Saved in Hope, 30th Tuesday (I), October 31, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Mission of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Tuesday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass for the Unity of Christians
October 31, 2017
Rom 8:18-25, Ps 126, Lk 13:18-21

 

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

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today we mark the 500th anniversary of the symbolic beginning of the Protestant Reformation with a Votive Mass for the Unity of Christians. If All Saints Day were not tomorrow, and we had the subsequent readings from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans as we normally would on Wednesday and Thursday of the 30th Week, Year I, we would ponder St. Paul’s words that all things work out for the good for those who love God, a reality made clear with what God did in response to Good Friday, bringing the greatest good out of the worst evil of all time: and if God didn’t even spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, we should have confidence that nothing in all of creation can separate us from God’s love in Jesus. Those are thoughts that can help us to frame this day. Division in the Church is lamentable and something for which we should do reparation. Christ prayed during the Last Supper for his believers to be one just as he and the Father are one so that the world may know that the Father sent him and loves us as much as he loves him (Jn 17). Division in the Church obscures those essential truths. But God wants to bring good out of it. We know he already has, in what happened at the Council of Trent and beyond, eliminating various abuses among the clergy, clarifying various doctoral points, and more. We can even say that the Protestant Reformation led to a much greater love for Sacred Scripture among the sons and daughters of God and that Protestant focus on the Word of God has been a leaven among all Christians.
  • We can look at today’s readings with regard to what we mark today. Previously in our prayer on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, we pondered St. Paul’s teaching — relevant in the history of the Church after the Reformation — that we are justified by God’s grace through faith working through love. This is a gift of the Holy Spirit and leads, as we saw earlier in this chapter, to life according to the Holy Spirit. Today we get an advance. St. Paul tells us that we are “saved in hope.” We’re justified, but that justification leads to a process of sanctification. We’ve received the gift but the gift must grow. Today in the Gospel we ponder that reality in the two images Jesus uses of the Kingdom of God, which is both now and not yet. Jesus says it’s among us but also something that we pray will come. Like a mustard seed, it is meant to grow. It’s still the kingdom, but it’s basically in embryonic form in a seed and late will come to full stature. Like leaven, a little of it will lift up the whole dough even when we can’t see it working. Once we understand this dynamic of the Kingdom we can more easily grasp what St. Paul is saying today. Yesterday, in the passage from his Epistle to the Romans, he said that we have already “received a spirit of adoption” but today he tells us “we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption.” He describes the whole process as “groaning in labor pains” and labor is an appropriate image. There’s a child waiting to be born; the child is the same before and after, but there is a massive change between the womb and the light. This is why St. Paul says that “in hope we were saved,” which means we are saved as we hope — what Pope Benedict would call in Spe Salvi “living with Christ in the world” — and are saved through hope, meaning by faith in the fulfillment of Christ’s promises.  Part of that salvation in hope happens through suffering, which are like labor pains. Pope Benedict in Spe Salvi had said, basing himself on the Letter to the Hebrews, that faith/hope is the substance of things hoped for and the guarantee of things not seen: there’s already something present that is meant to grow. And because of that substance, that presence as a mustard seed of what will flourish later, the early Christians were willing to suffer the plundering of their property because they had a better possession: namely the treasure of the faith that they already had, even if unfulfilled.
  • Today we can focus on that great hope. Cardinal Ratzinger was asked many years ago whether the Reformation was an act of the Holy Spirit. He said absolutely not, because the Holy Spirit brings about unity not division; nevertheless, he said that the Holy Spirit wants to bring good out of it and all of us need to trust him, because he sees the path that leads to unity that we as yet absolutely do not glimpse. And so we hope in him and in his work. Tomorrow, if it weren’t All Saints Day, we would have pondered Paul’s words that we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. We ask him to teach us how to pray as we ought for Church unity, uniting ourselves to Christ’s prayer in the upper room. He said elsewhere that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains. The kingdom of God is like that mustard seed that can translocate mountain ranges. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to pray with confidence for Christian unity, so that we might have yet another reason to say with today’s Psalm,  “The Lord has done marvels for us.”

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 Rom 8:18-25

Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility,
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that sees for itself is not hope.
For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

Responsorial Psalm PS 126:1b-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3a) The Lord has done marvels for us.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.

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 13:18-21

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like?
To what can I compare it?
It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.
When it was fully grown, it became a large bush
and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”
Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took
and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”