my strength and my song.’ ‘In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ “ (CCC 1808)

It is through grace by faith that we receive the gift of fortitude.  Peter confesses faith in Christ's divinity, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water". Moments later that faith gives way to fear, and Peter is threatened with destruction by the forces of nature. Do we need power to "walk on water" in order to be happy? What are the things that we fear, that drive the power of faith, and the power of God, out of our lives? Is sin among them? Do we disregard the corrosive power of falsehood, the destructive force of unchastity? What we cannot do without is a reverent spirit of worship, the power to confidently acclaim Jesus as Lord, and then to call upon Him for what we need to live as the praise of His glory.

Bearing witness to the Lord, confessing our Faith before others, enables us to practice and to grow in the virtue of fortitude.

“The faithful should bear witness to the Lord's name by confessing the faith without giving way to fear. Preaching and catechizing should be permeated with adoration and respect for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (CCC 2145)

When the disciples witnessed the power of Christ over the wind and waves, they fell down and worshipped Him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."  They acclaimed Him in faith and thus they saw with true vision through the supernatural power of God working in them.

"Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as 'Lord'. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing. At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, 'Lord' expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus. In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: 'My Lord and my God!' It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: 'It is the Lord!' " (CCC 448)

Let us ask for the virtue of fortitude in worship and witness that our faith may grow and others may come to the Lord as well.  Above all, it is Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist that calls for our adoration.  We can, for example, better witness before the world by our more attentive genuflection as we enter or depart a church or chapel where the Lord is present; by an interior spirit of adoration as we process forward during the Communion of the Mass; by pausing to make a profound bow before receiving our Eucharistic Lord in Communion; by carefully resting one hand upon the other to receive the Lord and then reverently placing the Host on our tongue.
Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, we adore thee!

-Fr. Cusick @MCITLFrAphorism
(Publish with permission.)