Grace and Faith in Action, 28th Thursday (I), October 15, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Thursday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Teresa of Avila
October 15, 2015
Rom 3:21-30, Ps 130, Lk 11:47-54

 

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click here: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today Jesus finishes his very sharp words about those Pharisees who for all their external religious practices turn out to be murderers on the inside: in imitation of the way their ancestors killed the prophets, they would conspire to have Jesus himself killed. Their essential defect in the understanding of their relationship with God was a focus on their own external actions in fulfillment of the law of the Covenant rather than on whether they were branches attached to God the Vine, whether they were in fact loving God with all they had and loving their neighbor to the extreme or whether they were opposing God and hating or slaying their neighbor.
  • St. Paul used to be a Pharisee and lived by a principle that one became right with God — justified — precisely through one’s own deeds but he grasped in and after his conversion, as he writes today, that we are “justified freely by [God’s] grace” and the way we respond to it, by faith, apart from all the actions of the law. That doesn’t mean our deeds aren’t key. God’s grace received with faith is supposed to be transformative and performative: it’s supposed to change us and that change can’t help but be seen in the way we behave, as we strive and struggle to behave more and more according to God’s grace, according to faith. That’s why St. Paul will write in his letter to the Galatians that the goal is “faith working through love,” our faith is supposed to flow in charity toward God and neighbor. That’s why we can say that while we’re not saved by our deeds we are judged by our deeds — see Mt 25:31-46 and the way we respond to the poor, the hungry, the sick, the stranger, the imprisoned — because the way we treat our neighbor is an indication of the type of faith we have and whether we’ve responded in faith to the grace of God.
  • A woman saved and filled by God’s grace received in faith we celebrate today, St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century foundress of the Discalced Carmelites. This year we mark the 500th anniversary of her birth on March 28, 1515, and so this feast day (held on the day of her death in 1582) is especially significant. She started out her life marked by a passion for God such that she and her younger brother Rodrigo were already willing to die for the faith as just kids. That same passion led her to the convent at 20. But even though she was blessed with many mystical experiences, she eventually became lukewarm through not taking the fight against venial sins seriously, upon the bad advice of some priests. Eventually at 39 she converted, rediscovered the passion to live always by faith, and because a doctor of that faith showing us all what faith in action looks like in prayer. In prayer we’re filled with God and open ourselves up in faith to Him and to his guidance and love. Our prayer is meant to overflow into our conduct because faith and life go together as we seek to keep the same communion with God in daily action we seek in prayer. She called prayer a friendship with God and we keep that friendship alive in all our action, recognizing that God’s grace continues to be given and active, and that God is asking of us to respond with faithful receptivity. Today we ask St. Teresa to intercede for us so that we, like her, later in life, may convert and come to correspond to God’s saving grace in our life the way she did to that same justifying gift in hers!

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
ROM 3:21-30

Brothers and sisters:
Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law,
though testified to by the law and the prophets,
the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ
for all who believe.
For there is no distinction;
all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.
They are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
whom God set forth as an expiation,
through faith, by his Blood, to prove his righteousness
because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed,
through the forbearance of God–
to prove his righteousness in the present time,
that he might be righteous
and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.
What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out.
On what principle, that of works?
No, rather on the principle of faith.
For we consider that a person is justified by faith
apart from works of the law.
Does God belong to Jews alone?
Does he not belong to Gentiles, too?
Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one
and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith
and the uncircumcised through faith.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 130:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6AB

R. (7) With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

Gospel
LK 11:47-54

The Lord said:
“Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets
whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent
to the deeds of your ancestors,
for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said,
‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute’
in order that this generation might be charged
with the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah
who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.”
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees
began to act with hostility toward him
and to interrogate him about many things,
for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.
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