Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s video: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time A & St. Teresa of Avila, October 15,2017

Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s video: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time A & St. Teresa of Avila, October 15,2017

One of the most terrifying aspects of the gift of freedom is that it leaves us the option of rejecting God. God prepares an irresistible weeding feast and invites us to it… but so often we refuse. This is the phenomenon of impenetrability: the refusal to let ourselves be struck even by the most beautiful thing that is put before us. We prefer instead to let ourselves remain all closed – we do not let our “I” be touched by anything even the “You” of God. Nonetheless, God will never cease providing for all peoples this rich feast of his Son. For true happiness comes when I realize the “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” “Let us rejoice and be glad that he has save us.”

 AMDG+

Opening Prayer

“Lord, may I always know the joy of living in your presence and grow in the hope of seeing you face to face in your everlasting kingdom.”  Lord, the rich suffer want and go hungry, but I trust that nothing shall be lacking to those who fear the Lord.” In your Name, I pray. Amen.

Reading I
Is 25:6-10a -The Lord will prepare a feast and wipe away the tears from every face.

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.
On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

The word of the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 
R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Reading II
Phil 4:12-14, 19-20 – I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel
Mt 22:1-14  Invite to the wedding feast whomever you find.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily – The Parable of the wedding banquet click below:

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.  The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.

The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.  Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.

The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Dressing for the feast

Dr. Scott Hahn’s reflection click below:

Download Audio File

Our Lord’s parable in today’s Gospel is again a fairly straightforward outline of salvation history.

God is the king (see Matthew 5:35), Jesus is the bridegroom (see Matthew 9:15), the feast is the salvation and eternal life that Isaiah prophesies in today’s First Reading. The Israelites are those first invited to the feast by God’s servants, the prophets (see Isaiah 7:25). For refusing repeated invitations and even killing His prophets, Israel has been punished, its city conquered by foreign armies.

Now, Jesus makes clear, God is sending new servants, His apostles, to call not only Israelites, but all people—good and bad alike—to the feast of His kingdom. This an image of the Church, which Jesus elsewhere compares to a field sown with both wheat and weeds, and a fishing net that catches good fish and bad (see Matthew 13:24-4347-50).

We have all been called to this great feast of love in the Church, where, as Isaiah foretold, the veil that once separated the nations from the covenants of Israel has been destroyed, where the dividing wall of enmity has been torn down by the blood of Christ (see Ephesians 2:11-14).

As we sing in today’s Psalm, the Lord has led us to this feast, refreshing our souls in the waters of baptism, spreading the table before us in the Eucharist. As Paul tells us in today’s Epistle, in the glorious riches of Christ, we will find supplied whatever we need.

And in the rich food of His body, and the choice wine of His blood, we have a foretaste of the eternal banquet in the heavenly Jerusalem, when God will destroy death forever (see Hebrews 12:22-24).

But are we dressed for the feast, clothed in the garment of righteousness (see Revelation 19:8)? Not all who have been called will be chosen for eternal life, Jesus warns. Let us be sure that we’re living in a manner worthy of the invitation we’ve received (see Ephesians 4:1). –  Read the source:  https://stpaulcenter.com/dressing-for-the-feast-scott-hahn-reflects-on-the-twenty-eighth-sunday-in-ordinary-time/

Reflection 2 – Invite whomever you find to the wedding feast

What is meaning of the parable of the wedding banquet in today’s Gospel (Mt 22:1-14)? The answer is: The king is God the Father. The son is Jesus who brought the banquet of salvation (Rev 19:9). The banquet hall is the Church (CCC: 1070). Those who mistreat and kill the servants, prophets and apostles are the scribes and Pharisees, Pilate, Judas, and all others who, like them, reject Jesus. Those who reject God’s love are headed for ruin. Hence, others will be invited to take their place. So the apostles went out into the whole world to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. The banquet hall now filled with guests “both good and bad.” This represents the Church, which is open to all. To enter the banquet hall one must also have the right internal dispositions with faith and charity as symbolized by the wedding garment. Those who are not wearing the proper wedding garment will be cast out into the outer darkness called hell (Mt 13:41-42; Mt 25:41; cf. Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; CCC: 1056-1057).

St. Gregory the Great, (+604 A.D.) wrote, “The marriage is the wedding of Christ and his Church; the garment is the virtue of charity; a person who goes into the feast without a wedding garment is someone who believes in the Church but does not have charity.” What should we do to prepare ourselves? It is by faithfulness to the Lord’s command and the breaking of the bread: “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…” (Acts 2: 42). St. Thomas Aquinas, (+1274 A.D.) reminds us that the saving sacrifice of the Mass “has no effect except in those united to the passion of Christ by faith and charity” (EM # 12). Thus, let us prepare ourselves cloth with faith and charity before receiving for Holy Communion to make our lives “all things new” (Rev 21:5) – in Him. This is the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: “… what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9; CCC: 1027). In the Mass, we join joyfully with the angels and saints in heaven “to fulfill God’s will in relation to other men and to all creation. Already they reign with Christ; with him ‘they shall reign for ever and ever’” (Rev 22:5; CCC: 1029). With this truth of our faith, how do I prepare myself before receiving the Lord in the Holy Communion at least every Sunday? Watch the video on understanding the Eucharist by Dr. Scott Hahn click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2014/05/19/understanding-the-eucharist-by-scott-hahn/

Reflection 3 – The Father’s Invitation

In today’s gospel a king’s invitation to a son’s wedding feast is set on center stage as he patiently invited his guests, again and again. He meticulously describes the celebration in order to attract his invited guests. But all he got were excuses from his friends. Some of them totally ignored him while there were some who even maltreated his messengers, some to the point of killing them.

God’s call to all of us may be likened to the king’s invitation. Just like the invited guests of the king, we have the freedom to refuse. God does not force His will but patiently waits for us. His invitation is extended not to a chosen few but to all.

Those who will decide to come and be with our Lord, He will clothe with His righteousness and will give them a new heart. Those who shall respond to His invitation, He will empower to do the work He has set for them. He will give them the grace to live by his statutes and observe His decrees. God said: “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. You shall live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:26-28

Let us ask ourselves, how many of God’s invitations we have set aside in our lifetime? How many times have we ignored our Lord’s outstretched hand?

Brethren, it might be good to re-consider God and His call as time might be running against us. We are missing the joy of abiding in our Lord and the chances of getting better and being transformed. The time has come for all of us to look deep into our past and examine where we have failed our Lord. We need to learn from them and to commit to a new life in Christ. If we respond to God’s invitation and allow Him to take our hand, our burdens will become lighter and our healing can begin and ours will be a new life.

God wants to heal us, restore us and make us whole. God’s will for us is total goodness. God loves us and is patiently waiting for us to answer his invitation. Those He calls, He will empower and bless! “I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees.” Ezekiel 36:27

We can do all things in Him who strengthens us. He guides us in right paths for His name’s sake. Even though we walk in the dark valley, we will fear no evil for He is at our side with His rod and staff that give us courage. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.”

Today, God is calling us to partake of the great feast that He has graciously prepared for us. He calls us to His fold, to heal us and make us whole, so that we too may be able to bring His love and healing to others. It is His invitation and He wants us to open our hearts to it.

To all these, our response should be“To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart! Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”

Direction

Respond to God’s call and abide in His Word. Faithfully live our new life in Christ.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, create a clean heart for me, O God and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Reflection 4 – Come to the Wedding!

One night, a man came home drunk. He ordered his wife, “I’m hungry. Give me something to eat!” The wife replied, “It’s all there on the table. It’s up to you to choose.” Upon seeing what is on the table, the man complained: “What? With only one piece of dried fish, what choice do I have?” “Well,” the wife said softly, “you can choose: to eat or not to eat.”

As human beings, we have the power to choose. This is because God gave us the gift of freedom. While the animals and other creatures are governed by their instincts, we human beings are not. We have control over our instincts because we have our intelligence and freedom. This is what makes us image and likeness of God: our freedom that enables us to love. There is no love without freedom. That is why God respects our freedom. Unfortunately, we can abuse this freedom, and even choose and decide to reject God. This is what the Gospel this Sunday is all about.

In the parable, the king invited certain people to the wedding feast. Unfortunately, they refused the invitation. So, he offered his invitation to outsiders, people in the byroads, and these filled the hall with banqueters.

The wedding feast is the image of the salvation that God offers to all. It is a “wedding” since it is a celebration of love, and it speaks of the loving union of God and man. It is a “feast” since it promises abundant blessings and eternal joy in the glory in heaven, in the presence of God and in company with all the angels and saints. God wants all people to be saved. But He can only invite; He cannot force or compel anybody to come, because He respects our freedom. We have to accept His invitation freely. We have to love Him freely.

That is why, although God wants everybody to be saved, not all will be saved. There are two reasons. First, there will be those who reject the Lord’s invitation. They use their freedom to reject God. St. Alphonsus Maria Ligouri said, “The greater part of men choose to be damned rather than love Almighty God.” And according to St. Isidore of Seville, “The greater part of men will set no value on the Blood of Christ, and go on offending Him.”

Many people think that freedom is the power to do anything they like. They believe they can commit sin and evil because they are free. That is not freedom but slavery. A youngster who chooses drugs is not free – he becomes a slave to drug addiction. A man who leaves his wife for another woman does not gain freedom. Rather, he is saddled with more marital problems, and one of them is having more than one mother-in-law! A woman who tells a lie is not free – she has to tell a thousand lies to cover up the first lie. That is why Jesus said: “The truth will set you free.”Rejecting God by choosing a life of sin and depravity is not freedom; it is an abuse of freedom, and it leads to the worst kind of slavery.

Second, many will not be saved because they do not obey the will of God. This is the lesson of the parable about the man who came to the marriage feast not dressed in a wedding garment. What is this wedding garment? St. Augustine said, “This is the wedding garment: ‘But the goal of the commandment,’ says the Apostle (Paul) ‘is love from a pure heart, and from a good conscience and from an unfeigned faith.’ It’s only such love that is the wedding garment.”

St. Paul urges us to clothe ourselves with the garment of love: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col 3:12-14). After all, that is the central commandment of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). Love is our garment or uniform that distinguishes us as Christians: “By this shall all men know you as my disciples: your love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

Saying “yes” to God’s invitation is easy. But fulfilling the various demands of that “yes” is never easy, for it means rejecting sin and living a life of total obedience to the will of God; turning away from selfishness and pride and learning to be generous in sharing oneself to others in service and humility. Ultimately, it means putting into practice the commandment of love. Those who accept God’s invitation but are not willing to put on the garment of love, cannot be admitted to the wedding feast of the Lord.

The celebration of the Holy Mass is called “heaven on earth”, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. Before Communion, we hear the words: “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb.” This is not only an invitation to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion. It is also an invitation to the eternal wedding feast in heaven.

God wants everybody to be saved. Therefore, let us always say “yes” to His invitation, and continually transform our lives, clothing ourselves with the garment of love, so that we may worthily enter the eternal joy and glory of heaven (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road, Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422).

Reflection 5 – The Banquet of salvation

In the Old Testament the messianic Kingdom is described as a feast or wedding party. In today’s reading the Kingdom is presented by Jesus as a wedding feast or banquet prepared by the Lord to which all are called. But there are certain conditions for remaining at the banquet.

In the first reading (Is 25:6-10), Isaiah describes a magnificent feast on the holy mountain (i.e., Mt. Zion in Jerusalem). He will destroy the “veil” or “web,” that is, suffering and death; he will wipe away the tears from all faces, for the hand of the Lord will rest on this holy mountain. This is a prophecy and description of the coming of the Messiah to Jerusalem. It is also a prophecy about the Church. Also, it describes our heavenly homeland, for example in Rev. 21:4, “God… will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more.” So there are at least three levels of meaning here.

Our gospel reading (Mt 22:1-14) today develops the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a wedding banquet, but a banquet of salvation. God calls or invites all men to participate in the marriage of his Son with human nature, which took place in his Incarnation and was consummated in his death on the cross. Here we find the basis for the missionary mandate of the Church to convert the world.

In the parable the king is God the Father; the son is Jesus; the banquet is salvation brought by the son; the banquet hall is the Church; the invited who refuse or mistreat and kill the servants (the prophets and apostles) are the scribes and Pharisees, Pilate, Judas, and all others who, like them, reject Jesus. Those who reject God’s love are headed for ruin. Others will be invited to take their place; “Go into the byroads and invite all to come in.” So the apostles went out into the whole world to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.

The banquet hall now filled with guests “both good and bad,” represents the Church, which is open to all but is like a field in which the weeds grow along with the grain. To be invited and to enter the banquet hall does not mean certain salvation – one must also have the right internal dispositions, that is, faith and charity; this is symbolized by the wedding garment. Those not wearing the proper wedding garment will be cast out into the outer darkness; that is, they will be cast into hell.

This means that they must have faith in Jesus as God’s only Son and must also act justly. They must possess divine charity, for faith alone is not sufficient. They must avoid all mortal sin, which is the death of the soul, and must strive for perfection. This means first of all keeping the commandments, and this is summed up in love of God and love of neighbor. Also, all are called to a higher level of Christian perfection – to holiness according to Mt 5:48 (“Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect”). This means going beyond mere avoidance of sin; it means practicing virtue and living the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12) in imitation of Jesus and Mary.

The last two verses present the sobering thought of eternal damnation and rejection of God. Being cast out into the outer darkness means being cast into hell, where there is wailing and grinding of teeth. This will happen at death to those who die in the state of mortal sin and therefore lack divine grace. This is final – there is no possibility of change or repentance.

The invited are many but the elect are few. This does not mean that the chosen or elect are few in absolute numbers (for example, only 144,000), but that the chosen are fewer in number that those who were called. This is because of the inconstancy of those who did not respond to the divine invitation and because some of those who did respond at first later fell into sin and turned their backs on God. In this regard St. Gregory the Great said, “The marriage is the wedding of Christ and his Church; the garment is the virtue of charity; a person who goes into the feast without a wedding garment is someone who believes in the Church but does not have charity.”

“Many are called but few are chosen.” We should make up our minds right now that we will be among the chosen or elect – by avoiding all serious sin, by striving to avoid all deliberate venial sin, by practicing the virtues (especially humility and charity) and by striving to live the Beatitudes. That should be our life’s program. If we can do that, we will always be wearing the “wedding garment” that is necessary for entering into God’s final wedding feast for his Son, and we will always be ready to take our place at the eternal wedding banquet when he sees fit to call us home. (Source: Rev. Kenneth Baker, SJ, “Homilies on the Liturgies of Sundays and Feasts,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Vol. CVIII, No. 11-12. New Jersey: Ignatius Press, 2008, pp. 44-45; Suggested reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church,2044-2046).

Reflection 6 – They would not come to the feast!

What can a royal wedding party tell us about God’s kingdom? One of the most beautiful images used in the Scriptures to depict what heaven is like is the wedding celebration and royal feast given by the King for his newly-wed son and bride. Whatever grand feast we can imagine on earth, heaven is the feast of all feasts because the Lord of heaven and earth invites us to the most important banquet of all – not simply as bystanders or guests – but as members of Christ’s own body, his bride the church! The last book in the Bible ends with an invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb – the Lord Jesus who offered his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and who now reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Spirit and the Bride say, Come! (Revelations 22:17).  The Lord Jesus invites us to be united with himself in his heavenly kingdom of peace and righteousness.

Whose interests come first – God or mine?
Why does Jesus’ parable of the marriage feast seem to focus on an angry king who ends up punishing those who refused his invitation and who mistreated his servants? Jesus’ parable contains two stories. The first has to do with the original guests invited to the marriage  feast. The king had sent out invitations well in advance to his subjects, so they would have plenty of time to prepare for coming to the feast. How insulting for the invited guests to then refuse when the time for celebrating came! They made light of the King’s request because they put their own interests above his. They not only insulted the King but the heir to the throne as well. The king’s anger is justified because they openly refused to give the king the honor he was due. Jesus directed this warning to the Jews of his day, both to convey how much God wanted them to share in the joy of his kingdom, but also to give a warning about the consequences of refusing his Son, their Messiah and Savior.

An invitation we cannot refuse!
The second part of the story focuses on those who had no claim on the king and who would never have considered getting such an invitation. The “good and the bad” along the highways certainly referred to the Gentiles (non-Jews) and to sinners. This is certainly an invitation of grace – undeserved, unmerited favor and kindness! But this invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. God’s grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility.

Cheap grace or costly grace?
Dieterich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian in Germany who died for his faith under Hitler’s Nazi rule, contrasted “cheap grace” and “costly grace”.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

God invites each of us as his friends to his heavenly banquet that we may celebrate with him and share in his joy. Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?

“Lord Jesus, may I always know the joy of living in your presence and grow in the hope of seeing you face to face in your everlasting kingdom.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/oct15.htm

Reflection 7 – Come to the Wedding Feast

Purpose: God’s call is symbolized in the parable of a wedding feast. God’s call is both gratuitous and universal. In turn the invitation calls for a faith-filled, and generous response.

The Gospels tell of many instances of conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of Israel. In the Gospels, we get a clear picture of how that conflict, between Jesus and the chief priests and elders, grew progressively stronger and sharper until it ended in Jesus’ death. In various ways, Jesus challenged those religious leaders. He told them their idea of God, and what God wanted, was flawed. He invited them to recognize him as the Messiah, and to accept his message. Sometimes, as in today’s Gospel, he did that by means of a parable.

According to some scripture scholars, the parable in today’s Gospel is actually a combination of two parables, originally spoken on different occasions. The theory is aimed at explaining a difficulty presented by a simple reading of the parable. The difficulty is this: The king eventually has his servants invite people to the wedding feast right off the streets. Then, he expects them to be dressed for the occasion, and excludes them if they are not appropriately dressed. That doesn’t seem fair or reasonable. Thus, the theory of two distinct parables, each aimed at illustrating a different truth.

The theory is a good one. There are two distinct messages or truths conveyed by the parable. The first is the universality of God’s call to salvation. Everyone is eventually invited to the feast. Everyone is called to salvation. The invited guests who refused to come symbolize the Israelites, who failed to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Those invited later (as the Gospel puts it “anyone you come upon”) symbolize the Gentiles, i.e., all people.

The second truth conveyed by the parable is that God’s call requires a specific response. This response involves accepting Jesus as savior, and includes a conversion of heart or, in the symbolism of the parable, putting on a wedding garment.

Someone has suggested that parables are like glass. Some are windows through which we gain a particular perspective on our world. Some are like a mirror in which we are invited to see a reflection of ourselves. Today’s parable is a mirror.

If we look into this mirror, how do we see ourselves? How do we respond to the invitation that the Lord extends to us to come and share the banquet? Obviously, we ourselves have given a positive response. Otherwise, we would not be here. The real question for us is, what is the quality of our response? Have we allowed our response to become less generous, half-hearted, and unenthusiastic? In answering these questions, it might be helpful to note a few other facts suggested by the parable.

First, the parable suggests that God’s invitation is to a feast that is joyful, like a wedding feast. God’s invitation is to joy. But the Gospels also tell us that following Christ involves sacrifice. We have Jesus’ own words: “If anyone would be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” We are faced with a paradox. Sacrifice/suffering is an essential element of the Christian life. Our faith is in a suffering Savior. We are encouraged to join our suffering to his. Where then is the joy?

The paradox is real. The solution is not either/or. The solution is: both/and; sorrow and joy, tears and laughter, dying and rising intertwined. Those things are part of the fabric of life. Cardinal Newman suggested “joy is the child of sorrow.” Our Christian belief and practice illustrate the truth of that phrase. If we truly join ourselves to Christ in his suffering and death, we will come with him to the joy of the resurrection and our redemption from sin.

Secondly, the parable suggests that the things that lead people to ignore the invitation are not bad in themselves. One man went to his estate, another to his business, a third to fulfill domestic obligations. We are reminded that we can become so preoccupied with things in this world, even legitimate things, that we neglect things beyond this world. We can listen so intently to the claims of this world that we fail to hear the invitation of Christ. As someone put it, a person can be so busy making a living that they fail to make a life.

Finally, the parable reminds us that God’s invitation is a gift, a grace. Those who were gathered in from the byways had no claim on the king. We, too, have no claim on the King. We do not merit God’s invitation. It is a grace God lovingly offers. Generally, to refuse an invitation is a matter of discourtesy. To refuse the Lord’s invitation reflects a serious lack of faith and generosity.

As we continue our Eucharist, let us pray for a strengthening of our faith, that our faith be a lively faith that prompts us to respond generously to God’s call. – (Source: Homiletic and Pastoral Review)

Reflection 8 – Come to the Wedding Feast
The Gospels tell of many instances of conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of Israel. In the Gospels, we get a clear picture of how that conflict, between Jesus and the chief priests and elders, grew progressively stronger and sharper until it ended in Jesus’ death. In various ways, Jesus challenged those religious leaders. He told them their idea of God, and what God wanted, was flawed. He invited them to recognize him as the Messiah, and to accept his message. Sometimes, as in today’s Gospel, he did that by means of a parable.

According to some scripture scholars, the parable in today’s Gospel is actually a combination of two parables, originally spoken on different occasions. The theory is aimed at explaining a difficulty presented by a simple reading of the parable. The difficulty is this: The king eventually has his servants invite people to the wedding feast right off the streets. Then, he expects them to be dressed for the occasion, and excludes them if they are not appropriately dressed. That doesn’t seem fair or reasonable. Thus, the theory of two distinct parables, each aimed at illustrating a different truth.

The theory is a good one. There are two distinct messages or truths conveyed by the parable. The first is the universality of God’s call to salvation. Everyone is eventually invited to the feast. Everyone is called to salvation. The invited guests who refused to come symbolize the Israelites, who failed to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Those invited later (as the Gospel puts it “anyone you come upon”) symbolize the Gentiles, i.e., all people.

The second truth conveyed by the parable is that God’s call requires a specific response. This response involves accepting Jesus as savior, and includes a conversion of heart or, in the symbolism of the parable, putting on a wedding garment.

Someone has suggested that parables are like glass. Some are windows through which we gain a particular perspective on our world. Some are like a mirror in which we are invited to see a reflection of ourselves. Today’s parable is a mirror.

If we look into this mirror, how do we see ourselves? How do we respond to the invitation that the Lord extends to us to come and share the banquet? Obviously, we ourselves have given a positive response. Otherwise, we would not be here. The real question for us is, what is the quality of our response? Have we allowed our response to become less generous, half-hearted, and unenthusiastic? In answering these questions, it might be helpful to note a few other facts suggested by the parable.

First, the parable suggests that God’s invitation is to a feast that is joyful, like a wedding feast. God’s invitation is to joy. But the Gospels also tell us that following Christ involves sacrifice. We have Jesus’ own words: “If anyone would be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” We are faced with a paradox. Sacrifice/suffering is an essential element of the Christian life. Our faith is in a suffering Savior. We are encouraged to join our suffering to his. Where then is the joy?

The paradox is real. The solution is not either/or. The solution is: both/and; sorrow and joy, tears and laughter, dying and rising intertwined. Those things are part of the fabric of life. Cardinal Newman suggested “joy is the child of sorrow.” Our Christian belief and practice illustrate the truth of that phrase. If we truly join ourselves to Christ in his suffering and death, we will come with him to the joy of the resurrection and our redemption from sin.

Secondly, the parable suggests that the things that lead people to ignore the invitation are not bad in themselves. One man went to his estate, another to his business, a third to fulfill domestic obligations. We are reminded that we can become so preoccupied with things in this world, even legitimate things, that we neglect things beyond this world. We can listen so intently to the claims of this world that we fail to hear the invitation of Christ. As someone put it, a person can be so busy making a living that they fail to make a life.

Finally, the parable reminds us that God’s invitation is a gift, a grace. Those who were gathered in from the byways had no claim on the king. We, too, have no claim on the King. We do not merit God’s invitation. It is a grace God lovingly offers. Generally, to refuse an invitation is a matter of discourtesy. To refuse the Lord’s invitation reflects a serious lack of faith and generosity.

As we continue our Eucharist, let us pray for a strengthening of our faith, that our faith be a lively faith that prompts us to respond generously to God’s call. – Read the source: http://www.hprweb.com/2017/09/homilies-for-october-2017/

Reflection 9 – Dressing Properly for the Feast

Matthew’s parable of the wedding feast and the declined invitations (22:1-14) is the last of three successive parables of judgment (beginning in 21:28) against Israel, especially her leadership. There are obvious connections among the three parables. Each has an “authority figure” (father, landowner and king, respectively). “Sons” or “a son” appear in all three. Parables two and three have in common the two groups of slaves and the severe judgment against those who oppose the son.

In today’s parable, the king represents God; the son Jesus; and the wedding banquet the time of divine-human celebration symbolized by the kingdom. The beautiful spousal imagery of the Lord (YHWH) and Israel (Hosea 2:19-20; Isaiah 54:4-8; 62:5) provides a rich, biblical backdrop. Today’s story incorporates two favorite Old and New Testament images: a feast and a marriage.

Matthew has provided many allegorical traits to today’s story, e.g., the burning of the city of the guests who refused the invitation (7), which corresponds to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. It has similarities with the preceding parable of the tenants: the sending of two groups of servants (3,4), the murder of the servants (6), the punishment of the murderers (7), and the entrance of a new group into a privileged situation of which the others had proven themselves unworthy (8-10). The parable ends with a section that is very peculiar to Matthew (11-14), which some take as a distinct parable on its own.

Matthew’s parable appears in significantly different form in Luke 14:16-24. Today’s story most likely comes from “Q,” a hypothetical written source for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Q (short for the German “Quelle,” or source) is defined as the “common” material found in Matthew and Luke but not in the Gospel of Mark. This ancient text supposedly contained the logia or quotations from Jesus.

The king’s feast

In today’s story, the king has gone to great trouble preparing a wedding feast for his son, slaughtering enough oxen and fatted calves to feed several hundred people. It was not uncommon in Jesus’ day that invitations would be sent out in two installments: first, a general invitation to a future event; then, on the day itself or just before, a “reminder” to come since everything was prepared for the celebration. Not only do the guests refuse, but some of them seize the king’s messengers and kill them. In response, the king sends his troops to burn their city. Then he sends out another invitation requesting that all persons — the “good” and the “bad” — be brought to the celebration.

The succession of invitations corresponds to God’s declaration of truth concerning his Kingdom and his Son — first to Israel and then to the Gentile nations. Matthew presents the kingdom in its double aspect, already present and something that can be entered here and now (1-10) and something that will be possessed only by those present members who can stand the scrutiny of the final judgment (11-14).

Proper attire for the feast

Matthew’s addition of the guest without the wedding garment can certainly leave the reader perplexed. I remember my first reaction to reading about this poor man without the proper garment. Who is this king who dared to ask the poor man: “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” Was it not the king who commanded his slaves to go out to the highways and byways and bring in anyone they could find? How then could the king be so cold and harsh to someone who has been “rounded up” for the royal feast, without even having the time to procure clean and proper clothing?

It is important to recall that this story is an allegory and things don’t necessarily follow normal ways of thinking and acting. Some scholars believe that the king provided the proper attire for his guests. It is not surprising then that the king becomes furious upon seeing a man improperly attired. This shows that this man deliberately refuses to receive the generous gesture of the king on providing proper attire.

The garment of righteousness and holiness

The parable of the wedding feast is not only a statement of God’s judgment on Israel but a warning to Matthew’s church. As early as the second century, Irenaeus wrote that the wedding garment signified works of righteousness. The wedding garment signified repentance and a change of heart and mind. This is the condition for entrance into the kingdom and must be continued in a life of good deeds.

The saying: “For many are called, but few are chosen,” should not be taken as a forecast of the proportion of the saved to the damned. Rather the saying is meant to encourage vigorous efforts to live the Christian life. The wedding feast is not the church but the age to come. Matthew’s parable confronts us with the paradox of God’s free invitation to the banquet with no strings attached and God’s requirement of “putting on” something appropriate to that calling. Who are the many and the few concerning the wedding garment? Are there some people God doesn’t choose? How is being chosen different from being called?

The wedding garment of love

Let us consider the moving words of St. Augustine of Hippo in his sermon (No. 90) on today’s Gospel passage: “What is the wedding garment that the Gospel talks about? Very certainly, that garment is something that only the good have, those who are to participate in the feast. … Could it be the sacraments? Baptism? Without baptism, no one comes to God, but some people receive baptism and do not come to God. … Perhaps it is the altar or what a person receives at the altar? But in receiving the Lord’s body, some people eat and drink to their own condemnation (1 Corinthians 11:29). So what is it? Fasting? The wicked also fast. Going to church often? The wicked go to church just like others. …

“So what is this wedding garment? The Apostle Paul tells us: ‘What we are aiming at … is the love that springs from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith’ (1 Tim 1:5). That is the wedding garment. Paul is not talking about just any kind of love, for one can often see dishonest people loving others … but one does not see among them this love ‘that springs from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.’ Now that is the love that is the wedding garment.

“The Apostle Paul said: ‘If I speak with human tongues and angelic as well, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal. … If I have the gift of prophecy and, with full knowledge, comprehend all mysteries, if I have faith great enough to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). He said that even if he had all that, without Christ ‘I am nothing.’ … It would be useless, because I can act in that way for love of glory … ‘If I have not love, it is of no use.’ That is the wedding garment. Examine yourselves: if you have it, then come to the Lord’s banquet with confidence.”

Invite everyone to the banquet

Read section No. 22 “Evangelizers and Educators as Witnesses” of the Lineamenta (preparatory document) for the 2012 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

“The formation and concern needed to sustain those already engaged in evangelization and recruiting new forces should not be limited simply to practical preparation, albeit necessary. Instead, formation and pastoral care is predominantly to be spiritual in nature, namely, a school of faith, enlightened by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and under the guidance of the Spirit, which teaches people the implications of experiencing the Fatherhood of God. People are able to evangelize only when they have been evangelized and allow themselves to be evangelized, that is, renewed spiritually through a personal encounter and lived communion with Jesus Christ. Such people have the power to transmit the faith, as St. Paul the Apostle testifies: ‘I believed, and so I spoke’ (2 Corinthians 4:13).

“The new evangelization, then, which is primarily a task-to-be-done and a spiritual challenge, is the responsibility of all Christians who are in serious pursuit of holiness. In this context and with this understanding of formation, it will be useful to dedicate space and time to considering the institutions and means available to local Churches to make baptized persons more conscious of their duty in missionary work and evangelization. For our witness to be credible, as we respond to each of these areas requiring the new evangelization, we must know how to speak in ways that are intelligible to our times and proclaim, inside these areas, the reasons for our hope which bolsters our witness (cf. 1 Peter 3:15). Such a task is not accomplished without effort, but requires attentiveness, education and concern.”

Questions for reflection

— Do our Christian communities plan pastoral activity with the specific aim of preaching conformity to the Gospel and conversion to Christianity?

— What priority have individuals Christian communities placed on the commitment to attempt bold new ways of evangelization? What initiatives have been most successful in opening Christian communities to missionary work?

— How do the local Churches view the role of proclamation and the necessity of giving greater importance to the genesis of faith and the pastoral program for baptism? – Source: Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, TORONTO, OCT. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org)

Reflection 10 – A paradox: the refusal of the wedding invitation

1) Are human festivities sufficient?

Like the parable of the vine-growers and one of the children invited to work in the vineyard of the Lord, today’s parable, narrating the King’s invitation to attend the wedding banquet of his Son, reveals us the great desire of the Father to have us with Him. On the previous Sundays, we were invited to stay with him and work for him as “winemakers” and as children in His “vineyard”. Today we receive the invitation to celebrate with him by participating in His wedding banquet that compares faith to a true “convivial” divine encounter.
Surprisingly, this invitation is rejected by the first recipients.

Why does this rejection happen? Why when there is a human celebration everyone is competing to participate and when the party is “organized by ” God there are so many people who refuse, as it is evidenced by the fact that many do not attend Mass, the Sunday banquet where Christ is made food and drink for each of us? Many, unfortunately, believe that they do not need this food. If our eyes only know material wealth, to which we get accustomed, they fail to see that Heaven is hidden in the “piece of bread” and in the “sip of wine” that are offered to us. It is the hiding place for God who becomes our food to dress us of his own deity.

God is generous towards us and offers us his friendship, his gifts and his joy, but often we do not accept his words, we show more interest in other things, and we let us put in first place our material concerns and interests. The invitation of the king even meets aggressive reactions.

Why do we resist accepting the invitation to participate in an event of joy so important for our lives or even react to it in a hostile way?

For pride and because we prefer our own interests, as Christ tells us saying that the first guests refused and “went to their own fields and to their business”. Pope Francis also recalled it in a homily a few months ago: “Forgetting the past, not accepting the present and disfiguring the future: this is what wealth and concerns do”. There are too many who even today reject the invitation. It is the story of pride and human self-sufficiency that only manages to see the angle of self. They are illuminated by the lights of what is ephemeral as well as they are unable to widen the eyes on the vastness of the sun, which is the Kingdom of God.

The more a man is attached to human celebrations the less he is willing to welcome an invitation that involves neglecting the ones that has the taste of earthly riches to go to the one that has the flavor of heaven. That is why Christ says: “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God “(Mt 19, 24). The rich man, in fact, believes that he can fill the abyss of his heart with riches. The poor of spirit believes in God and in his poverty he is close to God. The poor in his humility is close to the heart of God, contrary to the rich that with their pride count only on themselves. The spirit of the poor people of God opens up their empty hands not to grasp or tighten anything or anybody, but to give and to receive the goodness of the giving God. They are God’s beggars, those who have nothing or “feel” to have nothing and, like the saints, are not afraid to show their poverty of spirit, that is a heart open to God and the true guardian of the earth. These poor people are astonished to be able to attend the banquet of the King and “run” to the party to respond to the invitation.

2) The condition to attend the party: to have a bridal dress.

God does not restrain his generosity. He is not discouraged and sends his servants to invite many other people whom the human mind thinks unworthy: the poor and the unhappy. Everyone can enter, but there is a condition that Jesus places in the parable of today and puts it to us: that we believe in Him.

He demands the bridal dress, which is charity and love. “All of us are invited to be Lord’s guests, to enter with faith in his banquet, but we must wear and guard the bridal dress, charity, and live a deep love for God and the neighbor” (Pope Francis). This is in the wake of the teaching of St. Gregory the Great, which states: “Each of you, therefore, having faith in God in the Church, has already taken part in the wedding banquet, but cannot say that he has the bridal dress if he does not guard the grace of Charity “(Homily 38,9: PL 76,1287). This dress is symbolically woven of two woods, one above and the other below: the love for God and the love for the neighbor (see 10: PL 76, 1288). All of us are invited to be Lord’s dining companions and to enter through faith in his banquet, but we must wear and guard the bridal dress: charity, which is the measure of our faith. We cannot separate prayer, the encounter with God in the Sacraments, from the proximity to the neighbor and above all to his suffering.

Why does Christ speak of the bridal dress? Because according to the tradition in Israel during the Jesus’ earthly life, the Spouse gave to the guests the “Kittel”, a special dress to wear for his marriage. It was enough for the guests to wear it before entering the party room.wear it before entering the party room.

Anyone who came to the doorstep of the banquet room was given a white coat, a free gift, indicating that he had freely answered “yes” to the king’s invitation. It is enough to accept and wear the wedding dress, it is not necessary to deserve it or buy it.

The spiritual interpretation of this is that, if you want to enter the party, you need to put on a garment woven of “feelings of mercy, goodness, humility, meekness, and patience”. Only if we have the charity of God we can enter and live in communion with Him.

Like marriage, even virginal consecration is a covenant and a wedding party linked to God in an exclusive and absolute way without the mediation of another person. For this reason, it is an anticipation of celestial life and makes the consecrated person already belonging to the future world and an “eschatological sign”, an indication of the goal towards which the whole of humanity redeemed by Christ is going.

She is in fact the bride He entices to him, linking her with a bond of eternal love. To the consecrated virgins it is already given to live an advance of eternal marriage and to be on earth, in a certain way, what everyone is called to become in eternity.

The grace of marriage makes holy an “ordinary life”: transfiguring human love, it orients it to a supernatural goal and opens it to an interpersonal dimension that frees it from what could be an egoistic search for personal, instinctive and passionate pleasure.

Consecrated life is an “exceptional” charism in the sense that it is like a step further, a getting hold of a reality that usually is still and only a promise. It is not, however, a privilege that makes some differences, but a call that is committed to being more but exclusively dedicated to God and, consequently, to the neighbor.

In addition, the consecrated virgin also plays the role of highlighting the value of the love of the human marriage. In fact, although it has a definite earthly goal, it is comparable to the divine wedding for an endless feast.

The Ordo Virginum must be acknowledged among the gifts of the Spirit to the holy Church of God: “It is a source of joy and hope to witness in our time a new flowering of the ancient Order of Virgins, known in Christian communities ever since apostolic times. Consecrated by the diocesan Bishop, these women acquire a particular link with the Church, which they are committed to serve while remaining in the world. Either alone or in association with others, they constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life to come, when the Church will at last fully live her love for Christ the Bridegroom.”(St. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation” Vita consecrata “, n.7, March 25, 1996).

“Chastity” for the Kingdom of Heaven “(Mt 19,12) “ frees the heart of man in a unique fashion (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-35) so that it may be more inflamed with love for God and for all men” (Vatican Council II, Decree Perfectae caritatis, n. 12).

Patristic reading

Saint John Chrysostome (344/354 – n 407)
Homily 79 on Mt 22: 1 -14

“And Jesus answered and spake again1 in parables. The kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage2 for his son; and sent forth his servants to call them which were bidden to the wedding; and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.”3

Seest thou both in the former parable and in this the difference between the Son and the servants? Seest thou at once the great affinity between both parables, and the great difference also? For this also indicates God’s long-suffering, and His great providential care, and the Jews’ ingratitude.

But this parable hath something also more than the other. For it proclaims beforehand both the casting out of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles; and it indicates together with this also the strictness of the life required, and how great the punishment appointed for the careless.

And well is this placed after the other. For since He had said, “It shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof,” He declares next to what kind of nation; and not this only, but He also again sets forth His providential care towards the Jews as past utterance. For there He appears before His crucifixion bidding them; but here even after He is slain, He still urges them, striving to win them over. And when they deserved to have suffered the most grievous punishment, then He both presses them to the marriage, and honors them with the highest honor. And see how both there He calls not the Gentiles first, but the Jews, and here again. But as there, when they would not receive Him, but even slew Him when He was come, then He gave away the vineyard; thus here too, when they were not willing to be present at the marriage, then He called others.

What then could be more ungrateful than they, when being bidden to a marriage they rush away? For who would not choose to come to a marriage, and that a King’s marriage, and of a King making a marriage for a Son? 

And wherefore is it called a marriage? One may say. That thou might test learn God’s tender care, His yearning towards us, the cheerfulness of the state of things, that there is nothing sorrowful there, nor sad, but all things are full of spiritual joy: Therefore also John calls Him a bridegroom, therefore Paul again saith, “For I have espoused you to one husband;”4 and, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”5

Why then is not the bride said to be espoused to Him, but to the Son? Because she that is espoused to the Son, is espoused to the Father. For it is indifferent in Scripture that the one or the other should be said, because of the identity6 of the substance.

Hereby He proclaimed the resurrection also. For since in what went before He had spoken of the death, He shows that even after the death, then is the marriage, then the bridegroom.

But not even so do these become better men nor more gentle, than which what can be worse? For this again is a third accusation. The first that they killed the prophets; then the son; afterwards that even when they had slain Him, and were bidden unto the marriage of Him that was slain, by the Very one that was slain, they come not, but feign excuses, yokes of oxen, and pieces of ground, and wives. And yet the excuses seem to be reasonable; but hence we learn, though the things which hinder us be necessary, to set the things spiritual at a higher price than all.

And He not suddenly, but a long time before. For, “Tell,” He saith, “them that are bidden;” and again, “Call them that were bidden;” which circumstance makes the charge against them heavier. And when were they bidden? By all the prophets; by John again; for unto Christ he would pass all on, saying, “He must increase, I must decrease;”7 by the Son Himself again, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you;”8 and again, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”9

But not by words only, but also by actions did He bid them, after His ascension by Peter, and those with him. “For He that wrought effectually in Peter,” it is said, “to the apostleship of the circumcision, was mighty also in me towards the Gentiles.”10

For since on seeing the Son, they were wroth and slew Him, He bids them again by His servants. And unto what cloth He bid them? Unto labors, and toils, and sweat? Nay but unto pleasure. For, “My oxen,” He saith, “and my fatlings are killed.” See how complete His banquet? How great His munificence.

And not even this shamed them, but the more long-suffering He showed, so much the more were they hardened. For not for press of business, but from “making light of they did not come.

“How then do some bring forward marriages, others yokes of oxen? These things surely are of want of leisure.”

By no means, for when spiritual things call us, there is no press of business that has the power of necessity.

And to me they seem moreover to make use of these excuses, putting forward these things as cloke for their negligence, And not this only is the grievous thing, that they came not, but also that which is a far more violent and furious act, to have even beaten them that came, and to have used them despitefully, and to have slain them; this is worse than the former. For those others came, demanding produce and fruits, and were slain; but these, bidding them to the marriage of Him that had been slain by them, and these again are murdered.

What is equal to this madness? This Paul also was laying to their charge, when he said, “Who both killed the Lord, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us.”11

Moreover, that they may not say, “He is an adversary of God, and therefore we do not come,” hear what they say who are bidding them; that it is the father who is making the marriage, and that it is He who is bidding them.

What then did He after these things? Since they were not willing to come, yea and also slew those that came unto them; He burns up their cities, and sent His armies and slew them.

And these things He saith, declaring beforehand the things that took place under Vespasian and Titus, and that they provoked the father also, by not believing in Him; it is the father at any rate who was avenging.

And for this reason let me add, not straightway after Christ was slain did the capture take place, but after forty years, that He might show His long suffering, when they had slain Stephen, when they had put James to death, when they had spitefully entreated the apostles.

Seest thou the truth of the event, and its quickness? For while John was yet living, and many other of them that were with Christ, these things came to pass, and they that had heard these words were witnesses of the events.

See then care utterable. He had planted a vineyard; He had done all things, and finished; when His servants had been put to death, He sent other servants; when those had been slain, He sent the son; and when He was put to death, He bids them to the marriage. They would not come, after this He sends other servants, and they slew these also.

Then upon this He slays them, as being incurably diseased. For that they were incurably diseased, was proved not by their acts only, but by the fact, that even when harlots and publicans had believed, they did these things. So that, not by their own crimes alone, but also from what others were able to do aright, these men are condemned, 

But if anyone should say, that not then were they out of the Gentiles called, I mean, when the apostles had been beaten and had suffered ten thousand things, but straightway after the resurrection (for then He said to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations.”12 We would say, that both before the crucifixion, and after the crucifixion, they addressed themselves to them first. For both before the crucifixion, He saith to them, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;”13 and after the crucifixion, so far from forbidding, He even commanded them to address themselves to the Jews. For though He said, “Make disciples of all nations,” yet when on the point of ascending into Heaven, He declared that unto those first they were to address themselves; For, “ye shall receive power,” saith He, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and unto the uttermost part of the earth;”14 and Paul again, “He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, was mighty in me also toward the Gentiles.”15 Therefore the apostles also went first unto the Jews, and when they had tarried a long time in Jerusalem, and then had been driven away by them, in this way they were scattered abroad unto the Gentiles.

2. And see thou even herein His bounty; “As many as ye shall find,” saith He, “bid to the marriage. For before this, as I said, they addressed themselves both to Jews and Greeks, tarrying for the most part in Judaea; but since they continued to lay plots against them, hear Paul interpreting this parable, and saying thus, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but since ye judge yourselves unworthy, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.16

Therefore Christ also saith, “The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.”

He knew this indeed even before, but that He might leave them no pretext of a shameless sort of contradiction, although He knew it, to them first He both came and sent, both stopping their mouths, and teaching us to fulfill all our parts, though no one should derive any profit.

Since then they were not worthy, go ye, saith He, into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid; both the common sort, and the outcasts. For because He had said m every way.17 “The harlots and publicans shall inherit heaven;” and, “The first shall be last, and the last first;” He shows that justly do these things come to pass; which more than anything stung the Jews, and goaded them far more grievously than their overthrow, to see those from the Gentiles brought into their privileges, and into far greater than theirs.

Then in order that not even these should put confidence in their faith alone, He discourses unto them also concerning the judgment to be passed upon wicked actions; to them that have not yet believed, of coming unto Him by faith, and to them that have believed, of care with respect to their life. For the garment is life and practice.

And yet the calling was of grace; wherefore then doth He take a strict account? Because although to be called and to be cleansed was of grace, yet, when called and clothed in clean garments, to continue keeping them so, this is of the diligence of them that are called.

The being called was not of merit, but of grace. It was fit therefore to make a return for the grace, and not to show forth such great wickedness after the honor. “But I have not enjoyed,” one may say, “so much advantage as the Jews.” Nay, but thou hast enjoyed far greater benefits. For what things were being prepared for them throughout all their time, these thou hast received at once, not being worthy. Wherefore Paul also saith, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.”18 For what things were due to them, these thou hast received.

Wherefore also great is the punishment appointed for them that have been remiss. For as they did despite by not coming, so also thou by thus sitting down with a corrupt life. For to come in with filthy garments is this namely, to depart hence having one’s life impure; wherefore also he was speechless.

Seest thou how, although the fact was so manifest, He doth not punish at once, until he himself, who has sinned, has passed the sentence? For by having nothing to reply he condemned himself, and so is taken away to the unutterable torments.

For do not now, on hearing of darkness, suppose he is punished by this, by sending into a place where there is no light only, but where” there is “also” weeping and gnashing of teeth.”19 And this He saith, indicating the intolerable pains.

Hear ye, as many as having partaken of the mysteries, and having been present at the marriage, clothe your souls with filthy deeds Hear whence ye were called.

From the highway. Being what? Lame and halt in soul, which is a much more grievous thing than the mutilation of the body. Reverence the love of Him, who called you, and let no one continue to have filthy garments, but let each of you busy himself about the clothing of your soul.

Hear, ye women; hear, ye men; we need not these garments that are bespangled with gold, that adorn our outward parts,20 but those others, that adorn the inward. Whilst we have these former, it is difficult to put on those latter. It is not possible at the same time to deck both soul and body. It is not possible at the same time both to serve mammon, and to obey Christ as we ought.

Let us put off us therefore this grievous tyranny. For neither if any one were to adorn thy house by hanging it with golden curtains, and were to make thee sit there in rags, naked, wouldest thou endure it with meekness. But lo, now thou doest this to thyself, decking the house of thy soul, I mean the body, with curtains beyond number, but leaving the soul itself to sit in rags. Knowest thou not that the king ought to be adorned more than the city? So therefore while for the city hangings are prepared of linen, for the king there is a purple robe and a diadem. Even so do thou wrap the body with a much meaner dress, but the mind do thou clothe in purple, and put a crown on it, and set it on a high and conspicuous chariot. For now thou art doing the opposite, decking the city in various ways, but suffering the king, the mind, to be dragged bound after the brute passions.

Rememberest thou not, that thou art bidden to a marriage, and to God’s marriage? Considerest thou not how the soul that is bidden ought to enter into those chambers, clad, and decked with fringes of gold.

3. Wilt thou that I show thee them that are clad thus, them that have on a marriage garment?

Call to mind those holy persons, of whom I discoursed to you of late, them that wear garments of hair, them that dwell in the deserts. These above all are the wearers of the garments of that wedding; this is evident from hence, that how many wear purple robes thou weft to give them, they would not choose to receive them; but much as a king, if any one were to take the beggar’s rags, and exhort him to put them on, would abhor the clothing, so would those persons also his purple robe. And from no other cause have they this feeling, but because of knowing the beauty of their own raiment. Therefore even that purple robe they spurn like the spider’s web. For these things hath their sackcloth taught them; for indeed they are far more exalted and more glorious than the very king who reigns.

And if thou wert able to open the doors of the mind, and to look upon their soul, and all their ornaments within, surely thou wouldest fall down upon the earth, not bearing the glory of their beauty, and the splendor of those garments, and the lightning brightness of their conscience.

For we could tell also of men of old, great and to be admired; but since visible examples lead on more those of grosset souls, therefore do I send you even to the tabernacles of those holy persons. For they have nothing sorrowful, but as if in heaven they had pitched their tents, even so are they encamped far off the wearisome things of this present life, in campaign against the devils; and as in choirs, so do they war against him. Therefore I say, they have fixed their tents, and have fled from cities, and markets, and houses. For he that warreth cannot sit in a house, but he must make his habitation of a temporary kind, as on the point of removing straightway, and so dwell. Such are all those persons, contrary to us. For we indeed live not as in a camp, but as in a city at peace.

For who in a camp ever lays foundation, and builds himself a house, which he is soon after to leave? There is not one; but should any one attempt it, he is put to death as a traitor. Who in a camp buys acres of land, and makes for himself trades? There is not one, and very reasonably. “For thou art come here,” they would say, “to fight, not to traffic; why then dost thou trouble thyself about the place, which in a little time thou wilt leave? When we are gone away to our country, do these things.”

The same do I now say to thee also. When we have removed to the city that is. Above, do these things: or rather thou wilt have no need of labors there; after that the king will do all things for thee. But here it is enough to dig a ditch round only, and to fix a palisade, but of building houses there is no need.

Hear what was the life of the Scythians, that lived in their wagons, such, as they say, are the habits of the shepherd tribes. So ought Christians to live; to go about the world, warring against the devil, rescuing the captives held in subjection by him, and to be in freedom from all worldly things.

Why preparest thou a house, O man, that thou mayest bind thyself more? Why dost thou bury a treasure, and invite the enemy against thyself? Why dost thou compass thyself with walls, and prepare a prison for thyself?

But if these things seem to thee to be hard, let us go away unto the tents of those men, that by their deeds we may learn the easiness thereof. For they having set up huts, if they must depart from these, depart like as soldiers, having left their camp in peace. For so likewise are they encamped, or rather even much more beautifully.

For indeed it is more pleasant to behold a desert containing huts of monks in close succession, than soldiers stretching the canvas in a camp, and fixing spears, and suspending from the point of the spears saffron garments, 21 and a multitude of men having heads of brass, and the bosses of the shields glistening much, and men armed all throughout with steel. And royal courts hastily made, and ground levelled far, and men dining and piping. For neither is this spectacle so delightful as that of which I now speak.

For if we were to go away into the wilderness, and look at the tents of Christ’s soldiers, we shall see not canvas stretched, neither points of spears, nor golden garments making a royal pavilion; but like as if any one upon an earth much larger than this earth, yea infinite, had stretched out many heavens, strange and awful would be the sight he showed; even so may one see here.

For in nothing are their lodging-places in a condition inferior to the heavens; for the angels lodge with them, and the Lord of the angels. For if they came to Abraham, a man having a wife, and bringing up children, because they saw him hospitable; when they find much more abundant virtue, and a man delivered from the body, and in the flesh disregarding the flesh, much more do they tarry there, and celebrate the choral feast that becomes them. For there is moreover a table amongst them pure from all covetousness, and full of self-denial.

No streams of blood are amongst them, nor cutting up of flesh, nor heaviness of head, nor dainty cooking, neither are there unpleasing smells of meat amongst them, nor disagreeable smoke, neither runnings and tumults, and disturbances, and wearisome clamors; but bread and water, the latter from a pure fountain, the former from honest labor. But if any time they should be minded to feast more sumptuously, their sumptuousness consists of fruits, and greater is the pleasure there than at royal tables. There is no fear there, or trembling; no ruler accuses, no wife provokes, no child casts into sadness, no disorderly mirth dissipates, no multitude of flatterers puffs up; but the table is an angel’s table free from all such turmoil.

And for a couch they have grass only beneath them, like as Christ did when making a dinner in the wilderness. And many of them do this, not being even under shelter, but for a roof they have heaven, and the moon instead of the light of a candle, not wanting oil, nor one to attend to it; on them alone does it shine worthily from on high.

4. This table even angels from heaven beholding are delighted and pleased. For if over one sinner that repenteth they rejoice, over so many just men imitating them, what will they not do? There are not master and slave; all are slaves, all free men. And do not think the saying to be a dark proverb, for they are indeed slaves one of another, and masters one of another.

They have no occasion to be in sadness when evening has overtaken them, as many men feel, revolving the anxious thoughts that spring from the evils of the day. They have no occasion after their supper to be careful about robbers, and to shut the doors, and to put bars against them, neither to dread the other ills, of which many are afraid, extinguishing their candles with strict care, lest a spark anywhere should set the house on fire.

And their conversation again is full of the whereof we discourse, that are nothing to us; such a one is made governor, such a one has ceased to be governor; such a one is dead, and another has succeeded to the inheritance, and all such like, but always about the things to come do they speak and seek wisdom; and as though dwelling in another world, as though they had migrated unto heaven itself, as living there, even so all their conversation is about the things there, about Abraham’s bosom, about the crowns of the saints, about the choiring with Christ; and of things present they have neither any memory nor thought, but like as we should not deign to speak at all of what the ants do in their holes and clefts; so neither do they of what we do; but about the King that is above, about the war in which they are engaged, about the devil’s crafts, about the good deeds which the saints have achieved.

Wherein therefore are we different from ants, when compared with them? For like as they care for the things of the body, so also do we; and would it were for these alone: but now it is even for things far worse. For not for necessary things only do we care like them, but also for things superfluous. For those insects pursue a business free from all blame, but we follow after all covetousness, and not even the ways of ants do we imitate, but the ways of wolves, but the ways of leopards, or rather we are even worse than these. For to them nature has assigned that they should be thus fed, but us God hath honored with speech, and a sense of equity, 22 and we are become worse than the wild beasts.

And whereas we are worse than the brutes, those men are equal to the angels, being strangers and pilgrims as to the things here; and all things in them are made different from us, clothing, and food, and house, and shoes, and speech. And if any one were to hear them conversing and us, then he would know full well, how they indeed are citizens of heaven, but we are not worthy so much as of the earth.

So that therefore, when any one invested with rank is come unto them, then is all inflated pride found utterly vain. For the laborer there, and he that hath no experience of worldly affairs, sits near him that is a commander of troops, and prides himself on his authority, upon the grass, upon a mean cushion. For there are none to extol him, none to puff him up; but the same result takes place, as if any one were to go to a goldsmith, and a garden of roses, for he receives some brightness from the gold and from the roses; so they too, gaining a little from the splendor of these, are delivered from their former arrogance. And like as if any were to go upon a high place, though he be exceedingly short, he appears high; so these too, coming unto their exalted minds, appear like them, so long as they abide there, but when they are gone down are abased again, on descending from that height.

A king is nothing amongst them, a governor is nothing; but like as we, when children are playing at these things, laugh; so do they also utterly spurn the inflamed pride of them who strut without. And this is evident from hence, that if anyone would give them a kingdom to possess in security, they would never take it; yet they would take it, unless their thoughts were upon what is greater than it, unless they accounted the thing to be but for a season.

What then? Shall we not go over unto blessedness so great? Shall we not come unto these angels; shall we not receive clean garments, and join in the ceremonies of this wedding feast; but shall we continue begging, in no respect in a better condition than the poor in the streets, or rather in a state far worse and more wretched? For much worse than these are they that are rich in evil ways, and it is better to beg than to spoil, for the one hath excuse, but the other brings punishment; and the beggar in no degree offends God, but this other both men and God; and undergoes the labors of rapine, but all the enjoyment thereof other men often reap.

Knowing then these things, let us lay aside all covetousness, and covet the things above, with great earnestness “taking the kingdom by force.”23 For it cannot be, it cannot be that anyone who is remiss should enter therein.

But God grant that we all having become earnest, and watchful may attain thereto, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might, world without end. Amen.

1 [The order here is slightly varied, and “unto them” is omitted. With these exceptions the entire passage is in verbal agreement with the received text.—R.]2).
2 [R. V. “marriage feast”.]3).
3 [Verses 7–14 do not appear in the Greek text of Migne’s edition, but are added in the Oxford translation, and in Field’s Greek text.—R.]
4 2Co 11, 2.
5 Ep 5, 32.
6 ajparavllakton).
7 Jn 3, 30 [“Refresh” is the rendering of the Greek term answering to “give rest” in the English versions.—R.]
8 Mt 11, 28. [“Refresh” is the rendering of the Greek term answering to “give rest” in the English versions.—R.]
9 Jn 7, 37.
10 Ga 2, 8. [R. V., “wrought for” twice; the Greek verb is the same in both clauses.—R.]
11 povsh hJ pandaisiva).
12 1Th 2, 15. [R. V., “and drove out us.”]
13 Mt 28, 19.
14 Mt 10, 6.
15 Ac 1, 8.
16 Ga 2, 8. [Comp. note 7, p. 421.]
17 Ac 13, 46. [slightly abridged.]
18 Or, “repeatedly.”
19 Rm 15,9.
20 Mt 22,13.
21 [The clause in italics is not found in the Mss. collated by Field, but occurs in the Benedictine edition.—R.]
22 favrh krokwtav).
23 ijsonomiva/). – Read the source: Archbishop Follo   https://zenit.org/articles/archbishop-follo-lords-invitation-to-lasting-joy/ 

Reflection 11 – How to handle fakers

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus addresses the problem of fakers, i.e., people who try to win his friendship by being religious and showing up for the banquet of the Eucharist (Mass) while refusing to enter into a genuine relationship with God.

You know the type: They are friendly as long as it works to their own advantage. They do good deeds but only when it’s convenient. They perform Catholic rituals perfectly during Mass but at home they don’t even take time to pray. Their faith is so shallow that distractions easily keep them away from Mass. When a priest sins, they leave Catholicism. When their relationship with you requires sacrifice or repentance, they abandon you.

Those who have a genuine relationship with God are identified by the presence of God’s love within them radiating outward and blessing others, especially when it’s not easy to love.

Jesus shows us in today’s parable how to handle the fakers. The invitation to join the party is open to everyone, but when people want only the fun of being a child of God and they ignore the hard work of sharing his love with others, God sets up boundaries against them.

Think of the people you’ve invited to your banquet table, i.e., into a healthy, Godly relationship, but they’ve tried to reshape it according to their unhealthiness and immorality. We should love them but not within harmful circumstances. We should do our own part to make the relationship healthy, but when others do not do their part, they’ve already abandoned the relationship.

God asks us to carry the cross of doing everything possible to invite them to repentance, conversion, and healing. However, healthy boundaries need to remain in place, and when our efforts are fruitless, eventually God says it’s time to let go and move on.

And always, we’re to go back out into the byroads to find those who genuinely value Godly friendships.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
How many Godly, healthy friendships do you really have? Where can you go to find more people who want to be in a holy, Christ-centered, faith-building relationship with you?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
What makes a friendship truly good? How do you know when the time has come to say no to an unhealthy, unholy relationship? How have you handled it? Where have you gone to find support and healing and growth? – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-10-14

Reflection 12 – St. Teresa as our model

As a young girl in Avila, Spain, Teresa, inspired by the stories of the saints, briefly ran away to “become martyr.” Years later, she would counsel nuns to seek detachment from earthly things, that they might run headlong towards God. With the aid of John of the Cross, she reformed the Carmelite Order, advocating penance, silence, and a simple habit without shoes, hence “discalced.” She is commonly associated with ecstatic prayer, as exemplified in Bermini’s famous statue. Yet her first attempts at mental prayer were marred by excuses, distractions, and illness. “On one hand, God was calling me; on the other hand, I was following the world,” she admitted. But she persevered. Gradually, Teresa felt the call to create the precise conditions that would renew the prayer of her fellow Carmelites: silence, austerity, and enclosure. She initiated the Carmelite reform in 1562, and founded seventeen convents before her death in 1582. Her spiritual treatises earned her the title of Doctor of the Church in 1970. “Always think of yourself as everyone’s servant,” she advised. “Look for Christ Our Lord in everyone and you will then have respect and reverence for them all.”

Visiting a doctor is not usually a fun experience. We do not relish the idea of spending time with them unless we are sick. When we don’t feel well we pray that our doctor is educated. We pray that our doctor didn’t skip too many classes and that she/he studied well and is prepared. Study, time, experience and persistence help them.

Today in our church we celebrate the feast of Saint Teresa of Jesus, a doctor of our faith. She could not have told you one disease from another for she was not that kind of doctor, but she knew the answers to life’s questions. She studied Scripture, spent time in prayer, experienced God in life and was persistent in her faith. She knew that God is the answer to all of our needs.

She understood Jesus’ challenge to the Pharisees today that true knowledge is not found somewhere in the world or in a pile of books. It is not found on the internet or by watching television. The key to true knowledge is found by listening to and knowing God. The scribes, Pharisees and lawyers of Jesus’ day were all smart people. They thought they had all the answers to life’s questions, but they were wrong. Only God gives meaning to life. Only God answers questions perfectly and gives us what we need! Saint Teresa understood this, and that is why she is called a doctor of our church. She was not book-wise, nor did she receive multiple academic degrees. But with God as the key to her life she was the best kind of doctor and example for us. She invites us to follow her lead today by spending time with Scripture, sitting silently in prayer, experiencing God wherever we go today, and growing strong in our faith. (Source: Rev. Steven R. Thoma, C.R. Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, October 15, 2009).

Here’s the life story of St. Teresa of Jesus. On March 28, 1515, Teresa de Ahumada y Cepeda was born near Avila, Spain, of a large, aristocratic Castilian family with Jewish ancestry. She entered the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation at Avila in 1535. Teresa was a Carmelite who established a strict, reformed branch of her order – the Discalced Carmelites. Her efforts with John of the Cross at reform where hindered by the pervasive laxity and politicking that pervaded Spanish religious orders at the time.

She died on October 4, 1582 at the convent of Alba de Torres, Spain. She was beatified in 1614 and canonized saint in 1622

In 1970, Pope Paul VI named her a Doctor of the Church. Her spiritual writings, especially the Interior Castle, are classics, psychologically perceptive and profound. She is a master of the spiritual life. One of her saying is, “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass away. Only God remains. Patience wins everything. He who has God wants nothing. God alone suffices.” St. Teresa and her messages are signs for us leading to God in heaven and warning for all of us.

Reflection 13 – St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582 A.D.)

Teresa lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. She was born before the Protestant Reformation and died almost 20 years after the closing of the Council of Trent.

The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.

As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man’s world of her time. She was “her own woman,” entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer. A holy woman, a womanly woman.

Teresa was a woman “for God,” a woman of prayer, discipline and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her ongoing conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical and graceful. A woman of prayer; a woman for God.

Teresa was a woman “for others.” Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.

Her writings, especially the Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, have helped generations of believers.

In 1970, the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women so honored.

Comment:

Ours is a time of turmoil, a time of reform and a time of liberation. Modern women have in Teresa a challenging example. Promoters of renewal, promoters of prayer, all have in Teresa a woman to reckon with, one whom they can admire and imitate.

Quote:

Teresa knew well the continued presence and value of suffering (physical illness, opposition to reform, difficulties in prayer), but she grew to be able to embrace suffering, even desire it: “Lord, either to suffer or to die.” Toward the end of her life she exclaimed: “Oh, my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value.”

Patron Saint of: Headaches

Related St. Anthony Messenger article(s) 

Ten Great Catholics of the Second Millennium, by Christopher Bellitto

Four Great Spanish Saints, by Jack Wintz, OFM

Read the source:  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1169

SAINT OF THE DAY
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

Related Articles/ Videos click below:

Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Teresa of Avila, October 15,2016 http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/10/14/readings-reflections-saturday-of-the-twenty-eighth-week-in-ordinary-time-st-teresa-of-avila-october-152016/

Ten Lessons from St. Teresa of Avila (St. Teresa of Jesus) http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2014/10/16/ten-lessons-from-st-teresa-of-avila-st-teresa-of-jesus/

14 Of The Most Powerful Peace Quotes From St Teresa Of Avila  http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2015/11/19/14-of-the-most-powerful-peace-quotes-from-st-teresa-of-avila/

The Love & Humor of St. Teresa of Avila http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2015/10/16/the-love-humor-of-st-teresa-of-avila/

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Read more from the source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila
For other saints with similar names, see Saint Teresa.
SAINT TERESA OF AVILA
Peter Paul Rubens 138.jpg

Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens
SAINT, MYSTIC, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
BORN 28 March 1515
GotarrenduraÁvilaCrown of Castile (today Spain)
DIED 4 October 1582 (aged 67)[1]
Alba de TormesSalamanca,Spain
VENERATED IN Roman Catholic Church
Lutheran Church[2]
Anglican Communion[3][4]
BEATIFIED 24 April 1614, Rome by Pope Paul V
CANONIZED 12 March 1622, Rome by Pope Gregory XV
MAJORSHRINE Convent of the Annunciation,Alba de TormesSpain
FEAST 15 October
ATTRIBUTES Habit of the Discalced Carmelites, Book and Quill, arrow-pierced heart
PATRONAGE Bodily ills; headacheschess; lacemakers; laceworkers; loss of parents; people in need of grace; people in religious orders; people ridiculed for their piety;PožegaCroatia; sick people; sickness; Spain

Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mysticRoman Catholic saintCarmelitenun, author during theCounter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of theCarmelite Order and is considered to be a founder of the Discalced Carmelites along with John of the Cross.

In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and on 27 September 1970 was named aDoctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.[5] Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work El Castillo Interior (trans.: The Interior Castle), are an integral part ofSpanish Renaissance literatureas well as Christian mysticism andChristian meditation practices. She also wrote Camino de Perfección(trans.: The Way of Perfection).

After her death, Saint Teresa’s cult was known in Spain during the 1620s, and for a time she was considered a candidate to become a national patron saint. A Santero image of the Our Lady of the Conception, said to have been sent with one of her brothers toNicaraguaby the saint, is now venerated as the country’s national patroness at theShrine of El Viejo.[6] Pious Catholic beliefs also associate Saint Teresa with the esteemed religious image calledInfant Jesus of Prague with claims of former ownership and devotion.

Early life[edit]

Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in 1515 in Gotarrendura, in the province of Ávila, Spain. Her paternal grandfather, Juan Sánchez de Toledo, was a marrano (Jewish convert to Christianity) and was condemned by theSpanish Inquisition for allegedly returning to theJewish faith. Her father, Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda, bought aknighthood and successfully assimilated into Christian society. Teresa’s mother, Beatriz de Ahumada y Cuevas,[7] was especially keen to raise her daughter as a pious Christian. Teresa was fascinated by accounts of the lives of the saints, and ran away from home at age seven with her brother Rodrigo to find martyrdom among the Moors. Her uncle stopped them as he was returning to the town, having spotted the two outside the town walls.[8]

When Teresa was 14 her mother died, this resulted in Teresa becoming grief-stricken. This prompted her to embrace a deeper devotion to the Virgin Mary as her spiritual mother. Along with this good resolution, however, she also developed immoderate interests in reading popular fiction (consisting, at that time, mostly of medieval tales of knighthood) and caring for her own appearance.[9]Teresa was sent for her education to the Augustinian nuns atÁvila.[10]

In the monastery (“cloister” is an area where only monastics have access), she suffered greatly from illness. Early in her sickness, she experienced periods of religious ecstasy through the use of the devotional book Tercer abecedario espiritual, translated as the Third Spiritual Alphabet (published in 1527 and written by Francisco de Osuna). This work, following the example of similar writings of medieval mystics, consisted of directions for examinations of conscience and for spiritual self-concentration and inner contemplation (known in mystical nomenclature as oratio recollectionis ororatio mentalis). She also employed other mystical ascetic works such as the Tractatus de oratione et meditatione ofSaint Peter of Alcantara, and perhaps many of those upon which Saint Ignatius of Loyola based his Spiritual Exercisesand possibly theSpiritual Exercises themselves.

She claimed that during her illness she rose from the lowest stage, “recollection”, to the “devotions of silence” or even to the “devotions of ecstasy”, which was one of perfect union with God (see below). During this final stage, she said she frequently experienced a rich “blessing of tears.” As the Catholic distinction between mortalandvenial sin became clear to her, she says she came to understand the awful terror of sin and the inherent nature of original sin. She also became conscious of her own natural impotence in confronting sin, and the necessity of absolute subjection to God.

Around 1556, various friends suggested that her newfound knowledge was diabolical, not divine. She began to inflict various tortures and mortifications of the flesh upon herself. But herconfessor, the Jesuit Saint Francis Borgia, reassured her of the divine inspiration of her thoughts. On St. Peter’s Day in 1559, Teresa became firmly convinced that Jesus Christ presented himself to her in bodily form, though invisible. These visions lasted almost uninterrupted for more than two years. In another vision, aseraph[11] drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual-bodily pain.

I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it…

This vision was the inspiration for one of Bernini‘s most famous works, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa at Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

The memory of this episode served as an inspiration throughout the rest of her life, and motivated her lifelong imitation of the life and suffering of Jesus, epitomized in the motto usually associated with her: Lord, either let me suffer or let me die.

Activities as reformer[edit]

Teresa entered a Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation in Ávila, Spain, on 2 November 1535. She found herself increasingly in disharmony with the spiritual malaise prevailing at the Incarnation. Among the 150 nuns living there, the observance of cloister — designed to protect and strengthen the spirit and practice of prayer — became so lax that it actually lost its very purpose. The daily invasion of visitors, many of high social and political rank, vitiated the atmosphere with frivolous concerns and vain conversations. These violations of the solitude absolutely essential to progress in genuine contemplative prayer grieved Teresa to the extent that she longed to do something.[12]

The incentive to give outward practical expression to her inward motive was inspired in Teresa by the Franciscan priest Saint Peter of Alcantara who became acquainted with her early in 1560, and became her spiritual guide and counselor. She now resolved to found a reformed Carmelite convent, correcting the laxity which she had found in the Cloister of the Incarnation and others. Guimara de Ulloa, a woman of wealth and a friend, supplied the funds. Teresa worked for many years encouraging Spanish Jewish converts to follow Christianity.

The absolute poverty of the new monastery, established in 1562 and named St. Joseph’s (San José), at first excited a scandal among the citizens and authorities of Ávila, and the little house with its chapel was in peril of suppression; but powerful patrons, including thebishop himself, as well as the impression of well-secured subsistence and prosperity, turned animosity into applause.

In March 1563, when Teresa moved to the new cloister, she received the papal sanction to her prime principle of absolute poverty and renunciation of property, which she proceeded to formulate into a “Constitution”. Her plan was the revival of the earlier, stricter rules, supplemented by new regulations such as the three disciplines of ceremonial flagellation prescribed for the divine service every week, and the discalceation of the nun. For the first five years, Teresa remained in pious seclusion, engaged in writing.

Church window at the Convent of St Teresa.

In 1567, she received a patent from the Carmelite general, Rubeo de Ravenna, to establish new houses of her order, and in this effort and later visitations she made long journeys through nearly all theprovinces of Spain. Of these she gives a description in her “Libro de las Fundaciones.” Between 1567 and 1571, reform convents were established at Medina del CampoMalagónValladolidToledo,PastranaSalamanca, and Alba de Tormes.

As part of her original patent, Teresa was given permission to set up two houses for men who wished to adopt the reforms; she convinced John of the Cross and Anthony of Jesus to help with this. They founded the first convent of Discalced Carmelite Brethren in November 1568 at Duruello. Another friend, Gerónimo Gracian,Carmelite visitator of the older observance of Andalusiaand apostolic commissioner, and later provincial of the Teresian reforms, gave her powerful support in founding convents at Segovia(1571),Beas de Segura (1574), Seville (1575), and Caravaca de la Cruz(Murcia, 1576), while the deeply mystical John, by his power as teacher and preacher, promoted the inner life of the movement.[citation needed]

In 1576 a series of persecutions began on the part of the older observant Carmelite order against Teresa, her friends, and her reforms. Pursuant to a body of resolutions adopted at the general chapter at Piacenza, the “definitors” of the order forbade all further founding of convents. The general chapter condemned her to voluntary retirement to one of her institutions.[13] She obeyed and chose St. Joseph’s at Toledo. Her friends and subordinates were subjected to greater trials.[13]

Finally, after several years her pleadings by letter with King Philip II of Spain secured relief. As a result, in 1579, the processes before theinquisition against her, Gracian, and others were dropped,[13]which allowed the reform to continue. A brief of Pope Gregory XIIIallowed a special provincial for the younger branch of the discalced nuns, and a royal rescript created a protective board of four assessors for the reform.[13]

During the last three years of her life, Teresa founded convents at Villanueva de la Jara in northern Andalusia (1580), Palencia(1580),Soria (1581), Burgos, andGranada (1582). In total seventeen convents, all but one founded by her, and as many men’s cloisters were due to her reform activity of twenty years.[citation needed]

Her final illness overtook her on one of her journeys from Burgos toAlba de Tormes. She died in 1582, just as Catholic nations were making the switch from theJulian to the Gregorian calendar, which required the removal of 5–14 October from the calendar. She died either before midnight of 4 October or early in the morning of 15 October which is celebrated as her feast day. Her last words were: “My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another.[14]

In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. The Cortes exalted her to patroness of Spain in 1617, and the University of Salamancapreviously conferred the titleDoctor ecclesiae with a diploma. The title is Latin for Doctor of the Church, but is distinct from the papal honor of Doctor of the Church, which is always conferred posthumously and was finally bestowed upon her by Pope Paul VI in December 27, 1970 along with Saint Catherine of Siena making them the first women to be awarded the distinction.[5]Teresa is revered as the Doctor of Prayer. The mysticism in her works exerted a formative influence upon many theologians of the following centuries, such as Francis of Sales,Fénelon, and the Port-Royalists.

Statue of Saint Teresa of Ávila.

Mysticism[edit]

“It is love alone that gives worth to all things.” – St. Teresa of Avila

The kernel of Teresa’s mystical thought throughout all her writings is the ascent of the soulin four stages (The Autobiography Chs. 10-22):

The first, or “mental prayer“, is that of devout contemplation or concentration, the withdrawal of the soul from without and especially the devout observance of the passion of Christ and penitence (Autobiography 11.20).

The second is the “prayer of quiet“, in which at least the human will is lost in that of God by virtue of a charismatic, supernatural state given by God, while the other faculties, such as memory, reason, and imagination, are not yet secure from worldly distraction. While a partial distraction is due to outer performances such as repetition of prayers and writing down spiritual things, yet the prevailing state is one of quietude (Autobiography 14.1).

The “devotion of union” is not only a supernatural but an essentiallyecstatic state. Here there is also an absorption of the reason in God, and only the memory and imagination are left to ramble. This state is characterized by a blissful peace, a sweet slumber of at least the higher soul faculties, or a conscious rapture in the love of God.

The fourth is the “devotion of ecstasy or rapture,” a passive state, in which the feeling of being in the body disappears (2 Corinthians 12:2-3). Sense activity ceases; memory and imagination are also absorbed in God or intoxicated. Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, a complete impotence and unconsciousness, and a spell of strangulation, sometimes by such an ecstatic flight that the body is literally lifted into space .[citation needed] This after half an hour is followed by a reactionary relaxation of a few hours in a swoon-like weakness, attended by a negation of all the faculties in the union with God. The subject awakens from this in tears; it is the climax of mystical experience, producing a trance. Indeed, she was said to have been observedlevitating during Mass on more than one occasion.[citation needed]

Teresa is one of the foremost writers on mental prayer, and her position among writers on mystical theology is unique. In all her writings on this subject she deals with her personal experiences. Her deep insight and analytical gifts helped her to explain them clearly. Her definition was used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.”[15] She used a metaphor of mystic prayer as watering a garden throughout her writings.

Writings[edit]

This is the one portrait of Teresa that is probably the most true to her appearance. It is a copy of an original painting of her in 1576 at the age of 61.

Teresa’s writings, produced for didactic purposes, stand among the most remarkable in the mystical literature of the Catholic Church:

  • The “Autobiography”, written before 1567, under the direction of her confessor, Fr. Pedro Ibáñez;[16]
  • ” El Camino de Perfección, written also before 1567, at the direction of her confessor;[17]
  • “Meditations on Song of Songs”, 1567, written nominally for her daughters at the convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
  • El Castillo Interior, written in 1577;[18]
  • “Relaciones”, an extension of the autobiography giving her inner and outer experiences in epistolary form.
  • Two smaller works are the “Conceptos del Amor” (“Concepts of Love”) and “Exclamaciones”. In addition, there are “Las Cartas”(Saragossa, 1671), or her correspondence, of which there are 342 extant letters and 87 fragments of others. St Teresa’s prose is marked by an unaffected grace, an ornate neatness, and charming power of expression, together placing her in the front rank ofSpanish prose writers; and her rare poems (“Todas las poesías”Munster, 1854) are distinguished for tenderness of feeling and rhythm of thought.

Excerpts[edit]

Saint Teresa, who reported visions of Jesus and Mary, was a strong believer in the power of holy water and wrote that she used it with success to repel evil and temptations.[19] She wrote:[20]

I know by frequent experience that there is nothing which puts the devils toflight like holy water.
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing.
God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things.
If you have God you will want for nothing.
God alone suffices.

— St Teresa, The bookmark of Teresa of Ávila[21]

The modern poem Christ has no body, though widely attributed to Teresa,[22][23] is not found in her writings.[24]

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

— Teresa of Ávila (attributed)

Saint Teresa and the Infant Jesus of Prague[edit]

Though there are no written historical accounts proving that Teresa of Ávila ever owned the Infant Jesus of Prague statue,[25]according to a pious legend Teresa once owned the statue and gave it to a noblewoman travelling to Prague.[26][27] The age of the statue dates to approximately the same era as Teresa.

It was thought that Teresa carried a portable statue of the Child Jesus wherever she went. Contemporary history cannot confirm that the Prague image was what she was thought to have owned. Catholic pious beliefs follow the local legend, certainly already circulated by the early 1700s.[citation needed]

Saint Teresa is also portrayed in the biographical 1984 film Teresa de Jesús, and shown in the movie protecting this infant statue in her many calamitous travels. In some scenes, the other religious sisters take turn in changing its vestments. The devotion to the Child Jesus spread quickly in Spain, possibly due to her mystical visions.[28] The Spanish nuns who established Carmel in France brought this devotion with them, and it became widespread in France.[29] Indeed, one of Teresa’s most famous disciples, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux,[30] a French Carmelite, herself named for Teresa, had as her religious name “Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face”.

Patron saint[edit]

In the 1620s Spain debated who should be the country’s patron saint; the choices were either the current patron, Saint James Matamoros a combination of him and the newly canonised Saint Teresa of Ávila. Teresa’s promoters said Spain faced newer challenges, especially the threat of Protestantism and societal decline at home, thus needing a more contemporary patron who understood those issues and could guide the Spanish nation. Santiago’s supporters (Santiaguistas) fought back and eventually won the argument, but Teresa of Ávila remained far more popular at the local level.[31] Saint James the Greater kept the title of patron saint for the Spanish people, and the most Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Immaculate Conception as the sole patroness for the entire Spanish Kingdom.

Portrayals[edit]

Teresa of Ávila by the French painter François Gérard(1770−1837)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Jump up^ At some hour of the night between 4 October and 15 October 1582, the night of the transition in Spain from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar
  2. Jump up^ “Notable Lutheran Saints”resurrectionpeople.org.
  3. Jump up^ “Holy Days”churchofengland.org.
  4. Jump up^ “Holy Men and Holy Women” (PDF).churchofengland.org.
  5. Jump up to:a b (Italian) [1]
  6. Jump up^ “Inmaculada del Viejo”corazones.org.
  7. Jump up^ Zupeda, Reginald. From Spain to Texas, ISBN 9781479770083
  8. Jump up^ Medwick, Cathleen, Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul, Knopf, 1999, ISBN 0-394-54794-2
  9. Jump up^ “ST. TERESA OF AVILA :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)”Catholic News Agency.
  10. Jump up^ Zimmerman 1911.
  11. Jump up^ Teresa wrote that it must be a cherub (Deben ser los que llaman cherubines), but Fr. Domingo Báñez wrote in the margin that it seemed more like a seraph (mas parece de los que se llaman seraphis), an identification that most editors have followed. Santa Teresa de Ávila. “Libro de su vida“.Escritos de Santa Teresa.
  12. Jump up^ “HISTORY – discalced carmelite order – Contemplative Discalced Carmelite Nuns”pcn.net.
  13. Jump up to:a b c d Kavanaugh, Kieran (1991). “General Introduction: Biographical Sketch”. In Kieran Kavanaugh. The Collected Works of St John of the Cross. Washington: ICS Publications. pp. 9–27. ISBN 0-935216-14-6.
  14. Jump up^ 2000 Years of Prayer by Michael Counsell2004 ISBN 978-1-85311-623-0 page 207
  15. Jump up^ “Catechism of the Catholic Church – Expressions of prayer”vatican.va.
  16. Jump up^ Pedro Ibáñez, “La Vida de la Santa Madre Teresa de Jesús”, Madrid, 1882; English translation, The Life of S. Teresa of Jesus, London, 1888.
  17. Jump up^ “El Camino de Perfección”, Salamanca, 1589; English translation, “The Way of Perfection”, London, 1852.
  18. Jump up^ “El Castillo Interior,” English translation, “The Interior Castle,” London, 1852, comparing the contemplative soul to a castle with seven successive interior courts, or chambers, analogous to the seven heavens.
  19. Jump up^ Bielecki, pp 238-241
  20. Jump up^ Teresa of Avila, 2008 Life of St. Teresa of JesusISBN 978-1-60680-041-6 page 246
  21. Jump up^ Teresa of Avila. Let Nothing Disturb You: A Journey to the Center of the Soul with Teresa of Avila.Editor John Kirvan. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-87793-570-4
  22. Jump up^ Howell, James C. (2009). Introducing Christianity : exploring the Bible, faith, and life (1st ed.). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 151.ISBN 9780664232979.
  23. Jump up^ “The Journey with Jesus: Poems and Prayers”. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  24. Jump up^ Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (7th ed.). Oxford: OUP. 2009. p. 684.ISBN 9780199237173.
  25. Jump up^ http://www.ewtn.com/library/christ/infhist.txt
  26. Jump up^ Infant Jesus of Prague
  27. Jump up^ padre seraphim. “DEVOTIONS & PRAYERS”.devotionsandprayers.blogspot.com.
  28. Jump up^ “CatholicSaints.Info”CatholicSaints.Info.
  29. Jump up^ carmelnet.org/biographies/Margaret.pdf
  30. Jump up^ Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway
  31. Jump up^ Erin Kathleen Rowe, Saint and Nation: Santiago, Teresa of Avila, and Plural Identities in Early Modern Spain (2011)
  32. Jump up^ Auclair, Marcelle (1988). Saint Teresa of Avila. Kathleen Pond (trans.) (Reprint; Originally published: New York: Pantheon, 1953 ed.). Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications.ISBN 9780932506672. ISBN 0932506674OCLC 18292197 (457 pages); French original: Auclair, Marcelle (1950). La vie de Sainte Thérèse d’Avila, la Dame Errante de Dieu. Paris, France: Éditions du Seuil. OCLC 4154440 (493 pages)
  33. Jump up to:a b c See Teresa of Ávila at the Internet Movie Database.

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]