It was the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time on 16 June 2013 (Year C).
Here are the Readings that were read in the Eucharistic Celebrations all over the world on the same day (see previous page):
1st Reading: 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13,
Responsorial: Psalm 32:1-2,5,7,11,
2nd Reading: Galatians 2:16,19-21 &
Gospel Reading: Luke 7:36-8:3.
We have extracted the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I based on the aforesaid Readings to share with you, so that you could similarly be encouraged:
MASS FOR THE COMMUNITY OF THE ROMAN MAJOR SEMINARY
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Feast of Our Lady of Trust
1. Last February on the annual feast day of Our Lady of Trust, patroness of the Roman Major Seminary, I was unable to come and visit your community as I had hoped. I am therefore particularly pleased to welcome you today to this Eucharistic celebration in the unique setting of the Lourdes Grotto of the Vatican Gardens, which reminds us of the Immaculate Virgin’s spiritual presence.
I greet the Cardinal Vicar, who also wanted to be present, the rector, Mons. Pierino Fragnelli, the superiors and all of you, dear seminarians.
We are celebrating the Eucharist together on this 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Eucharistic sacrifice is the source and summit of the Church’s life and of our personal journey of sanctification (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 11). Last Thursday, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we gathered in front of the Basilica of St John Lateran to celebrate the Eucharist, and together we accompanied the Blessed Sacrament in the traditional procession to St Mary Major. Today we are celebrating this same mystery beneath the loving gaze of the Mother of priests.
2. The Blessed Virgin, dear friends, wants to lead all men to Christ; she knows that to do this she needs generous service from the holy ministers of the Eucharist. This is why Mary shows you the altar, which, from the day of a priest’s ordination, is where his daily meeting with the Lord culminates. In fact, it is primarily at Holy Mass that the priest makes progress in his conformity to Christ.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul’s words to the Galatians which we heard a few moments ago in the second reading are a synthesis of the existential fruit of Eucharistic communion: the indwelling of Christ in the soul, brought about by the Holy Spirit. Who, more than the priest, is called to make these words his own and to offer them as a plan of life? Who, more than he, lives wholly on the Bread of eternal life, given by Christ for the world’s salvation?
3. Mass is truly the centre of the priest’s life, the centre of all his days. This centrality is thus the primary objective of the seminary’s formation programme, which requires the conscious and total co-operation of each candidate for the priesthood. First of all, the seminarian should passionately love the Eucharist: he should recognize that his vocation directs him towards a fervent and ever deeper participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass, a participation which at a certain point acquires the meaning of a most personal call. The words “do this in memory of me” speak to his heart with profound eloquence. He recognizes the Eucharist as the living sacrament of Christ’s grace and so feels he has nothing to offer in exchange but himself.
When this response of faith and love matures in a young man, the Church’s heart rejoices; the heart of Mary rejoices, as her motherly concern anticipates and accompanies the flowering of every individual vocation. Invoked by the title Our Lady of Trust, she watches in particular over each of you, dear students of the Roman Major Seminary. At this Mass I pray for you, that you may become holy priests. I pray for your superiors and teachers, that they may guide you on this path. I also pray for your relatives who are anxiously following your steps with the discreet attention Mary had for her Son Jesus.
4. Through Mary Immaculate may you always nourish a strong sense of God, of his gratuitous and prevenient love, of his initiative of grace which deserves a generous response like that of the woman sinner mentioned in today’s Gospel, who was not ashamed to express her grateful love for Jesus, her Saviour. Thus you will always be convinced witnesses to God’s merciful love, a never-ending source of conversion and forgiveness, and once you become priests, zealous ministers of the sacrament of Reconciliation.
The Holy Spirit accomplishes all this, working in the depths of your hearts. Just as he molded the priestly heart of Christ from Mary’s womb to the ultimate sacrifice on the Cross and to the fullness of life of the Resurrection, may he form your hearts for the salvation of souls and the glory of God with the full maturity of Christ the Good Shepherd.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Square outside the Lower Basilica of St Francis
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
What is the Lord saying to us today while we celebrate the Eucharist in the evocative setting of this square, in which eight centuries of holiness, devotion, art and culture linked to the name of Francis of Assisi are gathered?
Today, everything here speaks of conversion, as Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino recalled and whom I warmly thank for his kind words. With him, I greet the entire Church of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, as well as the Pastors of the Churches of Umbria.
I extend a grateful thought to Cardinal Attilio Nicora, my Legate for the two Papal Basilicas of this Town.
I address an affectionate greeting to the sons of Francis of the various Orders present here with their Ministers General. I express my cordial respects to the President of the Council of Ministers and to all the Civil Authorities who have wished to honour us with their presence.
The first is David. The passage concerning him, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, presents to us one of the most dramatic conversations in the Old Testament. A burning verdict lies at the heart of this dialogue, with which the Word of God, uttered by the Prophet Nathan, exposes a king who had reached the summit of his political fortune but had also fallen to the lowest level of his moral life.
To grasp the dramatic tension of this dialogue, it is necessary to bear in mind its historical and theological horizon. This horizon is outlined by the event of love with which God chooses Israel as his People, establishing a Covenant with them and taking care to assure them a land and freedom.
David is a link in this history of God's continuing concern for his People. He was chosen in a difficult period and placed beside King Saul, then to become his successor. God's design also concerns his descendants connected with the messianic project, which was to find its complete fulfillment in Christ, "Son of David".
The figure of David is thus an image of both historical and religious importance. In even starker contrast with this is the abjection into which he falls. Blinded by his passion for Bathsheba, he wrenches her from her husband, one of his most faithful warriors, and then orders his assassination in cold blood. This is something that makes one shudder: how could a man chosen by God fall so low?
The human being is truly greatness and wretchedness: he is great because he bears in himself God's image and is the object of his love; he is wretched because he can make evil use of the freedom which is his great privilege, ending by setting himself against his Creator.
God's verdict on David, pronounced by Nathan, sheds light on the intimate fibres of the conscience where armies, power and public opinion count for nothing but where one is alone with God himself.
Today, it is Francis who invites us to make this journey beside David. From what the Saint's biographers have said of his youthful years, nothing would lead us to imagine actions as serious as those imputed to the ancient King of Israel. Yet, in the Testament he compiled during the last months of his life, Francis himself regarded the first 25 years of his existence as a time when he "was in sin" (cf. Testament 1).
Over and above its individual manifestations, he conceived of sin as organizing one's whole life around oneself, pursuing vain dreams of earthly glory.
While he was the "king of feasts" among the young men of Assisi (cf. 2 Cel I, 3, 7), he was not without spontaneous generosity. But this was still far from the Christian love that is given to the other without reserve.
As he himself recalled, the sight of lepers seemed bitter to him. Sin prevented him from overcoming his physical repugnance to recognize them as so many brothers to love. Conversion led him to show them mercy and at the same time obtained mercy for him.
Serving lepers, even to the point of kissing them, was not merely a philanthropic gesture, a "social" conversion, so to speak, but a true religious experience commanded by the initiative of God's grace and love: "The Lord himself", he said, "led me among them" (Test. 2). It was then that what had seemed bitter was changed into "sweetness in (his) soul and body" (Test. 3).
Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, converting to love means passing from bitterness to "sweetness", from sorrow to true joy. Man is truly himself and fulfills himself completely to the extent that he lives with God and of God, recognizing him and loving him in his brethren.
Another aspect of the journey of conversion emerges in the passage from the Letter to the Galatians. It is explained to us by another great convert, the Apostle Paul. The discussion in which the primitive community found itself involved is the immediate context of his words: in this discussion, many Christians who came from Judaism tended to link salvation to fulfilling the requirements of the ancient Law, thereby making the newness of Christ and the universality of his message vain.
Paul stood as a witness and champion of grace. On the road to Damascus, Christ's radiant face and strong voice had snatched him from his violent zeal as a persecutor and had kindled within him the new zeal of the Crucified One, who reconciles in his Cross those who are near and far (cf. Ephesians 2: 11-22).
Paul realized that in Christ the whole of the law is fulfilled and that those who adhere to Christ are united with him and fulfill the law. Bringing Christ, and with Christ the one God, to all peoples became his mission. Christ "is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility" (Ephesians 2: 14).
At the same time, Paul's very personal confession of love also expresses the common essence of Christian life: "The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2: 20b). And how can one respond to this love except by embracing the Crucified Christ to the point of living his very life? "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2: 20a).
In speaking of being crucified with Christ, St Paul was not only referring to his new birth in Baptism, but to the whole of his life at the service of Christ. This connection with his apostolic life appears clearly in the final words of his defence of Christian freedom at the end of the Letter to the Galatians: "Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus" (6: 17).
This is the first time in the history of Christianity that the words "the marks of Jesus" [stigmata] appear. In the dispute on the right way of seeing and living the Gospel, it is not, in the end, the arguments that decide our thought: it is the reality of life that decides, communion lived and suffered with Jesus, not only in ideas or words but in the depths of our existence, also involving the body, the flesh.
The bruises that the Apostle received in the long history of his passion are the witness of the presence of the Cross of Jesus in St Paul's body; they are his stigmata. Thus, one can say that it is not circumcision that saves: these stigmata are the consequence of his Baptism, the expression of his dying with Jesus, day after day, the sure sign of his being a new creature (cf. Galatians 6: 15).
Moreover, by using the word "marks", Paul is referring to the ancient practice of branding the slave with his owner's mark. Thus, the servant was "marked" as the property of his owner and was under his protection. The sign of the Cross, stamped on Paul's skin through long drawn-out suffering, was his boast. It legitimized him as a true servant of Jesus, protected by the Lord's love.
Today, dear friends, Francis of Assisi presents all of these words of Paul anew, together with the power of his witness. Since the time when the faces of lepers, loved through love of God, made him understand in a certain way the mystery of kenosis (cf. Philippians 2: 7) - the humbling of God in the flesh of the Son of Man -, from the time when the voice of the Crucifix in San Damiano put in his heart the programme for his life, "Go, Francis, repair my house" (2 Cel I, 6, 10), his journey was none other than the daily effort to put on Christ.
He fell in love with Christ. The wounds of the Crucified One wounded his heart before leaving their marks on his body on Mount La Verna. He could truly say with Paul: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me".
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