Monday, April 5, 2010

Prayers today: The Lord brought you to a land flowing with milk and honey, so that his law would always be given honour among you, alleluia. (See Ex 13:5, 9)

Father, you give your Church constant growth by adding new members to your family. Help us put into action in our lives the baptism we have received with faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who liveth and reigneth, world without end, Amen.

St. Vincent Ferrer (1350?-1419)

The polarization in the Church today is a mild breeze compared with the tornado that ripped the Church apart during the lifetime of this saint. If any saint is a patron of reconciliation, Vincent Ferrer is. Despite parental opposition, he entered the Dominican Order in his native Spain at 19. After brilliant studies, he was ordained a priest by Cardinal Peter de Luna—who would figure tragically in his life. Of a very ardent nature, Vincent practiced the austerities of his Order with great energy. He was chosen prior of the Dominican house in Valencia shortly after his ordination. The Western Schism divided Christianity first between two, then three, popes. Clement VII lived at Avignon in France, Urban VI in Rome. Vincent was convinced the election of Urban was invalid (though Catherine of Siena was just as devoted a supporter of the Roman pope). In the service of Cardinal de Luna, he worked to persuade Spaniards to follow Clement. When Clement died, Cardinal de Luna was elected at Avignon and became Benedict XIII. Vincent worked for him as apostolic penitentiary and Master of the Sacred Palace. But the new pope did not resign as all candidates in the conclave had sworn to do. He remained stubborn despite being deserted by the French king and nearly all of the cardinals. Vincent became disillusioned and very ill, but finally took up the work of simply "going through the world preaching Christ," though he felt that any renewal in the Church depended on healing the schism. An eloquent and fiery preacher, he spent the last 20 years of his life spreading the Good News in Spain, France, Switzerland, the Low Countries and Lombardy, stressing the need of repentance and the fear of coming judgment. (He became known as the "Angel of the Judgment.") He tried, unsuccessfully, in 1408 and 1415, to persuade his former friend to resign. He finally concluded that Benedict was not the true pope. Though very ill, he mounted the pulpit before an assembly over which Benedict himself was presiding and thundered his denunciation of the man who had ordained him a priest. Benedict fled for his life, abandoned by those who had formerly supported him. Strangely, Vincent had no part in the Council of Constance, which ended the schism.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew (28.8~15)

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. Greetings, he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me. While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

God our Brother
(Homily by Fr. E. J. Tyler)

There is a detail in our Resurrection scene which we ought consider with great appreciation. The women have discovered the empty tomb and have been told by the angel that Jesus their Lord has risen from the dead. Matthew’s description of the angel is of one who inspires heavenly awe. The angel has “descended from heaven.” His “countenance was like lightning, and His raiment white as snow” — reminding us of our Lord’s own Transfiguration prior to His Passion. He tells the women not to fear, and tells the women to see where the Lord had lain. They were now to go quickly and tell his disciples that he had risen from the dead and that he would be going ahead of them to Galilee, just as he said he would. They would see him there. In fact, we learn from other Gospels, especially the Gospels of Luke and John, that our Lord appeared to his disciples that very day and in the days immediately following, there in Jerusalem. They met Him further in Galilee. Now Jesus was risen from the dead in the flesh, but in glory. His divinity, previously veiled by his humanity, was now being revealed in his humanity. His risen manhood displayed the glory of his divinity. Let us never underestimate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was not simply a return of Jesus Christ from the dead, taking up in life from where he left off prior to his Passion. It was a passing from this life into death and then from death to glory, and all this in his human nature — that same humanity which had suffered and died. His humanity now was the means of manifesting his divine glory, and in seeing the risen Jesus, the disciples gazed on the glorious Son of God. Instead of being a veil of the divinity, the humanity of Jesus Christ now revealed the divinity. For this reason we read that the women, when met by Jesus and greeted by him, prostrated in worship before him. They “held him by the feet.” Jesus was now showing forth the glory of one whose place was at the right hand of the Father, above every other name.

But there is a wonderful detail. Our Lord told the women to go and tell his “brothers” that they were to go to Galilee (Matthew 28:8-15). God the Son made man, now glorious and triumphant over death, sharing the throne of his heavenly Father, refers to his disciples as his “brothers.” God the Son regards himself as our “brother.” This is no new thing, for our Lord loved his own while on the earth, and he loved them to the end. But here we are talking of him in his triumph, as the Victor over all, as the one to whom all authority in heaven and on earth had been given, as the Lord of all lords and the King of all kings. This supreme person regards himself as our brother. On one occasion during his public ministry he was speaking to a crowd and word came to him that his mother and his brethren wished to speak to him. He said in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then looking around at his disciples, he said “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father, that person is my mother and my sister and my brother.” God wished to draw us into his family life and make us his children. He sent his own divine Son to become one of us, to become our brother, and to share the divine life with each and all who accept him. To all who accepted him, St John wrote, he gave the power to become children of God. In our Resurrection account the triumphant Jesus refers to his disciples as his brothers. He looks on each of us who believe in him, who love him and who follow him, as his brothers. In Jesus Christ, God has become my brother. How great is the dignity of every person, then! Christ has died for all, and since his Resurrection, mankind can be divided into two groups. There are those who are his brothers by faith and baptism, and there are those who are called to be his brothers by faith and baptism. In either case, each person is endowed with an immense dignity. By uniting himself to every man and woman in his humanity, he confers on each and all a resounding dignity which all others must respect. It will be a defining element in the final judgment.

Each of us can say that God is my Father, and in Jesus Christ, he is my Brother. How great is the love, the humility, the goodness of God! There is no other religion which has such a breathtaking understanding of the infinite, transcendent God. The God of all heights has taken his place by our side and chosen to accompany us along our way to his eternal home, as our brother and our friend. There is nothing more we could ask for. Let us appreciate our blessings — that every heavenly blessing has been given to us in our Brother of all brothers, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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