Fourth Sunday in Eastertide – April 29, 2012 – St. John’s
This year our second readings during this Easter season are taken from the First Epistle of St. John. This is one of the shorter of the NT books, but it is also one of the most profound even when it uses the simplest of words to express its chief theme which is the love of God, God’s love for us and ours for God.
Today we hear simple descriptions of our present state and of what we may hope for. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us, that we may be called the children of God, and that is what we are.” (more…)
Third Sunday in Eastertide – April 22, 2012 – St. John’s
Our second reading today is taken from the First Epistle of St. John, a short text that focuses on the love of God, in both senses of the phrase, God’s love for us and our love for God. If you have never read it, it is worth your visit, and meditation.
Two things attract our attention today. The first is the comfort St. John offers us in case we should sin. (more…)
SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER – APRIL 22, 2001 – BLESSED SACRAMENT
Easter-week ends today, the first explosion of joyful light at the resurrection of the Lord. It will continue to radiate for the full fifty days of Eastertide, climaxing on Pentecost Sunday’s celebration of the gift of the Spirit. It is too bad that these fifty days of joyful, peaceful celebration have made less of a mark on common Christian consciousness than the forty days of Lent. For Easter really defines what Christianity is all about; Lent, if you will, serves mainly to keep us aware of what a great and unmerited blessing it is for us to be able to stand within the power, light, and life of Easter.
We, of course, are in the condition of those whom Jesus declares blessed at the end of today’s Gospel: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (more…)
Second Sunday in Eastertide – April 19, 2009 – Blessed Sacrament
The original ending of the Gospel according to St. John, which we have just heard, describes the purpose of the other three evangelists as well, and indeed it might be considered the aim also of all the other writings in the New Testament: “These things have been written so that you may come to believe that the Messiah, the Son of God, is Jesus, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” These writings are all written out of faith and they seek to bring their readers to faith. They pursue the goal described in the first verses of the First Epistle of St. John: “What we have seen and heard we announce to you so that you may have communion with us, and our communion is with God and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing so that our joy may be complete.”
Joy is one of those things that is not lessened for being shared; it is increased. (more…)
Augustine wrote his De catechizandis rudibus as a help for those who were giving elementary instructions about Christianity to people who had expressed some interest. His outline included, of course, a study of the Scriptures as the story of salvation. At the end of that he thought that prospective Christians should be warned that they will not be exempt from tests caused not only by the opposition of people outside but also, and perhaps even more, by the lives of wicked Christians. From the number of words devoted to the latter, one is tempted to think that Augustine thought the wicked outnumbered the good within the Church. In any case, the text is another clear illustration that he had a very realistic, not at all idealized, notion of the Church.
11. On the completion of this narration, the hope of the resurrection should be set forth, and, so far as the capacity and strength of the hearer will bear it, and so far also as the measure of time at our disposal will allow, we ought to treat our arguments against the vain scoffings of unbelievers on the subject of the resurrection of the body, as well as on that of the future judgment, with its goodness in relation to good people, its severity in relation to wicked people, its truth in relation to all. And after the penalties of the impious have thus been declared with detestation and horror, then the kingdom of the righteous and faithful, and that supernal city and its joy, should form the next themes for our discourse.
At this point, moreover, (more…)
And now, to conclude, for it is hardly befitting on this Day to speak much, when God has done His greatest work. Let us think of it and of Him. Let us rejoice in the Day which He has made, and let us be “willing in the Day of His Power.” This is Easter Day. Let us say this again and again to ourselves with fear and great joy. (more…)
“A helper in troubles, which have found us exceedingly” Ps 45:3). Many are our troubles, and in every one of them we should flee to God; whether it is trouble in our families or with our health, or danger to our loved ones, or about things needed to sustain this life, a Christian should have no other refuge than his Savior, than his God: he will be strong when he flees to God. A Christian will not be strong in himself, will not be his own strength; the one who has become his refuge will be his strength. But, my dear brothers and sisters, among all the troubles of the human soul none is greater than the consciousness of sin. For if there is no wound there, if that inner realm that is called conscience is sound, wherever else he may suffer troubles, he can flee there and there find God. But if there is no rest there because of an abundance of sins, and because God is not there, what is one to do? Where shall he flee if he begins to suffer troubles? He will flee from the countryside to the city, from the city-streets to his home, from his home to his bedroom, but his trouble will follow him. From his bedroom he has nowhere to flee except to his inner bedroom. But if there is disquiet there, the smoke of wickedness, the flame of sin, he can’t flee there either. He’s driven out from there; he’s driven out from himself. And see: now he finds the enemy to be the very one to whom he had fled. Where can anyone flee from himself? Wherever he flees, he drags himself behind, and wherever he drags such a self, he tortures himself about himself.
These are the troubles that find a person exceedingly, and there are none harsher; the less inward troubles are, the less harsh they are. Notice, beloved: when trees are cut down and are being planed by carpenters, sometimes they seem damaged and rotten on their surface. But the carpenter looks at the inner marrow (as it were) of the tree, and if he finds the inner wood sound, he can promise that it will last if used in a building, and he won’t be overly concerned that the outer part is wounded if he thinks the inner part is sound. Now, nothing is more inward than one’s consciousness. And what use is it if what is external is sound while the marrow of one’s consciousness has rotted? These are the intense, quite disturbing troubles, the “exceeding” troubles the Psalmist speaks of. But even for them the Lord has become a helper by forgiving sins. For only forgiveness heals the consciences of sinners. (Augustine, En in Ps 45, 3; PL 36, 515-16)
In Book 13 of his De Trinitate, Augustine addressed the theme of our redemption by Christ. He introduces the subject by asking a question that may have been asked in every generation–it is still being asked today. As the following excerpt indicates, he was concerned to eliminate from the beginning the misunderstanding that has plagued some presentations of the atonement and I once heard summarized in these terms: “God was so alienated from sinful human beings that it required the blood-sacrifice of his Son before he could forgive them.” As always Augustine approached the subject on the basis of Scriptural teachings he accepted as posing the real terms of the question.
Some people say, “Did God have no other way to free human beings from this wretched mortal condition than that he should want his only begotten Son, God co-eternal with himself, to become man, to take on human soul and flesh, to be made mortal, and to suffer death?” (more…)
What follows teaches us that he will come for judgement. For a fire will go before him (Ps 96:3). Are we afraid? Let us change and we will not be afraid. The chaff fears the fire, but what does fire do to gold? You now have it in your power to do what should be done so that you do not experience as an unrepentant sinner what is going to come even if you don’t want it to come. If we were able to prevent the day of judgement from coming, I think that even so it would not be right to live wickedly. If fire were not to come on Judgement Day and sinners were threatened only by separation from the face of God, they would still have to mourn no matter how great the flood of delights they might enjoy, no matter that they might never be punished for their sins, because they would not see the one by whom they were created and would not know the ineffable pleasure of seeing the face of God. But what am I to say? To whom shall I say it? That is a punishment for lovers, but not for despisers. Those who have begun to experience at all the pleasure of wisdom and truth know what I am talking about, that is, what a great punishment it is simply to be separated from the face of God. As for those who have not experienced that pleasure, if they still don’t desire God’s face, at least let them fear the fire. Let the punishment terrify those whom the reward does not attract. (En in Ps 49, 7; PL 36, 569)
Concerning the Bride, let us see what He says; that you, when you know the Bridegroom and the Bride, may not without reason come to the marriage. For every celebration is a celebration of marriage: the Church’s nuptials are being celebrated. The King’s Son is about to marry a wife, and that King’s Son is Himself a King; and the guests frequenting the marriage are themselves the Bride. It’s not as in an ordinary marriage where some are guests, and another is she that is being married; in the Church they that come as guests, if they come to good purpose, become the Bride. For all the Church is Christ’s Bride. (Augustine on I John, Hom. 2, 2; PL 35, 1990)