We Adore Thee Corpus Christi

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“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54). In the beginning, God who is eternal spoke the Word and there came into being all that He saw and considered good. How glorious and indescribably overwhelming to even begin to discover the joy creation might have experienced when it came into being by the sound of the voice of The Almighty God. This same Word, which was with God, became incarnate as man, taking the species of flesh, blood and soul. Through His salvific purpose on earth, Jesus, fully God and fully Man, gave purpose to man’s grafting into the vine that is holy and everlasting. The Body and Blood of God Incarnate – Jesus, is the Word that became flesh.

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The feast of Corpus Christi is the celebration of the reality of God present in the lives of baptized Catholics, around them and within them, not only for the nourishment of their body and soul, but also as the source of Divine Utterance from the mouth of The Father, constantly at work, creating all things new, and with a sigh of immeasurable contentment saying, “it is good” (Genesis 1:31). Jesus gave us His body and blood not as a symbolic gesture for intellectual or spiritual contemplation, but rather fundamentally as life to our soul that falls victim to the fatal corruption of sin.

St. Catherine of Siena was invited to drink the Precious Blood of Jesus, which flowed from His side.  After drinking from the Fountain of His Precious Blood, she could not eat or drink anything more.  For seven years before her death she lived on no food but Our Lord in the Eucharist.  She was not hungry, but remained active and strong.

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One of the most well known attitudes towards the real presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is the attitude of disbelief. Many believers and unbelievers throughout the ages have either lacked faith or trust in the actual, real and living presence of Jesus in flesh and blood in the species of the consecrated host. There have been numerous incidents around the globe where our dear Blessed Lord Jesus has been gracious enough to reveal the glory of His human nature in it’s very species of flesh and blood, within the transubstantiated Eucharistic bread.

A hardened heretic in the region of Tolosa challenged St. Anthony that if he can prove with a miracle that in the Eucharist of believers there is, however hidden it may be, the true body of Christ, he will renounce every heresy and submit myself to the Catholic faith. He said that if his mule, which he would starve for 3 days, ignored the fodder and rushes to adore the living body of Jesus in the host, and then he will instantly convert. St. Anthony agreed. Finally, asking for silence the man of God said to the animal with great faith: “In the name of virtue and the Creator, who I, although unworthy, am carrying in my hands, I ask you, o beast, and I order to come closer quickly and with humility and to show just veneration, so that the malevolent heretics will learn from this gesture that every creature is subject to the Lord, as held in the hands with priestly dignity on the altar”.

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God’s servant had hardly finished speaking, when the animal, ignoring the fodder, knelt down and lowered his head to the floor, thus genuflecting before the living sacrament of the body of Christ. The faithful were filled with uncontrollable joy, and the heretic, renounced the his doctrine in front of all present, and from then on was obedient to the precepts of the holy Church (Benignitas16,6-17).

As the Church of Christ Jesus acknowledges the real presence of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, she ‘proclaims his death and resurrection until He comes again’ – Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I. She celebrates the meal, which assures eternal sustenance of the soul and life everlasting with The Trinity. The reality of a Catholic life is immersed as well as illuminated in the radical reality of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the species of the Holy Eucharist. Without this reality there is no Catholic faith, without the Catholic faith there is no hope for eternal life with the One True Eternal God.

With heartfelt gratitude to Pope Urban who instituted the feast of Corpus Christi and to St. Thomas Aquinas for his venerable work in praise and adoration to this glorious feast, I wish you all very Happy Feast of Corpus Christi.

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Love ascends with glory

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Reflection on the Gospel, John 17:11-19

The Ascending of Our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven is a glorious precursor to His indescribable Descending on earth on the Final Day. Swaddling clothes were the robes that adorned the King of heaven and earth when He became God incarnate and lay in a poor manger at His birth. In the moment of His Ascension the majestic clouds, which kiss the mighty sun and cradle the tranquil moon, had the privilege to be luminous garments for it’s Creator’s triumphant entrée into The Father’s court. While the Angels escorted their Lord and Master into His heavenly Kingdom, every essence of their being would have exclaimed an ecstasy of unimaginable joy and awe.

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The earth’s sod that rejoiced when the Holy of Holies; Jesus strolled upon it. As He ascends Himself up to the heavens as the Risen Lord who defeated Death in its face, every grain of this soil also rejoices for being healed by the shedding of every drop of His immaculate blood on it during His passion and death.

Jesus ascends into heaven, not to abandon the world that He redeemed, but rather to present it to the Father for His full embrace that would last for all eternity. He assures us of His real presence here on earth even as He takes His rightful place with The Father. He manifests that great love by praying to His Father that He may keep us all one just as He and The Father are one, protecting us from the Evil One and ratifying that we do not belong to the world anymore, no more than He belongs to it.

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‘The consecration’ which Christ makes to His loving and merciful Father exemplifies His constant protection and counsel for us. Jesus consecrates the world in Truth. During His mission on earth He proclaimed Himself as “The Truth…” (Jn 14:6). He also said “The Father and I are One” (Jn 10:30). Consecration to the Truth is consecration to the undeniable and unfathomable unity of The Father and The Son and also The Spirit who is the light of this Truth. The Prince of Darkness charged his mortal assault on The Light of all Nations, but failed in the conquest precisely because Truth pierces victoriously through every shield of lie. By this consecration in Truth; Jesus establishes The Kingdom’s coat of arms to be the Trinity itself. It therefore calls upon every baptized Christian to be a Testimony to this salvific Truth that radiates peace, love, joy and mercy.

Jesus ascends into heaven to let His Spirit descend upon His Church, so that Truth may be glorified and it bears testimony to life, death and resurrection of those who part take in the very life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Let’s go fishing!

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Gospel Reflection, John 21: 1-14

The glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus begins a whole new ‘creation narrative’. Jesus who is the ‘Logos’, The Word which became flesh, now dwells amidst His creation as the Risen Christ, glorified by God. The resurrection is the genesis of a new creation of God. This new creation is also filled with unblemished love, purity and holiness, as was the first creation, until it bore corruption so intense that it disrupted the equilibrium of all of creation. But what is unique about this new creation is that it is a gift of God’s love as well as His mercy. In the beginning when God created the world, He created it out of love and saw that everything was good. But now, through His risen Son Jesus, He creates everything with His love but also with His compassionate mercy. And it is this image of God, the quintessential image of mercy that renews the image of all of creation and aligns it with that of God.

In today’s Gospel reading, the risen Christ Jesus appears once again to His friends. The Evangelist John says in his gospel that the apparition happened at the Sea of Tiberias. ‘It was on or around this lake that Jesus did many of His wonderful miracles. 18 of the 33 recorded miracles of Christ were probably done in the immediate neighborhood of the Sea of Galilee. In the city of Capernaum alone He performed 10 of these. The Sea of Galilee, also KinneretLake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias (Hebrew: יָם כִּנֶּרֶת, Judeo-Aramaic: יַמּא דטבריא, Arabic:بحيرة طبريا‎), is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately 53 km (33 mi) in circumference, about 21 km (13 mi) long, and 13 km (8.1 mi) wide. The fresh waters of the lake are clean, and they have always been well stocked with a variety of fish.’ (Source: Wikipedia and bible-history.com)

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During His ministry on earth, Jesus taught His disciples to be fishers of men. On this particular day Simon Peter decides to go fishing for actual fish and not men. It is important to observe that Simon Peter upon whom Jesus bestowed the ‘great ordination’ as I call it, of being the rock upon which the One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of Jesus would be build, is back in being engaged with his earthly profession. St. Peter is teaching us that having received Jesus in our lives, one should never forget the world in which we live and the responsibilities given to us. Those responsibilities come from God himself, in order to cultivate a culture that promotes dignity of labor, dignity of life and caring for the creation of God.

In our daily works in the world, we are also called to be fishers of men. We are expected to be on our boats of faith built in the wood of the Gospel truth and the light of the Church, equipped with the nets of righteousness, love, humility and wisdom. The Gospel reading accounts that they went fishing during the night. Our mission too as fishers of men, commissioned by our Baptism into the Catholic Church, is to venture into the waters (lives of people) especially when they are struggling in the darkness of sin, loneliness, despair and suffering.

Today’s Gospel also shows us that it is not always guaranteed that whenever we venture into the sea (“Go make disciples of all nations” – Mt 28:19) we will be received with open arms or have a ‘good catch’. We should be aware and open to the fact that we may have to sail back to our shore empty handed. Nevertheless, the resurrected Christ yet assures us that He will be there with us in our mission, as early as the break of light at dawn, and if we listen to his voice when He calls and throw the net in the direction that He asks us to (submitting to His will), then we will have a great catch and that our nets (Church) will still be able to contain. Through such an experience, the eyes of our hearts will instantly recognize the presence of The Lord even from a far off distance, just as the beloved disciple John did, and proclaimed, ‘It is The Lord’.

Therefore, we should always remember to look forward to have our first conversation of each day with God. For in the peace and serenity of day break, The Lord is watching out for us, praying for us and looking out for us to guide our course for the day. Jesus will then also invite us and lead us to be refreshed as well as be nourished by a meal with Him (Holy Eucharist), and by doing so He fulfills His promise of providing us with our daily bread (spiritual and temporal) from His Father in heaven. Let us allow our entire being to be renewed by the love and mercy of the Risen Savior and be partakers of His glory and eternal life of holiness, freedom and peace. Amen.

Jesus: The Way, The Truth, and The Life

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Lenten Reflection: Day 43

Gospel, John 14: 1-6

This He saith, because it was probable that when they heard they would be troubled. For if the leader of their band, one so entirely fervent, was told that before the cock crew he should thrice deny his Master, it was likely that they would expect to have to undergo some great reverse, sufficient to bend even souls of adamant. Since then it was probable that they considering these things would be astounded, see how He comforteth them, saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.” By this first word showing the power of His Godhead, because, what they had in their hearts He knew and brought to light. As He comforteth Peter when bewildered by saying, “but thou shall follow afterwards,” so also He gives this glimpse of hope to the others. For lest they should think that the promise was given to him alone, He saith, “In My Father’s house are many mansions.”

“The same place which receiveth Peter shall receive you.” For a great abundance of dwellings is there, and it may not be said that they need preparation. When He said, “Ye cannot follow Me now,” that they might not deem that they were finally cut off. So earnest have I been concerning this matter, that I should already have been given up to it, had not preparation been made long ago for you.” Showing them that they ought to be very bold and confident. Then that He may not seem to speak as though enticing them, but that they may believe the thing to be so.

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Seest thou that He giveth them proof that these things were not said without a meaning? And He used these words, because He knew in Himself that their souls now desired to learn this. For Peter said what he said, not in order to learn, but that he might follow. But when Peter had been rebuked, and Christ had declared that to be possible which for the time seemed impossible, and when the apparent impossibility led him to desire to know the matter exactly, therefore He saith to the others, “And the way ye know.” For as when He hath said, “Thou shalt deny Me,” before any one spake a word, searching into their hearts, He said, “Be not troubled,” so here also by saying “Ye know,” He disclosed the desire which was in their heart, and Himself giveth them an excuse for questioning. Now the, “Whither goest Thou?” Peter used from a very loving affection, Thomas from cowardice.

If the Jews questioned among themselves when they heard (of His departure), although desirous to be rid of Him much more would those desire to learn, who wished never to be separated from Him. They feared therefore to ask Him, but yet they asked Him, from their great love and anxiety. What then saith Christ?

“In My Father’s house are many mansions”; and again, “No man cometh to the Father but by Me.” This He would not tell them at first, in order not to throw them into greater despondency, but, now that He hath soothed them, He telleth them. For by Peter’s rebuke He cast out much of their despondency; and dreading lest they should be addressed in the same way, they were the more restrained. “I am the Way.” This is the proof of the, “No man cometh to the Father but by Me”; and, “the Truth, and the Life,” of this, “that these things shall surely be.” “There is then no falsehood with Me, if I am ‘the Truth’; if I am ‘Life’ also, not even death shall be able to hinder you from coming to Me. Besides; if I am ‘the Way,’ ye will need none to lead you by the hand; if I am also ‘the Truth,’ My words are no falsehoods; if I am also ‘Life,’ though ye die ye shall obtain what I have told you.”

Now His being “the Way,” they both understood and allowed, but the rest they knew not. They did not indeed venture to say what they knew not. Still they gained great consolation from His being “the Way.” “If,” saith He, “I have sole authority to bring 26 to the Father, ye shall surely come thither; for neither is it possible to come by any other way.” But by saying before, “No man can come to Me except the Father draw him”; and again, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men unto Me” (Jn 12:32); and again, “No man cometh to the Father but by Me” (Jn 14:6); He showeth Himself equal to Him who begat Him. But how after saying, “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

– The above is an excerpt from a commentary of St. Chrysostom on today’s Gospel.

One of you is going to betray Me

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Lenten Reflection: Day 42

Gospel, John 13: 21-33, 36-38

It is no light question, brethren, that meets us in the Gospel of the blessed John, when he says: “When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” Was it for this reason that Jesus was troubled, not in flesh, but in spirit, that He was now about to say, “One of you shall betray me”? Did this occur then for the first time to His mind, or was it at that moment suddenly revealed to Him for the first time, and so troubled Him by the startling novelty of so great a calamity?

Was it not a little before that He was using these words, “He that eateth bread with me will lift up his heel against me”? And had He not also, previously to that, said, “And ye are clean, but not all”? where the evangelist added, “For He knew who should betray Him:” to whom also on a still earlier occasion He had pointed in the words, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Why is it, then, that He “was now troubled in spirit,” when “He testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me”?

He was troubled, then, who had power to lay down His life, and had power to take it again. That mighty power is troubled, the firmness of the rock is disturbed: or is it rather our infirmity that is troubled in Him? Assuredly so: let servants believe nothing unworthy of their Lord, but recognize their own membership in their Head. He who died for us, was also Himself troubled in our place. He, therefore, who died in power, was troubled in the midst of His power: He who shall yet transform the body of our humility into similarity of form with the body of His glory, hath also transferred into Himself the feeling of our infirmity, and sympathizeth with us in the feelings of His own soul. Accordingly, when it is the great, the brave, the sure, the invincible One that is troubled, let us have no fear for Him, as if He were capable of failing: He is not perishing, but in search of us [who are]. Us, I say; it is us exclusively whom He is thus seeking, that in His trouble we may behold ourselves, and so, when trouble reaches us, may not fall into despair and perish. By His trouble, who could not be troubled save with His own consent, He comforts such as are troubled unwillingly.

Il bacio di Giuda di Ignazio Jacometti (1854).

Strong-minded, indeed, are those Christians, if such there are, who experience no trouble at all in the prospect of death; but for all that, are they stronger-minded than Christ? Who would have the madness to say so? And what else, then, does His being troubled signify, but that, by voluntarily assuming the likeness of their weakness, He comforted the weak members in His own body, that is, in His Church; to the end that, if any of His own are still troubled at the approach of death, they may fix their gaze upon Him, and so be kept from thinking themselves castaways on this account, and being swallowed up in the more grievous death of despair? And how great, then, must be that good which we ought to expect and hope for in the participation of His divine nature, whose very perturbation tranquillizes us, and whose infirmity confirms us?

“What thou doest, do quickly,” not because thou hast the power in thyself, but because He wills it who has all the power.  “Now no one of those at the table knew for what intent He spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the money-bag, that Jesus said unto him, Buy those things which we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.” The Lord, therefore, had also a money-box, where He kept the offerings of believers, and distributed to the necessities of His own, and to others who were in need. It was then that the custom of having church-money was first introduced, so that thereby we might understand that His precept about taking no thought for the morrow was not a command that no money should be kept by His saints, but that God should not he served for any such end, and that the doing of what is right should not be held in abeyance through the fear of want.

“The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice.” Although thou say, “I know not the man;” although thou say, “Man, I know not what thou sayest;” although thou say, “I am not one of His disciples;”6 thou wilt be denying me. If, which it were sinful to doubt, Christ so spake, and foretold the truth, then doubtless Peter denied Christ. Let us not accuse Christ in defending Peter. Let infirmity acknowledge its sin; for there is no falsehood in the Truth. When Peter’s infirmity acknowledged its sin, his acknowledgment was full; and the greatness of the evil he had committed in denying Christ, he showed by his tears. He himself reproves his defenders, and for their conviction, brings his tears forward as witnesses.

Nor have we, on our part, in so speaking, any delight in accusing the first of the apostles; but in looking on him, we ought to take home the lesson to ourselves, that no man should place his confidence in human strength. For what else had our Teacher and Saviour in view, but to show us, by making the first of the apostles himself an example, that no one ought in any way to presume of himself? And that, therefore, really took place in Peter’s soul, for which he gave cause in his body. And yet he did not go before in the Lord’s behalf, as he rashly presumed, but did so otherwise than he reckoned. For before the death and resurrection of the Lord, he both died when he denied, and returned to life when he wept; but he died, because he himself had been proud in his presumption, and he lived again, because that Other had looked on him with kindness).

The above is an excerpt from St Augustine’s tractates 60-64, 66 on the Gospel of St John.

Anoint The Lord with richness of your life

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Lenten Reflection: Day 41

Gospel, John 12:1-11

While Martha was serving, Mary anointed the Lord with ointment, thus accomplishing her love towards Him; and by the actions of both, the measure of love was filled up and made perfect. The traitor rebukes the woman who had shown her devotion towards Christ, and attacks the admirable deed, and affects to blame it out of love towards the poor, because ointment was brought and not money. But it was out of ignorance as to what is really excellent that Judas said this. For the bringing of presents unto God ought to be honoured more than the poor. For, He says, love for the poor is very praiseworthy, only let it be put after veneration of God.

And what He says amounts to this: The time, He says, which has been appointed for My being honoured, that is to say, the time of My sojourn on earth, does not require that the poor should be honoured before Me. And this He said with reference to the Incarnation. He does not however in any way forbid the sympathetic person to exercise his love towards the poor. Therefore when there is need of service or of singing, these must be honoured before love towards the poor; for it is possible to do good after the spiritual services are over. He says therefore that it is not necessary always without intermission to devote our time to honouring Himself, or to spend everything upon the priestly service, but to lay out the greatest part upon the poor.

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For after the Ascension of the Saviour, when they were no longer following their Master on His journeys, but had leisure; then they eagerly spent all the offerings that were brought to them upon the poor. Through the strangeness of the sign the multitude are astonished; and that which they heard to have been done they wished also to behold with their eyes, that they might believe it more confidently. And they not only wished to see Lazarus, but also the Christ, the doer of the sign; not then seeing Him for the first time, for they had often seen Him and accompanied with Him; but inasmuch as He had gone into retirement, that He might not suffer before the proper time, they were seeking again to see Him: and the more reasonable among them even admired Him, as they recognised no fault in Him. With a settled purpose therefore the Lord did not immediately enter into Jerusalem, but remained outside, in order that by the report [which would reach the city] He might draw the common people to a desire of wishing to see Him.

See now how frantic the rulers seem to become, wildly rushing hither and thither under the influence of their envy, and saying nothing coherently. They seriously meditate murder upon murder, thinking to remove the force of the miraculous deed at the same time with their victim, that they might stop the people running to believe Christ.

The above is an excerpt of St. Cyril of Alexandria’s homiletic Commentary on today’s Gospel reading.

Triumphant entry of life into death

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Lenten Reflection: Day 40

Gospel, Mark 15: 1-39

Luke has also laid open the false charges which they brought against Him; for he thus relates it: And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. No one can feel it a difficulty that Matthew is silent as to their asking some one to be released unto them, which Mark here mentions; for it is a thing of no consequence that one should mention a thing which another leaves out. There follows: But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the Chief Priests had delivered him for envy.

Some one may ask, which were the words of which Pilate made use, those which are related by Matthew, or those which Mark relates; for there seems to be a difference between, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? as Matthew has it; and, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? (Matt. 27:17) as is here said. But since they gave to kings the name of Christs, he who said this man or that must have asked whether they wished the King of the Jews to be released unto them, that is, Christ. It makes no difference to the sense that Mark has said nothing of Barabbas, wishing only to mention what belonged to the Lord, since by their answer he sufficiently shewed whom they wished to have released to them. For there follows, But the Chief Priests moved the people that he should rather release unto them Barabbas.

Jesus-Pilate

But we must understand that the words of Matthew, they put on him a scarlet robe, Mark expresses by clothed him in purple; for that scarlet robe was used by them in derision for the royal purple, and there is a sort of red purple, very like scarlet. It may also be that Mark mentions some purple which the robe had about it, though it was of a scarlet colour. It appears that Matthew and Mark here relate things which took place previously, not that they happened when Pilate had already delivered Him to be crucified. For John says that these things took place at Pilate’s house; but that which follows, And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put on him his own clothes, must be understood to have taken place last of all, when He was already being led to be crucified.

…This also he most of all wondered at, that after that voice which He sent forth as a figure of our sin, He immediately gave up His spirit. For the spirit of the Mediator shewed that no penalty of sin could have had power to cause the death of His flesh; for it did not leave the flesh unwillingly, but as it willed, for it was joined to the Word of God in the unity of person.

The above is an excerpt from St. Augustine’s homily on the Palm Sunday Gospel.

Plotting to kill God

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Lenten Reflection: Day 39

Gospel, John 11:45-57

For not refraining themselves from Him, when He said that Himself was One with the Father, they rush to kill Him; although each of the works wrought by Him proclaimed that He was in His Nature God. And not only now, but on other occasions also when they took up stones to kill Him, they stood motionless through the power of Christ; so that it became evident from this also, that He would not suffer except He was willing. Moreover in His gentleness Christ checked their unreasonable impulse, saying not: “For which of the words that I said, are ye angry?” but: “For which of the works that I did?” 

For if I had not done, He says, many God-befitting works which shew that I am in My Nature God, ye might be reasonably angry with Me now, hearing Me say that I and the Father are One. But I should not have said this, had I not shewn it by all things that I did. And He speaks of the works as from the Father, not from Himself, shewing this modesty for our profit, so that we may not boast when we receive anything from God. And He says the works were shown from the Father, not to indicate that the power exhibited in them was other than His own, but to teach that they were the works of the whole Godhead.

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We stone Thee, not on account of the good works which Thou didst, but because Thou blasphemest.” They were the blasphemers, on the contrary, because they wished to stone One Who was truly God, not knowing that Jesus was destined to come, not in the undisguised Godhead, but Incarnate of the Seed of David; [and thus] they speak of His true confession as blasphemy. For if the Word of God through the Holy Spirit leads up to superhuman grace, and adorns with a Divine honour those in whom He may be, Why, saith He, say ye that I blaspheme when I call Myself Son of God and God? Although by the works I have done from Him I am borne witness to as in My Nature God. For having sanctified Me He sent Me into the world to be the Saviour of the world; and it is the attribute only of One in His Nature God, to be able to save men from the devil and from sin and from corruption.

But when we distinguish ourselves by our bodies, the many are no longer one; a distinction which cannot be mentioned concerning One Who is God by Nature, for whatever is Divine is incorporeal, although we conceive of the Holy Trinity as in distinct Subsistences. For the Father is the Father and not the Son; the Son again is the Son and not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is peculiarly the Spirit: although They are not at variance, through Their fellowship and unity One with Another. The Holy Trinity is known in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. But the designation of each one of These Who have been enumerated denotes not a part of the Trinity, but the Whole of It; since in truth God is undivided and simple, although distributed in These Subsistences.

Leaving Jerusalem, the Saviour seeks a refuge in a place possessing springs of water, that He might signify obscurely as in a type how He would leave Judasa and go over to the Church of the Gentiles which possesses the fountains of Baptism: there also many approach unto Him. crossing through the Jordan; for this is signified by Christ taking up His abode beyond Jordan. We honour John, not as having performed any God-befitting work, but as having borne true witness concerning Christ. For Christ was more wonderful, not only than John, but than every saint; for whereas they were Prophets, He was the wonder-working God. And we must notice that the words of John and of the other Prophets are a way [to lead us] to believe Christ. 

The above is an excerpt from St. Cyril of Alexandria’s homily on today’s Gospel.

Doing the Father’s work

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Lenten Refection: Day 38

Gospel, John 10:31-42

Here He speaketh not of faith only, but of a pure life. Above He said, “shall have everlasting life,” but here, “shall not see death.” (cf. Jn 6:40). At the same time He hinteth to them that they could do nothing against Him, for if the man that should keep His saying should not die, much less should He Himself. At least they understood it so, and said to Him. And concerning the “death,” He said nothing to them, neither did He reveal or tell them what kind of death He meant, but in the meantime He would have them believe, that He is greater than Abraham, that even by this He may put them to shame.

“Certainly,” He saith, “were I a common man I ought not to die, having done no wrong; but when I speak the truth, and have no sin, am sent from God, and am greater than Abraham, are ye not mad, do ye not labor in vain when ye attempt to kill Me?” What then is their reply? “Now we know that thou hast a devil.” Not so spake the woman of Samaria. She said not to Him, “Thou hast a devil”; but only, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” ( Jn 4:12). For these men were insolent and accursed, while she desired to learn; wherefore she doubted and answered with proper moderation, and called Him, “Lord.” For one who promised far greater things, and who was worthy of credit, ought not to have been insulted, but even admired; yet these men said that He had a devil.

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After this, again He fleeth as a man, and concealeth Himself, having laid before them sufficient instruction: and having accomplished His work, He went forth from the Temple, and departed to heal the blind, proving by His actions that He is before Abraham. But perhaps some one will say,“Why did He not paralyze their strength? So they would have believed.” He healed the paralytic, yet they believed not; nay, He wrought ten thousand wonders; at the very Passion He cast them to the ground, and darkened their eyes, yet they believed not; and how would they have believed if He had paralyzed their strength?

Now if there be any comfort for those who mourn over the woes of others, much more for those who rejoice at the honors of others. He charged the Moabites with having exulted over the Israelites, yet it was God that punished them; but not even when He punisheth will He have us rejoice over those that are punished. For it is not His wish to punish them. Now if we must condole with those who are punished, much more must we avoid envying. those who are honored. Thus, for example, Corah and Dathan perished with their company, making those whom they envied brighter, and giving themselves up to punishment.

For a venomous beast is envy, an unclean beast, a deliberate vice which admits not of pardon, a wickedness stripped of excuse, the cause and mother of all evils. Wherefore let us pluck it up by the roots, that we may be freed from evil here, and may obtain blessings hereafter; through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory now and ever and world without end. Amen.

The above is an excerpt from St John Chrysostom’s 55th Homily on the Gospel of John.

The Virgin, whom called God ‘Mommy’!

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Lenten Reflection: Day 37

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38

Today are strains of praise sung joyfully by the choir of angels, and the light of the advent of Christ shines brightly upon the faithful. Today is the glad spring-time to us, and Christ the Sun of righteousness has beamed with clear light around us, and has illumined the minds of the faithful. Today is Adam made anew, and moves in the choir of angels, having winged his way to heaven. Today is the whole circle of the earth filled with joy, since the sojourn of the Holy Spirit has been realized to men. Today the grace of God and the hope of the unseen shine through all wonders transcending imagination, and make the mystery that was kept hidden from eternity plainly discernible to us. Today are woven the chaplets of never-fading virtue.

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner 1896

Today, God, willing to crown the sacred heads of those whose pleasure is to hearken to Him, and who delight in His festivals, invites the lovers of unswerving faith as His called and His heirs; and the heavenly kingdom is urgent to summon those who mind celestial things to join the divine service of the incorporeal choirs. Today is fulfilled the word of David, Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad. The fields shall be joyful, and all the trees of the wood before the Lord, because He comes. David thus made mention of the trees; and the Lord’s forerunner also spoke of them as trees that should bring forth fruits meet for repentance, or rather for the coming of the Lord. But our Lord Jesus Christ promises perpetual gladness to all those who believe in Him. For He says, I will see you, and you shall rejoice; and your joy no man takes from you.

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Today is the illustrious and ineffable mystery of Christians, who have willingly set their hope like a seal upon Christ, plainly declared to us. Today did Gabriel, who stands by God, come to the pure virgin, bearing to her the glad annunciation, Hail, thou that art highly favoured! You know, O Mary, things kept hidden from the patriarchs and prophets. You have learned, O virgin, things which were kept concealed till now from the angels. You have heard, O purest one, things of which even the choir of inspired men was never deemed worthy. Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and Daniel, and all the prophets, prophesied of Him; but the manner they knew not. Yet you alone, O purest virgin, are now made the recipient of things of which all these were kept in ignorance, and you learn the origin of them. For where the Holy Spirit is, there are all things readily ordered. Where divine grace is present, all things are found possible with God.

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For the holy Virgin is in truth an ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary.  Arise, O Lord, into Your rest. Arise, O Lord, out of the bosom of the Father, in order that You may raise up the fallen race of the first-formed man. Setting these things forth, David in prophecy said to the rod that was to spring from himself, and to sprout into the flower of that beauteous fruit, Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear, and forget your own people and your father’s house; so shall the King greatly desire your beauty: for He is the Lord your God, and you shall worship Him. Hearken, O daughter, to the things which were prophesied beforetime of you, in order that you may also behold the things themselves with the eyes of understanding. Hearken to me while I announce things beforehand to you, and hearken to the archangel who declares expressly to you the perfect mysteries. Come then, dearly beloved, and let us fall back on the memory of what has gone before us; and let us glorify, and celebrate, and laud, and bless that rod that has sprung so marvellously from Jesse.

Excerpts from the first out of four homilies St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (Church Father) Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.