THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for January 31st, 201
Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest
Liturgical texts here
Rusty Crucifix, by Jeffrey Knight
“WHEN the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
It’s a rather haunting question. What could possibly bring about such a condition whereby the greater part of humanity will have lost its faith in God? The answer is, they will have lost faith in His Church.
Jesus was hailed as the Messiah on Palm Sunday. But by Good Friday, they had all but destroyed Him as He hung upon a cross. The Apostles had fled; Judas had betrayed Him; the Scribes falsely accused Him; Pontius Pilate turned a blind eye; the throngs that ate miraculous loaves and fish now spewed venom (“Crucify Him!”) while others stood by, saying nothing. The world was upside down. The one anchor of the people was now sinking to the bottom, cut loose from expectations, hopes, and dreams. The Messiah was disfigured, deposed, defeated.
Or so it seemed.
In reality, a divine plan was unfolding that astonished angels and shook the thrones of principalities and powers. God was actually saving mankind through all the scandal, violence, and destruction. The Kingdom of God was near. The throne was the Cross, thorns a crown, and blood a mighty decree that would sweep away death and establish an eternal Kingdom: the Church, which is…
The kingdom of Christ already present in mystery”, “on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom.”—Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 669
“Christ dwells on earth in his Church.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 669 Thus, as it was for the Head, so will it be for the Body.
The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 677
The Church, like Jesus, will be betrayed by her own; abandoned by the justice system; and crucified by her enemies. Thus, many will turn away and flee from her, misunderstanding that her mission was never to create a politically correct utopia but save souls from eternal damnation. “The light of the world,” as Jesus called the Church, will be eclipsed. cf. The Last Two Eclipses
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 675
Thus, today’s first reading is a dark icon of the paradox of Christ reigning in an imperfect Church. King David, whose throne is to last from “age to age”, commits a horrific concoction of sins: lust, betrayal, violence, deception. It is clear, then, that the eternal kingdom promised from David’s ancestry does not depend upon men, but divine providence. The scandal of the Cross already present in David’s reign was present in Peter’s denial, Judas’ betrayal, and is there today in a Church that has become wrought with scandal, tepidity, weakness, and seeming impotence.
And yet… the King continues to reign, the Kingdom continues to grow, subtly, quietly—like a mustard tree, spreading its branches further and further. Throughout her history, the Tree has appeared alive, budding, spreading its fragrance and fruit to the far reaches of the earth… and at other times, its leaves have fallen, and seemingly all appeared dead; branches were pruned while others appeared dormant. And then, a new springtime comes, and once again she bursts into life.
Or the Church, is like a crop…
…it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. (Today’s Gospel)
That is to say, generations come and go through days of glory and nights of tribulation, all the while the storms of revolution, war, disease, and famine rage about. But the crop keeps growing, along with the weeds, until at last the Divine Farmer will wield “the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”
Will the Son of Man find faith on earth when He returns? The answer is yes. That is the secret in today’s parables: the Kingdom will prevail through nights and days, the change of seasons, the birth of kings, the fall of dynasties, the rise of empires, the collapse of orders, and reign of antichrists. Only those who have the heart of David—to recognize their sin and to trust in the promise of Christ, despite the scandal of the Cross—will have the spiritual eyes to see that, behind the veil of weakness, still lies the Bride of Christ.
Christ the Lord already reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet subjected to him. The triumph of Christ’s kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil… The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 680, 865
I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ. —POPE FRANCIS, his words on being elected the 267th pontiff; americamagazine.org
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|1.||↑||Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 669|
|2.||↑||cf. The Last Two Eclipses|