Giving Ourselves Together with the Gospel, Tuesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time, August 27, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Tuesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Monica
August 27, 2013
1 Thess 2:1-8, Ps 139, Mt 23:23-26

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

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Jesus continues constructively to criticize the Scribes and the Pharisees to bring them to conversion and innoculate others against their “leaven.” Today he calls them to focus on the weightier things of the law — judgment, mercy and faithfulness — without ignoring the other parts. They were obsessing about individual twigs while missing the forest, a perspective to which we, too, can succumb. The second was that they were cleanse their outsides rather than their insides, giving into an externalism to gain others’ admiration rather than converting their thoughts and heart in order to please God.
  • St. Paul was himself an excellent Pharisee in his youth and converted from a notion of holiness based on external conformity to the Mosaic law to one based on receiving the Lord’s grace and responding with a faith that flows through deeds. In today’s reading he shows that he was working among the Christians in Thessalonika not to please them, but to please God, and giving himself together with the Gospel. That meant not that he gave two things — the Gospel and himself — but had become so united to the Gospel that he gave himself together with it. That’s always the model for the transmission of the faith.
  • The analogy he uses to describe this type of Christian giving is the way a mother tenderly nourishes her children. She doesn’t just give food but gives herself together with her food, breastfeeding her children with the food that she has digested. That is a beautiful description of the way that St. Monica gave herself to her husband, mother-in-law, and son Augustine for their conversion. Her sufferings praying for their conversion when they for a time refused her giving herself together with the Gospel is one of the most inspiring things in hagiography, that the object of so many tears would not perish. She asked her son to remember her in prayers at the altar and we remember her today, not with prayers for her soul, but prayers of gratitude for her example and intercession.

The readings for today’s homily were: 

Reading 1
1 THES 2:1-8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters,
that our reception among you was not without effect.
Rather, after we had suffered and been insolently treated,
as you know, in Philippi,
we drew courage through our God
to speak to you the Gospel of God with much struggle.
Our exhortation was not from delusion or impure motives,
nor did it work through deception.
But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel,
that is how we speak,
not as trying to please men,
but rather God, who judges our hearts.
Nor, indeed, did we ever appear with flattering speech, as you know,
or with a pretext for greed–God is witness–
nor did we seek praise from men,
either from you or from others,
although we were able to impose our weight as Apostles of Christ.
Rather, we were gentle among you,
as a nursing mother cares for her children.
With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you
not only the Gospel of God, but our very selves as well,
so dearly beloved had you become to us.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 139:1-3, 4-6

R. (1) You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know the whole of it.
Behind me and before, you hem me in
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
too lofty for me to attain.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.

MT 23:23-26

Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.”