God’s Universal Saving Will, 24th Monday (I), September 18, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Monday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of Saint Joseph of Cupertino
September 18, 2014
1 Tim 2:1-8, Ps 28, Lk 7:1-10

 

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

 

The following points were attempted in today’s homily: 

  • God’s will is for “everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” It’s important for us to grasp that God’s direct will is that 100 out of 100 be saved, that all his prodigal children return home, that each receive his love and gratuitous offer of salvation and align their lives with it. That’s the context to understand St. Paul’s words that “supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority.” He was writing this letter from a prison cell in Rome during the time of the emperor Nero, who would massacre Christians for sport. We need to pray even for leaders like that who persecute the Church, just like St. Stephen prayed for Saul, just like the faithful in Milan prayed for Ambrose, etc. God wills not just Jews, not just Christians, to be saved but all, to come to the knowledge of Christ the Truth incarnate, and we cooperate in that will by our prayers, petitions, supplications and thanksgivings.
  • We see the beauty of God’s saving will shown in today’s Gospel, when a pagan centurion is praised by Jesus for having greater faith than he had found in Israel. We see that faith on display in the way that the centurion asks for a miracle for his dying slave. He comes to faith in Jesus in a particular through the exercise of authority. Jesus had already demonstrated their in Capernaum authority over demons, over storms, over illnesses and over the crowds. The centurion grasped that with power came the ability to say “come” and “go” and “do this.” The centurion himself had used his authority to do good to others, like building a synagogue for the Jews. He grasped that he needed to be humble in the exercise, because he didn’t merit the capacity to execute people at a whim, an authority he basically had. All of this helped him to grasp how Jesus could and might use his power and authority, to command even unseen spiritual realities, to do good even to the slave of a pagan. Even though the Jewish leaders said to Jesus, “he deserves” this to be done for him as a quid pro quo for his generosity, the centurion was humble and knew that he deserved nothing, that everything would be a grace, that he wasn’t fit even to welcome him into his home. And Jesus was amazed the faith he had. Even though he hadn’t received the same formation as the Jews in the Psalms, in the miracles of the Exodus, of the liberation from Babylon, of the litany of wonders God had worked, he had total trust in Jesus’ power and goodness. And that amazed Jesus. Since to be saved we need to be saved by grace through faith, this shows us the type of faith that can happen in others raised with natural virtues. Jesus wants us to be great in faith too, converting all of the experiences in our life into opportunities to appreciate his work.
  • Today we celebrate the feast of someone great in faith, St. Joseph of Cupertino, whose canonization happened 250 years ago. Because of his slowness and ineptitude, he was considered a burden to his family, to the Franciscans he eventually joined, to the Capuchins, and anew to the Franciscans, who accepted him as a lay brother to work in the stable. But eventually his great faith radiated through his foibles. Eventually, through a series of unforeseen interventions, he was ordained a priest, but still not really respected for who he was. When he started to levitate and even fly across Churches to embrace Christ on high crucifixes, he was denounced to the Inquisition as if he were possessed. But through it all, he grew in faith. His example shows us that even in those places we’re not appreciated, even when others — including in the Church — don’t respect us according to our dignity and just see our faults, God can be helping our faith to grow. Whereas he lived with many other very capable Franciscans, Capuchins and others, he was the one who was “great in faith,” and he’ll forever be an inspiration to the rest of us.
  • As we today prepare, unworthy as we are, to receive Jesus under our roofs, let us ask him to help us, like the Centurion and like St. Joseph Cupertino, to open the door to him through faith.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 1 TM 2:1-8

Beloved:
First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
in all devotion and dignity.
This is good and pleasing to God our savior,
who wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God.
There is also one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as ransom for all.

This was the testimony at the proper time.
For this I was appointed preacher and Apostle
(I am speaking the truth, I am not lying),
teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray,
lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.

Responsorial Psalm PS 28:2, 7, 8-9

R. (6) Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer.
Hear the sound of my pleading, when I cry to you,
lifting up my hands toward your holy shrine.
R. Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer.
The LORD is my strength and my shield.
In him my heart trusts, and I find help;
then my heart exults, and with my song I give him thanks.
R. Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer.
The LORD is the strength of his people,
the saving refuge of his anointed.
Save your people, and bless your inheritance;
feed them, and carry them forever!
R. Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer.

Alleluia JN 3:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 7:1-10

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people,
he entered Capernaum.
A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die,
and he was valuable to him.
When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him,
asking him to come and save the life of his slave.
They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying,
“He deserves to have you do this for him,
for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.”
And Jesus went with them,
but when he was only a short distance from the house,
the centurion sent friends to tell him,
“Lord, do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed.
For I too am a person subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, Go, and he goes;
and to another, Come here, and he comes;
and to my slave, Do this, and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him
and, turning, said to the crowd following him,
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
When the messengers returned to the house,
they found the slave in good health.