Father George William Rutler Homilies
2020-07-12 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2020-07-12 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 12, 2020

12 July 2020

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13:1-23 + Homily

17 Minutes 29 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071220.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin of Sunday 12 July 2020:

  July waves Old Glory and Le Tricolore. Jacques-Louis David based the French flag on the cockade of the Marquis de Lafayette, who had been urged to help the American colonists by the Duke of Gloucester, in a funk because his brother, King George III, disapproved of his marriage. At least there was no Reign of Terror in Philadelphia.

   Our unofficial “National Hymn” was written by a professor of English literature from Wellesley College after a trip in 1893 to Pike’s Peak, from whose twilight purple summit she could see grain fields hued in amber. An elderly parishioner of mine was a student of Professor Katharine Lee Bates and remembered her reciting the final 1913 draft of “America the Beautiful.” The melody, “Materna,” had been composed in 1882 by a church organist, Samuel Ward, on a ferry from Coney Island to Newark.

   In the “political correctness” and “cancel culture” of recent days, there have been attempts to censor “America the Beautiful” on the grounds that it is unfeeling to make reference to “alabaster cities [that] gleam undimmed by human tears.” En route to Colorado, Bates had visited the World’s Columbian Exposition where crowds were stunned by Nikola Tesla’s incandescent light bulbs. The illuminated “White City” was plaster and not alabaster, but it envisioned a culture enlightened by the Heavenly Jerusalem, just as another lady of letters, Julia Ward Howe, in the Civil War had seen earthly struggle from a divine perspective: “Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel.” No naïf, Professor Bates knew all about the human tears in Chicago slums and had worked with Jane Addams and her Hull House. But souls today, bereft of critical judgment, would decry mention of a “White City” and an exposition honoring Columbus.

   There are also demands to eliminate our National Anthem because the author owned slaves. In fact, Francis Scott Key freed his slaves and pleaded before the Supreme Court for the liberation of 300 African slaves captured off the ship “Antelope” along the Florida coast. He also worked with John Quincy Adams in the “Amistad” case to free 53 slaves.

   Key’s anthem was based on verses he composed in 1805 to celebrate the victory over the Muslim slave-trading pirates on the Barbary coast: “And pale beam’d the Crescent, its splendor obscured / By the light of the star-spangled flag of our nation. …” Although the founder of Islam was a slave trader, the bigoted zeal of contemporary rioters hesitates to menace mosques.

   Some of these petulant Jacobins demand to replace our National Anthem with the pretentious doggerel of the song “Imagine” by John Lennon: “Imagine there's no heaven / It's easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky.”

   That is not quite Francis Scott Key, Julia Ward Howe, or Katharine Lee Bates. When the opioid bubble bursts, heaven and hell remain. Take your choice.

2020-07-05 - 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2020-07-05 - 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 5, 2020

5 July 2020

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 11:25-30 + Homily

14 Minutes 16 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070520.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin of Sunday 5 July 2020:

Christians would be slaughtered.

   There are magnificent witnesses in China today, among whose champions is Cardinal Zen, indomitable at the age of eighty-eight. The insouciance with which some timorous Western ecclesiastics have cast a blind eye to the persecution of the Catholics in China, will be remembered as a dark blot on the history of our time.

   Mao killed at least 40 million. His “Cultural Revolution,” which executed upwards of 3 million, excited mobs of youths as agents of government repression. Monuments of ancient culture were destroyed. These included nearly 7,000 priceless works of art in the Temple of Confucius alone as part of the frenzied attack on the Four Olds: Old Customs, Old Habits, Old Culture, and Old Ideas.

   In our own country, the debutantish radicalism of hysterical youths whose misguided idealism makes a venomous brew when mixed with poor education, is exploited by more sinister strategists. James Madison described such mobs as: “united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

   Young people eager to condemn the immorality of forebears, while exulting in their own undisciplined lives, recently pulled down a statue of Saint Junípero Serra. It evoked the attack on the Franciscan mission in Alta California on November 4, 1775, when 600 native warriors pierced the friar Father Luis Jayme with eighteen arrows as he called to them: “Love God, my children!”

   Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, the one Iraqi combatant to receive the Medal of Honor, has said that our universities are turning out “Peter Pan” adolescents who would profit better if they joined the Army where they would be taught how to be men and women.

   After the destruction of the statue of Saint Junípero Serra, the wise Archbishop of San Francisco did not engage in polemics. He simply went to the site of the vandalism and said the exorcism prayer of Saint Michael. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

 

2020-06-28 - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2020-06-28 - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 28, 2020

28 June 2020

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 10:37-42 + Homily

15 Minutes 59 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062820.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin of Sunday 28 June 2020:

  As the local churches gradually open again, one is reminded of the persistence of Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, president of the College of William and Mary, ringing the school bell during seven years of closure after the Civil War. It is yet to be seen how many return to our churches after the quarantine, but the churches will be strengthened by the perdurance of the truly faithful, and I have been edified by their patience.

   Nor have I been scandalized by those who call worship of God non-essential. No surprise here. I write this on the feast of Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More, the only bishop and the one high-level magistrate who placed Christ before the Crown. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help” (Psalm 146:3).

   Perhaps not by coincidence have social riots accompanied the health crisis. The anarchists, whose numbers include ignorant pawns, are the latest effervescence of the ancient Gnostic heresy which in modern times has assumed the fatal dialectic of Marxism.

   The supine “virtue signaling” of failed leaders bending their knees to barbarians makes them poster children for what Lenin called his “useful idiots.” Civilization stands on the precipice of what already seemed chaotic as William Butler Yeats perceived over one hundred years ago. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”

   Demagogues who lack all conviction ignored one of the most important civil acts of recent times: our President’s “Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom.” On June 2 he dared to proclaim that “Religious freedom, America’s first freedom, is a moral and national security imperative.” The First Amendment is not “non-essential” because, among other instances, thousands of Christians have been slaughtered in Nigeria, in attacks ignored by Westerners who claim to be champions of black lives, and in China churches are being destroyed by a government with which ecclesiastical bureaucrats have tried naively to cut deals.

   In the present cultural war, parishes are on the front line. We have our obligations to the needs of the larger church, but we exercise the “principle of subsidiarity” by assuring our people that any donations specified for the support of our local church will be honored as such. After months of closure, our parish, perhaps like most, is in financial peril. But the greater peril is surrender to vandals who would smash the very fundaments of our civilization. If “the centre cannot hold,” such is only the case with the material order. Christ is the true and unfailing nucleus of all life: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

2020-06-21 - The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2020-06-21 - The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 21, 2020

21 June 2020

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

NOTE that public Masses in Manhattan will resume on Monday, 22 June 2020. There are various health precautions. For details, please see the homepage of the parish website: https://www.stmichaelnyc.org.

Next Sunday, 28 June 2020, St Michael’s parish will resume its regular Mass Schedule: 10:00, 11:15 (Spanish), and 12:15.

Since no public Masses were permitted today due to the Covid19 / Coronavirus Emergency the homily attached hereto was the homily given on 25 June 2017, the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, using the same Readings as for today, 21 June 2020.

Matthew 10:26-33 + Homily

13 Minutes 33 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062120.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin of Sunday 21 June 2020:

  After the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jews relied on literacy to preserve their culture, with the Mishna as the written record of what until then had been an oral tradition of rabbinic commentaries. While functional illiteracy seems to have been common, our Lord asked his listeners at least four times: “Have you not read . . . ?” (Matthew 12:3, 12:5, 19:4 and Mark 12:26). On the very day of the Resurrection, he explained the prophetic writings to the two men on the Emmaus road, just as Philip later would baptize the obviously well lettered official of the Ethiopian royal household.

   Romans often had Greek slaves as teachers, because they were better educated than themselves. King Malcolm of Scotland did not bother to learn how to read, but was charmed by the way his wife, Saint Margaret, could read to him, and the subjects she chose gave her much influence. 

   The first part of the Eucharistic Liturgy is the “synagogue part” because it teaches from the Sacred Books. “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures . . .” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Since the transmission of knowledge and its ancillary wisdom is fragile and dependent upon faithful stewards, civilizations require civilized people.

   Many were surprised in 1953 when President Eisenhower warned in a commencement speech at Dartmouth, without notes or teleprompter: “Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as any document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.” Having considerable experience of war, he had seen the consequences of thought control.

   Back in 1821 Heinrich Heine wrote: “Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn people too.” The destruction of the libraries of Alexandria by Muslims in 640 and Cluny by Huguenots in 1562 had irreparable consequences. This also applies to the mutilation of art in all its forms. This is not a question of taste or optional aesthetic judgment. It is simply the fact that to rewrite history is eventually to resent history altogether, to live in the present without past or future.

   The cruelest illiteracy consists in a pantomime education that commands what to think rather than how to think, and that erases from a culture any memory of its tested and vindicated truths. In George Orwell’s “1984” dystopia: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

2020-06-14 - Corpus Christi

2020-06-14 - Corpus Christi

June 14, 2020

14 June 2020

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

NOTE: Due to the Covid19 / Coronavirus Emergency the Archdiocese of New York has cancelled all public Masses for an indefinite period. The homily attached hereto was given on 18 June 2017, Corpus Christi, using the same Readings as for today, 14 June 2020.

Note also that 18 June 2017 was Father’s Day in the United States. In 2020, Father’s Day in the United States is next Sunday 21 June 2020.

John 6:51-58 + Homily

14 Minutes 28 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061420.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin of Sunday 14 June 2020:

  Robert Gould Shaw was born into an abolitionist Unitarian family in Boston in 1837. When he was ten, they settled on Staten Island. An uncle who became a Catholic priest paid for his tuition at what is now the Fordham Preparatory School. As a somewhat distracted student, he never completed his studies (who does?) but he was tutored in Italy and Germany and studied at Harvard. During the Civil War he was eventually promoted to Colonel and, following the Emancipation Proclamation, he led New England’s first all-black military unit, the 54th Regiment.  Shaw insisted on equal pay and opposed any form of discrimination. Two of his soldiers were sons of Frederick Douglas.

   In 1863, storming Fort Wagner in South Carolina, Colonel Shaw led his regiment, which suffered heavy losses while he died from several wounds defending the nation and racial justice. Saint-Gaudens sculpted a bronze relief of Shaw and his troops, which was dedicated across from the Massachusetts State House 123 years ago on May 31. Just weeks ago, three million dollars were designated to restore it, but ironically on May 31, a mob claiming to be defenders of human dignity, defaced with obscenities this tribute to valiant African-Americans.

   Rioters also gathered in our nation’s capital in Logan Circle, by another irony named for a Civil War general, John A. Logan, who said: “Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided republic.” But many in our latest generation have not merely forgotten that cost, they were never taught it in the first place.

   The valor of the 54th Regiment was depicted in the 1989 film “Glory.” Yet recent mobs have behaved more like the brawlers in old Western movies, for whom one man attacking another becomes a cue for everyone to rise and wreck the whole saloon. Riots broke out in other cities and spread abroad. Perceived manipulation of the ignorant by sinister plotters whose Orwellian strategy is to call their fascism anti-fascist, is no excuse for their obliviousness to the consequences of moral confusion.

   In 452, Pope Leo the Great saved Rome from Attila the Hun and, in a double whammy three years later, he confronted Genseric the Vandal. He faced both with the serenity of virtue and the bravery of charity, bending his knee before neither because he knelt only to God. 

   Pope Leo preached: “Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.”

 

2020-06-07 - Trinity Sunday

2020-06-07 - Trinity Sunday

June 7, 2020

7 June 2020

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

NOTE: Due to the Covid19 / Coronavirus Emergency the Archdiocese of New York has cancelled all public Masses for an indefinite period. The homily attached hereto was given on 11 June 2017, Trinity Sunday, using the same Readings as for today, 7 June 2020.

John 3:16-18 + Homily

16 Minutes 21 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060720.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin of Sunday 7 June 2020:

  Celebration of the Most Holy Trinity follows Pentecost, because it is through the Holy Spirit that the sublime truth of God as Three in One expands the limits of human intelligence. The perfect harmony of the Triune God is like music whose sound frequency cannot be registered by unaided hearing, but it reverberates in the systematic order of nature, evident in those things we take for granted: health, happiness, and peace.

   The peace that Christ proposes is not a human fabrication (John 14:27). But as the Creator has entrusted the care of His creation to humans as His most complex creatures, we are responsible for promoting what Saint Augustine called the tranquillitas ordinis—the tranquility of order.

   When the human mind works in harmony with the indications of the Holy Trinity, great things can be accomplished. For example, last week two astronauts on the SpaceX craft perfectly docked in outer space. In a devilish irony, this was accompanied by simultaneous rioting in our streets, nihilistic in its destructiveness. As many of the bomb throwers and arsonists were middle-class suburbanites turned terrorists, this was a commentary on the collapse of family life and the abandonment of classical education. And the desecration of our cathedral was the screech of young people who, for various reasons and from various sources, had come to think that the Divine Word of Life is an incomprehensible whimper.

   The contrast between astronauts and anarchists is a model of the blessings and dangers of free will. “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:17). This boils down to the choice between Christ and chaos, challenging the human mind to be rational or irrational. The human will is not bound to some arbitrary fate, but as John Milton put it: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

   It has been said one way or another that the gates of Hell are locked on the inside. By choosing misrule, distorted reason prefers Hell to Heaven. The gates of Heaven are opened by choosing the tranquility of divine logic. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

   The destiny of souls depends on what people do with the “if” of their moral freedom. Thus, Rudyard Kipling wrote: “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, . . .”

 

2020-05-31 - Pentecost

2020-05-31 - Pentecost

May 31, 2020

31 May 2020

Pentecost

NOTE: Due to the Covid19 / Coronavirus Emergency the Archdiocese of New York has cancelled all public Masses for an indefinite period. The homily attached hereto was given on 4 June 2017, Pentecost, using the same Readings as for today, 31 May 2020.

John 20:19-23 + Homily

17 Minutes 24 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://cms.usccb.org/bible/readings/053120-day.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin of Sunday 31 May 2020:

  In a letter Sigmund Freud wrote to his friend Edoardo Weiss on April 12, 1933, he reminisced about a visit to the Roman church of San Pietro in Vincoli: “Every day for three lonely weeks of September 1913, I stood in church in front of the statue, studying it, measuring it and drawing it until there dawned on me that understanding which I expressed in my essay.” His obsession with the statue of Moses reflected the anxiety it had caused its sculptor, for—according to tradition—when it was completed Michelangelo struck the statue with his chisel: “Say something!” Genius could not give it the life of which God alone is the author. In a form more accessible to children, Michelangelo was Geppetto wanting his wooden doll to become a real boy. And in more exalted cadences, this was Ezekiel asking, “Can these bones live?”

   “In him was life . . .” (John 1:4). At the Last Supper, the youngest apostle had pressed his head against Christ and could hear the beating of the Sacred Heart that had animated all creation. Only God can create life, but he has given his creatures the ability to “procreate.” This seems to have been the ultimate secret that he kept until he left this world in glory, promising to send to his believers his Holy Spirit, the bond of fecund love between him and his Divine Father. In the fourth century, Saint Gregory of Nyssa wrote “. . . he gave this glory to his disciples when he said to them: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22). Although he had always possessed it, even before the world existed, he himself received this glory when he put on human nature. Then, when his human nature had been glorified by the Spirit, the glory of the Spirit was passed on to all his kin, beginning with his disciples.”

   When people ask if Christ had a sense of humor, remember this: a sense of humor is basically a balanced mind’s perception of imbalance. Unbalanced people laugh at what is not funny. Fanatics, by definition, are a little off kilter, and so they have no sense of humor. As the Perfect Man, Christ had a perfect sense of humor and must have smiled most broadly when he spoke to his gathered followers, the nucleus of his Holy Church, in anticipation of the new Pentecost that completed the symmetry of fifty days after the Resurrection. He told them: “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:25-27).

 

2020-05-24 - Seventh Sunday of Easter

2020-05-24 - Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 24, 2020

24 May 2020

The Seventh Sunday of Easter

NOTE: Due to the Covid19 / Coronavirus Emergency the Archdiocese of New York has cancelled all public Masses for an indefinite period. The homily attachewwwd hereto was given on 28 May 2017, the Seventh Sunday of Easter, using the same Readings as for today, 24 May 2020.

John 17:1-11A + Homily

16 Minutes 17 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://cms.usccb.org/bible/readings/052420-day.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

 From the parish bulletin of Sunday 24 May 2020:

  In these days of closures, which must soon end, I am able to offer Mass quietly for the intentions of parishioners and others, and I often take the opportunity to use the Extraordinary Form, whose beautiful cadences end with the “Last Gospel.” This Johannine Prologue in hymnodic verse concluded the Liturgy from the earliest days of the Faith, as a reminder that “the Word was made flesh” and, by being received into the flesh of communicants, makes them living tabernacles commissioned to take Christ into the world. He is the Light that shines in the darkness, and “the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). 

   The present pandemic has spread a cultural darkness that contrasts with the growing brightness of late spring days. Any amateur artist, if untutored, must learn by experiment that the brightest colors in his paint box are brilliant on canvass not by themselves but by contrast with dark tones. There is remnant evidence that this application in art goes back about 2,500 years to the Athenian muralist Apollodorus. It may seem obvious, but it was not so until it was tried, and in fact it was gradually forgotten until rediscovered in the Renaissance. The contrast of light and dark, chiaroscuro, was mastered by the likes of Leonardo, Caravaggio and then Rembrandt and Vermeer. It conveys brooding as well as rejoicing, and “film noir” of modern cinematography made as much use of darkness as earlier art made of light. 

   It remains to be seen if what we call normalcy will be restored. It is certain that “things will never be the same” because things present by definition can never be what they used to be. Whether this be good or bad depends on what is learned from having passed from darkness into light (cf. Isaiah 9:2). This is the Gospel essence that the first Christians gave to a world that had accustomed itself to a life of shadows. “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). 

   During these long weeks, the absence of votive lights in a darkened church has contrasted with the candles that used to burn here, and I hope that soon there will be even more lit than before. But all this time, a lamp has burned before the Blessed Sacrament.

   One recalls that passage from Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited describing the sanctuary lamp in a desolate chapel during the darkness of a World War: “. . . the flame which the old knights saw from their tombs, which they saw put out; that flame burns again for other soldiers, far from home, farther, in heart, than Acre or Jerusalem. It could not have been lit but for the builders and the tragedians, and there I found it this morning, burning anew among the old stones.”

 

2020-05-17 - Sixth Sunday of Easter

2020-05-17 - Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2020

17 May 2020

The Sixth Sunday of Easter

NOTE: Due to the Covid19 / Coronavirus Emergency the Archdiocese of New York has cancelled all public Masses for an indefinite period. The homily attached hereto was given on 25 May 2014, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, using the same Readings as for today, 17 May 2020.

John 14:15-21 + Homily

17 Minutes 43 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051720.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

 

From the parish bulletin of Sunday 17 May 2020:

  The French theoretical physicist Pierre Duhem (1861-1916) was amazingly prolific and contributed much to hydrodynamics and thermodynamics, but his most important influence may be his philosophy and history of science. He refuted the superficial analysis of the relationship between physical science and religion as distorted by rationalists since the eighteenth century. Drawing on the qualifications of reason as given by Saint Thomas Aquinas, Duhem explored the foundations of scientific analysis in the Middle Ages in the experimental constructs of men like Buridan, Oresme and Bacon. 

   The doctrine of divine providence and the systematic order of the material universe, as systematized by the Catholic scholastics, gave the logic for scientific analysis. In short, it is only because there is a benign order to the universe that there can be material science, and this is true even among those who ignore that fact. 

   Such symmetry in the universe is replicated in history. This is why numerical systems are significant in the Bible. For instance, the Ascension of Christ happened forty days after the Resurrection. There is nothing “magical” about numbers themselves, but the fact that the number forty occurs 146 times in the Bible should strike any reasonable person as an indication that God choreographs events to accomplish his purposes. 

   Christ spent forty days in the wilderness and predicted that Jerusalem would fall forty years after his death and resurrection. Not by chance did he spend forty days between his resurrection and entrance into glory, preparing his followers for the rest of history. He would not let Mary Magdalene “cling” to him because he had to instruct others. He tutored those two men on the Emmaus road in the meaning of what the Scriptures had predicted. He went back to the rented Upper Room to show that he was not an illusion. He then spent time instructing crowds on occasion and evidently devoted more time to preparing the apostles for their missionary work. He was making clear that the Church is not a vestigial apparatus, but is the embodiment of his logic that created the universal order.

    The strange cloud that surrounded him as he seemed to vanish in his return to eternity was, like the Transfiguration, a glimpse into a dimension for which human optics lack a capacity fully to perceive. But it can be interpreted by the fact that the benign order of the created world is the result of a power for which mortal language has the term “love.” Inadequate as it may be, it definitely makes demands on those who want to participate in the divine glory that is so extravagant that it can be intimidating in what it requires. Having spent four years at hard labor in Siberia as a penalty for love of truth, Dostoyevsky wrote: “. . . active love is a harsh and fearful thing compared with the love in dreams.”

 

2020-05-10 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

2020-05-10 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 10, 2020

10 May 2020

The Fifth Sunday of Easter

NOTE: Due to the Covid19 / Coronavirus Emergency the Archdiocese of New York has cancelled all public Masses for an indefinite period. The homily attached hereto was given on 14 May 2017, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, using the same Readings as for today, 10 May 2020.

John 14:1-12 + Homily

21 Minutes 17 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051020.cfm

10 (New American Bible, Revised Edition)

 

From the parish bulletin of Sunday 10 May 2020:

  “As I was saying…” That, more or less, is how Saint Athanasius began his homily each time he returned from exile. Over seventeen years, he was banished five times by four Roman emperors for reasons political and theological, but he persisted in defying the heresy of the powerful Arians who had a flawed idea of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. The persistence of Athanasius in the face of discouragement is honored by his inclusion along with Ambrose, Augustine and John Chrysostom in Bernini’s Altar of the Chair in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

   Persistence against the odds shows the strength of humility, whereas its opposite, vainglory, is easily discouraged in difficult times. Athanasius, whose feast was recently celebrated, comes to mind in preparation for the feast this coming Thursday of the persistent Matthias. He is sometimes confused with Matthew the tax collector, one of the original twelve apostles. But Matthias was very much his own man, and even though he gets no mention in the Gospel texts, the book of the Acts of the Apostles records that he was one of the seventy disciples appointed by Christ, and was a witness to the Resurrection. 

   After the Ascension but before Pentecost, Peter summoned his fellow apostles to choose a man to fill the moral cavity left by the suicide of Judas. There was no precedent for this, so Matthias was nominated along with another early companion of Christ, Joseph Barsabbas, a reliable man, and in fact he was called Justus for that reason. As the soldiers had cast lots to see who would own Christ’s tunic, that disgrace was atoned for by the apostles casting lots, the equivalent of shooting dice, to choose one of the two. Matthias was the winner, if you consider a virtual assurance of martyrdom something devoutly to be wished. According to one tradition, Barsabbas became the holy bishop of Eleutheropolis, near modern Hebron. Matthias went on to preach the Gospel in Judea, and probably Turkey, and Ethiopia as well, finally shedding his blood for the Savior, perhaps in Jerusalem.

   Matthias left no extant writings, but his humble persistence is testimony to John Bunyan’s hymn:  

       There’s no discouragement

       Shall make him once relent

       His first avowed intent

       To be a pilgrim.

  Although there is no evidence that Matthias was an addict of any sort, because of his persistence he is the patron saint of alcoholics and others contending against various sorts of compulsive behavior. Early in the eighteenth century, the essayist Joseph Addison wrote: “If you wish to succeed in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.”

   That is sound domestic advice, and can invoke the examples of the virtuous of any age. The saints like Matthias and Athanasius take it to heights heroic with the results promised by the Risen Christ.