Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost—9 August AD 2015

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

“I make known unto you the gospel which I preached to you … by which also you are saved:
if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you.”[1]

    The theologians tell us that God works His miracles through an act of the will—whatever He wants comes into existence, or changes in accordance with His desires.  But today we see our Lord heal a man who is both deaf and dumb through physical means.  He doesn’t just wish the man cured, he makes a rather curious series of gestures:  he puts His fingers into the man’s ears, spits, touches his tongue, and speaks an Aramaic word meaning “Be opened.”[2]  He does a similar thing in Saint John’s Gospel, making clay from the ground and His spittle, to anoint and cure a blind man.[3]  At Matins this morning, Pope Gregory the Great points out that our Lord speaks on one instance of “casting out devils by the finger of God,” while on another occasion He speaks of “casting out devils by the Spirit of God.” [4]  Pope Gregory’s point is that these physical signs are one with the Spirit of God, which is to say that these outward signs indicate God’s miracle working will.

    It would be well to keep this principle in mind, particularly if you are ever asked by a non-Catholic about why the Church insists on ritual in Her Mass and Sacraments.  The answer is that we are just doing what our Lord did—we are using outward signs that He instituted to give grace through the power of His will.

    All of these outward signs are mentioned (at least implicitly) in the New Testament:

Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.[5]

They laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.[6]

Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body[7]

Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them.[8]

Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil….[9]

That thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee:[10]   Impose not hands lightly upon any man,[11]

For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.[12]

    None of this is magic.  None of this is, to use that terrible word coined by the Protestants to mock the Blessed Sacrament—none of this is “hocus pocus.”  The Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ for the salvation of men and women—to deny their usefulness is to deny Christ.  To be sure, not everyone will marry, and even fewer will be ordained to the priesthood.  Baptism, Holy Communion, and Sacramental Confession are necessary for all who wish to enjoy eternal life, except, perhaps, those who die in infancy—and even these should be baptized if at all possible.   And there are great benefits to be gained from Confirmation and from the Unction of the Sick.

    Again, none of this is magic.  God’s will and God’s power are not visible, so our Lord has his priests employ these outward signs to show that God’s will is operative in the sanctification of men and women.

    We know these things (and the other fundamentals of the Catholic Faith) are true through the preaching of the Apostles.  Many of them were written down, and were later recorded in the Canon of Sacred Scripture, the Holy Bible.  But at the time of their writing, the truths of the Faith were conveyed orally.

    It should surprise no one that there was a great emphasis on preserving this oral tradition very precisely, “without shadow of alteration.”  Today we heard Saint Paul refer to his Gospel “by which … you are saved: if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you,….

    Elsewhere Paul says the same thing, although much more forcefully:

there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema….  If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.[13]

     “Let him be anathema.”  That is to say that anyone who perverts the teaching of Jesus can go to the Devil.  Quite literally, Saint Paul is saying “let heretics be damned.”  “And let none of us be damned along with them.”

    As I said earlier, those who reject our Lord’s Sacraments reject our Lord Himself.  They reject Him totally, for He is Truth—“the Way, the Truth and the Life.”[14]  They reject the promised Advocate, the Holy Ghost:

The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. [15]

He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.[16]

“I make known unto you the gospel which I preached to you … by which … you are saved:
if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you.”


[1]   Epistle: I Corinthians xv: 1-10

[2]   Gospel:  Mark vii: 3I-37

[4]   Pope Saint Gregory the Great, homily 10 on Exechiel, book 1 (Third Lesson at Matins); , Luke xi:20  and Matthew xii: 28 .






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