THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for October 7th, 2014
Our Lady of the Rosary
Liturgical texts here
Jesus with Martha and Mary from Anton Laurids Johannes Dorph (1831-1914)
THERE is no such thing as a Christian without the Church. But there is no Church without authentic Christians…
Today, St. Paul continues to give his testimony of how he was given the Gospel, not by man, but by a “revelation of Jesus Christ.” Yesterday’s first reading Yet, Paul is not a lone ranger; he brings himself and his message into and under the authority that Jesus conferred upon the Church, beginning with the “rock”, Cephas, the first pope:
I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days.
As Pope Francis said earlier this year,
You cannot understand a Christian outside of the people of God. The Christian is not a nomad [but] belongs to a people: the Church… A Christian without a church is something purely idealistic, it is not real. —Homily, May 15th, 2014, Vatican City, www.catholicnewsagency.com
I am reminded of St. Jerome, one of the first translators of the Scriptures, whom Evangelicals might call a “bible-believing” Christian. Jerome wrote to Pope Damasus, saying:
I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness, that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. —St. Jerome, A.D. 396 , Letters 15:2
But then, in the Gospel, Jesus reveals that the Church is to be much more than simply a Church of rules, hierarchy, and strict observance of the laws. At the heart of it is coming to the wellspring of the Redeemer’s love and drinking deeply from it, loving Him in return. It is gazing into the eyes of your Creator, He whom the Psalmist says “knit me in my mother’s womb”, and letting His mercy utterly change you.
This is the heart of Christianity, the “better part”, as Jesus puts it. Because as we fall in love with Jesus, He exchanges our stony hearts for a heart of flesh, and this wellspring of love and mercy begins to transform us. It moves us to live out the “lesser part,” that is, the will of God in His commandments, as an authentic expression of our love for Him and our neighbour. cf. John 15:10 Together, contemplation and action, form a single part, or rather, “heart” in the Christian. “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others,” cf. Col 3:2 or as Paul put it in yesterday’s first reading:
If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ. (Gal 6:10)
St. Paul was the quintessential blend of both Martha and Mary. His whole life was a gaze transfixed upon the Lord, and from this contemplation sprung forth actions that were not a mere fulfillment of the law, but the love and power of God in action through Him—the “two parts” moving as one, like the ventricles of a heart pumping blood. Contemplation, drawing in the life-blood of Christ; action, moving it toward God and neighbour.
There is need of only one thing, Jesus says to you and I today, and it is love in action. Although Jesus says that Mary chose the “better part”, that does not mean that Mary was not also doing the “lesser part,” because it was, in fact, the Lord’s will at that moment that she be still and listen to her Teacher. One does not exist without the other, no more than a Christian can exist without the Church.
There is one other saint who can teach us how to live a life of contemplation and action, and she does so most beautifully through the Rosary. Through this prayer, not only do we meditate on her and her Son’s perfect example, but we also receive the grace to imitate them.
Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer. —SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 1; vatican.va
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|1.||↑||Yesterday’s first reading|
|2.||↑||cf. John 15:10|
|3.||↑||cf. Col 3:2|
|4.||↑||Although Jesus says that Mary chose the “better part”, that does not mean that Mary was not also doing the “lesser part,” because it was, in fact, the Lord’s will at that moment that she be still and listen to her Teacher.|