Drawing Near instead of Running Away, Monday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time (I), October 7, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Monday of the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year I
Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
October 7, 2013
Jon 1:1-2:1-2.11, Jon 2:3-5.8, Lk 10:25-37

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


The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Today in the readings we see two great dynamisms, two fundamental polarities in life. The first we see in Jonah in the first reading. When God reveals his will to him, he seeks to flee from the presence of the Lord. He boards a boat heading to Tarshish, which was basically in western Spain, as far west as Jonah would have known of the geography of the time. But such fleeing from the Lord is never a private action. It always impacts those around us, as Jonah’s sinful polarity was risking the life of the fellow mariners.
  • We see that same polarity in the first two figures in the Parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel. The priest and the levite were fleeing from the love of God and love of neighbor, were fleeing from the type of charity to which God was calling them at the moment. Only the Samaritan, someone whom Jews thought were perpetually in flight from God by worshipping God on Mount Gerizim rather than in Jerusalem, heard God’s call and responded. If Jesus gave the parable today, it would be as if a man had been mugged, abused, and dropped in a sewer waiting to die and the Pope and Missionaries of Charity, hearing the groaning, crossed the road so that they wouldn’t get involved, but then a drug dealer and pimp, or a member of Al Qaeda, or a child molester, or someone else many of the people in the world think a scumbag drew near to care for him,  nurse him back to health and sacrifice money for future care.
  • What leads to the transition from the polarity of fleeing from the Lord to that of drawing near? Tomorrow we’ll see Jonah fulfilling God’s plans. It was what was excised from today’s first reading so that we could pray it for our responsory to the first reading. It was Jonah’s prayer. Prayer, real contact with God, transforms us from those who flee the Lord to those who serve and love and the Lord, especially in others.
  • That’s what leads us to this feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The prayer of the Rosary is a gift that transforms us to love God more and love our neighbor. It changes the polarity, the intentionality, of our life.
  • Blessed John Paul II, in his exhortation “The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” powerfully described the “fruits of charity,” the transformation that happens to us when we enter into the school of Mary in the Rosary. “When prayed well in a truly meditative way, the Rosary leads to an encounter with Christ in his mysteries and so cannot fail to draw attention to the face of Christ in others, especially in the most afflicted. How could one possibly contemplate the mystery of the Child of Bethlehem, in the joyful mysteries, without experiencing the desire to welcome, defend and promote life, and to shoulder the burdens of suffering children all over the world? How could one possibly follow in the footsteps of Christ the Revealer, in the mysteries of light, without resolving to bear witness to his Beatitudes in daily life? And how could one contemplate Christ carrying the Cross and Christ Crucified, without feeling the need to act as a Simon of Cyrene for our brothers and sisters weighed down by grief or crushed by despair? Finally, how could one possibly gaze upon the glory of the Risen Christ or of Mary Queen of Heaven, without yearning to make this world more beautiful, more just, more closely conformed to God’s plan?”
  • We can also note today that Our Lady herself always lives by the polarity of love, drawing near to us. Today we celebrate how on October 7, 1571, she drew near the Christian sailors who were fighting against the Muslim Turks in the Battle of Lepanto off the coast of Greece and guided them to victory against great odds, as Pope St. Pius V and the Christian people were praying to her in Rome. But we see how she drew near the people of this continent through St. Juan Diego in 1531, drew near to us to help us confide in her desire to help us to St. Catherine Labouré in 1827, drew near to us with tears in LaSalette, France, in 1846, drew near to us with a message of healing, prayer and conversion in Lourdes in 1858, drew near to us with a message of penance, prayer and consecration in Fatima in 1917. There are also so many other occasions when each of us can say that she drew near to help us with our problems. She does so at all different times, but she draws near in a special way through the Rosary, in which we “chain” ourselves to her through the Rosary beads, as she seeks to respond to the petitions for which we offer the Rosary and goes way beyond it, seeking to help us obtain what the mysteries contain. Mary, who is the Mother of the Good Samaritan — who left heaven, crossed the road, rescued us from the ditch, cared for us with his own body and blood, and brought us to the inn of the Church promising to repay on his Second Coming — seeks to form us all to be Good Samaritans, too. As we learn in today’s parable, it’s not enough for us to know what we need to do. Jesus twice tells the lawyer “Do this and you will live,” “Go and do the same.” Mary wants to help us to do whatever her Son, the blessed fruit of her womb, tells us and whatever that Son himself does. The Rosary is the great gift by which she seeks to form us to do the same.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
JON 1:1–2:1-2, 11

This is the word of the LORD that came to Jonah, son of Amittai:“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it;
their wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the LORD.
He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish,
paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish,
away from the LORD.

The LORD, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea,
and in the furious tempest that arose
the ship was on the point of breaking up.
Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god.
To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea.
Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship,
and lay there fast asleep.
The captain came to him and said, “What are you doing asleep?
Rise up, call upon your God!
Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish.”

Then they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots
to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune.”
So they cast lots, and thus singled out Jonah.
“Tell us,” they said, “what is your business?
Where do you come from?
What is your country, and to what people do you belong?”
Jonah answered them, “I am a Hebrew,
I worship the LORD, the God of heaven,
who made the sea and the dry land.”

Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him,
“How could you do such a thing!–
They knew that he was fleeing from the LORD,
because he had told them.–
They asked, “What shall we do with you,
that the sea may quiet down for us?”
For the sea was growing more and more turbulent.
Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,
that it may quiet down for you;
since I know it is because of me
that this violent storm has come upon you.”

Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not,
for the sea grew ever more turbulent.
Then they cried to the LORD: “We beseech you, O LORD,
let us not perish for taking this man’s life;
do not charge us with shedding innocent blood,
for you, LORD, have done as you saw fit.”
Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea,
and the sea’s raging abated.
Struck with great fear of the LORD,
the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him.

But the LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah;
and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish
three days and three nights.
From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed
to the LORD, his God.
Then the LORD commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.

Responsorial Psalm
JON 2:3, 4, 5, 8

R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
Out of my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me;
From the midst of the nether world I cried for help,
and you heard my voice.
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the sea,
and the flood enveloped me;
All your breakers and your billows
passed over me.
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
Then I said, “I am banished from your sight!
yet would I again look upon your holy temple.”
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the LORD;
My prayer reached you
in your holy temple.
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.

LK 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?
How do you read it?”
He said in reply,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
He replied to him, “You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live.”But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied,
“A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
‘Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.’
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”