SUNDAY of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Our Gospel selected to be read this Sunday dedicated to the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus, as has been noted many times before, relates the only miracle of Jesus narrated in all four Gospels. And it is told twice in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark; six times in all. I guess we will never know exactly why this story appears so many times in the Scriptures, but it almost certainly has to do with its importance. It is important, surely, as a preview of Jesus’ gift to us of his Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
I would ask all of us on this day dedicated to the Body and Blood of the Lord in our Liturgy to reflect with wonder, awe, and reverence on this great gift of Jesus for all of us. Sometimes I think we take this greatest of all gifts for granted. We go to Mass on Sunday, get in line at communion time, and receive it Sunday after Sunday. Is this just habit; something we have grown used to doing, without any real reflection or appreciation on our part? All of us should ask ourselves this question.
St. Thomas of Celano, the first biographer of St. Francis of Assisi, tells us of the great love and devotion Francis had for the august Sacrament of the Eucharist. He writes in The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul:
“Toward the sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood, Francis burned with fervor to his very marrow, and with unbounded wonder of that loving condescending love. He considered it disrespectful not to hear, if time allowed, at least one Mass a day. He received Communion frequently and so devoutly that he made others devout. He once wanted to send brothers throughout the world with precious pyxes, so that wherever they should find the price of our redemption in an unsuitable place, they might put it away in the very best place”.
Francis himself wrote beautifully about the Eucharist in his Letter to the Entire Order, written shortly before his death:
“Let everyone be struck with fear, let the whole world tremble, and let the heavens exult when Christ, the Son of the living God, is present on the altar in the hands of a priest! O wonderful loftiness and stupendous dignity! O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! The Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under an ordinary piece of bread! Brothers and Sisters, look at the humility of God, and pour out your hearts before Him! Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves, that He Who gives Himself totally to you may receive you totally”.
Let us bow deeply and with great reverence before Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and continue to receive it as frequently as we can for our spiritual nourishment. This is truely Emmanuel, God with us!
MONDAY of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
St. Barnabas was a friend of the Apostles as well as a companion of St. Paul. Barnabas met Paul shortly after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. In fact, it was he who then introduced Paul to the other Apostles so they could be sure of his conversion to follow Christ. Barnabas was also a good friend of St. Mark, who was in fact his nephew.
In the year 45, Barnabas accompanied Paul and Mark to Antioch. After a while, Mark left them and rejoined Peter, his mentor and friend. In the year 51, Paul and Barnabas were at the Council of Jerusalem. Here they backed Peter who decided that the Gentile Christians did not have to follow the Jewish law. Paul and Barnabas finally separated when Paul suggested they return to the places they had visited on their first missionary journey. Barnabas was willing, but wanted to take Mark along with them. Paul, however, didn’t want to take Mark with them, remembering his “desertion” on the first trip to Antioch. So Paul and Barnabas went their own ways. Paul and Mark were later reconciled and Paul bore no grudge against Barnabas. Tradition tells us that Barnabas met his death by stoning at Salamis.
On the feast of this great missionary, let us be aware of the obligation we have to spread the faith of Jesus in our personal relationships, our families, our workplace and in our parishes. Let us remember to show by act and example that we are followers of Jesus and his values.
St. Barnabas, pray for us.
TUESDAY of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus tells us that we are both the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Both light and salt were very important in the time of Jesus, as they still are. Lamps and the light they produced enabled the people to do their work and to see at night after the sun went down. Light is also an attribute of Jesus in the sense of a guiding power. The light of Christ prevents us from stumbling in the darkness of sin. Christ lights up our way, our road, to happiness and true freedom. Salt was important in Jesus’ time also. Perhaps the most important thing about it was that it preserved food from spoiling in the hot temperatures of Palestine. It was also valuable as barter in trading. Salt was a valuable commodity.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel today that as his disciples we are to bring the values he taught us to others to light up their path to happiness, holiness and peace in life. As salt, we are to help people maintain their usefulness, freshness and enthusiasm in pursuing the ways of God.
Jesus, help us be what you desire us to be: light and salt for the society in which we live.
WEDNESDAY of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
JUNE 13, Feast of St. Anthony of Padua
St. Anthony of Padua, whose feast we celebrate today, is one of the shining lights of the Franciscan Order. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195, and died in Padua, Italy, in 1231. He was only 36 years old at the time of his death. Much took place in his short span of life, much more that we have space for in this brief homily.
People today remember St. Anthony when they lose or misplace something and want to find it quickly. He seems to have become the patron Saint of finding lost articles. We are still not quite sure how this particular asset came to be.
When Anthony was 15 years old, he joined the community of Augustinian Canons. Shortly after his ordination to the priesthood, he witnessed a procession in which the relics, remains, of a number of Franciscan Friars who had been killed by the Moors in Morocco, were being returned to Coimbra for burial. The courage of these martyrs who died for Christ greatly impressed Anthony and he quickly joined the Franciscans so he too could go to Morocco and be martyred for the faith of Christ. He got as far as the coast of Africa where he became ill and was forced to return to Portugal. On the voyage back his ship was blown off course by a storm and he landed in Sicily. Later, his excellence as a teacher and preacher was noticed by the Order and the rest, as they say, is history. Anthony was a workaholic and this is probably one of the causes of his early death. In art Anthony is often pictured with the Infant Christ, who is said to have descended and stood upon the book Anthony was holding while he preached about the Incarnation of Christ. Anthony was canonized a year after his death.
St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us.
THURSDAY of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Our Gospel selection for today is taken from the 5th chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel, part of the Sermon on the Mount. In this famous Sermon, Jesus brings to be a new age and offers a new paradigm calling for a greater responsibility and response on the part of those who wish to follow Christ and become a part of his Kingdom. Jesus’ disciples are to exceed the fidelity and ways of the scribes and Pharisees in their relationship with God and each other.
Matthew is now going to begin his rather famous “antitheses” that will continue to the end of this chapter of his Gospel. These antitheses show the contrast between the old way of doing things and the new way of Jesus. The teachings of Jesus are going to demand a little bit more of us. We are going to be asked to take that extra step, go that extra mile, in our relationships with God and our neighbor. Are we ready to do this “little bit more” as followers of Jesus?
FRIDAY of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
JUNE 15, Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Conventual Franciscan Friars have been charged with the care of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Lorain, Ohio, for a long, long time. It is a rather unique parish in that the back yard is literally Lake Erie, one of the majestic Great Lakes. I had the honor of serving in this parish and city for nine years back in the 80s. The reason this parish just came to my mind is this Feast of the Sacred Heart. Someone must have sown the devotion to the Sacred Heart in this parish and many of the parishioners requested the dedication of their homes and families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I can’t remember how many families I assisted in fulfilling their desire for this dedication. This is another one of these devotions that has slowly but surely faded out of use. Sometimes I think we have gotten too “modern” and in doing so have thrown the baby out with the bath water. This dedication of the home and family to the Sacred Heart made a difference for these families. It involved placing a statue of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in the home. The whole family passed it many times a day. The statue was a focus – a focus on Jesus and his love for that family. It encouraged them to love Jesus and one another in return. And they did! It made a difference!
We need more focus on Jesus, and the difference made by this practice in our homes today. The world is pushing Jesus aside in so many ways. It is little wonder that we never think of him, focus on him, during our day. Why not surprise the daylights out of your parish priest and ask him to assist you in dedicating your home and family to the Sacred Heart? Do yourselves and your families a focus favor.
SATURDAY of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
“And his mother kept all these things in her heart.”
The heart is described in the dictionary as the site of one’s innermost character, feelings, inclinations. It is the site of the emotional part of the human being. On TV at the present time, there is an ad. I believe it is for an insurance company. It says: “Life comes at you fast.” Indeed it does. Life sometimes changes course in seconds. Saying yes to going to Rome to study for four years was such an incident in my life. Another was a totally unannounced heart attack while I was saying a Saturday evening parish Mass when I was 52 years old. Life really does come at you fast in such times. Think of some times when it came at you in this fast way.
I would imagine life came at Mary fast when the angel Gabriel told her she was going to be the Mother of God! Also when she heard her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, was pregnant and was also involved somewhat in what had happened to Mary. Life came at her fast when her Son died upon the cross and rose again on the third day. Countless other times, life must have come at Mary fast. And she kept all of this in her heart. Mary kept the sorrow and the pain she would have to bear in her heart. She kept the faith, courage and surrender she had to have to do what she was called to do, in her heart. She kept the holiness, wisdom, goodness, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, kindness and gentleness, and of course her love for Jesus and all his followers in the generations to come, in her heart.
Mary’s heart, her character and inclinations, are full to the brim and overflowing with the life of Jesus brought by his grace. She is full of grace. The love and compassion in her heart are always there for each of us. All we have to do is ask. Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, pray for us.