Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Low Sunday--27 April AD 2014

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[English Text]
[Latin Text]

“As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.”[1]

    In many missals and church calendars today is referred to as the “Sunday in White.”  Those of you that attended the Easter Vigil will recall that on that night we blessed Baptismal Water and renewed our Baptismal Promises.  In the early Church, most newly converted Catholics—those who had received the gift of the Faith as adults—were baptized during the Easter Vigil. As part of the ritual, they were clothed in a white robe as a symbol of their faith and their baptismal innocence.  They wore the white robe for the following week, until this Sunday, when, at the end of Holy Mass, they returned the robes to the church and were admonished to preserve their faith and their innocence no matter what their outward appearance might be.  This, then, was the Sunday of the laying aside the white robes—the last day in white.

    The scripture readings today remind us that the Sacramental mission of the Church only begins with Baptism.  In Saint John's epistle, we are reminded that God gives testimony on earth by “the spirit, and the water, and the blood.”[2]  “The water,” of course would be Baptism, the means by which we all enter the spiritual life of good on earth.  “The Blood,” would be the precious blood of our Savior, shed for our redemption on the Cross—an act renewed by His priests everywhere and every time Holy Mass is celebrated.  It is His true (body and) blood which we receive in Holy Communion.  “The Spirit,” is the Holy Ghost, Whom we have received in The Sacrament of Confirmation, and Who plays a role in all the occasions of our reception of God’s grace.

    The Gospel continues the Sacramental narrative with our Lord explicitly giving the Apostles the power to forgive sins.[3]  I say “explicitly,” because they were already priests, and their power to forgive sin comes radically from their power to offer the Sacrifice of the Cross with our Lord.  Quite likely Saint Thomas, who was absent at the moment, possessed the same power without any additional act of our Lord.  (Certainly, the Scriptures don't record him receiving the power during any later visit by Jesus.)  The explicit conferral is reflected in our rite of priestly ordination, in which, even though the priesthood has already been conferred, the bishop lays hands on the newly ordained and says to them the same words that our Lord said to the Apostles:  “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.  Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”[4]  The power to forgive sins is so important that Jesus and His Church chose to confer it explicitly on their Apostles and priests.

    This Gospel is also significant in that it serves as further testimony to the resurrection of our Lord.  This is one of a number of accounts of our Lord making Himself seen by witnesses after His rising from the dead.  It suggests that our Lord's resurrected body was a glorified body—perhaps an indication of what our own resurrection portends.  “The doors were shut,” but our Lord was not encumbered by walls or doors and appears in the room.  Saint Luke’s Gospel suggests that the Apostles, at first, thought He was a ghost.[5]  But the doubt of “Thomas, who is called Didymus (the twin), prompts a demonstration by our risen Lord:  “see my scars, touch my wounds; touch them and probe them with your fingers, and with your hand, and know that they are real and tangible—know that I am the risen Christ, and not some mere ghost.”

    And “Thomas answered, and said to him: ‘My Lord, and my God.” To which our Lord responded: “Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.”  Saint John said something similar in his epistle:  “this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith.”  Faith is the belief in the truth which God has revealed—even if one cannot always touch it and probe it.  There is objective truth in the mind of God, and our salvation demands the inclusion of that objective truth in our own minds.  The faculties of our souls—our abilities to know and to will—must accord with the divine knowledge and divine will.

    Faith overcomes the world.  But often the world resists mightily!  The world and worldly people pretend that there is no objective truth—that everything is a matter of opinion, that everything is up for discussion (“dialogue” they call it), and that every manner of foolish belief and bad behavior is to be tolerated.  This is completely wrong!

    In 1931, long before anyone ever heard of political correctness, then Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen wrote that:

    Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment.  Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth.  Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error …

    Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance … I make a plea.  Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.[6]

    By virtue of our Baptism, and particularly by our Confirmation, we are called to stand up for God’s truth.  We are sent forth like the Apostles.  At least by our good example we must offer the gift of the Catholic Faith to all those whom we encounter in this world.

    The Sacraments are the driving force for producing this good example.  Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion and Penance make us radically holy—they make us into beacons of God’s truth, even if we never preach a word.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus Christ speaks not only to the Apostles, but also to each one of us:

“As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.”

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