How to Get Kicked Out of the Yale Club.
The Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious.*
Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Wisdom 13: 1-9.
• Psalm 19: 2-5.
• Luke 17: 26-37.
…or, from the proper:
• I John 3: 14-18.
• Psalm 34: 2-11.
• Luke 6: 27-38.
…or, any lessons from the common of Holy Men & Women for Those Who Practiced Works of Mercy.
The Third Class Feast of Saint Gregory Thaumatugus.**
First lesson and Gradual from the common "Státuit…" of a Confessor Bishop, third lesson from the proper, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Ecclesiasticus 44: 16-27; 45: 3-20.
• [Gradual] Ecclesiasticus 44: 16-20.
• Mark 11: 22-24.
The Twenty-Third Friday after Pentecost (the First of Philip's Fast); and, the Feast of Our Holy Father Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neocesarea.
First & third lessons from the pentecostarion, second & fourth from the menaion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• I Thessalonians 5: 9-13, 24-28.
• I Corinthians 12: 7-11.
• Luke 16: 15-18; 17: 1-4.
• Matthew 10: 1, 5-8.
8:25 AM 11/17/2017 — There are four or five instances in the Holy Gospel wherein our Lord seems to be in an odd humor, launching into a diatribe of sorts that leaves us dumbfounded as it must have been to the Pharisees with whom he's speaking, and today's Gospel lesson is perhaps one of the most extreme examples. What makes this one in particular so difficult is that it's both overly simplistic and extremely convoluted all at the same time.
The question was put to our Lord by the Pharisees in yesterday's Gospel lesson;—I didn't preach yesterday—they ask him when the Kingdom of God will come. He answers them in two parts: yesterday's lesson is just a warning about allowing oneself to become too obsessed with these kinds of eschatological questions, and chasing after every prophet or preacher who comes around spouting off about it. He says, “Men will be saying to you, See, he is here, or See, he is there; do not turn aside and follow them…” (Luke 17: 23 Knox). We talked about this once before, when I told you about the woman I met here at the Shrine many years ago who was running bus trips out to Bayside, New York, because someone said she was seeing Jesus and Mary. There is a certain brand of Catholic who is drawn to that sort of thing like a mosquito to a light bulb, or, as our Lord puts it at the end of today's lesson, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather” (v. 37 NAB). Why are some people drawn to such things so fanatically? Because their faith is a fraud. The Christian sure in his faith shrugs his shoulders at such things; it's only the unbeliever cloaked in a façade of faith who is constantly chasing after any promise of proof.
But the real meat of our Lord's response to the Pharisees' question is contained in today's lesson, wherein our Lord actually gets around to answering their question—or so they think, because, in reality, they've asked Him one question but He answers another. Some years ago a priest friend of mine invited me to “lunch with him”—which is how they say it—at the Yale Club in New York, of which he was a member; and, as we were sitting in the lounge sipping exotic beverages which I couldn't possibly pronounce, a rather distinguished looking gentleman walked up, recognizing us as priests, and started going on about how much he admired Pope John Paul II, who was pope at the time, even though he himself was not what he called a “religionist,” and how a practical atheist like him could still find much merit in what this particular Pope had done for Western Civilization. And without any regard for where I was, I replied, much to the shock of my companion, that he couldn't have admired him that much if he couldn't bring himself to investigate the faith for which he stood. I haven't been invited back to the Yale Club since.
But our Lord does exactly this very same thing. The question they asked him, in yesterday's lesson, was simple, abstract and safe: when is the Kingdom of God going to come? He responds, in today's lesson, with these metaphors: two people in one bed, one being taken and the other left; two women grinding corn together, one taken the other left. In other words, what their asking him about is a theological concept; what he's telling them about is themselves. They want to know about the final judgment; what he's telling them about is the particular judgment. They want to know what's going to happen when the world comes to an end; he saying to them, Don't waste your time musing over when the world is going to come to an end; worry instead about what's going to happen when you come to an end, and that can happen at any time.
“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it” (v. 33). To you and me it's common sense, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't constantly remind ourselves that, so long as we keep our souls in the State of Grace through frequent confession and Communion, when the world comes to an end is God's business, not ours.
* The widowed wife of Louis VI of Thuringia and mother of three, Elizabeth became a Franciscan tertiary and dedicated herself to the poor and the sick. Dying in 1231 at the age of 23, she was canonized only four years later.
** Known as Gregory the Wonderworker, Thaumaturgus was Bishop of Neo-Cesarea, his native city, in Pontus. He died famous for his missionary labors in 276.