Preacher’s Sketchbook: 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 24, 2014

Preacher’s Sketchbook:

Sketchbook_Logo6Each 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.

John Paul II, Address of the Holy Father, November 12, 1998

“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Mt 6,25). Man is a creature open to the transcendent and in his inmost heart feels a profound yearning for truth and goodness, which alone can fully satisfy his needs. Today, as in every age, the hunger and thirst for God in minds are never quenched. The Church feels called to be a messenger to contemporary man, bringing him the proclamation of the grace and mercy given by God the Father in Christ Jesus.

Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi

As an evangelizer, Christ first of all proclaims a kingdom, the kingdom of God; and this is so important that, by comparison, everything else becomes “the rest,” which is “given in addition.” (Cf. Mt 6,33) Only the kingdom therefore is absolute and it makes everything else relative. The Lord will delight in describing in many ways the happiness of belonging to this kingdom (a paradoxical happiness which is made up of things that the world rejects), (Cf. Mt 5,3-12) the demands of the kingdom and its Magna Charta, (Cf. Mt 5-7) the heralds of the kingdom, (Cf. Mt 10) its mysteries, (Cf. Mt 13) its children, (Mt 18) the vigilance and fidelity demanded of whoever awaits its definitive coming. (Cf. Mt 24-25) As the kernel and center of His Good News, Christ proclaims salvation, this great gift of God which is liberation from everything that oppresses man but which is above all liberation from sin and the Evil One, in the joy of knowing God and being known by Him, of seeing Him, and of being given over to Him. All of this is begun during the life of Christ and definitively accomplished by His death and resurrection. But it must be patiently carried on during the course of history, in order to be realized fully on the day of the final coming of Christ, whose date is known to no one except the Father.

Benedict XVI, General Audience, June 15, 2011

In spite of claiming to follow the Lord, an invisible and mysterious God, the people were also seeking security in a comprehensible and predictable god from whom they believed they could obtain fruitfulness and prosperity in exchange for sacrifices. Israel was capitulating to the seduction of idolatry, the continuous temptation of believers, deluding itself that it could “serve two masters” (cf. Mt 6,24 Lc 16,13) and facilitate the impracticable routes of faith in the Almighty even by putting its faith in a powerless god, fashioned by men.

John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of India, November 17, 2003

This is of special importance in modern societies, in which large portions of the population find themselves in desperate situations often leading them to seek quick and easy solutions to complicated problems. This sense of hopelessness may explain, in part, why so many people, young and old alike, are attracted to fundamentalist sects offering short-lived emotional fervour and an assurance of wealth and worldly achievement. Our response to this must be one of “re-evangelization”, and the success of this depends on our ability to show people the emptiness of such promises, while convincing them that Christ and his Body share their sufferings, and reminding them to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Mt 6,33).

John Paul II, Greeting to the Faithful of the Archdiocese of Miami, September 10, 1987

That is why Christian spirituality, following Jesus himself (Cf. Mt 6), associates prayer with fasting and almsgiving. A life of self-denial and charity is a sign of conversion to God’s way of thinking, to his way of love. By humbling ourselves through penance, we open ourselves to God. By giving in charity, over and above the demands of justice, we open ourselves to our neighbour. Saint Peter Chrysologus gives witness to this tradition when he says: “Prayer, fasting, and mercy… give life to one another. What prayer knocks for upon a door, fasting successfully begs and mercy receives. For fasting is the soul of prayer; and mercy is the life of fasting… Fasting does not germinate unless watered by mercy”

John Paul II, Homily in José Martí Plaza (Havana), January 25, 1998

The Church, in carrying out her mission, sets before the world a new justice, the justice of the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 6,33). On various occasions I have spoken on social themes. It is necessary to keep speaking on these themes, as long as any injustice, however small, is present in the world; otherwise the Church would not be faithful to the mission entrusted to her by Christ. At stake here is man, the concrete human person. While times and situations may change, there are always people who need the voice of the Church so that their difficulties, their suffering and their distress may be known. Those who find themselves in these situations can be certain that they will not be betrayed, for the Church is with them and the Pope, in his heart and with his words of encouragement, embraces all who suffer injustice.

John Paul II, General Audience, October 10, 2001

The Bible does not know of an abstract spirituality. The promised joy does not just affect man’s inner being because the Lord takes care of human life in all its dimensions. Jesus himself highlights this, when he invites his disciples to trust in Providence even for their material needs (cf. Mt 6,25-34).

John Paul II, General Audience, March 24, 1999

We are therefore called to cooperate with God in an attitude of great trust. Jesus teaches us to ask the heavenly Father for our daily bread (cf. Mt 6,11 Lc 11,3). If we receive it with gratitude, we will also spontaneously remember that nothing belongs to us, and that we must be ready to give: “Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again” (Lc 6,30). The certainty that God loves us makes us trust in his fatherly providence even in life’s most difficult moments. This complete trust in God, the providential Father, even in the midst of adversity, is admirably expressed by St Teresa of Jesus: “Let nothing trouble you; let nothing frighten you. Everything passes. God never changes. Patience obtains all. Whoever has God wants for nothing. God alone is enough” (Poems, 30).



8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Image: Vincent van Gogh, Branches with Almond Blossom

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