Preacher’s Sketchbook: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.

Sketchbook

Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), 17

[M]an’s dignity demands that he act according to a knowing and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within, not under blind internal impulse nor by mere external pressure. Man achieves such dignity when, emancipating himself from all captivity to passion, he pursues his goal in a spontaneous choice of what is good, and procures for himself through effective and skilful action, apt helps to that end. Since man’s freedom has been damaged by sin, only by the aid of God’s grace can he bring such a relationship with God into full flower. Before the judgement seat of God each man must render an account of his own life, whether he has done good or evil.

St. Augustine

A great question this: “Whosoever sins has not seen Him, neither known Him.” No marvel. We have not seen Him, but are to see; have not known Him, but are to know: we believe in One we have not known. Or haply, by faith we have known, and by actual beholding have not yet known? But then in faith we have both seen and known. For if faith does not yet see, why are we said to have been enlightened? There is an enlightening by faith, and an enlightening by sight. At present, while we are on pilgrimage, “we walk by faith, not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:7 ) or, actually beholding. Therefore also our righteousness is “by faith, not by sight.” Our righteousness shall be perfect, when we shall see by actual beholding. Only, in the meanwhile, let us not leave that righteousness which is of faith, since “the just does live by faith,” (Rom. 1:17) as says the apostle. “Whosoever abides in Him, sins not.” For, “whosoever sins, has not seen Him, neither known Him.” That man who sins, believes not: but if a man believes, so far as pertains to his faith, he sins not.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, Q67, A3

The Apostle says (2 Cor. 5:6-7): “While we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith and not by sight.” But those who are in glory are not absent from the Lord, but present to Him. Therefore after this life faith does not remain in the life of glory

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Now faith, of its very nature, contains an imperfection on the part of the subject, viz. that the believer sees not what he believes: whereas bliss, of its very nature, implies perfection on the part of the subject, viz. that the Blessed see that which makes them happy, as stated above (Question 3, Article 8). Hence it is manifest that faith and bliss are incompatible in one and the same subject.

Bl. Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor

[T]he moral life has an essential “teleological” character, since it consists in the deliberate ordering of human acts to God, the supreme good and ultimate end (telos) of man. This is attested to once more by the question posed by the young man to Jesus: “What good must I do to have eternal life? “. But this ordering to one’s ultimate end is not something subjective, dependent solely upon one’s intention. It presupposes that such acts are in themselves capable of being ordered to this end, insofar as they are in conformity with the authentic moral good of man, safeguarded by the commandments. This is what Jesus himself points out in his reply to the young man: “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19,17).  Clearly such an ordering must be rational and free, conscious and deliberate, by virtue of which man is “responsible” for his actions and subject to the judgment of God, the just and good judge who, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, rewards good and punishes evil: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Cor. 5:10)

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 546

Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.

Attributed to St. Jerome

The kingdom of God is the Church, which is ruled by God, and herself rules over men, and treads down the powers which are contrary to her, and all wickedness.

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), 5

The mystery of the holy Church is manifest in its very foundation. The Lord Jesus set it on its course by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Kingdom of God, which, for centuries, had been promised in the Scriptures: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand”. In the word, in the works, and in the presence of Christ, this kingdom was clearly open to the view of men. The Word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear the Word with faith and become part of the little flock of Christ, have received the Kingdom itself. Then, by its own power the seed sprouts and grows until harvest time. The Miracles of Jesus also confirm that the Kingdom has already arrived on earth: “If I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you”. Before all things, however, the Kingdom is clearly visible in the very Person of Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, who came “to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Pope St. Pius X, Acerbo Nimis (1905)

Now, if we cannot expect to reap a harvest when no seed has been planted, how can we hope to have a people with sound morals if Christian doctrine has not been imparted to them in due time? It follows, too, that if faith languishes in our days, if among large numbers it has almost vanished, the reason is that the duty of catechetical teaching is either fulfilled very superficially or altogether neglected. It will not do to say, in excuse, that faith is a free gift of God bestowed upon each one at Baptism. True enough, when we are baptized in Christ, the habit of faith is given, but this most divine seed, if left entirely to itself, by its own power, so to speak, is not like the mustard seed which “grows up… and puts out great branches” (Mk 4:32). Man has the faculty of understanding at his birth, but he also has need of his mother’s word to awaken it, as it were, and to make it active. So too, the Christian, born again of water and the Holy Spirit, has faith within him, but he requires the word of the teaching Church to nourish and develop it and to make it bear fruit. Thus wrote the Apostle: “Faith then depends on hearing, and hearing on the word of Christ” (Rm 10,17); and to show the necessity of instruction, he added, “How are they to hear, if no one preaches?” (Rm 10,14)

Catholic Encyclopedia (1908), “Cedar”

The cedar is often used in Scripture for figures and comparisons. Besides the uses already indicated the following may be mentioned. Because of its luxuriant growth and length of life it is an emblem of prosperity (Ps. 41:13), and because of its stateliness it is a figure of beauty and majesty (Cant. 5:15; Sirach 1:13). It is also used as the symbol of the Messias and His kingdom (Ez 17:22 et seq.).

Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, OP