The Faith That Solicits Miracles, Thirteenth Thursday (I), July 2, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass for Those Under Persecution for the Christian Faith
July 2, 2015
Gen 22:1-19, Ps 115, Mt 9:1-8

 

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

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today’s readings continue a week focusing on faith: the faith of Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage, the need to grow in faith in the boat, the faith of SS. Peter and Paul, and the faith of Abraham. Today we have two great lessons in faith.
  • The first is the expression of the death of Abraham’s faith, which is shown in his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, knowing that even should Isaac be slain, God would raise him from the dead since God had declared that Isaac was the son of the promise through whom Abraham would become the father of many nations. His is a faith that believes in God even and especially when our faith challenges all our human and paternal instincts. It’s a faith that God wants us to emulate.
  • We also see the faith of the four friends of the paralyzed man. We don’t know how far they carried their friend on a stretcher, but that’s not easy work no matter the distance. They wanted to bring their friend in need to Jesus. When the house was packed where Jesus was, rather than waiting, they did the very difficult thing of lifting their paralyzed pal up onto the roof. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to balance a paraplegic or a quadriplegic, but they did it to get him up onto the roof on a stretcher, and after they had opened up the roof, to lower him down without having him fall on their head. What a scene the whole thing must have been, but they were not to be stopped — or frankly delayed. And Jesus went far beyond what they were asking, healing the man’s sins and then healing the man’s paralysis. It’s a reminder to us that in faith we ought to be seeking to bring our friends with all their needs to Jesus to let him surpass even our hopes for them.
  • Today we can also ponder the faith of the persecuted Christians throughout the world for whom we are celebrating today a votive Mass. They are showing us that faith in Christ is consequential, that we would rather die than sin, that we believe that should we need to pay the supreme sacrifice out of love for Christ than he paid out of love for us, we will be united with him instantaneously. This is the faith we’re seeing throughout the middle east in those terrorized by ISIS. We’re seeing it in Africa where people are hunted by the Boko Haram. We’re seeing it in China, North Korea, various countries of the Middle East, and we likely will start to see more of it in our country after the disgraceful Obergefell decision of the Supreme Court last Friday which will create the cultural pressure for us to betray Christ and his teachings about chaste love and marriage and conform to the sexual revolution — or else. This will be a time that our faith will be tested, like Abraham’s and the friends of the paralyzed man, but God will give us the grace like he gave them to pass the test.
  • Today as we come to Mass we encounter the fulfillment of the sacrifice of Abraham, when another Son carried the wood of the Sacrifice, when God provided the Lamb, and when God didn’t stop this Son from being slain, because he knew he would raise him from the dead. It’s this Son we receive at Mass, and hope to receive in faith.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 Gn 22:1b-19

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the burnt offering,
set out for the place of which God had told him.On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants: “Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering
and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” he said.
“Yes, son,” he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.”
Then the two continued going forward.When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”
Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing—all this because you obeyed my command.”

Abraham then returned to his servants,
and they set out together for Beer-sheba,
where Abraham made his home.

Responsorial Psalm PS 115:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R. (9) I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name give glory
because of your kindness, because of your truth.
Why should the pagans say,
“Where is their God?”
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Our God is in heaven;
whatever he wills, he does.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the handiwork of men.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
They have mouths but speak not;
they have eyes but see not;
They have ears but hear not;
they have noses but smell not.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Their makers shall be like them,
everyone who trusts in them.
The house of Israel trusts in the LORD;
he is their help and their shield.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia 2 Cor 5:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
:Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he then said to the paralytic,
“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.
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