The Urgency and Anguish of Christian Love, 30th Friday (I), October 30, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart
October 30, 2015
Rom 9:1-5, Ps 147, Lk 14:1-6

 

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

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Yesterday we pondered the incredible reality of God’s love, that God so loved us that he didn’t spare his own Son but allowed him to be crucified so that we might be saved. Today in the readings we see two aspects of that divine love we’re supposed to receive and then emulate.
  • The first is the urgency of love. Jesus wouldn’t wait until the following day to heal the man with dropsy, because the Sabbath day in particular was a day of the love of God and the love of neighbor. Various of the scribes and Pharisees began to conspire to get Jesus murdered precisely because of the “work” he did on the Sabbath, healing people, freeing them of infirmities, as if concrete acts of love toward others would displease God on the Lord’s Day. Jesus sought to help his listeners see that if something dear to them — a child, an animal — had fallen into a cistern, was injured, was in danger of drowning, they would immediately act. That’s the urgency with which he acts for us and our salvation, because he cares for us more than a parent cares for a child or a farmer cares for his animals. Many times we can put off charity toward our neighbor because they don’t concern us, because we don’t love them. Today is a day in which we are called to allow Jesus to love us and to become to love others with the same urgency, making every day, to some extent, a day of the Lord.
  • The second thing we learn about the divine love that is supposed to inform profoundly and totally the Christian life is about the anguish to bring others to experience God’s love. We begin today the second part of the Letter to the Romans. The first 8 chapters we’ve had over the last three weeks and we’ve pondered what it means to be justified before God and how the Holy Spirit seeks to bring that about. Chapters 9-11 are about God’s plan for the justification of the Jews, especially those who have rejected Jesus as Messiah. Unfortunately, the Church gives us only two days to ponder these three important chapters, today and tomorrow, but the truths there are especially key for us this week as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s decree Nostra Aetate, which, among other things, revolutionized the Church’s relationship with Jews and brought it back to what Paul writes about here. He says, “I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.” Just like Christ died for us, he was willing even to be cut off from Christ that the Jews come to salvation, so much did he love them. His heart was filled with anguish and sorrow because of their state, even though some of them were seeking to kill him as others had plotted — with all sinners of all time — to kill Christ. He loved them with the heart of Christ. He pondered all that God had given them: descendancy from Jacob, adoption as God’s children, his holy shekinah or glory, the covenants (with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David), the law, the worship at the Temple written out by him in Leviticus, the promises, the patriarchs and the genealogy of the Messiah. But his heart was filled with anguish because despite all that preparation, they had not embraced the fulfillment in Christ, in whom their is filiation, glory, the new and eternal covenant, the Legislator, true worship and the down payment on all God’s promises and all the hopes God had given the Jews. This anguish is what led him to become all things to all people, including to his fellow Jews, so that each might come to Christ. Later in these three chapters he will describe God’s plans for the salvation of the Jews, and it’s fundamentally, through seeing God’s goodness working among the Gentiles, they might come to embrace it and all will be saved. But Paul, and God, wishes all of us have a similar anguish of heart for the salvation of others, the anguish that beat in Paul’s heart and in Christ’s Sacred Heart.
  • The Church’s conciliar decree Nostra Aetate was released five weeks before the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, entitled Gaudium et Spes. The first line of the decree was: “Gaudium et spes, luctus et angor hominum huius temporis, pauperum praesertim et quorumvis afflictorum, gaudium sunt et spes, luctus et angor etiam Christi discipulorum, nihilque vere humanum invenitur, quod in corde eorum non resonate,” which can be translated, “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ; indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.” I’d just like to pull out those words “luctus et angor,” because those are precisely taken from St. Paul today, the sorrow and anguish, because that — with the joy and hope that comes from the Gospel — are how we as Christians are supposed to respond pastorally to the world.
  • Today as we come to this Mass, Jesus wants to give us a heart transplant so that our hearts might become like his. He wants to inspire us with urgency, with holy sorry and anguish, so that we might go out to fulfill his plan of salvation for everyone so that they might come to experience the fullness of his love and be healed of whatever keeps them from rejoicing forever in the eternal Lord’s day.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 ROM 9:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie;
my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness
that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ
for the sake of my own people,
my kindred according to the flesh.
They are children of Israel;
theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants,
the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;
theirs the patriarchs, and from them,
according to the flesh, is the Christ,
who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm PS 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Alleluia JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 14:1-6

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy.
Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking,
“Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?”
But they kept silent; so he took the man and,
after he had healed him, dismissed him.
Then he said to them
“Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern,
would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?”
But they were unable to answer his question.
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