(Usus Antiquior) Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 12 October 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together to celebrate the love of God and to listen to His words as written and recorded in the Holy Scriptures. And St. Paul in his letter to the Church and the faithful in Corinth praised the people of God for their faith in God, and how the Lord Jesus affirmed the faith of all those who believed in Him, so that all of them will be justified at the end of time and not perish.

And in the Gospel, we heard about the healing of the paralytic man, that is a man who cannot move or walk due to the paralysis of the body, and Jesus healed him to show His power and authority over all things, all sins and diseases, both those of the body and those of the soul. Yes, that is why Jesus came into the world, to show the power of God by the healing of the sick, but more than just the body, as more important is the healing of the soul.

Jesus is the Lord, the God of all creations. One and only God, not created but existing and with the Father before all ages and before the beginning of the reckoning of time, and before creation. He was with the Father and the Holy Spirit, as a trinity of Godhead, Three separate and equal brings, but one in nature. This is our faith and this is what we believe in, in the Most Holy Trinity, Three Godhead but One in perfect unity of love, the One True God, whom the people of Israel also believed in.

And thus, He who is the Word of God, who created heaven and earth and all the creatures and creations in them, was willing to come down upon us, to be with us and to walk among us, taking in humility our humble human form, not that of a king but the lowly Son of a carpenter of Nazareth, that through Him, what God had planned for the salvation of mankind might proceed and be fulfilled completely.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we know that men often fall sick, suffering from the disease of the body. We know now of many diseases, both those that are contagious and non-contagious. We know of the recent outbreak of Ebola virus in Africa, of which many thousands have died, and many thousands more suffered from the disease. And we know how many millions are affected by dengue fever, malaria, polio, smallpox and many other diseases, which many of these cause not just suffering and pain, but eventually even death.

And death comes especially when the disease is left untreated, either because the sufferers are unable to afford the fees needed to cure their respective illnesses, or that the disease itself has yet to be curable, namely no cure has yet to be found. Some disease like HIV, diabetes, cancer and others have not yet been curable, and hence what doctors can do, is mostly to reduce the suffering, or in the case of cancer, that is to excise and cut out the cancerous cells to remove them from the body, or to use chemicals to kill and destroy them.

But all these bodily diseases, illnesses and afflictions pale in comparison to the disease of our heart and soul, namely sin. Sin is indeed a disease, since it attacks us in the depth of our own beings, and not just our soul and heart can be affected, but even our body, for the body obeys the will of our heart and soul. And if sin corrupts our heart and soul, our body will likely also be corrupted by the same sin.

And sin is more dangerous and harmful than the effects of the bodily diseases that I mentioned earlier on. It does not mean that those bodily diseases are trivial, but considering their seriousness and the sufferings they can inflict on us, then we should be even more aware of the kind of harm which sin can cause to us. Remember that Jesus said, that we do not need to fear those that can bring about the destruction of the body, but we ought to worry indeed, those that can bring about the destruction of the soul.

One of the intentions of Jesus is indeed that, we should not fear the devil and his agents. We have seen how scary and destructive they may seem to look, but they have no power over us. They may strike at our body, but they cannot harm our soul. The One who can bring about the destruction of our soul is indeed God Himself, the Lord and Master of all, who has the authority over all things. We know of the Last Judgment, and how the righteous will be separated from the wicked, and while the righteous will enjoy the fruits of God’s promise and love, the wicked will suffer for eternity. What will they suffer for? For their sins indeed!

Yes, so we need to indeed be wary of sin, and how it can bring about our destruction, and how it can harm us both in this life, and the life that is to come. That is why our Lord Jesus is the One with the power and authority to forgive sins. He is the One with the power to heal us from all of our afflictions, body and soul. That is why He rebuked the Pharisees when they doubted His ability to forgive sins, and even accused Him of blasphemy.

Why so? This is because they failed to recognise Christ, when it was so clear that the prophets from all ages had spoken about the Messiah who was to come. And in Jesus all of their prophecies, and all the promises of God were fulfilled. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, and all who believe in Him will gain life eternal, and total liberation from the sins that have chained us mankind to death.

That marked the difference between the paralytic man and the Pharisees. Both of them were afflicted, with sin and darkness in their hearts. But the paralytic man listened to the Lord and allowed Him to work His wonders in him, healing him from all of His afflictions. Thus, if we follow the Lord and remain completely faithful to Him, we will gain healing through Him and be made justified through our faith, and thus eligible of eternal life.

On the other hand, if we act like the Pharisees, thinking that we are perfectly alright and have no need for healing, then the pride, greed, arrogance and wickedness in our hearts, just as they were in the hearts of the Pharisees and the scribes will be our undoing. Is this what we want for ourselves? Certainly not. Therefore, it is imperative that we take heed of what our Lord Jesus had done and what He had taught and shown us through our Faith and through the Scriptures.

May Almighty God therefore guide us, heal us from our afflictions, empower us, and grant us strength, as well as humility, so that we may have the courage and will to ask Him humbly to heal us and to make us whole again, that we sinners, filled with the sins of our ancestors and the sins of our own daily lives, may be made pure like snow, white and pure as a diamond, and be cleansed from all the diseases of our body and soul. That in the end, after excising all that is evil from our beings, and after decisively rebuking Satan, we are precious and worthy, and are welcome into the eternal life God had prepared for us all. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 12 October 2014 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Offertory

Exodus 24 : 4, 5

Sanctificavit Moyses altare Domino, offerens super illud holocausta et immolans victimas : fecit sacrificium vespertinum in odorem suavitatis Domino Deo, in conspectu filiorum Israel.

English translation

Moses consecrated an altar to the Lord, offering upon it holocausts, and sacrificing victims. He made an evening sacrifice to the Lord God for an odour of sweetness, in the sight of the children of Israel.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Deus, qui nos, per hujus sacrificii veneranda commercia, unius summae divinitatis participes efficis : praesta, quaesumus; ut sicut Tuam cognoscimus veritatem, sic eam dignis moribus assequamur. Per Dominum…

English translation

O God, who through the august communication of this sacrifice, do make us the partakers of the One Supreme Divinity, grant we beseech You, that, as we know Your truth, so we may ever follow it with worthy actions. Through our Lord…

Communion

Psalm 95 : 8-9

Tollite hostias, et introite in atria ejus : adorate Dominum in aula sancta ejus.

English translation

Bring up sacrifices, and come into His courts. All of you, adore the Lord in His holy court.

Post-Communion Prayer

Gratias tibi referimus, Domine, sacro munere vegetati : Tuam misericordiam deprecantes; ut dignos nos ejus participatione perficias. Per Dominum…

English translation

Strengthened by the sacred gift, we render thanks to You, o Lord, beseeching Your mercy that You make us entirely worthy to partake thereof. Through our Lord…

(Usus Antiquior) Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 12 October 2014 : Holy Gospel

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

Matthew 9 : 1-8

In illo tempore : Ascendens Jesus in naviculum, transfretavit et venit in civitatem suam. Et ecce, offerebant et paralyticum jacentem in lecto. Et videns Jesus fidem illorum, dixit paralytico : Confide, fili, remittuntur tibi peccata tua.

Et ecce, quidam de scribis dixerunt intra se : Hic blasphemat. Et cum vidisset Jesus cogitationes eorum, dixit : Ut quid cogitatis mala in cordibus vestris? Quid est facilius dicere : Dimittuntur tibi peccata tua; an dicere : Surge et ambula?

Ut autem sciatis, quia Filius Hominis habet potestatem in terra dimittendi peccata, tunc ait paralytico : Surge, tolle lectum tuum, et vade in domum tuam. Et surrexit et abiit in domum suam. Videntes autem turbae timuerunt, et glorificaverunt Deum, qui dedit potestatem talem hominibus.

English translation

At that time, Jesus entering into a ship, passed over the water and came into His own city. And behold they brought to Him one paralytic man lying in a bed, and Jesus seeing their faith, said to the paralytic man, “Be of good heart, son, your sins have been forgiven.”

And behold, some of the scribes said within themselves, “He has blasphemed.” And Jesus seeing their thoughts said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?”

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has the power on earth to forgive sins,” He then said to the paralytic man, “Arise, take up your bed and go into your house.” And the paralytic man arose, and went into his house. And the multitude seeing it, feared and glorified God who had given such power to men.

(Usus Antiquior) Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 12 October 2014 : Gradual and Alleluia

Psalm 121 : 1, 7 and Psalm 101 : 16

Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi : in domum Domini ibimus.

Response : Fiat pax in virtute Tua : et abundantia in turribus Tuis.

Alleluja, alleluja.

Response : Timebunt gentes Nomen Tuum, Domine, et omnes reges terrae gloriam Tuam. Alleluja.

English translation

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me : We shall go into the house of our Lord.

Response : Let peace be in Your strength, and abundance in Your towers.

Alleluia, alleluia.

Response : The Gentiles shall fear Your Name, o Lord, and all the kings of the earth shall fear Your glory. Alleluia.

(Usus Antiquior) Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 12 October 2014 : Epistle

Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians

1 Corinthians 1 : 4-8

Fratres : Gratias ago Deo meo semper pro vobis in gratia Dei, quae data est vobis in Christo Jesu : quod in omnibus divites facti estis in illo, in omni verbo et in omni scientia : sicut testimonium Christi confirmatum est in vobis : ita ut nihil vobis desit in ulla gratia, exspectantibus revelationem Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

Qui et confirmabit vos usque in finem sine crimine, in die adventus Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

English translation

Brethren, I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given to you in Jesus Christ, that in all things you are made rich in Him, in all utterance and in all knowledge, as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He who will also confirm you unto the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Usus Antiquior) Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 12 October 2014 : Introit and Collect

Introit

Ecclesiastes 36 : 18 and Psalm 121 : 1

Da pacem, Domine, sustinentibus Te, ut prophetae Tui fideles inveniantur : exaudi preces servi Tui et plebis Tuae Israel.

Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi : in domum Domini ibimus.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Give peace, o Lord, to those who patiently wait for You, that Your prophets may be found faithful. Hear the prayers of Your servant, and of Your people Israel.

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me. We shall go into the house of the Lord.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Collect

Dirigat corda nostra, quaesumus, Domine, Tuae miserationis operatio : quia tibi sine Te placere non possumus. Per Dominum…

English translation

Let the operation of Your mercy, we beseech You, o Lord, direct our hearts. For without You we cannot please You. Through our Lord…

(Usus Antiquior) Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Memorial of St. Placidus and Companions, Martyrs (II Classis) – Sunday, 5 October 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today Jesus our Lord highlighted to us on how the Lord is love, and Jesus Himself is love, as He is Son of God and therefore, is God. He at the same time is also the Son of David, as his legal descendant through Joseph, His foster-father, and therefore is the heir and indeed the one true and only King of the kingdom given to His ancestor David, as God had promised to David himself His servant, that his heir and descendant would sit forever on his throne.

And the commandments and the Laws which God had given to His people, which they knew as the Ten Commandments, together with all the accompanying laws and customs are all actually about love, and love that we need to express both to God, as well as to our fellow men, to our parents, our brothers and sisters around us. For the commandments were given to us, not to burden us unnecessarily with laws and customs, but to help us on our way to reach the Lord.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law favoured and imposed a very puritanical, fanatical and punitive approach of applying the Law to the people entrusted to them. In total, there were in fact up to six hundred and thirteen laws, customs and its various applications. Those numerous laws and customs strained the people and made life difficult for them, and the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were quick to condemn all those who committed the slightest act of disobedience.

And they were very quick to praise themselves and seek human approval, when they did what they had done in life. They thought highly of themselves and sought to advance their own cause, and their own standing among men, thinking that in their piety, they have earned the right to boast and to be proud on their ways, and that they had fulfilled the way and the will of the Lord.

No, Jesus made it very clear to them, that they would not be justified by what they had done. On the other hand, they would indeed be condemned, for their failure to guide the people of God entrusted to them on the right path. They have not led the people to grow stronger and deeper in love, but instead they oppressed the people for their own benefits, and they were concerned only about themselves.

If they themselves were not faithful to the commandments of the Lord, then it is definitely also impossible for the people of God to follow their examples to be faithful as well. Their faith was empty and meaningless, and their ego was their undoing. They were unable to control themselves and allowed themselves to be controlled by their emotions and desires. As such, they refused to listen to Jesus and refused to believe in Him and in His works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all learn from what we had heard today, that we may all grow better and stronger in our own faith. That we will not follow the examples of the Pharisees and the elders of Israel, but instead listen to God, through Christ who had made all things clear to us. We have to obey the commandments of God, but not just to obey them for the sake of obeying. On the other hand, we should understand the real meaning and purpose of the Law, that is for us to know and to learn about love.

Our faith without love is empty and meaningless, and indeed, if we do not play our part in living our faith with real devotion, to love God with all of our strength, and with all of our heart, and if we do not love our brethren and our neighbours in the same manner, then we cannot find justification in the Lord, and we will have no part in His grace and blessing.

Today we celebrate together as the Church, the feast of St. Placidus and his thirty companions, who were martyred together for their faith in God, at the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the architect and mastermind behind the last and greatest of the persecutions of the faithful by the Roman Empire. St. Placidus and his companions, the fellow martyrs of the faith, refused to compromise their faith and devotion to God, just for the sake of preserving their lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this we can see the real contrast between the actions of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who compromised the purity and the truth about their faith, and what they ought to do to teach the faithful, for the sake of temporary and worldly pleasures and to satisfy their own wants and ego. Meanwhile, the holy martyrs, led by St. Placidus became an example to all others who looked upon their actions. Their staunch and strong faith in the Lord did not give way to the world and to their own desires. Instead, through their obedience and their shedding of their blood for the Lord, they helped many others to stay faithful to the Lord.

Therefore, let us today renew our commitment to the Lord, inspired by the example of St. Placidus and his companions in holy martyrdom, so that in all the things we do, in all the things we say, we may be truly loving in all things, that our ways may be made of love, and we will be worthy of being called the children of God, who is Love Himself. God bless us all. Amen.