"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Homily: Pope St Gregory the Great on John 4:46-53 for Sunday Mass, Oct 14 (Extraordinary Form)

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 9, 2010


I. The Gospel lesson which you have just heard, my brethren, stands in need of no .explanation. However, lest I should seem to pass it by in idle silence, I will say a few words thereon, but that rather by way of exhortation than of explanation. Indeed, there seems to me to be but one point calling for explanation, namely, this: When the ruler came to Jesus and besought Him to come down and heal his son, how is it that he heard Jesus say: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not? The very fact that the ruler came and asked Jesus to heal his son is a proof that he believed. Had he not believed Him to be a Saviour, he would not have asked Him to save his son. Yet Jesus said: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. He had not seen any signs, yet he believed. Now, think of his prayer, and you will clearly understand wherein his faith was weak. He prayed Him that He would come down and Heal his son. He asked for the corporal presence of Him Who is spiritually present everywhere. He did not believe enough in Jesus, since he thought His bodily presence was required for the healing of his son. Had his faith been perfect, he would doubtless have known that God is everywhere. His faith was, therefore, imperfect for attributing the virtue of healing, not to Christ s Majesty, but to His bodily presence. Thus, even while he was asking for his son’s health, his faith was hot yet sound. He believed concerning Him, Whom he had come to ask, that He was mighty enough to save, yet he thought that at that very moment Jesus was absent from his son. But the
Lord, being asked to go, showed that He is there, wherever He is called on; and He gave health by a single command, He Who by a single act of His will had created all things.

II. What we are to consider in this case is the answer given by Jesus, on another occasion, to the centurion asking Him to heal his servant grievously tormented by the palsy. According to the Evangelist, our Lord said: I will come and heal him (Matt *:7). How is it that our Lord, being asked by the ruler to come to his house and heal his son, refused to go, whereas He promised the centurion to go down and heal his servant, though He had not been asked to come down and see that servant? The reason is that the Lord wished to put down our pride, that sees and esteems in others their dignities and riches, more than their nature, the image of God. Indeed, when we consider man in the things without, like riches and honours, we do not see what he is in himself, neither do we know his real merit, when considering only his body, that seems contemptible on account of its infirmities.

Our Saviour judges differently. To give us to under stand that whatsoever seems great in the eyes of the world, is often low and contemptible, and whatsoever is despicable in the estimation of the worldly-minded, is not so before God, He goes to the servant of the centurion, whilst refusing to visit the son of the ruler.

III. Indeed, should we be asked by a servant to go down to him, our pride would tell us not to do such a thing. To yield to his prayer would be to lower ourselves, to esteem our honour very little; certainly such a place as the dwelling of an humble menial does not deserve this condescension. Yet there we see God Himself coming down from heaven, and not despising to go to a poor servant, whilst we, being nothing but living dust, feel great difficulty in humbling ourselves. We are the more to be despised, since, wishing to guard our honour before the world, we fear not the eyes of that Divine Majesty searching the thoughts and hearts of men. Hence the Son of God said to the Pharisees: You are they who justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is high before men, is an abomination before God (Luke 16:15). Carefully consider those words, beloved brethren. If it is true that the things which seem great to men, are abominable before God, then our conclusion will be that our thoughts are despised by God, as much as they are esteemed by men. Humility produces a different effect, since it makes us the greater before God, the less we are considered by men. Now let us look at our doings; let not even our most praise worthy undertakings flatter our pride; neither let our vanity be tickled by honours and riches. For if we are puffed up by our possessions, whatsoever they may be, we shall be despised by God. Speaking of the humble, the Psalmist says: The Lord is the keeper of little ones (Ps 114:6). The little ones are the humble. And, speaking of his own experience, he adds: I was humbled, and He delivered me (ibid.).

IV. Now, consider these truths well, beloved brethren, and carefully ponder on them. When honouring your brethren, look not so much at their perishable riches, as at the fact that men are the image and likeness of God, their Creator. Honour them for the sake of God. Yet this will not be possible, as long as your proud thoughts are not banished from your hearts. He that esteems himself on account of passing things cannot honour another for his durable goods. Consider as nothing what you have, but think of what you are, for the world you love will one day perish. The Saints, before whose tomb we are now standing, despised the flowers brought forth by the world, and trampled upon them. A long life, good health, a prosperous state, a numerous posterity, tranquillity in continual peace, were flowers at which their hearts did not rejoice; they blossomed in the world, but in their own hearts they were withered. Like a tree drying up before our eyes, the world is getting weaker and darker, yet it is still blossoming in our hearts and minds. Everywhere there is death, everywhere mourning, everywhere desolation! We are struck from all sides; we are filled with bitterness; nevertheless, with lament able blindness, we desire and love the bitter fruits of carnal concupiscence. The world flies away, and we run after it; it is shaken under our feet, and we cling to it; and since we cannot prevent its fall, we still take hold of it, and are thrown into the same abyss. At the beginning we were attracted by the deceitful world; now, seeing it is so full of scourges and misery, we ought to be brought back to God by this very world. Reflect upon all this, and know that the things disappearing in time are to be considered as nothing. By the fall of all the things once existing in the world, we understand that they were but a shadow now vanished, for they are destroyed. The ruins of those splendid monuments, which once were thought of as defying all future times, clearly tell us that nothing is durable in this world. These are subjects worthy of your meditations; such thoughts will encourage you to have only contempt for worldly greatness, and to desire what is eternal. They will also help you to obtain that eternal glory revealed to you by faith through the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord, Who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth one God, world without end. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment