22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Readings at Mass
Liturgical Colour: Green.
First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
Observe these laws and customs, that you may have life
Moses said to the people: ‘Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.” And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?’
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 14(15):2-5
The just will live in the presence of the Lord.
Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain?
He who walks without fault; he who acts with justice
and speaks the truth from his heart; he who does not slander with his tongue.
He who does no wrong to his brother, who casts no slur on his neighbour,
who holds the godless in disdain, but honours those who fear the Lord.
He who keeps his pledge, come what may; who takes no interest on a loan
and accepts no bribes against the innocent. Such a man will stand firm for ever.
Second Reading: James 1:17-18,21-22,27
Accept and submit to the word
It is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he had created.
Accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.
Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.
cf. John 6:63,68
Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life;
you have the message of eternal life.
By his own choice the Father made us his children by the message of the truth,
so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he created.
Gospel: Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
You put aside the commandment of God, to cling to human traditions
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:
This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.
You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’
Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
At this time of prayer I am pleased to recall our very dear sister, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who two days ago ended her long earthly journey. I had the opportunity to meet her many times and I have a vivid memory of her diminutive figure, bent over by a life spent in service to the poorest of the poor, but always filled with inexhaustible interior energy: the energy of Christ’s love.
Dear brothers and sisters, this sister, universally known as the Mother of the poor, leaves an eloquent example for everyone, believer and non-believer. She leaves us the witness of God's love, which she accepted and which transformed her life into a total gift to her brothers and sisters. She leaves us the witness of contemplation which becomes love, of love which becomes contemplation. The works she accomplished speak for themselves and show the people of our time that lofty meaning of life which unfortunately seems often to be lost.
She loved to say again and again: "To serve the poor in order to serve life". Mother Teresa never missed an opportunity to stress in every way love for life. She knew by experience that life acquires all its value, even amid difficulties and contradictions, when it encounters love. And by following the Gospel, she became a "good Samaritan" to everyone she met, to every life in crisis, suffering and scorned.
In Mother Teresa’s great heart a special place was reserved for the family. "A family that prays", she said at the first World Meeting of Families, "is a happy family". Today the words of this unforgettable Mother of the poor are as powerful as ever. "In the family we are loved as God loves: it is a love of sharing. In the family one experiences the joy of loving and being loved by one another. In the family one must learn to pray together. The fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; and the fruit of service is peace" (cf. L’Osservatore Romano, 9 October 1994, p. 4). How could we fail to accept this invitation to base the authentic well-being and true happiness of the family on the solid foundation of prayer, love and mutual service? May these reflections of hers be a useful contribution to the preparation of the Pope’s second meeting with families, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro from 2 to 5 October next.
As I entrust the generous soul of this humble and faithful religious to the Lord, let us ask the Blessed Virgin to support and comfort the sisters of her community and everyone throughout the world who knew and loved her.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 7 September 1997)
In the context of the Jubilee Year, it is with deep joy that I have declared blessed two Popes, Pius IX and John XXIII, and three other servants of the Gospel in the ministry and the consecrated life: Archbishop Tommaso Reggio of Genoa, the diocesan priest William Joseph Chaminade and the Benedictine monk Columba Marmion.
Listening to the words of the Gospel acclamation: "Lord, lead me on a straight road", our thoughts naturally turn to the human and religious life of Pope Pius IX, Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti. Amid the turbulent events of his time, he was an example of unconditional fidelity to the immutable deposit of revealed truths. Faithful to the duties of his ministry in every circumstance, he always knew how to give absolute primacy to God and to spiritual values. His lengthy pontificate was not at all easy and he had much to suffer in fulfilling his mission of service to the Gospel. He was much loved, but also hated and slandered.
"You are good and forgiving" (Entrance Antiphon). Today we contemplate in the glory of the Lord another Pontiff, John XXIII, the Pope who impressed the world with the friendliness of his manner which radiated the remarkable goodness of his soul. By divine design their beatification links these two Popes who lived in very different historical contexts but, beyond appearances, share many human and spiritual similarities. Pope John's deep veneration for Pius IX, to whose beatification he looked forward, is well known. During a spiritual retreat in 1959, he wrote in his diary: "I always think of Pius IX of holy and glorious memory, and by imitating him in his sacrifices, I would like to be worthy to celebrate his canonization" (Journal of a Soul, Ed. San Paolo, 2000, p. 560).
"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1: 22). These words of the Apostle James make us think of the life and apostolate of Tommaso Reggio, a priest and journalist who later became Bishop of Ventimiglia and finally Archbishop of Genoa. He was a man of faith and culture, and as a Pastor he knew how to be an attentive guide to the faithful in every circumstance. Sensitive to the many sufferings and the poverty of his people, he took responsibility for providing prompt help in all situations of need. Precisely with this in mind, he founded the religious family of the Sisters of St Martha, entrusting to them the task of assisting the Pastors of the Church especially in the areas of charity and education.
The beatification during the Jubilee Year of William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianists, reminds the faithful that it is their task to find ever new ways of bearing witness to the faith, especially in order to reach those who are far from the Church and who do not have the usual means of knowing Christ. William Joseph Chaminade invites each Christian to be rooted in his Baptism, which conforms him to the Lord Jesus and communicates the Holy Spirit to him.
Today the Benedictine Order rejoices at the beatification of one of its most distinguished sons, Dom Columba Marmion, a monk and Abbot of Maredsous. Dom Marmion left us an authentic treasure of spiritual teaching for the Church of our time. In his writings he teaches a simple yet demanding way of holiness for all the faithful, whom God has destined in love to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 1: 5). Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and the source of all grace, is the centre of our spiritual life, our model of holiness.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 3 September 2000)
The new blesseds were deeply devoted to Mary. The Christian people will always be grateful to Pius IX, the Pope of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, for having proclaimed this stupendous truth of faith, which gives life and hope for the destiny of the world and of every human being.
In his Journal of a Soul, John XXIII left the witness of a filial love for the Blessed Virgin, which is summed up in the invocation: "My Mother, my trust".
Bishop Tommaso Reggio presented Mary as a model for women of every age and condition; she is the "woman par excellence, the clearest mirror which reflects and teaches what are the best actions to do out of love for her Son".
Addressing his confrères, Fr Chaminade used to say: "We are the missionaries of Mary, who has said to us: "Do whatever he [Christ] tells you'".
Lastly, Abbot Marmion wrote in his famous book Christ the Life of the Soul: "If Jesus Christ is our Saviour because he took on our human nature, how can we truly love him, how can we be perfectly like him, without having a particular devotion to her from whom he received this human nature?".
May Mary, Queen of Saints, help us to fulfil the Lord's will faithfully in our lives, as did these new blesseds.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 3 September 2000)
The joyful mysteries lead us to contemplate the joy "radiating from the event of the Incarnation" (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 20): a joy that does not overlook the drama of the human condition but flows from the awareness that "the Lord is at hand" (cf. Philippians 4: 5); indeed, he is "God-with-us" (Matthew 1: 23; cf. Isaiah 7: 14).
"Rejoice"! The Angel's joyful greeting casts a beam of light on all five of the joyful mysteries. Through them "Mary leads us to discover the secret of Christian joy, reminding us that Christianity is, first and foremost, euangelion, "good news", whose heart and entire content is the person of Jesus Christ" (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 20).
May the Virgin Mary help the Christian people to rediscover the Holy Rosary as a simple yet very profound prayer. Properly recited, it is an introduction into the living experience of the divine mystery and procures for hearts, families and the whole community that peace which we so greatly need.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 7 September 2003)
Today, 3 September, the Roman calendar commemorates St Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (c. 540-604).
His exceptional, I would say, almost unique figure is an example to hold up both to pastors of the Church and to public administrators: indeed, he was first Prefect and then Bishop of Rome. As an imperial official, he was so distinguished for his administrative talents and moral integrity that he served in the highest civil office, Praefectus Urbis, when he was only 30 years old.
He sought in every way to escape this appointment but in the end was obliged to yield. He left the cloister reluctantly and dedicated himself to the community, aware of doing his duty and being a simple and poor "servant of the servants of God".
"He is not really humble," he wrote, "who understands that he must be a leader of others by decree of the divine will and yet disdains this pre-eminence. If, on the contrary, he submits to divine dispositions, and does not have the vice of obstinacy, and is prepared to benefit others with those gifts when the highest dignity of governing souls is imposed on him, he must flee from it with his heart, but against his will, he must obey" (Pastoral Rule, I, 6). It is like a dialogue that the Pope has with himself at that time.
With prophetic foresight, Gregory intuited that a new civilization was being born from the encounter of the Roman legacy with so-called "barbarian" peoples, thanks to the cohesive power and moral elevation of Christianity. Monasticism was proving to be a treasure not only for the Church but for the whole of society.
With delicate health but strong moral character St Gregory the Great carried out intense pastoral and civil action. He left a vast collection of letters, wonderful homilies, a famous commentary on the Book of Job and writings on the life of St Benedict, as well as numerous liturgical texts, famous for the reform of song that was called "Gregorian", after him.
However, his most famous work is certainly the Pastoral Rule, which had the same importance for the clergy as the Rule of St Benedict had for monks in the Middle Ages.
The life of a pastor of souls must be a balanced synthesis of contemplation and action, inspired by the love "that rises wonderfully to high things when it is compassionately drawn to the low things of neighbours; and the more kindly it descends to the weak things of this world, the more vigorously it recurs to the things on high" (II, 5).
In this ever timely teaching, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council found inspiration to outline the image of today's Pastor.
Let us pray to the Virgin Mary that the example and teaching of St Gregory the Great may be followed by pastors of the Church and also by those in charge of civil institutions.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 3 September 2006)
Today's First Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy offers us important details that provide an answer and make us take a step forward. We are listening here to something that we may find surprising: God himself asks Israel to be grateful and to feel humbly proud of knowing God's will and therefore of being wise. In that very period humanity, in both the Greek and Semitic contexts, was seeking wisdom: it was seeking to understand what matters. Science says many things and many aspects of it are useful to us, but wisdom is knowledge of the essential knowledge of the aim of our life and of how we should live in order to live life in the best possible way. The Reading from Deuteronomy mentions the fact that wisdom, in the final analysis, is identical to the Torah to the Word of God that reveals to us what is essential, for what purpose and in what way we should live. Thus the Law does not appear as a form of slavery, but is as the great Psalm 119 states a cause of great joy: we do not grope in the dark, we do not wander in vain seeking what might be righteous, we are not like sheep without a shepherd who do not know which is the right path. God has manifested himself. He himself shows us the way. We know his will and with it, the truth that counts in our life. We are told two things about God: on the one hand, that he manifested himself and that he shows us the right path to take; on the other, that God is a God who listens, who is close to us, answers us and guides us. With this we also come to the topic of purity: his will purifies us, his closeness guides us.
In the Letter of St James we find that observance which does not look inwards but turns joyfully towards the caring God who gives us his closeness and points out to us the right way. Thus the Letter of St James speaks of the perfect Law of freedom that perseveres to reach a new and deeper understanding of the Law given to us by the Lord. For James the Law is not a requirement that demands too much of us, which stands before us and can never be satisfied. He is thinking in the perspective that we find in a sentence of Jesus' farewell discourse: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15: 15). The one to whom all is revealed is part of the family; he is no longer a servant but is free precisely because he himself belongs to the household. A similar, initial introduction into the thought of God himself happened in Israel on Mount Sinai. It happened again in a definitive and grand way at the Last Supper and, generally through the work, the life, the Passion and the Resurrection of Jesus; in him God told us everything, he manifested himself completely. We are no longer servants, but friends. And the Law is no longer a prescription for people who are not free but is contact with God's love being introduced to become part of the family, an act that makes us free and "perfect". It is in this sense that James says in today's Reading that the Lord has created us by means of his Word, that he planted his Word deep within us as a life force. Here he also speaks of "pure religion" which consists in love for our neighbour particularly for orphans and widows who are needier than we are and in freedom from the ways of the world that contaminate us. The Law, like a word of love, is not a contradiction of freedom but a renewal from within by means of friendship with God. Something similar occurs when Jesus, in the discourse on the vine, says to the disciples: "You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you" (John 15: 3). And the same thing appears again in the Priestly Prayer: sanctify them in the truth (cf. John 17: 17-19). Thus we now find the right structure for the process of purification and of purity: we do not create what is good that would be mere moralism but Truth comes to us. He himself is Truth, Truth in person. Purity happens through dialogue. It begins with the fact that he comes to us he who is Truth and Love he takes us by the hand and penetrates our being. Insofar as we allow him to touch us, insofar as the encounter becomes friendship and love, we ourselves, on the basis of his purity, become pure people and then people who love with his love, people who introduce others to his purity and his love.
Augustine summed all this up in a beautiful saying: Da quod iubes et iube quod vis grant what you command, and command what you will. Let us now bring this request before the Lord and pray to him: yes, purify us in the truth. May you be the Truth that makes us pure. Obtain that through friendship with you we may become free and thus truly children of God, make us capable of sitting at your table and spreading in this world the light of your purity and goodness. Amen.
Pope Benedict XVI (Homily, 30 August 2009)
The history of Christianity is spangled with innumerable examples of holy parents and authentic Christian families who accompanied the life of generous priests and pastors of the Church. Only think of St Basil the Great and St Gregory of Nazianzus, both of whom belonged to families of saints. Let us think of Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, a husband and wife, very close to us, who lived at the end of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th and whose beatification by my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II in October 2001 coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio. In addition to illustrating the value of marriage and the tasks of the family, this Document urged spouses to be especially committed to the path of sanctity which, drawing grace and strength from the Sacrament of Marriage, accompanies them throughout their life (cf. n. 56). When married couples devote themselves generously to the education of children, guiding them and orienting them to the discovery of God's plan of love, they are preparing that fertile spiritual ground from which vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life spring up and develop. This reveals how closely connected they are, and marriage and virginity illumine each other on the basis of their common roots in the spousal love of Christ.
Dear brothers and sisters, in this Year for Priests, let us pray "through the intercession of the Holy Curé d'Ars, [that] Christian families become churches in miniature in which all vocations and all charisms, given by the Holy Spirit, are welcomed and appreciated" (from the Prayer for the Year for Priests). May the Blessed Virgin, whom we shall now invoke together, obtain this grace for us.
Pope Benedict XVI (30 August 2009)
In Deuteronomy we see the “joy of the law”: law not as a constraint, as something that takes from us our freedom, but as a present and a gift. When other nations look at this great people — as the Letter says, as Moses says — they will say: What wise people! They will admire the wisdom of this people, the justice of the law and the closeness of God who is at their side and answers them when called upon. This is the humble joy of Israel: to receive a gift from God. This is different from triumphalism, from the pride that comes from ourselves: Israel is not proud of her law like Rome may have been of the Roman Law that it gave to humanity, perhaps like France of the Napoleonic Code, like Prussia of the “Preussisches Landrecht”, etc. — legislation we all recognize. But Israel knows: this law was not made by her, it was not the fruit of her genius, it was a gift. God showed them what the law was. God gave them wisdom. The law is wisdom. Wisdom is the art of being human, the art of being able to live well and of being able to die well. And one can live and die well only when the truth has been received and shows us the way: to be grateful for the gift that we did not invent, but that we were given, and to live in wisdom; to learn, thanks to the gift of God, how to be human in the right way.
The Gospel shows us, however, that there is also a danger — as it says right at the beginning of today’s passage from Deuteronomy: “Do not add anything and do not take anything away”. It teaches us that with the passing of time applications, works, and human customs have been added to this gift from God that increasingly hide what is proper to the wisdom given by God, so as to become true bondage that needs to be broken, or to lead us to presumption: we invented it!
If we read today, for example, in the Letter of James: “You were made in the word and in the truth”, which of us would dare to rejoice in the truth that we have been given? The question immediately arises: but how can one have the truth? This is intolerance! Today the idea of truth and that of intolerance are almost completely fused, and so we no longer dare to believe in the truth or to speak of the truth. It seems to be far away, it seems something better not to refer to. No one can say: I have the truth — this is the objection raised — and, rightly so, no one can have the truth. It is the truth that possesses us, it is a living thing! We do not possess it but are held by it. Only if we allow ourselves to be guided and moved by the truth, do we remain in it. Only if we are, with it and in it, pilgrims of truth, then it is in us and for us. I think that we need to learn anew about “not-having-the-truth”. Just as no one can say: I have children — they are not our possession, they are a gift, and as a gift from God, they are given to us as a responsibility — so we cannot say: I have the truth, but the truth came to us and impels us. We must learn to be moved and led by it. And then it will shine again: if the truth itself leads us and penetrates us.
Dear friends, let us ask the Lord to give us this gift. St James tells us today in the Reading: you must not limit yourselves to hearing the Word, you must put it into practice. This is a warning about the intellectualization of the faith and of theology. It is one of my fears at this time, when I read so many intellectual things: they become an intellectual game in which “we pass each other the ball”, in which everything is an intellectual sphere that does not penetrate and form our lives, and, thus, does not lead us to the truth. I think that these words of St James are directed to us theologians: do not just listen, do not just intellectualize — be doers, let yourself be formed by the truth, let yourself be led by it! Let us pray to the Lord that this may happen, and that like this the truth may have power over us, and acquire power in the world through us.
Let us be filled again with this joy: where is there a people to whom God is so close as our God is to us? So close that he is one of us, touches me from within. Yes, he enters me in the holy Eucharist. A bewildering thought. On this process, St Bonaventure once used in his communion prayers a formula that shakes, almost frightens, one. He said: my Lord, how did you ever think of entering the dirty latrine of my body? Yes, he enters into our misery, he does it knowingly and in order to penetrate us, to clean us and to renew us, so that, through us, in us, the truth may be in the world and bring salvation. Let us ask the Lord forgiveness for our indifference, for our misery that makes us think only of ourselves, for our selfishness that does not seek the truth but follows habit, and that perhaps often makes Christianity resemble a mere system of habits. Let us ask that he come with power into our souls, that he be present in us and through us — and that in this way joy may be born in us again: God is here, and loves me. He is our salvation! Amen.
Pope Benedict XVI (Homily, 2 September 2012)
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