The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time


The Countess and the Rock

 Thou art Peter and on this Rock I will build my Church.
Matthew 16:17


The Stately Home Murder is a mystery novel by Catherine Aird in which Inspector Sloan investigates a death in the great house of the Earl and Countess of Ornum.  Sloan is a raised-right boy who becomes interested in the, to him unfamiliar, behavior of the aristocracy at home.  At one important moment it has become clear that the murder cannot be blamed on anyone outside the family or outside the house.  The Countess observed calmly, “It must be one of us,” in response to which Sloan muses, “Facing the facts must be part of being an aristocrat.”  

          Since aristocracy is not an economic but a moral condition, participating in that fact-facing company is open to every Christian, being as we are servants of the one who said, “I am the truth.” And the pillar of truth in time is Peter.  When Peter professed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” the Lord looked at him and said, Peter, you are the recipient of a great grace for it is my Father who is in heaven, no man, who has revealed this to you.  And since that day Peter by the gift of that grace has been the sheet anchor of the apostolic mission whose purpose it is to teach the world reality and by doing so to form that great aristocracy that is the Saints. Continue reading “The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time”

Third Sunday in Lent

The Cross at the Heart of the World


Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.
Matthew 20:28


Christ had promised “Truly I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man shall sit on His glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the tribes of Israel.”    This promise the mother of James and John knew, but she had one further request; that her sons should have first place in that new world, sitting on the right hand and the left hand of the throne of the Messiah.  

James and John stood  with their mother, for it was to them that Jesus said:  You do not know what you are asking.  Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?   When they replied that they could Jesus acknowledged their future, for He knew both would die for His name, but He also warned that the privilege of sitting at His right and left was known only to the Father, which was consistent with Jesus’ repeated claim that He did not know the day or the hour.   

Jesus did not rebuke directly the brothers for their desire, or better, the desire of their mother, but the other ten grew indignant that the brothers had made such a request, perhaps because they had their own ambitions regarding the right order in the new world.    But then Jesus said in effect, This is not the question, for in fact authority in my kingdom is not the authority of place and power and security but the authority of sacrifice, self-giving, and adventure.   Greatness comes from the gift of self to others, not from lording it over one another as the Greeks do, but from taking the lowest place and seeking to serve best.           Continue reading “Third Sunday in Lent”

The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Apostleship: What Paul Received

Apostleship: What Paul Received I handed on to you what I received as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

Last of all, as to one born outs of due time he appeared to me

Paul would write again of his place as an apostle teaching what he had received, for when he undertook to correct the Corinthian Church regarding their tendency to celebrate the Eucharist as part of a rowdy love feast, he appealed to the tradition he had received from the Lord: that on the night when He was betrayed he took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, This is my body… (I Corinthians 11:23–26). We cannot be sure that Paul ever saw Jesus or ever heard is voice before Jesus spoke to him as he rode to Damascus to persecute the Church in that city. What Paul knew in the ordinary way of knowing he had learned in part from his study of what he then considered a damaging deviation from Pharisaic orthodoxy. He then heard the testimony of Stephen, for Paul, an agent of the Sanhedrin, guarded the coats of those who were stoning the deacon who has always been considered the first martyr. Continue reading “The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time”

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

When the New Life Began

Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.
Luke 1:38

When the New Life Began

Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. Luke 1:38

The turning of the times from futility to fulfilment may be seen as the Gospel of John sees it, as the day when John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit descending and recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. As the Church reflected upon its knowledge of the Lord it understood that the age of redemption had begun not when Jesus began to teach and heal but when He was born of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostolic mission then knew that He had not become the Savior at the Jordan or in Bethlehem but that He had been the Lamb of God standing at the heart of the Trinity from the foundations of the world (Revelation 5:6), born for us of a chosen woman once in time. Thus, after much thought, it was determined that the birth of the Lord should be celebrated, and after a still longer time that the date of that celebration should be December twenty-fifth. And then in the fifth century, as the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the economy of God was more carefully considered, the Church understood that she is properly called the Mother of God, the title that ensured for all time that she would not be considered the mother of Jesus’ human nature only but of the mother of Incarnate Word. We cannot be certain but perhaps it was this awareness of her place in the mystery of our redemption that fostered, beginning in the sixth century, the celebration of the day when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of the Lord. And thus the Feast of the Annunciation came to be established on the 25th of March. Continue reading “The Fourth Sunday of Advent”