Greetings on this the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: IS 45:1, 4-6; PS 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10; 1 THES 1:1-5B; MT 22:15-21
Special Notes: This 29th Sunday in Ordinary time homily is given at the Vigil Mass Saturday the 17th October.
- Today (during the morning Mass) was the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr.
- Sunday is also the Feast of St Luke the Evangelist.
- We will be doing an exceptional circumstance Adult Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion) during the Mass.
These three special circumstances bring additional depth to the Holy Mass today.
Saints Lawrence and Ignatius are remembered by Saint Cyprian in a letter to his clergy about 258 CE about the same time his own martyrdom was about to occur.
Lawrence and Ignatius, though they fought betimes in worldly camps, were true and spiritual soldiers of God; and while they laid the devil on his back with their confession of Christ, they merited the palms and crowns of the Lord by their illustrious passion. We always offer sacrifices for them, as you will recall, as often as we celebrate the passions of the martyrs by commemorating their anniversary day.
Saint Lawrence and the Treasure of the Church
The persecutions of Emperor Valerian were in full swing and Deacon Lawrence was ordered to hand over the Church’s treasure.
When Lawrence appeared before the officials they were puzzled to see a crowd of poor people with him.
When asked where the treasures were which he had promised, he pointed to the poor, saying,
‘These are the treasure of the Church.’
Pope Sixtus II, Lawrence and six other deacons were martyred for the treasure of the Church.
Cyrus – Unwitting Collaborator
King Cyrus was an unwitting collaborator with the divine will. Isaiah tells us the Lord used Cyrus for the release of exiled Israelites and the restoration of Jerusalem.
King Cyrus, for his part, documented on a published cylinder in 538 BCE his successes to Marduk, the god of Babylon but really to himself by way of a nod to something else.
It is always easy to attribute success to our own work. It is always customary to attribute to the deity whom you worship, even if mistakenly so.
We hold a supernatural horizon. That is to say we think less in terms of the current situation as a reflection of purposes and intentions of the Lord.
We have successes and failures. We have joys and sorrows.
But for us our time horizon is in the proclamation of the truth that is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the source and summit of our hopes and experiences. He and The Way are the yardstick by which we measure our own fate in this life and the life to come.
Jesus came to liberate us. Coincidentally, the Gospel of Luke speaks in similar terms.
The theme of the gospel of Luke contains the eschatological reversal of fortunes by not our own strength by by the will of God.
- He has mercy on those who fear him.
- He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
- He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
- He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
In all these reversals we look to Jesus who takes us beyond these gifts and brings us to eternal life.
Work of Faith and Labor of Love
Saint Paul speaks to us and encourages us to continue our journey by works of faith and labor in love of the Lord and one another.
For the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus was not merely happy words but with the power of the Holy Spirit, hard word and conviction of our souls.
Caesar or God
The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus.
Between the distaste of giving treasure and money to the Romans the Pharisees also gathered the Herodians as a temporary ally to complain as well. The Herodians were the temporal rulers of the day. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. Everyone with power wanted to challenge Jesus regarding the superior power of the Romans.
But Jesus knowing the will of God wasn’t interested in this power play. This struggle for the last inch of influence and domination however one can grab it.
Give them their money. Give God what belongs to him. Give up power as the world knows it.
The Early Church
Within 80 years of the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence the Christian religion was finally made legal and shortly after made the religion of the Roman Empire.
Why did the Church grow so quickly even during persecution?
It is because how the women were treated. The words of Jesus are powerful yes of course! And in the power of the Holy Spirit, hard word and conviction of our souls as to right relation with the women (so severely treated in these times) won the day. Women seeing men converting to Christianity and seeing a new way of life which included respect for women, and protection for their children.
Yes, before then in the pagan areas of Europe the children of women were little more than property. Women little more than slaves.
But in the Christian community women were cherished and given their dignity. Who would you marry?
Even today still women aspire to marriage and family life. But where are the Christian men?
Troubled Times Troubled Ways
Trust the Lord to navigate us through these troubled times. And in that help work, work hard for the eschatological reversal we are given to bring about.
In all our social justice we keep the supernatural horizon in mind. This is our strength, not money. The person of Jesus. The promise of salvation.
Not programs, Not Laws, Not politics.
The horizon that comes from the Lord.
Let us now Baptize Francis… for he has set his eyes as well on the supernatural hope of Jesus.
(upload photos later).
Peace be with you,