How God Brings Good from Rejection, 9th Monday (I), June 5, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, New York, NY
Monday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Boniface
June 5, 2017
Tob 1:3.2:1-8, Ps 112, Mk 12:1-12

 

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

 

The following points were attempted: 

  • Jesus tells a parable of the history of Israel, which, using imagery from the prophet Isaiah, is described as a luxuriant vineyard, but one in which the vineyard lessees never bore fruit despite prophets being sent. In fact, they abused and killed the prophets and did the same to the Vineyard owner’s Son, seeking to gain his inheritance through killing him. ‘This is the heir,” they said. “Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours,” words that were a prophecy of the “Crucify Him!” of Good Friday. But the stone that they rejected has become the cornerstone. Jesus’ suffering and death was the foundation for the new life of all believers.
  • We see the same lesson in the first reading from Tobit and in the feast of St. Boniface
  •  The beginning of the Book of Tobit shows that he was righteous, sacrificing in Jerusalem even when many of those around him in Israel were sacrificing at the pagan temples. When they were all brought into exile by the Assyrians, he risked his life piously to bury the Jews who were being killed by Sennacharib, something that likewise got him hunted down to be killed, but he escaped. After Sennacharib’s death, he came back and as they were celebrating his son told him another Jew was dead in the streets. Tobit again sprung to action at great personal risk. Even though people mocked him, even though he suffered, even though he and his faith were rejected, his faith became a cornerstone on which he built his life and others were able to build theirs on his.
  • St. Boniface at the age of 41 left his English monastery where he was a Latin scholar and a Scripture teacher, to become a Missionary. In his first attempt, in modern Holland, he was rejected. He went to Rome where the Pope ordained him and sent him as a Bishop to evangelize Germany, where he helped pagans overcome their worship of trees and through four decades of labor built up the structure of the Church. At the very end of his life, he went back to Frisia, to Holland, to try to visit the tenants of God’s luxurious vine there and help them bear fruit, but they killed him as he was preparing for Mass. Pope Benedict gave a catechesis on him in 2009 in which he stressed his zeal to bring the Gospel to the stubborn even in his ninth decade. “Although he was getting on in years (he was almost 80), he prepared himself for a new evangelizing mission: with about 50 monks he returned to Frisia where he had begun his work. Almost as a prediction of his imminent death, in alluding to the journey of life, he wrote to Bishop Lull, his disciple and successor in the see of Mainz: ‘I wish to bring to a conclusion the purpose of this journey; in no way can I renounce my desire to set out. The day of my end is near and the time of my death is approaching; having shed my mortal body, I shall rise to the eternal reward. May you, my dear son, ceaselessly call the people from the maze of error, complete the building of the Basilica of Fulda that has already been begun, and in it lay my body, worn out by the long years of life.’ While he was beginning the celebration of Mass at Dokkum (in what today is northern Holland) on 5 June 754, he was assaulted by a band of pagans. Advancing with a serene expression he forbade his followers from fighting saying, ‘cease, my sons, from fighting, give up warfare, for the witness of Scripture recommends that we do not give an eye for an eye but rather good for evil. Here is the long awaited day, the time of our end has now come; courage in the Lord!’ These were his last words before he fell under the blows of his aggressors.” Pope Benedict asked, “Centuries later, what message can we gather today from the teaching and marvellous activity of this great missionary and martyr? For those who approach Boniface, an initial fact stands out: the centrality of the word of God, lived and interpreted in the faith of the Church, a word that he lived, preached and witnessed to until he gave the supreme gift of himself in martyrdom. He was so passionate about the word of God that he felt the urgent need and duty to communicate it to others, even at his own personal risk. … His ardent zeal for the Gospel never fails to impress me. At the age of 41 he left a beautiful and fruitful monastic life, the life of a monk and teacher, in order to proclaim the Gospel to the simple, to barbarians; once again, at the age of 80, he went to a region in which he foresaw his martyrdom. By comparing his ardent faith, this zeal for the Gospel, with our own often lukewarm and bureaucratized faith, we see what we must do and how to renew our faith, in order to give the precious pearl of the Gospel as a gift to our time.”
  • Tertullian said famously that the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians and Boniface’s blood shed in union with Christ’s was a firm foundation for many future generations of Christians throughout Germany and even Holland. Today as we come forward at Mass and God the Father decides to send us his Son, saying “They will respect my Son!,” let us embrace the Lord as he deserves, bear fruit in union with him as branches to the Vine, and go out like Tobit and St. Boniface to carry out all the works of mercy like burying the dead and teaching the ignorant.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 TB 1:3; 2:1A-8

I, Tobit, have walked all the days of my life
on the paths of truth and righteousness.
I performed many charitable works for my kinsmen and my people
who had been deported with me to Nineveh, in Assyria.
On our festival of Pentecost, the feast of Weeks,
a fine dinner was prepared for me, and I reclined to eat.
The table was set for me,
and when many different dishes were placed before me,
I said to my son Tobiah: “My son,
go out and try to find a poor man
from among our kinsmen exiled here in Nineveh.
If he is a sincere worshiper of God, bring him back with you,
so that he can share this meal with me.
Indeed, son, I shall wait for you to come back.”
Tobiah went out to look for some poor kinsman of ours.
When he returned he exclaimed, “Father!”
I said to him, “What is it, son?”
He answered, “Father, one of our people has been murdered!
His body lies in the market place where he was just strangled!”
I sprang to my feet, leaving the dinner untouched;
and I carried the dead man from the street
and put him in one of the rooms,
so that I might bury him after sunset.
Returning to my own quarters, I washed myself
and ate my food in sorrow.
I was reminded of the oracle
pronounced by the prophet Amos against Bethel:
“All your festivals shall be turned into mourning,
and all your songs into lamentation.”And I wept.
Then at sunset I went out, dug a grave, and buried him.

The neighbors mocked me, saying to one another:
“He is still not afraid!
Once before he was hunted down for execution
because of this very thing;
yet now that he has scarcely escaped,
here he is again burying the dead!”

Responsorial Psalm PS 112:1B-2, 3B-4, 5-6

R. (1b) Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
His generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia SEE REV 1:5AB

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ, you are the faithful witness,
the first born of the dead;
you have loved us and freed us from our sins by your Blood.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 12:1-12

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes,
and the elders in parables.
“A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey.
At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants
to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard.
But they seized him, beat him,
and sent him away empty-handed.
Again he sent them another servant.
And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully.
He sent yet another whom they killed.
So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed.
He had one other to send, a beloved son.
He sent him to them last of all, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
So they seized him and killed him,
and threw him out of the vineyard.
What then will the owner of the vineyard do?
He will come, put the tenants to death,
and give the vineyard to others.
Have you not read this Scripture passage:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes
?”
They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd,
for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them.
So they left him and went away.

St. Mary’s
Michigan City IN