Prayers today: Fill me with your praise and I will sing your glory; songs of joy will be on my lips, alleluia. (Ps 70:8, 23)
Merciful Lord, hear the prayers of your people. May we who have received your gift of faith share for ever in the new life of Christ. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen. Alleluia.
St. Anselm (1033-1109)
Indifferent toward religion as a young man, Anselm became one of the Church's greatest theologians and leaders. He received the title "Father of Scholasticism" for his attempt to analyse and illumine the truths of faith through the aid of reason. At 15, Anselm wanted to enter a monastery, but was refused acceptance because of his father's opposition. Twelve years later, after careless disinterest in religion and years of worldly living, he finally fulfilled his desire to be a monk. He entered the monastery of Bec in Normandy, three years later was elected prior and 15 years later was unanimously chosen abbot. Considered an original and independent thinker, Anselm was admired for his patience, gentleness and teaching skill. Under his leadership, the abbey of Bec became a monastic school, influential in philosophical and theological studies. During these years, at the community's request, Anselm began publishing his theological works, comparable to those of St. Augustine. His best-known work is the book Cur Deus Homo ("Why God Became Man"). At 60, against his will, Anselm was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His appointment was opposed at first by England's King William Rufus and later accepted. Rufus persistently refused to cooperate with efforts to reform the Church. Anselm finally went into voluntary exile until Rufus died in 1100. He was then recalled to England by Rufus's brother and successor, Henry I. Disagreeing fearlessly with Henry over the king's insistence on investing England's bishops, Anselm spent another three years in exile in Rome. His care and concern extended to the very poorest people; he opposed the slave trade. Anselm obtained from the national council at Westminster the passage of a resolution prohibiting the sale of human beings.
"No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God" (St. Anselm, Letter 112).
The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John (6.35~40)
Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Come to Him!
(Homily by Fr. E.J. Tyler)
The world seems to be marked by unending vicissitudes. Wars break out and reach their conclusion, civil strife erupts, earthquakes bring incalculable damage to life and property, numerous banks begin to fail as debtors across a nation default en masse, famine and disease strikes this or that country, and so the sorry tale goes on. In his great Apologia pro Vita Sua, written in 1864, John Henry Newman writes, “I look out of myself into the world of men, and there I see a sight which fills me with unspeakable distress. .... The sight of the world is nothing else than the prophet’s scroll, full of ‘lamentation, and mourning, and woe.’” Newman writes of the “aimless courses .... the greatness and littleness of man... the curtain hung over his futurity, the disappointments of life, the defeat of good, the success of evil, physical pain, mental anguish, the prevalence and intensity of sin, the pervading idolatries, the corruptions, the dreary hopeless irreligion, that condition of the whole race.. all this is a vision to dizzy and appal” (ch. V). It is, we might say, an unending struggle to keep “head above water.” There is just no simple solution to the suffering and evil of the world. There is no one key, no single formula that will “fix it” for man. Now this entire phenomena of a broken world constantly being sucked towards death and all that leads to death is but the manifestation and fruit of the deeper catastrophe of sin. We know the cause of the world’s broken condition because it has been revealed to us. It is due to sin, the sin of man at the very beginning. The flawed character of so much of human history merely shows the enormity of sin which is its original and ongoing cause. If the evils of the world are so extensive as to defy man’s efforts at a solution, what could possibly be said of a remedy being found for its very source which is sin? Ah! the Remedy has come, and whatever be the complexity of evil and suffering, together with the prospects for individuals and all of humanity together, in a very real sense the Remedy is remarkably simple. God has given the Remedy.
There is one thing which every man and woman is called to do in order to deal in ultimate terms with his or her condition and prospects. The ultimate answer is to come to Jesus in faith. At times a thought might come to us that it would have been so much easier to have seen Jesus and to have come to him in a directly physical sense. Now we cannot see him. We have to come to him in faith. But notice what our Lord says in our passage today, that “as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.” There were many who saw him and who did not believe. There was one who was called to live with him, to be with him constantly, to be his companion, to share actively in his mission, to receive some of his powers such as that of healing, and yet he not only left him but positively betrayed him. Having had the inestimable opportunity of seeing the Incarnate Son of God did not assure that a person would gain faith. The ultimate answer to man’s dubious situation so fraught with threat and sin is to come to Jesus in faith. The answer is simple, though very demanding in its consequences: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” The one who comes to Jesus in faith has received the grace to belong to Jesus, for our Lord says that “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” We are the Father’s gift to Jesus, and he will receive us into his friendship. Moreover, the divine plan is to care for us and to raise us to eternal life with him forever. “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” Christ is determined not to lose any of us but to save us from all that could do us ultimate harm. He wishes each of us to live forever in him. “For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:35-40).
As opposed to the tangle and mystery of the problems of life and the world, there is a simple Remedy. It is simple in its direction, but immense in its consequences. The way ahead, the Remedy to be applied, is to come to Jesus in faith and to give oneself to him. It is to act on the grace of faith and to resolve to belong to him. If we belong to Jesus and live out our lives according to this self-donation, then Jesus will care for us. He will not lose us. He will raise us up to be with him forever. The way ahead is clear — so let us take it, then
Second reflection for Wednesday of the third week of Eastertide
Trust in God
(Homily by Fr. E,J. Tyler)
In today’s gospel passage our Lord declares that it is the Father's will that he should lose nothing of what the Father had given to him (John 6: 39). This should be the source of a great sense of security: no circumstances need destroy or weaken that all-important relationship which we have been given with Christ. We see an instance of this played out in the first reading (Acts of the Apostles 8: 1-8). With Stephen stoned to death, Saul began a furious persecution of the infant Church, scattering the Christians from Jerusalem. But what was the upshot of this? The fleeing disciples went from place to place preaching the Good News. The persecution was the direct cause of more and more coming to know the Lord. Perhaps the greatest sequel of all was the conversion of Saul himself. In the midst of great tribulation the hand of the Lord was upon the Church. As Paul would write in one of his Letters, nothing can come between us and the love of God in Christ. So we should face adversity with trust in the power of God, determined to use the adversity to further the plan of God in our regard. As Pope John Paul II used repeatedly to say, Be not afraid!
Turn your back on the deceiver when he whispers in your ear, "Why complicate your life?"
(The Way, no. 6)