Saturday, September 03, 2005

September Newsletter from Fr. John Corapi

From the email bag:
We are all aware of the terrible natural disaster that has befallen the people in the Gulf region of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida.

We ask you to offer prayers and sacrifices for these poor people. Such disasters can befall any of us, and it thus behoves us to help, both with our prayers, our financial aid, and possibly through volunteer work, if possible.

As St. James says, "What does it profit , my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (James 2:14-17).

Let our faith be witnessed to by our works.

Fr. John

Turning the Tide of Evil

One of the first things I became acutely aware of as I began ministering as a priest more than 14 years ago was that the vast majority of Catholics have never really learned their faith. For years I administered a simple test at the end of parish missions. The average grade, achieved by adults, was 43%. This failure translates into the ills and evils seen today in contemporary society. Why? For the simple reason that Catholic-Christians are called to be the salt and light of the world. When we fail to do so the world sinks under the weight of its sins. If we do not provide the moral compass to guide the world through dark and turbulent times, no one will.

Learning our faith is a moral mandate. It is not optional. We do it and please God, or we don't do it and don't please God. It isn't rocket science and it doesn't take that great a commitment in time and energy. To fail to do it is to fail in our mission, which is the same as the mission of the Redeemer--Redemption.

There is no opposition between learning and loving. If I love God and my neighbor as myself out of love for God (Charity) then I'll want to know God (Truth). Our ignorance of basic moral and doctrinal teaching is ultimately harmful to ourselves, our families, our society, our world.

This year of the Eucharist we should make a commitment to study our faith at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week--or some comparable program. Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which will in turn help you to understand your reading of Sacred Scripture. You should be able to answer the basic moral questions of the day, as well as give simple explanations for our basic doctrinal teaching.

Give yourself this interactive test, which is not an advanced examination, but a very basic one. Any child preparing for Confirmation should be able to earn a grade of at least 80% on this. Take the exam. Take the exam honestly without looking up the answers, then take appropriate steps to advance in your faith.Click here to visit my website and take the exam.

Make a commitment to learn your faith. Then live what you have learned with perfection. Then we'll be doing something to turn the tide of evil and make the world a better place.

God bless you,

Fr. John Corapi

I took the was, as Fr Corapi stated, very basic. A printable version is available at the link above...Print it out and pass it around - perhaps it will inspire others.

Test results: You scored 100 % ! Knowing your faith is important, but this is not enough. Use your God given strength and knowledge to help others learn. If you haven't already, consider starting a prayer/study group, teach others about the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ect...

Gospel for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 18:15-20

Fraternal Correction. The Apostles' Authority

(Jesus said to His disciples), [15] "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. [16] But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. [17] If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. [18] Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. [19] Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it shall be done for them by My Father in Heaven. [20] For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them."


15-17. Here our Lord calls on us to work with Him for the sanctification of others by means of fraternal correction, which is one of the ways we can do so. He speaks as sternly about the sin of omission as He did about that of scandal (cf. Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. Matthew", 61).

There is an obligation on us to correct others. Our Lord identifies three stages in correction: 1) alone; 2) in the presence of one or two witnesses; and 3) before the Church. The first stage refers to giving scandal and to secret or private sins; here correction should be given privately, just to the person himself, to avoid unnecessarily publicizing a private matter and also to avoid hurting the person and to make it easier for him to mend his ways. If this correction does not have the desired effect, and the matter is a serious one, resort should be had to the second stage--looking for one or two friends, in case they have more influence on him. The last stage is formal judicial correction by reference to the Church authorities. If a sinner does not accept this correction, he should be excommunicated that is, separated from communion with the Church and Sacraments.

18. This verse needs to be understood in connection with the authority previously promised to Peter (cf. Matthew 16:13-19): it is the hierarchy of the Church that exercises this power given by Christ to Peter, to the Apostles and their lawful successors--the Pope and the Bishops.

19-20. "Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est: where charity and love resides, there God is", the Holy Thursday liturgy intones, drawing its inspiration from the sacred text of 1 John 4:12. For it is true that love is inconceivable if there is only one person: it implies the presence of two or more (cf. Aquinas, "Commentary on St. Matthew", 18:19-20). And so it is that when Christians meet together in the name of Christ for the purpose of prayer, our Lord is present among them, pleased to listen to the unanimous prayer of His disciples: "All those with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus" (Acts 1:14). This is why the Church from the very beginning has practiced communal prayer (cf. Acts 12:5). There are religious practices--few, short, daily "that have always been lived in Christian families and which I think are marvelous--grace at meals, morning and night prayers, the family rosary (even though nowadays this devotion to our Lady has been criticized by some people). Customs vary from place to place, but I think one should always encourage some acts of piety which the family can do together in a simple and natural fashion" ([St] J. Escriva, "Conversations", 103).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Gospel for Sept 3, Memorial: St. Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church

From: Luke 6:1-5

The Law of the Sabbath

[1] On a Sabbath, while He (Jesus) was going through the grainfields, His disciples plucked and ate some ears of grain, rubbing them in their hands. [2] But some of the Pharisees said, "Why are You doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?" [3] And Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: [4] how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?" [5] And he said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."


1-5. Accused by the Pharisees of breaking the Sabbath, Jesus explains the correct way of understanding the Sabbath rest, using an example from the Old Testament. And, by stating that He is "Lord of the Sabbath" He is openly revealing that He is God Himself, for it was God who gave this precept to the people of Israel. For more on this, see the notes on Matthew 12:2 and 12:3-8.

[The notes on Matthew 12:2 and 12:3-8 states:
2. "The Sabbath": this was the day the Jews set aside for worshipping God. God Himself, the originator of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3), ordered the Jewish people to avoid certain kinds of work on this day (Exodus 20:8-11; 21:13; Deuteronomy 5:14) to leave them free to give more time to God. As time went by, the rabbis complicated this divine precept: by Jesus' time they had extended to 39 the list of kinds of forbidden work.

The Pharisees accuse Jesus' disciples of breaking the Sabbath. In the casuistry of the scribes and the Pharisees, plucking ears of corn was the same as harvesting, and crushing them was the same as milling-types of agricultural work forbidden on the Sabbath.

3-8. Jesus rebuts the Pharisees' accusation by four arguments-the example of David, that of the priests, a correct understanding of the mercy of God and Jesus' own authority over the Sabbath.

The first example which was quite familiar to the people, who were used to listening to the Bible being read, comes from 1 Samuel 21:2-7: David, in flight from the jealousy of King Saul, asks the priest of the shrine of Nob for food for his men; the priest gave them the only bread he had, the holy bread of the Presence; this was the twelve loaves which were placed each week on the golden altar of the sanctuary as a perpetual offering from the twelve tribes of Israel (Leviticus 24:5-9). The second example refers to the priestly ministry to perform the liturgy, priests had to do a number of things on the Sabbath but did not thereby break the law of Sabbath rest (cf. Numbers 28:9).]


Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the aculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Gospel for Friday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 5:33-39

A Discussion on Fasting

[33] And they (the scribes and the Pharisees) said to Him (Jesus), "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink." [34] And Jesus said to them, "Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? [35] The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days." [36] He told them a parable also: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. [37] And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. [38] But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. [39] And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, `The old is good.'"

33-35. In the Old Testament God established certain days as days of fasting--the main one being the "day of atonement" (Numbers 29:7; Acts 27:9). Fasting implied total or partial abstinence from food or drink. Moses and Elijah fasted (Exodus 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8) and our Lord Himself fasted in the desert for forty days before beginning His public ministry. In the present passage Jesus gives a deeper meaning to the word "fasting"--the deprivation of His physical presence which His Apostles would experience after His death. All through His public life Jesus is trying to prepare His disciples for the final parting. At first the Apostles were not very robust and Christ's physical presence did them more good than the practice of fasting.

Christians should sometimes abstain from food. "Fast and abstain from flesh meat when Holy Mother Church so ordains" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 495). That is the purpose of the fourth commandment of the Church, but it has a deeper meaning, as St. Leo the Great tells us: "The merit of our fasts does not consist only in abstinence from food; there is no use depriving the body of nourishment if the soul does not cut itself off from iniquity and if the tongue does not cease to speak evil" ("Sermo IV in Quadragesima").
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Benedict XVI, Recorded Live: His Ecumenism? It’s Right Here

The complete transcript of pope Joseph Ratzinger’s address to non-Catholic Christians, delivered in Luther’s homeland. With the addition of all of his off-the-cuff remarks

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, September 1, 2005 – Benedict XVI often enjoys speaking off the cuff. This is also true in the case of very demanding topics.

He did so in his remarks to the priests of Valle d’Aosta, during his vacation in the mountains, at the end of July.

He did it in his homily for the feast of the Assumption of Mary, in the little church of Castel Gandolfo.

And he did so in Cologne, in his August 19 address to the representatives of the Protestant and Orthodox Churches.

On that day, the journalists had received an advance copy of the written text, in various languages. And this is the text to which they referred in their reports.

But in reality, Benedict XVI said much more. On a number of occasions he raised his eyes from the text and improvised.
More here.

This is a very interesting read...for instance, the following as I understand it was "off the cuff":
May I make a small comment: [2] now, it is said that following the clarification regarding the doctrine of justification, the elaboration of ecclesiological issues and the questions concerning ministry are the main obstacles still to be overcome. In short, this is true, but I must also say that I dislike this terminology, which from a certain point of view delimits the problem since it seems that we must now debate about institutions instead of the Word of God, as though we had to place our institutions in the centre and fight for them. I think that in this way the ecclesiological issue as well as that of the "ministerium" are not dealt with correctly.

The real question is the presence of the Word in the world. In the second century the early Church primarily took a threefold decision: first, to establish the canon, thereby stressing the sovereignty of the Word and explaining that not only is the Old Testament "hài graphài" [the Scriptures], but together with the New Testament constitutes a single Scripture which is thus for us the master text.

However, at the same time the Church has formulated an apostolic succession, the episcopal ministry, in the awareness that the Word and the witness go together; that is, the Word is alive and present only thanks to the witness, so to speak, and receives from the witness its interpretation. But the witness is only such if he or she witnesses to the Word.

Third and last, the Church has added the "regula fidei" [rule of faith] as a key for interpretation. I believe that this reciprocal compenetration constitutes an object of dissent between us, even though we are certainly united on fundamental things.

Therefore, when we speak of ecclesiology and of ministry we must preferably speak in this combination of Word, witness and rule of faith, and consider it as an ecclesiological matter, and therefore together as a question of the Word of God, of his sovereignty and humility inasmuch as the Lord entrusts his Word, and concedes its interpretation, to witnesses which, however, must always be compared to the "regula fidei" and the integrity of the Word. Excuse me if I have expressed a personal opinion; it seemed right to do so.
If you noticed the [2] above, here are the notes for it:
[2] In the written text the “small comment,” which the pope developed at length in his spontaneous remarks, was limited to these few lines: “The ecclesiological questions, and especially those of the consecrated ministry, or the priesthood, are beyond a doubt connected to the question of the relationship between Scripture and the Church; that is, of insistence upon the right interpretation of the Word of God and its unfolding within the life of the Church.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In the Wake of Katrina, Calls for Prayer

"We Are Overwhelmed," Says New Orleans Archbishop

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, AUG. 31, 2005 ( Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans gathered with the governor of Louisiana and religious leaders to pray for the survivors and victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"We are so overwhelmed, we do not know how to respond,'' Archbishop Hughes said today in Baton Rouge, according to the Times-Picayune newspaper.

The prelate did offer a suggestion: Turn to prayer. The archbishop read from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans: "We know that all things work for the good of God ... if God is for us, who can be against us?''

Governor Kathleen Blanco concurred. "We need a higher power right now," she said. "There are a lot of people to pray for."

The governor asked residents to spend the day in prayer.

"That would be the best thing to calm our spirits and thank Our Lord that we are survivors," she said. "Slowly, gradually, we will recover; we will survive; we will rebuild."

Thousands feared lost

The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, meanwhile, warned that the hurricane probably killed thousands of people in the city. Two levees were breached a day after the hurricane struck the region, leading to the flooding of the below-sea-level city.

At least 100 people were reported dead in the neighboring state of Mississippi.

Catholic Charities USA is preparing to help in the rebuilding process in the Gulf Coast.

"The mission of Catholic Charities USA is to rebuild lives; our niche is long-term disaster response," spokeswoman Shelly Borysiewicz told ZENIT.

"We are now trying to decide what the best response will be, whether it's housing, resettling people in other cities or job placement," she said. "We're in for the long haul."

Typically in emergency situations, such as the aftermath of a hurricane, Catholic Charities USA offers mental health counseling, temporary housing or housing assistance vouchers and emergency cash assistance to those who have lost jobs, Borysiewicz said.

Aid programs

Catholic Charities USA has a Web site for relief aid at, and the phones have been "ringing off the hook," Borysiewicz said.

"Once we determine everyone's needs, we'll distribute all donations to the local Catholic Charities agencies in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina," she said.

The U.S. bishops have asked that dioceses make a special collection for the hurricane victims to be distributed through Catholic Charities USA.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut-based Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus provided initial relief funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida today.

Knights of Columbus members and the general public are asked to donate to a disaster relief fund administered by Knights of Columbus Charities.

Donors in the United States should make checks payable to Knights of Columbus Charities USA and send them to:

Knights of Columbus Charities USA Inc.
Gift Processing Center
PO Box 9028
Pittsfield, MA 01202-9028
Attn: Hurricane Katrina Relief.

Donors in Canada should make checks payable to Knights of Columbus Canada Charities and send them to:

Knights of Columbus Canada Charities Inc.
Gift Processing Center
PO Box 7252 Station A
Toronto, ON, M5W 1X9
Attn: Hurricane Katrina Relief.

The Knights, the world's largest Catholic lay organization, says that 100% of contributions will go directly to hurricane relief, and all donations to Knights of Columbus Charities are tax-deductible.
Courtesy of Zenit....
Prayers and donations are needed....

Gospel for Thursday, 22nd Week In Ordinary Time

From: Luke 5:1-11

The Miraculous Catch of Fish and the Calling of the First Disciples

[1] While the people pressed upon Him (Jesus) to hear the word of God, He was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. [2] And He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. [3] Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, He asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat. [4] And when He had ceased speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." [5] And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." [6] And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, [7] they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. [8] But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." [9] For he was astonished, and all that were with Him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; [10] And so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men." [11] And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.


1. "Just as they do today! Can't you see? They want to hear God's message, even though outwardly they may not show it. Some perhaps haveforgotten Christ's teachings. Others, through no fault of their own, have never known them and they think that religion is something odd. But of this we can be sure, that in every man's life there comes a time sooner or later when his soul draws the line. He has had enough of the usual explanations. The lies of the false prophets no longer satisfy. Even though they may not admit it at the time, such people are longing to quench their thirst with the teachings of our Lord" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 260).

3. The Fathers saw in Simon's boat a symbol of the pilgrim Church on earth. "This is the boat which according to St. Matthew was in danger of sinking and according to St. Luke was filled with fish. Here we can see the difficult beginnings of the Church and its later fruitfulness" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc."). Christ gets into the boat in order to teach the crowds--and from the barque of Peter, the Church, He continues to teach the whole world.

Each of us can also see himself as this boat Christ uses for preaching. Externally no change is evident: "What has changed? There is a change inside our soul, now that Christ has come aboard, as He went aboard Peter's boat. Its horizon has been expanded. It feels a greater ambition to serve and an irrepressible desire to tell all creation about the "magnalia Dei" (Acts 2:11), the marvellous doings of our Lord, if only we let Him work" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 265).

4. "When He had finished His catechizing, He told Simon: `Put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a catch.' Christ is the master of this boat. He it is who prepares the fishing. It is for this that He has come into the world, to do all He can so that His brothers may find the way to glory and to the love of the Father" ("Friends of God", 260). To carry this task out, our Lord charges all of them to cast their nets, but it is only Peter He tells to put out into the deep.

This whole passage refers in some way to the life of the Church. In the Church the bishop of Rome, Peter's successor, "is the vicar of Jesus Christ because he represents Him on earth and acts for Him in the government of the Church" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 195). Christ is also addressing each one of us, urging us to be daring in apostolate: `"Duc in altum. Put out into deep water!' Throw aside the pessimism that makes a coward of you. `Et laxate retia vestra in capturam. And pay out you nets for a catch.' Don't you see that you, like Peter, can say: `In nomine tuo, laxabo rete': Jesus, if You say so, I will search for souls?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 792).

"If you were to fall into the temptation of wondering, `Who's telling me to embark on this?', we would have reply, `Christ Himself is telling you, is begging you.' `The harvest is plentiful enough, but the laborers are few. You must ask the Lord to whom the harvest belongs to send laborers out for the harvesting' (Matthew 9:37-38). Don't take the easy way out. Don't say, `I'm no good at this sort of thing; there are others who can do it; it isn't my line.' No, for this sort of thing, there is no one else: if you could get away with that argument, so could everyone else. Christ's plea is addressed to each and every Christian. No one can consider himself exempt, for whatever reason--age, health or occupation. There are no excuses whatsoever.
Either we carry out a fruitful apostolate, or our faith will prove barren" ("Friends of God", 272).

5. When Christ gives him these instructions, Peter states the difficulties involved. "A reasonable enough reply. The night hours were the normal time for fishing, and this time the catch had yielded nothing. What was the point of fishing by day? But Peter has faith: `But at Your word I will let down the nets.' He decides to act on Christ's suggestion. He undertakes the work relying entirely on the word of our Lord" ("Friends of God", 261).

8. Peter does not want Christ to leave him; aware of his sins, he declares his unworthiness to be near Christ. This reminds us of the attitude of the centurion who confesses his unworthiness to receive Jesus into his house (Matthew 8:8). The Church requires her children to repeat these exact words of the centurion before receiving the Blessed Eucharist. She also teaches us to show due external reverence to the Blessed Sacrament when going to Communion: by falling down on his knees Peter also shows that internal adoration of God should be also be expressed externally.

11. Perfection is not simply a matter of leaving all things but of doing so in order to follow Christ--which is what the Apostles did: they gave up everything in order to be available to do what God's calling involved.

We should develop this attitude of availability, for "Jesus isn't satisfied `going halves': He wants the lot" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 155).

If we don't give ourselves generously we will find it very difficult to follow Jesus: "Detach yourself from people and things until you are stripped of them. For, says Pope St. Gregory, the devil has nothing of his own in this world, and naked he comes to battle. If you go clothed to fight him, you will soon be pulled to the ground: for he will have something to catch you by" ("The Way", 149).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical texttaken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Gospel for Wed, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 4:38-44

The Cure of Peter's Mother-In-Law

[38] And He (Jesus) arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they besought Him for her. [39] And He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her; and immediately she rose and served them.

Other Cures

[40] Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. [41] And demons also came out of many, crying, "You are the Son of God!" But He rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ.

Jesus Preaches in Other Cities in Judea

[42] And when it was day He departed and went into a lonely place. And the people sought Him and came to Him, and would have kept Him from leaving them; [43] but He said to them, "I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose." [44] And He was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.


38-39. In the public life of Jesus we find many touching episodes (cf. for example Luke 19:1; John 2:1) which show the high regard He had for everyday family life.

Here we can clearly see the effectiveness of prayer on behalf of other people: "No sooner did they pray to the Savior", St. Jerome says, "than He immediately healed the sick; from this we learn that He also listens to the prayers of the faithful for help against sinful passions" ("Expositio In Evangelium Sec. Lucam, in loc.").

St. John Chrysostom refers to this total, instantaneous cure: "Since this was a curable type of illness He displayed His power through the way He brought healing, doing what medicine could not do. Even after being cured of fever, patients need time to recover their former strength, but here the cure was instantaneous" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 27).

The Fathers saw in this lady's fever a symbol of concupiscence: "Peter's mother-in-law's fever represents our flesh affected by various illnesses and concupiscences; our fever is passion, our fever is lust, our fever is anger--vices which, although they affect the body, perturb the soul, the mind and the feelings" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.").

On the practical consequences of this St. Cyril says: "Let us receive Jesus Christ, because when He visits us and we take Him into our minds and hearts, even our worst passions are extinguished and we are kept safe to serve Him, that is, to do what pleases Him" ("Hom. 28 In Mattheum").

43. Our Lord again stresses one of the reasons why He has come into the world. St. Thomas, when discussing the purpose of the Eucharist, says that Christ "came into the world, first, to make the truth known, as He Himself says: `for this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth' (John 18:37). Hence it was not fitting that He should hide Himself by leading a solitary life, but rather that He should appear openly and preach in public. For this reason He tells those who wanted to detain Him, `I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.' Secondly, He came in order to free men from sin; as the Apostle says, `Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners' (1 Timothy 1:15). This is why Chrysostom says, `Although Christ might, while staying in the same place, have drawn all men to Himself to hear His preaching, He did not do so--in order to give us the example to go out and seek the lost sheep, as the shepherd does, or as the doctor does, who visits the sick person.' Thirdly, He came so that `we might obtain access to God' (Romans 5:2)" ("Summa Theologiae", III, q. 40, a. 1, c.).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Gospel for Aug 29, Memorial: Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

From: Mark 6:17-29

John the Baptist Beheaded

[17] For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her. [18] For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." [19] And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, [20] for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. [21] But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. [22] For when Herodias' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it." [23] And he said to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." [24] And she went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptizer." [25] And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptizer on a platter." [26] And the King was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oath and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. [27] And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, [28] and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. [29] When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

16-29. It is interesting that the extensive account of the death of John the Baptist is inserted here in the Gospel narrative. The reason is St. John the Baptist's special relevance in the history of salvation: he is the Precursor, entrusted with the task of preparing the way for the Messiah. Besides, John the Baptist had a great reputation among the people: they believed him to be a prophet (Mark 11:32); some even thought he was the Messiah (Luke 3:15; John 1:20); and they flocked to him from many places (Mark 1:5). Jesus Himself said: "Among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist" (Matthew 11:11). Later, the Apostle St. John will speak of him in the Gospel: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John" (John 1:6); but the sacred text points out that, despite this, he was not the light, but rather the witness to the light (John 1:6-8). More correctly, he was the lamp carrying the light (John 5:35). We are told here that he was a righteous man and preached to everyone what had to be preached: he had a word for people at large, for publicans, for soldiers (Luke 3:10-14); for Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 3:7-12); for King Herod himself (Mark 6:18-20). This humble, upright and austere man paid with his life for the witness he bore to Jesus the Messiah (John 1:29 and 36-37).

26. Oaths and promises immoral in content should never be made, and, if made, should never be kept. This is the teaching of the Church, which is summed up in the "St. Pius X Catechism", 383, in the following way: "Are we obliged to keep oaths we have sworn to do unjust and unlawful things? Not only are we not obliged: we sin by making such oaths, for they are prohibited by the Law of God or of the Church."
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.