Living by Grace and Faith, Thursday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time (I), October 17, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Thursday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Martyr
October 17, 2013
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:

  • Jesus ferociously condemns the religious externalism of the Scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel. They built monuments to honor the prophets, but their fathers had killed the prophets; like even though they were keeping all types of religious practices they were plotting to have Jesus himself murdered. They had thrown away the key of knowledge — the real, living relationship with God himself, a God who changes us — and had both failed to enter the kingdom themselves but were preventing others from entering. They had become, as Pope Francis said this morning in the Vatican, ideologues, those who were living by “moral principles” or by the “law” but were no longer truly living in a relationship with God.
  • St. Paul was confronting a similar ideology among the Judaizing Christians in Rome. They thought that they were justified — made holy — fundamentally by their keeping the works of the Old Testament law. Paul stressed we’re justified first by grace (which means by God’s action, unmerited by us) and then by our response to God’s action, which is faith. It’s faith in God — not just a belief that he exists but a trust in Him to whom we commit our entire lives — that saves both Greek and Jew, uncircumcised and circumcised. Pope Francis says that they way we don’t allow our practice of religion to become an ideology by which we live is through living faith which always opens itself up in true prayer, not just “saying prayers” but actually opening ourselves up to a real, living relationship with God who speaks to us, and to whom we speak with praise, gratitude, contrition, intercession and petition.
  • St. Ignatius of Antioch whom the Church celebrates today was a true Christian by faith. When he was being brought to Rome to be martyred, he wrote a letter to the Christians there whom he thought might try to intervene to save his life. He said he was afraid of their love, lest it should harm him. He was a Christian in name, but wanted to be proved under trial to be a Christian in deed. He wanted to be ground to death by the lions as wheat so that he could become “pure bread,” so that he could unite himself totally to Jesus’ sacrifice in the Eucharist. That’s when, he wrote, he would truly become a disciple, when he would be living totally by faith in God and knowing that after his martyrdom, he would be united with God forever. Likewise, we’re called to be Christians not just in name, but in deed, and the way we become true Christians is when we live by a faith that flourishes in deeds of faith, hope and love. Today we ask St. Ignatius to intercede for us that we may be faithful and courageous, so that we might not build monuments to slain prophets and martyrs after they’re dead, but ourselves become so united with Christ’s sacrifice that others may build altars with our relics within.


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.

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.