Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost—27 September AD 2009
On Secularism

Ordinary of the Mass
English Text
Latin Text

Read between Epistle and Gospel  Psalm 109 “Dixit Dóminus.”

1 The Lord said to my Lord: Sit thou at my right hand: Until I make thy enemies thy footstool.  2 The Lord will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.  3 With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength: in the brightness of the saints: from the womb before the day star I begot thee.  4 The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.  5 The Lord at thy right hand hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.  6 He shall judge among nations, he shall fill ruins: he shall crush the heads in the land of the many.  7 He shall drink of the torrent in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.[1]

    One of the remarkable things about the Sacred Scripture is that it always seem to have an application in the current moment.  Its topics are always fresh—having instructions for us about how we are to do things in the here and now.  The events in today’s Gospel took place almost two‑thousand years ago, but they provide us with an answer to two great questions of our modern age.[2]  Questions of secularism,

    We talked about the first one a few weeks ago (on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost).  Our Lord gives us two Commandments which sum up the Moral Law:  “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind....  Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  It is vitally important for all of those living in our age—Catholics or not—to recognize that our rights and our responsibilities are all based on God’s Eternal Law.  All legitimate ruling authority on earth comes from God, and its legitimacy is seen in that ruling authority’s conformance with the Natural Moral Law.  The people of a nation may designate their rulers and establish their desired form of government—but the authority of those rulers comes from God—and the legitimacy of their rule is proportionate to their observance of God’s law in their ruling.  The idea that a nation’s rulers, or even the vast majority of its people, may ignore God’s Natural Moral Law or disregard the God given rights of each individual, ought to be a repugnant idea to our thinking.  Such ideas are often clothed with Utopian descriptions of the bright and shiny new world that can be built without God’s Law—they always end in disaster.  The “scepter of power” comes from the Lord.

    The second question answered in today’s Gospel is the question of the Christ.  Who is He?  What is He?

    The Pharisees and many of the Jews were waiting for a promised Messias.  But, what exactly were they waiting for?  What were they expecting?  When our Lord asked them, “Who is the Christ—whose Son is He?”  They were quick to answer that He would be King David’s Son.  This was promised in the Old Testament, and many of them were awaiting a warrior‑king like David, to once again make them a great nation and to throw out their oppressors.  They wanted another David, who could slay the Roman Goliath.  They wanted another Solomon to restore the earthly splendor of the Kingdom of undivided Israel.

    But our Lord used King David’s own words to show them that they were missing an altogether more important dimension of the Messias.  He quotes Psalm 109, in which David refers to the Christ as his (David’s) Lord—in which David describes the begetting of the Christ before all creation “in holy splendor before the daystar,” begotten in secret “like the dew.  The Lord God is speaking to the Lord Christ, claiming paternity.  He is speaking of begetting the Christ from all eternity, even before the “day star”; even before the “light bringer”—the Christ was begotten before time began, before even the angels were created.  But in the same phrase the Lord God speaks of the “womb”—which can be none other then the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary who in due time gave birth to the Christ of the Lord after being overshadowed by the Holy Ghost.

    And yet another attribute of the Messias was to be His priesthood:  “The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.”  The priest is one dedicated to the offering of sacrifice to God on behalf of the people.  The Messias would come to offer the perfect sacrifice to the Father—a sacrifce offered “once, in offering Himself.”[3]  As He spoke through the prophet Malachias:  “from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation.”[4]  This “clean oblation,” of course, was still some time in our Lord’s future, when He would unite His Sacrifice on the Cross with the “clean oblation of the Mass.

    King David thus acknowledged that the anointed Christ would come as both King and Priest.

    Our Lord was reminding the Pharisees—as He reminds us—that the kingdom of man is important because it is part of, or a reflection of, the kingdom of God.  Both of the two “Great Commandments of the Law” are essential because they compliment one another.  We are liars if we say that we love God, but ignore the needs of His adopted sons.  We are fools if we think that we can love our fellow man and neglect God.  Liars and fools!

    The modern myths of Secularism, Humanism. Socialism, and Modernism make precisely this mistake.  They pretend that we can have a society in which man is respected simply as man.  The hallucinate the ideas that man can manufacture his own truth, his own morality, his own law without regard to the unchanging God.  They ignore the fact that man is God’s creation, and that we are ever dependent on Him for everything, even on down to our very existence.

    So, if we are going to be a sign of God’s love to the modern world—and we must be—let us keep today’s words from Saint Paul firmly in mind:  Have “humility and mildness, and patience ... supporting one another in charity ... One body and one spirit ... One Lord, one faith, one baptism.  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all, who is blessed forever and ever. Amen.[5]


[2]   Gospel: Matthew xxii: 34-46.

[5]   Epistle: Ephesians iv: 1-6


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