The Lord’s Labor and Ours, Monday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (I), September 2, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Monday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Year I
Labor Day — Mass for the Sanctification of Human Labor
September 2, 2013
1 Thess 4:13-18, Ps 96, Lk 4:16-30

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

 

The following points were attempted in this homily:

  •  Today on this Labor Day, we see Jesus’ own description in today’s scene in the Nazarene Synagogue. He work is to fulfill Scripture in our hearing, the long awaited prophecies of the work of the Messiah, to enrich the poor, to liberate the captives from slavery to sin, give sight to those who don’t see with faith, to free those oppressed with burdens, and to announce an unending year of the Lord’s favor brought by the presence of the Lord. The Lord’s principle work is the Incarnation, to be with us in the world, saving us.
  • One of those in Nazareth accepted that mission and allowed the Lord to do his work within her, Mary. Many of the rest were initially amazed at Jesus’ words, but didn’t want him to do that work. They went from amazement, to incredulity, to doubt, to murderous thoughts and actions. We are Jesus’ family, even more than the Nazarenes, but we, like Mary, need to allow him to do his work in us.
  • One of the works Jesus does in us happens at the death of a loved one, which is what St. Paul talks about in the first reading. We Christians grieve, but differently than the rest, because we grieve with hope, we grieve with Christ in the world, allowing him to bring his words about anyone who lives and dies in him will never die to fulfillment.
  • We also need to allow Jesus to work in us through our work. Work is part of our vocation from before the Fall, and it is by means of work — increasing and multiplying, filling the earth and subduing it, having dominion over all creatures — that God wants us to sanctify ourselves and others as we offer to the Lord our work as a sacrifice of Abel, united to Christ’s work in the Mass each day. Some of us allow the Lord to work in us today. Others, get tempted by the devil, to alienate our work from God, from his incarnation; or to succumb to the temptation to think that we’re really not supposed to work, but just to live off of the work of others, letting others love us through their work rather than sacrifice for them out of ours; or that the meaning of human life is to retire early so that we can spend our lives on a golf course. Jesus said in St. John’s Gospel that the Father and He are always working. And so we need to let them work in us and we need to collaborate with them.
  • There’s a famous story of the response of a mason during the building of Chartres Cathedral. When he was asked what he was doing — a question about the actual technique he was using as a mason — he replied, “I am building Chartres Cathedral.” He knew that his mason work, most of which would remain hidden to eyes of his contemporaries, not to mention to those in the future, was part of the overall work of building what would become the greatest Gothic Cathedral ever. Likewise, if we’re asked today what we’re doing, we should be able to respond with a similar wisdom: “I am helping Jesus to save the human race.” That’s the meaning of our work and of our whole Christian life. That’s the work the Incarnate Son of God is trying to accomplish in us.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1

1 THES 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 96:1 AND 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13

R. (13b) The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought,
but the LORD made the heavens.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.

Gospel
LK 4:16-30

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”
And he said,
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.