Fr. Roger J. Landry
Woodlands Academy, Dublin Ireland
Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Votive Mass of Holy Mary, Handmaid of the Lord
July 2, 2016
Amos 9:11-15, Ps 85, Mt 9:14-17
To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below:
To following points were made in today’s homily:
- In today’s first reading, the Lord prophesies through Amos preaching in the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th Century BC that after all of the sufferings that the Israelites have been hearing Amos prophesy as a result of their systematic infidelity and injustice, God has him tell them of his plan for mercy if they accept it. He promises to “raise up the fallen hut of David … and rebuild it as in the days of old.” He promises that “the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the vintager, him who sows the seed; the juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run.” Those are incredible images, saying that people will not be able to plant or crush grapes fast enough and that there will be tremendous fruit and joy, like grapes running down a mountain.
- In the Gospel, we see how all of this would be fulfilled. Jesus uses two images to describe how his people need to receive and respond the fulfillment of Amos’ prophecies. The first image is that of a patch. He says no one sews a new patch on an old set of clothing, because the new patch when it shrinks will tear the old fabric. Jesus has come not to patch up the difficulties in Judaism, but rather to give us new clothing. He has come to clothe us in himself. He has come to give us a baptismal garment, which is the garment that the sons and the daughters of the wedding chamber — whom he refers shouldn’t be mourning but celebrating, not fasting but feasting — are to wear eternally. Jesus is describing a revolutionary newness to the way we are supposed to relate to him. He is not coming to bring us from 95 to 100. He is coming to give us a new life. But we need a new receptivity to be able to embrace that gift. We also see that Jesus uses the word “fullness” in his expression of how the fullness of the patch will lead to the tearing. Jesus is that fullness. He contains all of God’s divinity. And we need to be the proper type of receptacle in order to receive that fullness. We see who that receptacle resembles in the one God chose to be the mother of his son in the fullness of his divinity and our humanity. Mary, whose votive Mass we celebrate today, is that new person who could receive what God wanted to give. And that leads us to the second image of Jesus employs. Jesus says that we do not pour new wine into old wineskins; we need new wine skins that will breathe as the new wine is fermenting so that neither wine nor wineskins will be lost. Jesus is describing for us that we need to receive him who is the new wine in a totally different way that many of the Jews were. Receiving the new wine of his new life is not going to work in the taut wineskins of a rigid Judaism. What is needed is the fullness of a new form of the worship of God that Jesus is giving, bringing to fulfillment what he had revealed to the Jews in days prior.
- And when we receive this new set of clothes and drink of the wine flowing down the mountain we’re called to rejoice. That’s what Jesus mentions in the first half of today’s Gospel. Yesterday, as you remember, we had the scene of Jesus eating in the house of St. Matthew surrounded by sinners. The Pharisees were disgusted that Jesus would convene with sinners in such a way. The disciples of St. John the Baptist, unlike the Pharisees, did not immediately presumed Jesus to be in the wrong. They didn’t accuse him personally but they came to him and asked why his disciples were not fasting as they fasted with John and as the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. They didn’t dare accuse Jesus of not fasting, because they respectfully thought that he might be exceptional to what everyone else was doing. But they asked about the fact that Jesus disciples were sharing feasts with that sinners rather than fasting. Jesus in response gave a very important principle. But in order to understand the principle, we need to understand the Greek of St. Matthew’s Gospel. In the English translation it’s called “wedding guests,” but in the original Greek the more literal transliteration would be “sons of the bridal chamber.” Jesus asks how the groomsmen, how the bridesmaids, how those who are the closest of all to the bride and groom could possibly be fasting while the wedding celebration was ongoing. It would almost be sinful to fast, to mourn, when such a wedding feast is going on. And Jesus was describing that while he is with us, as he is fulfilling what Amos predicted, we should be full of joy, we should be feasting, we should be celebrating, and we should be happy to share the table with those who likewise want to share in the joy of the bridegroom, who is also the Divine physician, who would come to take our sins away and make an eternal celebration possible. By this image, Jesus is describing the type of joy he wants all of us to have as routine aspect of who we are. He would say later in this same Gospel passage, when the bridegroom is taken away from them — in the firm to take away is the same verb that would be used to describe the action of ripping Jesus out of the Garden of Gethsemane — it is then that we will fast. We will fast not the way others fasted, but we will fast in order to hunger for what God wants to give us as our nourishment, in order to enter into the passion of Jesus so that we might be able to receive the joy-filled fruits of that Paschal mystery.
- The one who shows us this joy, this receptivity, this newness portrayed in the new garments and new wineskins necessary to receive new patches and new wine, if our Lady. We know she was “full of grace,” because she was “full of God.” Her response was a perpetual fiat. It’s sin that tears a whole in clothing or in wineskins. It’s sin that makes clothes and wineskins tired, old and rigid. Mary’s sinless kept her always young, freely receptive to what God was doing. We call her the “cause of our joy” not only because she gave us the one who told us he was coming into the world so that his joy might be ours and our joy complete, but because she was always united with the Lord. Even when was ripped away, she went intentionally with him, so that where he was, she sought to be. We ask her intercession today that as we receive Jesus in Holy Communion and enter into a union with him as branches on the wine, we may so receive his gifts our baptismal garment and holy receptivity that we may allow his “wine” to flow through us and run up and down the mountains and valleys of the world!
The readings for today’s Mass were:
Reading 1 AM 9:11-15
On that day I will raise up
the fallen hut of David;
I will wall up its breaches,
raise up its ruins,
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
That they may conquer what is left of Edom
and all the nations that shall bear my name,
say I, the LORD, who will do this.
Yes, days are coming,
says the LORD,
When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
and the vintager, him who sows the seed;
The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains,
and all the hills shall run with it.
I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel;
they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities,
Plant vineyards and drink the wine,
set out gardens and eat the fruits.
I will plant them upon their own ground;
never again shall they be plucked
From the land I have given them,
say I, the LORD, your God.
Responsorial Psalm PS 85:9AB AND 10, 11-12, 13-14
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
Alleluia JN 10:27
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MT 9:14-17
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.
No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth,
for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse.
People do not put new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined.
Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”