PS: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s 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.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 

God does not wish a man to lavish all his wealth at once, except when he changes his state of life, wherefore he goes on to say: “Except we imitate Elijah who slew his oxen and fed the poor with what he had, so that no household cares might keep him back.”

Bl. Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae

As explicitly formulated, the precept “You shall not kill” is strongly negative: it indicates the extreme limit which can never be exceeded. Implicitly, however, it encourages a positive attitude of absolute respect for life; it leads to the promotion of life and to progress along the way of a love which gives, receives and serves.The people of the Covenant, although slowly and with some contradictions,progressively matured in this way of thinking, and thus prepared for the great proclamation of Jesus that the commandment to love one’s neighbor is like the commandment to love God; “on these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets”. Saint Paul emphasizes that “the commandment …you shall not kill … and any other commandment, are summed up in this phrase:?You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Rm 13,9 cf. Gal Ga 5,14). Taken up and brought to fulfillment in the New Law, the commandment “You shall not kill” stands as an indispensable condition for being able “to enter life” (cf. Mt Mt 19,16-19). In this same perspective, the words of the Apostle John have a categorical ring: “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him”(1 Jn 1Jn 3,15).

Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon on Lent

[T]hat we may be able to overcome all our enemies, let us seek Divine aid by the observance of the heavenly bidding, knowing that we cannot otherwise prevail against our adversaries, unless we prevail against our own selves. For we have many encounters with our own selves: the flesh desires one thing against the spirit, and the spirit another thing against the flesh. And in this disagreement, if the desires of the body be stronger, the mind will disgracefully lose its proper dignity, and it will be most disastrous for that to serve which ought to have ruled. But if the mind, being subject to its Ruler, and delighting in gifts from above, shall have trampled under foot the allurements of earthly pleasure, and shall not have allowed sin to reign in its mortal body , reason will maintain a well-ordered supremacy, and its strongholds no strategy of spiritual wickednesses will cast down: because man has then only true peace and true freedom when the flesh is ruled by the judgment of the mind, and the mind is directed by the will of God. And although this state of preparedness, dearly-beloved, should always be maintained that our ever-watchful foes may be overcome by unceasing diligence, yet now it must be the more anxiously sought for and the more zealously cultivated when the designs of our subtle foes themselves are conducted with keener craft than ever. For knowing that the most hollowed days of Lent are now at hand, in the keeping of which all past slothfulnesses are chastised, all negligences alerted for, they direct all the force of their spite on this one thing, that they who intend to celebrate the Lord’s holy Passover may be found unclean in some matter, and that cause of offense may arise where propitiation ought to have been obtained.

St. Augustine, Sermon 50

Beware, O Christian, beware of pride. For though thou art a follower of the saints, ascribe it always wholly to grace; for that there should be any “remnant” in thee, the grace of God hath brought to pass, not thine own deserts.

St. Therese of Lisieux, Letter to her Sister

If we are to be the dwelling-place of Jesus, we must come down even to this–we must be so poor that we have not where to lay our heads.  This grace of light has been given to me during my retreat. Our Lord desires that we should receive Him into our hearts, and no doubt they are empty of creatures. Alas! mine is not empty of self; that is why He bids me come down. And I shall come down even to the very ground, that Jesus may find within my heart a resting-place for His Divine Head, and may feel that there at least He is loved and understood.

Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Bishops of Latin America

God is the foundational reality, not a God who is merely imagined or hypothetical, but God with a human face; he is God-with-us, the God who loves even to the Cross. When the disciple arrives at an understanding of this love of Christ “to the end”, he cannot fail to respond to this love with a similar love: “I will follow you wherever you go”

Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P.