Choosing Resolutely to Live in the Kingdom, 32rd Friday (II), November 11, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Feast of St. Martin of Tours
November 11, 2016
2 John 4-9, Ps 119, Lk 17:26-37

 

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

 

The following points were attempted in today’s homily: 

  • Yesterday the Church throughout the world pondered Jesus’ words that the kingdom of God is among us and why that is, because the King is here with us, he took our flesh, he remains with us in the sacraments, in grace, in the Church, in others; and we enter into that kingdom when we follow up our prayer “thy kingdom come!” with the complementary couplet “thy will be done!” We dwell within that kingdom when we’re with the King, when allow his will to be done within us, when he reigns. Today’s readings and feast provide a fitting commentary on these truths.
  • In today’s Gospel, we see that even though Christ the King is present, some live in that kingdom and others don’t; others behave as if they are vincibly oblivious to it. Jesus contrasts Noah with those who perished in the flood, and Lot and those who perished in Sodom. Some were attentive and alert to God’s kingdom in their midst and some were not. Jesus encourages us to be similarly on guard. He says that when he comes we shouldn’t head down into the house to get possessions or come in from the field but we should go straight to the King whose kingdom we were seeking in action. He says that two will be sleeping, two will be cooking, but only one will be taken. This isn’t to be misinterpreted as if God’s going to do an arbitrary 50/50 split. Rather, it’s saying some in the very same circumstances will be ready because they’re connecting sleeping or cooking to God and his kingdom, and others won’t be ready, because all they think they’re doing is sleeping or cooking rather than doing it in communion with God in his kingdom. When they ask where this will take place, Jesus uses an aphorism, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather,” to indicate that just as vultures find a corpse, so we should find the kingdom! He also gives the principle of living in the kingdom: “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.” Those who are living in the kingdom are losing their life for God and others, so that his kingdom will come and his will be done. Those who try to preserve their own kingdom, to hallow their own name, to do their own will, will be those who lose their lives.
  • In today’s first reading, the only passage we have in the two year liturgical cycle of daily Mass readings from St. John’s Second Letter, the Apostle, who was present when Jesus said the words in today’s Gospel, makes plain what living in the kingdom is all about. He phrases it as “walking in the truth just as we were commanded by the Father,” following in the footsteps of the Incarnate Truth. He describes that involves not a new commandment but the one to “love one another” that Christ gave us, reminding us that love to “walk according to the commandments” because the commandments train us to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He notes that there are “progressives” who do not “remain in the teaching of the Christ” and says that they do not remain in the Father and the Son, in the kingdom of God, and says, parallel to the upshot of Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel, “Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for but may receive a full recompense,” losing their lives so as to save it.
  • To live in the Kingdom, to lose one’s life for God and others, to do the will of God and walk in the truth and in the path of the commandments, is to live with charity, to be merciful as our Father is merciful. Pope Francis has said that God’s kingdom is a kingdom of Good Samaritans when we recognize we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and cross the road to care for them. That’s why today’s feast is so timely, because for the last 1700 years he has been an icon of the charity of the kingdom. St. Martin of Tours was the son of a pagan army officer and brought into the Roman army as a teenager. Eventually he was stationed to Amiens in the north of France which is where his celebrated conversion took place. He was on patrol duty one frigid night when he saw a shivering, lightly clad man begging for alms near the city gate. Martin was shocked that no one was giving this man assistance. He had no money on him; all he had was his horse, his armor and his own clothes. But he dismounted, took out his Roman lance, and cut his military cappa in two, covering the beggar with half and wearing the other half himself. Later that night, Jesus appeared to him in a dream dressed in the half of the cape given to the beggar, teaching Martin that whenever he cared for, whenever he served, anyone else, he was caring for Christ himself. He was a catechumen at this point but immediately sought and receive baptism. Soon after he left the army, he put himself under the charge of St. Hilary of Poitiers and began a life of prayer as a hermit, where he lived for more than a decade. In 371, the Christians of Tours demanded him to be ordained their bishop. He served them while he continued to serve the Lord in prayer. He fought very hard against the paganism of the territory and against heresies in Christianity. He traveled all throughout his enormous diocese by good, on a donkey or by boat. He never stopped serving, he never stopped losing his life for his flock, he never stopped walking in the way of the truth and guiding them on that life-long pilgrimage, he never stopped giving cutting himself in half and giving all he had for his people. Even when it was clear that his ascetical life, age and hard work were catching up with him, he kept going on. There was controversy in the parish of Candes because of disputes among priests and he wanted to go. Those around him tried to prevent his going, saying he would likely die on the way. He turned to the Lord and said, “Lord, if your people still need me, I am ready for the task. Your will be done,” the will that helps us to enter the kingdom. He went and reconciled the priests and people. But he informed them that he was about to die. As he lay on his death bed, they wanted to turn him around to prevent bedsores, but he said, “Allow me to look to heaven rather than at earth, so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord.” He spurned the devil whom he could see standing there trying to tempt him to the last and entrusted himself to the embrace of Abraham. Especially on this Veteran’s Day, he shows us that the best soldiers and best Christians are soldiers of Christ, those who willingly give their life for his cause.
  • Today on his feast, we come to the source of his strength, Christ himself, in the Holy Eucharist. We ask him for a double portion of St. Martin’s spirit so that, like him, we may love one another, walking according to the truth in the commandments, lose our life, and so serve others so that when the Lord comes he may not take one of us and leave the other behind, but thanks to our love, take us both and all.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 2 JN 4-9

[Chosen Lady:]
I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth
just as we were commanded by the Father.
But now, Lady, I ask you,
not as though I were writing a new commandment
but the one we have had from the beginning:
let us love one another.
For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments;
this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning,
in which you should walk.
Many deceivers have gone out into the world,
those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh;
such is the deceitful one and the antichrist.
Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for
but may receive a full recompense.
Anyone who is so “progressive”
as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God;
whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:1, 2, 10, 11, 17, 18

R. (1b) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Within my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not sin against you.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Be good to your servant, that I may live
and keep your words.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Alleluia LK 21:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 17:26-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be in the days of the Son of Man;
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage up to the day
that Noah entered the ark,
and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot:
they were eating, drinking, buying,
selling, planting, building;
on the day when Lot left Sodom,
fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all.
So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
On that day, someone who is on the housetop
and whose belongings are in the house
must not go down to get them,
and likewise one in the field
must not return to what was left behind.
Remember the wife of Lot.
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
but whoever loses it will save it.
I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed;
one will be taken, the other left.
And there will be two women grinding meal together;
one will be taken, the other left.”
They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?”
He said to them, “Where the body is,
there also the vultures will gather.”

 

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