Catholic homily outline for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Year B

The Holy Family is and every human family should be an image of the Blessed Trinity

The Holy Family is and every human family should be an image of the Blessed Trinity

Central idea: God reveals who he is by what he does. Doctrine: The Blessed Trinity. Practical application: Devotion to the Blessed Trinity.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 165, click here.

Central idea: God reveals who he is by what he does

Reading 1 Dt 4:32-34, 39-40

Moses said to the people:

“Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
Was it ever heard of?
Did a people ever hear the voice of God
speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself
from the midst of another nation,
by testings, by signs and wonders, by war,
with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors,
all of which the LORD, your God,
did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
This is why you must now know,
and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God
in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today,
that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

  • In history, by his actions, the only almighty God has revealed himself to Israel and has done good to her. Continuing to receive this good requires her keeping his revealed Law.
  • God reveals his inner life by his works (CCC 236). Through the events of the history of Israel, God reveals that he is one, almighty, and good.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
For he spoke, and it was made;
he commanded, and it stood forth.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.

  • Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. Who are the people the Lord has chosen to be his own?
    • God chose the whole human race in Adam and Noah.
    • He chose the Jews in Abraham, Moses, and David.
    • In Christ, God chooses Christians.
    • God chooses everyone but some don’t know it and some don’t want it.
    • Those who don’t know it need our apostolate. Those who don’t want it need our good example.

Reading 2 Rom 8:14-17

Brothers and sisters:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

  • As Moses recounted, the Lord did good to Israel. What is the good God does for us?
    • He leads us by the Spirit of God, by the Holy Spirit.
    • He blesses us with life and saves and sanctifies us.
    • The pinnacle of what God does for us is that he adopts us to be children of God. This is why we can call God the Father, “Abba.”

Alleluia Rev 1:8

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
to God who is, who was, and who is to come.

  • We glorify God—who he is and what he does—by being his glorious handiwork.
  • How then can we be glorious? We can do so through contemplation of truth, enjoyment of beauty, and especially doing good, even in suffering.
  • In the Eucharist, we glorify God by our gifts, prayer, and praise. In the Eucharist, God glorifies us by giving us his Son and the Holy Spirit.

Gospel Mt 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

  • As we saw in the first reading, Moses declares the one God and orders Israel to keep the commandments Moses enjoins on them.
  • Now, Christ declares the three persons in the one God and commissions his disciples to make disciples of all nations through baptism and keeping Christ’s commands.
  • Just as Moses’ revelation was for the good of the Jews and their children in their earthly life, Christ’s revelation is for our good and the good of our children so that we may have eternal life.

Doctrine: The Blessed Trinity

  • At the core of our Catholic faith is the mystery of the Trinity, and the invitation for us to participate in this divine life (Homiletic Directory §21).
  • This reality about God is revealed and man’s salvation is effected through the Paschal Mystery (HD §21), which is re-presented in this Mass.
  • What is revealed about God?
    • There is only one God. Yet within this one God there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
    • Jesus reveals that God “is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: ‘No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ (Mt 11:27)” (CCC 240).
    • This is why “the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’; as ‘the image of the invisible God’; as the ‘radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature’ (Jn 1:1; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3)” (CCC 241).
    • This is why, “following this apostolic tradition” the Church calls the Son “consubstantial with the Father, that is, one only God with him” (CCC 242).
    • And, as we will affirm in the Creed, the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” To explain, “The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son; He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration…. And, since the Father has through generation given to the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.” (CCC 246).
    • As the Athanasian Creed summarizes this: “The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.”
  • One very accessible image we have of the Blessed Trinity is the human family.
    • Like the Father, “In the procreation and education of children [the family] reflects the Father’s work of creation.
    • Like the Son, the family “is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the Word of God strengthen it in charity.
    • And like the Holy Spirit, “the Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task.” (CCC 2205)“The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.”

Practical application: Devotion to the Blessed Trinity

  • This week we can make the Sign of the Cross and pray the Doxology with more awareness and gratitude for what the Blessed Trinity has done for us and with longing to see these divine persons face to face.
  • We can also mediate on how our families—whether families of birth or of marriage—was, is, or could better an image of the Blessed Trinity.
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Catholic homily outline for Pentcost Sunday – Mass during the Day

Detail of Penecost by El Greco

Detail of Penecost by El Greco

Central idea: The Gift of the Holy Spirit. Doctrine: The unity of Easter, Pentecost, and the Eucharist. Practical application: The invocation of the Holy Spirit.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 63, click here.

Central idea: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Reading 1 Acts 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”

  • On Pentecost morning Christ’s promise to send the Holy Spirit is fulfilled. It descended on them like “tongues as of fire.”
  • “[F]ire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions.” Like fire which transforms what it touches into fire, the Holy Spirit also “transforms what he touches.” On the morning of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples in the form of tongues ‘as of fire’ “and fills them with himself” (CCC 696).
  • How are the Apostles transformed? They can now boldly speak about God in a way that everyone can understand, regardless of their origin, and also regardless of their condition:
    “whether they are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons” (1 Cor 12:13).

Responsorial Psalm Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth or Alleluia.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
the earth is full of your creatures;

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.

If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

  • One of the reasons men praise God’s greatness is because of his manifold living creatures.
  • We and they depend on God for existence. Every living thing dies and its body decomposes, but God continually gives new life by sending his creative spirit.
  • The new “creature” created on the day of Pentecost is the Church. The new breath which is in the disciples is the Holy Spirit. It gives life to the Church and renews her daily.

Reading 2 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

  • The Holy Spirit makes each one of us members of the Body of Christ, his Church, despite any outward differences of race, creed of origin, ethnic group, social standing, or economic condition.
  • The Holy Spirit does not just unite us to Christ and one another. He also gives every one of us spiritual gifts for some benefit—our own benefit and the benefit of others.

Or Gal 5:16-25

Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit
and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
these are opposed to each other,
so that you may not do what you want.
But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry,
sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy,
outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness,
dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,
drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh
with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

  • What does St. Paul mean by being under the law and not being under the law?
    • The myriad evil acts he catalogues condemns one according to the moral law.
    • However, when it comes to any grace-assisted natural virtue (like patience), or any supernatural virtue (like love), or any of their fruits (like joy), these can be practiced and enjoyed without any limit. They are wholly good.
  • The Catechism says that the Holy Spirit “transforms what he touches” and fills those he touches “with himself” (CCC 696).
  • What is this “himself” that those who are touched by the Holy Spirit receive?
    • The Holy Spirit’s nature can be seen in the effect he has on men who “live in the Spirit” and “follow the Spirit”: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control.”

Gospel Jn 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

  • Easter and Pentecost are so close as to form one event. On the evening of the Resurrection, Our Lord gave his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. One manifestation of this was their power to forgive sins, something which, up till then, only God possessed.

Or Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”

  • The apostles, back then, and the Magisterium of the Church, today, can testify to the truth of our salvation because of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    • This means that the laity can also testify to the truth, so long as what we say is agreement with the deposit of faith.
  • Our souls can bless and glorify God because through the Holy Spirit we know the Son and through him the Father.

Doctrine: The unity of Easter, Pentecost, and the Eucharist

  • The first reading recounts what happened on the morning of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples accompanied by Mary, how they received this gift of tongues, and how they were emboldened to proclaim the Gospel. As the Communion antiphon puts it, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke of the marvels of God.”
  • Yet the Gospel recounts how fifty days earlier, on the evening of Easter Sunday, “the risen Lord breathed on his disciples and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (Jn 20:22).
  • “Easter is” This is to say, “Easter is already the gift of the Holy Spirit.” However, “Pentecost is the convincing manifestation of Easter to all the nations, uniting many tongues in one new language of understanding ‘the mighty acts of God’ (Acts 2:11) displayed in Jesus’ death and resurrection.”
  • Today, the Church prays that in this Mass “the Holy Spirit may reveal to us more abundantly the hidden mystery of this sacrifice and graciously lead us into all truth” (Prayer over the Offerings). “This sacrifice” is the same event as the Last Supper and the Passion of Christ. The “all truth” is what Our Lord promised his disciples at the Last Supper, which was accomplished through the Holy Spirit.
  • Our reception of Holy Communion today “becomes the Pentecost event” for us. We, too, are “all filled with the Holy Spirit” and can speak “of the marvels of God.” Thus, these scriptures are fulfilled in our worthy reception of the Eucharist.
  • In this way, not only is Easter Pentecost, “Eucharist is” (Homiletic Directory §56)

Practical Application: Invocation of the Holy Spirit

  • When we receive the Eucharist well, that is, in a state of grace and with faith, we are once again infused with the Holy Spirit and can speak to others of the marvels of God.
    • One thing we can do is to bask in the presence of the Holy Spirit by praying the sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus each day this week. We recited this before the Gospel.
    • Another is to learn and pray often the invocation of the Holy Spirit asking for the help of the Holy Spirit.
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Catholic homily outline for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B – The Holy Name

St. Peter

St. Peter

Central idea: Christ cares for us, his children, through his Church. Doctrine: The holy name of Jesus. Practical application: Reverence for the Holy Name.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 60, click here.

For homily outlines for the Solemnity of the Ascension look here or here.

Central idea: God cares for us, his children, through his Church

Reading 1 Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers
—there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons
in the one place —.
He said, “My brothers,
the Scripture had to be fulfilled
which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand
through the mouth of David, concerning Judas,
who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.
He was numbered among us
and was allotted a share in this ministry.

“For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
May another take his office.

“Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men
who accompanied us the whole time
the Lord Jesus came and went among us,
beginning from the baptism of John
until the day on which he was taken up from us,
become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
So they proposed two, Judas called Barsabbas,
who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

  • To be an apostle means to have an “office,” that is, an established position of authority and trust within an organization, in this case the Church. In their prayer, those gathered called the office “this apostolic ministry.”
  • The twelve apostles were chosen by Christ. The new apostle, Matthias, was chosen by the eleven apostles and the Holy Spirit. Peter, the head of the apostles, takes the initiative in filling Judas’ office.
  • This is the beginning of apostolic succession: those who have been given the office of apostle give that office to other men. Thus we have the line of popes and bishops from the time of Christ down to today.
  • Christ does not leave his Church orphaned but cares for her through the Holy Spirit and the ongoing “apostolic ministry.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20

R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven or Alleluia.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
you mighty in strength, who do his bidding.

  • To bless means to glorify, to extoll as holy or perfectly good.
  • Any soul who has any insight into God’s nature spontaneously blesses him.
  • God also deserves our blessing because of “all his benefits.”
  • One kind of benefit is his kindness toward those who fear him, that is, those who accept they are his creatures and never want to offend their creator.
    • For Christians, fear of the Lord also includes the desire a good child has not to offend his perfectly good Father.
  • A second benefit is his perfect forgiveness of our sins. The only “divorce” children of God desire is the division God has made between us and our forgiven sins, “as far as the east is from the west.”
  • We followers of Christ can hardly begin to extoll God for all the benefits he continues to give us to care for us through his Church: the Sacraments, virtues, and the Truth.

Reading 2 1 Jn 4:11-16

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.

  • God the Father loves us.
  • We must love one another.
  • If we love one another, God’s love is “brought to perfection in us.”
  • We have the experience of the Holy Spirit to confirm God’s love is in us.
  • We acknowledge that “Jesus is the Son of God.”
  • Our love for one another is the seal or guarantee that we are united to God.
  • Mutual love, which unites us to one another, to the Church, and therefore to the Blessed Trinity, is an on-going challenge to us while we are in the world.

Gospel Jn 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

  • Due to the truly good things that technological progress brings, it is easy to forget that the world is still under the dominion of the evil one. But all you have to do is open your eyes and look around and see all the commandments being broken everywhere.
  • Through our ignorance, or passions, or even malice, we baptized followers of Christ can also be in league with the world and the devil.
  • Therefore, we need protection from the harm the world wants to do to us. We need protection from our own self-destructive desire to join the world that is under the dominion of the evil one.
  • Our Lord says the remedy is to be “consecrated in truth.” Our Lord not only teaches us the truth about reality but he himself is the Truth.
  • So we have a choice.
    • We can unite with him. If we do, we will face the wrath of the world. But Our Lord promises to protect us ultimately.
    • Or we can give ourselves over to the world, and whether or not we realize it, to the evil one. If we do, we may receive the short-term “benefits” the world promises. But then we will experience the destruction that the evil one really has in mind.
  • Uniting ourselves with Christ is a gift of divine grace which we choose to accept and cooperate with through our efforts.
  • The Father must consecrate us and he will because we belong to his Son who sends us into the world.
  • Thus, in our lives in this world, we are not orphans (Jn 14:18).

Doctrine: The Holy Name of Jesus

  • Today’s Gospel is an excerpt from Our Lord’s “priestly prayer” which he prayed with his disciples at the Last Supper (CCC 2747).
  • In this priestly prayer, which is “inseparable from his sacrifice” (CCC 2747), Our Lord fulfills “from within” the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (CCC 2750): “concern for the Father’s name; passionate zeal for his kingdom (glory);the accomplishment of the will of the Father, of his plan of salvation; and deliverance from evil” (CCC 2750).
    • Our Lord taught his disciples and us to pray the Our Father, so it is a prayer for human beings who are living in this world but who are also citizens of heaven. But at the same time, Our Lord lived out and fulfilled those petitions. This is fitting because he was not just true God but true man, the perfect man.
  • “By entering into the holy name of the Lord Jesus we can accept, from within, the prayer he teaches us” (CCC 2750).
    • What is “the holy name of the Lord Jesus”? Our Savior is Jesus Christ, Emmanuel. These names mean the person God has set apart for us (Christ or anointed), who is with us always (Emmanuel or God-with-us), and who saves us from sin and death (Jesus or savior).
    • How do we enter this name? We enter his name by becoming a Christian through Baptism. We enter his name more deeply by conforming ourselves more and more to Christ. And we reenter his name life after we have drawn back from it by sin, indifference, or thoughtlessness.
    • What does it mean to accept from within the prayer he teaches us? The Christian life, as summed up in the Lord’s Prayer, is possible. It has already been perfectly fulfilled by Our Lord, who wants to help us fulfill it as well. He helps us by his grace. It is desirable to fulfill because he who is desirable has done it. Even the difficult and sacrificial parts of fulfilling the will of the Father are also desirable and possible because Our Lord has done it.

Practical application: Reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus.

  • Second Council of Lyons (AD 1274) said that “Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that name which is above every name, than which no other under heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the name, that is, of Jesus Christ, who will save his people from their sins.”
    • Here is how the Council Fathers said this reverence should specifically be made: “Each should fulfill in himself that which is written for all that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious name is recalled, especially during the sacred mysteries of the mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head” (§ 25).
  • Pope Gregory X asked the Dominican order especially to preach the need for people to bow their heads at Mass at the name of Jesus.
  • Later, the Holy Name Society was erected to uphold the divinity of Christ, to honor his name, and to oppose “heresy, blasphemies, cursing, swearing and the irreverent and unholy use of the Name of God” prevalent in society, “especially by men.”
  • Thus a good habit we can form is to nod our heads whenever we hear the name of Jesus spoken.
  • Bowing inwardly in honor of the name of our loving savior makes us put ourselves directly in opposition to any misuse of the name of God and any other sins of the tongue. As the Holy Name Pledge puts it, “In honor of His Divine Name I pledge myself against perjury, blasphemy, profanity and obscene speech.”
  • Misuse of the tongue for us is matter for Sacramental Confession. And when we witness it in others, it calls for inward reparation on our part. If appropriate, it also might call for correction of the other person.
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Catholic homily outline for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B – The virtue of friendliness

Road to Emmaus

Road to Emmaus

Central idea: God is love and wants us to love one another. Doctrine: The virtue of friendliness. Practical application: Becoming friendlier.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 56, click here.

Central idea: God is love and wants us to love one another

Reading 1 Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him
and, falling at his feet, paid him homage.
Peter, however, raised him up, saying,
“Get up. I myself am also a human being.”

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.”

While Peter was still speaking these things,
the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.
The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter
were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles also,
for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
Then Peter responded,
“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people,
who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?”
He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

  • Before Jesus ascended to the Father, he gave the apostles their great commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).
  • Now Peter, the head of the apostles, sees even more clearly what the great commission means.
  • Membership in the Church that Christ founded is for everyone: “in every nation whoever fears [God] and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
  • Peter’s eyes are opened due to (1) the vision he, a circumcised believer, received; (2) the vision Cornelius, the uncircumcised Gentile, received; (3) the way Cornelius and his household and friends responded to the message Peter preached to them; and (4) the fact that the Holy Spirit was poured out on them.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power or Alleluia.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

  • Our Lord Jesus Christ has won victory over sin and death for us. He battled them in his Passion and won his victory by his Resurrection.
  • He did this out of his kindness and faithfulness.
    • As St. John put it in our second reading, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”
  • God’s justice is to save us all: his first chosen in “the house of Israel” and then his second chosen—all the rest of humanity—to “the ends of the earth.”

Reading 2 1 Jn 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

  • John the Evangelist reflects on the words of Jesus that he recorded in his gospel (below).
  • God has made a one-way communication to man. He shows us what love is by sending his Son into the world “as expiation for our sins.”
  • First he loved us, then we respond by loving one another.
  • When we respond in this way we show we are begotten by God, know God, and have God’s life in us.
  • To be begotten by God means to be a child of God.

Gospel Jn 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

  • Jesus Christ is a communicator. He communicates God to man. He reveals who God is, teaches us what God wants, and gives God’s own life to man. It is a one-way communication by which man receives:
    • “As the Father loves me, so also I love you.”
    • “I have told you everything I have heard from my father.”
    • “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”
  • But man only really receives God by responding to what is communicated to him.
  • What does God want man to do? He wants us to “love one another as I love you.” Christ loves us as a friend who lays down his life out of friendship.
  • We are now friends of God, not slaves of God.
    • Man can easily understand and even accept being God’s slave or servant. Under that regime, we must do what God wants or else.
    • But what God really wants is man’s friendship, which means God has made a certain equality between God and man. He does this by lowering himself in becoming man through the Incarnation and by raising man to himself through the Redemption.
  • This friendship is not for a select few but is intended for everyone. To return to what St. Peter realized in his encounter with Cornelius, “in every nation whoever fears [God] and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”

Doctrine: The virtue of friendliness

  • God is love. One way love is expressed is in friendship. Friends act in a friendly way.
  • We are called to love everyone. God-in-Christ has restored us to friendship with him, ourselves, one other, and even creation.
  • One way we build friendship with our fellow man is through friendliness. Friendliness is a way of showing love toward others.
  • Friendliness is the virtue by which we show to others that we welcome, accept, value and support them. Friendliness helps us to make and keep friends. Friendliness helps us to ‘just get along’ with people in all sorts of situations. It assists us in cooperating with others to achieve goals. Other names for friendliness are sociability and agreeableness.
    • Flattery is the vice of feigning friendship to manipulate. Lack of friendliness is also a vice: nobody likes to be around a surly, self-interested lout.
  • People deserve our friendliness because of their inherent human dignity. On the practical level, we also need to be friendly to just about everyone. We are all members of the human community. We depend on each other. Friendliness makes cooperation easier and we need to cooperate.
  • Friendliness or sociability is the good habit of acting in a friendly way toward others. It is the possession of a wide range of positive qualities which makes one approachable to another, good to be with, and helpful to one’s friend. So, friendliness is . . .
    • Affectionate, warm, welcoming. You really do like the other and are happy to be with him or her. You show this in some physical way, like a smile, a handshake, a pat on the back, a kiss of greeting, your tone of voice, a hug, holding hands, and so on.
    • Delighted and admiring. Your friend is attractive to you because you see his or her good qualities and you rejoice in them.
    • Altruistic, benevolent, beneficial, generous and helpful. You want good things to come to your friend and will actively help him or her when you can. You willingly give of what you have to benefit your friend. In essence, you are kind toward your friend.
    • Benign. You do no harm to your friend.
    • Attentive, considerate, sympathetic and supportive. You are aware of what the other person is thinking and feeling and change your behavior accordingly so as to benefit him or her. For example, you may either sympathize with a friend who is feeling sad or try to cheer him up. You read the signals to judge if the other is hungry, thirsty, or tired. You listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
    • Patient, peaceful and easy-going. While you and your friend may do something exciting, even risky or dangerous, you don’t do anything to antagonize your companion. You don’t fly off the handle or show annoyance at him. You don’t criticize him. You and your friend can be quiet around each other. You can calm each other down.
    • Civil, cordial, courteous and respectful. You observe the proper forms of speech and gestures to make the way easy for you both. Once you know another person well, it is appropriate for your civility to become informal and familiar, even sharing ways of relating which are particular to the two of you. Nicknames and inside jokes are examples.
    • Cheerful. Nothing shows friendliness more than a cheerful smile and a pleasant expression. Around your friend, you are cheerful because you are with someone you like and doing something you both enjoy. Sometimes the two of you are engaged in an unpleasant job, but because you are with a person with whom you are in sympathy, you can find the activity more bearable.
    • Humorous. After cheerfulness, a good sense of humor is a great asset in friendliness. The best sense of humor finds incongruity in the situation or is at the expense of the speaker. Any laughing at the weaknesses of your companion could destroy whatever good will you have established between the two of you.
    • Forgiving, lenient, conciliatory and understanding. You know that friction easily occurs between people, even well-meaning ones. You are quick to forgive and forget, putting behind you offences the friend might accidentally have caused you. You say you are sorry if you are aware you have offended, but you don’t make your friendliness dependent on your friend asking pardon.
    • Communicative and responsive. The relationship between the two of you is built on a two-way verbal communication, reinforced by body language. In regard to facial expressions, while happiness is the fundamental one, what is also important is mirroring the friend. If your friend is disgusted with something, you can also look disgusted, since you are showing disgust not toward your friend but toward the thing he hates. On the other hand, if your friend is angry at something and you simply display a friendly, joking attitude, you are not respecting your friend’s feelings.
    • Cooperative. The essence of friendship is doing activities together. Thus, friends don’t have the attitude of ‘it must be done my way or the highway.’ They work together and are generally willing to give in on matters of personal preference in order to achieve their common aims.
    • Loyal, faithful, devoted, and trustworthy. Your friend can trust you both when you are with him or her and when you are absent. Your friend is confident that you will not speak or work against him behind his back. Mutual confidence (literally, with faith) is one of the bases of your on-going relationship.

Practical application: Becoming friendlier

  • One way to become friendlier is to discover your predominate fault (the negative behavior you constantly seem to fall into) when it comes to friendliness and then form a practical resolution to combat that.
    • You might articulate your various roles (spouse, parent, worker, church member, etc.) and look at the various facets of friendliness in light of those roles. For example, you can ask yourself, Am I cheerful to my spouse, to my children, and to my fellow flea circus trainers?
    • Maybe you realize you are surly toward family members when you are doing a job around the house you find unpleasant or frustrating. Then, you work on being cheerful while you do those kinds of jobs. Maybe you offer the work up to God beforehand for your family, whistle while you work, and promise yourself a little reward when it is done. If you follow this plan repeatedly, you will likely become more pleasant in these situations.
  • Is there any area in your life in which you give yourself permission to act like a jerk? Some people act this way toward clerks, waiters, customer service representatives, or people in similar roles, or toward their children, spouses, or employees.
    • If you realize you are abrupt toward people who cannot harm you back in any way, then a special effort to be friendly to them will help you correct this disorder and become more agreeable to everyone else in your life.
  • Friendly people regularly reach out to others. They are hospitable.
    • Invite someone to go somewhere or to do something with you. You could ask a coworker to take a walk with you at lunch or to go grab a cup of coffee in the afternoon. One family could invite another family over for brunch or dessert. Friendliness can also be cultivated by accepting an invitation, even if you would rather chill out by yourself.
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Catholic homily outline for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B – Conscience

vine, branches and fruitCentral idea: Christ is the vine and we are his branches. Doctrine: Conscience. Practical application: Formation of conscience.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 53, click here.

Central idea: Christ is the vine and we are his branches

Reading 1 Acts 9:26-31

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
but they were all afraid of him,
not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
and that he had spoken to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
they took him down to Caesarea
and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

  • We are fortunate if we live in a time and a place of peace so the faith can grow, we can teach it to our children, and evangelize.
  • But even where there is not open persecution, the seeds of the world’s hatred of the faith are present. When Paul tried to evangelize the Greek-speaking Jews in Jerusalem, “they tried to kill him.”
  • Just because Paul had to flee from one place, he did not cease to speak “out boldly in the name of the Lord” in the next. Rejection did not silence him.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people or Alleluia.

I will fulfill my vows before those who fear the LORD.
The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
“May your hearts live forever!”

All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the LORD;
all the families of the nations
shall bow down before him.

To him alone shall bow down
all who sleep in the earth;
before him shall bend
all who go down into the dust.

And to him my soul shall live;
my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
the justice he has shown.

  • In Jesus Christ Our Lord we have deliverance from every evil and affliction and from death.
  • He is the savior of the world—past, present, and future.
  • Our duty is to evangelize our families and our neighbors so everyone in the world will know this and turn to him for salvation.

Reading 2 1 Jn 3:18-24

Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.

  • We should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Jesus’ one commandment, which encompasses the entire moral order, is to love one another as he has loved us, and this entails also believing in him.
  • Let us love not in words or speech but in deed and truth. John does not mean that our words cannot be loving or hateful. Clearly, they can be either. Rather, he means that every act, whether accompanied by words or not, should be actually loving.
  • To give a stark example, if a daughter has gotten pregnant because of premarital sex, one kind of father out of anger and shame might be convinced he should kill her. Another father might think in his heart that there is nothing amiss or even that they should celebrate. The Christian father, regardless of how he feels, will evaluate this news from the perspective of Christ and his commandment of love. His response might include recognition of the truth of the objective evil of the situation (the sin against chastity and a child likely deprived of a father), forgiveness, and then mercy toward his daughter and her unborn child.This is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn. At times, there may be a conflict between what we think and feel is right and what is actually “love . . . in deed and truth.” In this case we should pray and the Holy Spirit will assure us that Christ’s commandments are the better way to go.

Gospel Jn 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

  • Through the analogy of the vine and the branches—among other analogies Our Lord employs—“Jesus discloses what God the Father has given to humanity in the person of the Son.” Jesus gives “life, deliverance from darkness to confident sight, triumph over death by resurrection, [and] knowledge of the Father and full communion with him.” “At the same time [Our Lord] shows what people should do to draw benefit from the gifts his presence brings: come to him, believe in him, follow him and remain in him.” (The Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Bible and Morality: Biblical Roots of Christian Conduct49)
  • To be a Christian and to not remain united with Christ means to become dead and fruitless. It is terrible to imagine living one’s life in this way.
  • The fate of a Christian who does not remain united to Christ is even more terrible to imagine: like a fruitless branch, he is cut off, he withers up, and then he is burned up with the other dead branches in a fire.
  • To be a Christian united to Christ also means to endure being pruned of the parts that are dead or lead to death so that we can bear fruit.
  • What is the fruit we are to bear? It is endlessly varied but it consists of every good act that a human being who is also a follower of Christ can produce.
  • Part of this fruitfulness is to proclaim the truth of Christ as St. Paul did, teach this truth to the next generation like David exhorts us in the Psalm, moderate our conduct according to this truth as John advises, and stay united to it like Our Lord himself teaches us in the parable of the vine.

Doctrine: Conscience

  • In today’s second reading, St. John the Evangelist recognizes there can be conflicts between what we think is right and what God thinks. John calls this faculty of moral judgment the heart. He means what we call conscience.
  • Conscience is one’s reason sitting in judgment over one’s actions based on one’s understanding of what is really good and evil.
  • John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor (“The Splendor of Truth”), “Conscience is . . . an act of a person’s intelligence, the function of which is to apply the universal knowledge of the good in a specific situation and thus to express a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now” (§ 32).
  • Conscience, therefore, must subordinate its judgments to the objective moral order established by God.
  • While conscience does decide what acts are right or wrong, it does not decide what right and wrong are. Right is what agrees with God’s law. Conscience uses its understanding of God’s law as the basis for judging its particular actions. Conscience’s understanding could be wrong, so it has to keep trying to improve its understanding.
  • Conscience is a gift from God that enables us to show God we love him by the choices we make. Our choices which accord with his law show him he is first in our hearts.
  • However, we are born knowing nothing and our moral education can easily be twisted because of original sin. Those are two reason we have to form our conscience.
  • We form our conscience first by learning the content of the moral law. It starts with the Ten Commandments. Because we are followers of Christ, we also want our judgments to align with the teachings Jesus Christ and his Church. If you know the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” in every situation, your conscience is formed perfectly.

Practical application: Formation of Conscience

  • A conscience that is properly formed knows not only what the moral teachings of Christ and his Church are, but also understands how to apply them to concrete, real-life situations. This is an ideal, but we can approach it through a number of means:
    • Learning the principles of morality, especially with the help of the Magisterium of the Church.
    • Experience in making moral decisions. We can learn from our mistakes and from the better and worse decisions we see others make.
    • Sincerely examining one’s conscience daily.
    • Receiving the sacraments regularly, especially Penance.
    • Having a personal relationship with Christ is key to imitating him.
    • Receiving spiritual direction. Get good advice and an objective viewpoint.
    • Avoiding what is harmful to our relationship with God. Deliberate sin blinds us.
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Catholic homily outline for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B – The good shepherd

Good shepherdCentral idea: Christ is the good shepherd. Doctrine: Responsibilities of a good shepherd. Practical application: Supporting one’s bishop.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 50, click here.

Central idea: Christ is the good shepherd.

Reading 1 Acts 4:8-12

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said:
“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know
that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead;
in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders,
which has become the cornerstone.
There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

  • Peter makes an extremely bold claim. It is that Jesus Christ is the one and only savior of the world. “There is no salvation through anyone else,” not even Moses.
  • Peter’s proof to the Jewish authorities is the healing of the cripple by the power of Jesus Christ. This proof is hard for those authorities to accept, since they rejected Jesus.
  • A very important virtue every one of us needs—especially those in authority—is humility. A humble person can accept, when given adequate evidence, that he has been wrong about something. A humble person can then adopt the truth, which he now sees. A humble person can also then adapt his behavior to the truth, which he now sees.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29

R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone or Alleluia.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his kindness endures forever.

  • In ancient days, princes and kings were the most likely sources of security because of their strength and wealth. We are still tempted to think that safety lies in power and money.
  • But God taught the Chosen People that real security comes from him. God is the savior.
  • We can see Christ our saving Lord in this psalm. He came in the name of the Lord, was rejected by men, especially the men of power, and became “the cornerstone” of salvation for the Chosen People and the whole world.
  • The building of which Christ serves as cornerstone is his Church.

Reading 2 1 Jn 3:1-2

See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.

  • In today’s Gospel, we get a glimpse of the unity that Christ creates between God and man: The Father and Jesus know each other; Jesus and his disciples know each other; the logical conclusion is that Jesus’ disciples and the Father must also know each other. Indeed, Our Lord told his apostles, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).
  • For a sheep with its needs, it is enough to be a beloved sheep of the good human shepherd. For a human being with our needs, it might be enough to be a beloved subject or servant of Christ our divine master. Yet we are infinitely more: We are, by gift, children of God: we shall even be like God.
  • It is astonishing to us that we are children of God, “yet so we are.” It is astonishing that “the world” does not recognize this. But “the world” does not know us because it did not know Christ.
  • We have to make Christ known, but in the meantime, we have this secret treasure of being in this relationship with God that will unfold later into something even more astonishing.

Gospel Jn 10:11-18

Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”

  • The good shepherd owns the sheep he cares for. His sheep know they belong to him; they recognize his voice; and they follow him. He has true concern for them. When the wolf attacks, he stays with the sheep to defend them, risking his safety to do so. He will even lay down his life to protect them. He is a kind of father to his sheep.
  • Jesus has laid down his life for us because he has true concern for us.
  • He has done so to defend us against every evil: the devil, sin, and death.
  • Christ knows us and we know him.
  • We know God the Father through him.
  • Although those persons who belong to him are found scattered throughout the world and throughout time, we really do form one Church.
  • Christ was able to defend us from every evil, because he had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again.

Doctrine: Responsibilities of a good shepherd

  • While Jesus Christ is the good shepherd, every Christian who exercises any responsibility toward others also has the duty of acting as a good shepherd. For example, every teacher, coach, and supervisor has a duty of care toward the children under them.
  • This duty to be a good shepherd particularly falls on bishops, especially diocesan bishops, who are the pastors or shepherds of the faithful of the dioceses entrusted to them. One’s diocesan bishop has Christ’s power, which he first gave to his apostles, to teach, sanctify, and rule the portion of Christ’s people entrusted to him.
  • The Code of Canon Law spells these episcopal responsibilities. Here are some of them.
    • The bishop’s duty of care is very wide. According to Can. 383 §1, “In exercising his pastoral office, the diocesan Bishop is to be solicitous for all Christ’s faithful entrusted to his care, whatever their age, condition or nationality, whether they live in the territory or are visiting there. He is to show an apostolic spirit also to those who, because of their condition of life, are not sufficiently able to benefit from ordinary pastoral care, and to those who have lapsed from religious practice.” To those who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church, “He is to act with humanity and charity” (383 §3). And he “is to consider the non-baptized as commended to him in the Lord, so that the charity of Christ, of which the Bishop must be a witness to all, may shine also on them” (383 §4).
    • The bishop’s duty to teach is also very wide: According to Can. 386 §1, “The diocesan Bishop is bound to teach and illustrate to the faithful the truths of faith which are to be believed and applied to behavior. He is himself to preach frequently. He is also to ensure that the provisions of the canons on the ministry of the word, especially on the homily and catechetical instruction, are faithfully observed, so that the whole of christian teaching is transmitted to all.”
    • The bishop must also be an example of holiness. According to Can. 387, “Mindful that he is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life, the diocesan Bishop is to seek in every way to promote the holiness of Christ’s faithful according to the special vocation of each.” As part of these responsibilities, the Code also spells out requirements in terms of being present (rather than absent) from his diocese and visiting all of his diocese (rather than staying in one place) (Can. 395 & 396).

Practical application: Supporting one’s bishop

  • Clearly, one’s bishop has immense responsibilities before God. What are ways that we, the sheep, can support our shepherd?
  • Sheep hear the voice of their shepherd. We can pay attention to what our bishop is saying. Our bishop has the duty to preach and teach and it is only right that we listen attentively and intelligently. Indeed, Can. 212 §1 tells us that “Christ’s faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound to show christian obedience to what the sacred Pastors, who represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith and prescribe as rulers of the Church.” The diocesan newspaper and website are often effective ways of keeping up with what one’s bishop is saying.
  • Sheep also respond to the voice of their shepherd, so he knows where they are and how they are doing.
    • We can show appreciation for the good our bishop is doing by telling him personally or in writing.
    • When we need something or see a need not being filled we can let him know that. (Can 212 §2).
    • When we see something in our bishop’s behavior or something seriously amiss which comes under his purview, we can let him know—rather than practice the sin of detraction in complaining to everyone but him. Indeed, we have the right and at times the duty to let our views be known “on matters which concern the good of the Church” (Can 212 §3).
  • Another important way we can support our shepherd is by praying for him. It would be crazy not to pray every day for one’s family: one’s parents, siblings, spouse, and children. In the same way, we should pray each day for our spiritual family, especially our “fathers”: the pope, one’s bishop, and the pastor of one’s parish.
  • Finally, we can support our bishop by join him in whatever works he is advocating. This requires a discernment of how we can apply some of our time, talent, or treasure along those lines.
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Catholic homily outline for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B – Repent and Be Saved

road to emmausCentral idea: Repent and be saved. Doctrine: Encounter with Christ. Practical application: Face to face with the Truth.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 47, click here.

Central idea: Repent and be saved

Reading 1 Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Peter said to the people:
“The God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus,
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
Now I know, brothers,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

  • In Jerusalem, at Solomon’s Portico in the Temple precincts, Peter has just restored to wholeness the beggar who was lame since birth.
  • The Jews who witnessed this were filled with wonder and Peter took the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them.
  • Our God, he said to them, has glorified Jesus. Even though he was Holy and Righteous, you people denied him before this Gentile ruler who could see his innocence. You people chose a murderer over the author of life, but God made his choice and raised him from the dead.
  • You have an excuse, though, Peter continues: your ignorance, which your leaders shared. You didn’t realize that the Messiah would suffer.
  • The action Peter called them to perform was to “repent . . . and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9

R. Lord, let your face shine on us or R. Alleluia.

When I call, answer me, O my just God,
you who relieve me when I am in distress;
have pity on me, and hear my prayer!

Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one;
the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.

O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!
You put gladness into my heart.

As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep,
for you alone, O LORD,
bring security to my dwelling.

  • When God’s faithful realize they are in trouble, they call upon the Lord to deliver them.
  • Peter’s sermon in Solomon’s Portico uncovered for the Jews gathered around him the serious mistake they had made and the grave evil in which they had participated. But if they repent, everything will be fine again.
  • The colossal mistakes we repeatedly can make are to deny there is something wrong when there is and to deny that we have done something wrong when we have.
  • The sooner we turn to the Lord the sooner we will have an answer, relief, mercy, gladness, security, and peace.

Reading 2 1 Jn 2:1-5a

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
his commandments.
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.

  • It is easy to forget that Christ became man to redeem us from sin.
  • It is easy to forget that we need that redemption because we are sinners.
  • To know Christ is to be friends with him. His friendship toward us is established by being “expiation for our sins.” Our friendship toward him is established by keeping his commandments.
  • When we do not keep his commandments we sin. We can either confess our sins and return to his friendship or deny we have sinned and make ourselves liars who say we know Christ when we don’t.

Gospel Lk 24:35-48

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

  • Christianity began because Christ’s disciples believed he rose from the dead. They believed this because of the evidence of their senses: Christ appeared to them, spoke to them, showed them where he had been wounded, and even ate something in front of them to show them he was no ghost.
  • Luke recounts that the apostles experienced a flood of emotions: they were startled and terrified, troubled and full of questions, and incredulous for joy and amazed.
  • Our Lord gave them a key, so to speak, to understand him and the Jewish Scriptures: His death and resurrection and his disciples’ mission fulfill the law and the prophets and the psalms.
  • Our Lord also gave them their commission: to preach to all nations repentance from sin in his name.
  • Thus the core of our faith and of these readings is this: Christ has saved us from our sins through his suffering so we should repent.
    • Christ is the Savior.
    • He saved us through his suffering.
    • So turn from your sins.
    • Repent and be saved.

Doctrine: Encounter with Christ

  • In the Responsorial Psalm we sang, “The LORD will hear me when I call upon him.”
  • A practical conclusion we can draw from this Psalm is that is that the sooner we turn to him the sooner we will have an answer, relief, mercy, gladness, security, and peace.
  • What is decisive is that in this call and answer there is a real encounter with Christ who can heal us.
  • Pope Francis has written “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord’.”(Evangelium Gaudium §3, quoted in LIOM155)
  • This is why the Church exists, Pope St. John Paul II explains: “In order to make this ‘encounter’ with Christ possible, God willed his Church. Indeed, the Church ‘wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life.’” (Veritatis Splendor §7, quoted in LIOM §156)

Practical application: Face to face with Truth

  • How is one open to a personal encounter with Christ? How does one have this encounter? How can it be daily?
  • In one sense this is something between God and each individual. There are as many ways as there are people. Yet it is possible for us because Baptism makes us children of God. It is also possible through the graces of the other sacraments we have received which persist in us: Confirmation, Matrimony, or Holy Orders. It is also possible through those sacraments we can receive on many occasions, like Reconciliation and, above all, the Eucharist.
  • While this personal encounter comes about through the Church it usually needs to occur in some kind of quietness. This quietness requires not only a withdrawal from the noise and business of the world outside us. It also requires us to quiet ourselves, because we can kneel, close our eyes, and look like we are praying, and yet be completely occupied by our own thoughts.
    • One reason we may want to occupy ourselves even when we are praying is that we are afraid of this encounter actually happening. We can be afraid that God wants to ask for something we don’t want to give.
    • Another reason we might want to occupy ourselves is the fear that nothing will actually occur. We may doubt that God even exists.
  • The answer, I think, are the virtues of courage, love, and optimism: courage to face the truth, love for the truth, and confidence that the truth is always best.
  • In this way, we can say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” or “I come to do your will,” and really mean it. This means we are open to an encounter with Christ.
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Catholic homily outline for the Second Sunday of Easter, Year B – Mercy


Central idea: Christ is the fullness of God’s mercy. Doctrine: Divine mercy. Practical application: Qualities of the merciful.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 44, click here.

Central idea: Christ is the fullness of God’s mercy

Reading 1 Acts 4:32-35

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

  • The first Christians in Jerusalem, gathered around the apostles, formed a community of mutual love.
  • The source of their love for one another was joy in the resurrection of their Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Their Lord’s vicars—the apostles—directed the life of the community. One consequence of their love was the sharing of their property, so no one was in need.
  • The primitive Church lived mercy by taking care of its members who otherwise would be needy.
  • We can see in the forms of religious life that have arisen in the Church echoes of the primitive Church in Jerusalem. Religious live poverty (the individual renunciation of ownership of any property) and obedience to their duly appointed superior.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting or R. Alleluia.

Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”

I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just:

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.

  • His mercy endures forever. God is merciful to human beings. Men understandably plead for God’s mercy when they are in travail, especially when in danger of death. We should also plead for God’s merciful aid as much when we are tempted. And even more, we should plead for God’s merciful forgiveness when we actually sin.
  • I was hard pressed and was falling. In his Passion, Christ was in danger of death, hard pressed and falling, and was, indeed, utterly rejected.
  • The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just. His Resurrection is his “joyful shout of victory.” It is ours, too, because he restores us to a state of justice by his merciful atonement.
  • The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Jesus Christ is that stone. A cornerstone is important because it is the first stone set in a building and every other stone is laid in reference to it. Thus, Christ is the foundation of his Church and every other follower lives in reference to him.
  • This is the day the Lord has made. This cornerstone was laid on the new day of the Resurrection.
  • Let us be glad and rejoice in it. God has done something new for all time, which is a perennial source of joy.

Reading 2 1 Jn 5:1-6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.

  • To be “begotten by God” means to be a child of God.
  • We become children of God by believing that Jesus is the Christ, that is, the savior of the world.
  • Children of God love not only God but also God’s other children.
  • How do we love God and his children? By keeping God’s commandments.
  • These commandments are not mysterious. They are embodied in the natural moral law that can known using reason. They are embodied in the privileged expression of the natural law, which is the Ten Commandments. They are embodied in the two great commandments: To love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. They are embodied above all for the child of God in Christ’s New Commandment: To love one another as Christ has love us, which is to do what is truly good for the other even if it requires sacrifice on our part.
  • As St. John says, this is not burdensome. In fact, it is attainable with God’s help. It is what overcomes the world. It conquers the sin which is the source of the suffering that every person encounters in this world.
    • God’s mercy has come to us through the water and blood that flowed from the pierced side of Christ. It continues to come to us through Baptism and the Eucharist.Thus, God shows his superabundant mercy to us by making us children of God, victors over the sin and death of the world.

Gospel Jn 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

  • God’s mercy, revealed in Christ, takes away something and gives something.
    • What he takes away is sin. One way Christ dispenses this mercy is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He gives his Apostles (and those who hold their office after them) the power to forgive sins. This power requires discretion, for they can either forgive the sin or not. To make this judgment, they must know what the sin is. That is why we also call this sacrament Confession.
      • The consequence of the forgiveness of sins is peace. That is why Jesus’ greeting is “Peace be with you.”
    • What he gives is life, the fullness of eternal life.
  • The signs that Jesus did were miraculous acts whose purpose was to move his disciples to believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief” they might “have life in his name.”
  • John the Evangelist recalls a number of these signs for our sake, that we might have the same life-giving faith.
  • We have not seen these signs with our own eyes, but by hearing about them and believing them, we are those “Blessed . . . who have not seen and believed.”

Doctrine: Divine mercy

  • Paul tells us that “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:4-5). God loves man so much that even when man is dead in sin he gives him life in Christ.
  • Pope St. John Paul II in his second encyclical Dives in misericordia (DM) uncovers the essence of God’s mercy, a mercy we should imitate.
    • “The true and proper meaning of mercy . . . is manifested . . . when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man” (DM §6).
    • Thus, true mercy is not just a feeling of compassion toward someone suffering from physical evil or sin, though, for us, that is a start. It is not just doing something for someone suffering any in those ways, though that is a very good thing for us to do. Rather, it is restoring that person to his or her dignity.
    • “Understood in this way,” St. John Paul II goes on, “mercy constitutes the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ and the constitutive power of His mission (DM §6). In other words, Our Lord’s basic message is God’s mercy toward man; his fundamental work is to restore man to his original dignity.
      • Both the message and the work of God’s mercy are revealed in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The son wrongly thought that his treasure was the material goods he would receive from his father, “but more important than these goods was his dignity as a son in his father’s house” (DM §5). The father still saw the son’s dignity, despite his sin and poverty. His heart went out to him and he restored him to his sonship when he came to his senses and returned home.
    • John Paul II goes on, “[Christ’s] disciples and followers understood and practiced mercy in the same way. Mercy never ceased to reveal itself, in their hearts and in their actions, as an especially creative proof of the love which does not allow itself to be ‘conquered by evil,’ but overcomes ‘evil with good’ (Rom 12:21)” (DM §6).
      • Thus, in his merciful love, God draws good from evil. His followers are called to do the same.

Practical application: Qualities of the merciful

  • God shares his riches with us, including his mercy.
  • Because God was merciful to them, the first members of the Church did not claim their possessions as their own but shared then with persons who otherwise would be needy.
  • Since everything we possess is ultimately a gift from God, we don’t claim anything we possess as our own either. We show mercy to others by sharing our time, talents, and treasures with our neighbor.
  • In one of his homilies, St. Josemaria Escriva gives some practical advice on how followers of Christ can live God’s mercy.
    • Christ “‘began to do and to teach’ (Acts 1:1); he first taught by his action, and then by his divine preaching.”
      • Christ began by serving others. “I really wish we Christians knew how to serve, for only by serving can we know and love Christ and make him known and loved.”
      • A vice in opposition to this mercy is authoritarianism.
    • What else do we need to serve others?
      • We need virtues, because God “normally does not build on disorder, selfishness or emptiness.”
      • We need to be understanding. Everyone does what they do for a reason they think has some good in it.
      • We need to be peacemakers.
      • We need to forgive everyone.
      • We also need truth, not to say evil is not evil.
      • We need not to repay evil with evil but rather to drown evil in an abundance of good.
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Catholic homily outline for Palm Sunday, Year B

Entry into Jerusalem woodcarvingDue to the unique length of today’s Palm Sunday readings, this outline will be limited to a few points about the meaning of the texts

To view Lectionary 37-38, click here.

At the Procession With Palms – Gospel Mk 11:1-10 or Jn 12:12-16

  • The crowd proclaims Jesus Christ as the Messiah. By this, they understand him to be the God-sent, long-awaited heir of David as king.
    • Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
  • But in just a few days they either will abandon him out of fear or will betray him by calling for his crucifixion.
  • Nevertheless, the Anointed King that the prophets foretold was entering his city, Jerusalem, to redeem the Chosen People and all humanity.
    • Fear no more, O daughter Zion; see, your king comes.
  • So, despite people’s fickleness, it was a moment of legitimate great joy.
  • But no one accompanying Jesus the Master had any idea how that redemption would be accomplished, even through it was right there in the Old Testament Scriptures, for example in our first reading and responsorial psalm.

At the Mass – First Reading Is 50:4-7

  • In the first reading, Isaiah gives us a prophetic portrait of Jesus Christ the Messiah as the Suffering Servant.
    • The Suffering Servant belongs to God.
      • No prophet ever belonged to God more than Christ because he was God’s only beloved Son.
    • The Suffering Servant is always listening to God in prayer and has completely conformed himself to God’s will.
      • No prophet ever had Christ’s life of prayer and conformity to the will of the Father.
    • The Suffering Servant speaks God’s compassionate word to the people for their
      • No one ever spoke more compassionate words to people for their own salvation.
    • The response the Suffering Servant receives back is physical abuse. Prophets are rejected.
      • No one ever faced more severe physical abuse than Christ.
    • The virtue Christ exercised the most in his Passion was fortitude.
      • Fortitude is courage in the face of fear and toughness in the face of suffering.
        • I have set my face like flint.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

  • Christ is the Son of David, the author of this psalm.
  • Long before Isaiah foresaw the suffering Messiah, King David also foresaw his descendant’s ordeal.
  • This is truly a startling prophecy of the Passion of Christ down to minute details.
  • At the same time, for anyone who has ever been set upon by evil men, it is sickeningly familiar. It was perhaps David’s own experience when he was hunted by those loyal to Saul.
  • David also foresaw his descendant’s redemption. Despite his unjust ordeal, the suffering servant “will proclaim [God’s] name to my brethren” and will praise God “in the midst of the assembly.”

Reading 2 Phil 2:6-11

  • This selection from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one of the key passages in the New Testament. It is a meditation on what theologians call Christ’s kenosis or self-emptying [Gr. ekenosen].[1]
    • God the Son came to earth not in the form of God but of man.
    • He came not in the form of a great man but of a humble man.
    • He came in a form so humble that he permitted other men to put him to death.
    • He did this out of obedience to his Father.
    • This is how Christ redeemed us and became the exalted Savior of the world.

Gospel Mk 14:1—15:47

  • The Gospel reading ends before the Redemption is complete, before Christ rises from the dead.
  • He did all he did out of love for us.
  • He left behind the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
  • Then he underwent the full human drama Mark recounts which fulfilled the predictions of the Old Testament.
  • Without being facetious, we can say it is no fun to be a prophet and even less to fulfill a prophecy. The self-emptying required is hard. Noting could be harder than redeeming the world, so only God-made-Man could do it.
  • No one had any idea how that redemption would be accomplished. We do now. This is why we kneel at the point in the proclamation of the Gospel when Christ’s body hangs dead on the Cross. It is our confession, not just with our minds and hearts but also with our bodies, that Jesus Christ, seemingly defeated, is Lord.



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