Reading and Responding to the Signs of the Times, 29th Friday (I), October 27, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart
October 27, 2017
Rom 7:18-25, Ps 119, Lk 12:54-59

 

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

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today Jesus speaks about our reading the signs of the times spiritually as well as we do meteorologically, to know that all of Christian life is a journey to meet the “Magistrate” and to have us reconcile with God and with others, and do reparation and restitution, as we’re heading toward the court. He urges us to settle, to plead guilty, before we get to the court and receive the verdict. As St. John Chrysostom would say, now is the time of mercy; later is the time of justice.
  • Learning how to read the signs of the times is important to see what we need to do with regard to the experience of concupiscence St. Paul describes in today’s first reading. He says, “I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Despite the fact that he “take[s] delight in the law of God in my inner self,” he recognized “in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind.” Jesus had warned people of this battle between spirit and flesh, telling him that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Peter, we know, was willing to die for the Lord, but when push came to shove, he denied even knowing him. St. Paul was himself recognizing this battle between weak flesh and willing spirit. He struggled with it so much that he prayed at the end, “Miserable one that I am? Who will deliver me from this mortal body?”
  • Before we answer that question, we need highlight two things we find in the passage that are key to the Christian moral life. The first is that knowing is not enough. Plato once taught that all that we need to do the good is to know the good. But that’s not true because, like SS. Peter and Paul, we do not do the good we want, but we do the evil we do not want. As much as we say, “Lord, teach me your statutes” and he responds with that instruction, it’s not enough; we also need to win the battle to do what he says, having our spirit of obedience triumph over the weakness that makes obedience at times so hard. The second thing we learn is that not even resolutions alone are enough. We need to set them, to strengthen our will, but at the same time, it’s not enough for us to set them. Keeping them requires this same triumph over spirit over flesh.
  • So we come back to the question: “Who will deliver me from this mortal body?” There are three basic answers, one we get from the Gospel, and two we’ll get tomorrow, as we enter into one of the most important chapters in the Bible, Romans 8. The First is prayer. When Jesus told Peter in the Gospel that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, he gave him the medicine for that diagnosis: pray, therefore, that he would not undergo the test. We need to recognize our weakness and similarly turn to the Lord for help. Second is the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that whenever we ask the Father for anything, he sends the Holy Spirit: “If you who are evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” The Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask him for anything. It’s the Holy Spirit, as we’ll be hearing tomorrow and early next week, who helps us to lift up our hearts to the Lord, to set our minds on the things of the Lord, to discern the signs of the times and respond accordingly. The third thing we’ll also hear tomorrow: it’s to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and “put to death,” “mortify,” whatever in us is earthly, liberating ourselves by God’s grace precisely from that dominion of the flesh. It’s hard work. It’s the work of a lifetime. But it’s possible.
  • Today as we come forward, we grasp that the Lord wants to work the great miracle of strengthening our flesh to live according to the Holy Spirit. He sends the Holy Spirit to overshadow us just like he overshadows this altar: the total change of bread and wine into God is a sign of the power of transformation that the Holy Spirit can work likewise in our matter. As we read the signs of the times, we grasp that not only we’re heading toward the Judge but toward the Sun of Justice, rising with his healing rays.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 ROM 7:18-25A

Brothers and sisters:
I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells in me.
So, then, I discover the principle
that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.
For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self,
but I see in my members another principle
at war with the law of my mind,
taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Miserable one that I am!
Who will deliver me from this mortal body?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94

R. (68b) Lord, teach me your statutes.
Teach me wisdom and knowledge,
for in your commands I trust.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
You are good and bountiful;
teach me your statutes.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Never will I forget your precepts,
for through them you give me life.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

Alleluia SEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds,
“When you see a cloud rising in the west
you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does;
and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south
you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is.
You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate,
make an effort to settle the matter on the way;
otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge,
and the judge hand you over to the constable,
and the constable throw you into prison.
I say to you, you will not be released
until you have paid the last penny.”