January 22, 2012
Third Sunday after Epiphany
10AM - Holy Hour for Life (NOTE! Holy Hour before Mass)
11AM - Low Mass; Fr Eric, celebrant
THEME : THE HUMAN HAND OF CHRIST IS THE SAVING HAND OF GOD
We are still in the afterglow of the Epiphany. Christ is born (Christmas); now He must be revealed and adored for Who He is (Epiphany). The liturgy of these Sundays after Epiphany spell this out for us. He showed Who He is at the miracle at Cana; He does so again in today's Gospel in the healing of two rejects : the leper and the pagan's servant.
There are some KEY WORDS that are repeated over and over in this Sunday's liturgy.
God's HAND, WORD, MOUTH, NAME, GLORY. This is what God does.
Man's JOY, AWE, GODLY FEAR, ADORATION in seeing and hearing what God does. This is man's response.
INTROIT : You see how we still hear echoes of the Epiphany, when Wise Men adored the Christ Child. "Adore God...." Sion heard; heard what? The Good News, preached by the Lord in word and deed. Who is Sion? The Church. The Church is the New Chosen People. The Church rejoices in the saving works of God. "The Lord reigneth..." Over what? Over sin (the leper) and death (the sick servant). Christ forgives, and overthrows sin, represented by the leper. Christ heals, and overthrows sickness and death, represented by the servant. Behind both sin and death is Satan. Christ has overthrown the kingdom of Satan. Therefore we rejoice. The Church comes from all the world, not just the Jews. "Let the many islands be glad." This points to the universality of God's salvation (Epiphany; Wise Men from foreign lands). Even the smallest islands (not just the big, important nations) - like Guam - are included in God's salvation and have reason to rejoice.
COLLECT : "Mercifully look upon our infirmity..." In the Gospel, Christ looked mercifully upon two people down with infirmities. He healed both of them, by means of His human hand, full of divine power. Christ is here in Mass; His blessed humanity in the Body and the Blood. His grace flows through the material and spiritual Rites of the sacraments. In Confession, He heals the spiritually sick (lepers). In the Eucharist, He feeds and nourishes the physically and spiritually weak.
EPISTLE : Looking at the entire liturgy of the day, we see that the Church (Sion) is called to rejoice in God's salvation. In the Epistle, we are taught by Saint Paul how to behave as members of the Church : being charitable towards all; doing good to those who do evil to us.
GRADUAL / ALLELUIA : Echoes of Epiphany : "The Gentiles shall fear; all the kings of the earth..." The Church is made up of Jew and Gentile. The Church is Sion, and God has built up the Church. We see God's glory in the life of the Church - in her sacraments and doctrine, in the life of her children, priests, religious, missionaries, devout families, martyrs and so on. In the Alleluia, the theme of joy and universal salvation is repeated.
GOSPEL : The leper is a symbol of sin. Sin is a disfigurement; it ruins the beauty of the soul, which God created and gave such god-like powers such as memory, intellect and will. "Let us make man in our image," God said in Genesis. God looked at man and said, "It is very good." Leprosy starts small and grows over time; it kills after a long process. Sin also begins quietly in the hidden, inner recesses of the heart. Sin grows and worsens. It kills our friendship with God the moment we give in and choose to sin. But sin's ultimate death is at the end of life when one dies in that state, having lost all opportunity to repent and be saved. The centurion is not a Jew. He is therefore also a pagan; according to the Jews, he is no sharer in salvation; God has nothing to do with the pagan. And yet Christ cures this pagan's servant because of his faith, which the Jews did not have in Christ. The adoration of the Wise Men from foreign lands is continued in the faith which this foreigner has in Christ.
OFFERTORY : Christ is the Good News. We do not have to die anymore; in the second, worse death, which is that of the soul. We shall all suffer the first death, which is harmless for the righteous. This first death, for those saved by God, is actually a blessing (Saint Francis called it Sister Death), by which the soul of the righteous goes to the Father. This victory over death was won by the hand of the Lord, which was nailed to the cross. Let us therefore rejoice and "declare the works of the Lord." Our job is to proclaim Christ to others.
SECRET : "Sanctify the bodies." It is not just our souls that are sanctified. Even our bodies must be made holy. We sin (usually) with our bodies. Even our immaterial thoughts, sometimes sinful, are produced with the help of the body. Our bodies are partners with our souls in either good or bad, and will be partners with the soul in either reward or punishment. A "holy body" is one that refrains from sin; one that does works of righteousness; one that suffers in sacrifice; one that is sanctified by prayer and the sacraments. Remember that God Himself took on a human body just like yours. It is for this reason that we pay such respect to the bodies of the deceased; why we venerate relics of the saints (usually a part of their body, or clothing that touched their bodies); why we need to treat our bodies well as temples of the Holy Ghost. The body you have right now will one day (God willing) be in heaven!
COMMUNION : "All wondered..." Christ amazed the people. They were at a loss to explain it all. They were forced to ponder and think. Mary is the model of that. Though full of faith and one with God in her will, she nonetheless had to witness for herself the wonders of her Son. This is contemplation. To contemplate is to look at something with wonder and awe. Doing this changes us. We become a part of what we are looking at. We need to do a lot more of this, for our own benefit. Sit before the Blessed Sacrament and think about God's amazing works and the amazing nature of God revealed in His works. Just reflecting on God's beauty and wonder will change us more and more into His likeness.
POST-COMMUNION : Where are the fruits? This is what Christ will be looking for on Judgment Day. A tree without fruits will be cut down. We will bear fruit when we die (to our own wills; our own ways). "Unless a grain fall to the ground and die..." Let us nail ourselves to the cross with Jesus in Mass. It is in dying that we are re-born. Self-will says "take revenge, fight back, lie, cheat, slander." God's will says "forgive, bless, sacrifice, do good." Christ cannot be King in our hearts if we are sitting on that throne ourselves.