Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A & Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus, August 13,2017
Pope Benedict XVI made the point that “the essence of faith is that something meets us that is greater than anything we can think of for ourselves. That is literally what happens to the disciples as they see Jesus walking on the water. Jesus summons them to faith – a way of approaching reality that entails leaving behind our old way of measuring things and seeing all according to this Something Greater that meets us. We should not be surprised that Christ often will come in ways that we least expect, as Elijah found out in that tiny whispering sound. And when such faith takes hold of us, we want everyone we know to share in it, as Saint Paul testifies today.”
Lord I ask for your grace so I can listen to your tiny whispering voice. Enable me to walk towards You in faith even on the “treacherous waters” of my life. Let me trust You unconditionally and to cast aside my fears and commit to You with radical faith. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, I pray. Amen.
1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a– Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord.
At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD–
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake–
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire–
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
The word of the Lord.
(R) Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Rom 9:1-5 – I could wish that I were accursed for the sake of my own people.
Brothers and sisters:
I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie;
my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness
that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ
for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.
They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants,
the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;
theirs the patriarchs, and from them,
according to the flesh, is the Christ,
who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
The Gospel of the Lordl
Mt 14:22-33 – Command me to come to you on the water.
Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily – The Silent Presence of God click below:
and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come. “Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Sinking fear
Dr. Scott Hahn’s reflection click below:
How do we find God in the storms and struggles of our lives, in the trials we encounter in trying to do His will?
God commands Elijah in today’s First Reading to stand on the mountain and await His passing by. And in the Gospel, Jesus makes the disciples set out across the waters to meet Him.
In each case, the Lord makes himself present amid frightening tumult – heavy winds and high waves, fire and earthquakes.
Elijah hides his face. Perhaps he remembers Moses, who met God on the same mountain, also amid fire, thunder, and smoke (see Deuteronomy 4:10-15; Exodus 19:17-19). God told Moses no one could see His face and live, and He sheltered Moses in the hollow of a rock, as He shelters Elijah in a cave (see Exodus 33:18-23).
The disciples, likewise, are too terrified to look on the face of God. Today’s Gospel is a revelation of Jesus’ divine identity. Only God treads across the crest of the sea (see Job 9:8) and rules the raging waters (see Psalm 89:9-10). And the words of assurance that Jesus speaks – “It is I” – are those God used to identify himself to Moses (see Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 43:10).
Even Peter is too overcome by fear to imitate his Lord. His fears, Jesus tells him, are a sign of his lack of faith. And so it often is with us. Our fears make us doubt, make it hard to see His glory dwelling in our midst.
Yet, we should know, as we sing in today’s Psalm, that His salvation is near to those who hope in Him. By faith we should know, as Paul asserts in today’s Epistle, that we are heirs to the promises made to His children, Israel.
We must trust that He whispers to us in the trials of our lives – that He who has called us to walk along the way of His steps, will save us whenever we begin to sink. – Read the source: https://stpaulcenter.com/reflections/sinking-fear-scott-hahn-reflects-on-the-nineteenth-sunday-in-ordinary-time
Reflection 2 – Have I discover the face of God in Jesus?
When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” They said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God” (Mt 14:23-32).
This gospel points out that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, the Son of God. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his talk to the clergy of Rome (Feb 22,2007) said, “Only if we manage to grasp that Jesus is not a great prophet or a world religious figure but that he is the Face of God, that he is God, have we discovered Christ’s greatness and found out who God is. God is not only a distant shadow, the “primary Cause,” but he has a Face. His is the Face of mercy, the face of pardon and love, the Face of the encounter with us.” And to the youth in Rome before the 21st World Youth Day (April 6,2006), he said, “Indeed, there are so many false images of God, a violent God…. The point, therefore is recognizing God who has shown us his face in Jesus, who suffered for us, who loved us to the point of dying, and thus overcame violence. It is necessary to make the living God present in our “own” lives first of all, the God who is not a stranger, a fictitious God, a God only thought of, but a God who has shown himself, who has shown his being and his face. Only in this way do our lives become true, authentically human.” How can I show my faith in Jesus’ Face of mercy, pardon and love? What must we do then when face with the storms of life?
Here are the guides from the saints: 1) “He must sustain himself calmly by Faith. Faith will make him adore the eternal plan of God. Faith will assure him that to those who love God all things work together for good” (Blessed William Joseph Chaminade,Priest 1761-1850); 2) “Faith is easy when we meet with no difficulty and walk in a way of light and consolation. But when we are struggling with temptation, with suffering and trial, when we are in a dryness of heart and spiritual darkness, then it needs a strong faith to abandon ourselves to God and remain entirely united to his holy will” (Blessed Columba Marmion, Abbot 1858-1923); 3) “True spiritual life consists in this: that man keep his eyes on God all the time, long for nothing but for God, keep nothing in mind but God, begin every single action in the Lord’s name, and direct it to Him: in short, that he unify his whole being — mind, will, memory, senses, and actions — in God” (Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Priest (1502-1539); 4) “He who wills only what God wills possesses all that he desires. For whatever happens to him, happens by the will of God” (St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Priest 1866-1787); 5) St. John of the Cross warns us that “any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty” (CCC:65). Knowing all these guides, how do I answer Christ’s command: “Come?” For interesting Jesus’ invitation click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2014/11/21/7-lessons-from-jesus-in-the-blessed-sacrament/
Reflection 3 – Truly, you are the Son of God
A young boy trying to learn to swim was always faced with doubt if he will ever be buoyant and float on water. Whenever fear and doubt grip his heart, he often finds himself going under water. He feels hopeless and often times looks for someone who will save him from drowning. When a man starts to doubt God in his life, he ceases to see Him. He fails to feel His presence and at the same time he becomes jaded that he misses God’s Hands and the miracles God had done in His life.
Are there circumstances in our lives which have led us to doubt God?
Maybe its is the deteriorating health of a loved one. Maybe it is the continued decline of one’s retirement fund with the present collapse of the financial markets. How are we going to live the rest of our golden years with nothing set aside? What will happen to my children and children’s children if I cannot even leave something for them when I pass on to the next life?
If these thoughts are in our hearts today, let us remember the very words of Jesus to Peter when he started to sink: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Doubt should never be allowed to prevail in our relationship with God. When we doubt Him, we invite others things into our lives. We make fear an integral part of our relationship with God. We give the evil one ample space in our hearts that in time we find ourselves totally drawn away from God.
God is always with us and will never forsake us. Zephaniah 17 says: “Our Lord God is in your midst; you have no further misfortune to fear.” Our Lord wants us to look at the world with fresh eyes. He wants our hearts to be open and receptive to His power. If we have faith, God is always at work deep within us and we would find life’s challenges and its pains less daunting than we thought. We will see the outstretched hands of Jesus ready to embrace us and to walk with us. If we believe Jesus like the sick people who were brought to Him, we will be healed and made whole. If we have faith in Him, we will be amazed at how much God loves us that we experience big and small miracles! And like those who were in the boat who paid homage to Jesus, we too can say: “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
Great things in life will be upon us if we believe and place our faith in God!
“The LORD himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase. Justice shall walk before him, and prepare the way of his steps.”
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
“prepare the way of his steps.”
Do not worry; instead believe and take courage. Allow God some space in our hearts. While God is eager to respond to our deepest needs, God also invites us to more adventuresome lives of faith.
“The LORD himself will give his benefits.”
Heavenly Father, I have my total trust and faith in You. Forgive me, heal me and make me whole. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.“
Reflection 4 – Oh, My God!”
Three men, a Catholic, a Protestant and a Muslim, were discussing the best positions for prayer. “Kneeling is definitely the best way to pray,” the Catholic said. “No,” said the Protestant. “I think standing with my hands outstretched to heaven is more effective.” “I disagree,” the Muslim said. “The most effective prayer position is bending the whole body and with the head touching the floor.” An electrician happened to be passing by and overheard their discussion. He butted in. “Hey, guys! The most effective praying position I ever had was when I was hanging upside down from an electric post with a live wire right above me.”
Peter cried: “Lord, save me!” That was a real and serious prayer. And he meant it. This is a very important lesson. Many times we do not really mean what we say. In our daily conversation we hear people say, “See you later!” But they do not really intend to see each other later in the day. The word later could mean next month or sometime next year or never. The word “sorry” is spoken so very often, but it comes out only as an expression, devoid of sincere repentance.
Unfortunately, a similar thing happens with the name of God. How many times in a day do we hear the expression, “Oh, my God”? This is using the name of God in vain – a clear violation of the second commandment. We, therefore, begin to wonder: Do we really mean the words we use in our prayers? When we pray the “Our Father”, do we understand what it means? St. Edmund reminds us, “It is better to say one Our Father fervently and devoutly than a thousand with no devotion and full of distraction.”
This Sunday, let us reflect on the need for sincere and genuine prayer. Nowadays, people find it harder and harder to pray. The world we are living in makes us all busy with so many things and activities, mostly unnecessary ones. And when we are busy, the first activity that we drop is prayer. “I’m too busy, Lord! I have no time to pray or to go to church. I will talk to you later when I’m done.”
The example of Jesus will undoubtedly put us all to shame. Who can be busier than Jesus? His ordinary day is spent moving around, teaching, curing the sick, expelling demons and helping the needy. The Gospels would say that he was too busy that he had no time even to eat (Mk 3:20). But did he ever drop prayer from his schedule? In the Gospel this Sunday, he has just finished another grueling day, capped with the stressful event of feeding the five thousand from five loaves of bread and two fish. But instead of taking a much-needed rest, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. He did not excuse himself of being tired. In fact, he was on the mountain for six hours, appearing back on the scene at about 3 o’clock in the morning. Who among us will spend six hours in prayer after such a long day?
His example clearly shows us that prayer is not just an activity, but is a way of life. As the Catechism tells us, “Man was created to live in communion with God, in whom he finds happiness” (CCC, #45). And since, according to St. John Vianney, “Prayer is union with God,” there can be no communion with God without a life of prayer.
However, an atmosphere conducive to prayer is necessary – silence. Jesus had to leave behind his disciples and go up the mountain by himself. Elijah went up the mountain of Horeb (Mt. Sinai) to talk to God. He waited at the entrance of a cave. First there came a hurricane wind, but God was not in the wind. Next came an earthquake, followed by a blazing fire, but God was not in them. Finally came a gentle, soothing breeze. Elijah covered his face with his cloak, for he knew God was in that tiny whispering sound. God’s voice is clearly heard in the silence of our surroundings that brings silence in our hearts.
The lack of silence is what makes prayer life more difficult in our time. The world is full of noise. Like the disciples in the boat, we are battered by the big waves of confusion and troubles, our ears are deafened by the strong winds of conflicting doctrines and opinions, deceptions and lies and we are distracted by the relentless advertisements in mass media, competing for our attention and consumerist appetites. It is said that the average American is exposed to over two thousand advertisements every day – in television, radio, newspapers and billboards, and even on taxicabs, subway and buses. For an ordinary person, it is almost impossible to have any clear focus on the Lord. We cannot hear His voice, nor feel His presence.
We are, therefore, invited to go to our inner core: “When you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in private” (Mt 6:6). In the silence and stillness of the innermost chamber of our soul, which is the spirit, God resides there. St. Teresa of Avila said, “The soul remains all the time in the center with its God…It never moves from its center nor loses its peace, which is Christ-within…The center of the soul which is the spirit is not touched nor disturbed; there the King dwells.”
This is what the new translation of the English Missal reminds us with the change in our response to the greeting, “The Lord be with you.” In place of the response, “And also with you”, we now say, “And with your spirit.”
In the midst of life’s troubles, noise and confusion, we need not be overwhelmed and confused. Jesus bids us, “Come!” In prayer, we come to Him, and we personally encounter Him especially in the Mass, for we receive the real Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion. He truly resides in us. This realization led St. Padre Pio to conclude: “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.”
Venerable Louis of Granada puts it beautifully: “Prayer is a royal gate through which we enter into the heart of God.” It is, in fact, “the key of Heaven” according to St. Augustine. He who holds the key has the power to open the door. So, the one who prays is truly powerful. St. John Chrysostom said, “God governs the world, but prayer governs God Himself!”
Let me close with this little quote: “Prayer is not a ‘spare wheel’ that you pull out when in trouble; it is a ‘steering wheel’ that directs us in the right path throughout our life.” Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs, Camarin Road, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1423).
Reflection 5 – “It is I – have no fear”
Does the Lord Jesus seem distant when trials or adversity come your way? It was at Jesus’ initiative that the disciples sailed across the lake, only to find themselves in a life-threatening storm. Although they were experienced fishermen, they feared for their lives. While Jesus was not with them in the boat, he, nonetheless watched for them in prayer. When he perceived their trouble he came to them on the sea and startled them with his sudden appearance. Do you look for the Lord’s presence when you encounter difficulty or challenges?
Fight fear with faith
This dramatic incident on the sea of Galilee revealed Peter’s character more fully than others. Here we see Peter’s impulsiveness – his tendency to act without thinking of what he was doing. He often failed and came to grief as a result of his impulsiveness. In contrast, Jesus always bade his disciples to see how difficult it was to follow him before they set out on the way he taught them. A great deal of failure in the Christian life is due to acting on impulse and emotional fervor without counting the cost. Peter, fortunately in the moment of his failure clutched at Jesus and held him firmly. Every time Peter fell, he rose again. His failures only made him love the Lord more deeply and trust him more intently.
The Lord keeps watch over us at all times, and especially in our moments of temptation and difficulty. Do you rely on the Lord for his strength and help? Jesus assures us that we have no need of fear if we trust in Him and in his great love for us. When calamities or trials threaten to overwhelm you, how do you respond? With faith and hope in God’s love, care and presence with you?
“Lord Jesus, help me to trust you always and to never doubt your presence and your power to help me. In my moments of doubt and weakness, may I cling to you as Peter did. Strengthen my faith that I may walk straight in the path you set before me, neither veering to the left nor to the right”. – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/aug13.htm
Reflection 6 – Truly, You are the Son of God
Today’s Liturgy of the Word is a hymn to God’s majesty and power. Elijah doesn’t hide his face when the wind, earthquake and fire pass by. These things are nothing in comparison to the power of God’s presence, manifested in a gentle, tiny whispering sound that penetrates deep into the heart of man. In the Gospel, the wind, the waves and the storm can do no harm to Jesus, the Son of God, who walks on the waters.
The story of Elijah, hidden in a cave on Mount Horeb, recalls the story of Moses, hidden in the cleft of the rock on Mount Sinai. It is possible that Horeb and Sinai were the same mountain. Moses asks to see God’s glory and God grants him a glimpse of the glory of his back. As God passes by he proclaims his name: “I Am Who Am. I Am Who Am, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger; and abounding in mercy and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6).
When Elijah encounters God, he is fleeing the wrath of Jezebel. He had just triumphed over the 450 prophets of Baal and saw the end of the drought coming on the horizon. When Jezebel heard about all that Elijah had done, she begins to pursue him in order to kill him. Elijah is brought to the point of despair and asks God to take his life. Instead, God gives him food and water and strengthens him for a forty day journey to Mount Horeb, the Mountain of the Lord.
The voice of the Lord asks him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He responds that Israel has forsaken the covenant (made with the Lord on that very mountain) and that he is the only one left who keeps the covenant. God tells him that there are still seven thousand in Israel who do not worship Baal. As well, God gives him instructions that will bring about punishment on Israel and on who to appoint as his successor as prophet to Israel.
On the mountain, Elijah learns like Moses that the Lord is faithful and merciful, slow to anger. God forgives transgression and sin, but will not clear the guilty. The Lord forgives those who approach him in humility and love; but those who refuse to approach God and choose to remain in their pride and sin, bring condemnation upon themselves.
In the Gospel, we see another manifestation of God’s power and a revelation of who Jesus is. When the Apostles hear Jesus’ voice, they no longer think they are seeing a ghost. Jesus says: “It is I” or “I Am”. “So understood, the statement recalls the Lord’s words to Moses from the burning bush: ‘I am who I am’ (Exod 3:14). […] for those with ears to hear, Jesus’ declaration is nothing less than a claim to divinity using the familiar words of scriptural revelation” (C. Mitch and E. Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Baker Academic, 192). In the end, Peter and the other apostles in the boat are brought to faith in Jesus’ divinity: “Truly, you are the Son of God”.
Paul’s Letter to the Romans recalls the great things that God has done through his people Israel. He highlights seven of them: adoption, glory, covenants, the giving of the law, worship, promises, and the patriarchs. God chose Israel to be his people and called them to be a kingdom of priests. God’s glory descended upon Mount Sinai, upon the meeting tent and filled Solomon’s Temple. God made covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David. He gave them the law that taught them love for God and for neighbor. He taught them how to worship him with psalms of praise, thanksgiving, sacrificial offerings and penitential rites. He fulfilled his promises to Abraham and to David. He is the God of the living, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What is more, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is descendant, according to the flesh, of the Patriarchs and David.
God continues to do great things for us, his people, and continues to manifest his name to us. Through Baptism, we have become adopted sons and daughters of God. We behold his glory in Jesus Christ and will behold his glory in heaven. He gave us the New Covenant and the New Law through Jesus Christ. We now worship him in Spirit and in Truth. We are heirs to the promise. We are descendants of Abraham through faith.
Today, we, like Elijah and the Apostles, hear God’s voice and his Word over the winds and waves of our lives. It is a powerful voice that cuts to the heart: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). There, in our hearts, our inner sanctuary, we welcome God and ask that he reign more fully in us. – Read the source text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/sunday-homily-truly-you-are-the-son-of-god
Reflection 7 – Take courage, do not be afraid
Purpose: The readings (the First Reading, the Psalm and the Gospel) contrast the force of storms and difficulties with the power of God’s mercy for his people, so the homilist should emphasize the theological virtues of faith and hope: that the way to weather the storms of life is by believing and trusting in Jesus’ care.
The world’s attention is unfortunately, but understandably, regularly focused on the destructive force of natural events like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis, as well as on the violent human forces contending in conflicts in Central Europe, in the Middle East, in Africa, and in Latin America. In addition, we cannot help but be disturbed by so many forces intimately at odds with us: the aggression of temptation and sin, the debilitation of illness, the pain of emotional wounds, the intensity of the passions, and the assaults of demons. Indeed, the three enemies of our human nature–the world, the flesh, and the devil–are forces at war with us, striving to turn us away from Jesus and his saving Gospel. Yet, these negative forces are no match for the positive power–the Good News of Jesus. Yes, his grace, his presence with us, his provident love for us, is the greatest power in the universe–and no evil force can overcome him. That is the consoling message of the readings our Mother the Church offers for our meditation this Sunday: “Take courage, do not be afraid!” The power of God’s gentle mercy is greater than any opposing force.
We see this in the experience of the prophet Elijah: God’s presence is not revealed to him in the forceful wind, earthquake or fire, but in the power of his gently whispered word. In contrast to natural, worldly, damaging forces, God’s power is supernatural, otherworldly, life-giving, and so is manifested in tenderness, in calm, in peace.
We see this in the experience of the Psalmist. He proclaims the peace, salvation, glory, kindness, truth, justice, and benefits of God, to those who fear God. That is, those who believe God has the power to give every good gift, and who hope in God’s generous providence towards men, will enjoy the fruits of his Kingdom.
We see this especially in the experience of the Apostle Peter. Peter is fearful of the storm, but with the sight of Jesus walking on the water–so proving his divine power–Peter is emboldened to do the impossible. As long as he faithfully keeps his eyes fixed on Jesus–on God’s power to help him do the impossible–he walks on water; when he looks away from Jesus–at the storms raging around him–he sinks.
We see this in our own experience. When we have faith in the power of God’s grace, and hope in his provident presence with us, while keeping the eyes of our hearts focused on Jesus (especially through a rich sacramental life and by prayerfully meditating his word)–then we can accomplish anything through his grace. We have the courage to weather any storm, to avoid any temptation and sin, to endure any illness, to be healed of any wound, to govern any passion, to conquer any demon, to love our enemies, to lay down our lives as martyrs–to overcome any evil–that is, to do what seems impossible. On the other hand, those of little faith, those who do not acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God with power over the forces of evil, those who have not experienced his forgiveness, healing, salvation–they are fearful, they doubt, they despair of ever overcoming the evils that assail them because they seem impossible to face–and they are sinking.
St. John of the Cross states that: “It is not the will of God that the soul should be troubled by anything.” May we never be disturbed by the force of the storms around us, but always courageously believe and hope in Jesus’ saving power, with the eyes of our hearts fixed confidently on him. (Source: Homiletic and Pastoral Review)
Reflection 8 – Peter had great peace with his eyes fixed on Jesus
Earlier this year, I was in conversation with a religious sister, and I asked her about her vocation story. She related that she was dating a man she was very much in love with, and had never been happier in her life. As they approached engagement, she recognized that while she was incredibly happy, she also experienced a sense of unease. She realized that she had never seriously asked God what He wanted for her life. Yet, she took the overwhelming sense of joy that she felt to be an indication that going forward with marriage was God’s vocation for her.
As a very active Catholic, she had heard priests and religious tell their vocation stories and speak of the joy they experienced as a sign they were on the right path. Sisters would confirm that Religious Life was for them because of the joy they felt when they visited the communities they would, one day, join. Her experience was different. When considering the possibility of Religious Life, or a different vocation than the call of marriage, the experience was depressing, and far from joyful. She took the general sense of unease, and the lack of joy, as she imagined Religious Life as a sign that she did not have that vocation.
During this experience, she met up with a friend who was also a religious sister, and casually asked her: “Sister, don’t you know what it is you’ve been made for because you love doing it? Don’t you find what it is that you are meant to do because it brings you joy?” After a silent moment, she replied, “No. Not by what gives you joy, but by what gives you peace. Because if you have joy without peace, the joy will not last. But if you have peace, even if at first you have no joy, eventually joy will come from that peace.”
This distinction put everything in a different light for her, and it echoed her own struggle. She had tremendous joy, but it could not be sustained. Close to engagement, there was no underlying peace, and she became increasingly restless. While she would have a wonderful time with her soon-to-be fiancé, as soon as she left him, the joy would fade. She had fleeting joy but no peace.
With the sister’s comment in mind, she started to pray and reflect on leaving everything to enter a convent. Here, her experience was the opposite of what she experienced in dating. Reflecting on religious life, she was sad to the core, and felt no joy. But she experienced a deep, underlying peace. That distinction between peace and joy was crucial for the young woman who, to this day, has maintained that peace, and has also been given joy in the religious community she joined more than a decade ago.
Both the reading from 1st Kings, and the Gospel of Matthew, affirm the gift of peace in discerning God’s will, even when there is little external delight. Elijah was in a tough spot. After defeating and slaying the prophets of Baal, he had to flee for his life. Tired and praying for death, he was told by an angel to take a long journey to Mount Horeb. There, at a cave, he waited for the Lord to speak. It was not in the wind, earthquake, or fire that the Lord spoke, but only in a small whispering voice. There God gave him the mission to anoint kings, and appoint a prophet to take his place.
After many hours of being tossed about by the winds and the waves, the disciples see Jesus walking across the water. To calm them, he says: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Here, we see Peter torn between belief and unbelief. “Lord, IF it is you, (because I’m not sure) command me to come to you on the water.” Unbelief: And at the Lord’s command, he gets out of the boat and steps on the waves. Belief: Here, we also see Peter’s great faith, and even greater love. Abandoning the security of the boat, he steps over the side, and gives himself completely to whatever may happen. It is easy to imagine that while Peter felt no external joy walking across the water, with his eyes fixed on Jesus, he had great peace.
It is when Peter takes his eyes off Jesus that the troubles begin. He turns to the external realities that surround him. He begins to focus more on the wind, the waves, and most of all, on how ridiculous it is to actually be walking on water. Along with the lack of joy, in that moment of recognition, he also loses his faith, courage, and peace.
Saint Thomas Aquinas makes the helpful distinction between joy and delight. Delight is an experience of the senses (both internal and external). We delight in things we see, taste, touch, and hear. We delight in things we remember, or imagine for the future. But joy is of the intellect and will. We find joy in things like prayer and virtuous action.
This point is made clear in the example of new parents. When their child is crying at 3 AM, there is little delight of the senses. There is little delight in getting out of a warm bed, fixing a bottle, or changing a diaper. But there is great joy as they look upon the contented child’s face, and rock her back to sleep. Saint Mother Teresa shares a similar message in her well-known path that begins in silence, and ends in peace. “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace.”
One of the greatest tasks we have as a Church is to help young people discern their vocations, and have the courage to accept them. These readings offer us insights in this crucial work. Every vocation comes with its difficulties. Metaphorically speaking, there will be strong winds, earthquakes, fires, and stormy waters. That is because every vocation is a vocation to follow and imitate Jesus, and following and imitating Jesus always involves the Cross. The psalmist proclaims, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” The call of the Lord is a quiet one, and a key to knowing his will is being able to discern the difference between external delights, and interior peace. – Read the source: http://www.hprweb.com/2017/07/homilies-for-august-2017/
Reflection 9 – Christ, a Presence That Saves
1) The Prayer of Jesus
By reading the text of the Gospel proposed by the liturgy, our attention is captured by Christ who manifests his power by walking on waters and calming the storm… However, before talking about the power with which Christ manifests his deity, I would like to draw attention to two facts that frame today’s Gospel: the solitary prayer of Jesus (“he went up on the mountain, alone, to pray” Mt 14.23) and the little faith of Peter (“man of little faith, why have you doubted?”(Mt 14, 31).
In the intense pace of his days, Jesus always finds time for prayer. The Son of God made man prays in solitude, in the night (Mt 14, 23; Mk 1, 35; Lk 5: 16), and before a meal (Mt 14, 19; 15, 36; 26, 26-27). He prays at the time of important events: for his baptism on the Jordan river (Lk 3, 21), before choosing the twelve Apostles, (Lk 6, 12), at the transfiguration on the Mount Tabor (Lk 9: 28-29), before teaching to pray (Lk 11: 1, Mt 6, 5), in the garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26: 36-44), and on the cross (Mt 27:46; Lk 23:46). He prays for his executioners (Lk 23.34), for Peter (Lk 22.32), for his disciples, and those who follow them (Jn 17: 9-24). He prays also for himself (Mt 26, 39; 17.1 to 5; Heb 5: 7). He teaches how to pray (Mt 6, 5), and reveals a permanent relationship with the Father (Mt. 11: 25-27) certain that he never leaves him alone (Jn 8, 29) and always hears him (Jn 11, 22, 42; Mt26, 53). Finally he promises (Jn 14:16) to continue to intercede for us in his glory (Rm 8, 34; Heb 7.25; 1 Jn 2, 1).
I confess that I would love to know the secret of Christ’s prayer, even if I know that it is impossible to get into Him completely. However, you can enter at least a little, bearing in mind – first of all – that Jesus has always turned to God by calling him by the name of Father. That of Jesus is first and foremost a filial prayer. Addressing God as Father, Jesus reveals the truly unique relationship that binds him to Him. In this regard, it is important to keep in mind that Jesus was also aware of being a man, and as a man – in solitude – he was confronted with the Father and His Word to constantly find the clarity of his evangelical path and the courage to travel on it.
Secondly, it should be noted that the prayer of Jesus is obedient. It is the prayer of the Son and, at the same time, it is the prayer of the Lord’s Servant, because the relationship with the Father implies familiarity and obedience. The consciousness of one’s filiation and total dependence are the two pillars of Jesus’ prayer. They are the essential structures of his person and should be for every Christian. If we pray in authentic, total and subsidiary dependence, our prayer will be heard already in the moment we address it. Perhaps it will be accomplished in a way different than the one we expected, but it will really be granted. And each time we’ll be astonished by the infinite possibility of fulfillment that God has given to our lives giving the Life in truth and in love.
“Let us pray, dear brothers,” writes St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage,” like God, the Master, has taught us. It is a confidential and intimate prayer to pray to God with what is his, to raise up the prayer of Christ to his ears. May the Father recognize the words of his Son, when we say: the One who lives inside the soul may be present also in the voice … When praying, there is also a way of speaking and praying that, with discipline, let us keep calm and privacy. Let us think that we are in front of God’s gaze. We must be liked in the eyes of the divine both with the attitude of the body and with the tone of the voice … And when we gather together with our brothers and sisters and celebrate the divine sacrifices with the priest of God, we must remember reverential fear and discipline, neither giving to the wind our prayers with rumbling voices, nor throwing with tumultuous verbosity a request that should be recommended to God in moderation for God is a listener not of the voice but of the heart (not vocis sed cordis auditor est) “(St. Cyprian, Our Father: The Prayer of Lord 3-4). These are words that are also valid today and help us celebrate the Holy Liturgy in the Church and pray well alone at home.
2) The Prayer of Peter and ours.
In addition to the prayer of Christ, the gospel of today shows us the prayer of St. Peter who by faith got out of the boat and walked on the waters toward Jesus. Despite the fact that he left the boat because he believed in Christ, the Apostle Peter has a lack of faith and, while he is sinking, he prays better crying “Lord, save me!”
The Chief of the Apostles’ little faith is reheated by prayer. The important thing is to have faith, even if not a great one, great, and to pray like Peter: “Lord, save me!” To better explain the previous statement, I propose to go back to the dialogue between Peter, fisherman of fish, and Jesus, fisherman of men, as it is told by the Gospel of today. The First among the Apostles walks on the waters like Jesus not thanks to his own power. His ability to walk on water depends solely on the word of the Lord (“come!”). His strength lies in faith. This is a great lesson for each of us. If we are faithful clinging to Christ, we can do the same miracles of the Lord. But if this faith does waver (man of little faith, why did you doubt?”), then we return to be easy prey of the forces of evil. The doubt, referred to here, is not the intellectual doubt about the truths of Faith, but it is due to the lack of total abandonment and trusting love in Christ in the face of the difficulties of life.
The important thing is that we take the stretched hand of Christ. Saint Augustine of Hippo, imagining to speak to St. Peter, writes: the Lord “has come down and took you by hand. With your own strength you cannot get up. Take the hand of Him who comes down to you “(Enarr in Ps. 95: PL 36, 1233). He says this not only to the Head of the Apostles, but also to us. Saint Peter walks on the waters not by his own strength, but by the divine grace, in which he believes. When he is overwhelmed by doubt, when he no longer looks at Jesus, but is afraid of the wind, when he does not fully trust the Master’s word, it means that he, in the depth of is heart, is moving away from him. Then he is likely to sink into the sea of life. And so do we : if we look only to ourselves, we become dependent on winds and we can no longer overcome the storms of life. The fearful fatigue of the Galilean Fisherman makes us understand that, before we even seek or call him, the Redeemer in person comes to us, “he lowers the heaven “to offer his hand and bring us to its height. The only thing Christ demands is that we totally trust him, grasping his stretched hand with strength. In this way, we will more deeply understand God’s truth, and we will experience his love, which drags us out of the “space” of the stormy waters of life and introduces us to the space of the true peace that God gives, as we see today in St. Peter’s.
Let us pray Mary, whom in a few days we will be celebrated as Ascended into heaven. The assumption of Mary into Heaven with her body is the source of light to understand the meaning of ours earthly pilgrimage and a luminous example of loving trust and total abandonment. In this way, even among the worries and the difficulties that shake the sea of our lives, the reassuring word of Jesus who also tells us: “Courage, I am I, do not be afraid “, will resound in our hearts and our faith will grow in Him.
The solemnity of the Assumption prevents us from transforming our lives into a pilgrimage without a destination, a sailing on a boat with stormy seas without a harbor.
Finally, the usual reflection that is especially addressed to the consecrated virgins, but that I think it’s useful to everyone. On the day of the Assumption, the Church (therefore us) celebrates Mary’s ascended body to heaven, or better, the person of Mary ascended into heaven in her integrity, body and soul. Today, we easily understand that the salvation come from the resurrection of Jesus, does not concern only our soul, our person in its spiritual dimension. It is not reduced to its spiritual dimension. It’s also body. The human person is a person with a body and our body has a spiritual dimension. The Christian salvation would not be true if it were not also a saving of the body. It is very clear in St. Paul’s exhortation “I urge you, therefore, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice “(Rm 12, 1). And again: “… don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit that is in you and that you have received from God ….? Therefore, glorify God in your body “(1 Cor 6: 19.20). The offering of the body in consecrated virginity is the highest example of how one can seriously take the Saint Paul exhortation and invites us not be fooled by the seductions of the world. Many exhibitions and celebrations of the body that characterize our time are actually contempt for the body. A contempt that in the commercial spots, uses the woman’s body to sell a product.
“Therefore glorify your body!” The human body is for the glory when a human person lives his or her sexuality in loving obedience to God’s will, which is to say in obedience to the very meaning of sexuality, and to its more natural, intimate and original meaning that is not to sell or to throw the body away, but to donate it. The word chastity immediately explains austerity and self-rule. But it does not consist only in governing the passions by force. Evangelical self-rule is about delivering myself with trust to the One who created me, loves me and knows me better than myself. It is to make space within the self for the lordship of Christ that is to feel loved by Him and to wish to believe in Him and to reciprocate his love complying with what he asks. Conversion, that is, the orderly government of my person, is the attitude I take when I feel loved by God. The consecrated virgins have the vocation of living, witnessing, and reflecting this love of God.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430)
Sermon XXVI On Mt 14,25: Of the Lord walking on the waves of the sea, and of Peter tottering
1). The Gospel which has just been read touching the Lord Christ, who walked on the waters of the sea;1 and the Apostle Peter, who as he was walking, tottered through fear, and sinking in distrust, rose again by confession, gives us to understand that the sea is the present world, and the Apostle Peter the type of the One Church. For Peter in the order of Apostles first, and in the love of Christ most forward, answers oftentimes alone for all the rest. Again, when the Lord Jesus Christ asked, whom men said that He was, and when the disciples gave the various opinions of men, and the Lord asked again and said, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” One for many gave the answer, Unity in many. Then said the Lord to Him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonas: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.”2 Then He added, “and I say unto thee.” As if He had said, “Because thou hast said unto Me, ‘Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God;’ I also say unto thee, ‘Thou art Peter.’” For before he was called Simon. Now this name of Peter was given him by the Lord, and that in a figure, that he should signify the Church. For seeing that Christ is the rock (Petra), Peter is the Christian people. For the rock (Petra) is the original name. Therefore Peter is so called3 from the rock; not the rock from Peter; as Christ is not called Christ from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. “Therefore,” he saith, “Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock” which thou hast confessed, upon this Rock which thou hast acknowledged, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;” that is upon Myself, the Son of the living God, “will I build My Church.” I will build thee upon Myself, not Myself upon thee.
- For men who wished to be built upon men, said “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas,”4 who is Peter. But others who did not wish to be built upon Peter, but upon the Rock, said, “But I am of Christ.” And when the Apostle Paul ascertained that he was chosen, and Christ despised, he said, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”5 And, as not in the name of Paul, so neither in the name of Peter; but in the name of Christ: that Peter might be built upon the Rock, not the Rock upon Peter.
- This same Peter therefore who had been by the Rock pronounced “blessed,” bearing the figure of the Church, holding the chief place in the Apostleship,6 a very little while after that he had heard that he was “blessed,” a very little while after that he had heard that he was “Peter,” a very little while after that he had heard that he was to be “built upon the Rock,” displeased the Lord when He had heard of His future Passion, for He had foretold His disciples that it was soon to be. He feared test he should by death, lose Him whom he had confessed as the fountain of life. He was troubled, and said, “Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be to Thee.”7 Spare Thyself, O God, I am not willing that Thou shouldest die. Peter said to Christ, I am not willing that Thou shouldest die; but Christ far better said, I am willing to die for thee.
And then He forthwith rebuked him, whom He had a little before commended; and calleth him Satan, whom he had pronounced “blessed.” “Get thee behind Me, Satan,” he saith, “thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”8 What would He have us do in our present state, who thus findeth fault because we are men? Would you know what He would have us do? Give ear to the Psalm; “I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are all the children of the Most High.” But by savouring the things of men; “ye shall die like men.”9 The very same Peter a little while before blessed, afterwards Satan, in one moment, within a few words! Thou wonderest at the difference of the names, mark the difference of the reasons of them. Why wonderest thou that he who was a little before blessed, is afterwards Satan? Marc the reason wherefore he is blessed. “Because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.”10 Therefore blessed, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee. For if flesh and blood revealed thisto thee, it were of thine own; but because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven, it is of Mine, not of thine own. Why of Mine? “Because all things that the Father hath are Mine.”11 So then thou hast heard the cause, why he is “blessed,” and why he is “Peter.” But why was he that which we shudder at, and are loth to repeat, why, but because it was of thine own? “For thou savourest not the things which be of God, but those that be of men.”
- Let us, looking at ourselves in this member of the Church, distinguish what is of God, and what of ourselves. For then we shall not totter, then shall we be founded on the Rock, shall be fixed and firm against the winds, and storms, and streams, the temptations, I mean, of this present world. Yet see this Peter, who was then our figure; now he trusts, and now he totters; now he confesses the Undying, and now he fears test He should die. Wherefore? because the Church of Christ hath both strong and weak ones; and cannot be without either strong or weak; whence the Apostle Paul says, “Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.”12 In that Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” he represents the strong: but in that he totters, and would not that Christ should suffer, in fearing death for Him, and not acknowledging the Life, he represents the weak ones of the Church. In that one Apostle then, that is, Peter, in the order of Apostles first and chiefest, in whom the Church was figured, both sorts were to be represented, that is, both the strong and weak; because the Church doth not exist without them both.
- And hence also is that which was just now read, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.”13 For I cannot do this in myself, but in Thee. He acknowledged what he had of himself, and what of Him, by whose will he believed that he could do that, which no human weakness could do. Therefore, “if it be Thou, bid me;” because when thou biddest, it will be done. What I cannot do by taking it upon myself,14 Thou canst do by bidding me. And the Lord said “Come.”15 And without any doubting, at the word of Him who bade him, at the presence of Him who sustained, at the presence of Him who guided him, without any delay, Peter leaped down into the water, and began to walk. He was able to do what the Lord was doing, not in himself, but in the Lord. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.”16 What no one can do in Paul, no one in Peter, no one in any other o f the Apostles, this can he do in the Lord. Therefore well said Paul by a wholesome despising of himself, and commending of Him; “Was Paul crucified for you, or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”17 So then, ye are not in me, but together with me; not under me, but under Him.
- Therefore Peter walked on the water by the bidding of the Lord, knowing that he could not have this power of himself. By faith he had strength to do what humanweakness could not do. These are the strong ones of the Church. Marc this, hear, understand, and act accordingly. For we must not deal with the strong on any other principle18 than this, that so they should become weak; but thus we must deal with the weak, that they may become strong. But the presuming on their own strength keeps many back from strength. No one will have strength from God, but he who feels himself weak of himself. “God setteth apart a spontaneous rain for His inheritance.”19 Why do you, who know what I was about to say, anticipate me? Letyour quickness be moderated, that the slowness of the rest may follow. This I said, and I say it again; hear it, receive it, and act on this principle. No one is made strong by God, but he who feels himself weak of his own self. And therefore a “spontaneous rain,” as the Psalm says, “spontaneous;” not of our deserts, but “spontaneous.” “A spontaneous rain” therefore “God setteth apart for his inheritance;” for “it was weak; but Thou hast perfected it.” Because Thou “hast set apart for it a spontaneous rain,” not looking to men’s deserts, but to Thine own grace and mercy. This inheritance then was weakened, and acknowledged its own weakness in itself, that it might be strong in Thee. It would not be strengthened, if it were not weak, that by Thee it might be “perfected” in Thee.
- See Paul a small portion of this inheritance, see him in weakness, who said, “I am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” Why then art thou an Apostle? “By the grace of God I am what I am. I am not meet, but by the grace of God I am what I am.” Paul was “weak,” but Thou hast “perfected” him. But now because by “the grace of God he is what he is,” look what follows; “And His grace in me was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all.”20 Take heed lest thou lose by presumption what thou hast attained21 through weakness. This is well, very well; that “I am not meet to be called an Apostle. By His grace I am what I am, and His grace in me was not in vain:” all most excellent. But, “I labored more abundantly than they all;” thou hast begun, it would seem, to ascribe to thyself what a little before thou hadst given to God. Attend and follow on; “Yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” Well! thou weak one; thou shalt be exalted in exceedingstrength, seeing thou art not unthankful. Thou art the very same Paul, little in thyself;and great in the Lord. Thou art he who didst thrice beseech the Lord, that “the thorn of the flesh, the messenger of Satan, by whom thou wast buffeted, might be taken away from thee.”22 And what was said to thee? what didst thou hear when thou madest this petition? “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”23 For he was “weak,” but Thou didst “perfect” him.
- So Peter also said, “Bid me come unto Thee on the water.” I who dare this am but a man, but it is no man whom I beseech. Let the God-man bid, that man may be able to do what man cannot do. “Come,” said He. And He went down, and began to walk on the water; and Peter was able, because the Rock had bidden him. Lo, what Peter was in the Lord; what was he in himself? “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, Lord, I perish, save me.” When he24 looked for strength from the Lord, he had strength from the Lord; as a man he tottered, but he returned to the Lord. “If I said, my foot hath slipped”25 (they are the words of a Psalm, the notes of a holy song; and if we acknowledge them they are our words too; yea, if we will, they are ours also). “If I said my foot hath slipped.” How slipped, except because it was mine own. And what follows? “Thy mercy, Lord,helped me.” Not mine own strength, but Thy mercy. For will God forsake him as he totters, whom He heard when calling upon Him? Where then is that, “Who hath called upon God, and hath been forsaken by Him?”26 where again is that, “Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord, shall be delivered.”27 Immediately reaching forth the help of His right hand, He lifted him up as he was sinking, and rebuked his distrust; “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Once thou didst trust in Me, hast thou now doubted of Me?
- Well, brethren, my sermon must be ended. Consider the world to be the sea; the wind is boisterous, and there is a mighty tempest. Each man’s peculiar lust is his tempest. Thou dost love God; thou walkest upon the sea, and under thy feet is the swelling of the world. Thou dost love the world, it will swallow thee up. It skilleth onl how to devour its lovers, not to carry them. But when thy heart is tossed about by lust, in order that thou mayest get the better of thy lust, call upon the Divinity of Christ. Think ye that the wind is then contrary, when there is this life’s adversity? For so when there are wars, when there is tumult, when there is famine, when there is pestilence, when even to every individual man his private calamity arriveth, then the wind is thought to be contrary, then it is thought that God must be called upon. But when the world wears her smile of temporal happiness, it is as if there were nocontrary wind. But do not ask upon this matter the tranquil state of the times: ask only your own lust. See if there be tranquillity within thee: see if there be no inner wind which overturns thee; see to this. There needs great virtue to struggle with happiness, lest this very happiness allure, corrupt, and overthrow thee. There needs, I say, great virtue to struggle with happiness, and great happiness not to be overcome by happiness. Learn then to tread upon the world; remember to trust in Christ. And “if thy foot have slipped;” if thou totter, if some things there are which thou canst not overcome, if thou begin to sink, say, “Lord, I perish, save me.” Say, “I perish,” that thou perish not. For He only can deliver thee from the death of the body, who died in the body for thee. Let us turn to the Lord, etc.
1 (Mt 14,25
2 (Mt 16,17 etc.
3 Vide Sermon cclxx. 2, and ccxcv. 1.
4 (1Co 1,12
5 (1Co 1,13
6 Apostolatus principatum.
7 (Mt 16,22
8 (Mt 16,23
9 (Ps 82,6-7.
10 (Mt 16,17
11 (Jn 16,15).
12 (Rm 15,1
13 (Mt 14,28
15 (Mt 14,29
16 (Ep 5,8
17 (1Co 1,13
19 (Ps 67,10 Sept. (lxviii. 9, English version).
20 (1Co 15,9 etc.
22 (2Co 12,7-8).
23 (2Co 12,9
24 Praesumsit de Domino.
25 (Ps 94,18
26 (Si 2,10 Sept.
27 (Jl 2,32 – Read the source: https://zenit.org/articles/christ-a-presence-that-saves/
Reflection 10 – Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus (d. 235 A.D.)
Two men died for the faith after harsh treatment and exhaustion in the mines of Sardinia. One had been pope for five years, the other an antipope for 18. They died reconciled.
Pontian. Pontian was a Roman who served as pope from 230 to 235. During his reign he held a synod which confirmed the excommunication of the great theologian Origen in Alexandria. Pontian was banished to exile by the Roman emperor in 235, and resigned so that a successor could be elected in Rome. He was sent to the “unhealthy” island of Sardinia, where he died of harsh treatment in 235. With him was Hippolytus (see below) with whom he was reconciled. The bodies of both martyrs were brought back to Rome and buried with solemn rites as martyrs.
Hippolytus. As a priest in Rome, Hippolytus (the name means “a horse turned loose”) was at first “holier than the Church.” He censured the pope for not coming down hard enough on a certain heresy—calling him a tool in the hands of one Callistus, a deacon—and coming close to advocating the opposite heresy himself. When Callistus was elected pope, Hippolytus accused him of being too lenient with penitents, and had himself elected antipope by a group of followers. He felt that the Church must be composed of pure souls uncompromisingly separated from the world: Hippolytus evidently thought that his group fitted the description. He remained in schism through the reigns of three popes. In 235 he was also banished to the island of Sardinia. Shortly before or after this event, he was reconciled to the Church, and died with Pope Pontian in exile.
Hippolytus was a rigorist, a vehement and intransigent man for whom even orthodox doctrine and practice were not purified enough. He is, nevertheless, the most important theologian and prolific religious writer before the age of Constantine. His writings are the fullest source of our knowledge of the Roman liturgy and the structure of the Church in the second and third centuries. His works include many Scripture commentaries, polemics against heresies and a history of the world. A marble statue, dating from the third century, representing the saint sitting in a chair, was found in 1551. On one side is inscribed his table for computing the date of Easter, on the other a list of how the system works out until the year 224. Blessed John XXIII installed the statue in the Vatican library.
Hippolytus was a strong defender of orthodoxy, and admitted his excesses by his humble reconciliation. He was not a formal heretic, but an overzealous disciplinarian. What he could not learn in his prime as a reformer and purist, he learned in the pain and desolation of imprisonment. It was a fitting symbolic event that Pope Pontian shared his martyrdom.
“Christ, like a skillful physician, understands the weakness of men. He loves to teach the ignorant and the erring he turns again to his own true way. He is easily found by those who live by faith; and to those of pure eye and holy heart, who desire to knock at the door, he opens immediately. He does not disdain the barbarian, nor does he set the eunuch aside as no man. He does not hate the female on account of the woman’s act of disobedience in the beginning, nor does he reject the male on account of the man’s transgression. But he seeks all, and desires to save all, wishing to make all the children of God, and calling all the saints unto one perfect man” (Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist).
SAINT OF THE DAY
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Today’s feast commemorates a pope, Pontian and an anti-pope, Hyppolytus, united in martyrdom. Pontian was elected Roman Pontiff in 231 A.D. At this time, the priest Hippolytus was in active schism, ruling as a rival pope, or anti-pope. In 235 A.D., during the persecution of Maximinus, both Pope and anti-pope were exiled to Sardinia, Italy and died there of ill treatment, but not before Hippolytus had reconciled himself to the Church. “So let us not be at enmity with ourselves, but change our way of life without delay. For Christ who is God, exalted above all creation, has taken away man’s sin and has re-fashioned our fallen nature… God is not beggarly, and for the sake of his own glory he has given us a share in his divinity” (Saint Hippolytus).
Imaginary portrait from Artaud de Montor The Lives and Times of the Popes, 1910
|PAPACY BEGAN||21 July 230|
|PAPACY ENDED||28 September 235|
Sardinia, Roman Empire
|FEAST DAY||13 August|
Pope St. Pontian (Latin: Pontianus; died October 235), was the Bishop of Rome from 21 July 230 to 28 September 235. In 235, during the persecution of Christians in the reign of the Emperor Maximinus the Thracian, Pontian was arrested and sent to the island of Sardinia. He resigned to make the election of a new pope possible.
A little more is known of Pontian than his predecessors, apparently from a lost papal chronicle that was available to the compiler of the Liberian Catalogue of Bishops of Rome, written in the 4th century.
Pontian’s pontificate was relatively peaceful under the reign of the Emperor Severus Alexander, and noted for the condemnation of Origen by a Roman synod, over which Pontian likely presided. According to early church historianEusebius of Caesarea, the next emperor, Maximinus, overturned his predecessor’s policy of tolerance towardsChristianity. Both Pope Pontian and the Antipope Hippolytus of Rome were arrested and exiled to labor in the mines ofSardinia, generally regarded as a death sentence.
In light of his sentence, Pontian resigned as bishop on 28 September 235, so as to allow an orderly transition in the Church of Rome. This action ended a schism that had existed in the Roman Church for eighteen years. He was beaten to death with sticks. Neither Hippolytus nor Pontian survived, reconciling with one another there before their deaths. Pontian died in October 235.
Pope Fabian had the bodies of both Pontian and Hippolytus brought back to Rome in 236 or 237 and buried in the papal crypt in the Catacomb of Callixtus on the Appian Way. The slab covering his tomb was discovered in 1909. On it is inscribed in Greek: Ποντιανός Επίσκ(Pontianus Episk; in English Pontianus Bish). The inscription Μάρτυρ”, “”MARTUR” had been added in another hand.
- Kirsch, Johann Peter (1911). “Pope St. Pontian” in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Papandrea, James L. (January 23, 2012). Reading the Early Church Fathers: From the Didache to Nicaea. Paulist Press.ISBN 978-0809147519.
- Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). “Sts. Pontian & Hippolytus”. My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate – Quality Catholic Publications. pp. 179–180.ISBN 971-91595-4-5.
- G. W. Clarke, “Some Victims of the Persecution of Maximinus Thrax,” Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Bd. 15, H. 4 (Nov., 1966): pp. 445-453, p. 451.
- Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2000), 45.
- McBrien, Lives of the Popes, 45.
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 146
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). “Pope St. Pontian“. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
|SAINT HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME|
The Martyrdom of Saint Hippolytus, according to the legendary version of Prudentius (Paris, 14th century)
Sardinia, now Italy
|VENERATED IN||Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Church
Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
|FEAST||Roman Catholic Church: August 13
Eastern Orthodox Church: January 30
Coptic Orthodox Church: Meshir 6
|PATRONAGE||Bibbiena, Italy; horses|
Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235 AD) was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome, where he was probably born. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca (cod. 121) as a disciple of Irenaeus, who was said to be a disciple of Polycarp, and from the context of this passage it is supposed that he suggested that Hippolytus so styled himself. However, this assertion is doubtful. He came into conflict with the popes of his time and seems to have headed a schismatic group as a rival to the Bishop of Rome. He opposed the Roman bishops who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts. However, he was very probably reconciled to the Church when he died as a martyr.
Starting in the 4th century AD, various legends arose about him, identifying him as a priest of the Novatianist schism or as a soldier converted by Saint Lawrence. He has also been confused with another martyr of the same name. Pius IV identifies him as “Saint Hippolytus, Bishop of Pontus” who was martyred in the reign of Alexander Severus through his inscription on a statue found at the Church of St. Lawrence in Rome and kept at the Vatican as photographed and published in Brunsen.
As a presbyter of the church at Rome under Pope Zephyrinus (199 – 217 AD), Hippolytus was distinguished for his learning and eloquence. It was at this time that Origen of Alexandria, then a young man, heard him preach.
He accused Pope Zephyrinus of modalism, the heresy which held that the names Father and Son are simply different names for the same subject. Hippolytus championed the Logos doctrine of the Greek apologists, most notably Justin Martyr, which distinguished the Father from the Logos (“Word”). An ethical conservative, he was scandalized when Pope Callixtus I (217 – 222 AD) extended absolution to Christians who had committed grave sins, such as adultery.
Hippolytus himself advocated an excessive rigorism. At this time, he seems to have allowed himself to be elected as a rival Bishop of Rome, and continued to attackPope Urban I (222 – 230 AD) and Pope Pontian ( 230 – 235 AD). G. Salmon suggests that Hippolytus was the leader of the Greek-speaking Christians of Rome.Allen Brent sees the development of Roman house-churches into something akin to Greek philosophical schools gathered around a compelling teacher.
Under the persecution at the time of Emperor Maximinus Thrax, Hippolytus and Pontian were exiled together in 235 AD to Sardinia, likely dying in the mines. It is quite probable that, before his death there, he was reconciled to the other party at Rome, for, under Pope Fabian (236–250), his body and that of Pontian were brought to Rome. The so-called chronography of the year 354 (more precisely, the Catalogus Liberianus, or Liberian Catalogue) reports that on August 13, probably in 236 AD, the two bodies were interred in Rome, that of Hippolytus in a cemetery on the Via Tiburtina, his funeral being conducted by Justin the Confessor. This document indicates that, by about 255 AD, Hippolytus was considered a martyr and gives him the rank of a priest, not of a bishop, an indication that before his death the schismatic was received again into the Church.
The facts of his life as well as his writing were soon forgotten in the West, perhaps by reason of his criticism of the bishops of Rome and because he wrote in Greek.Pope Damasus I dedicated to him one of his famous epigrams, making him, however, a priest of the Novatianist schism, a view later accepted by Prudentius in the 5th century in his “Passion of St Hippolytus”. In the Passionals of the 7th and 8th centuries he is represented as a soldier converted by Saint Lawrence, a legend that long survived in the Roman Breviary. He was also confused with a martyr of the same name who was buried in Portus, of which city he was believed to have been a bishop, who was put to death by drowning in a deep well.
According to Prudentius’ account, Hippolytus was dragged to death by wild horses, a striking parallel to the story of the mythological Hippolytus, who was dragged to death by wild horses at Athens. He described the subterranean tomb of the saint and states that he saw there a picture representing Hippolytus’ execution. He also confirms August 13 as the date on which a Hippolytus was celebrated but this again refers to the convert of Lawrence, as preserved in the Menaion of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The latter account led to Hippolytus being considered the patron saint of horses. During the Middle Ages, sick horses were brought to St Ippolyts, Hertfordshire, England, where a church is dedicated to him.
Hippolytus’ principal work is the Refutation of all Heresies. Of its ten books, Book I was the most important. It was long known and was printed (with the title Philosophumena) among the works of Origen. Books II and III are lost, and Books IV–X were found, without the name of the author, in a monastery of Mount Athos in 1842. E. Miller published them in 1851 under the title Philosophumena, attributing them to Origen of Alexandria. They have since been attributed to Hippolytus.
In 1551 a marble statue of a seated figure (originally female, perhaps personifying one of the sciences) was purportedly found in the cemetery of the Via Tiburtina and was heavily restored. On the sides of the seat was carved a paschal cycle, and on the back the titles of numerous writings by Hippolytus. Many other works are listed by Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome.
Hippolytus’ voluminous writings, which for variety of subject can be compared with those of Origen of Alexandria, embrace the spheres of exegesis, homiletics, apologetics and polemic, chronography, and ecclesiastical law. Hippolytus recorded the firstliturgical reference to the Virgin Mary, as part of the ordination rite of a bishop.
Of exegetical works usually attributed to Hippolytus, the best preserved are the Commentary on the Prophet Daniel and theCommentary on the Song of Songs. This is the earliest attested Christian interpretation of the Song, covering only the first three chapters to Song 3:7.
The commentary on the Song of Songs survives in two Georgian manuscripts, a Greek epitome, a Paleo-Slavonic florilegium, and fragments in Armenian and Syriac as well as in many patristic quotations, especially in Ambrose of Milan‘s Exposition on Psalm 118 (119). It is generally regarded as an instruction relating to a post-Baptismal rite of anointing with oil as a symbol of receiving the Holy Spirit. The commentary was originally written as part of a mystagogy, an instruction for new Christians. Scholars have usually assumed the Commentary On the Song of Songs was originally composed for use during Passover, a season favored in the West for Baptism. Hippolytus supplied his commentary with a fully developed introduction known as the schema isagogicum, indicating his knowledge of the rhetorical conventions for teachers discussing classical works. He employs a common rhetorical trope, ekphrasis, using images on the walls or floors of Greco-Roman homes, and in the catacombs as paintings or mosaics. Origen felt that the Song should be reserved for the spiritually mature and that studying it might be harmful for the novice.
About 215, he wrote the Apostolic Tradition, which contains the earlier known ritual of ordination. The influence of Hippolytus was felt chiefly through his works on chronography and ecclesiastical law. His chronicle of the world, a compilation embracing the whole period from the creation of the world up to the year 234, formed a basis for many chronographical works both in the East and West.
In the great compilations of ecclesiastical law that arose in the East since the 3rd century, the Church Orders many canons were attributed to Hippolytus, for example in the Canons of Hippolytus or the The Constitutions through Hippolytus. How much of this material is genuinely his, how much of it worked over, and how much of it wrongly attributed to him, can no longer be determined beyond dispute, however a great deal was incorporated into the Fetha Negest, which once served as the constitutional basis of law in Ethiopia — where he is still remembered as Abulides. During the early 20th century the work known as The Egyptian Church Order was identified as the Apostolic Tradition and attributed to Hippolytus; nowaday this attribution is hotly contested.
Differences in style and theology lead some scholars to conclude that some of the works attributed to Hippolytus actually derive from a second author. Two small but potentially important works, On the Twelve Apostles of Christ and On the Seventy Apostles of Christ,are often neglected because the manuscripts were lost during most of the church age and then found in Greece in the 19th century. As most scholars consider them spurious, they are often ascribed to “Pseudo-Hippolytus“. The two are included in an appendix to the works of Hippolytus in the voluminous collection of Early Church Fathers. The work on the 70 apostles is noteworthy as a (potentially) early source including Aristobulus, sometimes accounted the apostle of Britain.
Hippolytus is an important figure in the development of Christian eschatology. In On Christ and the Antichrist and Commentary on the Prophet Daniel Hippolytus gave his interpretation of Bible prophecies.
With the onset of persecutions during the reign of Septimus Severus, many early Christian writers turned to eschatology. On Christ and the Antichrist is one of his earliest works. Hippolytus was greatly influenced by Irenaeus. However, unlike Irenaeus, Hippolytus focus on the meaning of prophecy for the Church in his own time. Of the dogmatic works, On Christ and the Antichrist survives in a complete state and was probably written about 202.
The Commentary on the Prophet Daniel is the oldest extant scripture commentary. Hippolytus follows the long-established usage in interpreting Daniel’s seventy prophetic weeks to be weeks of literal years. Hippolytus gave an explanation of Daniel’s paralleling prophecies of chapters 2, 7, and 8, which he, as with the other fathers, specifically relates to the Babylonians, Medo-Persians, Greeks, and Romans. His interpretation of events and their significance is Christological. He stated that Rome would be partitioned into ten kingdoms and these in turn would be followed by the rise of the dread Antichrist, who would oppress the saints. This would be ended by Christ’s Second Advent, the resurrection of the righteous, and the destruction of aid Antichrist. After which would come the judgment and burning up of the wicked.
Hippolytus did not subscribe to the belief that the Second Coming was imminent. He was apparently the first to set a specific date for the second Advent through calculation—A.D. 500—which was 260 year after his time. He assumed, like Irenaeus his teacher, that inasmuch as God made all things in six days, and these days symbolize a thousand years each, in six thousand years from the creation the end will come. He apparently based his calculation on the Septuagint which had the world beginning about 5500 B.C.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast day of St Hippolytus falls on August 13, which is also the Apodosis of the Feast of the Transfiguration. Because on the Apodosis the hymns of the Transfiguration are to be repeated, the feast of St. Hippolytus may be transferred to the day before or to some other convenient day. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates the feast of “St Hippolytus Pope of Rome”on January 30, who may or may not be the same individual.
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates St Hippolytus jointly with St Pontian on August 13. The feast of Saint Hippolytus formerly celebrated on 22 August as one of the companions of Saint Timotheuswas a duplicate of his 13 August feast and for that reason was deleted when the General Roman Calendar was revised in 1969.Earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology referred to the 22 August Hippolytus as Bishop of Porto. The Catholic Encyclopedia sees this as “connected with the confusion regarding the Roman presbyter resulting from the Acts of the Martyrs of Porto. It has not been ascertained whether the memory of the latter was localized at Porto merely in connection with the legend in Prudentius, without further foundation, or whether a person named Hippolytus was really martyred at Porto, and afterwards confounded in legend with Hippolytus of Rome.” This opinion is shared by a Benedictine source.
Earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology also mentioned on 30 January a Hippolytus venerated at Antioch, but the details it gave were borrowed from the story of Hippolytus of Rome. Modern editions of the Roman Martyrology omit all mention of this supposed distinct Saint Hippolytus of Antioch.
- Apostolic Tradition
- Epistle to Diognetus
- Canons of Hippolytus
- Josephus’s Discourse to the Greeks concerning Hades (actually by Hippolytus)
- Cross 2005
- Trigilio, John; Brighenti, Kenneth. Saints For Dummies.For Dummies, 2010. p. 82. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.
- Hippolytus and His Age, Volume I, frontispiece, 1852, p. 424.
- Jerome’s De Viris Illustribus # 61; cp. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica vi. 14, 10.
- “Saint Hippolytus of Rome.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 15 Aug. 2010
- Kirsch, Johann Peter. “St. Hippolytus of Rome.” The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 16 February 2016
- “Hippolytus Romanus”, Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature (Henry Wace, ed.), John Murray, London, 1911
- Brent, Allen. Hippolytus and the Roman church in the third century : communities in tension before the emergence of a monarch-bishop, 1995, Brill, ISBN 9004102450
- Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). “Sts. Pontian & Hippolytus”. My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate – Quality Catholic Publications. pp. 179–180.ISBN 971-91595-4-5.
- John Foxe, Book of Martyrs (E. Hall, 1833) p41.
- Ippollitts (A Guide to Old Hertfordshire)
- McNally, Terrence, What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary 2009 ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 pages 68–69
- Hippolytus’ Commentary on Daniel 1.17
- Mansfeld 1997 notes Origen’s use of the schema, but not Hippolytus’.
- Smith, Yancy. The Mystery of Anointing: Hippolytus’ Commentary On the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Contexts. Gorgias Studies in Early Christianity and Patristics 62. 2015. ISBN 978-1-4632-0218-7 page 9, 34
- Ante-Nicean Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 254–6
- Dunbar, David G.. “The Delay of the Parousia in Hippolytus”. Vigiliae Christianae 37.4 (1983): 313–327
- Dunbar, David G., The Eschatology of Hippolytus of Rome, (Ann Arbor: University Press, 1979)
- Daley, Brian. The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology, CUP, 1991, ISBN 9780521352581
- Froom 1950, p. 271.
- Cummings, Owen F., Eucharistic Doctors: A Theological History, Paulist Press, 2005, ISBN 9780809142439
- Froom 1950, p. 278.
- Hippolytus, On Daniel, ch. 2, 4–6
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 135
- Catholic Encyclopedia:Sts. Hippolytus
- Saint of the Day, 22 August
- Saint of the Day, 30 January
- Achelis, Hans Hippolytstudien (Leipzig, 1897)
- Adhémar d’Ales, La Théologie de Saint Hippolyte (Paris, 1906). (G.K.)
- Bunsen, Hippolytus and his Age (1852, 2nd ed., 1854; Ger. ed., 1853)
- Cross, F. L. (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press.
- Döllinger, Hippolytus und Kallistus (Regensb. 1853; Eng. transl., Edinb., 1876)
- Gerhard Ficker, Studien zur Hippolytfrage (Leipzig, 1893)
- Froom, LeRoy (1950). The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers (DjVu and PDF). 1.
- Hippolytus (170–236). Commentary on Daniel, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 5.
- Hippolytus (170–236b). Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 5.
- Hippolytus, The Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus of Rome, Bishop and Martyr. Trans Gregory Dix. (London: Alban Press, 1992)
- J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers vol. i, part ii (London, 1889–1890).
- Mansfeld, Jaap (1997).