Ordinary Time: August 18th
Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time
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Old Calendar: Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Click here for commentary on the readings in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
The first reading is taken from Jeremiah 38:4-6; 8-10. The prophet was maltreated and imprisoned. Jeremiah was a man of God who suffered all his life for the sake of the true religion.
The second reading
is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 12:1-4. The author of Hebrews says that our Lord endured the cross for the sake of the joy which lay before him. A great part of that joy was our resurrection to a glorified existence in the future life which his cross was earning for us.
is from St. Luke 12:49-53. We who appreciate what he has done for us, and who are striving hard against our natural weaknesses to profit by his salvific work, can do something to console him for the desertion of so many that he still loves dearly. God wants no human being lost eternally. He detests sin but he still loves the sinner. He is always ready to grant a full pardon for each and every sin a man commits, if only the sinner has the humility to say "mea culpa."
Let those of us who have remained faithful never let a day pass without a fervent prayer for the prodigal sons of God, that they will get the humility to return to their father's home and ask for his pardon. Another grace, too, that we must ask of God is that peace between fellowmen will soon be restored. Christ foresaw that this concord would be broken, because of his very gospel of peace. First and foremost we must pray for, and do everything we can to help bring about, a reunion between all Christians who are followers of Christ by their baptism. Thanks to the late saintly Pope John, active steps are now being taken to restore the unity which Christ wished and intended to exist among his followers. We may not be able to solve the theological problems which are preventing this unity, and each of us can do much to make personal contacts between the members of what were once opposing Churches. We are all followers of Christ, we are all on the road to heaven —if we really love God and if we really appreciate what the Son of God has done for us, we must want every one of his followers to be in heaven with him.
Let us put aside all past prejudices and opinions. Neither we nor our separated brethren are responsible for the sins and failings of our ancestors in the eleventh or the sixteenth centuries. We are responsible for our own actions today. We are failing Christ if we do not take a sincere and active interest in the noble and truly Christian work of ecumenism.
To mention our brothers in Christ first, does not mean we forget the children of Abraham whom, in our Mass, we call "our father in faith." They are still dear to God. We are now the Chosen People of the New Covenant but that New Covenant is for them also. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, Greek or Barbarian in the Church of Christ. It is for all mankind, as St. Paul tells us. The followers of Mohammed also have much in common with us Christians; they believe in one God, the Creator of all. They believe in a future life and hope to reach it by keeping the rules laid down by their Prophet. While respecting the beliefs of Jew and Moslem, which correspond with some of those we ourselves hold, let us pray fervently that God will give them the grace to recognize Jesus as the Person he was, the Son of God in human nature, who came on earth to make us fit for heaven.
God speed the day, and let us each give him a helping hand in this work, when not only all Christians will be one but when our Jewish and Moslem fellowmen will also be with us, thanking Christ for all that he has done for us. That day may still be a long way off, but every step I take towards bringing it about, is bringing me a step nearer to heaven and making me dearer to God.
Excerpted from The Sunday Readings
by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
Commentary on the Readings for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
"Were not the ten (lepers) made clean? Where are the (other) nine" (Gospel)?
Leprosy, dread disease, meant exile "afar off
" as a castout from home and city. Mankind, rejecting Divine Life, became leprous, cast out from Eden here, from heaven hereafter.
How amazing, then, that God should make a "covenant
" with man as though he were His equal (Epistle)! What is this "covenant
?" By it God bestows on all "those who believe
" in Jesus the right to inherit His Life, promised to Abraham; not to those who look merely to "the Law
" of Moses.
Be not content, as were "the nine
," with mere health of body but with the "increase of faith, hope and charity
" (PRAYER). As with the lepers, so our prayer is: "Have regard, 0 Lord, to Thy covenant, and forsake not . . . Thy poor . . . (do not) cast us off
Excerpted from My Sunday Missal
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