|What's Been Going Wrong All this Time.
The Thirteenth Friday of Ordinary Time; or, the Memorial of Saint Junípero Serra, Priest.
Lessons from the secondary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Amos 8: 4-6, 9-12.
• Psalm 119: 2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131.*
• Matthew 9: 9-13.
The First Class Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lessons from the proper, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Hebrews 9: 11-15.
• [Gradual] I John 5: 6-9.
• John 19: 30-35.
The Sixth Friday after Pentecost; and, the Feast of the Holy Unmercenary Healers & Wonder-Workers Cosmas & Damian.
Lessons from the pentecostarion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• I Corinthians 7: 35—8: 7.
• Matthew 15: 29-31.
9:11 AM 7/1/2016 —
All your feasting turned to lament, all your songs to dirge and dole; not a loin but goes clad in sackcloth, not a head but is shaved bald; never was such mourning made, though it were for an only son; bitter the day, bitter its ending. A time is coming, says the Lord God, when there shall be great lack in the land, yet neither dearth nor drought. Hunger? Ay, they shall hunger for some message from the Lord, yet go they from eastern to western sea, go they from north to south, making search for it everywhere, message from the Lord they shall have none (Amos 8: 10-12 Knox).
No, I haven't not lost my mind. That's Msgr. Knox's translation of the last few verses of today's first lesson from the Prophet Amos. The translation in the Roman Missal is not a bad translation at all; but, you do have to admit that Msgr. Knox, who did his translation toward the very end of the Victorian era, gives a certain panache to it, and it illustrates why I haven't been talking about Amos this week: because it's so darned depressing.
And even though we all love and venerate Saint Junípero Serra,** who's memorial is allowed today, it's also First Friday; but, you'll notice from the color of the vestments that we're not offering the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart either. Since today in the extraordinary form is the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord, in deferance to that tradition we are offering the Votive Mass of the Precious Blood. In the context of yesterdays memorial of the Roman Proto-Martyrs it seems particularly appropriate, as do the words of the Prophet Amos in today's lesson. In this context, the translation in the Missal is particularly clear: “Yes, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord” (8: 11 RM3). Thank back, if you can, to a week ago Wednesday, the week the first lessons at Mass were from the Second Book of Kings; I didn't preach about it that day because I chose to focus on Saints Thomas More and John Fisher. The King of Judea, whose country is in a shambles, discovers the Book of Moses in the ruins of the Temple. He reads it out loud to the people, and immediately everyone knows what's been going wrong all this time: their ancestors had made this covenant with God, but over the years it had been forgotten, and this was why things weren't going well.
In a few days we'll be celebrating our country's independence, and I don't have to tell you that watching the news these days can be a depressing prospect for anyone who loves this country, and particularly for those of us who both love our country and practice our Catholic Faith. And, as the Prophet Amos says, it's not because of famine or drought—not because of any natural disaster—that we weep for our nation; that we could understand and handle. It's because our country has turned away from the Word of God. But if the words of the Prophet teach us anything, they teach us that we're not the first, nor will we be the last, people to suffer through such times. It is the God-given lot of every believer to live in the midst of those who do not believe; and, it is the privilege of those of us devoted to the messages of Our Lady at Fatima, through our observance of the Five First Saturdays devotion, to offer reparation for the sins of our compatriots.
I say “privilege” because that's what it is, and that's how we must view it. In today's Gospel lesson, in which we read of the call of the Blessed Apostle Matthew, our Lord, Himself, says, “It is not those who are in health that have need of the physician, it is those who are sick” (Matt. 9: 12 Knox). Many years ago, when I was in the seminary, we had a visit from Mother Teresa, and she said something in her talk to us which I will never forget. She said, “What is the point of being saved if there's nothing to be saved from?” The blind people to whom our Lord gave sight would never have received that gift had they not been blind in the first place; all the people our Lord cured in the Gospel passages we've been reading through at Mass from chapter eight of Matthew would never have been cured by our Lord had they not been afflicted in the first place. And it's because our country is in such desperate need of an infusion of Grace that it will receive it; maybe not when we would like, maybe not even in our life-time, but it will happen; and, it will happen because of our First Saturdays, our acts of reparation, our prayers and sacrifices.
And what will happen to our country will also happen to ourselves as we endure our own personal trials and crosses. The only thing we need to worry about is the temptation to become discouraged and give up. Let's make that a particular intention during this Holy Mass and during the Holy Hour that will follow. Let us pray for the only thing that will ultimately save both our country and ourselves: that “the Heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even unto the end of time. Amen.”
* The longest psalm in the Bible, Psalm 119 (118 in the Greek Psalter) is often referred to as "the rosary of the Psalter" because of the frequent repetitions in contains, and figures prominently in the Divine Office of both the Eastern and Western Churches; in the latter it is spread out among the little hours of Sunday, and in the former it is read in its entirety at Sunday Matins.
** A homily touching on the life of Father Serra can be found here.