But for Wales?
The Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin.
Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Deuteronomy 4: 32-40.
• Psalm 77: 12-16, 21.
• Matthew 16: 24-28.
…or, from the proper:
• Philippians 3: 8-14.
• Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 7-8, 11.
• Matthew 19: 27-29.
…or, any lessons from the common of Virgins for One Virgin, or the common of Holy Men & Women for a Nun.
The Ninth Friday after Pentecost; and, the Commemoration of Saint Tiburtius, Martyr, & Saint Susanna, Virgin & Martyr.*
Lessons from the dominica**, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• I Corinthians 10: 6-13.
• Psalm 8: 2.
• Luke 19: 41-47.
If a Mass for the commemoration is taken, first lesson from the proper, the rest from the common "Salus autem…" of Several Martyrs:
• Hebrews 11: 33-39.
• Psalm 33: 18-19.
• Luke 12: 1-8.
The Ninth Friday after Pentecost; a Postfestive Day of the Transfiguration; and, the Feast of the Holy Martyr Euplus.***
Lessons from the pentecostarion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• II Corinthians 1: 12-30.
• Matthew 22: 23-33.
9:03 AM 8/11/2017 — Clare of Assisi expressed to Saint Francis her desire to consecrate herself to God. Together with him, she became the foundress of the Franciscan Nuns of the Second Order as a cloistered, contemplative community, known today as the "Poor Clares." She governed the mother-house of the order for forty-two years with the title of Abbess, the first and the last in the order to hold that title, dying in 1253. In the extraordinary form, her feast is tomorrow.
When I was in the seminary in New York three hundred years ago, it was the custom there for each class to choose a patron saint, and our class raised eyebrows by being the first class to choose a layman, and not a priest, for our patron saint. We chose Saint Thomas More. I told you that story the last time we observed his feast day here. And if you don't know much about his life and martyrdom, I can recommend the filmed version of Robert Bolt's famous play, A Man for All Seasons.
One of the most moving scenes, toward the end of the film, is when More is on trial, just having heard the perjured testimony of Sir Richard Rich, once More's protege, who testified that he heard More say something treasonous about the king which More never said. And when the time came for him to cross-examine Rich—since defendants against a charge of treason had to defend themselves—he had only one question for his former friend: he asked him what the badge of office was he was wearing; it was the emblem of the Attorney General for Wales. And More's response was, “Why, Richard! It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world; but for Wales?”
He was, of course, quoting our Lord from today's Gospel lesson. And we have to take issue with how the New American Bible has translated it for us. When the New Testament of the New American Bible was revised not long ago, I had hoped that they would correct this passage; but, for whatever reason they didn't. The Roman Missal Third Edition is, more or less, based on that translation, and there the line reads: “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matt. 16: 26 RM3). The actual Greek word used in the text is ψυχὴν, which only means “life” in the broadest of senses; what it really means is “inner life” or “soul.” One could translate it simply as “life” if one brought to that translation an understanding that the principle of life in any man is his soul; but, in English we don't often make that connection. The Latin Vulgate uses the word animæ, which clearly means soul, the life-giving principle of a man. Msgr. Knox, whose translation of the Scriptures is my favorite, as you know, and who admittedly did not attempt to provide a word-for-word translation but rather tried to convey the best sense of what was being said, gives what I believe is the clearest translation of this verse: “How is a man the better for it, if he gains the whole world at the cost of losing his own soul?”
If we accept that translation, which I am prone to do, then it fits in with what we've been observing in the Scripture lessons on and off all this summer: the necessity of always keeping our eyes fixed on heaven. It carries through what we’ve seen before when celebrating the Feast of the Transfiguration. I wasn’t able able to preach for you on that feast this year because it was God Day, and that group brought their own priest to offer the Sunday Mass; but, you may remember what I pointed out to you last year on that feast, how the three Apostles—Peter, James and John—who were privileged to witness the vision of our Lord in heavenly glory, were destined to also be the three present with him during his Agony in the Garden, reminding us that the road to heaven is the Way of the Cross.
And lest you’re tempted to view that as somewhat far-reaching, today our Lord makes what amounts to a direct statement; as Msgr. Knox translates it: “If any man has a mind to come my way, let him renounce self, and take up his cross, and follow me” (16: 24 Knox). There's no ambiguity in that. Combine that with our first lesson today, in which Moses reminds the people of Israel everything that God had done for them, as a way of calling them back to be faithful the covenant they had made with God. “I remember the deeds of the Lord,” says today’s Psalm; “yes, I remember your wonders of old. And I meditate on your works; your exploits I ponder” (Psalm 77: 12-13 RM3).
And that's where the proper translation of today's Gospel lesson comes into play: God has created us and placed us on this earth for one reason only, and that reason is not to create a perfect utopian society here on earth, where no one is in need and everyone is happy; we are here to create pure and sinless souls, through prayer and penance and acts of charity, worthy of entering the Kingdom of heaven. And our Lord has told us how to do it: “If any man has a mind to come my way, let him renounce self, and take up his cross, and follow me. The man who tries to save his life shall lose it; it is the man who loses his life for my sake that will secure it” (Matt. 16: 24-25 Knox).
* The Roman deacon Tiburtius, son of the prefect of Rome, was beheaded in 286 after suffering many torments. Susanna, a holy virgin of high lineage, refused to marry the son of Emperor Diocletian, and was tortured and beheaded in 295.
** In the extraordinary form, on the ferial days outside of privileged seasons, the lessons are repeated from the previous Sunday.
*** Euplus, a deacon, was martyred in Sicily on August 12th, 304.