Preacher’s Sketchbook: Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 10, 2012
Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.
St. Catherine of Siena, from Dialogue
The human heart is always drawn by love. He could not have shown you greater love than by giving his life for you. You can hardly resist being drawn by love, then, unless you foolishly refuse to be drawn…. The human heart is drawn by love and with all its powers: memory, understanding, and will. If these three powers are harmoniously united in my name, everything else you do, in fact or in intention, will be drawn to union with me in peace trough the movement of love, because all will be lifted up in the pursuit of crucified love. So my Truth indeed spoke truly when he said, “If I am lifted up high, I will draw everything to myself.” For everything you do will be drawn to him when he draws your heart and its powers.
St. John of the Cross, from The Spiritual Canticle
You considered That one hair fluttering at my neck; You gazed at it upon my neck And it captivated You… Oh how worthy of utter admiration and joy! God is taken captive by a hair! The reason this captivity is so estimable is that God wished to stop and gaze at the fluttering of the hair, as this verse asserts. And as we pointed out, for God, to gaze at is to love. If in His infinite mercy He had not gazed at us and loved us first—as St. John declares (1 John 4.10)—and descended, the hair of our lowly love would not have taken Him prisoner, for this love was not so lofty in its flight as to be able to capture this divine bird of heights. But because He came down to gaze at us and arouse the flight of our love by strengthening and giving it the courage for this (cf. Deut 43.11), He Himself as a result was captivated by the flight of the hair, that is, He was satisfied and please. Such is the meaning of the verses, “You gazed at it upon my neck and it captivated You.” It is indeed credible that a bird of lowly flight can capture the royal eagle of the heights, if this eagle descends with the desire of being captured.
St. Thomas More, Treatise upon the Passion
Who can in adversity be sure of many of his friends when our Savior himself was, at his capture, left alone and forsaken by his? When you go forth who will go with you? If you were a king would not all your realm send you on your way alone and then forget you? Will not your own family let you depart a naked, feeble soul, you know not whither? Let us all in time, then, learn to love as we should, God above all things, and all other things for him. And whatsoever love be not referred to that end, namely, to the good pleasure of God, is a very vain and unfruitful love. And whatsoever love we bear to any creature whereby we love God the less, that love is a loathsome love and hinders us from heaven. Love no child of yours so tenderly but that you could be content to sacrifice it to God, as Abraham was ready with Isaac, if God so commanded you. And since God will not do so, offer your child in another way to God’s service. For whatever we love that makes us break God’s commandment, we love better than God, and that is a love deadly and damnable. Now, since our Lord has so loved us, for our salvation, let us diligently call for his grace that in return for his great love we be not found ungrateful.
Bl. Pope John Paul II, Homily 4 May 1997
“I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16). Mother María Encarnación Rosal, the first woman from Guatemala to be beatified, was chosen to continue the charism of Bl. Pedro de San José Betancourt, founder of the Order of Bethlemites, the first Latin American order. Today its fruit endures in the Bethlemite Sisters who, together with all the members of the great family of the Lay Association, strive to put his evangelizing charism into practice in their service to the Church. A constant and tenacious woman motivated above all by charity, her life was fidelity to Christ her assiduous confidant through prayer and the spirituality of Bethlehem. He brought her many sacrifices and troubles, having to wander from one place to another to establish her work. Giving up many things did not matter to her, as long as the essential was saved, as she said: “May all be lost, except charity”. Basing herself on the lessons learned in the school of Bethlehem, that is, love, humility, poverty, the generous gift of self and austerity, she lived a splendid synthesis of contemplation and action, uniting to her educational activities the spirit of penance, adoration and reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May her example continue among her daughters, and may her intercession accompany the Church’s life on the American continent, which is preparing with hope to cross the threshold of the third millennium of the Christian era. God calls everyone to holiness, but without forcing anyone’s hand. God asks and waits for man’s free acceptance. In the context of this universal call to holiness, Christ then chooses a specific task for each person and if he finds a response, he himself provides for bringing the work he has begun to completion, ensuring that the fruit remains. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you You are my friends” (Jn 15:9, 14), the Lord continues to repeat and he waits for our answer, as he did with the new blesseds. Their example reminds us that, each in a different way, we are all committed to bearing fruit, not only for our own good, but for the whole community.