Becoming Conformed to Christ, the Icon of God, 22nd Friday (I), September 4, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life
Friday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
September 4, 2015
Col 1:15-20, Ps 100, Lk 4:33-39

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click here: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • In this Year of Consecrated Life, we can ponder the perennial cry of religious life, as the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life reminded us in 2008:  “I seek your face, O Lord,” but we need to seek the true face of the Lord. St. Paul says in today’s readings that Jesus Christ is the true “icon” of the invisible God, that God had come in the flesh, that Jesus had manifested of God-is-love in Christ’s redemption on the Cross. But those affected by gnosticism in Colossae had, to use Jesus’ image in the Gospel today, “old wine skins” such that they were not ready to receive the full significance of the Incarnation. We, too, need to have new wineskins to receive the true image of God — to receive Jesus according to his categories rather than our own — so that we, in turn, can grow more and more into the image and likeness of God, so that we will be united to him and become the manifestation of his love.
  • The new wineskins God wants to give us today to receive his holy word is that the entire Christian life is nuptial and because it’s nuptial — Jesus is the bridegroom and we’re his bride — it’s supposed to be joyful. So many Christians don’t live with joy. We don’t live this nuptial reality as newlyweds. We don’t go into the presence of the Lord with joy, as we say in the Responsorial Psalm. Our fasting — in Lent, in reparation at certain times — is a manifestation that parts of us, parts of our world, is not yet united with the Bridegroom. That happens when those who are supposed to be united to Jesus don’t live with joy. Our fasting is meant to stoke our hunger for the Lord, to seek his true face, and to see that face looking on us with love, something that should fill us with joy.
  • As we celebrate this Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart, we can say that Jesus’ words to St. Margaret Mary about how pained he was that in the sacrament of his love most receive him with indifference, irreverence, sacrilege, coldness and scorn and especially that those who are consecrated to him receive him in this way, can be interpreted within this prism of joy. Jesus is pained when we don’t receive this spousal gift of himself with joy-filled love and it especially pains him when those who are consecrated to him receive him with old wineskins, according to categories of duty that are not filled with joy, one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. This is where he wants to unite ourselves to his love and his joy, so that his joy may be in us and our joy complete. The Eucharist is the consummation of the spousal union between Christ and his bride, when the Bride takes within herself the body and blood of the Bridegroom and becomes one flesh with him so that together with Him they might bear fruit, “making love” that overflows into deeds of love in the world. This is where our seeking the Lord’s face is brought to fulfillment, where we not only look on the Icon of God but receive him within and are transformed into that icon ourselves. We prayed at the beginning of Mass that God the Father would clothe us in the virtues of Christ his Son — those are our new wineskins, that’s our new cloak — and inflame us with the passion of his love so that, conformed to his image (icon), we may merit to enter into his redemption, the redemption St. Paul tells us in today’s first reading, Christ won for us by his blood, that blood that he never ceases to pour out from his heart upon this altar. If Jesus experiences most keenly the pain that happens when we don’t receive his ever “new wine” with fresh and receptive wineskins, then one of the keenest joys we could give him is to have the type of wineskins that receive this gift not with indifference but as the biggest difference in our life, not irreverence but with tremendous piety, not with coldness but with more passion than we have for anyone or anything, not with sacrilege but with souls fully cleansed by his mercy, and not with scorn but with unending praise. Today we come joyfully, clothed in Christ’s virtues, to this house of the Lord where Christ comes to bathe us in his own ever new wine. This is what we’ve been fasting for our whole life!

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
COL 1:15-20

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the Body, the Church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the Blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 100:1B-2, 3, 4, 5

R. (2b) Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
For he is good,
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.

Gospel
LK 5:33-39

The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers,
and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same;
but yours eat and drink.”
Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast
while the bridegroom is with them?
But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
then they will fast in those days.”
And he also told them a parable.
“No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one.
Otherwise, he will tear the new
and the piece from it will not match the old cloak.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins,
and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.
Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.
And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new,
for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
Unknown-1