|Jesus Christ, Terrorist.
In the United States:
The Twenty-Ninth Thursday of Ordinary Time; or, the Memorial of Saint Paul of the Cross, Priest.*
Lessons from the secondary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Ephesians 3: 14-21.
• Psalm 33: 1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19.
• Luke 12: 49-53.
…or, from the proper:
• I Corinthians 1: 18-25.
• Psalm 117: 1-2.
• Matthew 16: 24-27.
…or, any lessons from the common of Pastors, or the common of Holy Men & Women for Religious.
Outside the United States:
The Twenty-Ninth Thursday of Ordinary Time.
Lessons from the feria as above.
The Third Class Feast of Saint John Cantius, Confessor.**
First & second lessons from the proper, third from the common "Os Justi…" of a Confessor not a Bishop, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• James 2: 12-17.
• Psalm 106: 8-9.
• Luke 12: 35-40
The Twenty-Second Thurday after Pentecost; and, the Feast of the Holy Great Martyr Artimius.***
First & third lessons from the pentecostarion, second & fourth from the menaion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• I Thessalonians 2: 9-14.
• II Timothy 2: 1-10.
• Luke 9: 44-50.
• John 15: 17—16: 2.
8:30 AM 10/20/2016 — “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 22: 49 RM3). Of course, had our Blessed Lord “tweeted” that remark, he would receive a visit from Homeland Security; but, our Lord is not contemplating a terrorist act; he’s using the word “fire” like so many prophets and poets before Him and after Him: as a symbol of love. In fact, throughout the Holy Scriptures fire is used to describe the love of God, a love so intense that it “burns” within one, the love of God in particular being a love that purifies, as fire does, everything with which it comes in contact. Psalm 38: “…my heart burned within me, the fire kindled by my thoughts, so that at last I kept silence no longer” (Psalm 39: 4-5 Knox).†
We may convince ourselves that we’ve experienced that kind of love. We fell in love, we married, we believed for all the world that our hearts were on fire with love. We may have believed that our love for someone was like—as it says in the Book of Proverbs—the fire that never says, “Enough!” (Prov. 30: 16). But we’re wrong. No matter how intense a love we believed we’ve felt at some point in our lives, it doesn’t even register on the meter compared to the love of God. In fact, it’s only by analogy that we can even approach an appreciation of God’s love. Our Lord does help us along, giving us mental images that should be familiar to us: “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,” He says, “and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12: 50 NABRE). And those who have been in love know what it’s like when that love is one-sided, when one has to wonder if that love one feels is felt on the other side; we become impatient, we want it to be “accomplished,” we are in “anguish” until the matter is settled and we know one way or the other if our love will ever be returned. But we have to put the breaks on, and realize that when our Lord speaks of the “baptism with which [He] must be baptized,” He’s talking about His death. It’s His death on the Cross that is the accomplishment of His love.
And that’s why the Gospel lesson today continues right after this with mental images that are not at all pleasing to us: a household of five divided three against two, a father against his son, a mother against her daughter, in-laws against in-laws. These images, too, are things with which we are familiar, at least if we grew up in anything resembling a normal family, and they are not the family memories with which we associate love. That’s because the love of God is radically different from the love of man. Our mistake is in equating love with an emotion. The love of God is not a feeling; it’s a determined decision, a decision that is rooted in sacrifice. When these kinds of arguments and divisions arise in a family, what’s it usually about? Someone thinks something is true or false, right or wrong, and everyone else disagrees. The family member clinging to the truth wants what’s best for those he or she loves; the others think that love is best served by abandoning the alleged truth for the sake of unity and getting along. How many times have I quoted the words spoken so often by Pope Saint John Paul II: “There is no such thing as love separated from truth”? And when one is dedicated to the truth, one’s lot is destined to be sacrifice.
In the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, used everywhere before the reforms after Vatican II, the priest performing a wedding does not preach a homily; instead, he reads an exhortation straight out of the Missal, word for word. It isn’t because the Church doesn’t trust her priests to know what to say, but because there are certain facts about true love that never change. A few of the words of that exhortation seem as prescient today as they were when they were written, and can be of spiritual benefit to all of us, as what they say describes not only the love of husband and wife, but the love God for us and ours for Him, especially during those dark nights of the soul when we may not feel His love:
Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy … And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God.
* The founder of the Passionist Fathers, Paul of the Cross (1694-1775) was born in Liguria in Italy, and was a renowned preacher, remembered for his devotion to the sick and for his penitential way of life. The community he founded was unique in that it combined the giving of retreats and parish missions with a penitential monasticism. His memorial is observed optionally in the United States because of the strong presence of that community in this country. World wide, they number about 2,160 members today, including a number of houses of strictly cloistered nuns who support the work of the fathers through their prayers. A convent of Passionist Nuns near the Saint Pius X Seminary in Kentucky, where Fr. Michael studied philosophy, was often frequented by the seminarians, who benefited from the prayers of the sisters there.
** A native of Kenty, Poland, John Cantius was a priest and professor at the University of Cracow, famous for his heroic charity and zeal. He died in the year 1473.
*** Artimius was a noble citizen of Alexandria and a personal friend of Constantine the Great. He was martyred for Christ in Antioch under Emperor Julian the Apostate. The Maronite Church celebrates his memory under the name Shallita.
† Msgr. Knox, following the Vulgate, numbers the Psalms according to the Greek Psalter; the Roman Missal, along with most modern translations, uses the numbering of the Hebrew Psalter.