"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

October 29, 2017

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 3:16 pm

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 29, 2017 – St. John’s, Goshen

Some things never change. To illustrate the second of the great commandments stated by Christ in today’s Gospel, we heard an extract from the Book of Exodus. The events described in this, the second book of the Bible, date from around thirteen centuries before Christ and were first handed down in oral traditions which began to be written down and combined into a narrative some centuries later. The section from which our reading was taken is known to scholars as “the Book of the Covenant,” because it sets down prescriptions that embody Israel’s responsibility in the covenant, or pact, that God struck with her at the foot of Mt. Sinai. It may have become part of the book long after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, that is, around six centuries before Christ. In other words, we have listened to moral prescriptions, commandments, that are at least 2,500 years old, and were written for a land far away and a culture far different.

But, as I said, some things never change. It is not possible to hear those words without thinking about circumstances and challenges of our own time and place. Let’s look at the text closely, and allow me to illumine the prescriptions by citing a commentary on the Book of Exodus [by Martin Noth], published in Germany 75 years ago, that describes them as “aiming to protect those who are underprivileged in law, work and society (personae miserabiles)”.

And so we have, first: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.” (more…)

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May 22, 2017

Sixth Sunday in Eastertide – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — komonchak @ 3:52 pm

Sixth Sunday in Eastertide – May 21, 2017 -St. John’s, Goshen

This year our second reading during Eastertide has been taken from the First Epistle of St. Peter, which is a writing that from beginning to end basks in the light and warmth of Easter. Last week we heard the recipients of the letter, who, of course, include us today, described as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people God claims for his own to proclaim the glorious works of the One who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people, but now you are God’s people.”

Between that exalted announcement and the passage we heard today, St. Peter set out the consequences for the lives of this new people of God as he described what their relationships should be like both within their community, in the larger civil society, and in their homes. (more…)

March 19, 2017

Third Sunday in Lent – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 11:41 am

Third Sunday of Lent – March 19, 2017 – St. John’s, Goshen

True, integral Christianity has two dimensions, one inner, one outer, and they are both represented in our New Testament readings today.

Our second reading was taken from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, a letter that is almost entirely devoted to the question of how we human beings can be in a right relationship to God. His premise is that all of us–whether Jews or Gentiles–have fallen short of what we should be as creatures and children of God, and that the recovery of a right relationship with God is impossible by our own efforts. This right-making was initiated by God and was accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it must be appropriated by each of us by an acknowledgment of our need, a confession of our sins, a surrender of ourselves in faith and obedience, all of it the gift of God’s Spirit transforming our minds and hearts.

This is what St. Paul has been describing: (more…)

April 10, 2016

Third Sunday in Eastertide

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 12:15 pm

Third Sunday of Easter – April 22, 2007 – Blessed Sacrament

During the fifty days of Eastertide, which ought to have at least the same place in the awareness of Christians as the forty days of Lent, the Church tries to appropriate, make its own, realize, make real to itself the great blessings of the day which, as John Henry Newman said, “has made us greater than we know.” Easter is not the feast of the resuscitation of a corpse. It is the feast that marks the turning of the ages, that sets the great “Before-and-After” of human history, the end of the reign of sin and death, the triumph of love and life.
As usual we have an account of a resurrection-appearance of Christ. This one anticipates the life of the Church that will unfold in the future. (more…)

March 27, 2016

This is the Day the Lord has made!

Filed under: Homilies, Newman — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 5:53 am

Easter Alleluia

          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. As children say to themselves, “This is the spring,” or “This is the sea,” trying to grasp the thought, and not let it go; as travellers in a foreign land say, “This is that great city,” or “This is that famous building,” knowing it has a long history through centuries, and vexed with themselves that they know so little about it; so let us say, This is the Day of Days, the Royal Day, the Lord’s Day. This is the Day on which Christ arose from the dead; the Day which brought us salvation. It is a Day which has made us greater than we know. It is our Day of rest, the true Sabbath. Christ entered into His rest, and so do we. It brings us, in figure, through the grave and gate of death to our season of refreshment in Abraham’s bosom. We have had enough of weariness, and dreariness, and listlessness, and sorrow, and remorse. We have had enough of this troublesome world. We have had enough of its noise and din. Noise is its best music. But now there is stillness; and it is a stillness that speaks. We know how strange the feeling is of perfect silence after continued sound. Such is our blessedness now. Calm and serene days have begun; and Christ is heard in them, and His still small voice, because the world speaks not. Let us only put off the world, and we put on Christ. The receding from one is an approach to the other. We have now for some weeks been trying, through His grace, to unclothe ourselves of earthly wants and desires. May that unclothing be unto us a clothing upon of things invisible and imperishable! May we grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, season after season, year after year, till He takes to Himself, first one, then another, in the order He thinks fit, to be separated from each other for a little while, to be united together for ever, in the kingdom of His Father and our Father, His God and our God.

John Henry Newman: “Difficulty of Realizing Sacred Privileges,”
Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 6, sermon 8)

       Let him easter in us,
be a dayspring to the dimness of us,
be a crimson-cresseted east.

G. M. Hopkins, “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” 35

November 15, 2014

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

33rd Sunday of the Year – November 19, 1972 – CNR
The first reading in this evening’s Liturgy isn’t obviously connected with the others. It sings the praises of a faithful and industrious housewife. If we don’t think it is the only way for a woman to show her worth, it does show her displaying a nice balance of care for her family and concern for the poor. And its final praise is perhaps especially worth mention in an age which seems to have inverted proper values: “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Need I add that the same thing is true of men?
Of the other readings, the Gospel parable might be taken as an illustration of the final lines of Paul’s letter: “All of you are children of light and of the day. We belong neither to darkness nor to night; therefore let us not be asleep like the rest, but awake and sober!” The parable of the rich man who went off on a journey and left his servants sums of money to be kept for him, was originally told by Jesus as an indictment of the religious leaders of his time. They were like the man who had received the money and then gone and buried it, out of fear of losing what had been entrusted to him. He received the master’s condemnation. His audience would have understood Jesus to be criticizing the Scribes for hoarding for themselves the Word of God they were given to care for, burying it in their restrictive and legalistic interpretations, preventing it from being a life-giving force. It is a classic indictment of the fearful conservative, who is so afraid of losing what he has that he buries or imprisons it, and so in effect kills it.

(more…)

September 20, 2014

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

25th Sunday of the Year – September 24, 1972 – St. Elizabeth’s, Manhattan

The parable told by Jesus in today’s Gospel, although it is familiar to us, is one we find it difficult to be comfortable with. I think normally we find ourselves sympathizing with the man who had worked all day, only to find another, who had worked only an hour, receive the same pay as he. That we are so moved is good, because it means we are involved in the story, and that, therefore, Jesus’ words to the man are also addressed to us.

The parable is a figure of our life before God. He is the owner of the estate, we are the workers, and the reward of the day’s wages is eternal life. We are not supposed to look for allegorical meanings in each of the different times the owner goes out recruiting workers, nor, even more, are we to read it in the light of death-bed conversions, although some of the resentment we may be tempted to on such an occasion reveals a good deal about the secret joys of our hearts. The point of the parable lies in the concluding dialogue, in the contrasting attitudes of the owner and the all-day worker. (more…)

April 19, 2014

Easter Vigil

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 2:40 pm

Easter Vigil – March 28-29, 1964 – Santa Susanna, Rome

If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, appears, then you shall appear with him in glory (Col 3:1-4).

These words of St. Paul are the Epistle of this evening’s Mass.

“This night has made us greater than we know” (Newman). What we have become this night only God’s Spirit fully knows; but “this is the Spirit we have received from God” (1 Cor 2:12), and he will help us understand what God has done for us this night.

Jesus Christ took up man’s condition before God: in “a form like that of our sinful nature” (Rom 8:3), in “the form of a. slave” (Ph 2:7). Living our life, he showed us both how great is God’s love for us and how we are to return it. In him we learn both what God is like and what man is like (Pascal), for they are one and the same in him. He became a slave, though he was Son, and underwent the slave’s most terrible bondage, death. And this night we discover that he has taken that bondage away, or rather transformed it, so that it is now the way to the freedom only God’s children possess. “This is the night,” as the Deacon sang, “Christ broke the bonds of death and rose victorious from the grave.” “And all the Christians of the world, this night sets free from earthly vice and sinful gloom, restoring them to grace, uniting them to holiness.”

For Christ’s “purpose in dying for all was that men, while still in life, should cease to live for themselves, and should live for him who for their sake died and was raised to life (2 Cor 5:15-16).” (more…)

April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , — komonchak @ 3:24 pm

Good Friday – March 31st, 1972 – CNR

This service in celebration of the Lord’s Passion unites the several aspects of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The text from Isaiah gives the classic description of “the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,'” “the lamb led to the slaughter,” bearing our infirmities, enduring our sufferings. With the 21st Psalm, it is the chief Old Testament text for a Christian’s meditations on the sufferings of the Lord Jesus.

The Liturgy refuses, however, to indulge in moaning recollection of Jesus’ suffering. (more…)

April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 10:15 am

Holy Thursday – March 30, 1972 – Seminary

We celebrate in these holy days the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The passage of the Lord from death to life is the memory, and these rites are the act of remembering, that make us the people of a new covenant, a holy nation, God’s chosen people, proclaiming the mighty deeds of him who called us out of darkness into his own marvellous light. We recall the events in which Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, was made both Lord and Messiah, and in discovering our Lord, we discover ourselves as the Church.

As the New Testament readings for this service make clear, we attend upon the founding of the Church, the giving and the revelation-in-the-giving of what makes the Church the Church. For we hear in these readings of the service of the Lord. In the Gospel, we see Jesus, Teacher and Lord, rise from table and stoop to the service of his disciples. Peter protests, for as yet he does not understand; death and resurrection will make it clear what Jesus does. But when he persists in his protest, he is answered by the word of the Lord: “Unless I wash you, you will have no part with me.” As so often, Peter stands for the disciples, uncomprehending, still having to make their own transition from the way men think to the way God thinks, having now to accept their Lord in the form of a slave.

We are Peter, and we are not differently placed. (more…)

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