Holiness and Chastity, Friday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time (I), August 30, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Friday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time (I)
Mass for Various Needs and Occasions: For Chastity
August 30, 2013
1 Thess 4:1-8, Ps 97, Mt 25:1-13

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

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • St. Paul reminds us in his first Letter to the Thessalonians today of our call to holiness, which is a call to the perfection of Christ like love. The opposite of that call, he says immediately thereafter, is “porneia,” the Greek work for all sexual sins, which turns us from unselfish self-givers in the image of Christ to takers of others, from those who sacrifice for the good of others, to those who sacrifice others for their own pleasure. Blessed John Paul II said that unchastity totally changed the intentionality of a human being from a lover to a luster, and this is a point on which in our culture we need to remember: we cannot be saints and sexually immoral at the same time, it’s one or the other. That’s why St. Paul later in the passage tells us that we need to behave differently from the Gentiles who don’t know God, that we should never take advantage of or exploit a brother or a sister, that we should take spouses not in lust but in “holiness and honor.” God calls us, he stresses,  “not to impurity but to holiness,” and whoever disregards this disregards God himself.
  • One way to help us to remain chaste is to ensure that our love for God exceeds our human loves and attractions. The Parable of the Ten Virgins illustrates this point. We’re called, with the wise virgins, to have such a longing for Christ the Bridegroom that we’re vigilant for his coming at all times. When our hearts are full of the oil of love for him that can’t get extinguished, then we’re far less vulnerable to the temptations to reject him for an attractive Barabbas in disguise. The thought of “wise virgins” reminds us of what Blessed John Paul II called “the virginal meaning of the body,” that we are first meant to give ourselves body and soul to God, as we hope to do in heaven. When we remember this purpose of the body, then we can hold ourselves and others in holiness and honor.
  • Today we celebrate a special Mass “For Chastity,” one of the 49 special Masses for Various Needs and Occasions found in the Roman Missal, to help us and all others to open ourselves up to receive God’s help, as the collect of the Mass states, so that our heart and our bodies may be purified by the passion of the Holy Spirit to love God and love others truly.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
1 THES 4:1-8

Brothers and sisters,
we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that,
as you received from us
how you should conduct yourselves to please God–
and as you are conducting yourselves–
you do so even more.
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.This is the will of God, your holiness:
that you refrain from immorality,
that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself
in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion
as do the Gentiles who do not know God;
not to take advantage of or exploit a brother or sister in this matter,
for the Lord is an avenger in all these things,
as we told you before and solemnly affirmed.
For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness.
Therefore, whoever disregards this,
disregards not a human being but God,
who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 97:1 AND 2B, 5-6, 10, 11-12

R. (12a) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD loves those who hate evil;
he guards the lives of his faithful ones;
from the hand of the wicked he delivers them.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Gospel
MT 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”