Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thomas Aquinas on Turning the Other Cheek

"Holy Scripture must be understood in the light of what Christ and the saints have actually practiced.  Christ did not offer His other cheek, nor Paul either.  Thus to interpret the injunction of the Sermon on the Mount literally is to misunderstand it.  This injunction signifies rather the readiness of the soul to bear, if it be necessary, such things and worse, without bitterness against the attacker.  This readiness our Lord showed, when He gave up His body to be crucified.  That response of the Lord was useful, therefore, for our instruction." (In John 18, lect. 4, 2)

Joseph Pieper comments: "The readiness to meet the supreme test by dying in patient endurance so that the good may be realized does not exclude the willingness to fight and to attack.  Indeed, it is from this readiness that the springs of action in the Christian receive that detachment and freedom which, in the last analysis, are denied to every sort of tense and strained activism." —The Four Cardinal Virtues (Notre Dame Press, 1966), 133.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kingdom of Love: The 5th Sunday of Easter

 

The Easter Season is passing quickly.  Already it is more than half over, as we progress toward the great Feasts of Ascension and Pentecost.  We want the Season to slow down, so that we may savor the joy and consolation of these readings from Acts and John that dominate the Easter Cycle, but tempus fugit.

The Readings for this Fifth Sunday of Easter describe the growth of the Kingdom of God, which is manifested on earth as the Church.  The first two readings and the psalm are tied together with Kingdom images, and the Gospel reminds us that this Kingdom is characterized by God’s love.

1. The First Reading is Acts 14:21-27:

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news
to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Gregory of Nyssa on why God is said to "repent" in the Old Testament

Commenting on 1 Samuel 15, where the Lord is "angry" with Saul and "repents" of making him king, Gregory of Nyssa explains:
“The Lord was angry, and he was grieved because of their sins”; and again, “He repented that he had anointed Saul king”… and besides this, it makes mention of his [God's] sitting, and standing, and moving, and the like, which are not as a fact connected with God but are not without their use as an accommodation to those who are under teaching. For in the case of the too unbridled, a show of anger restrains them by fear. And to those who need the medicine of repentance, it says that the Lord repents along with them of the evil, and those who grow insolent through prosperity it warns, by God’s repentance in respect to Saul, that their good fortune is no certain possession, though it seems to come from God (Answer to Eunomius’ Second Book; ACCS OT, IV, 259-60).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Both "Lamb" and "Shepherd"?: The Fourth Sunday of Easter

This upcoming Lord’s Day is often known as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” since each year the Gospel reading is taken from John 10, the “Good Shepherd Discourse.”  It’s also often observed as a day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, since priests and religious are visible manifestations to us of Christ in his role as the Good Shepherd.

Most of the Readings are tied together by a shepherding theme.

1.  The First Reading continues the traditional Christian practice of reading Acts during the season of Easter.  We are up to Acts 13, the point in Acts where St. Luke begins to follow the career of St. Paul in a particular way.

There is a basic division of Acts into two parts: Acts 1-12 follows Peter's ministry and Acts 13-28 follows Paul's.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Primacy of Peter and the Primacy of Love: 3rd Sunday of Easter



This week is the Third Sunday of Easter, and our readings highlight the primacy of Peter among the Apostles, and the primacy of love in following Jesus.
 
Just a few comments on the preliminary readings before we concentrate on the Gospel.  During the seven weeks of the Easter Season, the Lectionary reads semi-continuously through Acts in the First Reading (showing the birth of the Church on earth) and through Revelation in the Second (showing the final state of the Church in heaven). 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday: The Readings

This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of the Octave of Easter, also known as “Divine Mercy
Sunday.”  The theme of God’s mercy runs through the readings.

1. In the First Reading, we see an outpouring of God’s mercy through the hands of the Apostles, who are given a gift of God’s power for the healing of physical illnesses and those plagued by evil spirits:

Reading 1 Acts 5:12-16

Many signs and wonders were done among the people
at the hands of the apostles.
They were all together in Solomon’s portico.
None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them.
Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord,
great numbers of men and women, were added to them.
Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets
and laid them on cots and mats
so that when Peter came by,
at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.
A large number of people from the towns
in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered,
bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits,
and they were all cured.