Called by Name to Walk in Christ, 23rd Tuesday (I), September 12, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Tuesday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
The Holy Name of Mary
September 12, 2017
Col 2:6-15, Ps 145, Lk 6:12-19


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


The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Today the Church celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, a name we invoke every day when we cry out, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners!” The feast originated in Spain in 1513, but it was extended to the whole Church in 1683 by Pope Innocent XI to mark the great victory of King Jan Sobieski of Poland in the Battle of Vienna on September 11 of that year, a victory that most historians believed kept Europe Christian against the invading Muslim Turks. When we turn to Mary and invoke her holy name in the battles we’re fighting, we recall the fact that God wants us to be able to have an I-Thou relationship with her, that she seeks to help us the same way she helped the Church in Vienna, in Lepanto, in Cana and so many other places.
  • And she, like God, calls us by name. Today we ponder our calling in the Gospel. As we notice in the calling of the apostles, our vocation, like theirs, is a direct result of the prayer of the Lord Jesus. We see him at the beginning of the Gospel go up a mountain and spend all night in prayer to his Father. Jesus seems to have been praying in discernment about whom he should choose as his apostles and praying in intercession for those whom he was about to choose. We should never forget that Jesus likewise prays for us. He’s ascended into heaven in order to intercede for us “night and day.” For that reason, we should never really be afraid of living up to the vocation that God has given us, because just as much as Jesus prayed for the apostles, prayed for Peter that his faith may not fail but that after his conversion he would strengthen his brothers (Lk 22), he prayed to the Father for all those who would hear the Gospel through the work of the Apostles (Jn 17), and prays for us still.
  • From among his disciples, he selected twelve apostles. It says he “called [them] to himself” and “named [them] Apostles,” another way of saying what St. Mark describes: “he called them to be with him and so that they might be sent out” (Mk 3:14). We come here face-to-face with the mystery of divine election. God calls us all to him, but among all of us he chooses some for more intensely intimate cooperation with him. Out of all people he chose the Jews; out of all the Jews, some became his disciples; out of all those disciples, 12 became apostles; out of all 12, he chose three (Peter, James and John) to be with him in many of the most pivotal moments of his public life (healing the daughter of Jairus, the Transfiguration, the Agony in the Garden); and out of the three, he chose one, Peter, on whom to build his Church. Likewise we can say that Jesus calls all 7 billion alive today to come to the knowledge of the truth, but only 2 out of 7 is Christian and only half of them are Catholic. Out of that, only a few are called to be priests and religious. These facts don’t make us better than anyone else, but we are certainly fortunate. And just as the apostles responded to Jesus’ invitation and left other things to be with him and made themselves available to be sent out on mission, so have we, something that is a response to Jesus’ prayer and doubtless something that gives him great joy.
  • We also see in the Gospel is the way Jesus trained the twelve to carry on his mission. We see that he taught the crowds, he healed them of their diseases and cured them of demonic possession. Everyone, St. Luke tells us, wanted to touch him “because power came forth from him and healed them all.” The mission of the Church is to continue to teach as Jesus’ mystical body, to continue to heal through the sacraments and through charity, and to continue to make it possible for people to touch Jesus and be touched by him. For this to occur, we need to “be with Jesus,” by praying in union with him, by teaching in union with him, and by acting in union with him.
  • And that brings us to today’s extraordinary first reading. St. Paul says at the beginning of today’s passage from his letter to the Church in Colossae, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him.” “Walk” is a Biblical word for behave, for the moral life. Our faith is a “way” not a classroom. Christ summons us to come and go. We’re supposed to be journeying in our pilgrimage of faith, and on that pilgrimage not just following Christ’s footsteps on the outside, but walking in him, doing everything in him, having an interior yoking. St. Paul makes what is far more than a metaphor concrete with three verbal expressions, all in the passive voice, which gives us criteria to evaluate how we’re supposed to grow in our vocation. “Rooted in him,” “Build upon him,” and “Firmly established in the faith as you were taught.” For World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011, Pope Benedict chose these words as the motto and wrote a letter to the young people of the world about them. His words are relevant to all of us, no matter how young, during this Year of Faith.
    • To be rooted in Christ means that we embed our lives more and more in him, like the image of the tree in the first psalm that stretches forth its roots to the living water and remains strong and vibrant even in drought and against wind. We’re supposed to root ourselves in Christ’s word, in the sacraments, in his charity, in his body the Church. If we’re not firmly rooted in him, we’ll be like the chaff that burns away.
    • To be built on him brings to mind Jesus’ words about the wise man who built his house on rock, the man who hears his words and acts on them. The Church’s architectural plan has Christ as the cornerstone, the apostles (who are called in today’s Gospel) as the pillars, and each of us as “living stones,” living meaning growing, alive in Christ, and stones meaning not play dough but solid. We see that Simon, the first of the apostles, had his name changed to Peter meaning “Rock,” despite the fact that he was a sinner and weak before temptation. The Lord, likewise, can change us from dead silly puddy to living stones and that’s what he wants to do in this Year of Faith.
    • To be “firm in the faith” means that we don’t waver in our trust. Pope Benedict said that St. Paul was writing to a Church in which many had been seduced by the philosophies associated with gnosticism. He said we likewise need to make sure we’re not seduced away from the faith by the philosophies of our own age, individualism, materialism, hedonism, secularism and the like. We need to be firm in faith to recognizes these seductions and resist them.
  • Mary is the one who shows us what it means to walk in her Son and he grew feet within her, to be rooted in him almost umbilically, to be built on him who is the Rock in the midst of storms, and to be firm enough in faith to stand at the of his Cross. She’s praying for us now, who have been called by name by her Son, so that we might similarly walk in him all the way home. Chris calls us, just as much as he called the apostles; he prays for us just like he prayed before he called them, so that we might become pillars for the transmission not only of the faith as Good News to others, but pillars, living stones, for others to be able to root themselves in a personal relationship with Christ, build their entire lives on him, grow firm in fidelity to him, and we and they might be able to confirm the whole world in this same faith.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
COL 2:6-15

Brothers and sisters:
As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him,
rooted in him and built upon him
and established in the faith as you were taught,
abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy
according to the tradition of men,
according to the elemental powers of the world
and not according to Christ.
For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily,
and you share in this fullness in him,
who is the head of every principality and power.
In him you were also circumcised
with a circumcision not administered by hand,
by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ.
You were buried with him in baptism,
in which you were also raised with him
through faith in the power of God,
who raised him from the dead.
And even when you were dead in transgressions
and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
he brought you to life along with him,
having forgiven us all our transgressions;
obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims,
which was opposed to us,
he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross;
despoiling the principalities and the powers,
he made a public spectacle of them,
leading them away in triumph by it.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 145:1B-2, 8-9, 10-11

R. (9) The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
R. The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.

LK 6:12-19

Jesus departed to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground.
A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people
from all Judea and Jerusalem
and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon
came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases;
and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured.
Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him
because power came forth from him and healed them all.