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TWELVE STEPS OF SILENCE – SILENCE OF JUDGEMENT

TWELVE STEPS OF SILENCE – SILENCE OF JUDGEMENT

Step 1: Speak seldom with creatures and often with God

Previous: Silence of the mind

THE TWELVE DEGREES OF SILENCE

Step 9: Silence of judgment [Thy will be done]

Silence with regard to persons, silence with regard to things.

Do not judge, do not allow your own opinion to be perceived. Do not have them, that is, yield with simplicity, if these opinions are not opposed to prudence or charity.

It is the silence of the blessed and holy infancy, it is the silence of the perfect, it is the silence of the Angels and of the Archangels when they carry out the orders of God.

It is the silence of the Incarnate Word!

– From: The Twelve Degrees of Silence, Supplemento am.n. 2/2008 di “De Vita Contemplativa”

 

 

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“THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE TO LEAVEN WHICH A WOMAN TOOK…” (Mt 13:33)

“‘The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened’ (Matthew 13:33).

QUALITIES VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE

The Church, the kingdom which Jesus established in the world for the salvation of men, is endowed with many qualities, some visible and some invisible. It is visible in its hierarchy, in the distinction which exists between the Pope, bishops and priests and laity: the Pope, bishops and priests who teach the message of Jesus to the world and administer the sacraments whereby the grace of Jesus is communicated to men; and the laity who receive and believe the message and accept the sacraments whereby they are saved. But the Church is invisible in the grace which it communicates to men. The sacraments which communicate grace to men can be perceived by the senses of men, but the grace which they impart, since it is a share in the very life of God Himself, is as invisible as the divine life. Thus it is that the Church, which is a visible organism, visible in its hierarchy and its membership in this world, visible in the preaching and professing of the Gospel, visible in its sacraments and divine worship, is also through the grace it imparts invisible like leaven hidden in flour. The hidden leaven, however, does produce a visible effect: the loaf of bread into which it raises and expands the flour. Similarly the grace of God, which is the life of the Kingdom of Jesus, though it produces chiefly a spiritual invisible effect, also produces visible effects in the world of men, a raising and an expansion of the knowledge and the conduct of men. It is this latter effect of the life of the kingdom on the life of the world that we shall now briefly consider.

THE EFFECT OF THE LIFE OF THE KINGDOM ON THE LIFE OF THE WORLD

In the first place the Kingdom of God on earth, through the action of the Holy Spirit, thhe source of life, has raised the minds of men from ignorance to truth. It is through faith, the power to believe which the Holy Spirit gives to men, that men know the basic truths which explain the meaning of existence. Moved and guided by the Holy Spirit, the Church teaches men that there is one supreme God, Whose life is so intense that it is shared in its ineffable unity by three divine Persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This Triune God is absolute, infinite Love, and from the generosity of this Love there flows the creative act whereby God creates the world, gives existence to all that has been, is or will be. In this same infinite generosity God calls His intellectual creatures, angels and men who are created in His own image and likeness, to share most intimately in His own Trinitarian life, to live as children and friends with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But this call is to be answered freely by angels and men, for God has generously given them the freat gift and power of individual freedom.

TO CONVEY THIS GRACE TO MEN, JESUS CHRIST ESTABLISHED HIS KINGDOM ON EARTH, HIS CHURCH, THE ONE, HOLY, ROMAN, CATHOLIC CHURCH

Unfortunately some of the angels, through pride, rejected the divine call and have been condemned forever to the loss of the promised vision of God, a loss which is the principal element of the hell to which they have been condemned. One of them, their leader Satan, moved by the hatred and envy of good which sin engenders, seduced Adam and Eve, the first human beings. In Adam and Eve the whole human race lost the divine grace which would have ultimately brought all men to the blessed vision of God. But God, because of His infinite love and mercy for men, determined to give men another chance. In the fullness of time He sent His own Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, to save men. The Son of God became man, incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, who thus became the Mother of God. This incarnate God, known in human history as Jesus the Christ, both Son of God and Son of Mary, gave to the world the message of hope and salvation whereby men are freed from ignorance of their own destiny, of the true meaning of their existence. By His saving death on the Cross, a death which He offered freely to His Father as a payment for the sins of men, He won from the Father the return of divine grace to men, the grace which enables men to share in the life of God in this present world and to grow into the vision of God which is their true destiny after death. To convey this grace to men, to inform men of the divine message of hope and salvation, Jesus established His kingdom, His Church, the One, Holy, Roman, Catholic Church [Mt 16:18]. The Church exists in the world as a visible sign of God’s call to men to share in His divine life [Mt 5:14-16;17-18], to escape from the monotonous, frustrating misery to which mankind is bound if it will not answer the call of God’s love. It is in and through the Church, in union with Christ, Who is the Head of His Body [Col 1:18; 1 Cor 12:12], which is the Church, that men offer to God the one true sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus [Mk 14:22-24; 1 Cor 10:16]. It is by uniting themselves with the sacrifice of the Body and the Blood of Jesus on the Cross, a sacrifice which is perpetually re-presented to God and to the world in the sacrifice of the Mass, that men offer to God the worship of adoration, thanksgiving, petition and reparation for sin which is alone pleasing to God. It is through the Mass and the sacraments, whose efficacy stems from the Cross, that God blesses man’s worship with the gift of His grace, molding men into the likeness of Jesus, His well-beloved Son, so that through this likeness they may be acceptable to God and may share in His life.

DOWN THROUGH THE AGES OF TIME THE CHURCH BRINGS THE MESSAGE OF JESUS CHRIST AND THESE MEANS OF SALVATION

Down through the ages of time, such time as it is still allotted to man, the Church will bring this message and these means of salvation. If men will heed the divine call and live in God’s grace, they will be rewarded with the vision of God, in which man’s true happiness is alone found, and at the end of time they will rise gloriously from the tomb to live forever even in the body. If they will not heed the call or remain faithful to it in God’s grace, at death they will forfeit forever the vision of God and at the end they will rise ingloriously in the body to suffer eternally even in the body.

THOSE WHO HEED THE CALL OF JESUS CHRIST SHARE IN HIS DIVINE LIFE

Those who heed the call of Jesus and enter into His kingdom in this world form with Him one Body, His Church. They live with Him, in Him and by Him. The bond of their union with Him is not only the external profession of faith by which they give their allegiance to Him and to His message but it is also the invisible bond of grace and charity by which they share in His divine life and by which they live in union with Him, with His Father and His Holy Spirit, and with one another in the Communion of Saints, which is His Church.

THE FINAL RESULT OF THAT LEAVENING ACTION WHICH THE CHURCH, THE KINGDOM OF GOD, IS NOW EXERCISING

At the end of time Jesus, the Son of God to Whom God the Father has given all judgment, will come with His angels and His Apostles to judge all men. When by His judgment the good have been separated from the wicked, then will all men see the true final dimensions of His kingdom. Then will all men and angels see the final result of that leavening action which the Church, the Kingdom of God, is now exercising, partly visibly and partly invisibly, in this present world.

LIVING SERENELY IN THE MIDST OF THE BEWILDERING AND FRUSTRATING COMPLEXITIES OF SINFUL HUMAN HISTORY

This, all too briefly and inadequately, is a summary of the great truths which God reveals to the world in and through His Church, His kingdom on earth. Those who receive it humbly and lovingly in faith are enriched intellectually, immeasurably beyond those who will not accept it. Through the revealed word and the incarnate Word of God they have learned the secrets of the innermost core of being, of existence. Though they live in the midst of the bewildering and frustrating complexities of sinful human history, they know, in faith, that beneath all apparent contradictions and beyond all hopelessness there lies the one Truth and Love which is God, the foundation of hope. In the golden age which flourishes in each civilisation which comes to be in human history, they are not so beguiled by the beauty and perfection of the world man has made as to forsake the God Who is the Author of man’s perfection. In times of barbarity and decadence, such as come at the decline of all purely human civilisations, they are not so disheartened as to hate and reject, or to hopelessness and despair. Armed with the saving Truth of God, with the knowledge of the hope-engendering Love of God, the member of Christ’s kingdom lives serenely in the midst of the calm or the turbulence of human history, knowing that the God Who underlies and permeates all history will in His own good time manifest the meaning of it all.

THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD

The Church, of course, is primarily interested in transmitting to men the knowledge of the divine revelation which Jesus, her Founder and Head, has entrusted to her. But, as a kingdom founded on universal charity, on love for all men and for all that is truly human, she has in the course of history interested herself in the discovery and transmission of all true knowledge.

In the beginning, as was natural, her interest was chiefly in theology, the application of human reason to the proper understanding of divine revelation and of the Sacred Scriptures (the Bible) in which the story of God’s revelation is contained.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH COMPILED AND TRANSMITTED THE BIBLE

In the case of Sacred Scripture it is the Church herself who preserved these inspired books for the world. As early as 382 A.D. A Council of Rome under Pope Damasus drew up the list of the books of the Old and the New Testaments. The list was reaffirmed by the third Council of Carthage in 397, by Pope Innocent I in 405 and by Pope Gelasius I in 495. It was not until 1546 at the Council of Trent that the Church, faced with the attempts of some of the ‘Reformers’ to remove from the Bible texts which could not be reconciled with their new doctrines (Luther [threw out books ‘clashing’ with his brand new doctrine including] the Epistle of St James which said, ‘So also, faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself,’ a statement which contradicted Luther’s teaching that faith alone was necessary for salvation), reaffirmed both the divine inspiration of the Bible and the list of books of the Bible which the Church had accepted from the beginning.

A FULLER UNDERSTANDING

The first traces of this effort can be seen in the works of the early Christian apologists, especially Justin the Martyr and Tertullian. Justin, a pagan philosopher converted to Christianity, sought, even if not quite correctly, to show that the human wisdom of the pagans had been anticipated by and even perhaps drawn from the divine reveltions contained in the Bible. Tertullian, with a mind more legal than philosophical, sought to give more precision to the terms in which the Christian mysteries were to be affirmed. In the middle of the second century A.D. We find a theological school functioning at Alexandria in Egypt, a famous centre of Greek and Jewish learning. In the middle of the third century a new theological school was founded at Antioch. From this time on, the Church has never lacked schools of theology and theologians. Before the breakdown of the Roman Empire the Church had produced the enduring theological works of the Great Cappadocians, Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa, and in the Western Church the powerful theological understanding manifested in the works of the great St Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in Africa.

LEARNING AND EDUCATION IN THE MONASTERIES

Even after the collapse of the empire in the face of the barbarian invasions of Europe and Africa, and in spite of the disruption of the Christian world by the Mohammedan conquests, ecclesiastical study and learning did not cease. Christian monks, especially the Benedictines, a monastic order founded at Monte Cassino in 529 by St Benedict, preserved in their monasteries copies of the books of the Bible, of the works of the Christian apologists and theologians, and even the works of pagan writers. They conducted schools for the education of the young and the training of clerics for the service of the Church and the civil authorities. In the seventh century Irish monks conducted schools in Ireland and sent teachers to the Continent to conduct schools there. Under the great Emperor Charlemagne a nnew impetus was given to learning by the founding of his famed Palace School under the guidance of a group of scholars drawn from all Europe. During the Carolingian Renaissance under the successors of Charlemagne interest in learning increased. The study of theology was furthered by the reintroduction of the use of Aristotele’s Logic. A new interest in classical Latin literature led even to a revival of works of poetry.

A GREAT SYNTHESIS OF ALL THEOLOGICAL LEARNING

By the twelfth century theologians were well on their way to a great synthesis of all theological learning. Peter Lombard composed his ‘Four Books of Sentences,’ in which he tried, with great success, to organise systematically all theology. Efforts such as this came to greater success in the thirteenth century, especially in the masterful Summa theologiae of St Thomas Aquinas, a theological synthesis whose influence has lasted until the present time.

MODERN ERRORS, RELATIVISM & CO.

After the Golden Age of Scholasticism (as it came to be called) in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, theology and philosophy declined in quality until the attacks of the ‘Reformers’ on the authority of the Church brought on a revival. At first, as circumstances dictated, the efforts of theologians. Were devoted to a defence of the Church as God’s mouthpiece in the world. But a more serious danger soon threatened the leavening action of the Church in the world. Under influence of the philosophical errors of Descartes, Locke, Hume and Kant, philosophy was corrupted and fell into the decadence of relativism, the theory that since nothing is absolutely true then anything and everything, even contradictory propositions and contradictory religious doctrines, can be simultaneously true. Moreover (according to relativist theory), since contradictory views can both be true, even in matters of religion, there can be no exclusively true divine revelation recognisable as such. According to this view then all religions are equally true or none is true, and since (as they say) there can be no rational justification of any particular religion, the ultimate foundation of any religion would have to be purely subjective and emotional.

ETERNAL TRUTHS

This is the modern religious error which the Church, the teacher of mankind, faces. Against it the Church at the Vatican Council reaffirmed its belief in the power of the human mind to discover the existence of God and to recognise as divine the revelation which the Church is divinely commissioned to teach to the world. This particular struggle is not yet over; the Pope and bishops and the philosophers and theologians of the Church are still labouring to effect a reconciliation of the spirit of the times with the eternal truths of God’s revelation.

THE CHURCH INITIATED EDUCATION FOR THE COMMON PEOPLE, A THING HITHERTO UNHEARD OF

As we have already suggested, the Church has not only fostered the pursuit of theological knowledge. She has also preserved and promoted general knowledge. The classical works of paganism, literary, historical, scientific, philosophical and theological, were preserved by the Church through the so-called Dark Ages of medieval Europe. They were learned and taught in conjunction with religious knowledge. Though for centuries learning was the privilege of the nobility or of the wealthy, the Church was always interested in the instruction of the poor. For centuries clerics of the Church were among the most learned men of their times, and the Church was always solicitous to give clerical training to the children of the poor. The great medieval universities (such as the Sorbonne at Paris and Oxford) were founded under the aegis of the Church and staffed by clerics of the Church. The Council of Trent in the sixteenth century urged the foundation of elementary schools. Great teaching orders, such as the Jesuits, the congregations of teaching brothers and sisters, have been founded to give the benefits of education to all. Like her Master, Jesus, the Church strives to bring to all men the truth which will make them free.

LIKE HER MASTER, JESUS, THE CHURCH STRIVES TO BRING TO ALL MEN THE TRUTH WHICH WILL MAKE THEM FREE

The leavening work of the Church has not been restricted to the field of knowledge. Through her influence and example the moral tone of mankind has also been elevated. In the pagan and corrupt world in which the Church was born, she appeared as the champion of a highly elevated moral code. She reprobated not only sinful external actions but even sinful internal desires and decisions. Not only was adultery forbidden, for example, but even the sinful lusting of the heart after forbidden impurities. Not only was chastity in marriage inculcated, but virginity (for both men and women) was extolled. As a consequence of original sin human beings are all too prone to forget God in the pursuit and enjoyment even of legitimate pleasures such as those of marriage. As an example of true dedication to God, man’s true destiny, the Church holds up to the eyes of the world its celibate priests, its consecrated monks and nuns. By their practice of virginity they are an example to the world of the utter dedication to God which is the fundamental duty of all men. Besides, by their faithfulness to their dedication they prove to the weak, the timid and the ungenerous that the grace of God, purchased by the Blood of Jesus, can really set men free from the tyranny of the devil, the world and the flesh. Moreover, from the beginning the Church has taught the world that heroic virtue is possible, not through human justice but through the supernatural charity, the supernatural love of God and man which God gives to men with His grace. Sin has begotten discord and hatred in the life of humanity. Grace and charity will not only restore men to union with God but also enable men to live in harmony and love with one another.

SAINTS OF THE CHURCH

The Church appeared in the world of men preaching this high moral ideal. Over the centuries it has succeeded in realising this ideal in varying degrees. On the level of the individual person it has had from the beginning startling successes. In the first three hundred years of its existence thousands of Christians publicly manifested their dedication to God to the extent of giving up their lives for Him during the Roman persecutions of Christianity. The leavening vitality of the Gospel, its power to lead men to prefer God to all else, is all the more noticeable in the fact that the early Christian martyrs are found not only among the nobility and the military forces (who might be expected by reason of their breeding, position or training to be brave in the profession of their faith) but also among the women, both rich and poor, and children. These early martyrs were the first Christian saints. Their example of preference for God even over life itself has been imitated by all the martyrs for Christ down to the present time.

THROUGH THE CENTURIES

Even in times and places where the Church has not been actively persecuted, the Church has never been lacking in examples of men and women totally dedicated to the love and service of God and man. From St Martin of Tours (the first non-martyr to be recognised as a saint by the Church) to St Maria Goretti in this present time (a young girl who preferred death to loss of chastity) the history of the Church shows a procession of saints choosing God rather than the seductive pleasures of the world. In addition to the canonised saints of the Church, from the very beginning of her life on earth the Church has inspired countless thousands to forswear the pleasures of the world and its power for the love of God in monasteries and convents.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ONLY

In a world corrupted and debased by the indulgence of the flesh St Mary Magdalene and St Augustine give testimony to the power of God to convert and save the sinner. In a world torn by restless human ambitions and the marches and countermarches of military conquest, St Benedict and St Scholastica forsake worldly ambition for the peace and the love of God. In a world beginning anew to love money and wealth overmuch St Francis of Assisi gives up all his worldy possessions to the poor and embraces his Lady Poverty for the love of God and man. In a world in which nationalistic aims are seeking to divide and conquer the Church of Christ St Ignatius founds the Society of Jesus to defend and spread the Kingdom of God universally among men. In a world in which misguided men were trying to find God outside His own Church, insisting that no intermediary be interposed between the individual and God, God raised up a St Teresa of Avila and a St John of the Cross to show that true unity with God is to be sought in the fruitful bosom of His Church.

SOCIAL MORALITY IS RAISED THROUGH THE CHURCH

But it is not only in the lives of individual saints that the power of the Gospel has been manifest. Through the influence of the Church social morality in general has also been raised to higher levels. Even though the ignorance and weak wills of men have made the process slow and uncertain at times, the Gospel of Jesus has brought great benefits to mankind. From the beginning the Church has made no distinction between slaves and freemen. Over the centuries this has gradually led to the abolition of slavery in Christian nations. The Church’s doctrines and its reverence for Mary, the Mother of God, has likewise led many nations to raise the position of women in society. In a truly Christian society they cannot be regarded as either the slaves or the playthings of men. Even the horrors of war were mitigated under the influence of the doctrine of Christ. In the Middle Ages (the great ages of faith thus far in the history of the world) the Church even induced men to practise the Truce of God, whereby they abstained from battle on certain feast days. In modern times with the rise of capitalism and the industrial revolution the Church has fought for the rights of both capital and labour, for the right and necessity of labour unions to exist and to function for just wages. In large part the present world, even when expressly anti-Catholic, is living under the influence and heritage of the great elevation of morals brought to the world by the preaching and practice of Christian moral doctrine.

Of course the Church has not been completely successful in elevating the moral conduct of all men, even of all those nominally members of the kingdom of God. Nor does she ever expect in this present world to be completely successful. Jesus has told her more than once that she will always count among her members good and evil men. The Church He has told her is like a net which brings up both good and bad fish, or a field in which both good grain and weeds will grow. It is God Who will separate the good from the evil and manifest His judgement at the end of the world. So the Church is not dismayed at the scandalous behaviour of some Christians, even though at times they be in high places, perhaps as in the cases of some few Popes, even in the highest place of all. In spite of all individual defections the Church continues to preach Christian morality to the world.

TODAY’S TOTALITARIANISM

Today the Church faces the horror of totalitarianism, a godless totalitarianism which denies God, rides roughshod over the dignity of individuals, reduces men to statistics. Almost alone in the world she still cries out that God gave Himself on a Cross for the salvation of all men and that therefore each human being is in himself of inestimable value, a child of God, a brother of Jesus the Christ.

UNTIL THE END

How this present struggle of the Church with the power of the devil and the bad will of men will be resolved we cannot at present see. But, whether the Church grows or diminishes in the present world, it still remains true that she will be until the end a leaven in the world, secretly or openly building up the kingdom of heaven until it reaches the stature already determined by God. At the end of time with the general judgement of God the true proportions of the kingdom, the full extent of the leaven of the Church, will be revealed in the final Kingdom of God.”
– Martin J. Healy, S.T.D., 1959 (headings in capital letters added afterwards)

 

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17th JANUARY, BIBLE READING (1 SAMUEL 8:4-7, 10-22)

YOU WILL CRY OUT ON ACCOUNT OF THE KING YOU HAVE CHOSEN FOR YOURSELVES, BUT GOD WILL NOT ANSWER YOU.

All the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. “Look,” they said to him, “you are old, and your sons do not follow your ways. So give us a king to rule over us, like the other nations.” It displeased Samuel that they should say, “Let us have a king to rule us,” so he prayed to the Lord. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for it is not you they have rejected; they have rejected me from ruling over them.” All that the Lord had said Samuel repeated to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the rights of the king who is to reign over you.

He will take your sons and assign them to his chariotry and cavalry, and they will run in front of his chariot. He will use them as leaders of a thousand and leaders of fifty; he will make them plough his ploughland and harvest his harvest and make his weapons of war and the gear for his chariots. He will also take your daughters as perfumers, cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields, of your vineyards and olive groves and give them to his officials. He will tithe your crops and vineyards to provide for his eunuchs and his officials. He will take the best of your manservants and maidservants, of your cattle and your donkeys, and make them work for him. He will tithe your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out on account of the king you have chosen for yourselves, but on that day God will not answer you.”

The people refused to listen to the words of Samuel. They said, “No! We want a king, so that we in our turn can be like the other nations; our king shall rule us and be our leader and fight our battles.” Samuel listened to all that the people had to say and repeated it in the ears of the Lord. The Lord then said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and give them a king.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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“LORD, IN THIS TIME OF WAITING YOU ARE ALSO WAITING”

ADVENT PRAYER TO BUILD UP THE BODY OF CHRIST:

O Lord Jesus,
sometimes I become impatient
while waiting for the coming of Your grace,
the coming of Your peace,
the coming of Your justice,
the coming of Your love.
I forget that You are also waiting –
for my efforts
to build up Your Body in the world.

It is true, O Lord,
that unless You build the house
all who labour will come to nought.
But it is also true that
unless I join all people
in working for the coming of Your Kingdom,
that Kingdom of justice, love, and peace
will delay in coming.

Help me to realise
that You need my poor efforts,
and let me apply myself
with body, heart, and mind
to whatever task You may give me.
Amen.

 
 

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“THE SOUL’S HUSBAND IS THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GRACE” – A BIBLICAL EXPLANATION OF THE THREE WEDDINGS

“A THEME ON THE THREE WEDDINGS AND THEIR ACCOMPANIMENTS: ‘THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKENED…’

Let us say, then: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king. Note that there are three marriages: of union, of justification and of glorification.
The first was celebrated in the temple of the blessed Virgin; the second is daily celebrated in the temple of the faithful soul; the third will be celebrated in the temple of heavenly glory.

In marriage, two people come together, the bridegroom and the bride. Two divided families are united by the good of matrimony, when from each side, one takes another as spouse.

GREAT WAS THE SEPARATION BETWEEN GOD AND HUMANITY

Great was the separation between God and ourselves, and to end it and to make peace it was needful that the Son of God should take a bride from our family.

To settle the arrangements, many representatives and intermediaries came and made their pleas, and were hard put to it to obtain what they sought; but at last the Father agreed, and sent his Son, who united himself to our nature in the bride-chamber of the blessed Virgin. Thus the Father made a wedding feast for his Son.

I. THE FIRST WEDDING

Regarding this, St John Damascene says: ‘After the holy Virgin gave her consent, the Holy Spirit came upon her, according to the word of God spoken by the Angel, purifying her and preparing her to be able to receive the divine Word, and to bear it. Then He who is the Wisdom and Power of the most High God, overshadowed her; the Son of God homoousios (that is, consubstantial) with the Father, being as it were the divine seed, He joined to Himself, from the most pure and holy blood of that Virgin, our ancient bespattered flesh, animated by a rational and intellectual soul; not by natural sowing, but by creating it by the Holy Spirit.’

THE HUMAN FLESH COULD NOT HAVE WED MORE GLORIOUSLY

He also says: ‘The Word of God assumed everything that He had established in our nature, body and intellectual soul. He assumed the whole, wholly; to confer salvation freely upon the whole of me.’ The Divinity might have sought to be married more nobly; but the flesh could not possibly have wed more gloriously.

II. THE SECOND WEDDING

The second marriage is celebrated when, at the coming of the Holy Spirit’s grace, the sinful soul is converted. Whence he says in the prophet Hosea:

‘I will go and return to my first husband, because it was better with me then, than now [Hos 2:7]

and a little later:

‘She shall call me, My husband; and she shall call me no more Baali. And I will take the names of Baalim out of her mouth; and she shall no more remember their name. And in that day I will make a covenant with them, with the beasts of the field and with the fowls of the air and with the creeping things of the earth; and I will destroy the bow and the sword and war out of the land; and I will make them sleep secure [Hos 2:16-18].

THE SOUL’S HUSBAND IS THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GRACE

The soul’s husband is the Holy Spirit’s grace, and when by an inner inspiration it calls her to repentance, the calling of vice is quite useless. No more shall she use the title ‘Baal’, master and devourer, the name of Pride which seeks to be master, of Greed and Lust that seek to devour. Grace takes these names from the penitent’s mouth.

‘Let old matters depart from your mouth’ [1 Kg(Sm) 2:3]

he says; so that not just the sin but all its accompaniments and imaginations are put from heart and mouth. In that day, when grace is poured in to illuminate the soul, he will make a covenant, will be reconciled with sinners: whether they be ‘beasts of the field’ (miserly and rapacious), ‘fowls of the air’ (proud), or ‘creeping things of the earth’ (gluttonous and lustful). He will destroy out of the land (the sinner’s mind) the bow of devilish temptation, the glittering sword of worldly prosperity, and the of the flesh. In this way, he will make them sleep secure, and celebrate the marriage like bridegroom and bride in the chamber of a pure conscience.

III. THE THIRD WEDDING

The third marriage will be celebrated on the day of judgement, at the coming of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ: of Him is said:

‘Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye forth to meet him’ [Mt 25:6].

He will take as His bride the Church, of which St John says in the Apocalypse:

‘Come and I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb… And he shewed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God’ [Apoc 21:9-11].

The Church of the faithful comes down from God out of heaven, because she accepts from God that her conversation is in heaven, where now she lives by faith and hope, and in a little while will celebrate the marriage with her Bridegroom; as the Apocalypse says:

‘Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb’ [Apoc 19:9].

MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE THREE WEDDINGS

Of these marriages, the Lord says in Hosea:

‘I will espouse thee to me for ever’ [Hos 2:19].

This is the marriage of glorification. Isaiah says:

‘Joy everlasting shall be on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness’ [Is 51:11].

Hosea continues:

‘And I will espouse thee to me in justice and judgement and in mercy and in commiserations’ [Hos 2:19].

This is the marriage of justification. In the judgement of confession, where the soul judges and accuses herself before her confessor, and in the justice of satisfaction where she exercises justice in herself, the Lord espouses the soul to himself in mercy, by forgiving her sins, and in commiserations by conferring grace and keeping her to the end. Finally:

‘And I will espouse thee to me in faith’ [Hos 2:20].

MARRIAGES OF GLORIFICATION, JUSTIFICATION AND UNION

This is the marriage of union. It was in the faith of the blessed Virgin, who believed the Angel, that he espoused our nature to himself. So let us say, then: ‘The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son.’ The Gloss says: ‘The kingdom of heaven, which is the present Church, or congregation of the just, is like to a king (God the Father) who made a marriage for his Son when by the mystery of the Incarnation he joined the Church to his Son.'”
– St Anthony of Padua

 
 

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SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 23:35-43)

THE KING OF FORGIVENESS

The people stayed there before the cross watching Jesus. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer him vinegar they said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription: “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging there abused him. “Are you not the Christ?” he said. “Save yourself and us as well.” But the other spoke up and rebuked him. “Have you no fear of God at all?” he said. “You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus,” he said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” “Indeed, I promise you,” he replied, “today you will be with me in paradise.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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LEARN TO PRAY THE ROSARY

The devotion of the holy Rosary is a summary of Christian faith in language and prayers inspired by the Bible. While praying the prayers in the order outlined below (which quickly becomes ‘second nature’), we meditate on Bible passages and events (mysteries). The Rosary is therefore, among many other things, a Gospel you can ‘read’ everywhere, without having to carry books, and on travels or whilst you walk or have to wait somewhere, as well as in the dark or if you are unable to see or read well. Wherever the Rosary is prayed, it brings countless blessings on the place, and on everyone else around as well as on the people in Communion with the Church worldwide living on earth now and those who lived on earth in the past who have passed on and for the future.

HOW TO SAY THE ROSARY

You use Rosary beads, if you haven’t got any yet, one can count on one’s ten fingers. The following might seem complicated, but once you want to pray the Rosary for the glory of God and for your own sanctification you will get heavenly assistance to learn the sequence and all the prayers within a relatively short time.

• The sign of the cross is made with the crucifix (“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”)
• Holding the crucifix, recite the Apostles’ Creed
• On the 1st bead, say 1 Our Father.
• On the next 3 beads, say one Hail Mary each (for faith, hope and charity)
• On the next bead say 1 Glory be.
• Before you reach the first decade (i.e. a set of a large Our Father bead plus 10 small Hail Mary beads) say the Fatima prayer.
• Now announce the first mystery and visualise it while you pray 1 Our Father on the large bead and 10 times the Hail Mary, one Hail Mary for each bead. You might start with visualising an image depicting the mystery, and with more practice the scripture passages will accompany it in your mind, and the icons will come ‘to life’, revealing truths regarding those Bible readings hitherto unknown to you to your heart, mind and soul, which will profoundly deepen your relationship with God and how you live the Gospel inwardly which only God and you know, and outwardly in dealing with situations and fellow people. Mother Mary helps us with that by her company, prayers and love, because she does want no credit for herself, but her one and only constant concern is that people love her Son Jesus.
• After the 10 Hail Mary pray 1 Glory be and 1 Fatima prayer.
• Proceed with the next mystery in the same order.
• After praying 5 mysteries, say the Hail Holy Queen.

THE PRAYERS OF THE ROSARY

• THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; on the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

• THE OUR FATHER (THE LORD’S PRAYER)

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

• THE HAIL MARY

Hail, Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at at the hour of our death. Amen.

• THE GLORY BE

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.

• THE FATIMA PRAYER

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.

• THE HAIL, HOLY QUEEN

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this vale of tears! Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus! O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

THE MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY ROSARY

• THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES
(Said on Mondays and Saturdays, and Sundays from Advent until Lent.)

1. THE ANNUNCIATION
(Lk 1:26-38; Isa 7:10-15) Mary, you received with deep humility the news of the Angel Gabriel that you were to be the Mother of God’s Son; obtain for me a similar HUMILITY.

2. THE VISITATION
(Lk 1:39-56) Mary, you showed true charity in visiting Elizabeth and remaining with her for three months before the birth of John the Baptist; obtain for me the grace to LOVE MY NEIGHBOUR.

3. THE BIRTH OF JESUS
(Lk 2:1-14; Mt 2:1-12; Gal 4:1-7) Jesus, You accepted poverty when You were placed in the manger although You were our God; grant that I may have the SPIRIT OF POVERTY (detachment from worldly goods).

4. THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE
(Lk 2:22-40) Mary, you obeyed the law of God in presenting the Child Jesus in the Temple; obtain for me the virtue of OBEDIENCE.

5. THE FINDING IN THE TEMPLE
(Lk 2:42-52) Mary, you were sad at the loss of Jesus and joyous on finding Him surrounded by teachers in the Temple; obtain for me the virtue of PIETY.

• THE LUMINOUS MYSTERIES
(Said on Thursdays except during Lent)

1. CHRIST’S BAPTISM IN THE JORDAN
(Mt 3:13-17; Isa 42:1-2, 4-5) Jesus, at Your Baptism the Father called You His beloved Son and the Holy Spirit came upon You to invest You with Your mission; help me to KEEP MY BAPTISMAL PROMISES.

2. CHRIST’S SELF-MANIFESTATION AT CANA
(Jn 2:1-11) Mary, the first among believers in Christ, upon your intercession your Son changed water into wine and brought the disciples to faith; help me to DO WHATEVER JESUS SAYS.

3. CHRIST’S PROCLAMATION OF THE KINGDOM
(Mk 1:14-15; Mt 5:1-12) Jesus, You preached the Kingdom of God with its call to forgiveness, inaugurating the ministry of mercy; help me to SEEK FORGIVENESS FOR MY SINS.

4. THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD
(Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-36) Jesus, the glory of the Godhead shone forth from Your face as the Father commanded the Apostles to be transfigured by the Spirit; help me to BE A NEW PERSON IN YOU.

5. CHRIST’S INSTITUTION OF THE EUCHARIST (LAST SUPPER)
(Mt 26:26-30; 1 Cor 11:23-25) Jesus, at the Last Supper, You offered Your Body and Blood as food under the signs of bread and wine and testified Your love for humanity; help me to attain ACTIVE PARTICIPATION AT MASS.

• THE FIVE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES
(Said on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the year, and daily from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday)

1. THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN
(Mt 26:36-40) Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, You suffered a bitter agony because of our sins; grant me TRUE CONTRITION (being really sorry for my sins for love of You, and being earnestly resolved not to commit those sins again).

2. THE SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR
(Mt 27:26) Jesus, You endured a cruel scourging and Your flesh was torn by heavy blows; help me to have the virtue of PURITY.

3. THE CROWNING WITH THORNS
(Mt 27:27-31) Jesus, You patiently endured the pain from the crown of sharp thorns that was forced upon Your head; grant me the strength to have MORAL COURAGE.

4. THE CARRYING OF THE CROSS
(Mt 27:32) Jesus, You willingly carried Your Cross for love of Your Father and all people; grant me the virtue of PATIENCE.

5. THE CRUCIFIXION
(Mt 27:33-35; Jn 19:31-37) Jesus, for love of me You endured three hours of torture on the Cross and gave up Your Spirit; grant me the grace of FINAL PERSEVERANCE (being faithful to You during life and at the hour of physical death.)

• THE FIVE GLORIOUS MYSTERIES
(Said on Wednesdays except during Lent, and on Sundays from Easter until Advent)

1. THE RESURRECTION
(Mk 16:1-7; Jn 20:19-31) Jesus, You rose from the dead in triumph and remained for forty days with Your disciples, instructing and encouraging them; increase my FAITH.

2. THE ASCENSION
(Mk 16:14-20; Acts 1:1-11) Jesus, in the presence of Mary and the disciples You ascended to heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand; increase in me the virtue of HOPE.

3. THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
(Jn 14:23-31; Acts 2:w-11) Jesus, as You promised, You sent the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the disciples under the form of tongues of fire; increase my LOVE FOR GOD AND HIS CHURCH.

4. THE ASSUMPTION
(Lk 1:41-50; Ps 45; Gen 3:15) Mary, by the power of God you were assumed into heaven and united with your Divine Son; help me to have TRUE DEVOTION to you.

5. THE CROWNING OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
(Rev 12:1; Jud 13:18-20; 15:9-10) Mary, you were crowned Queen of heaven by your Divine Son to the great joy of all the Saints; obtain for me ETERNAL HAPPINESS.

• PRAYER AFTER THE ROSARY

O God, Whose only-begotten Son, by His Life, Death, and Resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life: grant, we beseech You, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord.

 
 

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PRAYER FOR US TO WORK FOR THE KINGDOM

Father, you endowed St Anthony Claret with the strength of love and patience to preach the gospel to many nations. By the help of his prayers may we work generously for your kingdom and gain our brothers and sisters for Christ. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

 
 

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PRAYERS ANSWERED: GOD GRANTS THE ISRAELITES THEIR WISH WHEN THEY ASK FOR KINGS DUE TO LACK OF FAITH IN HIM…

THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MANKIND AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MONARCHY OF THE ISRAELITES

SAMUEL

“The last of the great Judges of Israel was Samuel, the son of Hannah and Elcana. He defended his people against the encroachments of the Philistines. His influence, however, was felt chiefly in the matter of religion. By his teaching and exhortations he induced the people to give up the worship of the Canaanite gods, Baal and Astarte, and to worship Jahweh alone.

But in his old age he entrusted the power of the judgeship to his sons Joel and Abia. They lacked the virtue and integrity of their father and regarded their power as a means to acquire personal wealth rather than a sacred trust. Besides, the Philistines became an increasingly dangerous threat to the Chosen People. The leaders of the people came to Samuel and asked him to give them a king, a king such as ruled among other peoples.

WORLDLY VIEWPOINT

From a purely human point of view the request must have seemed reasonable. The Chosen People must have observed the stabilising and unifying influence of the institution of kingship among their neighbours. They will have seen also the political and military advantages which a single ruler and government might produce for them.

A LACK OF FAITH IN GOD’S PROVIDENCE

But, on the other hand, their desire for a human king to rule over them betrayed a lack of faith in the providence of God. Samuel was quick to perceive this and to point out to the leaders of the people the disadvantages of royalty. He told them that kings would levy taxes, draft men for military service and subject the people generally to forced labour. But the people persisted in their desire to be ruled by a king.

KING SAUL

Following God’s instructions Samuel anointed Saul, the son of Cis, of the tribe of Benjamin, and the people acknowledged Saul as their king. For a time Saul was a good king. But his disobedience to God made him displeasing to God, and God chose David, son of Jesse, of the tribe of Juda to be his successor.

KING DAVID

Samuel secretly anointed David as king of the Chosen People. In this way the blessing which Jacob had given to Juda [Judah] was realised, and the channel of salvation was narrowed down to the family of David. [Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind was to be born in Flesh to the Virgin Mary and her spouse Joseph of the ancestry of David.]

In a war with the Philistines the Israelites were defeated and Saul and Jonathan were slain. David returned to Hebron in Juda. There the men of Juda chose David to be king of the tribe of Juda. Isboseth, the son of Saul, under the tutelage of Abner, one of Saul’s generals, began to rule over the other tribes of Israel. In the struggle for power which ensued, David was triumphant. At the age of thirty he was recognised as king by all the tribes of Israel.

DAVID’S PLANS TO BUILD A TEMPLE

During his reign he forced the Philistines back to the plain of Philistia, defeated the Ammonites, the Aramaeans, the Moabites and put them under tribute. He also conquered Edom and gave the Israelites access to the Red Sea. He also seized Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it the capital of his kingdom.

David also made Jerusalem the religious centre of his kingdom by bringing there the Ark of the Covenant. It was his intention to build a temple for divine worship. But on being advised by the prophet Nathan that it was God’s will that David’s son rather than David himself should build the temple, David contented himself with the task of gathering the materials for the temple.

KING SOLOMON

After ruling forty years, seven in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem, David died and Solomon succeeded to the throne. Solomon inherited from David, his father, a strong kingdom. He increased its strength in several ways: he married a daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt and so increased his own prestige; he continued his father’s friendship with Hiram, the king of Tyre; with Hiram’s assistance he built a fleet and sent it on trading expeditions which brought him much gold; he seems also to have developed remarkably the iron industry of his country; he strengthened his army by the addition of 1,400 chariots and 4,000 horses.

SOLOMON BUILDS THE TEMPLE

But the most lasting achievement of his reign was the building of the great temple at Jerusalem. From Hiram of Tyre Solomon hired skilled workmen. They were assisted by the enforced labour of thirty-thousand Israelites and one hundred and fifty-three thousand six hundred Canaanites. The Temple was built between the years 961 and 955 B.C.

When it was completed Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple. Then the Temple was solemnly dedicated with numerous sacrifices.

SOLOMON’S GROWING LOVE FOR WORLDLY LIFESTYLE AND WOMEN

Solomon himself imitated the style of the Oriental monarchs of his time. He built magnificent palaces for himself and his harem of wives and concubines. He maintained a large staff of servants and retainers to serve the royal household. The kingdom was organised chiefly to support the king’s army and extravagant expenditures.

But his marriage to foreign women proved to be his downfall. At the beginning of his reign he was faithful to Jahweh, the one true God. But later on his foreign wives induced him to build temples for false gods. He himself worshipped Astarte and Moloch. God became angry with him and told him that because of his sin his kingdom would be divided after his death and his son would inherit only a small part of the kingdom.

CHANGES IN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS STRAIN FOREIGN RELATIONS

As a consequence, at the end of the reign of Solomon, the signs portending the dissolution of the kingdom became apparent. A new Pharaoh replaced the father of Solomon’s wife and he gave shelter to the enemies of Solomon, especially Jeroboam, who as later to seize most of the kingdom from Roboam, Solomon’s son.

MOUNTING INTERNAL POLITICAL PROBLEMS

In addition, the people became restless under the great exactions in money and service and tithes which Solomon laid upon them. But, for the sake of David, his father, Solomon was allowed by God to rule the kingdom until his death.

AT ALL TIMES RELATIVELY BACKWARD KINGDOM

The reigns of David and Solomon, from the purely human point of view, mark the period of Israel’s greatest glory. During their reigns the kingdom is one and reaches its greatest geographical extension. Their power is acknowledged by other peoples, and nations pay tribute to them.

Still, it must be admitted that the kingdom of David and Solomon did not rank with the great empires of their own or any other time. They were never so large or so powerful as the empires of the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Medes and the Persians, the Greeks or the Romans. Nor did they reach the cultural level in the arts and crafts of the other peoples of the surrounding lands. Even Solomon had to import foreign sailors to man his fleets and navigate them successfully. To build the Temple he had to import workmen from Tyre.

THE COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF DAVID

But the true greatness of their kingdom is found elsewhere. It is found in the covenant which God made with the house of David. When David desired to build a temple for the Ark of the Covenant, Nathan the prophet told him that God wished the son of David to build the temple. But he also told David that his son would establish a house that would remain forever.

And later, at the end of Solomon’s reign, the prophet Ahias told Jeroboam that God had chosen him to rule over ten of the tribes of Israel, but that God had also said: ‘to his (Solomon’s) son, I will give one tribe: that there may remain a lamp for my servant David before me always in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen, that my name might be there’ (2 Kings 11:36). It is God’s intention that the throne of David shall remain forever. This means that both Israel and the world shall be saved through the house of David. The line of God’s plan to save men runs from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through Juda to David. This would seem to indicate also that while the world of man is to be saved through the Chosen People, it will be saved possibly by one individual.

DAVID’S KINDLINESS AND MILDNESS

This great honour is given to David because he was pleasing to God. His faith in Jahweh was very great and he never wavered in his service to his God. Unlike Solomon and later kings David never fell into idolatry, not even during his exile among the Philistines. He followed God’s commands as they were transmitted to him by Nathan, God’s prophet. So great was his reverence for the things of God that he would not even try to injure Saul, God’s anointed king. More than once, when Saul was in his power he let Saul go uninjured. After Saul’s death he brought Saul’s son Mephiboseth to live in his own palace. He wished to build a temple to honour God. But when Nathan told him that this was not God’s wish he contented himself with gathering the materials for its construction and allowed the great honour of building it to go to his son Solomon. He centralised the worship of Jahweh by bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. So great was his joy at bringing God’s dwelling place to Jerusalem, his capital, that he himself danced and sang in the procession before the Ark. And this he did with no thought of catering to human respect [what people thought]. The simplicity and sincerity of his soul in this action is made clear by the attitude of his wife Michol, the daughter of Saul. When she saw David dancing before the Ark she despised him because she felt that he had demeaned himself by acting not as a king but as a hired singer. David, however, seems to have felt that even a king cannot demean himself by doing honour to God.

Moreover, in David God found a model of that kindliness and mildness which He Himself practised towards men. David stands out among the Oriental kings of his time for the mildness of his treatment of his enemies. He spared Saul, his mortal enemy. He extended mercy and kindness to the relatives of Saul, even though their continued existence was a menace to his own rule. He was merciful, perhaps even, as some think, to the point of weakness, to his own sons when they challenged his authority. He wished even to spare the life of Absalom, who rebelled against him and attempted to seize his throne.

DAVID’S GRAVE SIN AND SOUL-STIRRED REPENTANCE

It is true that David had some human weaknesses. He committed adultery with Bethsabee, the wife of Urias, and tried to conceal it by arranging for the death of Urias. But though his crime was great, his repentance was greater, and he immortalised it in the soul-stirred hymn of repentance, the Miserere (Psalm 50): ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy mercy; according to thy great clemency blot out my iniquity…’

As we see in this Psalm, David repented bitterly and humbly his great crime. But he trusted the mercy and the love of God. Moreover he realised the truth of what Samuel had told Saul, that God preferred obedience to sacrifice, a humble and contrite heart to whole-burnt offerings. He perceived clearly what other monarchs of his time did not, that God preferred the gift of man’s heart to gifts of animals and grain. Briefly David saw that religion must not only be external but also internal. Man’s external acts of religion must proceed from a love of God in the will of man. And in return for God’s love David sang many Psalms in praise of God. In fact so great was his reputation as a singer of praise to God that the Chosen People gave him credit for composing all the psalms in the Book of Psalms, even though many of them were composed by other psalmist.

THROUGH DAVID’S DYNASTY GOD WILL SAVE MEN FROM THEMSELVES

As for the Chosen People themselves, during this period of their history we see in them a strong desire for national unity as opposed to tribal particularism. This feeling for national unity no doubt strengthened their allegiance to Jahweh, and so we find them forsaking the worship of Baal and Astarte and clinging only to the service of the one true God.

It is clear that their desire for a king was due to a lack of faith in God and to their desire to imitate their neighbours, in a word, to human respect. But God, who realised this, was patient. He acceded to their request and gave them a king and a kingdom. But He turned their desires to His own loving purpose. He will make the dynasty of David everlasting, and through that dynasty He will save men from themselves.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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THE SIGN OF CONTRADICTION – COMMENTARY ON THE CURRENT WEEKDAY GOSPEL READINGS (LUKE 11:15 – 13:17)

THE PRINCE OF PEACE’S MESSAGE BRINGS DISCORD BETWEEN THOSE WHO DON’T ACCEPT IT AND THOSE WHO DO.

“DETACHMENT FROM THE THINGS OF THE WORLD IS THE MARK OF THE FOLLOWER OF JESUS. BUT THIS DETACHMENT IS NOT SIMPLY A NEGATIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD THIS PRESENT WORLD. INTRINSICALLY IT IS A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD AND THE GREAT GOD OF ETERNAL LIFE.”

THE SIGN OF CONTRADICTION

“Though Jesus preached the law of love, He Himself was not received with love by the leaders of His own people. Shortly after teaching His disciples the Our Father and insisting to them on the efficacy of prayer, Jesus expelled a devil from a man who was dumb and the dumb man was able to speak. The Scribes and Pharisees, determined to destroy Jesus, said that Jesus Himself was in league with the devils. Jesus replied: If, then, Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? … Now, if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you’ (Luke 11:18-20).

A SIGN

Some time later the Scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign which would prove His claims. Jesus was not pleased with their lack of faith, but He did give them a sign. ‘An evil and adulterous. Generation,’ He said, ‘demands a sign, and no sign shall be given but the sign of Jonas [Jonah] the prophet. For even as Jonas was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’ (Matthew 12:39-40). Then Jesus reproached the Scribes and Pharisees because they would not believe Him. The men of Ninive, He reminded them, believed Jonas and repented.

INTERNAL PURITY

Not all of the Pharisees were convinced that Jesus was an enemy of the religion which they professed to believe. One of them invited Jesus to dine with him and his friends. This overture, however, did not turn out well. Jesus, knowing how the Pharisees relied on external religious observances but neglected the internal purity of heart and intention which God preferred, deliberately refrained from the ritual washing which the Pharisees practised before dining. This led His host to wonder why Jesus did not fulfil the prescriptions which the Pharisees practised. Jesus took the occasion to point out that the Pharisees were more interested in external appearances of holiness rather than true holiness of will.

One of the Scribes present protested that Jesus was insulting them. Jesus replied that the lawyers were also at fault because they imposed on the people generally oppressive burdens which they themselves did not share. This led the Scribes and Pharisees to hate Him the more and induced them to try to trap Him so that they might bring about His downfall.

Jesus, on His part, knowing how implacable their opposition to Himself was, did not refuse the challenge. He warned the people to beware of the false religious ideas of the Pharisees. The common people, of course, lived in awe and fear of the Pharisees and the Scribes. Jesus felt it was necessary to disabuse the people of their fear of their leaders. ‘Do not be afraid,’ He said to them, ‘of those that kill the body, and after that they have nothing more that they can do. But I will show you whom you shall be afraid of; be afraid of him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell’ (Luke 12:4-5). Jesus was attempting to show the people that they should believe in Him rather than the Scribes and Pharisees. Hence He continued, ‘And I say to you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, him will the Son of Man also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God’ (Luke 12:8-9).

A KINGDOM NOT OF THIS WORLD

Now, it would not be easy for ordinary people to act against or in defiance of the Pharisees and lawyers. Jesus, Who had not come to establish an earthly kingdom, did not promise the people that He would defend them by arms or force. He had come to establish the spiritual Kingdom of God and so He promised them the help of God. ‘And when they bring you before the synagogues,’ He said, ‘and the magistrates and the authorities, do not be anxious how or wherewith you shall defend yourselves, or what you shall say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say’ (Luke 12:11-12).

THE LAW OF LOVE

Jesus knew that the spiritual leaders of the people had rejected Him and that they would seek to prevent the accomplishment of His mission to establish the Kingdom of God among men. As is so often the case with men with an exaggerated reverence for human laws, they had failed to penetrate to the inner essence of God’s law, the law of love. Enamoured of their own interpretations of the law, determined to maintain the pride of their own position among their countrymen and their reputation for faithfulness to the stern and burdensome law which they taught, they had hardened their hearts against Jesus and were resolved to see that He did not secure the allegiance of the people. It was therefore necessary for Jesus to appeal directly to the people. This He did, not by promising them that He would defend them by earthly power, nor even by miracles, but by asking them to make an act of faith in the power of God. The Holy Spirit, He said, would protect them in the hour of danger. They should fear, not the death of the body but the death of the soul in hell. If they preferred God to the goods of this world, to earthly life itself, then God would give them strength to acknowledge Jesus so that they might enter into eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

ETERNAL TREASURES

At this point in the discourse of Jesus to the people one of those present asked Jesus to settle a dispute between himself and his brother about their inheritance. Jesus seized the occasion to point out that the goods of this world were at best only passing pleasures which were all lost at death. Lay up for yourselves treasures with God, He counselled them, rather than treasures in this world.

This led Him on to give His own disciples the magnificent discourse on trust in the providence of God: ‘Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. The life is a greater thing than the food, and the body than the clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storeroom nor barn; yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than they! But which of you by being anxious about it can add to his stature a single cubit? Therefore if you are not able to do even a very little thing, why are you anxious concerning the rest? See how the lilies grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which today is alive in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how muchmore you, O you of little faith! And as for you, do not seek what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; and do not exalt yourselves (for after all these things the nations of the world seek); but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be given you besides’ (Luke 12:22-31).

DETACHMENT

Detachment from the things of the world is the mark of the follower of Jesus. But this detachment is not simply a negative attitude toward this present world. Intrinsically it is a positive attitude toward God and the great God of eternal life. Jesus continues: ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses that do not grow old, a treasure unfailing in heaven, where neither thief draws near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart also will be’ (Luke 12:32-34).

Jesus could not, in words, have emphasised more strongly the spiritual nature, the essential unworldliness of His kingdom. Those who enter His kingdom must be concerned with the good of their souls, with the good of eternal life, rather than with security and prosperity in this world. They must be ready to give up all worldly goods, even life itself, for eternal life. This lesson of detachment moved the mind of Jesus to look into the future. He foresees His own coming to judge the souls of men. To be blessed by Him when He comes as judge men must be faithful to Him always. He compares them to faithful servants who guard well the house of their master. Their fidelity must be not just for a time but constant. ‘You must also be ready, because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man is coming’ (Luke 12:40).

STEWARD OVER THE MASTER’S HOUSEHOLD

Peter, who has accompanied Jesus on His journey through Judea, asks Jesus if these words are meant only for the Apostles or for all alike. Since Jesus has promised that Peter will be the head of His kingdom, of His Church, it is not surprising that Jesus replies to him by telling the parable of the prudent and faithful steward whom the master has put over his household. If the steward remains faithful to his trust he will be rewarded by his master. But if he becomes unfaithful and abuses his authority then he will be punished. To whom much authority is given, of him much will be demanded.

THE PRINCE OF PEACE

At this point Jesus, realising that His message would be despised by many, utters one of the saddest statements in the Gospel story. ‘I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptised with; and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you think that I came to give peace upon earth? No, I tell you, but division. For henceforth in one house five will be divided, three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against his father; mother against daughter and daughter against the mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’ (Luke 12:49-53).

Now Jesus Himself had come into this world as the Prince of Peace. At His birth the angels of God had promised peace on earth to men of good will. Obviously, then, Jesus does not mean to say that He has come of set purpose to bring discord to men, to set the members of families against one another. That is not His intention. Yet, because of bad will among men, that will be the result of His mission. He has come to bring peace to the hearts and souls of men, to usher them into the peace of the Kingdom of God. But many will refuse to accept Him; in fact they will hate Him and those who follow Him. And so Jesus acknowledges sadly that the true peace of soul which He brings to men will be also the cause of discord among men.

THE CAUSE OF DISCORD

He is reminded, too, that the bad will of the leaders of His own people will move them to bring about His own death. ‘But I have a baptism to be baptised with.’ But because His death will be the cause of salvation for many, He is anxious to offer His life for men: ‘And how distressed I am until it is accomplished.’

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is a sign of contradiction. He has come to bring peace, but His coming is the occasion of discord. God plans the salvation of men, but men are still rebellious. In the garden of Paradise Adam sought to find his own happiness and glory without God and against God’s will. Now God is once again walking familiarly with men, but they prefer their own glory to His. If we might make use of a thought of St Augustine, men refuse to use the world to come to the glory of God; they prefer to use God to attain glory in the world. Because Jesus refuses to use His power to establish a triumphant earthly kingdom, those whose hearts are enmeshed in the pleasures of this world will war against Him and His spiritual kingdom.

Aware of this fateful prospect, the rejection of the true Messias by God’s Chosen People, Jesus urges the people to repent before it is too late. You know how to judge the weather from the winds and the colour of the sky, He tells them. Why do you not read the signs of the times for the salvation of mankind? Be reconciled with one another, be reconciled with God before He comes to judge and chastise you.

At this moment someone brought word that Pilate had shed the blood of some Galileans while they were offering sacrifices in the Temple of Jerusalem. Some of the crowd apparently felt that these Galileans had been thus punished by God because they were sinners. Believing themselves righteous, they were not worried about their own possible fate. Jesus warns them: ‘Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they have suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent, you will all perish in the same manner. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloe fell and killed them; do you think that they were more guilty than all the other dwellers in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent, you will all perish in the same manner’ (Luke 13:2-5).

REPENTANCE

Jesus, the Son of God, has come to save His people. The time of salvation is at hand, but they must seize it by repentance. To emphasise the need for making their decision quickly Jesus tells the people the parable of the barren fig tree. Because it had borne no fruit for three years its owner wished to cut it down. But his gardener urged him to give it one more year. The tree would be cared for and fed well. If then it bore no fruit it could be cut down. Jesus was pointing out to the people that the time had come for them to bear the fruit of repentance. If they did not, then they, too, would be cut down by God.

SOME ACCEPTED HIM; SOME IN SELF-LOVE REJECTED HIM

On this same journey through Judea, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. A woman who had been bent over by disease for eighteen years was brought to Him. Jesus laid His hands on her and said, ‘Woman, thou art delivered from thy infirmity’ (Luke 13:12). Instantly the woman was cured.

The ruler of the synagogue, more solicitous for the observance of the Sabbath laws than for the mercy of God, protested because Jesus had worked His wonderful cure on the Sabbath. Jesus replied, ‘Hypocrites! does not each of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or ass from the manger, and lead it forth to water? And this woman, daughter of Abraham as she is, whom satan has bound, lo, for eighteen years, ought not she to have been loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?’ (Luke 13:15-16).

This reply shamed the adversaries of Jesus, but no doubt it only hardened their opposition to Him. Once again the peace which Jesus brought was the occasion of discord among the Chosen People. He Who had come as a sign of salvation was a sign of contradiction. In the freedom of His love God came into this world to save men, and though some few accepted Him in joy, others in the freedom of their self-love rejected Him.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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