Sunday, September 14, 2014

Exaltation of the Cross

Ground Zero, May 2004 photo by Don A. Gonzalez
John 3:13–17
13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in ten (10) different paragraphs of the Catechism.
Commentary:
3:13. This is a formal declaration of the divinity of Jesus. No one has gone up into heaven and, therefore, no one can have perfect knowledge of God’s secrets, except God himself who became man and came down from heaven—Jesus, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of man foretold in the Old Testament (cf. Dan 7:13), to whom has been given eternal lordship over all peoples.

The Word does not stop being God on becoming man: even when he is on earth as man, he is in heaven as God. It is only after the Resurrection and the Ascension that Jesus is in heaven as man also.

3:14–15. The bronze serpent which Moses set up on a pole was established by God to cure those who had been bitten by the poisonous serpents in the desert (cf. Num 21:8–9). Jesus compares this with his crucifixion, to show the value of his being raised up on the cross: those who look on him with faith can obtain salvation. We could say that the good thief was the first to experience the saving power of Christ on the cross: he saw the crucified Jesus, the King of Israel, the Messiah, and was immediately promised that he would be in Paradise that very day (cf. Lk 23:39–43).

The Son of God took on our human nature to make known the hidden mystery of God’s own life (cf. Mk 4:11; Jn 1:18; 3:1–13; Eph 3:9) and to free from sin and death those who look at him with faith and love and who accept the cross of every day.

The faith of which our Lord speaks is not just intellectual acceptance of the truths he has taught: it involves recognizing him as Son of God (cf. 1 Jn 5:1), sharing his very life (cf. Jn 1:12) and surrendering ourselves out of love and therefore becoming like him (cf. Jn 10:27; 1 Jn 3:2). But this faith is a gift of God (cf. Jn 3:3, 5–8), and we should ask him to strengthen it and increase it as the Apostles did: Lord “increase our faith!” (Lk 17:5). While faith is a supernatural, free gift, it is also a virtue, a good habit, which a person can practise and thereby develop: so the Christian, who already has the divine gift of faith, needs with the help of grace to make explicit acts of faith in order to make this virtue grow.

3:16–21. These words, so charged with meaning, summarize how Christ’s death is the supreme sign of God’s love for men (cf. the section on charity, pp. 30ff above). “ ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son’ for its salvation. All our religion is a revelation of God’s kindness, mercy and love for us. ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:16), that is, love poured forth unsparingly. All is summed up in this supreme truth, which explains and illuminates everything. The story of Jesus must be seen in this light. ‘(He) loved me’, St Paul writes. Each of us can and must repeat it for himself—‘He loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20)” (Paul VI, Homily on Corpus Christi, 13 June 1976).

Christ’s self-surrender is a pressing call to respond to his great love for us: “If it is true that God has created us, that he has redeemed us, that he loves us so much that he has given up his only-begotten Son for us (cf. Jn 3:16), that he waits for us—every day!—as eagerly as the father of the prodigal son did (cf. Lk 15:11–32), how can we doubt that he wants us to respond to him with all our love? The strange thing would be not to talk to God, to draw away and forget him, and busy ourselves in activities which are closed to the constant promptings of his grace” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 251).

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This […] is why Christ the Redeemer ‘fully reveals man to himself’. If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. […] The one who wishes to understand himself thoroughly […] must, with his unrest and uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must ‘appropriate’ and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself. How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he ‘gained so great a Redeemer’ (Roman Missal, Exultet at Easter Vigil), and if God ‘gave his only Son’ in order that man ‘should not perish but have eternal life’. […]

“Increasingly contemplating the whole of Christ’s mystery, the Church knows with all the certainty of faith that the Redemption that took place through the Cross has definitively restored his dignity to man and given back meaning to his life in the world, a meaning that was lost to a considerable extent because of sin. And for that reason, the Redemption was accomplished in the paschal mystery, leading through the Cross and death to Resurrection” (John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, 10).

Jesus demands that we have faith in him as a first prerequisite to sharing in his love. Faith brings us out of darkness into the light, and sets us on the road to salvation. “He who does not believe is condemned already” (v. 18). “The words of Christ are at once words of judgment and grace, of life and death. For it is only by putting to death that which is old that we can come to newness of life. Now, although this refers primarily to people, it is also true of various worldly goods which bear the mark both of man’s sin and the blessing of God. […] No one is freed from sin by himself or by his own efforts, no one is raised above himself or completely delivered from his own weakness, solitude or slavery; all have need of Christ, who is the model, master, liberator, saviour, and giver of life. Even in the secular history of mankind the Gospel has acted as a leaven in the interests of liberty and progress, and it always offers itself as a leaven with regard to brotherhood, unity and peace” (Vatican II, Ad gentes, 8).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Navarre Bible Commentary:
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

From St. Josemaria Escriva Info
Matthew 18:15–20
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”


Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in fourteen (14) different paragraphs of the Catechism.
Commentary:
Fraternal correction. The apostles’ authority
18:15–17. Here our Lord calls on us to work with him for the sanctification of others by means of fraternal correction, which is one of the ways we can do so. He speaks as sternly about the sin of omission as he did about that of scandal (cf. Chrysostom, Hom. on St Matthew, 61).


There is an obligation on us to correct others. Our Lord identifies three stages in correction: 1) alone; 2) in the presence of one or two witnesses; and 3) before the Church. The first stage refers to causing scandal and to secret or private sins; here correction should be given privately, just to the person himself, to avoid unnecessarily publicizing a private matter and also to avoid hurting the person and to make it easier for him to mend his ways. If this correction does not have the desired effect, and the matter is a serious one, resort should be had to the second stage—looking for one or two friends, in case they have more influence on him. The last stage is formal judicial correction by reference to the Church authorities. If a sinner does not accept this correction, he should be excommunicated that is, separated from communion with the Church and sacraments.


18:18. This verse needs to be understood in connexion with the authority previously promised to Peter (cf. Mt 16:13–19): it is the hierarchy of the Church that exercises this power given by Christ to Peter, to the apostles and their lawful successors—the Pope and the bishops.


18:19–20. “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est: where charity and love resides, there God is”, the Holy Thursday liturgy entones, drawing its inspiration from the sacred text of 1 Jn 4:12. For it is true that love is inconceivable if there is only one person: it implies the presence of two or more (cf. St Thomas Aquinas, Comm. on St Matthew, 18:19–20). And so it is that when Christians meet together in the name of Christ for the purpose of prayer, our Lord is present among them, pleased to listen to the unanimous prayer of his disciples: “All those with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14). This is why the Church from the very beginning has practised communal prayer (cf. Acts 12:5). There are religious practices—few, short, daily “that have always been lived in Christian families and which I think are marvellous—grace at meals, morning and night prayers, the family rosary (even though nowadays this devotion to our Lady has been criticized by some people). Customs vary from place to place, but I think one should always encourage some acts of piety which the family can do together in a simple and natural fashion” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Conversations, 103).


Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.


Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Saturday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 6:1–5
1 On a sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath?” 3 And Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” 5 And he said to them, “The Son of man is lord of the sabbath.”

Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are not cited in the Catechism.
Commentary:
The law of the sabbath
6:1–5. Accused by the Pharisees of breaking the sabbath, Jesus explains the correct way of understanding the sabbath rest, using an example from the Old Testament. And, by stating that he is “Lord of the sabbath” he is openly revealing that he is God himself, for it was God who gave this precept to the people of Israel. For more on this, see the notes on Mt 12:2 and 12:3–8.

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Friday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Via Terrace Palms
Luke 5:33–39
33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He told them a parable also: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are not cited in the Catechism.
Commentary:
A discussion on fasting
5:33–35. In the Old Testament God established certain days as days of fasting—the main one being the “day of atonement” (Num 29:7; Acts 27:9). Fasting implied total or partial abstinence from food or drink. Moses and Elijah fasted (Ex 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8) and our Lord himself fasted in the desert for forty days before beginning his public ministry. In the present passage Jesus gives a deeper meaning to the word “fasting”—the deprivation of his physical presence which his apostles would experience after his death. All through his public life Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for the final parting. At first the apostles were not very robust and Christ’s physical presence did them more good than the practice of fasting.

Christians should sometimes abstain from food. “Fast and abstain from flesh meat when Holy Mother Church so ordains” (St Pius X, Catechism, 495). That is the purpose of the fourth commandment of the Church, but it has a deeper meaning, as St Leo the Great tells us: “The merit of our fasts does not consist only in abstinence from food; there is no use in depriving the body of nourishment if the soul does not cut itself off from iniquity and if the tongue does not cease to speak evil” (Sermo IV in Quadragesima).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Thursday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 5:1–11
1 While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. 2 And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, 7 they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism paragraph 208.
Commentary:
The miraculous catch of fish and the calling of the first disciples
5:1. “Just as they do today! Can’t you see? They want to hear God’s message, even though outwardly they may not show it. Some perhaps have forgotten Christ’s teachings. Others, through no fault of their own, have never known them and they think that religion is something odd. But of this we can be sure, that in every man’s life there comes a time sooner or later when his soul draws the line. He has had enough of the usual explanations. The lies of the false prophets no longer satisfy. Even though they may not admit it at the time, such people are longing to quench their thirst with the teachings of our Lord” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 260).

5:3. The Fathers saw in Simon’s boat a symbol of the pilgrim Church on earth. “This is the boat which according to St Matthew was in danger of sinking and according to St Luke was filled with fish. Here we can see the difficult beginnings of the Church and its later fruitfulness” (St Ambrose, Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc.). Christ gets into the boat in order to teach the crowds—and from the barque of Peter, the Church, he continues to teach the whole world.

Each of us can also see himself as this boat Christ uses for preaching. Externally no change is evident: “What has changed? There is a change inside our soul, now that Christ has come aboard, as he went aboard Peter’s boat. Its horizon has opened wider. It feels a greater ambition to serve and an irrepressible desire to tell all creation about the magnalia Dei (Acts 2:11), the marvellous doings of our Lord, if only we let him work” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 265).

5:4. “When he had finished his catechising, he told Simon: ‘Put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a catch’ (Lk 5:4). Christ is the master of this boat. He it is who prepares the fishing. It is for this that he has come into the world, to do all he can so that his brothers may find the way to glory and to the love of the Father” (Friends of God, 260). To carry this task out, our Lord charges all of them to cast their nets, but it is only Peter he tells to put out into the deep.

This whole passage refers in some way to the life of the Church. In the Church the bishop of Rome, Peter’s successor, “is the vicar of Jesus Christ because he represents him on earth and acts for him in the government of the Church” (St Pius X, Catechism, 195). Christ is also addressing each one of us, urging us to be daring in apostolate: “ ‘Duc in altum—Put out into deep water!’ Cast aside the pessimism that makes a coward of you. ‘Et laxate retia vestra in capturam—And lower your nets for a catch.’ Don’t you see that, as Peter said: ‘In nomine tuo, laxabo rete—At your word I will lower the net’, you can say, Jesus, in your name, I will seek souls!” (St J. Escrivá, The Way, 792).

“If you were to fall into the temptation of wondering, ‘Who’s telling me to embark on this?’ we would have to reply, ‘Christ himself is telling you, is begging you.’ ‘The harvest is plentiful enough, but the labourers are few. You must ask the Lord to whom the harvest belongs to send labourers out for the harvesting’ (Mt 9:37–38). Don’t take the easy way out. Don’t say, ‘I’m no good at this sort of thing; there are others who can do it; it isn’t my line.’ No, for this sort of thing, there is no one else: if you could get away with that argument, so could everyone else. Christ’s plea is addressed to each and every Christian. No one can consider himself excused, for whatever reason—age, health or occupation. There are no excuses whatsoever. Either we carry out a fruitful apostolate, or our faith will prove barren” (Friends of God, 272).

5:5. When Christ gives him these instructions, Peter states the difficulties involved. “A reasonable enough reply. The night hours were their normal time for fishing, and this time the catch had yielded nothing. What was the point of fishing by day? But Peter has faith: ‘But at your word I will let down the nets’ (Lk 5:5). He decides to act on Christ’s suggestion. He undertakes the work relying entirely on the word of our Lord” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 261).

5:8. Peter does not want Christ to leave him; aware of his sins, he declares his unworthiness to be near Christ. This reminds us of the attitude of the centurion who confesses his unworthiness to receive Jesus into his house (cf. Mt 8:8). The Church requires her children to repeat these exact words of the centurion before receiving the Blessed Eucharist. She also teaches us to show due external reverence to the Blessed Sacrament when going to Communion: by falling down on his knees Peter also shows that internal adoration of God should also be expressed externally.

5:11. Perfection is not simply a matter of leaving all things but of doing so in order to follow Christ—which is what the apostles did: they gave up everything in order to be available to do what God’s calling involved.

We should develop this attitude of availability, for “Jesus is never satisfied ‘sharing’: he wants all” (St Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 155).

If we don’t give ourselves generously we will find it very difficult to follow Jesus: “Detach yourself from people and things until you are stripped of them. For, says Pope Saint Gregory, the devil has nothing of his own in this world, and he goes into battle naked. If you are clothed when you fight him, you will soon be pulled to the ground, because he will have something to grab on to” (The Way, 149).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome