Mass for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost will be celebrated at Holywell Parish Church
(St Winefride's), Well Street, Holywell tomorrow (Sunday 23rd September) at 11.30am
In the Gospel for XVIII Sunday after Pentecost, we are presented with the man sick of the palsy lying in a bed. This man symbolically represents every sinner.
It is interesting to note that "Jesus, seeing their faith . . ." heals the man of his sins. It was not the faith of the man who was sick but it was the faith of those who brought the man to Jesus. We see how necessary it is for us to enlist the help of our fellow men when we are in need of God's help. This man received this special grace of God because of the faith of his friends even though he himself appears to have very little faith.
When Christ tells the man that his sins are forgiven we hear nothing of him thanking God for the wonderful gift that he had received. He appears to be just as worldly minded as the scribes who doubted Jesus.
The man's sins were forgiven him because of the faith of those who brought him before Jesus; his body is healed because of the lack of faith of those who witnessed this miracle.
The first miracle _ the forgiveness of sins _ is obviously the greater miracle, but it is doubted or lightly esteemed in the eyes of men. The second miracle _ the healing of the man's body _ is obviously the lesser miracle but is the one most noted by men. "And the multitude, seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men."
We must note that God heals the soul first. As such we see that many of our physical disorders are brought about by the unseen spiritual disorders within us. In order to cure the body it is first necessary to cure the soul. As long as we remain in sin we are sick and there is no amount of pharmaceuticals that can cure us. The cure to many of our physical ailments must begin with the cure of our souls. To try and ignore the illness of the soul will only lead to further complications in the body and a worsening of the situation of the soul.
The bed that the man was lying on symbolizes the man's sins. He was brought in lying in his bed of sin. The bed is a place of rest, comfort and joy. As long as man looks for his happiness in worldly things his bed becomes heavier and heavier with the weight of his sins. And this bed weighted down with the man's sins becomes a burden to him. This bed that he thought was to be the source of his worldly pleasures now has become his cross. The man was commanded to get up and take up the bed and go into his house. Even though he is now free from his sins and is healed both in body and soul he must still carry the burden of these sins that he has accumulated.
St. Gregory tells us: "In Sacred Scripture, bed or pallet, and also couch sometimes stand for pleasures of the body, sometimes for the refreshment of good works, sometimes for rest in the ordinary sense. For what is meant in the Gospel when the Lord says to a certain man who was healed: Arise, take up thy bed and go into thy house but that by the bed pleasure of body is signified? And he is commanded to bear as a healthy man, that on which he had lain as a sick one; for every own who still delights in sin, lies sick in the pleasure of his flesh. But now healed he bears that upon which he had lain sick, because raised from his sins by divine assistance, he must afterwards bear with the assaults of that flesh in whose desires he had before found rest."
The crimes of the sinner continue to torment and tempt him even long after he has repented of them. Though this is a fair and just punishment for our sins it is one that is often not correctly understood. We must bear this burden as a just punishment for our sins and to further humble us. We must fully understand that we are not free from our sins by our own efforts but, only because of God's mercy towards us. We must constantly be reminded of our own weakness to prevent us from becoming proud. We must be reminded of our past to prevent us from proudly and vainly placing ourselves above anyone else.
When we see what we have been and the crimes that we have committed against both God and man, we are much less likely to despise our fellow men, no matter how terrible they may appear. "There but for the grace of God go I." This was the sentiment of St. Francis who once declared that he was more guilty than the criminal going to his execution. His idea is simple enough, If that man had received all the graces that I have received he would probably have put them to better use than I have done. And if I had been in that man's position I would probably have sinned worse than he.
Let us learn from this sick man, to obtain the intercessory prayers of our friends so that God may heal us both in soul and body. Let us go to the priest that God has given His power to and have our sins forgiven first so that our bodies may then recover their health also. And let us patiently and humbly accept the consequences and punishment that is due to us for our sins. If we cheerfully do penance for our sins on earth we may confidently hope for an eternal rest in heaven.
The Pharisee calls Christ “Master”; this is a deceptive lie. Only the son may call his father, “father”; and only student may call his teacher, “teacher”; so it follows that only the disciple may call his master, “master”. The Pharisee is not a disciple of Christ. He does not follow Christ nor is he seeking instruction from Christ. He therefore has not right to address Christ as “Master”. It is true that Christ is God and is therefore the Lord and Master of all, but those who refuse Him the love and obedience due to Him break off this relationship. The heretic, schismatic, pagan, and Jew have no true relationship with Christ and therefore have no relationship to God. He is their Creator but because of their rebellion against Him they are no longer sons of God but rather sons of the devils who now inspire and guide them in this life so that they will reach eternity and enter into Hell with them.
Religion to these people is nothing more than deceitful hypocrisy. It is a tool which they use to mislead others or even to manipulate and control others. This is why we see that Christ calls these people, “children of the devil” and a “brood of vipers.” (Matt 12, 34) It is in this hypocritical disposition that the Pharisee calls Jesus “Master”, in attempting by flattery to put Him off His guard, so as to trap Him. It is foolishness as Jesus is God and can see very clearly this man’s heart and intentions. The question of which is the greatest commandment was a disputed one, so this question is posed to put Jesus in the midst of the dispute where however He answers it will be offensive to someone. Jesus answers the man with a simple and direct answer showing clearly that the love of God is the greatest commandment and then the love of neighbor. After this Jesus silences these men by asking them a question. In their rebellion, against the grace of God, these men cannot see that Jesus is both God and Man. Therefore, they cannot explain how Christ is the Son of David and at the same time is David’s Lord. In posing this question Jesus silences these evil plotting hypocrite Pharisees.
These Pharisees live on today in all those who attack the Church which is the Mystical Body of Christ. The teachings of Christ’s Church (The Catholic Church) are the teachings of God; all those who reject the Church reject God. “He who hears you, hears Me and he who hears Me hears Him who sent Me.” (Luke 10, 16) It is clear then that all those outside of the Church who call upon Jesus do so falsely; they are not the children of God but rather the children of the devil because they reject Jesus in His Church and follow the inspiration of devils just as the Pharisees of old did.
These call upon Jesus as “Lord, Master, and God” but it is a lie because in their hearts they have rejected Him. It may be true that they search the scriptures, but they do so not to find God and love and serve Him, but rather to entrap Him (in His Mystical Body the Church) and so find a means or reason to reject and destroy Him. We must therefore always be on our guard when speaking of religious matters with those outside the Church; whether consciously or unconsciously these people are out to attack and destroy the Church and therefore Christ – God. No matter how well meaning or even how-pious they may appear; they are still children of Satan and not of God. It is Satan appearing as an angel of light that inspires and guides them. Just as the Pharisees could not believe that Jesus is the Christ and is therefore both God and Man, so those outside the Church cannot believe one or more teachings of Christ in His Church.
We are not Jesus so we cannot see this evil disposition in people’s wills and the devils are very clever in helping them disguise it, so we must ever be vigilant and cautious, in our discussions with them. Let us always remember our Morning Offering where we beg God’s help and guidance for the day, as well as the help and guidance of the angels and saints. Before we engage in a conversation with anyone outside the Church on matters of faith, let us first pray that they may be freed from the influence of these evil spirits that are guiding them, and ask God’s help in guiding us to lead them back to Him. We must always keep in mind that appearances are most often deceptive and be on our guard always to protect our standing as children of God who can truthfully call Jesus: “Master”.
Mass for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost will be celebrated at St Francis of Assisi Church, Llay on Sunday 9th September at 12.30pm. All very welcome.
In the Gospel for the XVI Sunday after Pentecost, Our Lord teaches us the lesson of humility, to seek the lower place, if we are to come to Him.
Sadly, most of us seek to be experts in all subjects and fail to be charitable and humble. Knowing our weaknesses, in the Introit and Collect we pray for “mercy” and His “grace” respectively which thought is continued into the Offertory as we entreat God for help against those who “seek after my soul to take it away” who, as it were, help point me in the direction away from the Cross and to the pleasures of this world.
Strengthened at the anticipation of the Holy Eucharist, we ask for worthiness to receive the graces of the Holy Sacrifices (Secret) having been fortified by the Epistle which tells us of Christ’s Love which transcends any love describable.
Martyr, St. Gorgonius, suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Diocletian and is buried on the Via Labicana in Rome. Although not commemorated in the Mass using the 1962 rubrics, we should pray to the martyr for courage to face the modern world and please Our Lord.
After the usual August break, the Sunday Mass at St Francis of Assisi, Llay resumes next Sunday (9th September).
Low Mass for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost, celebrated by Canon Bernard Lordan, will take place at 12.30pm. All are very welcome.
In this life we often experience mystically or symbolically things that will take place on higher levels. The physical death that we see so very often in this life should waken our consciences to the terrible reality of the death of soul that takes place with the commission of mortal sin. The beauty and wonders of this life should excite within us a burning desire for the eternal beauty and wonder of eternal life in heaven. The pain, agony, and misery in this life should turn our thoughts to the suffering of the damned in hell or to the poor souls in Purgatory.
The occurrence in today’s gospel turns our thoughts to the Resurrection. It is interesting to note that the gospel tells us that Jesus had mercy on the widow mother (not so much the dead man). The dead man was given another chance in life, not because he deserved it, but rather because his mother’s misery touched the heart of God. Very often we receive a resurrection of sorts when we return from our sins to the life of grace. At this moment of our spiritual joy it would be good for us to recall the passages in today’s gospel. We who were dead in sin have done nothing to deserve or merit this grace. It is due to the prayers and sacrifices of others that God has had compassion on us and restored spiritual life to us so that we may begin again.
It is easy to become overwhelmed with the joy of clearing our consciences and forget to give thanks and praise to God; but perhaps even more often we forget to show our appreciation to those who truly love us and have seen us lost in the depths of sin and poured out their hearts to God in prayers and sacrifices on our behalf! More often than not we will discover that the saints in Heaven are there because of the prayers and sacrifices of others. The tears, prayers, and sacrifices of mothers and fathers greatly touch the heart of God. St. Augustine attributes his conversion to the merits of his sainted mother. If it were not for the constant prayers and tears of St. Monica, there never would have been a St. Augustine.
Pastors also as spiritual fathers often pray and sacrifice for their spiritual children and every penitent should realize the gratitude that they owe to their confessors and pastors. We also have religious orders dedicated to lives of prayer and sacrifice and have obtained many graces for sinners which will only be known in heaven. This listing of our spiritual benefactors that we owe so much gratitude to, will not be complete unless we also include our guardian angels, patron saints, other saints to whom we may have some spiritual tie to as well as relatives and loved ones who also may be interceding for us from eternity.
Returning to St. Augustine we learn that it is a duty for parents to offer these prayers and sacrifices for their children, and if they should fail in this their own salvation falls into jeopardy. This duty to pray and sacrifice for one another also applies to spiritual parents and in general to each and every one of us. We are all called upon to love one another and to be our brother’s keeper. We must seek and work for the salvation of all of God’s children. It is true that not all will be saved and perhaps even that it will only be a few, but if we neglect to love, pray and sacrifice for these souls we see going astray we may be found lacking on the day of judgment. To love our neighbour as we love ourselves implies that we pray and offer sacrifices for them as we would for ourselves. It may be that our greatest joy in heaven will be in the souls united with us to God in Heaven through the merits we have gained for them.
If we can think of no one personally that we should be praying and sacrificing for we can always make a general offering and prayer for sinners. A beautiful practice is to place all the merits of these prayers and sacrifices in the hands of our Blessed Mother, entrusting her to apply or distribute according to her good pleasure. Mary as our most loving and concerned mother, knows best where and how to make use of all our good works and prayers. Jesus could not refuse to show His mercy and kindness to the widow mother in today’s gospel, so much the more will He be inclined to show His mercy and kindness towards all whose cause His mother takes in hand.
A reminder that Mass will be celebrated at St Winefride's. Holywell at 11.30am tomorrow.
We are commanded to be solicitous for the Kingdom of Heaven, but not for the things of this earth. There is no denying that all the things of this earth are good and desirable, because they were made and given to us by God, Who is good and desirable. However, God has created a hierarchy of goodness in everything. There are some things of greater value and some of lesser value. We must never invert this order that God has created, yet this is all too often what we do. We are constantly tempted to love the creature more than the creator. In falling into this deception, we make a god of a creation and thus become guilty of idolatry.
God is the greatest good and we must love Him more than anything, and be willing to give and sacrifice everything else for Him — even ourselves. After God, our love should be for our own immortal souls, the souls of others, our own bodies, and the bodies of others. Last and least of all are all the material things that are given to us for the sustenance of our bodies. The food, clothing, and shelter of our bodies are all good things, and they are necessary for our bodies; but, they should never take preference to the things that are necessary for our souls.
All the material things that God has created, He has created for us. That is, He has created them for our bodies. Our bodies, have likewise, been created for our souls. Our souls have been created for God. We must, therefore, seek out nourishment for our bodies so that we do not abuse this precious gift of a body that God has given us. We must seek out clothing and shelter for our bodies so that we protect our bodies from harm. All these aids to the body are good. They are, however, of much lesser value than the body, and even of much less value than the soul, or even of the spiritual things that appertain to the soul.
We must labor for the care of our bodies, but we must never allow this care of our bodies to take away from the care that is necessary for our souls. Labor is necessary to sustain our bodies. Our bodies have been made to work; if we fail to employ them in this matter, then we must seek out some artificial labor or exercise to maintain our health. Work, then involves more than obtaining our daily bread. Even before Adam sinned, he was given the task of ruling over the material world. The punishment of sin was not that we should now have to work, but rather that now our labors have become odious to us. If we could return to right order, we would work for the love of God, and in the presence of God — not because we are forced by necessity to work, or by a disordered avarice or greed.
Our labors, then, become noble and uplifting. Catholics used to be looked upon as the best employees. This was because we understood the dignity of labor, and because we worked for God and in the constant presence of God. Catholics understand the necessity of honesty, and integrity in performing their labors. A Catholic could then be trusted and counted upon to do the job well. He looked principally to God for a reward and only secondarily to the employer. Our workplaces and marketplaces are not what they should be simply because we as a society have lost sight of the fact that we must first give an account to God; and that He is always with us and is watching us. Men may be able to deceive and cheat one another; but they will never be able to do this to God. If not before, then on the last day, they will have to give an account of themselves to Him.
We must not abandon our physical labors, but rather ennoble them by doing them to the best of our ability for the love of God — seeking first and foremost an eternal reward. Our honesty and integrity may appear difficult in this life but the eternal reward itself will be more than sufficient compensation. However, very often, this honesty and integrity is also amply rewarded materially in this life. A productive, honest employee with integrity is almost priceless to every employer. Such employees, because they are such an asset to any company will advance in their place of employment, they will be given raises or other incentives to try and keep them. A good employee is hard to find or replace. In this we see that what Our Lord has told us is very true. If we seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and Its Justice, everything else will be given us.
It may be true that employment opportunities are not what they used to be, this should not suggest that we give up, but rather, that we humble ourselves and become even better employees. If we approach our labors for the love of God, willing to embrace any cross or task — no matter how lowly — and do so honestly and conscientiously to the best of our abilities, we will soon be advanced. The key is to do it for God, not the money or any other material advantage. In laboring for God, we are seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven. Such an employee is rare today and is in great demand. We would venture to suggest that such qualities are even more valuable to an employer than educational degrees and titles. As we strive to truly serve God; we find that He truly does take care of all the material things.
Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco: Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui facis mirabilia magna solus: praetende super famulos tuos, et super congregationes illis commissas, spiritum gratiae salutaris; et, ut in veritate tibi complaceant, perpetuum eis rorem tuae benedictionis infunde.
Kevin Jones is the local representative for the Latin Mass Society in Wrexham Diocese. Any views expressed neither represent those of the Latin Mass Society or the Diocese of Wrexham.