Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (24th S. Ord. Time)
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF SORROWS
1 Maccabees, Chapter 13, Verse 17-18
17 Simon knew that they were speaking deceitfully to him. Nevertheless, for fear of provoking much hostility among the people, he sent for the money and the boys, 18 lest the people say “Jonathan perished because I would not send Trypho the money and the boys.”
Simon Maccabee now with the assumed death of his brother Jonathan becomes the next leader of the Jews but unlike his brother Jonathan does not become the high priest. Yet because it is not certain that his brother is dead, he is prepared to pay the ransom that Trypho demands which is money and two of Jonathans sons as hostages which guarantee that when Jonathan is set free, he will not revolt against Trypho. Trypho invades the land of Judah bringing Jonathan along as prisoner. If Simon refuses the exchange the people will hold him responsible for Jonathan’s death. If he accepts, he is making a deal with a deceitful, treacherous, and ambitious animal called Trypho. Simon has no choice and pays. Trypho of course reneges, marches and ravages as he goes. Simon delays his march on Jerusalem. Thus, Trypho prevented from taking the city of God, like Napoleon at the attempted taking of Moscow must retreat back to Syria when a seasonal snowstorm comes and before he goes kills Jonathan and probably his sons as well. This is tribalism at its worst.
Tribalism and Fear - Unworthy of Christianity
Marilynne Robinson, noted author, express’ some of her fears to what is happening today in many of the churches and inside many of us, namely, new forms of tribalism and fear are reducing our wondrous God to a ‘tribal deity’ and our own ‘local Baal’. The God of all nations, all families, and all peoples, she asserts, is too frequently being invoked by us as a God, more exclusively, of my own nation, my own family, my own church, and my own people. She cites various examples of this, including her own sadness at how sincere Christians cannot accept each other’s authenticity: “I must assume that those who disagree with my understanding of Christianity are Christians all the same, that we are members of one household. I confess that from time to time I find this difficult. This difficulty is owed in part to the fact that I have reason to believe they would not extend this courtesy to me.” This, she rightly asserts, is unworthy of God, of Christianity, and of what’s best in us. We know better, though we usually don’t act on that and are thus indicted by what Freud called “the narcissism of minor differences.” And this takes its root in fear, fear of many things. Not least among those fears is our fear of the secularized world and how we feel this has put us on a slippery slope in terms of our Christian heritage and our moral values. To quote Robinson here: “These people see the onrush of secularism intent on driving religion to the margins, maybe over the edge, and for the sake of Christianity they want to enlist society itself in its defense. They want politicians to make statements of faith, and when merchants hang their seasonal signs and banners, they want them to say something more specific than ‘Happy Holidays’. Robinson, however, is distrustful of enlisting political power to defend Christianity. Why because “this country [the United States] in its early period was largely populated by religious people escaping religious persecution at the hands of state Churches, whether French Huguenots, Scots Presbyterians, English Congregationalists, or English Catholics”. She adds: “Since my own religious heroes tended to die gruesomely under these regimes. I have no nostalgia for the world before secularism, nor would many of these ‘Christian nation’ exponents, if they looked a little into the history of their own traditions.” Inside our fear of secularism, she suggests, lies a great irony: We are afraid of secularism because we have, in fact, internalized the great prejudice against Christianity, namely, the belief that faith and Christianity cannot withstand the scrutiny of an intellectually sophisticated culture. And that fear lies at the root of an anti-intellectualism that is very prominent inside many religious and Church circles today. How much of our fear today about Christianity being on a slippery slope can be traced back to this prejudice. Why are we so afraid of our world and of secularized intellectuals This fear, she asserts, spawns an antagonism that is unworthy of Christianity. Fear and antagonism are very fashionable within religious circles today, almost to be worn as a badge of faith and loyalty. And is this a sign of health? No. Neither fear nor antagonism, she submits, are “becoming in Christians or in the least degree likely to inspire thinking or action of the kind that deserves to be called Christian”. Moreover, “if belief in Christ is necessary to attaining of everlasting life, then it behooves anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian, any institution that calls itself a Church, to bring credit to the Faith, at very least not to embarrass or disgrace it. Making God a tribal deity, our local Baal, is embarrassing and disgraceful.” Fear and antagonism do nothing, she adds, to draw respect to Christianity and our churches and to the extent that we let them be associated with Christianity, we risk defacing Christianity in the world’s eyes. But saying that in today’s climate is to be judged as unpatriotic. We are not supposed to care what the world thinks. But it is the world we are trying to convert. And so we need to be careful not to present Christianity as undignified, xenophobic, and unworthy of our wondrous, all-embracing God. Why all this fear, if we believe that Christianity is the deepest of all truth and believe that Christ will be with us to the end of time Her last sentences capsulise a challenge we urgently need today. “Christianity is too great a narrative to be reduced to serving any parochial interest or to be underwritten by any lesser tale. Reverence should forbid in particular its being subordinated to tribalism, resentment, or fear.”
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Seeking the kingdom of God and its justice.
AT the Introit of the Mass, join with the priest in awaking in your heart a fervent desire for heaven by these words: Behold, O God, our protector, and look on the face of Thy Christ; for better is one day in Thy courts above thousands. How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord” (Ps. Ixxxiii.).
Prayer. Preserve Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord, with perpetual mercy, and since without Thee mortal man goes astray, may we be ever withheld by Thy grace from what is hurtful, and directed to what is profitable.
EPISTLE. Gal. v. 10-24.
Brethren: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to an other: so that you do not the things that you would. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are, fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like, of which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences.
What is it to walk in the Spirit? It is, in all things and at all times, to follow the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and not merely to abstain from the works of the flesh, but rather to crucify the flesh and its lusts, and earnestly to aspire after those fruits which the Holy Ghost produces in men? such as charity, peace, and joy. So shall we belong to Christ, and become partakers of eternal life. Is it not wonderful that while all Christians desire to belong to Christ, and to be heirs of His kingdom, they are unwilling to crucify the flesh with its vices and concupiscences, and to destroy its lusts, as though they believed this to be required only of the clergy, whereas it is to all Christians that Christ says: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. xvi. 24.)
GOSPEL. Matt vi. 24-33.
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore, I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat, and the body more than the rainment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? And for rainment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow: they labor not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And if the grass of the field, which is to-day, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith! Be not solicitous therefore, saying: What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and His justice: and all these things shall be added unto you.
What is meant by serving God? Doing the will of God in all things which He requires of us, in whatever state of life we may be placed, and doing this with fidelity, with unwearied zeal, and out of love for Him.
Who are the two masters whom we cannot serve at the same time? God and an inordinate desire for worldly gain. One cannot serve both, because they demand things that are contradictory.
Who are they that serve mammon, or worldly wealth? The avaricious, who, impelled by their longing for riches, offend God by manifold transgressions of His commandments.
Why does Christ refer us to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field? To awaken in us confidence in Divine Providence. If God feeds the young ravens (Ps. cxlvi. 9) and the birds of the air if He decks so beautifully the flowers of the field, how much more will He not care for men, whom He has created after His own image, and adopted as His children.
Are we, then, to use no care or labor? That by no means follows from what has been said. The Savior forbids only that anxiety, proceeding from little faith, which, in striving for maintenance, neglects God’s honor and commandments, and the good of one’s soul. For the rest, God Himself has commanded man to labor (Gen. iii. 17-19); and St. Paul says, “If any man will not work, neither let him eat” (n. Thess. iii. 10).
What should preserve us from excessive anxiety? A firm and living faith that God can and will help us. That He can is clear, because He is almighty; that He will is certain, for the reason that He is love that He has promised it to us, more than once, most expressly, and that He is faithful in keeping His promises. Let us, then, trust in God, and daily renew our confidence in Him, particularly when we say the Creed, or when, in the Our Father, we pray, Give us this day our daily bread.
Consolation in Poverty
In your misery and poverty, say often, with Job: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as it hath pleased the Lord so it is done; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job i.21). Or seek comfort in these words: “We lead indeed a poor life, but we shall have many good things if we fear God and depart from all sin and do that which is good” (Job iv.23).
Warning against Usury (or price gouging)
Usury is that mortal sin which takes advantage of our neighbor’s poverty and need to extort from him what is justly his own. Would that usurers might bear in mind what the Lord says: “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Matt. xvi. 26.)
Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
We must follow the example of Our Lady of Sorrows and bring our savior to others and undergo the joys with the sorrows. Today would be a good day to contemplate the seven sorrows of our Lady and to pray and honor her for she is our mother too.
This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation; with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.
As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul. Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:
- The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
- The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
- Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
- Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
- Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
- The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
- The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)
St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), Our Lady directly revealed the amazing graces granted by her Son for all those who daily and pray seven Hail Mary’s while meditating on her seven dolors and tears:
1. “I will grant peace to their families.”
2. “They will be enlightened about the Divine Mysteries.”
3. “I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.”
4. “I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.”
5. “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”
6. “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death—they will see the face of their mother.”
7. “I have obtained this grace from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all their sins will be forgiven, and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy.”
Things to Do
Teach your children the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Read more about this devotion. September is traditionally dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows.
· Present different art pieces of Our Lady of Sorrows, or illustration of one of her sorrows, for meditation and discussion. There are so many different pieces from all different eras, countries and mediums. Search words for art titles would be Lamentation, Deposition, Pieta, Dolorosa, Sorrows, etc. Some samples:
o The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin by Albrecht Durer
o Michelangelo's Pieta
o Pieta by Giovanni Bellini
o Vincent Van Gogh's Pieta
o Titian's Mater Dolorosa
o Different artists on the Presentation in the Temple
o Various artists on the Flight into Egypt
· Discuss why Mary is called the Queen of Martyrs.
· Make a heart-shaped cake for dessert, decorated with the swords piercing the heart.
· Think of ways to make reparation to Mary for the sins committed against Our Lord.
· Pray the short prayer or ejaculation, Holy Mother, imprint deeply upon my heart the wounds of the Crucified.
· Read or sing the Stabat Mater, perhaps incorporating it with the Stations of the Cross.
· In Italy, the title of Our Lady of Sorrows is Maria Santissima Addolorata. This devotion began in the 1200s. She is the patron of many Italian cities. In southern Italy there is La Festa della Madonna dei Sette Dolori (the festival of the Seven Sorrows of the Madonna), instituted in 1423, also called Madonna dell’Addolorata Festival. The food connected to this festival is cuccia salata, wheat berries cooked in meat broth and layered with goat or pork.
35 Promises of God cont.
“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my hand."
· Battle for the Soul of America-Day 29
· Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after 3pm till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.
The Collegeville Bible Commentary, 1986.
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896