Preacher’s Sketchbook: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 11, 2012

Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s 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.


Bl. John Paul II, from Fides et ratio, nos. 12, 19

In the Incarnation of the Son of God we see forged the enduring and definitive synthesis which the human mind of itself could not even have imagined: the Eternal enters time, the Whole lies hidden in the part, God takes on a human face. The truth communicated in Christ’s Revelation is therefore no longer confined to a particular place or culture, but is offered to every man and woman who would welcome it as the word which is the absolutely valid source of meaning for human life. Now, in Christ, all have access to the Father, since by his Death and Resurrection Christ has bestowed the divine life which the first Adam had refused (cf. Rom 5:12-15). Through this Revelation, men and women are offered the ultimate truth about their own life and about the goal of history. As the Constitution Gaudium et Spes puts it, “only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” Seen in any other terms, the mystery of personal existence remains an insoluble riddle. Where might the human being seek the answer to dramatic questions such as pain, the suffering of the innocent and death, if not in the light streaming from the mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection? …. The Book of Wisdom contains several important texts which cast further light on this theme. There the sacred author speaks of God who reveals himself in nature. For the ancients, the study of the natural sciences coincided in large part with philosophical learning. Having affirmed that with their intelligence human beings can “know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements… the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, the natures of animals and the tempers of wild beasts” (Wis 7:17, 19-20)—in a word, that he can philosophize—the sacred text takes a significant step forward. Making his own the thought of Greek philosophy, to which he seems to refer in the context, the author affirms that, in reasoning about nature, the human being can rise to God: “From the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator” (Wis 13:5). This is to recognize as a first stage of divine Revelation the marvelous “book of nature”, which, when read with the proper tools of human reason, can lead to knowledge of the Creator. If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is not because they lack the means to do so, but because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way.

St. John Chrysostom, from Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 7.2

Consider why the prophets also needed to speak of saber and bow and sword. “If a person does not repent,” it is said, “God will whet His sword: He has bent and strung His bow.” For if even now, after so long a time and after their being perfected, He cannot smite down by the name of the Word alone but needs these expressions in order to show the superiority arising from the comparison of the gospel with the law, much more was this true of old…. He judges the inner heart, for there He passes through, both punishing and searching out. And why do I speak of men?” he says. For even if you speak of angels, or archangels, of the cherubim, of the seraphim, even of any “creature” whatsoever, all things are laid open to God’s eye. All things are clear and manifest. There is nothing able to escape it. “All are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” But what is mean by “open?” The metaphor comes from the skins which are drawn off from the prey… When one has killed them and drawn aside the skin from the flesh, He lays open all the inward parts and makes them manifest to our eyes; so also do all things lie open before God.

St. Augustine, from Homilies on the Gospel of St. John, 34.8

He did not follow. He just wanted a good teacher.

St. Caesarius of Arles, from Sermons, 132

The disciples became very sad when they heard this and said “If this is so, who can be saved?” Rich and poor, listen to Christ: I am speaking to God’s people. Most of you are poor, but you too must listen carefully to understand. And you had best listen even more intently if you glory in your poverty. Beware of pride, lest the humble rich surpass you. Beware of wickedness, lest the pious rich confound you. Beware of drunkenness, lest the sober excel you.

Bl. John Henry Newman, from Parochial and Plain Sermons, 8

What happens to us in providence is in all essential respects what his voice was to those whom he addressed when on earth: whether he commands by a visible presence, or by a voice, or by our consciences, it matters not, so that we feel it to be a command. If it is a command, it may be obeyed or disobeyed; it may be accepted as Samuel or St. Paul accepted it, or put aside after the manner of the young man who had great possessions. We need not fear spiritual pride in following Christ’s call, if we follow it as people in earnest. Earnestness has no time to compare itself with the state of others; earnestness is simply set on doing God’s will. It simply says, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth; Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Oh that we had more of this spirit! Oh that we could take that simple view of things, as to feel that the one thing which lies before us is to please God! Let us beg and pray Him day by day to reveal Himself to our souls more fully; to quicken our senses; to give us sight and hearing, taste and touch of the world to come; so to work within us that we may sincerely say, “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and after that receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of Thee: my flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”



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