Life According to the Spirit and Divine Filiation, 30th Monday (I), October 30, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Monday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass for those Suffering
October 30, 2017
Rom 8:12-17, Ps 16, Lk 13:10-17


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


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • To understand the contrast between Jesus and the leader of the synagogue with regard to the crippled woman in the Gospel, it is worthwhile to grasp the categories given to us by St. Paul in the first reading. And to do that, it’s important to understand it in context with what has come before in the first two weeks of this biennial month-long gift of the Letter to the Romans at daily Mass. We have already seen the distinction between those who view justification by grace received in faith working through love from those who depend fundamentally on their own works. If we had had the first reading on Saturday, we would have had the beginning of Chapter 8 of the Letter to the Romans, which is the fulcrum not only of this letter but in my opinion of the Christian life, the distinction between life according to the flesh and life according to the Holy Spirit. That’s advancing the same distinction we have had in previous chapters, between living according to ourselves in our fallenness or living by God and the power of his life. Today St. Paul advances that distinction, saying there is a difference between a spirit of slavery and one of adoption, between fear of God and filiation. The chief of the synagogue in the Gospel, like many of the scribes the Pharisees, basically approached the covenant as a bunch of laws rather than a relationship with a Legislator. They scrupulously wanted to keep to the letter of every prescription, but in doing so they missed the weightier aspects and put the focus on themselves and on their needs. Even though they knew that they couldn’t take the Sabbath off from caring for their animals, they failed to exercise similar charity toward a sick woman, criticizing Jesus for caring for her on the Sabbath. They so lacked a spirit of filiation that they failed to see in her a sister rather than a stranger, as someone far more valuable than all the oxen and donkeys in the world. They also failed to grasp the mind and heart of the Legislator, who happens to be God the Father, failing to see that he would never want us to give up acts of charity in order to honor him: we heard yesterday in Sunday Mass that we’re called to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength and, sharing God’s love, love our neighbor with all our mind, heart, soul and strength. Such acts of love are not only permitted on the Sabbath, but they are particularly made for the Sabbath.
  • The sabbath was made for the human person precisely to free us from the spirit of slavery. Four times God told the Jews through Moses that he had given the commandment to keep holy the Lord’s day because they “were once slaves in Egypt” (Deut 5:15, 15:15, 24:18, 24:22). It’s meant to help us to live in right relationship with God and others, to be freed from being owned by our work or what work can lead to. This is why Jesus that curing the woman on the sabbath was not only possible but “fitting,” since the Sabbath is a day of liberation! But the synagogue chief and many others failed to grasp this. And out of fear of the Lord who gave them the Sabbath, they neglected love of neighbor. Jesus came to liberate us from this slavery and help us live as sons in the Son. He came to do for us something even greater than what was done for the woman in the Gospel, curing us of our infirmities and helping us to stand erect before God and glorify him, lifting up our hearts, seeking with the power of the Holy Spirit the things that are above.
  • The mind-blowing beauty of this path of divine filiation is given to us at the end of today’s first reading when we realize — consistent with the adoption policies in the Roman empire in which the adopted child would assume all of the rights and responsibilities of natural children and if the adoptee was the oldest, all of the rights of primogeniture — that having been adopted by God the Father we become “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” But there’s one condition on this inheritance: “if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” For us to enter into the full inheritance, we must suffer, because without suffering we won’t grow to full stature as spiritual children, we won’t “put to death the deeds of the body.” St. John, in his first letter, testified to this same reality when he said, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. … Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Through living by the power of the Holy Spirit as adopted sons and daughters of God, we become gradually like him. And to be glorified with Christ, we must be exalted as he was on the Cross, which is a sign of a love that endures anything for God and for others. We need to suffer precisely so that the glory of God the Father’s love flowing through us as his adopted children might be revealed, the glory we got a glimpse of not simply by Christ’s curing the woman in the Gospel but by his willingness to suffer — and in fact, eventually be killed — in order to cure her on the Sabbath.
  • Today as we come forward to this chapel, Jesus wants to renew us in our spiritual of filiation so that together with him we might cry out, by the power of the Holy Spirit, “Abba Father!” He wants to heal of us our infirmities so that we can stand in his presence and glorify God the Father together with him. And it’s here that we receive, as a down payment on eternity, our greatest inheritance of all, God the Father’s greatest treasure, to become our spiritual food!

The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 Rom 8:12-17

Brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a spirit of adoption,
through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

Responsorial Psalm PS 68:2 and 4, 6-7ab, 20-21

R. (21a) Our God is the God of salvation.
God arises; his enemies are scattered,
and those who hate him flee before him.
But the just rejoice and exult before God;
they are glad and rejoice.
R. Our God is the God of salvation.
The father of orphans and the defender of widows
is God in his holy dwelling.
God gives a home to the forsaken;
he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
R. Our God is the God of salvation.
Blessed day by day be the Lord,
who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation.
God is a saving God for us;
the LORD, my Lord, controls the passageways of death.
R. Our God is the God of salvation.

Alleluia Jn 17:17b, 17a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 13:10-17

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
“There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the sabbath
untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.