God’s Rebuilding Project on the Foundation of his Word, 25th Monday (I), September 25, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Monday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass of Blessed Stanley Rother, Priest and Martyr
September 25, 2017
Ezra 1:1-6, Ps 126, Lk 8:16-18


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


The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Today we get the first of three days from the Book of Ezra, the only three days in the two year daily lectionary. It’s about the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Persian, non-Jewish king Cyrus, in which Cyrus encouraged everyone, Jews and non-Jews, to participate in the rebuilding of the house of God, by giving this “silver, gold, good, cattle, … [and] free-will offerings.” We know that this Temple rebuilding project points to Jesus’ resurrection on the third day and on the way he wishes to rebuild each of us to become, individually and together, the temple of God, where he, Risen, dwells within.
  • The architectural plans for the rebuilding project are found in the Gospel. Nine days ago we heard from Jesus’ sermon on the plain his passionate appeal for us to build our life on the rock of hearing his word and putting it into practice (Lk 6:45-49). Any other foundation is like sand. On Saturday, the Church pondered Jesus’ parable about our receptivity and response to God’s word, the Sower and the Seed. Today he builds on those lessons with three images so that we may bear fruit 30, 60 or 100 fold, so that we may be built solidly on him His message can be summarized by his saying, “Take care how you hear.”
    • He tells us, “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light.” In other words, if we’re listening correctly, we’re hearing what he seeks to implant as “words to be done.” It’s not supposed to remain hidden or private, but is meant to illumine the world. If we’re not listening with this apostolic dimension, we’re not going to be abundant fruit. We’re not going to be fully rebuilt on the rock.
    • He adds, “There is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” Jesus tells us that even though sometimes we can fake as if we’re paying close attention, our going through the exterior motions will eventually be exposed. Likewise if we’re fighting to give our full wits to his words, even if we’re struggling, that effort, too, will one day be known.
    • He then concludes, “To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” This is a law of physical exercise, musical growth, and intellectual progress: we use it or we lose it. To the one who gives the word both ears as well as the mind and the heart, he will become more and more fruitful; but to the one who is not really hanging on every word, he’ll lose eventually even that superficial adherence. This is what we see, unfortunately when priests, or religious or Christians can lose their vocation.
  • On Saturday, the Church gave us a great commentary on today’s lesson in the life and work of Blessed Stanley Rother, the first American born martyr and priest to be beatified. He treasured God’s word, and despite having been booted from his first seminary because he couldn’t learn Latin, eventually learned both Spanish and Tz’utujil well enough to translate the New Testament into that language, so that the light he received from the Gospel could illumine the lives of the Guatemalans in Santiago Atitlan. He built his life on the Lord’s words that a good shepherd gives his life for his sheep and that a shepherd does not run when a wolf comes. Even though his name was on a death list, he returned to Guatemala to be with his people. He followed Jesus along the path of the grain of wheat. He built the muscles of his faith and helped his flock to become similarly built on the rock. And now his quiet, humble, hardworking faith has been exposed for all the Church to see. The fruitfulness of his response to God’s word, his truly becoming an image of the type of reconstruction project into God’s holy temple God desires for all of us, help us to see what’s possible when we fully align ourselves with God’s words. They inspire us to “take care what [we] hear,” as we prepare to “do” Jesus’ words “in memory of” him.


The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 EZR 1:1-6

In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia,
in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah,
the LORD inspired King Cyrus of Persia
to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom,
both by word of mouth and in writing:
“Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia:
‘All the kingdoms of the earth
the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me,
and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem,
which is in Judah.
Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people,
let him go up, and may his God be with him!
Let everyone who has survived, in whatever place he may have dwelt,
be assisted by the people of that place
with silver, gold, goods, and cattle,
together with free-will offerings
for the house of God in Jerusalem.'”

Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin
and the priests and Levites–
everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so–
prepared to go up to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.
All their neighbors gave them help in every way,
with silver, gold, goods, and cattle,
and with many precious gifts
besides all their free-will offerings.

Responsorial Psalm PS 126:1B-2AB, 2CD-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3) The Lord has done marvels for us.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.

Alleluia MT 5:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 8:16-18

Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.
Take care, then, how you hear.
To anyone who has, more will be given,
and from the one who has not,
even what he seems to have will be taken away.”