12 August 201819 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
19 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
19 Ordinary Time
Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time: On Murmuring

Today's Gospel reading, the third of the five Sundays from the Sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, begins with the Jews murmuring. That's a great word, murmur. It's an onomatopoeia, a word that sounds like its meaning, like screech, or bloop, or splash, or grunt, or giggle, etc. Murmur. Mom makes a large meatloaf on Sunday. On Monday it returns to the table with red sauce on it. On Tuesday it's mixed in with vegetables, and all the family murmurs. Or school starts on a Wednesday, and on Friday the teacher assigns two hours of homework, and among the students there is murmuring. The Hebrews of the Bible were world class murmurers, especially those who lived in the times of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt. These people murmured because the Pharaoh increased their work load. It was all Moses' fault they said angrily. They murmured when they camped next to the Red Sea and heard that the Pharaoh's chariots were approaching. They murmured when they had no bread, or no meat, or no water. You would have thought that they would have had faith in God who had cared for their every need, but no, instead of faith there was murmuring. The murmuring of the Jews of the Exodus was recalled in the murmuring of the Jews in the beginning of today's Gospel. They complained about Jesus. He had fed them with loaves and fish, but now He said that He was all the bread they needed. He was the Bread of Life that came down from heaven. They were convinced that He did not come down from heaven. They said that they knew his family. And they would have been correct if that was all there was to Jesus. If He were simply human, He could not be the Bread from heaven. He could not give them that which was infinitely greater than the Bread their ancestors ate, the manna. To accept the gift of the Bread of Life, they had to first accept that Jesus was more than human. He was Divine.

This is the same for us. To understand the miracle and mystery of communion, our starting point must be that Jesus is Divine, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He gives us who He is, Eternal Life. Our Founding Fathers, Washington, Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, etc, gave us liberty, but they were not liberty. Abraham Lincoln gave the slaves freedom, but he was not freedom. But Jesus gave the Bread of the Eternal Life because He is the Bread of Life. He is not just a great man. He is Divine. The Bread of Life is Jesus, our Divine Sustenance. And we take Him into ourselves. When we receive the Eucharist, we are united to Him, to each other and to the whole Body of Christ. It is no wonder that those who wish to destroy the Church begin by attacking the Eucharist. In England of the Sixteenth Century, France of the Eighteenth Century, Mexico of the Twentieth Century, and throughout the world in the Twenty-first century, wherever ISIS or its affiliates rears its head, Christianity is attacked by attacking the Eucharist as well as those who can provide the Eucharist for others. Throughout history and continuing to the present day priests are tortured and killed for saying Mass for the people who long for the Bread of Life.

You can see the hand of the devil here. In the diabolical battle against God's people, the devil attacks that which binds them to God, the Eucharist. His attacks are not just overt, though. The Father of Lies works subtlety. He tries to convince us that Jesus was a wonderful man, but just that, a man. When Jesus is equated with other great men of history, then the Eucharist has no meaning. It then becomes a pious Catholic practice with no real significance beyond that of holy water. The unbelieving murmur that Catholics are not really receiving the Lord when they go to communion. Some Catholics are swayed by their arguments. And the devil wins a battle in his war on the Kingdom of God. But the devil loses a battle every time that Mass is celebrated and every time that people receive the Bread of Life. Every Sunday, and for some of us, every day, we enter into the Mystery of the Eucharist. We receive the One who is the Bread of Life. This is Jesus who unites Himself to Us with His Body and Blood.
This is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Son of the Father, who humbled Himself to become one of us, to die for us, and then gave the gift of His Life and Death, to us in the form to the Blessed Sacrament./> This is Jesus whom we will take into ourselves today when we receive communion.
We don't murmur.
We proclaim.

The Solemnity of the Assumption:
Mary, the Greatest of Us Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. The Dogma of the Assumption was solemnly declared by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950. This was the declaration that after her death Mary was taken up to heaven body and soul. The belief in Assumption dates back to the early centuries of the Church. Christians always believed that Maryâ??s death was a falling asleep in the Lord or dormition. She was immediately taken up to God. Actually the Dormition of Mary or, to use our terminology, the Assumption of Mary, was one of the most popular themes in religious art of the medieval times. With the exception of Jesus Christ, who is the Eternal Word, conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary is the greatest person to ever exist. She is the greatest person to be conceived through a human mother and a human father. She is greater than Buddha, or Mohammed, or Moses, or David, or any of the great people of history. She is the one who gave her life so we can have a Savior. She is the greatest of us all. The greatest of us all is a woman. Mary brought a new dignity to every woman who has ever lived and who ever will live. Women bring life into the world and nurture this life. Because Mary sacrificed herself for us, our women bring unique reflections of God into the world, and nurture His Image with their bodies and with their lives. Women are life givers.

Christian women give life to the Divine. Women are sources of love, carriers of love and nourishers of love. In these days when the most lucrative industry in the world is the pornography industry, where mainly young girls are exploited, Mary reminds us of the Dignity and Respect that are the natural rights of every female among us. We men are reminded that it is our obligation to care for and protect our women, be they little girls, teens, wives, singles, widows or the elderly. Recently, the young men in our youth group have been meeting to pray for our young women. All men need to pray for those among us whose biblical origin was a gift from God to Adam. In these days of the glorification of the self, Mary reminds us of a person whose body and spirit were created for another. She said "Yes" to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation and threw her life into turmoil. She nurtured and cared for the child that others wanted dead. She supported Him as a young man when others thought he was deranged. She stood with Him as He was tortured to death to complete the Fatherâ??s plan of redemption, and she accepted John and us into her heart and became our mother. For all this and more than we could ever imagine, Mary was rewarded with her total union with God at the conclusion of her earthly life. She was assumed into heaven. Now, seated the closest to her Son, the judge of the Living and the Dead, within whisper length from his ear, she brings our prayers before Him. She brings the prayers we offer when we honor her in the Rosary. She brings the prayers we offer when we just call out, "Mother, help us." And we pray today on the feast of her assumption. We pray for our ladies, young and old. We pray for our brothers and sisters who are hurting. We pray for peace. We pray for ourselves. Together, now, we pray the prayer that is the profound expression of our devotion to our mother: Hail Mary.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
19 Ordinary Time
Ephesians Week 5: Live in Love as Christ Loved Us
(August 12, 2018)

Bottom line: Live in Love as Christ Loved Us.
LastLast week St. Paul said to put away the old self and put on the new. We want to become new men and women - created in God's way. Today St. Paul elaborates: Live in love as Christ loved us. Let's consider three aspects of love, each one more difficult. First, love involves properly using the gift of sexuality. Considering the dismal news in our country - and our church - we need to remember Jesus' teaching. You can sum it up in five words: complete abstinence or unmitigated monogamy.* No adult, as far as I know, finds that teaching easy or convenient. It' like the old joke about Moses coming down from the mountain with a long list of rules. The people complain so he goes back for forty days in thunder and lightening. When he comes down he tells the people: The good news is that I got the commandments whittled down to ten. The bad news - it still has the one about adultery. For sure Jesus' teaching on sexuality is not easy - and we keep looking for loopholes. Almost everyone falls in some way but it keeps coming back to this: complete abstinence or unmitigated monogamy. This teaching is demanding - as are most things that bring human flourishing.

The latest issue of Columbia (the magazine all our Knights receive) has a good article about a young man in college who discovers the positive meaning of chastity: read the article and pass it on to a young person in your family. Now while we recognize the difficulty of living the teaching on sexuality, Paul has something even tougher. It's the second aspect of Christ's love: Remove "all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling..." Those things, says Paul, grieve the Holy Spirit. You can almost hear the gentle Spirit of God weeping as he witnesses things going on in our homes or social media. In our parish we offer a monthly Mass for the end to domestic violence. That will happen only when we remove bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling - that is, verbal attacks. Easier said than done. We need God's help. This brings us to the third and most difficult aspect of love. Paul says to forgive one another as God has forgiven us in Christ. Regarding forgiveness many people fool themselves. They blithely talk about how they forgive everyone and don't hold grudges. I remember a guy telling me how lucky he is because he quickly forgets offenses. In the same conversation he started talking about something a person had done to him years ago. I knew it was coming because he had been gnawing that bone for a long time. We all hold hurts. Sometimes a person will tell me he gets distracted when he prays. What kind of distraction? I ask. "Well, I start thinking about what this jerk did to me. And he was supposed to be some kind of Christian. I saw him for the louse he really is."

That's not a distraction. It's God saying, "Forgive as I have forgiven you in Christ." "Well, what he did was unforgivable". /> God replies, "So was what you did. That's why I sent Jesus. That's why you need his blood."

I'm not saying to tolerate abuse. Still, no important relationship can survive without forgiveness: siblings, close friends, parishioners, marriage. Live in love as Christ loved us. Not easy. To sum up:
1) Complete abstinence or unmitigated monogamy.
2) Remove "all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling..."
3) Forgive as God has forgiven you in Christ.
Next Sunday we will have a nice opportunity to put God's love in action as we have our annual outdoor Mass and picnic. It's a good moment to invite people who have distanced themselves. Whatever the reason I believe Sister Barbara will help them return. At 1 pm next Sunday we will dedicate a memorial to her. At the Mass St. Paul will tell us to give thanks always and for everything. Or as Sister Barbara would say, "God is good. He is so very good." That's for next Sunday. For today take home this message: Live in love as Christ loved us. Amen.

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
19 Ordinary Time
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Modern
Gospel John 6: 41 - 51

We continue with the Sixth chapter of Bread of Life Discourse from John's Gospel, and in the Gospel for this weekend we hear the negative response that Jesus received from some of the crowd. Some are not pleased that Jesus said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They knew Jesus as the carpenter from Nazareth, how could he claim to come from Heaven, and how is he the bread? Jesus responds directly to them and their murmuring and repeats that he is the bread of life that comes down from heaven, and he is the living bread. If they receive the living bread they shall not die. Some of those present responded by murmuring against Jesus and this teaching. The Oxford English Dictionary defines murmuring as; "A subdued or private expression of discontent or dissatisfaction." As subdued and private these murmurings might have been, Jesus hears them and directly confronts them with the command, "Stop murmuring among yourselves." He then goes on to repeat what he said about him being the Bread of Life, and adds to it his relationship to God as His Father. When I hear of the Israelites murmuring against Jesus I think of the Israelites in the desert. After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt with the miraculous help of God, they began to murmur against Moses and Aaron. The accounts of their murmuring can be found in both Exodus and Numbers.

We can also go back to the prophets and how the people murmured against them. It seems that whenever God acts in a mighty way there are those who find something wrong with it and murmur. It can be like when the Israelites murmurer in the desert that they had no food, and God provides them with manna. At first they are grateful, but it doesn't take long for them to murmur again because they get tired of the same menu. The people of Israel crying out for God to send someone to restore them are grateful when the prophets first appear, but when the message of restoration involves making radical changes in their own lives, they murmur. It is no surprise that when Jesus comes preaching the Kingdom of God, and performing great works the crowds flock to him, but when he begins to get to the crux of who he is, and what they must do to be faithful to him, they don't want to accept his radical teaching and they murmur. This Gospel leads us to the question of whether or not we find ourselves murmuring. It could be over a particular teaching from the Gospel that we struggle with, and rather than embrace the need to work at change in our lives, we murmur against that particular teaching.

We expect God to reform his teaching around us, rather than for us to reform my life around the Gospel. It could be some teaching of the Church that we disagree with. Rather than seek to better understand the teaching, we murmur and work at finding a way around it. It could be a teaching or exhortation of the Holy Father, rather than accept the challenges that the teaching gives us, we criticize the Holy Father and murmur that he is wrong. Murmuring is divisive and destructive and should be avoided. Those who murmured against Jesus risked separating themselves from him and the gift of salvation. May we be able to avoid murmuring and accept the challenges that come from difficult teachings. Accepting these challenges rather than the easy reaction to murmur helps us grow in our faith and to grow closer to Christ.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Lectionary 621

Today the Church the world over rejoices on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, reverently commemorating the moment when "the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory" (Munificentissimus Deus 44). What these words of Pope Pius XII indicate is that Mary shared in the triumph of her Son Jesus Christ over sin and death, and she did so in a unique way among all human beings. Mary's freedom from original sin and its effects is celebrated each year on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. On that day we recall that by virtue of a singular grace of God Mary was conceived without the burdens of original sin, and never committed any sin?though she suffered the effects of others' sins?throughout her entire life. This grace was hers as the result of God's choosing her to be the mother of his Son. Mary's victory over the corruption of death is similarly tied to her status as the mother of Christ; just as he rose from the dead in his resurrected body, so too Mary was assumed into heaven bodily and abides forever in the presence of the Trinity, interceding for us that we might follow her to glory. The scripture readings today, (I chose to reflect on the readings for the vigil mass of the Assumption), each help to illustrate the Church's beliefs about Mary and her Assumption. In the first reading from the First Book of Chronicles we hear of the Ark of the Covenant?the elaborate chest in which the tablets of the Law and other sacred objects were carried. "Ark of the Covenant" is a title attributed to Mary in the beautiful litany often called the Litany of Loreto.

It evokes her role as the living "Ark" who bore within her not the tablets of the Mosaic Law but the Son of God who is the source and fulfillment of all law. The second reading is drawn from the First Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul says of the resurrection: "When that which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word?shall come about: Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor 15:54). The doctrine of the Assumption reminds us that by God's will Mary in a sense is the key to the resurrection, since it was in her womb that the Word took on mortality, so that we could "clothe ourselves" with his immortality. In the gospel, when Jesus is greeting by a woman who praises Mary with the reverent words "Blessed is the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed," he responds strikingly: "Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it" (Luke 11:27-28). This is a truly radical teaching of Christ, which shakes our own present day sensibilities as much as it shook the people of Jesus' time. What he is saying is that those who?like Mary?hear the word of God and observe it are blessed for that fact, not for having been the mother or daughter, or father or son, of any other person. In speaking these words Jesus does not dishonor Mary by any means, which one might infer from the way he sharply corrects the woman who spoke in praise of her; rather, he sets the record straight as to why Mary was "blessed." Following in her footsteps on this feast of the Assumption, may we faithfully hear the word of God and keep it, so that through Mary's intercession we too might rejoice in the glory of Christ's victory over death and abide with him in eternity.
Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
19 Ordinary Time
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus continues his teaching on the Eucharist in the extract from John?s Gospel chosen for this Sunday. We are also given for our reflection the account of how the angel fed the Prophet Elijah with bread strengthening him for his long journey from Mount Carmel to Mount Sinai. We see this as another prefigurement of the Eucharist. The Jewish leaders complain to each other about Jesus; as they had previously done they use an old argument that since they knew his father Joseph then he cannot be the one he claims to be. Jesus, naturally enough, has no truck with this and tells them to stop moaning and groaning. Instead he teaches them that he is the Son of the Father and the Bread of Life. Indeed, he goes further and says that because they want to reject him then they are not authentic followers of the Father.

Of course, the teaching about the Eucharist is beyond them. They cannot understand what he is telling them. For him to say that he is the Bread of Life and to insist that it is only those who partake of this bread who will live forever is something quite incomprehensible to them. We can see that this dialogue with the Jews is working on two levels. The Jewish leaders are thinking on the level of the mundane and can only focus on what they can see and touch, what is explainable by human logic; while Jesus is working at the level of the divine and is speaking about supernatural realities. Jesus? listeners are bound to find what he says as beyond reason. They are tied to the realities and customs of this world and cannot see that there is a more important spiritual reality and that this is what Jesus is talking about. The whole thing ends up in mutual incomprehension. We have already noted that in the Gospel of John there is no actual narrative of the Eucharist during the Last Supper. Instead John gives us the Washing of the Feet and the Farewell Discourse which is essentially a recapitulation of Christ?s teaching. Here instead in the follow-up to the Feeding of the Five Thousand we find the heart of his teaching on the Eucharist. This makes sense because while the other Evangelists work up to the Last Supper on the night before Jesus died on the Cross and inevitably therefore see it as the culmination of his work on earth, John, however, gives us Christ's teaching on the Eucharist as something that goes on throughout during his three years of public ministry. We know that Jesus was present at many meals during his ministry; of course, they varied in character and some were surely more solemn than others. But we need to see that all these meals were linked in some way to the Eucharist. Many of them were a chance for him to deepen his teaching and others to manifest some other aspect of his work. In the Gospel of John the first of all these meals is the Marriage Feast of Cana which with the changing of water into wine has some of the strongest Eucharistic overtones.

Now here in the aftermath of the Feeding of the Five Thousand Jesus sets out his teaching on the Eucharist and while the Jews might find it incomprehensible we realise that his true purpose is to prepare the disciples to understand the meaning and significance of what was to become the central act of worship of the Church. During the week the Vatican made an adjustment to Article 2267 of the Catholic Catechism. You will have heard about it on the news. The teaching on capital punishment has now, after a long period of study and reflection, been clarified and reformulated. The reworded section now reads: 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.? The Church states that while in the past the death sentence may have been expedient in certain cases because of the difficulty of protecting society from murderers it is now clear that in almost every country the state has the means to incarcerate them effectively and so to protect the people at large from extreme acts of violence. In recent years there has been great stress in the Church on the Gospel of Life and while we have placed strong emphasis on the protection of the unborn we should see this protection extending to the whole of the rest of life and so effectively prohibiting euthanasia. Now here it is being further refined and consequently it is now extended to the cessation of judicial killing. We see this Gospel of Life as a seamless robe extending from the first moment of conception through to the natural death of a person. Although this change in teaching on capital punishment might appear to be something new it has actually been a long time in gestation. For the last fifty years the Popes have increasingly spoken out against capital punishment. For example, Pope John Paul II said in 1999 during a visit to the USA that 'the death penalty is both cruel and unnecessary.?

Even when the Catholic Catechism was first drawn up it stated that capital punishment was regarded as permissible only in exceptional circumstances. There are a couple of important arguments in favour of this new refinement of Catholic teaching. The first is the risk of error. We know that over the years there have been many miscarriages of justice. We have only to think of the Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four to realise that, advanced as our judicial system may be, it is certainly not free from error. If capital punishment was still in effect in this country there is absolutely no doubt that these ten people would have been wrongly executed. The Church realises that in the case of capital punishment the risk of error is a risk too far since it involves the extinguishing of life itself. It is not something that can ever be reversed. Another argument is that no matter how serious the crime, a criminal needs the possibility of experiencing conversion. Criminals, like everyone else, need the opportunity to repent. And then there is the question of the dignity of the human person. No matter how despicable the acts of the worst criminals they ought not to be deprived of their human dignity. Life is a sacred gift from God and it is not permissible for the state to assume that it has the power to deprive a person of God?s gift of life. It is worth stressing again that this adjustment is not a radical new teaching but rather what the Church calls a development of doctrine. As time passes and the Church reflects on the content of its teaching it gradually refines and adjusts what it proclaims in the light of increased intellectual understanding and the changing conditions of the world. It is heartening to read in the new text of Article 2267 of the Catechism a pledge by the Church to, as it says, work with determination for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide. This is something that should involve us all. We should be deeply concerned that justice systems worldwide should focus on repentance and rehabilitation rather than retribution and revenge.

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