The Call to Continual Conversion, Wednesday of the 21st Week of Ordinary Time (I), August 28, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Wednesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor
August 28, 2013
1 Thess 2:9-13, Ps 139, Mt 23:27-32

To listen to an audio of this homily, please click: 


The following points were attempted in the homily:

  •  All of Jesus’ strong words to the Pharisees and Scribes were meant to call them to conversion. In these last two castigations, he summed up his argument. They were dead on the inside, that despite their seeming external vitality, they were so full of death on the inside that they would end up conspiring to kill Jesus, just like their ancestors murdered the prophets.
  • Likewise, St. Paul’s work in Thessalonika was to call them to conversion and he rejoiced that they received that appeal not as the words of men but as it really was, the word of God, converted and now were living in a manner worthy of the kingdom.
  • That brings us to St. Augustine, whose feast the Church celebrates today, one of the greatest converts of all time. But his conversion was not just a one-time thing to live in the light rather than the darkness of debauchery, orgies, drunkenness and carousing (Rom 13), but also to serve others and to recognize that all things come from God’s mercy. St. Augustine’s three great conversions, as Pope Benedict spoke about at his tomb in Pavia, Italy, in 2007, are a sign of our need for continual conversion, too.
  • St. Augustine realized late in life, even many years after his most famous conversion at the age of 32, that he really hadn’t loved the Lord adequately. He wrote perhaps the most famous passage in hagiography and one of the most beautiful ever written: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you. You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”
  • In this Year of Faith, as the encyclical Lumen Fidei described, we’re called to a new form of hearing and allow God to shout through our deafness. We’re called to a new form of seeing, as the Lord flashes and shines his lightning around us. We’re called to a new form of touching, as we allow the Lord to change us through even our noses breathing his fragrance and our tongues stoking our hunger. He touches us with his peace and we’re called to burn for the peace Christ brings. That’s the conversion asked of us in this Year of Faith.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
1 THES 2:9-13

You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery.
Working night and day in order not to burden any of you,
we proclaimed to you the Gospel of God.
You are witnesses, and so is God,
how devoutly and justly and blamelessly
we behaved toward you believers.
As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children,
exhorting and encouraging you and insisting
that you walk in a manner worthy of the God
who calls you into his Kingdom and glory.And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us,
you received it not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God,
which is now at work in you who believe.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 139:7-8, 9-10, 11-12AB

R. (1) You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand hold me fast.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”–
For you darkness itself is not dark,
and night shines as the day.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.

MT 23:27-32

Jesus said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You build the tombs of the prophets
and adorn the memorials of the righteous,
and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’
Thus you bear witness against yourselves
that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;
now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”