PS: 29th 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.

Sketchbook

St. Augustine, Nature and Grace

There are, then, evils which, by the marvelous mercy of God, lead to good. Did the psalmist suffer something good when he said, You turned your face away from me, and I became confused (Ps 30:8)? Certainly not! And yet this confusion was in some sense a remedy against his pride. He had, after all, said in his prosperity, I will never be shaken (Ps 30:7) and attributed to himself what he had from the Lord. For what did he have that he had not received? Hence, he had to be shown the source of what he had so that he might receive in humility what he had lost through pride.

Bl. Pope John Paul II, Dives in misericordia

In this way, in Christ and through Christ, God also becomes especially visible in His mercy; that is to say, there is emphasized that attribute of the divinity which the Old Testament, using various concepts and terms, already defined as “mercy.” Christ confers on the whole of the Old Testament tradition about God’s mercy a definitive meaning. Not only does He speak of it and explain it by the use of comparisons and parables, but above all He Himself makes it incarnate and personifies it. He Himself, in a certain sense, is mercy. To the person who sees it in Him – and finds it in Him – God becomes “visible” in a particular way as the Father who is “rich in mercy.”

Bl. Pope John Paul II, Dives in misericordia

By these actions and words Christ makes the Father present among men. It is very significant that the people in question are especially the poor, those without means of subsistence, those deprived of their freedom, the blind who cannot see the beauty of creation, those living with broken hearts, or suffering from social injustice, and finally sinners. It is especially for these last that the Messiah becomes a particularly clear sign of God who is love, a sign of the Father. In this visible sign the people of our own time, just like the people then, can see the Father.

Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity

[Christ’s] crucifixion is his coronation; his kingship is his surrender of himself to men, the identification of word, mission, and existence in the yielding up of this very existence. His existence is thus his word. He is word because he is love. From the Cross faith understands in increasing measure that the Jesus did not just do and say something; that in him message and person are identical, that he is all along what he says.

Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week

By taunting the Lord… they express their contempt for his powerless state; they bring home to him once more how powerless he is. At the same time, they try to lead him into temptation, as the devil himself had done: “Save yourself!” Exercise your power! They do not realize that at this very moment the destruction of the Temple is being accomplished and that the new Temple is rising up before them.

Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week

The tearing of the Temple veil means that the pathway to God is now open. Previously God’s face had been concealed. Only in a symbolic way could the high priest once a year enter his presence. Now God himself has removed the veil and revealed himself in the crucified Jesus as the one who loves to the point of death. The pathway to God is open.

Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week

The darkness and irrationality of sin and the holiness of God, too dazzling for our eyes, come together in the Cross, transcending our power of understanding. And yet in the message of the New Testament, and in the proof of that message in the lives of the saints, the great mystery has become radiant light.

Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week

The mystery of atonement is not to be sacrificed on the altar of overweening rationalism. The Lord’s response to the request of the sons of Zebedee for seats at his right hand and at his left remains a key text for Christian faith in general: “The Son of man… cam not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Fr Pius Pietrzyk, OP