Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Fourth Sunday after Easter—24 April AD 2016

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

“Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.”[1]

     That is a marvelous phrase—one that ought come to the forefront of our minds whenever we hear the modernists talking about “the need to modernize doctrine or morality.”  “Remember: In God there is no change,” not even a “shadow of alteration.”  But let me say a bit about today’s Gospel, so we can connect it to the Epistle.

    Last Sunday, and again today, we hear that the Ascension of our Lord into heaven is close at hand.  “A little while and you shall not see me. . . . I go to the Father. . . . I am going to Him who sent me.”[2]  Our Lord is telling the Apostles, and telling us, that His direct divine intervention into human history is about to end—He will soon be gone—no longer walking the earth with His people.

    But, lest He cause despair, our Lord is quick to promise His continued presence in another manner.  He would, of course, be with them in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, wherever they and their successors offered Holy Mass.  But He also promised to send Another to be our “Advocate,”  the Holy Ghost, who would dwell in the souls of all who remained in the state of grace.  (An “advocate’ is one advises or argues on behalf of his client.)

    The Holy Ghost wouldn't be quite as tangible as our Lord is in the Blessed Sacrament, but would be directly available to us, in any time or place, as long as we continued to cooperate with God's graces.

    Our Lord goes on to tell us that when we have received the Holy Ghost, several things will become clear to us.  He says the Holy Ghost will “convince the world of sin, justice, and judgment.”  Some translations use the word “convict” instead of “convince.”  What He is saying is that the indwelling of the Holy Ghost enables us to see the reality of things in the world.

    We see, first of all, the reality of sin—the folly of knowing about Christ, but not believing in Him, and doing His word—a mistake no less in our own time than it was in the time of the Jews.  The Holy Ghost helps us to see the foolishness of expecting God's will to change with every passing fad and fashion    for God is clearly “the Father of lights, without change, or shadow of alteration.”  The unchangeable doctrines and moral teachings of our Lord have the Holy Ghost as an additional seal of God's approval—beyond their own clarity and reasonableness and obvious necessity    beyond, even the miracles worked by the One who taught them.

    The Holy Ghost makes clear the reality of justice.  Jesus is clearly vindicated by the fact that He “goes to the Father.”  He was accused of being a criminal; a blasphemer and a rabble rouser, stirring up trouble for both synagogue and state.  Yet His Ascension and the descent of the Holy Ghost proves that He was what He claimed to be, the very Son of God.  The Holy Ghost also strengthens us with the knowledge that there is justice in things    that if we are brave in professing our Catholic Faith, we too will be vindicated, as was our Lord. 

    Finally, the Holy Ghost confirms the actuality of judgment.  “The prince of the world,” our Lord tells us, “is already judged.”  The prince of the world is, of course, the devil.  Those who receive the Holy Ghost come to understand that injustice and false judgment is the work of the devil—who works out of jealousy, and would like us to lose our souls in the final judgment.  But those who are faithful to the Holy Ghost know that this judgment works for, rather than against those who live the life of Christian virtue.

    St. James tells us much the same thing in the Epistle.  We are to be “swift to hear” but “slow to speak and slow to anger…. without uncleanness or a lot of hatred.”  Simply stated, we are to live lives of virtue.  And if we do, we are promised the greatest gifts possible; the gifts of the Holy Ghost; of wisdom and understanding, and knowledge, and counsel, and fortitude, and piety, and fear of the Lord.

    The reward of virtue is Virtue Itself, the “good and perfect Gift from above,” that “comes down from the Father of lights, in Whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.”  The gift that God gives to the virtuous is none other than the Holy Ghost—the gift that God gives us is God Himself.

    And, “with God there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.”




[1]   Epistle:  James i: 1721

[2]   Gospels of Third and Fourth Sundays after Easter  John xvi: 6-30


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